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B.C. man charged with first-degree murder in death of Belgian tourist

Last Updated Sep 17, 2018 at 4:01 pm EDT

Sean McKenzie, 27, of Oliver, B.C. is seen in this undated police handout photo. A British Columbia man has been charged with the first-degree murder of a 28-year-old Belgian woman who was visiting Canada. Detectives with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team say Oliver resident Sean McKenzie was arrested Sept. 14. He remains in custody, awaiting a court appearance in Chillwack on Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*

SURREY, B.C. – A British Columbia man has been charged with the first-degree murder of a 28-year-old Belgian woman who was visiting Canada.

Detectives with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team say Oliver resident Sean McKenzie was arrested Sept. 14. He remains in custody, awaiting a court appearance in Chillwack on Wednesday.

Cpl. Frank Jang says McKenzie is linked to a white van found north of the community of Boston Bar on Aug. 22, near the area where the body of Amelie Sakkalis was found.

Jang says McKenzie is known to drive throughout the province for work and investigators believe he met Sakkalis as she was hitchhiking toward Vancouver from Penticton on the day she died.

Detectives are urging anyone who may have seen McKenzie, Sakkalis, or the two together, to speak to police.

Jang has not said how Sakkalis died or why Crown lawyers laid the first-degree charge.

First-degree murder can apply when a homicide is planned and deliberate, or when death occurs during a sexual assault or kidnapping.

“We will be supporting the prosecution in the days ahead, but we are still open to speaking with people, especially if they have information on that particular day, Aug. 22. If you saw Mr. McKenzie, if you saw Amelie, we need to speak to you today,” Jang told a news conference on Monday.

“We are certainly not done with the investigation,” he says.

The woman’s family in Belgium has been informed of the arrest and has been kept up to date in the investigation.

“You can imagine the shock of receiving that news, made more difficult by the fact that it happened in a foreign land,” says Jang.

He says the homicide team hopes news that a charge has been laid will help the Sakkalis family in their healing process.