RCMP are investigating the authenticity of a letter from an individual claiming responsibility for the death of an Armstrong teen, and threatening more harm to women.
The letter was received at the Armstrong detachment on Wednesday.
RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said the letter writer claimed to be responsible for the Halloween night death of Taylor Van Diest, 18, and suggested possible further violence against women.
“We can state that the letter contains very limited information regarding the details of this crime,” said Moskaluk at a press conference Thursday at Vernon City Hall. “As a result, we are unable to confirm that the letter was, in fact, written by the perpetrator.”
Moskaluk would not give any details about the contents of the letter, whether it was hand-written or typed, or how it got to the detachment.
Police would like to hear from whoever wrote the letter, or from somebody who knows something about it.
“We would like to hear from the letter writer again,” said Moskaluk. “Investigators would like the writer to contact them by telephone or letter as they would like to create a dialogue to prevent any further violence.”
A badly injured Van Diest was found by a family member and friends at 8:45 p.m. Oct. 31 in a bush area near the Rosedale Avenue railway tracks. She left her home wearing a zombie-like Halloween costume and make-up at around 5:50 p.m.
Her family reported her missing at 7:30 p.m. She died later that night in Kelowna hospital.
Moskaluk confirmed again that police still do not have a suspect in the case.
A dedicated tip line has been established for all message and information regarding the Van Diest murder, should someone wish to report information to the police.
The number to call is 1-888-688-4264.
While the investigation remains active and on-going, with a large number of personnel dedicated to it, the receipt of the letter, with its threatening nature, has enforced the need for police to re-issue a public request for extra vigilance.
“We are asking that the general public remain vigilant and continue to take extra personal safety precautions in our communities,” said Moskaluk.
Police recommend travelling in a group, or asking parents or friends for a ride. Travel areas of the community that have good visibility. Let family or friends know where you are going and when you expect to arrive. If you have a cell phone carry it.
Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper agrees with police.
“Until this person or persons is caught, we have to have our diligence,” said Pieper from Alberta where he is visiting family. “We’re not used to this kind of atmosphere in our community. We have to be cautious, diligent and if we see anything, report it to police.”
Pieper was slated to take part via conference call in a meeting with his council, community leaders and RCMP late Thursday to get an update on the investigation.
The recently acclaimed mayor said his town has changed as a result of the homicide.
“Our town has changed in the last week, I don’t think there’s any doubt about it, until this particular person or persons is caught,” he said.
“We just have to find that person or persons and deal with it.”
The North Okanagan Shuswap School District is also in agreement with the RCMP’s recommendations.
Superintendent Dave Witt sent a letter home with students, encouraging them to not rely on cell phones for sole safety purposes.
“We have asked schools to have teachers share this information directly with your child and their classmates so that they are also taking precautions going home from school today and this long weekend,” wrote Witt.