UPDATE: Nanaimo Mounties searching for killer

Nanaimo Mounties have kept an area near a south-end park cordoned off since late Wednesday while investigating a homicide.

An RCMP forensics specialist records evidence at the scene of a murder on Milford Crescent in Nanaimo. Brittany Elise Baird

An RCMP forensics specialist records evidence at the scene of a murder on Milford Crescent in Nanaimo. Brittany Elise Baird

Nanaimo RCMP are searching for a murder suspect after a female victim was found dead late Wednesday near the corner of Selby Street and Milford Crescent.

RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Sheryl Armstrong said police received a series of 911 calls at about 11 p.m. after nearby residents heard screams for help.

Brittany Elsie Baird, 22, of Nanaimo, was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics after attempts to resuscitate her failed. Armstrong said Baird’s injuries were severe and resulted from a weapon, though police won’t disclose the type of weapon used or what the injuries were until an autopsy can be performed, likely Friday.

Sexual assault is not suspected.

Other items of interest were also found at the scene, and police are confident that blood found at another location on Victoria Crescent is related to the homicide.

“This is definitely a murder investigation,” said Armstrong.

Mounties immediately called for a police dog once at the scene, but it was unable to locate any suspects. The Forensic Identification Unit is on the scene searching for clues and the Vancouver Island Tactical Team is expected to assist at the crime scene Thursday afternoon.

Armstrong said the investigation is the RCMP detachment’s No. 1 priority and that at least 50 officers are working to solve the crime.

“It’s distressing,” she said. “Nobody should die like this.” She added that as of 3 p.m. Thursday police had a list of persons of interest.

Baird was only half a block from home and safety when her life was brought to a violent end on Milford Crescent late Wednesday.

She was new to the neighbourhood, having moved from her parents’ home into an apartment in the 500 block of Selby Street May 16.

“I talked to Brittany at 6:23 and she was making dinner,” said Shirley Baird, Brittany’s mother. “She told me what she was having for dinner and then she said that she had to go down to Thrifty’s because they had shampoo on sale – before they closed at 10.”

Brittany’s parents and her brother Ashley, 27, are in shock. Less than 12 hours after learning of her death, the reality and the grieving has still has not set in.

Baird speaks matter of factly about her daughter.

Brittany was a single mother on social assistance. She had a one-year-old son who is in foster care.

Baird said Brittany had used drugs since she was 16 and had been clean for 30 months, but relapsed briefly in December. She had been off drugs since January. Her move to the apartment on Selby Street was to establish with the Ministry of Children and Families that she could live independently and have her son returned.

Baird did not want Brittany to move out, but wanted her to stay home so she and her son would have the support of family.

“Within my tradition and within my family, we take care of our own,” she said. “we don’t let them go anywhere else.”

The Bairds were waiting Thursday for the police to call them back with an update on the case.

“The coroner phoned me and said that they’re shipping her off to Vancouver for the autopsy,” Baird said. “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. I want the whole world to stop. I can’t believe it.”

Police will continue to canvass the area trying to learn more information, and are asking anybody who may have seen anything or heard anything out of the ordinary to call them. RCMP are not aware of any witnesses and will continue to investigate to build a victim profile that will reveal where Baird was and who she was with earlier that night.

“We don’t know if this is a random or targeted attack,” said Armstrong. “We have very few leads at this time and really need the public’s help.”

Anybody who may have seen or heard anything regarding this case is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.