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Autopsy scheduled for 53-year-old woman found dead in Sooke

Jan 10 2012
Members of the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, with assistance from Sooke RCMP conduct a homicide investigation at Park Village trailer park, at #2615 Otter Point Road in Sooke on January  9, 2012  

Members of the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, with assistance from Sooke RCMP conduct a homicide investigation at Park Village trailer park, at #2615 Otter Point Road in Sooke on January 9, 2012

Photograph by: Adrian Lam, timescolonist.com

An autopsy to positively identify a 53-year-old woman found dead in Sooke on Sunday is being scheduled.

Alex Conte, 21, is charged with second-degree murder, following a tele-bail hearing before a judge Monday. He is due back in Victoria provincial court on Thursday.

Sarah Nickerson, 53, is the deceased, according to court records. Police have not yet released her name pending the positive identification and outcome of the autopsy. That has yet to be scheduled, police said Tuesday.

There is a publication ban on evidence and information given during the tele-bail hearing.

Neighbours said Nickerson and Conte are mother and son. Police would not state the relationship between the two, and would only say the deceased and suspect are known to each other.

Neighbour Jeanine Kroppmanns said the details of the woman’s death are “horrifying.”

“It was a very brutal murder that happened,” Kroppmanns said.

Police will not comment. “We will not be speaking about weapons that may or may not have been recovered,” said RCMP Cpl. Annie Linteau, in Vancouver, on Monday.

Kroppmanns said police were at the home on Thanksgiving. A disturbance — noises that sounded like breaking glass, and pots and pans being banged about — could be heard before police arrived, she said.

Members of the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit with assistance from Sooke RCMP continued their investigation at the scene Tuesday.

The forensic identification section also remained at the scene, according to police Tuesday.

The deceased woman’s body was still at the scene Monday. Police would not confirm Tuesday whether the body had been moved.

On Sunday about 3:30 p.m., Sooke RCMP arrived at 20-2615 Otter Point Rd., a trailer park in Sooke, after receiving a call for assistance. Police will not say who called.

Once there, police said they found the deceased and a 21-year-old man who “was arrested at the scene for murder.”

Neighbours said the mother cared deeply for her son, but that the young man was mentally ill and possibly took recreational drugs. Police occasionally attended the home, neighbours say.

Sooke RCMP confirmed the suspect is known to police.

Neighbour Amian Vaughn-Evans, who lives directly beside the family, said the man suffered from “mental-health issues and there were drug issues.”

“She cared about her son a great deal. She loved him lots,” Vaughn-Evans said.

Nickerson was a good person who wanted to provide a safe place for her son to stay, Vaughn-Evans said. “I’m sad she’s gone. She didn’t deserve this.”

Dale Birchard, 50, who lives across from the pair, said Conte “seemed like a real nice kid. He was polite. He was respectful.”

Nickerson was a mother of at least two other children, a daughter and son, but lived only with Conte, Birchard said.

“She had a heart of gold and like any mother she gave unconditional love,” Birchard said. “She had faith in him. She believed in God. And she thought, keep that love there and they’ll get through the whole thing.”

Any commotion he heard was verbal, not physical, Birchard said.

This is the capital region’s first murder investigation in the new year. Police could not say the last time there was a murder in Sooke, but added there were no murders there in 2011.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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