Tidying her little free library Thursday, Lorna Starchuk still couldn’t believe a real-life mystery is now unfolding in her Diver Lake neighbourhood of Nanaimo.
Nanaimo RCMP is currently investigating a homicide after a body was discovered on March 31, just down from Starchuk’s home along a popular walking trail.
“It’s very hard to take when something like that happens,” said Nanaimo resident Lorna Starchuk.
“Well it was horrible because I walk my dog every day on that very trail,” she said.
“I’m very surprised because it’s a quiet neighbourhood,” added Tony Sanca, who has lived in the neighbourhood for 50 years.
The body of 58-year-old Randell Christopher Thomas was found just down from a trailhead near Tamara Drive in the bushes.
It’s a path popular with walkers and travels alongside the Nanaimo Parkway.
Since the discovery of Thomas’s body, signs appealing for witnesses have been put up around the community. RCMP investigators are hoping to speak with anyone passing by the area by car or on foot between 2:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, March 31.
“So what we know at this point, Mr. Thomas was involved in an altercation that ultimately led to his death,” said Const. Gary O’Brien of Nanaimo RCMP.
“We don’t know how many people if one or more were involved, or the nature of that altercation was,” he said.
According to RCMP, Thomas lived in the north end of Nanaimo — 15-minute drive from where his body was found. As of Thursday, investigators are unsure as to what would have brought the victim to the trail.
“We don’t know if he was familiar with that area. We don’t know if he passed through that area also, we’re hoping that if anyone did see him – that’s why we put the clothing description out – to please contact us,” said O’Brien.
Thomas was found wearing a black hoodie with a white logo on it.
“Yes, it is disturbing for sure. We have families, kids, people walking all the time,” said Starchuk.
Leaving those who live in the quiet neighbourhood shaken by what’s happened, as RCMP continues to search for those responsible.