British Columbia

Homicide team investigating after burning body discovered near Burnaby playground

The RCMP's homicide team is investigating after a burning body was found in a Burnaby, B.C., park overnight.

Firefighters called for bush and grass fire discovered remains shortly before 2 a.m. PT on Thursday

A white tent covers the area where human remains were found in a Burnaby, B.C., park on March 18, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The RCMP's homicide team is investigating after a burning body was found in a Burnaby, B.C., park overnight Thursday.

Firefighters were called to Greentree Village Park off Garden Grove Drive for a bush and grass fire around 1:50 a.m. PT. Crews arrived and found a body on fire, said assistant fire chief Greg Young.

Burnaby RCMP later determined the person had suspicious injuries and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) was called to take over the case. 

The remains were found metres from a children's playground. A section of the park, including the playground, was surrounded by yellow police tape on Thursday morning. A white police tent was also in place.

RCMP and IHIT officers are pictured at the scene where human remains where found in a playground near Greentree Village Park in Burnaby, B.C., on March 18, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Officers are still working to confirm the victim's identity.

"Investigators believe it's a woman, but due to the circumstances involved with the burning of the body, that has not yet been confirmed," IHIT Det. Lara Jansen told reporters near the park on Thursday.

IHIT said in a news release Friday that it believes the body is likely that of a woman who is under five feet tall.

Jansen said the woman may have been in the area up two hours before the fire was reported.

"There is also indication that the woman may have been associated to a dark-coloured, smaller to mid-sized hatchback SUV or crossover-style vehicle." 

The park is a popular, grassy area in a quiet neighbourhood near BCIT's central campus. It's also a commercial area that still sees people coming and going overnight, according to police.

"Anytime there is a suspicious death, let alone in a public place, at a park — and this, by all accounts, is known to be a busy park in a family neighbourhood — certainly it is concerning," Jansen said.

Investigators want to speak with anyone who saw a vehicle that fits the police description or who saw any suspicious activity near the park overnight. They're also asking the public to provide CCTV or dashcam video footage from the area.

Anyone with information is asked to contact IHIT at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448).