13-year-old found dead 'in the brush' at popular Burnaby park
Published Wednesday, July 19, 2017 10:23AM PDT Last Updated Wednesday, July 19, 2017 7:37PM PDT
A 13-year-old girl was found dead in a popular park in Burnaby, B.C., less than two hours after RCMP were notified about her disappearance.
The death of Marrisa Shen is being treated as suspicious and is now being investigated by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.
"Our initial investigation suggests she was the victim of a homicide," said Cpl. Meghan Foster of IHIT.
The teen, who was set to start high school in the fall, was reported missing by a member of her family at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Her body was located "in the brush" in the southeast part of Central Park at 1:10 a.m. Wednesday.
IHIT says there are no suspects in Shen's death, and an autopsy has been ordered to confirm the cause of her death.
The family, who lives close to the park, is asking for privacy.
The young woman was last seen at 1 p.m. Tuesday. She made contact with someone by phone four hours later but it's unclear if she was still at home at the time.
Investigators are asking anyone who may have seen Shen after 1 p.m., or any suspicious activity in the park, to come forward. It is believed she left her home on foot.
The risk to the general public is currently unknown, and people living in the area should exercise caution, said Foster.
"We are asking the public to be vigilant," she told reporters at a joint press conference with the Burnaby RCMP.
"Ms. Shen's death is a tragedy and her family has been left devastated."
The investigation in 'initial stages'
IHIT has taken the lead on the investigation and is working in conjunction with the Burnaby RCMP, Integrated Forensic Examination Section, Integrated Police Dog Service and the coroner.
Footage from CTV's Chopper 9 showed a large police presence congregated on a heavily-wooded section of the recreational area. The park is used frequently by joggers and dog walkers.
Both uniformed and plainclothes officers will be canvassing the park and surrounding areas for evidence and witnesses for the next several days.
Burnaby RCMP Insp. Sanjaya Wijayakoon said patrols will be stepped up in the park, including bike officers.
"I know many of you may be wondering if your children are safe. All I can tell you at this time is that I have full confidence in IHIT's ability to investigate the circumstances surrounding Ms. Shen's death, and I can assure you that the Burnaby RMCP and its officers are working around the clock to ensure public safety."
Foster said details in the case are still minimal, and she expected more details to be released Thursday.
Anyone with information is asked to call the IHIT tip line at 1-877-551-IHIT or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.