Dozens of investigators spent Tuesday scouring a property in rural Saanich for evidence – including a body – in the disappearance of a Victoria man reported missing last fall.

Dana McKellar, 51, was first reported missing to police in September 2014 by family members who had last seen him a few weeks earlier in Victoria.

It was then revealed that McKellar, a father, had previously been the victim of a July 30 assault.

Police said clues from that assault led them to a seven-acre property behind a home near Prospect Lake Tuesday – some officers with shovels in tow.

“The evidence that we’re looking for can include anything related to the disappearance, and that does include human remains,” said Victoria Police spokesman Const. Mike Russell. “We don’t yet know exactly what we’re going to find, so we’re prepared for everything.”

He said heavy equipment including back hoes and excavators are on standby in case buried evidence is uncovered.

Police said McKellar was not previously known to them and had no connection to the area being searched, nor did he appear to have been homeless.

They said the property owners, renters and surrounding neighbours have nothing to do with the investigation.

“This is going to be a very extensive search; we have a number of officers here,” said Russell. “Right now what we’re hoping to find is just that clue that will help us find out exactly what happened to Mr. McKellar.”

It’s unclear what tips or clues led police to the property, but Russell said they were confident they’d turn up some sort of evidence that would help solve the case.

Neighbours watched the tense search unfold, in shock that a body could potentially be found just down the road.

“This is crazy, just a loss for words,” said Clayton Frith. “It’s a really nice area to live, and to hear something like this…wow.”

Resident Sharon Meek, who lives just behind the search area, said she was “horrified” to hear the news.

“Hopefully they find nothing and it’s all good,” she said. “It’s terrible. It’s not supposed to happen in my neighbourhood. Preferably nowhere, but certainly not next door.”

It’s not the first time police have attended the property.

In 2009, Saanich officers stormed the ranch land to break up a marijuana grow-op, but police said the current property owners have no connection to that bust.

Despite no suspects being arrested in McKellar’s disappearance, police said they don’t believe the public is at risk.

Anyone with further information is asked to call Victoria Police at 250-995-7654 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

With a report from CTV Vancouver Island’s Scott Cunningham