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Sketch of Okanagan murder suspect sparks flood of tips

Taylor Van Diest murder suspect. - Contributed
Taylor Van Diest murder suspect.
— image credit: Contributed

The RCMP  received more than 150 tips since releasing an illustration of a suspect in the murder of Okanagan teen, Taylor Van Diest.

Last week RCMP announced that DNA found in connection with the Armstrong murder of Van Diest on Halloween matched the DNA of a suspect in a Kelowna sexual assault in 2005.

Like the murder of Van Diest, 18, on Oct. 31, the Kelowna assault remains unsolved, though police have released a composite drawing of the suspect from the 2005 Kelowna incident.

This suspect DNA sample is not contained within the known offender DNA data bank.

Police have also said the attack on Van Diest was random.

“Investigators can confirm the match, however they do not have the outright identity of this person at this time,” said Moskaluk. “The investigators are working hard to identify this man, although they would appreciate any assistance the public can provide to help them identify this man.”

The suspect is described as a Caucasian man with a darker skin tone. He was described as 19 to 20 years old at the time, making him 25 or 26 today, has dark coloured eyes, possibly brown, with short dark hair.

He was listed as being between five-foot-eight and five-foot-10 with a stocky build, though not particularly fit or muscular.

The man also had large distinct side burns and noticeably thick eyebrows.

Moskaluk said it’s important for people to realize the drawing is how the suspect appeared in 2005.

“We believe the suspect is a resident of the Okanagan Valley,” said Moskaluk.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the random tip line set up for the Van Diest homicide at 1-888-688-4264 or, if you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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