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Geographic profiler warned of serial killer targeting Vancouver prostitutes

DENE MOORE
Canadian Press

Monday, March 18, 2002

VANCOUVER (CP) - A former Vancouver city police officer who warned of a serial killer targeting prostitutes says there was a lack of political will to solve the cases.

Investigators concentrated on checking welfare rolls and medical records in other jurisdictions while the number of women who disappeared from Vancouver's poverty-stricken downtown eastside climbed to 50.

"Police forces have limited resources and these cases take extraordinary resources, so they have to come from somewhere and usually that involves politics, a political decision," Kim Rossmo, who now works for the Police Foundation in Washington, D.C., said Monday.

Rossmo warned Vancouver police officials that a serial killer may be at work in May 1999.

But in June 1999, the force was still saying publicly that the women could be living elsewhere.

"We don't have anything that indicates that in fact there have been 20-plus homicides," Const. Anne Drennan told The Canadian Press at the time.

Rossmo, who earned a PhD in criminology and invented a new crime-fighting tool called geographic profiling, said the missing women may not have had enough political impact to spark a full-scale investigation.

"And they're very difficult to solve in the first place," Rossmo said Monday.

Rossmo was eventually demoted and left the force, later losing a lawsuit over the demotion.

Police have since charged suburban Coquitlam pig farmer Robert William Pickton with the first-degree murders of two of the 50 missing women.

A massive search of his farm is continuing.

Global television quoted police sources Monday evening as saying the boundaries of the search area will be expanded to include some of the farm's land that was sold in the past.

It was not known if that would include property where condominiums and businesses now stand.

Investigators would not comment Monday on whether a female friend of Pickton is also a suspect in their investigation.

Gina Houston told local media she believes she's the No. 1 suspect still at large in the case.

Houston said police searched at a storage facility and seized her personal belongings, including furniture, dishes and children's toys.

"They've been making my life a living hell - the police," Houston told CBC.

She could not be located to comment Monday.

Police in Calgary are keeping a close eye on the Vancouver investigation.

Ten Calgary women believed to be prostitutes were killed from late 1980 to February 1993.

"They were never solved," said Staff Sgt. George Rocks, a homicide investigator.

But it would be premature to ask the task force for information, he said.

"When they've collected everything then they can give us a clear understanding of what they have," Rocks said.

"We've collected all the evidence there is to be collected from our homicide scenes from way back then. The evidence is well-preserved pending that one good piece of information that comes in that would allow us to connect it with a culprit.

"We would allow Vancouver to complete their investigation and then perhaps we could find that evidence that might pertain to us here."

 Copyright  2002 The Canadian Press

Kim Rossmo sheds light on 'stranger' criminality - June 28, 2005

Two former police officers join call for investigation-Mar 16, 2002 

Gina Houston possible suspect-Mar 17, 2002

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016