Vernon North Okanagan RCMP responded to reports of a man in medical distress Oct. 1, 2020. An investigation closed Kalamalka Road around Howe Drive for several hours. Spray paint marks reddish stains along the roadway. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

2 Okanagan homicides in 12 days under investigation by major crime unit

Homicide victims linked to Yukon drug trade believed targeted by RCMP

Two Vernon area homicides in 12 days with victims linked to the Yukon drug trade are under investigation and police say the incidents are believed to be targeted.

Human remains found in a burned-out vehicle off Westside Road on Sunday, Sept. 20, were identified on Oct. 2 as 27-year-old Erin Borgford of Whitehorse.

On Oct. 1, RCMP responded to a medical distress call in Coldstream. An hours-long investigation led to the closure of Aberdeen and Kalamalka roads. Police deemed the incident a homicide on Monday, Oct. 5, after 27-year-old Zacheriah Bradley, of Vernon, died in hospital from his injuries.

“The victim, who had been shot, happened to gain entry into the home of a medical professional who provided enhanced care while awaiting the arrival of emergency paramedics,” said Staff Sgt. Scott Aschenbrenner of the Southeast District Major Crime Unit.

The major crime unit is conducting investigations into both homicides.

“The investigative teams are aware of the geographic proximity of the two cases,” RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey said Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Major crime investigators are in contact with each other to ensure any possible overlapping information between the two incidents is investigated thoroughly, O’Donaghey said.

“No arrests have been made at this time,” he said. “RCMP wish to reassure the general public that each of these incidents are believed to be targeted and not random in nature.”

Borgford was arrested in Whitehorse on March 4 along with two others. The Yukon RCMP’s Crime Reduction Unit seized drug paraphernalia, suspected heroin and cash. The three were charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Three years prior, Bradley pleaded guilty in Whitehorse to five of 23 charges, including possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and possession of weapons. The then 24-year-old was sentenced to two years plus one day in prison and was issued a 10-year firearms ban.

Territorial Court Judge Michael Cozens noted in his 2017 decision this was Bradley’s first conviction as an adult or a youth related to possession or trafficking drugs, but acknowledged his lengthy record going back to his youth in Vernon, which includes assault with a weapon and armed robbery.

“I really do wish you the best, Mr. Bradley, with trying to turn your life away from where the pattern has brought you,” the judge concluded. “I will not tell you it will be easy but you can do it.”

It is still unconfirmed if the victims knew each other.

READ MORE: Homicide investigation underway after Coldstream incident

READ MORE: Suspected human remains found in burned-out vehicle on OKIB land


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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Vernon North Okanagan RCMP responded to reports of a man in medical distress Oct. 1, 2020. An investigation closed Kalamalka Road around Howe Drive for several hours. Spray paint marks reddish stains along the roadway. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

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