BRITISH COLUMBIA

Serena Vermeersch, Missing Teen, Found Dead In Homicide

09/18/2014 01:02 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:57 EDT
RCMP

UPDATE - Sept. 21, 2014: A man has been charged in Serena Vermeersch's homicide, said police in a news release. A publication ban is in effect on the identity of the suspect, who is in custody, according to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. More details are expected at a press conference on Monday morning.

A 17-year-old girl who was last seen heading home on a bus in Surrey, B.C. was found dead just blocks from an RCMP station, said police who are searching for her killer.

Serena Vermeersch boarded a transit bus around 8 p.m. on Monday at the corner of 64th Avenue and 128th Street. Vermeersch's mother reported her missing when she couldn't reach the teen on her phone. Her disappearance was "out of character" and she had never gone missing before, said police.

Search and rescue members tracking Vermeersch's regular route home discovered her body on Tuesday evening in a dense brush area in the 14600 block of 66th Avenue.

"The evidence to date supports that Serena was murdered," said Staff Sgt. Jennifer Pound with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team at a news conference on Thursday.

Investigators are searching for a man seen on the railroad tracks at 66th Avenue and Hyland Road between 5 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. He was spotted leaving in a grey or silver Dodge full-sized, three-quarter ton pickup truck with a canopy and roof rack, said Pound.

The man, only described as wearing dark clothing, was witnessed running across the tracks and then got into the vehicle, less than an hour before Serena's body was located, said Pound.

"On the surface, Serena's murder was a random crime of opportunity that was committed in a secluded area" said Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy. "It angers me that someone has committed this act and is in our community."

Fordy said he's redeployed some of the city's officers to work with homicide investigators.

Police want to speak to anyone who was on the bus that night, or saw Vermeersch disembark.

Fordy added: "I would be remiss if I didn't ask the public to be vigilant. Be aware of your surroundings. People of all ages, in particular children, are distracted by technology. If possible, walk with a friend and stay in well-lit areas."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP’s Serious Crime Unit at 604-599-0502, or Crime Stoppers, if they wish to remain anonymous, at 1-800-222-TIPS or on the group's website.