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Archive: Have you seen this woman?; Police release sketch, description of suspects in Buziak killing

This story was first published Feb. 4, 2009.
Sketch released by police in February 2009.

This story was first published Feb. 4, 2009.

Lindsay Buziak, the young real estate agent stabbed to death while showing an upscale home in Gordon Head last year, met with a couple inside the home the day she was killed, Saanich police revealed for the first time yesterday. The police are seeking help from the public to identify the pair.

Saanich police spokesman Sgt. John Price released a sketch yesterday, a year and a day after Buziak's death, of a Caucasian woman, 35 to 45 years old, with short blond hair. Police said the male suspect is believed to be Caucasian, six feet tall with dark hair.

Both were described as well-dressed, the man wearing a light- to medium-coloured jacket, and the woman possibly wearing a black designer skirt or dress patterned with thick white and red swirls.

Police arrived at the descriptions through statements from several witnesses, Price said. But he would not confirm whether the couple was seen near the house at 1702 De Sousa Pl. on the day Buziak, 24, was killed.

Buziak had been lured to the house by a female caller on Feb. 2, 2008. The caller said she was interested in million-dollar listings. They arranged a showing at 5:30 p.m. Later that day, a man called Buziak and said he would meet with her alone. She went, despite initial hesitation. She was found dead at 6:15 p.m.

Yesterday, Price would not confirm whether the people police are seeking placed the phone calls to Buziak. But he did say Saanich police have had the sketch and descriptions for months.

When asked why police didn't release the information sooner, Price said police wanted "to ensure that it met with our investigative needs."

Asked why it was relevant now, Price said police wanted to take advantage of the resurgence of interest in the case, referring to media coverage about the anniversary of Buziak's death.

Buziak's family was recently notified of the break in the case.

"We've known that they had other evidence for a period of time but what specifically that was they don't tell us," said Buziak's uncle and family spokesman, Art Reitmayer. "There's certain things they can and can't share with us and ... we understand that. I'm sure there's other information they haven't released either."

Buziak's father, Jeff Buziak, refused to comment.

Police usually release a sketch as quickly as possible in criminal investigations, said Robert Gordon, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University. "If they have been sitting on this sketch ... there is some doubt that has to be cast over the value of the image," he said.

Gordon said the belated release of the sketch suggests two possible situations: The police don't have a suspect at all or they have an "inside track on who that was and didn't want to spoil that."

The delay doesn't necessarily decrease the likelihood of a conviction, another SFU criminologist said. "It's quite clear that as time goes by the possibility of a conviction decreases but the possibility remains nonetheless," Neil Boyd said.

"We know with DNA and with other advances and perhaps even with the release of this composite you can have convictions decades after the crime."

The Saanich police investigation is led by Insp. Rob McColl, who heads the major crime unit.

"We've done a lot of work in the last 12 months. We've amassed a great deal of information," said Price. Five full-time investigators continue to work on the case. Police have conducted 1,471 interviews, executed 30 search warrants and have had 752 tips.

Police said, for the first time yesterday, they've cleared Buziak's live-in boyfriend as a suspect. The day of the killing, Jason Zailo arrived at the crime scene around 6:15 p.m. with a friend because Buziak told him to check on her after the suspicious call. Police confirmed Zailo called 9-1-1, once from outside the house and a second time when he discovered Buziak's body on the second floor. Zailo continues to co-operate with police, Price said.

"We've never said Zailo was a suspect," he said. "Zailo was a person of interest, as would anybody be who was found at the scene of a homicide investigation."

Zailo's lawyer, Bradley Hickford, said Zailo is relieved he has finally been exonerated. "What you've got is a young man that's suffered a terrible loss. He's doing his best to deal with the grief and move on with his life."

Hickford would not say whether Zailo's business as a real estate agent has suffered over the past year because his name was not cleared earlier. Zailo did not return calls for comment.

A year is a long time to pass before clearing the name of a suspect so close to the victim, Boyd said, noting that most murders are committed by someone known to the victim. However, he said too much information released too soon can jeopardize a police investigation.

Saanich police are encouraging anyone who has information on the case to call their tip line at 250-475-4313 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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