September 22, 2014 - 7:37 PM
SURREY - A man accused of the second-degree murder of a 17-year-old girl in Surrey has a long history of violence, including a 1991 sex offence for which he served 22 years in prison.
Raymond Caissie, 43, is charged with killing Serena Vermeersch, whose body was found a day after her mother reported her missing on Sept. 15.
Caissie served his entire sentence without parole, and the B.C. Justice Ministry issued a public warning upon his release in June 2013.
The man has a "varied pattern of offending, having offended both violently and sexually, in both an opportunistic and impulsive manner," said the warning distributed by RCMP.
Police credited residents and businesses with providing information that led to his arrest Saturday morning in Vancouver.
The murder of the girl was a random attack, "a horrible crime of opportunity," said Assistant Commissioner Dan Malo, in charge of RCMP policing in the Lower Mainland.
On Monday, Staff Sgt. Jennifer Pound of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said the influx of tips was pivotal as police worked around the clock to arrest a suspect.
"The community worked closely with us on this one," she said, adding tips from the public and "extreme support" from businesses helped police apprehend the man as fear spread among residents.
Pound read a statement from Vermeersch's family saying that while they are grateful for the support they've received they wish to be left alone to grieve their loss.
Vermeersch was last seen walking along railroad tracks last Tuesday night, and when she didn't come home by early Wednesday her mother phoned police.
Her body was found later Wednesday, prompting RCMP to issue a public plea for information about a man seen in a Dodge pickup truck near the tracks shortly before a volunteer search-and-rescue team made the gruesome discovery.
On Monday, Pound said police had not yet identified the driver but they would like to speak with him.
Chief Supt. Bill Fordy of the Surrey RCMP detachment said Vermeersch was just a teen going about her business when she met with foul play, something police suspected from the start.
"As I stand here right now, Serena should be at Sullivan Heights secondary school, having a laugh with her classmates and perhaps thinking about her graduation. Sadly, that is not the case."
He said the teen's death has galvanized the Newton community where other high-profile deaths have occurred.
Caissie's convictions include two counts of sexual assault with a weapon, two counts of forcible confinement and robbery, theft, break and enter and possession of stolen property.
The man was arrested again last November for failing to report to his probation officer and charged in January with theft under $5,000.
As he was being led out of court from his 1992 sentencing, the man said "I'll see you in 22 years," according to reports.
He was convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman who was working for the summer at a museum in Abbotsford, east of Vancouver.
He raped her twice at knife-point in the museum, court heard, and then took her to a bank and forced her to withdraw money from her account. He then took her to the woods, raped her again, and left her tied to a tree.
Two men from a nearby farm heard her screams and came to her aid.
A couple of days later, the man robbed a woman as she pushed her two-year-old in a stroller in an Abbotsford park.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2014