British Columbia

Woman found killed near small B.C. town ID'd as Belgian hitchhiker

Police are asking anyone who may have seen a Belgian tourist before she was found dead near Boston Bar, B.C., last month to contact them.

Amelie Sakkalis, 28, was travelling from Penticton to Vancouver, according to police

Police tweeted this photo of Amelie Sakkalis Wednesday morning after identifying her as the woman found dead near the community of Boston Bar, B.C., last month. (@HomicideTeam/Twitter)

Police have revealed that a woman found dead near a small town in B.C. last month was a Belgian tourist hitchhiking from Penticton to Vancouver.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation team identified Amelie Christelle Sakkalis, 28, as the woman whose body was discovered near Boston Bar, northeast of Vancouver.

On Wednesday, the team appealed to the public for help with the investigation.

"IHIT would like to speak with anyone who provided Miss Sakkalis a ride between Penticton and Boston Bar on Aug. 22, 2018," IHIT spokesperson Frank Jang told reporters at a news conference at the B.C. RCMP's Surrey headquarters.

"Amelie's family has been notified of her murder ... and we urge anyone with information to come forward immediately to help provide answers."

Sakkalis's body was discovered north of Boston Bar on Aug. 22 after police were called to a "suspicious occurrence" near where Highway 1 meets Kahmoose Road.

A man was arrested at the scene and police took possession of a white 1994 Chevy Astro van they believe was associated with the homicide.

The man, a British Columbian, was interviewed by police and has since been released. Jang said Wednesday the man has not been criminally charged but is a person of interest and may have information relevant to the investigation.

Info on white van sought

Jang said police are establishing a motive in Sakkalis's killing which they don't believe was random.

They especially want to hear from residents who live in the Penticton to Boston Bar area or anyone who might have security or dash cam footage of her or the white van.

"We may be looking at other vehicles," he said, explaining that the journey from Penticton is not a short one and she may have made several stops along the way.

"She may have been hitchhiking with several vehicles along that route."

'Critical' hours

The IHIT said its officers, along with RCMP and the B.C. Coroners Service, are investigating the homicide. Jang told reporters an autopsy has been completed on Sakkalis's body.

A focus of the investigation will be establishing a timeline of the "critical" hours on Aug. 22 from the afternoon to early evening, Jang said.

The day before her body was found, Sakalis posted on Facebook in French, looking for a ride. She was asking if anyone was going to Vancouver from Penticton or even to Tofino. 

On the day of her death, she posted on a Facebook group called Guide du Croutard, for French-speakers in Vancouver, asking if anyone had a place to stay because the hostels in Vancouver were full. 

Jang added that Sakkalis was not known to police in B.C. and had "little history" in Canada. French was her primary language.

The woman was travelling alone at the time of her death but police have spoken to her friends.

Some members of Sakkalis's family, Jang said, are planning to travel to Canada.

Read more from CBC British Columbia

With files from Tina Lovgreen