Mounties look for answers in Kelowna murder, community reacts

Kelowna resident Russia Nicholson’s murder has rocked the community most risk of violence.

Police are now turning to the community to answer questions about Russia Nicholson’s murder.

“RCMP are asking the public to come forward to police, as investigators work to establish a time line of the hours and moments that lead up to Russia’s death,” said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, in a press release.

RELATED: BODY FOUND

“Serious crimes investigators are also looking to track the movements of Russia Nicholson’s four-door white 2010 Ford Fusion between the hours of 1 a.m. to 9 a.m., on Oct. 11, the day of her passing.”

Business and area residents in the vicinity of both the 2100 block of Cooper Road, where the victim’s body was discovered and the 1300 block of Collison Road, where the victim’s vehicle was recovered, are encouraged to review their video surveillance footage for any images that show Russia’s white 2010 Ford Fusion. The Ford Fusion has distinguishing damage to its front bumper and driver’s side rear passenger window.

RCMP would like to remind the public, that investigators have reason to believe that the Oct. 11 murder of the 23-year-old was not a random attack, that the victim likely knew her attacker.

Anyone who may have witnessed anything in the area prior, or anyone with any information is asked to contact the Serious Crimes Unit of the Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300.

COMMUNITY REACTS TO MURDER

Kelowna resident Russia Nicholson’s murder has shaken the community of women who are at most risk of violence.

Angie Lohr leads HOPE Outreach, a non profit organization that offers women on the street access to harm reduction tools and care items. Though her work she’s heard a lot about the Oct. 11 death that police quickly deemed a homicide due to its apparent violence.

“People have been rocked to their soul in a bad way by this. With this and all the fentanyl deaths, everyone knows everyone who has died, and their story,” said Lohr, adding that Nicholson, 23, wasn’t known to be living on the streets, but she was familiar to those who do.

Police have said that Nicholson likely knew her attacker, and that’s not surprising to Lohr.

“When you’re in that world of drugs, addiction, dealing and crime, there are only three outcomes: You’re going to die, be arrested or hopefully you will come into recovery. And it’s sad.”

Dealing with personal tragedy, Lohr added, has increasingly become the standard for a growing number of men and women who are either embroiled in local drug culture or are are trying to help alleviate the suffering being experienced.

“So many people see so much of this —we’ve lived through it,” said Lohr said, who is also a recovering addict. “These girls feel that immediately. They look at their own lives, see where they’ve been and they are tragically disheartened. When they lose someone, they’re losing someone from their street family. Besides what goes on, they’re still human, they still love each other.”

Worse yet, violence, she said, has been increasing in frequency on Kelowna streets.

“Our girls are getting raped at a higher rate, and there are assaults every night,” she said. “There are a lack of shelter bed and there’s nowhere to go.”

Lohr isn’t the only person who feels frustrated when this kind of incident arises.

“You think, ‘is this someone I know or someone I’ve been working with?’ Michelle Novakowski, executive director at the Elizabeth Fry Society said. “What could we have done to keep her safer? In general it’s upsetting … it’s sad.”

Novakowski has also said that it’s become increasingly clear that the number of women in harm’s way is increasing.

“I know just from driving around, as most of us have noticed, that there are more people on the streets,” she said.

It was always hard to find accommodation in Kelowna, but this summer was a particular struggle.

“We have had women living in their cars, or in the summer not getting a hotel room because the cost is more prohibitive,” she said. “ It’s an increasing problem.”

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