British tourist Tom Billings confirmed dead after remains found on Cypress Mountain
While the BC Coroners Service is continuing to investigate the death, foul play is not suspected.
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Human remains found on Cypress Mountain last month are those of British tourist Tom Billings who went missing more than two years ago, the BC Coroners Service and Vancouver police confirmed Friday.
Vancouver Police Const. Brian Montague told reporters Friday that a hiker on Cypress Mountain came across remains on April 11 that he turned in to police.
North Shore Rescue returned to the area several days later and recovered personal items and additional remains, which DNA identification specialists have confirmed belong to the 22-year-old British tourist, he said.
“We may likely never know exactly what happened to Tom,” Montague told reporters. “The Coroners Service will try and figure that out. We can tell you that foul play is not suspected.”
Since foul play has been ruled out, he said the BC Coroners Service is taking over the investigation.
Montague said it was a “challenge” to recover the remains after three winters and animal movement in the area.
The grim discovery marks the end of a tragic mystery for Billings’ family and friends.
Originally from Oxford, England, Billings was last seen in the area of East Broadway and Mclean Drive at about 9 a.m. on Nov. 25, 2013, according to police.
He was reported missing a week later when he didn’t return to England after his eight-week trip through North America, sparking an extensive search of the area that failed to turn up any trace of the young man.
Information obtained after Billings went missing indicated that he had gone hiking in the North Shore Mountains, according to police.
Shortly after his disappearance, Billings’ father Martin Billings made an emotional plea to the public for any new tips that could help find his son.
"The things that have gone through my mind are, in many ways, too horrible to mention. I can't deny that," Martin Billings, who travelled to Vancouver to meet face-to-face with detectives, said at the time. "I think that the most likely thing is that he got into trouble somewhere on a mountain, and from there on, I don't know."
On Friday, Montague would not provide details on the specific location where Billings’ remains were found, as investigators will be continuing to search the area to ensure no evidence has been missed.
He said VPD’s lead missing persons investigator contacted Billings' parents shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday to deliver the news.
“It was a two-hour conversation that he had with them last night. It was difficult for him, as well,” he said. “This is a case that our missing persons unit has worked on regularly for two and a half years. They never let it go. They wanted to provide this closure for the family.”
Montague said the Billings family is “extremely saddened” by the news.
“I don’t think the news was a surprise to them, but obviously still a very sad day,” he said.
Police and the Billings family have asked media to respect the family’s privacy, but issued a statement Friday thanking the public, North Shore Rescue, the helicopter pilots of Talon Aviation, the British consulate, and Vancouver police for their support and help over the past two and a half years in the search to find their son.