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Grim tally of missing women threatens to grow

Kim Bolan and Lindsay Kines
Times Colonist (Victoria)

Friday, July 26, 2002

VANCOUVER -- How many more can there be?

That's the question being asked by community activists and relatives as police seek information about another nine women missing from Vancouver's downtown eastside in addition to the 54 disappearances already under investigation.

Among the nine are Sheryl Donahue, originally from Victoria and last seen in 1985, and Richard "Kellie" Little, described as being from Vancouver Island. Little was reported missing in 1997.

Next week, police plan to release the names of another five women who have vanished from Vancouver's downtown eastside in recent years, bringing the total missing to a startling 68.

"Where is this going to end?" asked Vancouver MP Libby Davies, who represents the downtown eastside and met this week with community agencies. "I just have so many feelings and responses at an emotional level, whether its anger or frustration or this feeling of absolute horror that is hard to even cope with. The numbers are just so big."

Added Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn is among the missing: "Each and every time a new revelation emerges from this investigation, I am swept away by my emotions."

Port Coquitlam pig farmer Robert (Willy) Pickton has been charged with murdering seven of the women on the list so far, but police are not saying how many of the dozens of others might be part of the Pickton probe.

They are saying the list of missing is expected to continue to grow as the joint RCMP-Vancouver police missing-women task force reviews hundreds of missing persons files from across Canada.

"We do expect in the future that we will be adding more names to the list," RCMP Const. Catherine Galliford said at a news conference Thursday.

Galliford appealed to the public to provide information on the whereabouts of nine women, the oldest case being that of Lillian Jean O'Dare, originally from Williams Lake, who vanished on Sept. 12, 1978 and was reported missing the same day.

Donahue, the Victoria woman on the list, was born July 4, 1963. She was reported missing Aug. 31, 1985. Donahue is Caucasian, five feet, four inches tall. She has blue eyes and when last seen weighed 166 pounds and had long, blond hair.

Little, born March 12, 1969, was last seen April 23, 1997. An aboriginal transsexual, she is five feet, three inches tall. She weighed 119 pounds and has light brown hair, brown eyes and a cleft palate.

Victoria police Cpl. John Ayres remembers Little well, though the last time he saw her was more than 10 years ago.

"(She) had serious issues as most transsexuals do," said Ayres.

Ayres said Little had numerous run-ins with Victoria police and was picked up on several occasions for prostitution and fighting.

The other new cases are:

- Wendy Louise Allen, from the Lower Mainland, who was last seen in March, 1979;

- Yvonne Marlene Abigosis, from Saskatchewan, last seen Jan. 1, 1984;

- Teresa Louise Triff, of Vancouver, who went missing in April 1993;

- Linda Louise Grant, of Port Moody, last seen in October 1984;

- Tanya Colleen Emery, from Calgary, who disappeared in December 1998;

- Dawn Lynn Cooper, from Colorado, last seen in 1996.

Galliford said the task force has been in touch with eight of the nine families and is hoping to get DNA to add to the data bank, which already includes samples from families of all 54 women formally on the list.

But in the case of O'Dare, the police have been unable to locate a relative and are appealing for the public's help, she said.

"If anyone out there knows any family members of hers or if they are a family member of hers, we would really appreciate them getting into contact with us," Galliford said.

Galliford would not say whether police are still trying to identify human remains found earlier at the site that did not match DNA samples already obtained by the task force.

DNA found at the farm led to charges being laid against Pickton in the deaths of Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Heather Bottomley, Brenda Wolfe and Jacqueline McDonell.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for November.

Galliford said the nine additional women "easily" fit the profile of the other 54 missing women in that they frequented the poverty-stricken downtown eastside, were addicted to drugs or alcohol and in most cases, had some contact with the sex trade.

Eli Triff, Teresa's half-brother, learned from the media Thursday that the police were considering adding his sister's name to the list.

"This has all hit me this afternoon," he said. "In the last hour and 10 minutes, I've found that I've had more immersion into this whole situation than I have in the past several years."

Eli, 36, said he was not close to Teresa. They had the same mother, but different fathers, and Eli was raised by his father in a different province. Their mother died in 1994.

He met Teresa later in life, and never got to know her well, he said. "She could be a very happy person, a very good person. But I think that she had a lot of problems, a lot of drug abuse that kind of got in the way."

Davies, who has a meeting set in September with the federal justice minister, said the need for a public inquiry grows as police reveal more about the number of women missing.

"As this continues on, more and more it becomes clear that we have to have a public inquiry at the appropriate time to expose and uncover how this tragedy could have occurred in the first place with such devastating numbers," Davies said.

 Copyright  2002 Times Colonist (Victoria)

Vancouver police review missing women investigation-July 27, 2002

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Updated: August 21, 2016