British Columbia

Ibrahim Ali, accused in Marrisa Shen killing, makes brief 1st court appearance

The man accused of killing a 13-year-old girl in Burnaby, B.C., made his first court appearance Friday morning.

Ali charged with 1st-degree murder after months-long investigation into 13-year-old's death

Ibrahim Ali, now 28, pictured in an undated Facebook photo. Ali has been charged with the first-degree murder of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen, who was found dead in Burnaby's Central Park in July 2017. (Facebook)

The man accused of killing a 13-year-old girl in Burnaby, B.C., made a brief first court appearance Friday morning.

Ibrahim Ali, 28, has been charged with the first-degree murder of Marrisa Shen.

The teen went missing on July 18, 2017. Her body was found in Burnaby's Central Park later that night and her killing was ruled a random attack.

Marrisa Shen's body was found in Burnaby's Central Park a few hours after her parents reported her missing. (Supplied by family)

Ali only appeared for a few minutes at provincial court in Vancouver before the case was put over until Oct. 12. He stood silent, listening to an interpreter with his hands clasped behind his back.

Shen's older brother sat in the front row of the crowded courtroom.

More than a dozen people gathered along the sidewalk outside the building to support Shen's loved ones. Most wore a white rose in the teen's memory.

Several people gathered outside the courthouse to support Shen's family before the teen's accused killer appeared in court at 9:30 a.m on Friday. Wen Zhou, right, said she sympathizes with the family as she's a mother herself. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

New evidence led to break in case

Shen's death prompted what would become the largest investigation to date for the B.C. RCMP's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

IHIT conducted more than 600 interviews, combed through more than 1,000 hours of video footage and ruled out more than 2,000 persons of interest in relation to the case.

Police said new evidence led them to Ali two weeks before his arrest on Sept. 7. Officials have said little more about the information that led them to the suspect.

Investigators said Ali is a Syrian national who entered Canada 17 months ago — three months before Shen's death.

Burnaby teen Marrisa Shen, who was 13 when she was killed, is shown here in an undated photo supplied by police on the one-year anniversary of her death. (Supplied by RCMP)

Ali, now a permanent resident, is said to have no previous criminal history.

Shen's family issued a statement thanking police, the public and the media after the arrest was announced.

"We hope that justice will finally be served and Marrisa will finally be at peace in heaven," it read. 

Read more from CBC British Columbia