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Police hope new vehicle evidence helps crack 2017 Oak Bay machete-attack case

Saanich detectives have uncovered new evidence they hope will lead to a suspect in a gruesome machete attack on a lone woman in her upscale Oak Bay home overlooking Willows Beach in 2017.

Saanich detectives have uncovered new evidence they hope will lead to a suspect in a gruesome machete attack on a lone woman in her upscale Oak Bay home overlooking Willows Beach in 2017.

Investigators are seeking information from anyone who may have seen a blue Ford Explorer Sport Trac in the Sooke area on April 26, 2017.

“We know that there are people in our community that have information that can assist in solving this file and we strongly urge them to come forward to the police,” said Saanich Const. Markus Anastasiades.

At about 7 a.m. on April 25, 2017, a 45-year-old woman was attacked by an unknown man who had broken into her home in the 2500-block of Esplanade Road. She suffered serious injuries to her upper body.

Schools in the area were placed in a “secure and hold” procedure as a precaution.

At the time, the suspect was described as heavyset and in his 20s, wearing a brown jacket, dark pants, a baseball cap and a light blue and white handkerchief around his neck.

According to land title documents at the time, the house was owned by Neehal and Hassan Alireza.

The attack happened in daylight, when many people were strolling the popular beach walking their dogs.

The next day, Oak Bay police advised residents to lock their doors and remain vigilant — even though immediately following the attack, police said the public was not at risk.

Police now say that on April 26, 2017, a secondary crime scene was discovered in Sooke, and detectives with Saanich police’s Major Crime Unit believe that second crime is related to the primary investigation.

Evidence shows a blue Ford Explorer Sport Trac “with some unique characteristics” captured on video on Sooke Road going to and coming from the secondary crime scene, police say.

On Tuesday, Saanich police said the “violent and random nature” of the attack has made solving it a high priority for police. “As a result, it has remained an active investigation with significant police resources and actions dedicated to date.”

As part of a joint-service agreement, Saanich police provides a variety of services to Oak Bay police, including investigative work and IT support.

Anyone who saw the blue Ford Explorer Sport Trac in the Sooke area on April 26, 2017, or with related information is asked to contact the Saanich Police Department’s Major Crime Unit at 250-475-4356 or 1-888-980-1919.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com