Police are offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a man wanted for two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of a Markham, Ont. couple, saying Phuong Tan Nguyen is likely to have left Canada after last being seen boarding a plane in Mexico in 2021.
Nguyen, 35, is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant in what police say was a targeted attack on Quoc Tran, 37, and Kristy Nguyen, 25, with whom he shares no familial relation.
York Regional Police announced last year that they recovered Tran's body at a landfill near Sarnia. Kristy's body has yet to be located.
At a news conference Thursday, police shared a statement from her family, who have yet to find closure some 16 months after she first vanished.
"It's very difficult for us to speak about Kristy in the past tense because many days we simply cannot believe she's dead," the family said in a statement read aloud by York Regional Police Chief Jim MacSween.
"How can it be that our beautiful, reliable smart ambitious Kristy is no longer here? How could it be that somebody chose this for her?"
Kristy, they said, was a source of joy and pride for the close-knit family, managed her mother's nail salon and hoped to get married this year.
Police working with Mexican authorities
"All the remarkable things that she could have been were stolen from us.... We don't know why she needed to die but we do know that at least one person out there has the answers we so desperately need for any chance of peace."
Police say the victims knew Nguyen, but there is no information to suggest that was also the case for the 36-year-old man charged with two counts of accessory after the fact to murder in connection with their deaths in 2021. They also say there is no evidence the case was a "murder for hire."
Police say they have been working to locate Nguyen with help from Mexican authorities. Whether he'll face justice in Canada could depend on which country he might be in and if he can be arrested and extradited, they added.
Asked how they are sure Kristy is deceased given her body has not yet been found, police said they have evidence of her death but cannot comment on it with the case before the courts.
The cash reward is being offered through the nation-wide and charity-funded Be On The Lookout program and will be available until July 2023. The only condition for the award is that the tip leads to Nguyen's arrest, the program's director says.
Nguyen, who also goes by the name "Mike," is described as five-feet, nine-inches tall and 180 pounds. Police say he should be considered armed and dangerous, and that anyone who sees him should call 911.
Police are encouraging him encouraged to find a lawyer and turn himself in.