A close family member of Trina Hunt has confirmed that a man arrested last week in connection with her death has been released without charges.
"We thought we would maybe have reason to celebrate in a new way today but that’s not the case, instead it’s another blow," said Stephanie Ibbott, who is Hunt's cousin-in-law.
Ibbott said the family is disappointed that the man was released without charges today (Monday June 6) — which would have been Hunt's 50th birthday.
There are plans to hold a private event in memory of Hunt later this week, she said.
In the meantime, Ibbott said family members are hoping for a resolution to the case that his been ongoing for more than a year.
Noting that it's been a year since police searched the Port Moody home the first time, Ibbott speculated that last Friday's arrest was a warning.
"This is a warning to the person or the people that did that (killed Hunt), I think this is their warning that IHIT has not forgotten," Ibbott said.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has confirm that the man arrested on Friday has been released without charges as part of the ongoing investigative process.
"This is a complex investigation, beyond the arrest," said Sgt. David Lee in an email to the Tri-City News, explaining that he couldn't provide more because of concerns about jeopardizing the case.
"The arrest was part of the investigative process. Not the end but the investigation is ongoing and continuing."
Hunt's remains were found in March 2021 after she disappeared earlier that year.
Last Friday, neighbour Mark Tonello told the Tri-City News one person came out of Hut's Heritage Mountain home in handcuffs around 4 p.m. after police swarmed the residence.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) has since confirmed an arrest was made at a Port Moody home in connection to her case. Spokesperson Sgt. Lee said at the time that the suspect was co-operative.
Lee told the Tri-City News that officers rushed inside the home, spoke with the man inside and took him into custody.
Investigators were able to obtain "sufficient information" that led to the arrest, and the process has included efforts from the Port Moody Police Department (PMPD), Lee further stated.
Tonello said the police involved in last Friday's arrest appeared to be plainclothes officers.
"And then a couple of minutes later, about four Port Moody Police Department vehicles showed up with their lights on," he explains.
"A couple of minutes later, they had a man coming out of the house in handcuffs [..] from what I can see, they put him in the back of the vehicle, which was out there for some time."
Tonello said several police vehicles remained on the scene after the suspect was taken away.
The investigation's timeline
Hunt was confirmed deceased on June 1, 2021, less than three months after remains were found in Silver Creek near Hope, B.C.
The then 48-year-old, who would've turned 50 on Monday (June 6), was first reported missing to PMPD on Jan. 18, 2021. At the time, she was reportedly last seen in her home that same morning.
After public pleas when foul play was suspected, the community conducted several searches through the local forests hoping to find Hunt or something that could help officials in their investigation.
According to the #JusticeForTrina Facebook page, a video explains more than 500 volunteers spent 1,200 hours searching and covering 2,000 km of land — equalling the distance from Port Moody to Los Angeles and ascending to the top of Mount Everest six times.
It was ultimately determined on May 1, 2021, that remains found near Hope on March 29, 2021, was Hunt's.
On June 1, her family announced $50,000 for anyone that came forward with tips that led to an arrest and potential charges, to which the Hunts told the person responsible to "own up" to their actions.
Today's arrest is also one year after IHIT executed search warrants at two homes on June 6, 2021 — including Hunt's Heritage Mountain residence and one in Mission, where a vehicle was taken for evidence.
Tape was around the Port Moody house, and several officers were seen coming in and out at the time.
After that development, no other information was formally released to the public.
Two months later, in August 2021, the Hunt family held an intimate celebration of life among friends and peers.
"We were so fortunate to have such support from family and friends," said Diana Ibbott, Hunt's mother, at the gathering. "We will always have those memories, her sparkle and her laughter."
A tribute table was also set up with photos, #JusticeForTrina stickers and lit candles in her honour.
Anyone with details or tips regarding Hunt's homicide is strongly urged to call IHIT at 1-877-551-4448 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, anonymous contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or go online to www.solvecrime.ca.
Lee explains to the Tri-City News this is especially the case for today's events as "unrest has been made worse looking for information."