Father, son charged in Halloween slaying of 18-year-old woman in B.C.

The Canadian Press
Associated Press

ARMSTRONG, B.C. - The mother of an 18-year-old B.C. woman slain on Halloween says she hopes her family can begin the healing process now that police have arrested a suspect.

The RCMP announced Thursday they have charged Matthew Stephen Foerster, 26, with second degree murder in the death of Taylor Van Diest.

Van Diest was attacked and beaten in the North Okanagan community of Armstrong while walking near railway tracks to meet friends for Halloween celebrations. She died later in hospital.

Foerster's father, Stephen Foerster, 58, has also been charged with obstruction of justice and being an accessory to murder after the fact.

Van Diest's mother, Marie Van Diest, told a news conference the family has been waiting for this news for five months.

"Today is a day filled with mixed emotions. We finally can direct our anger at a face," she said.

"We hoped and prayed this day would come. And now that it's here, perhaps we can all begin the slow healing process."

Chris Pieper, mayor of Armstrong, called Thursday a special day for the Van Diest family and the community.

"Five months and five days ago, we all woke up to hear about the terrible tragedy in our community. Today, we all take another step in a long stairway to justice," he said.

Matthew Foerster is also charged with sexual assault and unlawful confinement in relation to an alleged incident at a Kelowna, B.C. escort agency April 12, 2005.

He faces additional charges in a 2004 home invasion in which a 19-year-old woman was assaulted in Cherryville, B.C., a community located east of Vernon.

RCMP Insp. Brendan Fitzpatrick said B.C. Mounties, assisted by their colleagues in Ontario as well as members of the Ontario Provincial Police, arrested Matthew Foerster on Wednesday at a motel in Collingwood, Ont.

His father was arrested the same day at his Cherryville home, said Fitzpatrick.

Investigators did not release the results Van Diest's autopsy, saying they wanted to protect the integrity of the investigation

Following the murder, someone claiming responsibility for the crime sent police a letter with a warning that more young women would be targeted.

The killing put the entire community on edge, and the North Okanagan Shuswap School District announced it was taking extra precautions by increasing supervision and ensuring all students were accounted for daily.

In late November, police announced that DNA they had collected matched evidence from an April 2005 sexual assault inside Kelowna's Garden of Eden escort agency

Fitzpatrick said police received 1,250 tips from the public after releasing a composite sketch of a suspect, based on the information from the alleged escort-agency assault.

He also credited the thousands of hours of work investigators poured into the case, as well as forensic analysis and other "specialized investigative techniques," like the work done by behavioural profilers.

Police now want to establish a detailed timeline of Matthew Foerster's activities on the day and night of Van Diest's death and a timeline of his travels and activities from December 2011 until the end of March.

"While arrests have been made, the investigation is ongoing," said Fitzpatrick. "Much work and investigation remains to be done. We are extending our request for assistance from the public and the media today in uncovering more information."

Both son and father remain in custody, and efforts are underway to bring the younger Foerster back to B.C. to face the charges, Fitzpatrick added. (CKIZ)