Affixed to the corkboard in Insp. Rob McColl’s office is a poster publicizing today’s Walk for Justice in memory of Lindsay Buziak.
“We’re certainly in need of that one right tip,” said the Saanich police detective who oversees the investigation into the unsolved murder of the 24-year-old real estate agent, stabbed to death three years ago (Feb. 2, 2008).
Over the last year, the investigation had been an active one, with a temporary $100,000 reward offered and a U.S. television show casting a high-profile spotlight on the homicide.
“Things like doing Dateline (NBC) and things like doing a reward speak to an investigation that isn’t going as well as the police might’ve hoped,” McColl said.
McColl was one of two investigators interviewed by Dateline. And though there initially had been a lot of skepticism about participating, McColl said the exposure was worth the department’s efforts.
“I wanted to ensure that it was the best possible representation to give us the best shot at catching the bad guy and gal,” McColl said. “The only reason you do something like that is because it has the potential to put the bad people, the responsible people, behind bars eventually. And we were hopeful and optimistic that would happen. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened to date.”
Though the show was watched by several million people in Canada and the U.S., McColl said nothing noteworthy came from it.
“Having had this on our plate (at the time of the broadcast) for more than two years, we had plenty of time to develop theories, look at them closely and think outside of the box,” McColl said, noting that police agree with the Dateline investigators’ conclusion that Buziak was an innocent party, and her murder was a targeted hit arranged by someone close to her.
Saanich police have narrowed down the investigation to “three or four” working theories.
But three years later, and admittedly no closer to solving the case than at last year’s anniversary, McColl admitted officers are disappointed.
“We’re not on the edge of making an arrest at this time. In the last year we’ve closed a lot of doors and eliminated avenues of investigations, but we’re not where we want to be,” he said. “And until we get there, we’re falling short of our own expectations and we’re falling short of the family’s expectations.”
Last week, Saanich investigators were in Metro Vancouver participating in a roundtable organized by the RCMP’s Office of Investigative Standards and Practices to offer advice on the next steps.
“That has given rise to some jobs, some activities worth following up on,” McColl said.
But police are running out of tips to chase and investigative avenues to pursue. The belief is that some of the 1,400-plus people interviewed so far are withholding information. McColl said.
“It’s not cool to tell on your friends, it’s not cool to rat people out … Many times in a homicide investigation you can get past that because it’s also not cool to kill people,” he said. “There should be some assurance to anyone that is considering speaking to the police, that we’re not really interested in the skeletons in your closet. We have the ability to put that aside and focus in on what we’re really interested in, and that is catching these killers.”