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

Kitimat resident is Conservative choice for fall election

Claire Rattée is a former Kitimat councillor

Pacific Traverse Energy to start community engagement

The company will reach out to key stakeholders

RCMP again warns public not to drink and drive

New legislation allows police to breathalyze with drivers’ consent

Rio Tinto donates $50K for Shames Mountain chairlift upgrades

The money was used to purchase the chairlift’s bull wheel replacement last summer

Broken axle caused New Hazelton train derailment: TSB

It could happen again without a different way to inspect trains

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

Most Read