WATCH: A day and a half after the 17-year-old’s body was found, police now believe she was murdered. The homicide investigation team now on the case — looking for both a vehicle and a male suspect. Rumina Daya has the details.
UPDATE 1:25 p.m. – The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has taken over the case of 17-year-old Serena Vermeersch, which is being considered a homicide.
Sgt. Jennifer Pound with IHIT says evidence retrieved from the crime scene supports the theory the teen was murdered.
Investigators say there is nothing to suggest the murder was targeted.
Yesterday, Surrey RCMP confirmed the body found by search and rescue crews on Tuesday night near 146th Street and 66th Avenue was that of the missing teen.
RCMP deemed the death “suspicious” and continued to canvass the neighbourhood.
Police say Serena was last seen getting onto a transit bus on the corner of 64th Avenue and 128th Street at approximately 8:10 p.m. Monday. She was headed home.
MAP: The path taken by Serena on Monday night. The red arrow indicates the location where Serena’s body was found, on the south side of the train tracks.
Serena was reported missing by her mother when she did not arrive home on the evening of Monday, Sept.15. Pound says her family became immediately concerned when she did not return phone calls, prompting an investigation. The disappearance was out of Serena’s character.
Investigators are looking to speak to anyone that may have been on the bus that Serena took and saw her or would have seen her disembark the bus.
Police are also hoping to speak to a man seen on the railroad tracks at 66th Avenue and Hyland Road between 5:00 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. He was seen departing in a grey silver Dodge full size 3/4-ton truck with a canopy and roof rack attached.
This vehicle departed westbound on 66th Avenue, made a U-turn at Uplands Road and proceeded eastbound on 66th towards 148 Street.
The man, described as wearing dark clothing, was witnessed walking across the tracks northbound and getting into his vehicle less than an hour before Serena’s body was located.
The secluded area where Serena’s body was found is not well lit and has thick brush growth.
WATCH: IHIT press conference held Thursday afternoon on investigation
Surrey RCMP Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy issued a warning in connection with Serena’s death, urging members of the public to be aware of their surroundings and be visible.
“Nothing angers me more than innocent people becoming victims of crime,” said Fordy. “I would be remiss if I did not ask the public to be vigilant.”
Anyone with further information is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP’s Serious Crime Unit at 604-599-0502 and quote file #2014-133961 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or www.solvecrime.ca
PHOTOS: Murder scene in Surrey