Police in the South Okanagan are investigating a homicide they believe is linked to a double killing last month.
On Wednesday afternoon, the body of a woman was found inside a residence along the 3900 block of 3rd Street in Naramata.
Police say officers attended the residence just before 5 p.m., and were seeking follow-up information in relation to the killing of Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlos Fryer.
“Officers found the home was insecure. However, no one answered the door,” said the B.C. RCMP, which later told Global News that the door was unlocked.
“Officers entered the residence to ensure the well-being of the occupants. Once inside, the body of an adult woman was discovered. Her death is being investigated as a homicide.”
On May 10, Erick and Carlos Fryer were found dead in a remote location near Naramata. One week later, police released their identities, stating their deaths were being investigated as homicides.
With Wednesday’s discovery, the B.C. RCMP say the Southeast District (SED) Major Crime Unit has been called in to assist Penticton RCMP.
Police believe all three homicides are connected.
“It is the belief that (the homicides) are interconnected,” RCMP Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet told Global News on Thursday afternoon.
“Can we say definitively at this point? Well, we’ll have to let the evidence lead us there. But certainly, that is the investigative theory at this point.”
“Investigators from the SED Major Crime and B.C. RCMP Major Crime units are working closely and sharing information regularly, given the links between today’s and last month’s homicides” said Supt. Sanjaya Wijayakoon.
“The investigation into the May deaths of Erick and Carlos Fryer is progressing and we know that their deaths were not a random act and likely connected to local drug and gang activities.”
Police say preliminary identification of the woman has been completed, but RCMP did not release a name.
According to neighbours, the deceased woman was in her late 50s and ran a hair studio out of her home.
Police added the homicide scene has been secured and investigators, along with forensic specialists, will be on-site to gather evidence.
“We know that news of another homicide in the community of Naramata will be concerning,” said Penticton RCMP Supt. Brian Hunter. “These appear to be targeted acts, and this type of violence, related to drug and gang activities, is not normal in our community.
“Additional police resources have been brought into the area and you can expect to see a higher police presence in the days ahead. Now is the time for anyone with information to come forward.”
Asked what the homicide motive was, Shoihet said it’s hard to say, “but that will be part of the investigation as we move forward in order to determine what the motive is. But it is our belief at this point that it is drug-related.”
Police say it’s highly unusual for a small B.C. community to experience three homicides within a short period of time.
“But it’s important for people to understand that we do not believe that these were not isolated incidents,” said Shoihet, adding they are believed to be “linked to the drug trade.”
“That should put you at ease if you are not related to the drug trade,” said Shoihet, who also noted it’s yet to be determined if the deaths are related to the ongoing Lower Mainland gang war.
Also, Shoihet said residents in Naramata and nearby communities will notice an increased police presence for the short term, as officer search “for links that could potentially be linked to these homicides.”
Anyone who has information on the incident, or may have dashcam or other video footage, is asked to contact the SED’s tipline at 1-877-987-8477.
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