Police are seeking the public's assistance in tracking down the individual(s) responsible for the death of Rossland resident Thomas Feeney.
Preliminary findings from an ongoing investigation leads investigators to believe that this is a “random incident” or a “crime of opportunity” against the 75-year-old man who was recently killed at his residence on Feeney Road, Supt. Tim Head, district operations officer for the Southeast District RCMP 'E' Division confirmed at a press conference Monday.
“While I will not be providing specifics with respect to what we know to date about the homicide – I can say that this appears to be a break and enter type incident that ended in a violent and disturbing homicide,” said Head, who expressed his condolences to family members like son Tom Feeney and son-in-law Colin Lohrer who sat in the crowd of about 30 people.
Lohrer expressed the family's devastation in a statement to the press, pleading the public to come forward with any details that could pertain to the tragedy.
“We are all in shock to know he has been taken from us in such a tragic way,” he paused. “It has been a devastating blow to our family.”
The late Feeney was born and raised in Rossland. He was a father, grandfather and great grandfather who loved to hunt and fish and enjoy the outdoors. His family immigrated from Ireland and made Rossland and its surrounding area their home for generations, according to Peter Corrado, nephew of the deceased.
“He was an Irishman in a very social sense so people would stop by and visit and he welcomed them in and unfortunately it seems that someone who came took advantage of him and killed him,” he said after the scrum. “We really need the public to rally around this and we need to get this person off the street because if they can do it to Tom, they'll do it to someone else.”
Last Thursday at about 11 a.m. the Trail and Greater District RCMP responded to the call regarding the discovery of a body, who was later identified as Feeney.
The investigation has determined that specific items are now missing from the farm such as an Emerson 40 1080 LCD television; five firearms, including a unique rifle described as a Pedersoli/Cimarron Arms 1874 Sharps 45-70 (an extremely unique weapon with an octagon-shaped barrel and a distinctive firing mechanism and sight); and ammunition reloading equipment (including a distinctive 45 calibre projectile). Police have posted detailed information and images to the provincial RCMP website in hopes of connecting these items with a suspect.
“We are also reviewing any other break-ins in the area as we have not been able to eliminate the possibility that there is a connection with the homicide investigation,” added Head.
“We therefore ask any local residents to ensure that if you have been the target of an attempted break-in, or the victim of a break-in, to please contact police and report the details.”
Sgt. Darren Oelke of the Trail detachment arrived from Prince George about five weeks ago but rather than transitioning into a quieter detachment, the new sergeant in command has been dealing with some heavy crime.
“Typically, I hate to call it sleepy hollow, but Rossland is a very good community . . . and has a very low crime rate compared to Prince George,” he said.
The BC RCMP Southeast District Major Crime Unit, with the assistance from the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit and the Kootenay Boundary Regional General Investigation Section are investigating this death. The area was cordoned off, the scene has undergone an extensive review by the Forensic Identification Section and the neighbourhood has been canvassed, assured Head.
The BC Coroner Service was notified and an autopsy was scheduled for Monday in order to confirm the exact cause of death.
Anyone with information that could be related to this homicide are asked to call the tipline at 1-877-987-8477.