British Columbia

Marrisa Shen's homicide was a 'random' attack, police say

One week after a 13-year-old girl was found dead in the park near her Burnaby, B.C., home, investigators are warning the public that Marrisa Shen's homicide appears to be a random attack.

13-year-old girl was found dead in the brush in Burnaby's Central Park 1 week ago

Marrisa Shen was last seen leaving her home in the Central Park area at 6 p.m. PT, Tuesday. The 13-year-old's body was found in the brush in the southeast corner of Central Park seven hours later. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

One week after a 13-year-old girl was found dead in the park near her Burnaby, B.C., home, investigators are warning the public that Marrisa Shen's homicide appears to be a random attack.

"Her death was random. Her murder was random," said Cpl. Meghan Foster of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

The teenager was reported missing by her family late on July 18, after leaving their apartment building near Burnaby's Central Park at 6:02 p.m. PT.

Police found the girl's body in park brush seven hours later.

Burnaby RCMP Supt. Chuck McDonald and Cpl. Meghan Foster of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team provide an update and safety advice following the death of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

When asked if there was a "killer on the loose," Foster would only repeat, "we have no suspects at this time."

Foster wouldn't discuss any evidence in the case, including why police are now describing the killing as random, whether a stranger is suspected, or whether a sexual assault took place.

An autopsy has been conducted, but police have not said how the girl died.

"Marrisa's death was senseless," said Foster.

"These events have caused great distress and sparked much concern about safety in the community."

Police urge caution in park

Since Shen's death last week, RCMP have been telling parents to talk to their kids about safety and warning the public to be vigilant.

A crowd gathered around the memorial at Burnaby's Central Park on Saturday, five days after Marrisa Shen's body was found. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Today, Supt. Chuck McDonald stepped up those warnings, saying specifically people should "exercise caution around here," meaning the popular 86-hectare urban park where Shen's body was found.

There remain general duty officers, bike patrols, community response teams and plainclothes officers as well as homicide investigators in the park, McDonald said.

McDonald called the homicide a "crushing blow to the community."

"I lost my daughter for about fifteen minutes at the PNE when she was two," said the senior officer. "I can't imagine what it's like to have your daughter taken away under these circumstances."

McDonald advised the following for personal safety:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Stay visible and stick to well-lit areas.
  • If you think someone is following you, switch directions or cross the street.
  • Don't be afraid to yell or call 911.

Any 'insignificant' detail helpful

Seven days after Shen's body was found, there remains a seven-hour window between the girl's last known location and the discovery of her body.

Central Park, a heavily wooded 86-hectare urban park in Burnaby, B.C., was behind police tape last week after Marrisa Shen's body was found there July 19. (GP Mendoza/CBC)

Surveillance video confirms she left her apartment building at 6:02 p.m. seemingly "OK and not in distress" at that time, said Foster. 

Police are imploring people who were in the area that night to help them piece together more evidence.

They want photos and videos, including from dash cameras, of anything in the area that night — even if it seems unrelated.

"No matter how insignificant you think it might be," said McDonald.  "No need to screen the video looking for anything ... we can add that to our database. That's really important."

Anyone with information is asked to contact IHIT at 1-877-551-4448, by email at ihitinfo@rcmp-grc.gc.ca, or, if they wish to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-8477.

RCMP released a short video of Marrissa Shen taken on July 18, 2017, close to where her body was found in Burnaby's Central Park. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

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