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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Police searched a property on Friday, reviving hopes of a break in the investigation of women who have disappeared or been killed on northern British Columbia's "Highway of Tears."
Searchers are looking for evidence related to Nicole Hoar, who was last seen in June 2002 while she was hitchhiking on Highway 16 west of Prince George, British Columbia, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Hoar is among 18 women who have disappeared or been found dead since 1969 on a 772-km (500-mile) stretch of rural highway from Prince George to Prince Rupert that even public officials have called the "Highway of Tears" because of the mystery.
The search of the rural five-acre near the hamlet of Isle Pierre is linked to a former owner of the property who was currently serving life in prison for the 2002 killing of his brother, local media reported.
Police said the search was in its preliminary stages, and no evidence of human remains had been found. Hoar, from Alberta, was employed as a tree planter in the area and traveling to see her sister in the town of Terrace
Police in 2007 released a list of women who had disappeared or been found dead on the highway but have said there is no evidence to support or discount theories about whether a single killer was involved.
The most recent killing was in 2006, and the most recent disappearance was in 2005.
Vancouver-area pig farmer Robert "Willie" Pickton was convicted in 2007 of the murders of six women. He is suspected in the disappearance of more than 60 women, but never been linked to the Highway 16 cases.
Reporting by Allan Dowd; Editing by Frank McGurty