VICTORIA -- Family and friends of a 16-year-old Nanaimo girl are expressing some relief after police announced that a charge of first degree murder had been laid in connection to her death in 2017.

RCMP say 57-year-old Steven Bacon is facing the charge for the death of Makayla Chang. He is currently in custody in Thunder Bay, Ont., on an unrelated matter but will face court action in connection with this case sometime down the road.

Makayla's father, Kerry Chang, says he believes the investigation wrapped up in January and has only now made its way through its process with crown prosecutors.

"It's a big weight off the shoulders for sure and I think I speak for my whole family when I say that. Just knowing that there's some forward motion here is really important to us," Chang said.

The girl’s father says support from the community and Makayla's friends is what has been helping the family get through this situation. He says her friends, as well as the family, are looking for more details on what happened to Makayla.

"It's important for us to know what happened. As horrific or not as it may be, just not knowing for three-and-a-half years it's been now, has been really tough on all of us," he said.

Chang says he was reflecting on a soft spot his daughter had Thursday.

"She had an attraction to under-privileged for some reason. She hung out with a lot of the street kids and helped single families and so forth," he said.

While Chang says he does believe his daughter stayed at Bacon's house on occasion, he took the opportunity today to clear up any confusion that may be in the community about any connection his daughter may have had with the man.

"At no time did she ever live with Bacon," he said. "She was having issues at home with my mom that any 16-year-old would, I guess. She was staying out with friends and I don't doubt there was times that she stayed there but at no time was she living there."

According to Const. Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP, the investigation was a lengthy one.

"It's a testament to the work that the police officers did to have a first degree murder charge laid," he said. "Three years, thousands of hours put in through the operation from so many people."

O’Brien says investigators are hoping the charge will bring some relief to the victim's family.

"We have a 16-year-old girl who's murdered, (which) had a devastating impact on our community – not only with her family, but the impact she had on friends in the community," he said.