One year after 13-year-old Marrisa Shen was murdered in Burnaby, B.C., police insist they haven’t given up on the case and her family is pleading for the public’s help finding her killer.
Cpl. Frank Jang of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team stood near the wooded area of Central Park where Shen’s body was found and read a statement from her family on Wednesday.
“Marrisa was only 13 years old when her life was taken. It is difficult to express in words the pain of losing her in this terrible way,” the statement said.
“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.”
Shen left her home at 6 p.m. on July 18, 2017, and was captured on security video entering a Tim Horton’s about 10 minutes later. She was last seen around 7:30 p.m. walking near the coffee shop, and her mother reported her missing at 11:30 p.m.
Her body was found just an hour and a half later.
Police have no suspects and no new information to share in the homicide that investigators still believe was a “random attack,” Jang said.
But he said every time he makes a public plea for information, new tidbits emerge, noting that after he last spoke about the case in April someone called him from overseas and provided a useful statement. He wouldn’t give further details about the caller or the statement, citing the ongoing investigation.
So, he made another public plea on Wednesday, urging anyone who may have seen Shen or been in the park earlier that day to come forward and share any information, photos or video they may have.
Jang said investigators are “absolutely” closer to finding her killer than they were six months or a year ago.
“It’s been a year and we don’t just sit on our thumbs and do nothing. Our investigators have been working on this daily since July 18, 2017, and they continue to work,” he said.
“We haven’t solved this investigation. We realize that. We realize that more than anyone else and our investigators aren’t giving up.”
A large number of officers is working on the case and they have followed up on more than 200 tips, watched 1,000 hours of video and interviewed 600 people, he said.
Jang was asked for his message to Shen’s family. Investigators are in constant communication with the family and are updating them with whatever information they can, he said.
“The message to them is that we haven’t given up on Marrisa,” he said.
Jang repeatedly declined to answer specific questions about the case. He wouldn’t say whether Shen was sexually assaulted or whether any DNA was found on her body and sent for testing.
He understands the public wants to know more, he said, but added he can’t disclose anything that would harm the ongoing investigation. He hopes to be able to share more information “soon.”
The park was also the site of a vicious beating on Sunday that sent a 73-year-old man to hospital with serious injuries. Officers are ramping up foot patrols and bike patrols in parks and transit hubs, said Burnaby RCMP Chief Supt. Deanne Burleigh.
Shen’s family said in their statement that the young girl “loved life” and had a loving family that cared for her deeply. Last summer, she had plans to travel and see friends in China, they said.
“We would like to ask anyone who may have information about Marrisa’s death to please contact IHIT. Any piece of information could be important,” the family said.
“We think of Marrisa and her beautiful smile every day and miss her beyond words.”
— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.