WATCH: : The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team reveals more details about yesterday’s arrest in the Serena Vermeersch murder. Grace Ke reports.
Homicide Investigators have arrested and charged a man in connection to the murder of 17-year-old Serena Vermeersch.
As there is a publication ban, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) will not be releasing the identity of the accused, but Global News has learned the man is Raymond Caissie.
He is a convicted sex offender who was considered high risk to re-offend when he was released in June 2013.
WATCH: Reporter Leigh Kjeskstad has more details about the suspect named in the murder of Surrey teen Serena Vermeersch
IHIT did say they have arrested an adult man who has now been charged with 2nd -degree murder. He was arrested in Vancouver and will appear in a Surrey courtroom on Monday.
S/Sgt. Dwayne McDonald, one of the four team commanders in IHIT, says investigators have been working with the community of Surrey, Surrey RCMP and their support services to make this arrest.
“Every homicide is a tragedy, it represents the ultimate loss,” says McDonald. “The loss of Serena at only 17 years old, in the prime of her life, marks an even greater tragedy.”
On the subject of the publication ban that is in place in this case, Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy says every citizen deserves the right to a fair trial. “We’d be remiss to comment on the identity of the murder suspect,” he says during a news conference Monday.
Sgt. Jennifer Pound of IHIT read a statement on behalf of the family, who says they are receiving the support and care they need during this difficult time, but they will not be making any further statements.
“We are currently receiving the support we need from friends and family in the face of Serena’s passing. We appreciate the concern and kind words we are receiving, but we respectfully ask that our privacy remain undisturbed. If we wish to contact the media at some point in the future, we will initiate that contact. Until that point, we would like to be left to our grieving. Thank you.”
Pound says their priority right now is to protect the integrity of the investigation.
Vermeersch’s body was found last Tuesday night near train tracks on 146th Street and 66th Avenue in Surrey.
Police say she 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.
The teen’s mother reported her missing when she couldn’t reach her daughter on her cell phone.
Investigators said this was a random, and not a targeted attack.
Homicide detectives announced Saturday on Twitter that they are no longer looking for a vehicle of interest. Pound says they have still not identified that person but they are still a ‘person of interest’ in the case.
Earlier this week , investigators said they were looking for information on a silver pick-up truck with a canopy and roof rack.
Global News received a statement from the Vermeersch family where they say “there is cautious relief that an arrest has been made. There will be no closure until sentencing.”
Surrey resident Naida Robinson, who lives near Serena’s family home is grateful to Surrey RCMP and IHIT for making an arrest in a short period of time, but she still doesn’t feel safe.
“Nobody feels safer tonight. We know nothing. Everybody is frustrated and they’re scared.”
The mother of five worries for the safety of her children, claiming she has no choice but to be a “helicopter parent.”
” My teenagers have never left my home unsupervised. That’s how unsafe I feel and I think that’s a tragedy.”
Robinson, a community activist is organizing a rally Sunday in Surrey called Take Back Surrey. It will be held at the Newton Seniors Centre at 13775 70th Avenue. She, along with other supporters, are advocating for more police foot patrols in Surrey’s neighbourhoods.
Concerned resident, Jude Hannah says she’s relieved an arrest has been made in the case, but says the community still has a lot of problems. The tragic death of hockey mom Julie Paskall still haunts her.
“I really thought with Julie Paskall’s death that changes would have been made. Here we go again – only this time it’s a seventeen year old girl.”
For Hannah, Surrey is home and she wouldn’t abandon her community, but she admits she’s happy her grown son no longer lives in the neighbourhood.
“I’m glad my son doesn’t live here anymore. We live on a pretty little cul de sac. It’s a tiny oasis and you go two or three blocks and there is a flop house and a probation office.”
She’s not giving up though, she continues to be a Block Watch captain on her street, and she continues to push for change. Hannah will attend the upcoming rally Sunday in solidarity with her community.
“Our neighborhood feels like we’re under siege.”
IHIT and Surrey RCMP will be holding a joint press conference tomorrow morning, starting at 10 a.m. Global News will carry that press conference live on BC1.