IHIT Cpl. Frank Jang holds up a photo of Sean McKenzie, 27, who is facing a first-degree murder charge in connection to the death of Belgian tourist Amelie Sakkalis, 28, near Boston Bar on Aug. 22. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)

Supporters of B.C. man accused of murdering Belgian tourist pack courtoom

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance in Chilliwack

It was an emotional scene in courtroom 204 at the Chilliwack Law Courts Wednesday as the man accused of the first-degree murder of 28-year-old Belgian tourist Amelie Sakkalis had his first court appearance.

More than a dozen friends and family members of the accused sat in the gallery, some clasping hands, some crying.

Sean McKenzie, 27, appeared in person dressed in standard pre-trial custody issued orange clothes.

When the diminutive McKenzie was brought in to the prisoner’s box, he sat down, closed his eyes, then looked out at members of the gallery, some of whom were wiping away tears. He stared intently towards at least one person and mouthed a few phrases.

The Oliver man was initially arrested at the crime scene where police found Amelie Christelle Sakkalis’ body in a rural area near Hwy. 1 at about 7:45 p.m. on Aug. 22.

• READ MORE: B.C. man facing first-degree murder charge in death of Belgian tourist

McKenzie was then let go after his initial arrest as police did not have sufficient evidence to detain him. He was the owner of a white van found on the scene.

“He was not known to police and he does not have a criminal record,” IHIT spokesperson Cpl. Frank Jang told reporters Monday.

“He travels extensively through the province… for work.”

Jang did not elaborate on what job McKenzie held, nor why Crown was pursuing first-degree murder charges.

His brief appearance in Chilliwack court Wednesday ended with him being remanded under section 515.11 of the criminal code, a statute that allows an accused to be held in custody for specific very serious offences.

After the appearance, the friends and family left the courthouse but declined to speak to the media.

McKenzie’s next court date is Oct. 19 at 9:30 a.m.

The victim in the homicide, a Belgian national, Sakkalis had been travelling through Canada for a couple of weeks before her death.

“Amelie’s family in Belgium has been notified of the developments in her case,” Jang said.

Homicide investigators believe Sakkalis was picked up by McKenzie somewhere between Penticton and where her body was found.

Jang said that police received a call that led them to Sakkalis’ body, but would not elaborate on who had made that call.

Sakkalis had been in Penticton long enough to be reported missing, police said.

“They had just recently met that day,” said Jang.

“If you saw [McKenzie] with Amelie Sakkalis that day, on Aug. 22, that’s important to us. Pick up the phone and call us.”

When asked if McKenzie could have other victims despite not having a criminal record, Jang said the police would not rule anything out. The focus, however, on this investigation and his request is for information from the public is regarding the day Sakkalis was murdered, Aug. 22.

• RELATED: First-degree murder suspect Ibrahim Ali to appear in Vancouver court

– with files from Katya Slepian


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Parksville residents hear compelling tales from recovering young addicts

Speakers emphasize need for detox and treatment centre, shelter in the area

REVIEW: ‘Grace and Glorie’ a moving tale of death and friendship

Two women convey characters convincingly and with humour

Jordie Lunn, world-renowned mountain biker from Parksville, dies in accident

The 36-year-old was with friends trail riding in Cabo San Lucas when the accident happened

Island man restores 1962 Qualicum Beach fire truck he bought for $1

Vintage vehicle in working order and ready to hit the road

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Most Read