WATCH: When someone is murdered on Vancouver Island the public demands answers but the police rarely have any to give. April Lawrence has part two in our look at homicide investigations.
As police tape goes up around a suspicious death on Vancouver Island the call will go out to the 35-member team headquartered in the RCMP building on Blanshard — the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit (VIIMCU).
“Our mandate is the investigation of homicides, missing persons or suspicious deaths where foul play is suspected,” said Insp. Dave Hall, officer in charge of VIIMCU and Senior Investigating Officer for the Island District RCMP.
VIIMCU covers the majority of Vancouver Island, including the Greater Victoria region, but some cities like Nanaimo and Campbell River have their own serious crime units. Inspector Hall oversees all of it to make sure everyone is communicating.
“That’s part of my responsibility to be looking for that and to make sure where needed co operations happen,” he said.
The public will often hear about VIIMCU immediately after a suspicious death or homicide but getting updates from police after that is rare.
“Just because you’re not hearing from us doesn’t mean we’re not doing anything,” said Hall.
He says as detectives collect evidence to support charges against a suspect, it is to their advantage to keep quiet about what they might know.
“We’re looking for people who have actual knowledge of the evidence whether it’s because they saw it, whether it’s because they did it. We’re trying to avoid the argument later in court ‘oh the only reason I knew that was because I saw it on the news’,” he said.
But in highly publicized cases like the homicides of Dan Archbald and Ryan Daley in Ucluelet, people are so desperate for answers they often turn to social media to speculate. Hall says that can make investigations more difficult and take even longer.
“People will read that and often times are calling and reporting that information to us as not I read it on Facebook but as a fact and we, in turn, have to investigate that,” he said.
And even though many murders appear to be going unsolved and police are saying very little publicly, he says in many cases they know who they’re after.
“I’d say the majority of our cases are investigations where we have a good idea of what happened and who’s responsible, the question becomes are we able to gather the evidence to support a charge.”
WATCH: Vancouver Island Homicides Pt. 1: Why are so many homicides still unsolved?
WATCH: Extended interview with Insp. Dave Hall, officer in charge of Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit