FBI Joins 13-Year Investigation Into Murder of Realtor Who Was Lured to Fake House Showing
In 2006, Lindsay Buziak enrolled in a real estate course in the hopes of changing careers. It was there she met Jason Zailo, a licensed broker. The two hit it off and quickly became a couple, with Jason taking Lindsay under his wing. The pair worked for Jason’s mother Shirley Zailo at the Camosun Remax office in Victoria, B.C. Real estate appeared to be the perfect opportunity for someone as socially adept and self-motivated as Lindsay. She would be able to exercise her strong people skills and gain financial freedom at the same time, a dream most of us cling to.
On February 2, 2008, 24-year-old Lindsay’s life came to an abrupt end after she was lured to a fake house showing by a mysterious pair who had no intention to buy a home, but every intention to brutally murder her. After thirteen agonizing years, Lindsay’s murder has yet to be solved, and her killers roam free.
On February 1, 2021, a day before the 13th anniversary of Lindsay’s death, it was announced that a new task force consisting of the Saanich Police, the RCMP and the FBI has been formed to solve Lindsay’s murder, and they claim they are currently investigating new leads in the case brought on by advancements in technology and DNA analysis.
This is Lindsay’s story.
In late January of 2008, Lindsay received a phone call from a woman claiming she and her husband were desperate to buy a home relatively quickly as the latter had just been relocated to Victoria, B.C. The woman claimed the pair had a budget of one million dollars and that the home would have to be vacant and new. Since Lindsay was only a junior real estate agent, she questioned how the woman got a hold of her personal cellphone number. The woman claimed she had been referred to her by a previous client.
Lindsay hoped to thank whoever referred her. She asked around but none of her colleagues knew the mystery woman. Nevertheless, Lindsay was excited about the potentially large sale (and commission) and began scouring listings for possible homes for the mystery couple.
Within a matter of days, Lindsay found a perfect home for the couple — 1702 De Sousa Place, an extravagant million dollar home in the friendly Gordon Head neighbourhood of Saanich, B.C. Lindsay and the unknown woman shared at least ten more phone calls to discuss the details, and soon enough, the mystery couple was on a ferry from Vancouver to Victoria Island. The viewing was scheduled for Saturday, February 2, 2008, at 5:30 pm.
Lindsay later told Jason and her father Jeff Buziak that the unknown woman had a “strong Mexican or Spanish accent, but not really,” possibly insinuating the accent may have been fake. The unknown woman was added to Lindsay’s phone contact list only as, ‘Million Dollar.’
On February 2, Lindsay stopped by the Remax office where she worked and allegedly told the receptionist she felt ‘freaked out’ and ‘weird’ about the showing. She gave the mystery woman’s (‘Million Dollar’) phone number to the receptionist to search the system and see if she had ties to any agents in Victoria. The search failed to come up with anything.
Although Lindsay was excited about such a large (potential) sale, she felt uneasy about the showing. Jeff encouraged Lindsay to forge ahead, reminding her that the sale could mean a huge payday for her, one worth thousands of dollars. Jeff allegedly also offered to do the showing for Lindsay, but she refused.
After leaving the Remax office, Lindsay and Jason decided to go get a bite to eat at a restaurant in downtown Victoria. They paid the bill at 4:24 pm and went their separate ways. Lindsay drove home to change her clothes for the showing, meanwhile, Jason drove to a nearby auto-shop whose owners had hired Lindsay to sell a property. Jason allegedly went there to present an offer to the couple on behalf of Lindsay.
At this time, Lindsay phoned Jason and informed him she was on her way to the showing. Jason allegedly offered to meet her there to ease her concerns, but Lindsay was fiercely independent and rejected his offer. She was adamant to go through the showing alone. However, Jason decided he would go anyway, just in case.
Since Jason had pre-existing plans with his friend Cohen Oatman, the two men decided to head to the Gordon Head home together. Jason allegedly told investigators that despite Lindsay’s refusal, he decided to go regardless for two reasons; to act as an extra security measure and to hand over papers to Lindsay from the auto-shop owners. Cohen met Jason at the auto-shop. He left his vehicle there and the two men drove to 1702 De Sousa Place together in Jason’s Range Rover. Security footage corroborates Jason and Cohen leaving the auto-shop at 5:30 pm.
Having a difficult time finding the home, Jason phoned Lindsay to ask her for directions. At the same time, the mystery couple arrived. Lindsay told Jason she had to go and texted him the address. Jason texted back saying he was on his way. Lindsay never opened that text message.
Jason and Cohen arrived at the home at approximately 5:45 pm. After waiting out front for approximately ten minutes, Jason stated he felt like a ‘nosey boyfriend’ and decided to move his car and park near the back of the home instead. Jason then texted Lindsay asking if she was okay. By 6 pm, Lindsay had still not responded, prompting Jason to approach the front door, finding it to be locked. Jason found this to be unusual since front doors tend to be left open or unlocked during showings.
Jason rang the doorbell multiple times but no one answered. After failing to retain a code from the listing agent to gain access to the home, he phoned 911 at approximately 6:05 pm. Jason told the 911 operator his girlfriend was showing a home and that he had followed her because she was, ‘kind of scared.’ After providing the details to the operator, Jason hung up.
It was at this time, Jason and Cohen walked to the side of the house where they found a back door, wide open, surrounded by an enclosed patio. Jason propped Cohen up helping him jump over the enclosed fence and into the home. Cohen then ran to the front door, unlocking it for Jason, who immediately ran up the stairs. According to Jason, Cohen did a ‘sweep’ downstairs, while Jason checked upstairs.
