Edmonton police are looking to the public for information about a suspect vehicle involved in a homicide that left a 31-year-old woman dead earlier this month. They’re also looking to speak to anyone who knew the victim.
Kelsey Ouellette was shot and killed in the area of Jasper Avenue and 116 Street at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5.
An autopsy ruled Ouellette died of multiple gunshot wounds and her death was ruled homicide.
Det. Jared Buhler with the EPS homicide section said the homicide does not appear to be random.
“Our investigation suggests it was a planned ambush against a defenceless victim,” he said.
“This file is exceptional in that the victim appears to not necessarily (have) been directly involved in criminal activity herself, but was for some reason targeted.
“I think there’s reason to believe that people in those communities may be willing to speak to us whereas they might not otherwise be able to speak with us because of the fact that people were willing to reach out and target someone on the periphery of this activity.”
On Wednesday morning, Edmonton police released surveillance video of a suspect vehicle, which police say is a white Toyota SUV. The vehicle was in the area around the time of Ouellette’s death, according to police.
“While the vehicle may have passed through several hands prior to the murder, we can be confident there are individuals — even if by virtue of possessing this stolen vehicle — that can assist in telling the vehicle’s story,” Buhler said.
Police also released a picture of a burned-out 2016 white Toyota Highlander, which was found in the area of 259 Avenue and 18 Street at about 8:45 p.m. the night of the homicide.
Buhler said it is not uncommon in homicide investigations to see burned-out vehicles involved, adding it’s normally associated to gang violence.
When asked if police could rule out gang involvement, Buhler said “there were people in Kelsey’s orbit who are well known to police.”
The Edmonton Police Service said the Highlander was stolen from northwest Calgary in August. A licence plate that was stolen from west Edmonton in early October was then put on the vehicle, according to police.
The stolen Alberta licence plate number CKP 5569 also got a photo radar ticket on Friday, Oct. 21 on westbound Yellowhead Trail at 107 Street, police said Wednesday.
Officers are investigating whether the burned-out vehicle is the suspect vehicle.
“We believe this Toyota Highlander was driven and would have been parked in the Edmonton area throughout the months of October and November,” Buhler said.
“If anyone recognizes this vehicle or remembers noticing a similar vehicle parked in an unusual or temporary place, we are asking them to please reach out to us.
“Likewise, if anyone recalls seeing an unusual vehicle in and around the burn site, that information could also be useful.”
Police are also hoping to speak to anyone who had contact with Ouellette since June of this year.
“The investigation has begun to establish a picture of Kelsey’s life, in particular the six-month period leading up to her murder, which was marked by a life-changing event,” Buhler said.
“Information obtained leads our investigators to believe that the circumstances around that event may relate to her murder. While we have spoken to many individuals known to Kelsey, we have particular interest in speaking to the people most familiar with this event, who have not been located. We urge these individuals to contact police immediately.”
Buhler would not speak to the nature of the life-changing event.
“We’re confident that the people who are aware of this event and the events surrounding it will understand what it is,” he said.
“I’ll be honest, I’m speaking directly to the people who are aware of these events because those are the people whose information we need. Again, some of those people are likely, I believe, are following this story closely in the media. We can’t locate them at the moment but we know they have information of relevance to the investigation.”
During a news conference Wednesday morning, Buhler also read the following statement from Ouellette’s family:
“Our family’s hearts are broken at Kelsey’s death. There are no words to convey the experience of losing a loved one in the manner that Kelsey was taken from us. Our daughter was a beautiful, smart and vibrant woman who loved life, family, friends and children. We desperately need answers as to why she was taken from us. Kelsey will be forever missed and never forgotten. Our family will not be able to rest until her murder is solved. We urge anyone with information to contact the Edmonton Police Service.”
Anyone who has surveillance or dashcam video in the areas of Jasper Avenue and 116 Street or 259 Avenue and 18 Street on Nov. 5 is asked to immediately contact police. Anyone with information on the homicide is asked to contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.p3tips.com/250.