By Jeremy Hainsworth
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Canadian police were searching a northern British Columbia property for the remains of one of 18 women who have vanished over decades along what has become known as the "Highway of Tears."
Nicole Hoar, 25, disappeared along Highway 16 near the city of Prince George, 320 miles (515 kilometers) northeast of Vancouver, while hitchhiking in June 2002.
Police have linked Hoar's case to a string of killings and disappearances of women - most of them Native Canadian - hitchhiking along Highway 16.
The disappearances date back to 1969. Police have said they don't know if one person or more were responsible for the deaths.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Anne Linteau said Saturday the ongoing investigation into the "Highway of Tears" deaths brought police to a 5-acre (2-hectare) property in Isle Pierre, 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Prince George.
Police have pitched three black tents on the property, which is lined with yellow police tape. Officers toting shovels could be seen Friday evening placing dirt onto a large blue tarp.
Linteau said police are doing a grid search in a wooded area of the property that is expected to take several days. Linteau said a previous owner of the property is a person of interest but declined to identify the person.
Linteau also said police started a search at a second location where police are seizing a car for forensic examination.
Hoar's parents, Jack and Barb Hoar, released a statement late Friday through the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, along with a request for privacy.
The property in Isle Pierre was once owned by Leland Vincent Switzer, now serving a life sentence for fatally shooting his brother early on June 23, 2002, two days after Hoar was last seen.
Land title records show Switzer owned the Isle Pierre, Pinewood road property between 1994 and 2006. It has changed hands twice since then.
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Linteau would not confirm Switzer is the man police are interested in.