The decomposing body of a young woman was found Sunday near a trail in Colquitz River Park, mere hours after hundreds of people took part in a fun run nearby.
Saanich police were called to the park, just behind Tillicum Centre, around 2:15 p.m. June 12, after a young boy made the grisly discovery while walking with his dad.
Sgt. Dean Jantzen said Monday that foul play is suspected in the death of the woman, described as white and between the ages of 18 and 28.
Her identity is not yet confirmed, though police are hoping the results of an autopsy, scheduled for Tuesday, will help.
“This woman was exposed to the area, which is well tracked by wildlife and bugs,” Jantzen said, adding that the body had apparently been there for “some time,” given the state of decomposition. “At this point in time, it is difficult to assess any risk to the public, given that we don’t know who she is or how she died.”
Jantzen said investigators “have no idea what happened” or when the death occurred. That’s problematic for getting information from anyone who may have heard or seen something connected with this incident.
A neighbourhood canvas, typical in suspicious death investigations, may happen in this case, though the closest homes to the park are more than half a kilometre away.
Colquitz River Park, which abuts the more forested Cuthbert Holmes Park, was cordoned off by police all of Sunday and Monday. Police expected to have the park reopened by Wednesday.
“This investigation has been hampered by the length of time that the individual has been there,” he said, adding that another concern is the body was found in a densely overgrown part of the park.
Police will not say whether the body was clothed, or if there was any identification or personal effects found nearby.
“We are (aware of) the fact this park is used as a residence (for homeless people), on occasion,” Jantzen said, adding there is no evidence suggesting the woman was living in the park.
Colquitz River Park hosted the second annual KidsRun Sunday morning, though the body – which police say was not emanating a foul odour – was not noticed by any of the participants.
“It’s concerning for anybody,” said KidsRun organizer Mena Westhaver. “It could’ve resulted in a very upsetting situation for many children at the time,”
She estimated that nearly three-quarters of the 275 people who took part in the fundraiser for paediatric oncology were children.
Until the B.C. Corners Service has determined the cause of death, Jantzen said police have no reason to issue a public warning.
“The parks in Saanich are very safe,” he said. “We recommend that residents exercise vigilance and caution with regards to their own personal safety.”
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call police at 250-475-4321.