Serena Vermeersch — a Surrey, B.C., teen found dead earlier this week — was killed in an apparently random attack, homicide investigators said at a news conference on Thursday.
Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy said the 17-year-old's death appears to be a random crime of opportunity, and cautioned the public "to be vigilant."
"Any loss of life is a tragedy, but Serena had just turned 17 and had her whole life ahead of her," Fordy said.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) said evidence collected at the scene supports the theory that the teen was murdered.
Vermeersch was reported missing by her mother on Tuesday morning when she didn't come home after going out the previous night.
Her body was found Tuesday night in the 14600 block of 66 Avenue near a set of railroad tracks in Surrey's East Newton neighbourhood, Fordy said. Police have not released the cause of death.
Last seen boarding bus
Vermeersch was last seen alive at 8:15 p.m. PT Monday night as she boarded a bus at the corner of 128 Street and 64 Avenue.
"We are looking to speak with anyone who may have seen her on this bus or when she got off the bus," said a police spokesperson.
Police said the teen — five feet eight inches tall and weighing about 135 pounds — was last seen wearing a blue tank top and black shorts.
Investigators would also like to speak with a man wearing dark clothing seen walking on the railroad tracks between 5 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.
Police said the man was seen leaving the area in a grey or silver Dodge full-size, three-quarter-ton pickup truck with a full canopy and roof rack about an hour before Vermeersch's body was found.
The truck went west on 66 Avenue, made a U-turn at Upland Road and headed east on 66 Avenue toward 148 Street, police said.