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Human remains found on island near Powell River

RCMP homicide squad investigating but have yet to determine identity

Powell River RCMP and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team are investigating the grisly discovery of human remains on uninhabited Harwood Island.

A boater who stopped on the tiny island off Powell River found the human remains on the shore Sunday around noon, Powell River RCMP detachment commander Staff Sgt. Andy Brinton said.

The person boated back to Powell River and reported the location of the body to Mounties.

Two officers and a coroner responded and retrieved the body.

Brinton would not say whether police consider this a homicide, saying it's considered a suspicious death.

"Right now we're still in the process of trying to determine what we have," Brinton said.

"I can't get into any further detail."

Police have not yet determined whether the remains are of a male or female.

Brinton wouldn't say if there was any identification on the deceased person.

The RCMP's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has been contacted to assist in the investigation, as is done with any "homicide or potential homicide," Brinton said.

Brinton said it's too early to say if police are looking for suspects. No weapons were found near the body, he said. Forensic investigators with the B.C. Coroners Service are trying to determine how long the remains were there and the cause of death.

Harwood Island, about a two-minute power-boat ride from Powell River, is part of the Sliammon First Nation reserve and is often used for recreational activities. Rod Allan, the band's chief administrative officer, said the chief was notified of the investigation Sunday.

"All they've said is an investigation is underway," Allan said, adding that police didn't indicate the community was in any danger.

Allan said the band sometimes uses the island for community gatherings and will allow visitors to camp there if they ask permission.

"Occasionally we'll get a call from people saying they'd like to camp overnight so we'll usually say, 'Go ahead as long as you're responsible,' " Allan said. "A couple weeks ago, some kayakers called and wanted to camp there, and we said sure."

Brinton said Powell River RCMP rarely respond to the island.

"It's pretty quiet," he said.

Anyone with information can contact Powell River RCMP at 250-485-6255.

kderosa@timescolonist.com