A 28-year-old Syrian refugee was arrested by Canadian authorities in connection to the high-profile case of Marrisa Shen, a 13-year-old girl who was found dead in a park in British Columbia.
Ibrahim Ali, who came to Canada three months before the death of Shen on July 19, 2017, is now under police custody and awaiting his next court appearance on Sept. 14, according to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) press release.
“IHIT and our many partners worked tirelessly for over a year to find answers and to bring justice for the random killing of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen. This investigation called upon a great deal of resources and long hours for everyone involved,” Superintendent Donna Richardson, who is in charge of IHIT, said in the statement. “The successful outcome in this investigation was a result of the diligence, unwavering commitment and relentless pursuit of justice from all of our investigators.”
While speaking at a press conference on Monday, Richardson asked the public not to generalize the situation and to remain calm.
“By and large, our refugees that come to the country are hardworking citizens who are very happy to be in Canada. I hope that we look at this incident for what it is: a one-off situation,” Richardson said.
“Beyond that, as far as a motive is concerned and some of the details concerning our operational techniques in identifying persons of interests or confirming suspects, I will not be able to discuss these matters to protect the future judicial proceedings,” she added.
Shen was last seen leaving a Tim Hortons restaurant in July 2017 and walking in the direction of Bunaby’s Central Park where she would later be discovered dead at around 1 a.m. on July 19.
After she failed to returm home, Shen’s family immediately contacted the police to report her missing.
The case became IHIT’s largest active investigation since it was first formed in 2003, with over 2,300 investigative tasks completed at the height of its investigative course.
More than 1,300 residents in the surrounding area of Central Park were canvassed during the investigation, over 600 interviews were conducted, and authorities have identified and subsequently eliminated over 2,000 persons of interest.
More than 1,000 hours of video footage taken from 60 different locations within the vicinity have also been reviewed by police. The website that authorities set up for the public to send in their tips, marrisashen.org, managed to attract more than 80,000 views.
However, the Shen case has deeply affected all officers involved in the investigation, according to Richardson.
“It’s an investigation that as a police officer you don’t ever want to be involved in … it’s a huge sense of relief for us to bring some justice.”
“We know that this murder shook our community and questioned safety in our parks,” Chief Superintendent Deanne Burleigh, the officer in charge of Burnaby Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said.
She further acknowledged the “profound impact” of Shen’s killing on the community.
“We have been continuing high visibility patrols on foot, on bikes and in our vehicles to ensure that everyone can continue to feel safe when using our parks. We are dedicated to the safety of our community,” Burleigh continued.
Shen had plans to go to China to visit her friends, according to the letter her family, who were Chinese immigrants, sent to the police station, adding “but those plans never came to pass.”
“It is difficult to express in words the pain of losing her in this terrible way,” the family continued in the letter. “We were supposed to see her grow up but instead, we have been deprived of the joy of having her in our lives and we are left with thoughts of what could have been of Marrisa’s life… We think of Marrisa and her beautiful smile every day and miss her beyond words.”
The family thanked the authorities who worked really hard to solve the case.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank the public for all of their ongoing support and concern for us in this past year. We are aware that so many people reached out to the police to provide information and we were so grateful for that,” Shen’s family said at the press conference. “We would also like to thank the media for all of their attention to Marrisa’s case. Lastly, we would like to thank the police for all their hard work and specifically IHIT for their perseverance.”
“We hope that justice will now be served and that Marrisa can finally be at peace in heaven.”
Many people might not know this, but NextShark is a small media startup that runs on no outside funding or loans, and with no paywalls or subscription fees, we rely on help from our community and readers like you.
Everything you see today is built by Asians, for Asians to help amplify our voices globally and support each other. However, we still face many difficulties in our industry because of our commitment to accessible and informational Asian news coverage.
We hope you consider making a contribution to NextShark so we can continue to provide you quality journalism that informs, educates, and inspires the Asian community. Even a $1 contribution goes a long way. Thank you for supporting NextShark and our community.