Thursday, April 10

Police work to identify human remains in Kamloops

By: Andrea Klassen in Law & Order, News, Police April 9, 2014

Kamloops RCMP say remains found in a remote are west of the city’s wastewater-treatment plant on Mission Flats Road were skeletal.

However, beyond that fact, police have released few new details about how they came to be on private ranch land.

At a press conference on Wednesday, April 9, Cpl. Cheryl Bush said specialists from the BC Coroners Service had been called in to help determine the identity of the individual found on Tuesday, April 8.

The specialists will also work with members of the Kamloops RCMP serious-crimes unit to determine how the remains came to be in that location.

Bush said it’s too early for police to release any information on the person  found or what circumstances led to the death.

“I think once we further examine the scene with the coroners service, we’ll be better able to comment on that,” she said.

“I think that, at this point, it would be too early to speculate how the remains ended up at that site.”

While police aren’t saying if the remains are linked to missing women Cassandra Wilson or Samantha Paul, Bush said RCMP are aware families of the women will be watching the investigation closely.

“We do have empathy for that and we do understand the importance of identifying the individual as quickly as possible for their family and any other families of missing persons,” Bush said.

“This will be done as quickly as possible while also protecting the integrity of the scene in the event that this is determined to be a homicide investigation.”

Wilson, 41, disappeared from downtown Kamloops on April 6, 2012. Paul was last seen on Sept. 9, 2013.

While Paul’s disappearance led to information that had investigators making inquiries in the Lower Mainland and Calgary, she remains missing.

Police have said they believe Wilson had been murdered since she was last seen on surveillance video walking through the parking lot of the downtown 7-Eleven store after midnight on April 6, 2012.

Wilson was fighting addiction issues and was working as a prostitute when she vanished.

Bob Hughes of the ASK Wellness Centre said the Mission Flats area is frequented by johns and prostitutes, but noted the property where the remains were found is farther down the road than most people would travel.

“Usually it’s just right out past the pulp mill into the pullout right there,” he said.

“That’s a common spot for both male and female sex exchange, but not that far out.”

Hughes said the roughness of the road past the pulp mill would likely deter anyone buying or selling sex from going much further.

Hughes said while the remains could be one of the two missing women, he’s also aware they could be decades old.

But, for the families of Wilson and Paul, he thinks a positive identification of the remains could be better than no answer at all.

“No news is the worst news,” Hughes said. “There’s never any closure. You’re never able to properly grieve to say, ‘We know this is what happened.’ Even if it’s horrendous, at least you can say you have some answers.”

A large swath of the Mission Flats property remains cordoned off as the investigation continues.

“Until we know exactly what we’re looking at, we don’t want to make it too small of an area and miss something,” Bush said, adding she is not aware of any previous police investigations on the property.

The ranch owner is co-operating with the investigation.

The location of the human remains is in the same general area where the body of a Kamloops woman was found on March 23, 2004.

Shana Lee Labatte, a 30-year-old prostitute fighting addiction issues, was murdered and her body left on Mission Flats.

Her murder remains unsolved, as does the slaying of fellow prostitute Sherri Lee Hiltz.

The body of the 44-year-old woman was found on April 9, 2005, in a backyard in the 800-block of Surrey Avenue, near Eighth Street, in North Kamloops.