ARMSTRONG, B.C. — Someone claiming to be the killer of a British Columbia teenager has sent a letter to the RCMP containing a chilling threat.
“It suggests the possible further violence against women,” said Cpl. Dan Moskaluk as he described the letter received Wednesday at the Armstrong, B.C., detachment.
“We’re not speculating as to its authenticity. We are simply looking at it to determine who may have sent it. Its contents, syntax, format, how it was received, are all details at this time that we are not divulging publicly.”
A team of more than 30 officers has been working on the case since 18-year-old Taylor Van Diest was killed on Halloween night.
She had been badly beaten and died shortly after searchers found her near a popular shortcut along railway tracks through the usually quiet north Okanagan town of Armstrong.
Teens in the community of about 5,000 people were urged to travel in groups, stick to well-lit areas and leave word about any travel plans but that warning was repeated after the letter was received.
“We are asking that the general public remain vigilant and continue to take extra personal safety precautions in our communities, particularly in the central and north Okanagan,” Moskaluk said.
Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper said the letter police received has people on edge.
“It does sound a bit weird and I think just since this case broke on Halloween we have to be a careful community, as if it happened in anybody’s community. You have to be careful until the person or persons are caught.”
Pieper urged people to travel in pairs and be careful where they walk.
“I don’t think this is just for Armstrong, I think this is for the whole north Okanagan, he said of the area that’s home to another 5,000 people.
Armstrong resident Fred Hooper said the community will remain on alert until someone is arrested.
“People are wondering, I guess, who would perpetrate a crime like that. It’s hard to imagine anybody would do that but sadly, these people do exist.”
Van Diest was found on the shortcut by a friend and a boyfriend.
A relative of the friend said they’d all planned to meet.
“They were texting while they were walking and all of a sudden she didn’t answer. And that’s when they started searching,” said the relative, who didn’t want her name published.
She said the town had been dealing with the deaths of three other young people in the last couple of months before Van Diest was murdered.