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August 31, 2009

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Canadian police seek murder case break

CANADIAN police searched two nearby locations in British Columbia on Saturday for the remains of one of 18 women who have vanished over decades along what has become known as the "Highway of Tears."

Nicole Hoar, 25, disappeared along Highway 16 near the city of Prince George, 515 kilometers northeast of Vancouver, while hitchhiking in June 2002.

Police have linked Hoar's case to a string of killings and disappearances of women - most of them Native Canadians - hitchhiking along Highway 16. The disappearances date back to 1969. Police have said they don't know if one person or more were responsible for the deaths.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Corporal Anne Linteau said on Saturday that the ongoing investigation into the "Highway of Tears" deaths brought police to a 2-hectare property in Isle Pierre, 80 kilometers west of Prince George.

Police have pitched three black tents on the property, which is lined with yellow police tape. Officers toting shovels could be seen on Friday evening placing dirt onto a large blue tarp.

Police renewed their appeal for public assistance and want to hear from anyone who may have heard or seen anything suspicious in the Isle Pierre area the weekend of June 21-23, 2002. Linteau said they've received a 100 tips since Friday.

Linteau said police are doing a grid search in a wooded area of the property that is expected to take several days.

The property in Isle Pierre was once owned by Leland Vincent Switzer, now serving a life sentence for second-degree murder. He shot and killed his brother early on June 23, 2002, two days after Hoar was last seen.

On Saturday, police brought in corpse-sniffing dogs and ground-penetrating radar. RCMP officials said a man who was not a suspect was being sought for questioning.

She said officers are at an unofficial community dump and that they plan on seizing an abandoned yellow pickup truck at the site so they can conduct a forensic examination.

Hoar's parents, Jack and Barb Hoar, released a statement late Friday through the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, along with a request for privacy.

"Our family is aware of the police search currently going on west of Prince George," the statement said.

"We are supportive of the police investigation and hoping it may further their investigation into the case of our missing daughter."

In October 2007, police said they were reviewing extensively 13 confirmed deaths and five disappearances connected to the highway.


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