[UPDATED] A body found in Sooke Potholes Regional Park is that of a 74-year-old man missing since last week after he was charged with sexual assault of minors.
"We are confirming that we recovered Bob Deryk," said Staff Sgt. Stephen Wright on Sunday night.
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Sooke RCMP continue to investigate a body found in Sooke Potholes Regional Park Saturday afternoon. The discovery ended an extensive police search for a missing man charged last week with sexual assault of minors.
Just before noon Sunday, police had still not officially identified the body. The investigation remains in its infancy, said Sooke RCMP Staff Sgt. Stephen Wright.
At about 1:30 p.m. Saturday, two people alerted RCMP that they had found a body in a Capital Regional District shed on the bank of the Sooke River.
Directly behind the shed is the home of 74-year-old Bob Deryk, known locally as Bonsai Bob, said Wright. On the mail box to the property, cordoned off by police tape, it reads T'Sou-ke Bonsai, accompanied by the photo of a bonsai tree.
A search for Deryk began Tuesday after he was reported missing.
Deryk was charged two weeks ago with two counts of sexual assault involving minors. He was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.
“Right now, the search for Mr. Deryk has been suspended,” Wright said.
On Sunday, Sooke RCMP said they continue to investigate and could not identify the deceased nor would they confirm if the body was that of a man or woman or give the age of the deceased.
Individuals on the scene Saturday told the Times Colonist that they were long-time friends of Deryk who had been called there to identify the body.
Sooke RCMP confirmed that Deryk’s “close friends are here right now, and they are quite upset.”
The search for the missing man was close to wrapping up Saturday when two people approached police, alerting them they had found a body, RCMP said.
The body was in a large industrial shed just metres from Deryk’s house — where he lived alone — and about half a kilometre from the search command post.
“It’s quite possible we missed [the body] the first time we looked, but this will all be part of the followup investigation,” Wright said.
The shed was one of the first areas searched by a police dog, he said.
“We had our own police officers out on foot scouring the area, as well as ground search and rescue.”
The B.C. Coroners Service and forensic identification investigators were called to the park Saturday afternoon.
The time of death has yet to be determined, police said. Foul play is not suspected.
The two charges of sexual assault laid against Deryk involve incidents that allegedly occurred last September with victims who were 12 and 13 at the time.
Deryk’s nickname comes from his admitted obsession and collection of hundreds of bonsai trees. He was allowed to live on the land under a covenant, according to police.
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