VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Prostitute killer's toll set above 40
Vancouver police add more names to list of women missing and presumed slain
Courtesy of the Globe & Mail
Tuesday, October 16, 2001
VANCOUVER -- Police in Vancouver have added more than a dozen names to the list of missing women who have vanished from the city's Downtown Eastside, meaning more than 40 women are now presumed dead and likely slain.
And for the first time, police say the cases are now being treated as a multiple homicide investigation. Until recently, the number stood at 27 and the women were listed as missing, although police have been saying for months that a serial killer may be stalking Vancouver's skid row.
The latest names were added after a months-long review of the cases by a joint forces team of 10 RCMP and Vancouver Police investigators. The team took over from a stalled Vancouver Police investigation that began in 1998.
Police made the announcement in a private address to relatives, whom they had summoned to a Richmond hotel, on Sunday. During the four-hour briefing police said the case was being considered a homicide investigation.
Women have been vanishing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside since 1984. Police had put the number of missing at 31, but four women were later located. The majority of women were reported missing after the mid-1990s.
RCMP Sergeant Wayne Clary, who addressed the Richmond meeting, said the review team came up with a list of an additional 25 missing women, but eight were crossed off after they were accounted for. That left 17 additional missing women, but some names may yet be removed.
Police no longer refer to the women as missing, Sgt. Clary said. "We think they're dead, whether they took too many drugs or they were abducted by someone." However, the fact that no bodies have ever been found leads police to believe they were slain.
"Realistically, we think they have been killed."
If the women were indeed slain, and one person is responsible, the killing spree would rank among the worst ever in North America, on par with Washington state's Green River killer, who killed 49 prostitutes and was never caught.
Police have added four more officers to the review team to work the case, bringing the number to 14.
Some relatives who attended the meeting said they left feeling police are taking the case more seriously.
But despite the extra personnel and higher profile, officers are no closer to solving the case. Police say they do not know if they are looking for a single killer or a series of copycat killers.
"There's the $64,000 question," Sgt. Clary said. "It could be one person. It could be more. We're open to anything. The problem is: We don't know. We have a lot of nothing. It's tough."
The sister of a woman who has recently been added to the list said she holds out hope her sister is alive.
Lorraine Crey said her sister Dawn Crey vanished 11 months ago. Dawn, who was about to turn 42, was considered an "old timer" in the Downtown Eastide, Ms. Crey said, and had lived there 25 years. Her sister was a recovering heroin addict, she said.
In her last conversation with her sister, Ms. Crey said Dawn was afraid about the number of women who had gone missing from the neighbourhood. "She said she didn't want to die there."
Police say they have had scores of tips on the case. The most promising was last summer when a women told police she was abducted and assaulted by a man who said he had killed others.
The man snatched her from the stairwell of a Downtown Eastside hotel, the woman said. She escaped by jumping out of his vehicle.
Sgt. Clary said police have received several tips about this man, who was described as thin-lipped with a crooked nose and sunken eyes, but none of them have developed into a lead.
November 25, 2001 meeting for all families
Val Hughes, who's sister Kerri Lynn Koski is one of the missing women feels that it would be a good thing for all families to bring a photo of their missing loved ones to the next meeting scheduled for November 25th. It would be nice to have them all on the wall in the task forces offices as a way of remembering that these are real people who mattered and who are loved and missed very much. The pictures could be with family members or anything you would like.
Updated: August 21, 2016