Police say they are investigating a possible murder after the body of a 13-year-old girl was found in a wooded area of a popular suburban Vancouver park.
Cpl. Meghan Foster with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said Marissa Shen’s family contacted RCMP late Tuesday night, reporting the girl missing.
Shen’s body was found early Wednesday morning in some brush on the southeast side of Central Park in Burnaby.
The scene suggested the teen may have been the victim of a homicide, Foster told a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s still early in the investigation. Right now, this death is a suspicious death,” she said.
An autopsy is being conducted to determine what caused Shen’s death.
The girl was last seen at her family’s home near the crime scene around 1 p.m., and Shen wasn’t in distress when she was last contacted by phone at 5 p.m., Foster said. The officer would not reveal any specifics about the phone conversation or who the teenager spoke with Tuesday afternoon.
Police wouldn’t say what Shen was believed to be out doing but Foster added the girl was on summer break, waiting to start high school in the fall.
Police are asking anyone who saw Shen between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m., or anyone who witnessed suspicious circumstances in the park to call investigators.
“We understand there will be many questions, but until we know more and can provide more updates, we ask that the public remain vigilant,” Foster said.
“This is an opportunity to remind your kids, and all members of your family, in fact, about the importance of personal safety and to not take it for granted.”
Police released a photo of the young Asian girl wearing a black sailor-style top and red tie. Her long, dark hair was parted in the middle and reached past her shoulders.
Officers had cordoned off the south perimeter of the park Wednesday, but the remainder of the park remained opened to the public.
A trail north of a Pitch and Putt in the park was closed off and police could be seen patrolling, but golfers were still allowed to play on the green.
Violence ‘doesn’t happen here’
Area resident Jazmin Aure, 20, said she was surprised to learn of the death, adding that type of violence “doesn’t happen here.”
“We go on walks here, we bike around here. My family, they love it here,” she said.
Aure said the park isn’t lit at night and she wouldn’t attempt walking through the tree-lined trails even as a shortcut.
But she called the area safe and in the five years she’s lived down the street from the park, Aure said there hadn’t been a similar incident she could recall.
RCMP said the current risk to the public is unknown because details in the case are minimal.