WATCH: A 28-year-old man has been arrested in what police believe was the random killing of a teenage girl in Burnaby. Ibrahim Ali, a Syrian national who came to Canada as a refugee 17 months ago is facing a charge of first-degree murder.
RCMP have charged a man with first-degree murder in the death of a Burnaby teenager who was found in a park near her home over a year ago.
Ibrahim Ali, 28, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen, whose body was found on July 18, 2017, in a wooded area of Central Park in Burnaby just hours after she had left home at 6 p.m.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team held a media conference Monday morning to announce “significant developments” in the case.
Supt. Donna Richardson, the officer in charge of the team, said Ali is a Syrian national who moved to Burnaby as a refugee 17 months ago. She said the permanent resident of Canada is employed and has family in Canada. She couldn’t provide any other details pending the judicial process for the man who is scheduled to make his next court appearance on Friday.
None of the allegations in the case have been tested in court.
In the days following Shen’s murder, police said they believed she was the victim of a random attack.
Richardson said the investigation that involved 600 interviews and the elimination of over 2,000 persons of interest was one of the largest in the history of the team since its formation in 2003.
“We still believe this crime was a random act, meaning that Marrisa did not know the suspect and vice versa,” Richardson told a news conference, adding the investigation involved multiple RCMP detachments and municipal police forces.
She wouldn’t say if police know of a motive.
The investigation into the girl’s death was one of the homicide team’s largest active investigations with over 2,300 investigative tasks completed, Richardson said.
“We methodically went through these individuals and either included or excluded them from persons of interest.”
Burnaby RCMP Chief Supt. Deanne Burleigh relayed her condolences to Shen’s family.
“While I understand there is some relief of the announcement of an arrest, I am mindful of the devastating loss that they have suffered. Since the day of Marrisa’s murder, the thoughts of everyone at the Burnaby detachment have been with her family.”
Burleigh said police continue to conduct patrols on bike, foot and in vehicles as a result of Shen’s death.
“Marrisa’s murder shook our community and it questioned the safety in our parks,” she said.
Shen’s family thanked the public for their ongoing support in a statement read by Cpl. Frank Jang of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.
“We are aware that so many people reached out to the police to provide information and we are so grateful for that,” the family said as they asked for privacy.
“We hope that justice will now be served and that Marrisa can finally be at peace in heaven.”
Shen was seen on security video entering a Tim Hortons about 10 minutes after she left home and she was last seen around 7:30 p.m. that night walking near the coffee shop. Shen’s mother reported her missing at 11:30 p.m. and the girl’s body was found 90 minutes later, police have said.
Her family has said the girl planned to travel and visit friends in China the summer she was killed.
A year after her death, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team held a news conference near the wooded area where Shen’s body was found as Jang appealed for help from the public and said police had no suspects despite following up on 200 tips.
With files from the Canadian Press.