B.C. man charged in murder of hitchhiking Belgian tourist
A man from B.C.'s Okanagan has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Amelie Sakkalis, a Belgian tourist who was killed while hitchhiking across the province last month.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said the accused, 27-year-old Sean McKenzie, is an Oliver resident who has no previous criminal record.
Cpl. Frank Jang said McKenzie "travels extensively through the province" for work, and investigators believe he crossed paths with 28-year-old Sakkalis at some point on Aug. 22 while she was trying to hitch a ride to the Lower Mainland.
"We believe it was somewhere between Penticton and the location where she was found later that evening," Jang said.
Police discovered Sakkalis's body after being called to an area near Highway 1 north of Boston Bar. McKenzie was there too, according to IHIT, and was briefly taken into custody before authorities had to release him.
Jang said investigators have since gathered "significant evidence" that allowed them to secure a murder charge against him.
Investigators have also linked McKenzie to a white van that was found at the crime scene, and which they believe is connected to the murder.
But despite having arrested and charged a suspect, Jang said IHIT's investigation is ongoing, and he called on any potential witnesses to come forward.
Police released a picture of McKenzie Monday in the hopes of triggering someone's memory from the day of Sakkalis's murder.
"We're hoping that people who saw Mr. McKenzie, perhaps with Ms. Sakkalis, on Aug. 22 to please contact IHIT. We're certainly not done with the investigation," he said.
Anyone with information can contact IHIT at 1-877-551-4448, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.