RCMP say Nicole Hoar, 25, has been missing since 2002. ((RCMP) )

RCMP have confirmed they are searching a rural property west of Prince George, B.C., which may have been owned by a convicted murderer, as part of an investigation into the disappearance of Nicole Hoar.

The 25-year-old from Red Deer, Alta., went missing in 2002.

Investigators from B.C.'s Unsolved Homicide Unit arrived at the property located at 31645 Pinewood Road in the District of Isle Pierre, west of Prince George on Thursday. They set up a number of mobile units on the site, saying they expected to be there for several days.

Originally, police would only say they were investigating a "historical homicide," but on Friday they confirmed they were searching for Hoar's body.

Hoar was last seen at a gas station on Highway 16 on the outskirts of Prince George, and had been planning to hitchhike to Smithers, 370 kilometres to the west, after finishing work as a tree planter in the area.

Hoar Family Statement

Our family is aware of the police search currently going on west of Prince George. We are supportive of the police investigation and hoping it may further their investigation into the case of our missing daughter.

Our thoughts continue to be with Nicole. Nicole is just one of many missing persons in that area and our thoughts continue to be with their families as well. This is a difficult time for us, and we would ask that the media please be respectful of our privacy.

- Jack and Barb Hoar and family

The property at 31645 Pinewood Rd. is several kilometres up a sideroad that branches off Highway 16, west of Prince George.

That highway has been called the Highway of Tears because of the women who have disappeared along it. In all, 18 women — including Hoar —  have gone missing along the highway since 1969, including nine since 1990.

No arrests have been made since the first incident 40 years ago, even though a special investigation into the cases was launched in 2006.

Nicole Hoar's family released a statement Friday.

"Our thoughts continue to be with Nicole. Nicole is just one of many missing persons in that area and our thoughts continue to be with their families as well," the statement said.

Former resident a 'person of interest'

RCMP Cpl. Annie Linteau said the property's current residents aren't being investigated, but an unnamed former owner is.

"The current owners of the property, we have no information to suggest they are associated to this. I can tell you that a previous owner of this property is a person of interest in our investigation," Linteau said Thursday.

Property records show the land was once owned by Leland Vincent Switzer. A man with the same name is serving a sentence for the murder of his older brother in June 2002 in the Prince George area, but it is not clear yet whether they are the same person.

The RCMP did not say Switzer was the person of interest in this case.


RCMP homicide investigators began searching a rural property outside Prince George, B.C., on Thursday. ((Wil Fundal/CBC))