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August 10, 2002

Missing mom likely killed on B.C. farm

DNA evidence linked to woman who disappeared in 1998

Kerry Thompson
TORSTAR NEWS SERVICE

 

NO HAPPY ENDING: Sarah deVries, shown reading to her daughter Jeanie, now 11, disappeared in Vancouver in 1998.

GUELPH Four years ago, Sarah deVries vanished from Vancouver's east side.

This week, with the finding of new DNA evidence, her sister believes the terrible truth has been revealed.

"For me, this is enough information to come to terms with my sister being murdered," Maggie deVries said from her home in Vancouver.

Sarah, the adopted daughter of Guelph resident Pat deVries, disappeared in April, 1998, from an area frequented by prostitutes and drug addicts. She was 28 and among as many as 50 women who disappeared from there since 1983.

Family and friends had been searching for answers for years, until police began combing a Vancouver area farm last February and discovered the remains of several murdered women.

Robert William Pickton, 52, now faces seven charges of first-degree murder. But Sarah's apparent slaying is not among those charges.

Maggie deVries said she received a call from police at about 3 p.m. Tuesday, taken on her answering machine.

"I knew when I heard the message" they had found her, she said, adding there is a sense of relief knowing Sarah is not suffering.

Police told Maggie "they had found Sarah's DNA on an object, not blood DNA and not enough for a murder charge," she said.

Police would not elaborate on what kind of object it was, but Maggie deVries said the news proved she touched something at the farm.

For years, Maggie deVries said she and her mother have accepted the fact that Sarah was gone, because her caring, friendly manner would not allow her to simply disappear.

"We knew that Sarah was dead. There was no way she would just leave her family and friends," she said in an interview Thursday.

Since Sarah disappeared, her mother has been looking after grandchildren Jeanie, 11, and Ben, 6. Pat deVries is vacationing with the children and could not be reached.

Two months ago, Maggie deVries began work on a book chronicling her sister's life and the stories of other missing women from the east side.

"Because I'm writing a book, the last few weeks I've been completely immersed in her life, going through her journals. Right in the most intense part of it, this happened," she said.

Wayne Leng, a close friend of Sarah's in Vancouver, said the new information is allowing him to come to terms with the fact she is gone.

"It's still sinking in. I haven't slept much the last couple nights, because there's so much to think about," he said from San Bernardino, Calif., where he now lives.

Leng contacted Maggie deVries in 1998, after Sarah had been missing for about a week. She had vanished from the spots she used to frequent, such as Hastings St. and Princess St.

Leng spent two years trying to alert the public to what was happening, running a Web site devoted to the missing women.

Sarah was adopted at a young age and grew up in Vancouver's West Point Grey. She ended up living on the streets by the time she was 17.

Despite the life she lived, which included prostitution and drug addiction, people who got to know her found a person full of love and kindness, Leng said. "She was a very caring person. People wouldn't realize that right off the bat, but I've always told people if you had known Sarah, you would have loved her."

He added it is fitting that he heard about the new information now, since he has a trip planned to Vancouver this weekend.

 "Maggie and I will be going out to the (Pickton) farm. I think that will bring some closure."

GUELPH MERCURY

 

 

 

Email: wleng#missingpeople.net 

Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016