Homicide investigation could be long-term

RCMP behavioural specialists will try to come up with a profile of the person or persons who attacked an Armstrong teenager.

RCMP behavioural specialists from Vancouver have been brought in to see if they can come up with a profile of the person or persons who attacked an Armstrong teenager.

Taylor Van Diest, 18, was found unconscious by a family member and a friend Oct. 31 near the Rosedale Avenue railway tracks shortly before 9 p.m. Halloween evening. She died later that night in hospital.

Ever since, police have treated her death as a homicide, and have had more than 40 officers investigating more than 125 different leads.

To date, police have no suspect.

“The specialists will look at the information gathered so far by investigators drawn from the community, take it back and hope to come up with a profile of the individual or individuals responsible,” said Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk Monday.

What is known, and what has been released by police, is that Van Diest left her home near the intersection of Colony Avenue and Pleasant Valley Road at around 5:50 p.m. and travelled north along Pleasant Valley. She was dressed up for Halloween in a zombie-like costume with make-up.

Her cell phone was found by an individual on the street and Van Diest’s family reported her missing to police at around 7:30 p.m.

Police have not released any details about the contents of her phone or her autopsy results.

They do feel the fact the attack occurred on Halloween has been hindering their investigation.

“That hasn’t been in our favour,” said Molendyk. “There were more people out and around. There were other sounds that take place in a community that’s normally quiet at that time. There was lots of activity. People were preparing for a large fireworks display downtown, it was a peak time for kids and parents to be out trick or treating.

“The train tracks were a short cut for people to go down to where the fireworks were going to be. There were more people in the area than there normally would be.”

Police believe the investigation into Van Diest’s homicide will be a lengthy one.

“If you don’t have a suspect after 72 hours, then it’s usually determined that it’s going to be a long-term investigation,” said Molendyk. “Police will go back and re-interview people, hoping that maybe they remembered or heard something and that’s what it takes to crack a case like this.

“Sometimes it takes years. I hope, in this case, that doesn’t happen. The family and the community need to heal. We want to get to the bottom of this case quickly.”

Until a suspect is found, Molendyk said it’s very difficult to determine if the attack on Van Diest was random or if she was singled out.

Police do believe that somebody knows something about the crime, and are continuing to ask anybody with any information to come forward.

Molendyk said police are asking residents to continue to use safety precautions, particularly with the weekend time change making things darker earlier.

People should not walk alone, do not be in unlit areas and call a friend or a parent to give you a ride to where you’re going.

A memorial service for Van Diest was held Monday evening at the Hassen Arena.

A trust account in the Van Diest name has been opened at the Valley First Armstrong branch.

Donations can be made at any Valley First branch to account number 201-803536.



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