Show of support as man accused in hitchhiker's homicide appears in court
A B.C. man accused in the death of a tourist believed to have been hitchhiking when she was killed was greeted by a large group of supporters when he arrived in court Wednesday.
Sean McKenzie, 27, appeared briefly in Chilliwack in the afternoon and was told his hearing would adjourn until Oct. 19.
He wore a red sweat suit and repeatedly looked over to a large group of supporters sitting in the courtroom.
The group of family members and friends stared back while holding each other's hands. Several were seen crying and hugging outside the courthouse after McKenzie's first appearance, which lasted just a few minutes.
McKenzie, a resident of Oliver, B.C., has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Amelie Sakkalis.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team believes the 28-year-old Belgian tourist was travelling throughout the province when she cross paths with McKenzie on Aug. 22. IHIT alleges the pair met somewhere between Penticton and the location where she was found later that night, in an area near Highway 1 north of Boston Bar.
They said a call led them to discover Sakkalis's body, but would not say who filed the report.
IHIT said McKenzie was there at the same time and was briefly taken into custody before authorities had to release him.
In the weeks since her death, investigators have gathered a significant of evidence that allowed them to secure a murder charge against McKenzie, IHIT said.
They've also linked the accused to a white van found at the crime scene, which officials have said is connected in some way to Sakkalis's death.
The investigation is ongoing, and IHIT asks anyone with more information to contact them at 1-877-551-4448 (IHIT). Tips can also be left anonymously through Crime Stoppers.
In particular, IHIT is looking to speak to anyone who saw McKenzie on Aug. 22.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Maria Weisgarber