Man charged with first-degree murder in death of Belgian tourist in B.C.
A man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Belgian tourist in B.C.
Amelie Christelle Sakkalis, 28, was found dead north of Boston Bar near Highway 1, on Aug. 22 at approximately 7:45 p.m.
Sakkalis was a Belgian national and was travelling in Canada at the time of her death.
Investigators believe she was hitchhiking from the Penticton area and heading to Vancouver.
WATCH: Cpl. Frank Jang of IHIT announces first-degree murder charges against Sean Ryan William McKenzie in the death of Amelie Christelle Sakkalis.
The B.C. Prosecution Service confirms Sean Ryan William McKenzie, from Oliver, B.C., has been charged with first-degree murder. He made his first appearance in court on Sept. 15 and has been remanded in custody for his next appearance on Sept. 19 at 2 p.m. in Chilliwack Provincial Court.
Cpl. Frank Jang of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) confirms McKenzie was the prime suspect in Sakkalis’ murder.
Jang added McKenzie is not known to police and that he travels around the province for work, but would not elaborate further.
WATCH: IHIT spokesperson Cpl. Frank Jang answers questions about Sean McKenzie of Oliver, B.C., and his relationship with Belgian tourist Amelie Sakkalis.
McKenzie was arrested at the scene on Aug. 22 in connection with the homicide but was later released, Jang confirms. A white Chevy Astro that is connected to McKenzie was also seized near the crime scene.
It is alleged McKenzie picked up Sakkalis somewhere between Penticton and Boston Bar.
WATCH: Police have identified the woman found dead near Highway 1 outside of Boston Bar as a 28-year-old woman from Belgium who was visiting B.C. Sarah MacDonald has the latest on the search for her killer.
“They had just recently met that day,” Jang said.
“Amelie’s family in Belgium has been notified of the case and IHIT hopes this will help them in their healing process.”
A friend of McKenzie’s said she was stunned to hear he is facing murder charges.
WATCH: Murder charges in death of Belgian tourist
“I will say that I’ve never been more shocked in my life,” Shelby MacRae said.
“I’ve only ever known him to be kind and caring. I think this is insane and unless he is proven to be guilty in court, I will not change my mind about him. He was always thoughtful and down to earth, and this is the last thing I would ever expect from him.”
— With files from John Hua and Jon Azpiri
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