Kathy Michaels and Roger Knox
The man charged with the Halloween slaying of Armstrong teenager Taylor Van Diest made his first court appearance Tuesday morning.
Matthew Stephen Foerster, 26, appeared calm during a brief showing in the Kelowna courtroom, despite the substantial series of charges being read to him.
In addition to second degree murder in connection with the Van Diest homicide, Foerster faces charges stemming from an alleged attack at a Kelowna escort agency April 12, 2005 and an alleged Cherryville home invasion Oct. 19, 2004.
The former earned him charges of sexual assault with a weapon and unlawful confinement. The latter amounted to charges of break and enter, having face masked during a crime, assault causing bodily harm and unlawful confinement.
Foerster’s currently being held in Kelowna cells, but will soon be transferred to Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.
From there he’ll return to court trial video link, for a May 10 court appearance.
Foerster was arrested in Collingwood, Ont., last week after an exhaustive investigation into the murder of the Armstrong teen, who was found Oct. 31, 2011 fatally wounded on railway tracks near her home by friends and family.
The first break in the case police shared with the public came when DNA from that scene was linked to an earlier crime at the Kelowna escort agency, and a composite drawing of the suspect was released.
Foerster’s father, Stephen Roy Foerster, 58, of Cherryville, has been charged with obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact to murder in connection with Van Diest’s death.
He was arrested in his residence last Wednesday and will appear in a Vernon courtroom today.
News of the arrests hit the small community of Cherryville hard.
“This is terrible what has happened,” said Eugene Foisy, regional district director for Cherryville.
“It’s shocking for our community, we’re just a small community, less than 1,000 people and everybody knows everybody. I’m sure it’s the same in Armstrong, and that just makes it hit all that harder. There’s good and bad in every community. My sympathy goes out to the Van Diest family and to the Armstrong community.”
Police meanwhile continue to try and establish a timeline on the day and night of Van Diest’s murder, Oct. 31, 2011.
“We would like to hear from anyone who has not already spoken to investigators that now may have information about any contact they had with him on Halloween night,” said Insp. Brendan Fitzpatrick, operations officer for the B.C. RCMP’s major crime section.
“We would like to hear from any other witnesses who may have information regarding that night.”
Police also want to establish a timeline of Foerster’s travels and activities from Dec. 2011 to the end of March 2012.
Fitzpatrick asks that anybody that has information to share should call the dedicated tip line at 1-888-688-4264.