Police now say two suspects who were the subject of a major manhunt Monday in Naramata aren’t believed to be connected to the discovery of two dead bodies in the area.
“At this point there is no evidence that links the two people observed in the area to the deceased people,” said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey in a press release Wednesday.
“Officers would still like to identify who they were to eliminate them from the ongoing investigation. If anyone knows who they may be they can contact the Penticton RCMP.”
The bodies were discovered by hikers around 10 a.m. Monday in the area of the Naramata Creek Forest Service Road.
O’Donaghey said investigators believe it was an “isolated incident” and there’s no risk to the general public.
Mounties have “tentatively identified” one of the victims and are still trying to confirm the identity of the other.
“A forensic autopsy has been scheduled for Friday, May 14, and the public can expect to see an increased RCMP presence in Naramata as police continue to secure the primary scene, awaiting the results of that autopsy,” said O’Donaghey.
Police also seized a truck that was located near the crime scene and had it towed away for further investigation.
Area residents, who spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity due to fear for their personal safety, told The Herald a white pickup truck was abandoned around 10 a.m. outside a gate on private property just off Smethurst Road.
While the truck did not have any obvious signs of damage, police told people in the area that an attempt had been made to set fire to the vehicle.
The truck was ditched approximately 300 metres from where a police car was stationed Wednesday morning guarding access to the location where the bodies were found.
The crime scene, near the spot where Smethurst Road turns into Naramata Creek FSR, is criss-crossed with utility rights-of-way that attract dirt-bikers and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts, according to neighbours, who also said it’s not uncommon to hear gunshots.
The crime scene is approximately two kilometres east of Naramata’s town centre.
Karla Kozakevich, who represents the village on the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, is anxiously awaiting more information from police just like the rest of the community.
“I don’t have any more information that what’s being put out in the news,” Kozakevich said in a text message to The Herald on Wednesday.
“I do know that citizens definitely have concerns about safety. They are hoping to have more information from the RCMP as soon as possible to alleviate their fears in relation to the two individuals that were not apprehended on Monday.”
O’Donaghey said police “fully appreciate the impact that such a discovery like this has on the community as a whole and on the families and loved ones” of the victims, and investigators working around the clock “are dedicated to determining what happened here and holding the person or persons responsible accountable for their actions.”
It’s still unclear if, or how, a car that was towed Monday night from the bush off the Arawana FSR, approximately five kilometres from where the bodies were discovered, is connected to the deaths.
Police said Monday the manhunt, which involved an RCMP helicopter, was connected to a “set of suspicious circumstances” on the Arawana FSR, which runs roughly parallel, and in close proximity, to the Naramata FSR.