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Delta police intensify search of property but deny looking for more bodies

Delta police and RCMP step-up their search of a home near the Tsawwassen ferry terminal where a man's body was found earlier this month. The force denies earlier comments from Tsawwassen First Nations members that additional human remains have been found.

Tsawwassen house and yard searched by police for weeks after human remains found

Police tape surrounds this heritage home in Tsawwassen where dozens of officers are searching. (CBC)

Delta police have stepped up their search of a home near the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, where a man's body was found in early March — but deny reports from members of the Tsawwassen First Nation that additional human remains have been found at the site.

In an official release, the force counters claims by band members of the Tsawwassen First Nation, who say they were given the information during a closed-door community meeting with Delta Police earlier this month.

The initial police search of the property in the 2000 block of Tsawwassen Drive at the beginning of March was prompted by information that a 33-year-old man reported missing to Surrey RCMP was believed to be there, acting Sgt. Sarah Swallow said at the time.

Delta Police confirmed a body was found on the property March 3. 

But forensic investigators have remained on the scene for the ensuing two weeks.

The investigation intensified Friday with almost a dozen officers — including Delta police and the RCMP — combing the property surrounding the house on Tsawwassen First Nation land. 

Bertha Williams lives just up the road from the search scene and says Delta police gave a private briefing to band members, revealing additional human remains had been found at the scene.

"They actually said there has been remains found," she told CBC News, adding the force didn't confirm "whether it's indoor or outdoors" on the property.

"Of course it's concerning, but that's something you'll have to talk to Delta police about," said Bryce Williams of the Tsawwassen First Nation.

Forensic investigators approach the house that's been the focus of a massive police search since March 3. (CBC)

CBC News had sought reaction from the Delta Police Department for the past three days, requesting confirmation of the information supplied by band members.

Earlier today, acting Sgt. Sarah Swallow didn't deny the community had been told more remains had been found.

"That's not information that I had heard, so there's not much more I can say about that," she originally told the CBC, "I've released all the information that I've been authorized to release."

But late in the day, the Delta Police Department issued what it called a "correction to rumours regarding missing person/remains found investigation."

In that release, acting Sgt. Swallow states, "While officers did hold a private meeting with members of the Tsawwassen First Nation to update them on the investigation, at no time did they state or imply that additional human remains (more than one person) were found or were likely to be found."

Victim remains unnamed 

The statement chalks up the increased police presence on the property to a "thorough forensic analysis ... to confirm the identity of the remains found."

But while positive confirmation has yet to be made, the Delta police go on to state it's not releasing a name "at the request of the man's family, who, understandably, wish to have their privacy respected at this time." 

On March 3, Delta police said they suspected the body discovered was that of a 33-year-old Surrey man who disappeared under suspicious circumstances.

The house at the centre of the intensive search is one of the oldest on the Tsawwassen First Nations reserve, according to a plaque that names the area as a heritage site.

In addition to approximately half a dozen forensic investigators inside the house this week, close to a dozen ground searchers— members of the Delta police force backed–up by RCMP officers — combed the property Friday, focusing on a backyard shed and overgrown bushes behind the home.

Investigators in protective suits and breathing masks could be seen digging up portions of the property.

Police search a shed at the Tsawwassen Drive home. (CBC)


  • An earlier version of this story said additional human remains had been found at a home on the Tsawwassen First Nation, where a body was found March 3. Delta police now deny telling band members that more remains have been found.
    Mar 18, 2016 9:17 PM PT

About the Author

Eric Rankin

Investigative journalist

Eric Rankin is an award-winning CBC reporter and producer. His honours include the 2017 RTDNA national and regional awards for In-depth/Investigative reporting (“The Frontline of Fentanyl”), the 2015 RTDNA regional TV award for Best In-depth/Investigative Reporting (“Casino Money”) and the 2009 Jack Webster award for Best TV Reporting. He was nominated for “Best Daily Excellence” nationally by the CAJ in 2010.