SURREY â€” The man charged with the second degree murder of 17-year-old Surrey girl Serena Vermeersch is a 43-year-old sex offender who already served 22 years in prison for a brutal sex assault in Abbotsford.
Convicted rapist Raymond Lee Caissie relocated to Surrey last summer after finishing two 12-year terms in jail for two counts of sexual assault, and 10 years for two counts of robbery and one count of forcible confinement.
Caissie was arrested by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team over the weekend and charged in connection with the killing of Vermeersch, who was found dead on Sept. 16 in East Newton. She was last seen taking a bus on 128 Street and 64 Avenue on the night of Sept. 15, but her body was later found by Search and Rescue in the 14600-block of 66th Avenue of Surrey, near the railway tracks.
Caissie has a long and violent criminal record. On July 21, 1991, he entered Abbotsford’s Trethewey House Museum where he found a 21-year-old summer student and raped her at knifepoint.
Following the assault, he took the woman to a bank machine and forced her to withdraw her daily limit before taking her to a field near the Canada-U.S. border and raped her again. He left her tied to a tree before fleeing the scene. She was later found by farmers who heard her screams for help.
Caissie was arrested two days later for a knifepoint robbery of a mother, dumping her 2-year-old child from a stroller as he fled on foot.
The B.C. Corrections Branch issued a warning at the time of his release in 2013, considering him a high-risk offender due to his unpredictable pattern of crime, which includes violent and sexual attacks in an opportunistic and impulsive manner.
Mayor Dianne Watts publicly criticized the Parole Board of Canada upon hearing about his release into Surrey, suggesting Caissie was certain to reoffend.
His criminal record also includes theft, break and enter and possession of stolen property. According to court files, he has gone by the aliases Brett Alen Stevens, Raymond Lee Carlton and Biran Peele in the past.
Caissie’s bail was revoked Nov. 21, 2013 after failing to report to his probation officer on two occasions. In February 2014 he was sent to prison once again for shoplifting at a Surrey Winners store, but was released after serving 21 days in jail.
IHIT has maintained since last week that the murder of Vermeersch appears to have been a random attack and a "crime of opportunity."
Authorities would not reveal how Vermeersch was killed, nor confirm whether a sexual assault was perpetrated.
Sgt. Jennifer Pound of IHIT read a brief statement by the Vermeersch family:
"We’re currently receiving the support we need from friends and family in the face of Serena’s passing. We appreciate the concern and kind words we are receiving, but we respectfully ask that our privacy remain undisturbed. If we wish to contact the media at some point in the future we will initiate that contact. Until that point we would like to be left to our grieving."
The press conference starts at 1:37:51