EDMONTON - Police in central America have confirmed that a body found in Guatemala is that of a Canadian man who was reported missing on Christmas.
Brian Townsend, who lived in the Central American country of Belize for the last nine years doing missionary work, was believed to have been abducted from his home on Christmas Eve.
On Dec. 27, a body with no identification was found in Guatemala, about 15 minutes from the border.
Dinsdale Thompson, superintendent of police in Benque Viejo, a town on the border with Guatemala, says investigators took photos of the body before it was buried in Santa Helena.
"We contacted our Guatemalan counterparts, who gave us photographs," Thompson said.
"That did confirm ... that it is indeed the body of Mr. Brian Townsend who has been murdered."
Thompson also said Townsend's son, Kory, who went to Belize on Dec. 28 to search for his father, looked at the photographs and also confirmed the identity.
Townsend's body "was still in a recognizable state" but had large chop wounds that might have been inflicted by a machete, said Thompson.
Police say they believe some kind of confrontation occurred in Townsend's home in Belize, and he was robbed of clothing, a laptop and his Chevy Silverado truck, which has yet to be found.
"At his home, there was some type of violence that occurred in the home to him and then he was taken over into Guatemala. Whether he was alive, we have not been able to confirm," Thompson said.
He said police have applied to a Guatemalan judge for permission to exhume Townsend's body.
Townsend's family and friends had set up a Facebook site called "Brian Townsend Missing Belize" and were also trying to raise money to help finance Kory Townsend's trip to help search for his father.
"We want you to know how much it meant to us, the support and prayers we received from all of you," a relative named Ian Lund posted to the site.
"It is hard in the midst of grief to see God at all times, when we take a small step back we see how much we are blessed by God for the people that love and care for us."
Lund also commented on Townsend's work in Belize.
"We have celebrated what Brian has been able to do in Belize and the difference he has made in the community of the Valley of Peace. I challenge each one of you to do the same, make a difference, be that close to home or far away. Know however, that you already have made a difference in your support of us."