A letter that RCMP in Armstrong, B.C., say they have received from a person claiming to be responsible for the killing of Taylor Van Diest, has raised anxiety levels in this city of 10,000.
The letter, which police said they received on Nov. 9, suggests possible further violence against women, said Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.
"At this point in time we will not speculate whether the letter is authentic, though we are working to determine who may have sent it. Our primary concern remains the safety of the public," Moskaluk said. "We would hope that the person or persons responsible share our concern.”
Van Diest ,18, was found by her friends and family at about 8:45 p.m. on Halloween in the bushes about three metres from a railroad track that runs through Armstrong, which is in B.C.'s north Okanagan region. She had been severely beaten.
Van Diest was taken to a hospital in Kelowna, where she died.
Police have released photos of Van Diest in the zombie costume she wore on Halloween night, and of the jacket she wore over it.
Police are asking the public to remain vigilant and continue to take extra personal safety precautions, particularly in the central and north Okanagan.
RCMP are recommending that people travel in a group, or ask parents or friends for a ride. Police also encouraged people to travel in areas of the community where they will be clearly visible, and to tell family or friends about travel plans. They also recommend carrying a cellphone and reporting any suspicious activity immediately.
Anxiety levels run high in Armstrong, B.C.
The news has raised anxiety in the community.
City councillor and mother of two, Kelly Rowe, says she felt nauseated when she heard about the letter.
"I honestly felt sick to my stomach, I thought this can't be happening in our town. Where's this person coming from that's doing this?"
She says parents are keeping their children close, and she no longer lets her two daughters walk around town by themselves.
"I've always taken the girls to school in the morning, but quite often they would walk home, with friends, or partially by themselves. There's just no way that's happening right now. They're just not allowed on the streets, period, without me."
City councillor and teacher Paul Britton says Van Diest's murder — and the lack of any arrests by police — has put people on high alert.
"The RCMP is asking people to look out for anything that's out of the ordinary. Now, I know when I'm driving around the streets I'm always looking now for something that just isn't right."
But, he says, the letter could bring developments in the case.
"I'm hoping this could be the break in the case that the RCMP have been waiting for. Hopefully they'll get some information from this letter that will lead to an arrest," said Britton.
The investigation into Van Diest's slaying continues. Officers are expected to speak at a news conference Thursday afternoon.