Police are now actively seeking the public’s help as they investigate the grisly discovery of three bodies in a rural area west of Parksville.
In a release issued Friday, Nov. 6, RCMP reported the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit (VIIMCU) has concluded its physical evidence gathering at the scene near the Melrose Forest Service Road in Whiskey Creek, where the bodies were discovered on Nov. 1.
Police stated two individuals were believed to have been near the scene on Highway 19 in the early morning of Nov. 1 and may have flagged down a motorist driving a light-coloured sedan who provided them with a ride. The driver who picked up these individuals is being asked to reach out to police. They unknowingly may have information crucial to this investigation.
Meanwhile, the gravel pit on Melrose Road is a popular area for quadders, dirt bikers and 4x4 enthusiasts. Investigators also hope to speak with anyone who was in the area on the evening of Nov. 1, or late Oct. 31, and who may have video footage, said Cpl. Chris Manseau, RCMP E Division media relations officer.
In the release police ask anyone with information to call the VIIMCU information line at 250-380-6211.
Sources have indicated to the PQB News that they believe two of the deceased are Shawn McGrath, 52, who was camped at that Whiskey Creek location just off Melrose Road, with his girlfriend Shanda Wilson, 38.
Sources also indicate several other members of the homeless community living in the area have been missing since the incident. Police said earlier this week they believe the deaths were targeted but there is no ‘ongoing’ risk to the public.
Regional District of Nanaimo Electoral Area F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood) director Leanne Salter said the land is likely owned by the Crown, and the surrounding forest is owned by timber companies.
Another PQB News source, Kelly, who requested to keep her last name private, said that there are hundreds of people experiencing homeless who live in the bush in Whiskey Creek, which is on the Alberni Highway, roughly mid-way between Coombs and Cameron Lake.
“They’ve always been there,” she said. “They’ve been there for a long time.”
She said there are a total of 16 bush camps that she visits and brings supplies to on a regular basis.
“It’s a bigger picture here, and it took a crime like this to actually bring it out. I’m not blaming anybody.”
She said the Parksville Qualicum Beach area needs a 24-hour shelter, a detox and treatment centre and low-income housing.
Kelly had been tipped off by a friend who normally calls to tell her when to go out to the camps. On Saturday, Oct. 31, her message from that friend had simply been “stay away from the camps.”
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