As he ran up the stairs, Jason found bloody footprints leading to Lindsay’s body in the master bedroom. She had suffered multiple stab wounds to her head and chest and had no pulse. Jason yelled out to Cohen who placed the second phone call to 911 at 6:11 pm.
Lindsay was believed to have been murdered between 5:38 and 5:41 pm, based on a pocket dial from her phone around that time. Investigators believe the call was initiated during a struggle with her attackers, and that she had been surprised and attacked from behind because she had no defensive wounds.
Jason and Cohen were ultimately cleared by surveillance footage from the auto-shop, proving they could not have committed the murder. The owner of the property was also cleared. Jason has also passed a polygraph test, and despite cooperating with the investigation and several additional interviews over the years, he refuses to provide a DNA sample.
Jason told investigators he had seen a male figure through the windows by the front door as he turned onto the street. It is believed the attackers fled via the back door upon being spooked by the sound of his vehicle. It is suspected they left on foot since the only vehicle in the area was Lindsay’s BMW which was parked in the driveway.
The house was searched for evidence but a murder weapon was never located. The burner phone used by the mystery woman to contact Lindsay was registered under the name ‘Paulo Rodriquez’ and was determined to be fake. Cellphone pings proved the owner of the burner phone travelled to the island via BC Ferries the day prior to the murder. According to an article by Capital Daily, police are aware of where the phone was purchased and by whom but have not yet determined if that person is involved in Lindsay’s murder.
Eye-witnesses who saw Lindsay’s attackers arrive at the home, which was situated in a small cul-de-sac with a total of only four homes, described the woman as being between 35 to 40 years old with blonde hair, wearing a designer dress with a very unique and distinctive red, white and black pattern. Investigative documents state the woman was Caucasian, contradicting Lindsay’s own earlier statements that she had a foreign accent. It’s vital to remember Lindsay insinuated the accent may have been fake. The man was described as Caucasian, six-foot-tall, medium-build with dark brown hair and wearing a brown jacket.
When searching Lindsay’s computer, which was handed over to investigators by Jason, investigators discovered multiple missing Facebook messages. Lindsay, who was an avid Facebook user, had over 700 people on her ‘friends list’ and all ‘wall posts’ and messages two weeks leading up to the murder were missing. Additionally, investigators found that several of Lindsay’s Facebook friends were involved in illegal drug trafficking.
Investigators also discovered Lindsay had visited a friend while on a trip to Calgary in December of 2007. That same friend was arrested on January 22, 2008, for being involved in a substantially large drug bust. At one point, it was theorized Lindsay was murdered on order by the drug cartel who believed she was a police informant, however, this theory was quickly thrown out based on the fact that the murder was considered too ‘amateur’ and that Lindsay was not involved in drug trafficking or drug use.
Investigators believe Lindsay was murdered by someone close to her who had access to her work office and they believe it was personal based on the fact she was stabbed 40 times. For quite a long time, Jason Zailo and/or Shirley Zailo were the number one prime suspect(s), however, they were officially cleared in 2010.
The following theories/motives regarding Shirley’s involvement in Lindsay’s murder have erupted over the years:
- Many say the sketch of the female attacker is eerily similar to Shirley, but with a wig. One would expect Lindsay would have still been able to recognize Shirley even if she were wearing a wig.
- Some theorize the Zailo family is involved in illegal drug trafficking through the Remax business and that Shirley is the ‘mother’ of the operation. The motive in this theory is that Lindsay had this knowledge and Shirley was afraid she would inform the authorities.
- Lindsay was about to break up with Jason and Shirley had her killed by hiring two ‘hitmen.’ It has also been theorized Lindsay may have been pregnant and Shirley did not want her to ‘ruin’ her son's life.
- Jason passed a polygraph test but many dismiss this because as we know, polygraph tests can be passed by guilty parties (Gary Ridgway). Jason has consistently refused to hand over a DNA sample — why? If Shirley is involved, Jason’s DNA would help implicate her.
To many, including Jeff Buziak, the drug trade hit theory is still at the forefront.
In 2017, a dress which is said to be believed the exact dress worn by the mystery woman who attacked Lindsay was found and purchased at a Value Village (a thrift store) in Victoria, B.C., by a friend of Lindsay’s. A week later, an individual posted a ‘confession’ on Lindsay Buziak Murder, a highly criticized website run by Jeff Buziak where individuals can leave tips on a public forum. The individual wrote, “I killed Lindsey and stupid cops will never prove it so you all got nothin.” Saanich Police says they are still investigating both claims, some think they already know the identity of the suspects.
Lindsay’s story has been featured on many podcasts, an episode of Dateline and an episode of Dr. Phil where he made an appeal, asking anyone who has any information, no matter how small, to call in a tip. He holds a walk every year in remembrance of Lindsay, and to ensure the community hasn’t forgotten about what happened to her. Jeff has never given up the fight to find his daughter's killers.
According to an article on Chek News, the new task force will re-examine and re-test evidence from the crime scene, both physical and digital with advanced technology. Hopefully this will bring an end to this thirteen-year-long mystery, and give Lindsay the justice she deserves.
If you ever have any feelings of unease, always follow your gut instinct, and remember that no amount of money is ever worth the risk of losing your life.
For tips call the Saanich Police Department at 250-475-4356 or toll-free at 1-888-980-1919.
Sources: Capital Daily, Chek News, CBC, Wikipedia