Death of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen in Burnaby’s Central Park a homicide: IHIT
Crime tape is still up in Burnaby’s Central Park and police are stepping up patrols after the discovery of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen’s body Wednesday morning.
Police are revealing little about the teen’s death but they are urging everyone in the area to be on alert. The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) is now calling Shen’s death a homicide but is uncertain if she was the intended victim or if it was a random act.
Several police agencies, including the Vancouver police, are searching the crime scene where her body was found.
She was reported missing by her family at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night. Shen was last seen at 6 p.m. on Tuesday when she left her home and police found the young girl’s body Wednesday morning. An autopsy will be done on the teen to determine the cause of death.
WATCH MORE: Who killed 13-year-old Burnaby resident Marrisa Shen?
A memorial to Shen was growing by Friday morning:
Classmates of Shen’s at Moscrop Secondary School are stunned by her death.
“I was actually somewhere else and my Mom called me and she said someone died at Central Park and I said, ‘oh that’s bad’… and I check online and it’s her and I’m like, ‘oh my gosh’,” said Grade 8 student Devine Guerrero, who described Shen as very quiet.
Thursday morning police narrowed the timeline of Shen’s activities before she died. Police said the teen was home until dinnertime and at 5 p.m. Shen spoke to someone on the phone and was not in distress.
WATCH: Police release surveillance video of Marrisa Shen
It is unknown if she was alone at this time. At 6 p.m. Shen left her home near Central Park and by 11:30 p.m., she was reported missing to the police by her family.
Tragically, her body was found at 1:10 a.m. Wednesday.
“I know many of you may be wondering if your children are safe. All I can tell you at this time is I have full confidence in IHIT’s ability to investigate the circumstances surrounding Miss Shen’s death,” Burnaby RCMP Insp. Sanjaya Wijayakoon said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
IHIT Cpl. Meghan Foster asked that while the investigation continues and until more facts are confirmed for people in the area to remain “vigilant.”
On Thursday afternoon Foster released video footage of Shen. The video was taken hours before Shen’s last known whereabouts at 6:02 p.m. The video is from an apartment building that was within blocks of the homicide. Shen was wearing a dark t-shirt and shorts.
Burnaby’s Central Park is a large area and while there has been some violence in the past overall it was considered safe.
The recent crime has neighbours rattled.
Simon Fraser University criminologist, Neil Boyd says though terrifying, this is a rare event.
“One should be cautious, prudent, careful with children of course. One shouldn’t take unnecessary risks,” Boyd said.
WATCH: Where was Marrisa Shen’s body found in Burnaby’s Central Park?
But Boyd points out Burnaby has not become more dangerous since this tragedy. He says people’s greatest fears — predatory attacks or homicides by strangers — only happen a handful of times a year across all ages.
“The most common victimization among people who know each other well and not at the hand of a stranger,” Boyd said.
Police have not said how Shen died or what led officers to find her body so quickly Wednesday morning in Central Park.
Investigators are asking anyone who may have seen Shen between 6 p.m. on Tuesday and 1 a.m. on Wednesday to call IHIT or Crime Stoppers.
~ with files from Liz Yuzda