RCMP warns against linking remains found on B.C. farm to missing women investigations

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Mounties searching a rural north Okanagan farm in B.C. where human remains were found last weekend say it’s too early to conclude there’s a connection to the disappearance of several women in the region.

RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk told reporters Wednesday he’s aware there’s speculation surrounding the search on Salmon River Road, but the remains have yet to be identified.

“Until these remains have been positively identified, it’s too early in the investigation to say whether the discovery is linked or not to any ongoing missing persons investigation,” Moskaluk said.

“We can appreciate the families that are affected by ongoing missing persons investigations … [are] being impacted by what’s going on here today. Our investigators are keeping them appraised of the developments and are offering them the support that’s required.”

At least five women have gone missing since early 2016: Caitlin Potts, 27; Ashley Simpson, 32; Deanna Wertz, 46; Nicole Bell, 31; and Traci Genereaux, 18.

A neighbour has told CBC News that sex workers had frequented the Salmon River Road area between Salmon Arm and Vernon in recent months.

Investigators have yet to reveal whether the remains found on the Sagmoen family farm belong to one or more persons. The discovery is considered suspicious, but RCMP won’t say if they have a suspect.

Earlier this month, the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP issued a public warning to women and sex workers, saying they were investigating an Aug. 28 incident involving a woman who reported she had been threatened by a man with a gun.

Investigators believe the woman had arranged a meeting with a man in the area of Salmon River Road using a website popular with sex workers and escorts.

Traci Genereaux and Nicole Bell

Traci Genereaux, 18, left, and Nicole Bell, 31, went missing in B.C. this year. Genereaux is a Vernon resident, last heard from on May 29. Bell was last seen in Sicamous on Sept. 2.

Curtis Wayne Sagmoen, 36, faces multiples charges, including firearms offences and uttering threats, in connection with that investigation. His family owns the farm at the heart of the investigation.

Sagmoen is scheduled to appear in court Thursday on those charges.

Moskaluk said more heavy equipment and forensic specialists were brought in Wednesday to help with the search on the Sagmoen family farm that began Oct. 19. A new white forensic tent could also be seen from the road leading up to the property.

The property is about 9.7 hectares, with numerous outbuildings, and investigators can’t say when the search will end.

“It’ll take us as much time as it takes to do the job properly,” Moskaluk said.

Three women missing

Also missing are, clockwise from left, Ashley Simpson, 32 (ashleysimpson.com), Caitlin Potts, 27 (RCMP), and Deanna Wertz, 46 (RCMP).

Police are working with the farm’s owners to relocate their livestock while the investigation continues.

Moskaluk said he appreciates the patience of the community as officers continue their work.

“We can understand the angst this kind of situation is causing,” he said.

The warrant that led to the investigation on Salmon River Road has been sealed by the court, and Moskaluk wouldn’t reveal any information about what prompted police attention there or at a second search site 15 kilometres to the northeast, near Springbend Road and Highway 97B.

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RCMP warns against linking remains found on B.C. farm to missing women investigations

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