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Serena Vermeersch is shown in an RCMP handout photo.The Canadian Press

The man arrested in the killing of a Surrey teen was the subject of a public alert last year – with the city's mayor questioning at the time why someone described as a high-risk sexual offender was being released into her community.

Raymond Caissie has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of 17-year-old Serena Vermeersch. The charge against him has not been proven and he is due back in court next month. His lawyer could not be reached for comment Monday.

B.C. Corrections issued a public alert about Mr. Caissie's release from jail in June of last year. Mayor Dianne Watts told media outlets at the time that his plan to live in Surrey posed a risk to public safety.

Ms. Watts, in an interview Monday, said learning of the teen's death left her sick to her stomach.

"When he was released into the community, with a warning that he had a high potential to reoffend, it speaks to the rights of the offender as opposed to the rights of the general public," she said. "I have said for many, many years that the safety of the general public has to be foremost."

Ms. Watts said the same situation is playing out in communities across the country.

"They finish their time and then the warnings are issued that they're a high potential to reoffend. Well, then don't let them out," she said.

Ms. Watts said other high-risk offenders have been rearrested after they began living in Surrey. She said this was the first time she could immediately recall in which one had been charged with murder.

Ms. Watts said legislation has to be brought in that provides new, tougher options for such situations. She recently announced she will seek a Conservative nomination in the next federal election.

Police called a news conference Monday to announce the arrest, but said they could not identify the man who had been charged due to a publication ban.

A court official, hours later, said there had been a misunderstanding and the man could be identified.

However, media were not given another opportunity to question police on his history and what they were doing to monitor him.

Police believe the teen's death was random and Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy, the officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP, called it "senseless."

"As I stand here right now, Serena should be at Sullivan Heights Secondary School, having a laugh with her classmates, and perhaps thinking about her graduation. Sadly, that is not the case," he told reporters.

Assistant Commissioner Dan Malo, the officer responsible for the RCMP in the Lower Mainland, said the death was "a horrible crime of opportunity." He said he hoped the arrest would provide some small comfort for the family.

A brief statement from the family thanked members of the public for their concern and kind words.

Ms. Vermeersch was last seen getting on a bus on the evening of Sept. 15. Her body was discovered the next day.

The public alert last year said Mr. Caissie – who was 42 at the time – had a criminal history that included convictions for sexual assault with a weapon, and forcible confinement and robbery. He served more than two decades in prison for sexually assaulting a young woman who had been working at an Abbotsford museum.

His release conditions included keeping the peace, not possessing any weapons and not consuming any controlled substances.

Court records indicate he was convicted earlier this year of breach of recognizance.

With a report from The Canadian Press