will recommend the city's police board approve a $100,000 reward to help solve the
mysterious disappearance of 21 women on the Downtown Eastside since 1995.
what he called an outpouring of "great concern" from the public, Philip Owen,
who chairs the seven-member board, said he will propose the reward at its meeting this
As with two existing $100,000 rewards for both a series of home invasions and string of
garage robberies, Owen will propose the board contribute $30,000 and ask the province to
In an interview with The Vancouver Sun earlier this month, Attorney-General Ujjal
Dosanjh said the province "would absolutely favourably respond" to a request
from the police board for a reward in the missing women cases.
On Sunday he repeated that vow. "If a reward helps, we'd be prepared to support it
-- and pay it," he said.
The mayor cautioned that the reward offer needs to be carefully worded, because the
nature of the crime in these cases -- and, indeed, whether a crime has even occurred --
One concern is that someone could claim the full reward for simply discovering one of
the missing women living in another city.
On the other hand, limiting the offer only to information that leads to a murder
conviction doesn't address the possibility that some of the women may be held captive, but
still are alive. "We can't just go on the assumption that they're all dead,"
The mayor said he may propose a "two-tiered" reward that would pay out the
entire $100,000 for information leading to a criminal conviction, but could also provide
smaller amounts -- perhaps $5,000 -- for locating the whereabouts of a missing woman who
is alive and well, but has lost touch with her family.
Earlier this month, Owen said he was reluctant to authorize a reward in the missing
women cases, because police had not requested one. Both the home invasion and
garage-robbery rewards came after the police department made a specific request for help.
Vancouver police have steadfastly maintained that there is no evidence any of the
missing women have been murdered -- or that the cases are linked in any way. However,
Detective Lori Shenher -- one of two officers assigned full-time to the case -- has been
quoted several times saying she believes at least some of the 21 women are victims of foul
Families of the missing women were ecstatic at the news of the reward. Since 1995, 22
"street-involved" women, most prostitutes and drug addicts, have gone missing
from the east side. No bodies have been discovered and only one has been found alive --
leaving 21 still missing.
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