VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN

CONTENTS

HOME

GUESTBOOK

1st GUESTBOOK

NEWS UPDATES

CONTACT US

             
                         

B.C. police search farm in missing-women case

Fifty women have gone missing since 1983

By The Canadian Press

PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. — Michelle Pineault has always hoped her missing daughter would someday walk through the door — alive, safe and sound.

Dozens of other relatives and friends of some 50 missing B.C. women — mainly sex-trade workers from Vancouver’s sordid downtown eastside — have the same wish, some enduring vigils of unrequited sorrow for nearly two decades.

On Wednesday night, many of them got a call from police — the late-night ring they never really wanted but desperately needed.

The police were on to something big in the unsolved case of the missing Vancouver-area women, and they wanted relatives to know because the media was about to be told — and then their phones would be ringing for hours and days.

A whirlwind of speculation and an outpouring of emotion came after police revealed Thursday that the task force set up to investigate the missing women was searching a pig farm in suburban Port Coquitlam.

A search warrant was issued Tuesday allowing police to go to the unkempt property in the small community about 35 kilometres east of Vancouver.

The warrant related to firearms, but there were clear indications the police were searching for something else on the four-hectare spread.

They weren’t giving out much information to the media throng that began gathering outside the entrance to the property in the middle of the night.

RCMP Const. Catherine Galliford said police were there in connection with the disappearance of the women, dating back to 1983.

The hustle and bustle, however, strongly suggested this was no mere fishing expedition.

Dozens of police officers came and went. Portable toilets were trucked in. A couple of trailers to serve as command centres were set up. Lights were brought in, indicating police intended to work into the night.

Investigators wearing white paper coveralls and rubber gloves picked up a purse lying in a ditch on the side of the driveway and put it in a paper bag, then took photographs.

A few hours after the media were briefed by Galliford in the grey drizzle, RCMP said Robert William Pickton, 52, was charged with storing a firearm contrary to regulations, possession of a firearm while not being holder of a licence and possession of a loaded restricted firearm without a licence.

Police said Pickton, an owner of the pig farm, was not being held in custody.

Galliford indicated the police will take their time at the site.

"Right now we’re just sorting out logistical problems," she said. "We’re bringing in some barriers to give the investigators some privacy.

"We do anticipate that we’re going to have to do some excavation but at this particular time that’s not the stage of the search that we’re at."

A cursory glimpse at the farm, where pigs have been raised and a hollowed-out area indicates a gravel excavating business, suggested disarray.

The search of the farm, which contains other outbuildings, could take days or months.

Investigators had talked to the farm’s owners but didn’t know where they were.

© Copyright 2002 The Canadian Press

Relatives, friends await news as police search farm for missing B.C. women

CAMILLE BAINS AND GREG JOYCE

Canadian Press

Thursday, February 07, 2002

VANCOUVER (CP) - Feelings and emotions from friends and relatives of some of the 50 B.C. women who have disappeared since the early 1980s ran the gamut of dread, fear and even relief Thursday at the news of a possible break in the case. "I have a feeling she's dead," said Sandra Gagnon, whose sister Janet Henry disappeared about June 27, 1997.

"I've thought that for quite a while because her money's still in the bank and she paid her rent and she never did go home."

Gagnon, who lives in Vancouver, called the possible break in the disappearances "nerve-wracking."

"Overwhelming is the word because you wonder if you're finally going to get answers."

Investigators trying to solve the disappearances dating back to 1983 searched a Vancouver-area pig farm Thursday,

RCMP Const. Catherine Galliford said the site, about 35 kilometres east of Vancouver in the community of Port Coquitlam, was of interest in the investigation.

Most of the missing women were drug users and sex-trade workers from Vancouver's notorious downtown eastside.

Gagon said she called police Thursday after hearing media reports about new developments in the case.

But Gagnon said police didn't give her any details about the investigation.

"I just feel really full of anxiety to the point where I just hope we'll finally get answers and I just hope that it doesn't come tumbling down and they don't find nothing."

Henry was 37 when she disappeared. She left behind a daughter who is now 16.

Wayne Leng was a friend of Sarah deVries and last saw her in April 1998.

Her disappearance prompted him to set up a Web site devoted to the missing women that contains information and news stories on most of the women.

"I think it might be a big break," said Leng, who now runs the Web site out of Ontario, Calif., where he moved two years ago.

"They (police) wouldn't go in there if they didn't have something to go on. There must be something there in order to call the families."

Leng said deVries was a prostitute who worked the downtown eastside.

"It makes me feel sick because on the one hand I want to know what happened and on the other hand I'm afraid to know what happened to Sarah."

In Parksville on Vancouver Island, Erin McGrath was awaiting word about her sister, who was last seen in 1993.

"Closure is very important and putting an end to this problem that we have in downtown eastside with the women going missing."

Ironically, McGrath said, the family moved to Greater Vancouver in 1989 from San Francisco "to get away from all the crime and violence."

"My sister had a drug problem," she said. "We just didn't realize how bad it was and when she went to live in Vancouver we didn't realize that there was a place like east Vancouver."

McGrath said the family didn't know that her sister was a prostitute.

"We found that out later. We didn't know what danger she was in and we didn't know there were missing women back in 1983."

McGrath was also critical of the police efforts in keeping family informed.

"The police aren't telling us anything," said McGrath.

She said police never contacted them to update them on the missing women.

"They never got in contact with us. We always had to call the Vancouver police department."

© Copyright 2002 The Canadian Press

Pressure led to stepped-up investigation into missing Vancouver women

STEVE MERTL

Canadian Press

Thursday, February 07, 2002

VANCOUVER (CP) - Fifty. That's the number of women officially listed as missing from Vancouver's drug-infested downtown eastside. While the number itself is shocking, critics say the initial police reaction to the growing list of missing women - many of them sex-trade workers - was equally appalling.

"The point has often been made that if you had 50 women of any other profession missing, the reaction would have been entirely different," said John Lowman, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University.

More than 30 investigators were combing a pig farm in suburban Port Coquitlam on Thursday as police hinted of a break in the case.

But Lowman, who studies the sex trade and violence against prostitutes, said it took pressure from friends and relatives of the missing women, as well as the media, to prod Vancouver police into systematically probing how more than four dozen women could vanish from Vancouver's meanest streets.

It may have started in June of 1983, when Rebecca Guno, a drug addict and prostitute, disappeared from the downtown eastside, a grim collection of rooming houses, bars and needle-littered alleyways on the edge of Vancouver's Chinatown.

Almost 20 hookers had been known to be killed in Vancouver in the last two decades, but there was nothing to suggest the missing women had met with foul play except intuition.

While many lived a street life, others still retained family connections, cared for their children, even had active bank accounts.

By 1991, relatives and social activists on the downtown eastside were theorizing a serial killer was at work. Police initially dismissed the idea, suggesting the women's transient lifestyle meant they could be anywhere.

Vancouver police were at a loss. There were no bodies, no crime scenes, no witnesses, no forensic evidence. Nothing.

But critics suspected the investigation was dragging because of who the women were. No one would come out and say violence and death is an occupational hazard for prostitutes, Lowman said, but the initial allocation of police resources raises questions.

"You've got to say that there were some people in the senior VPD (Vancouver police department) administration who weren't making enough effort to do something about this," he said.

Residents of the neighbourhood remain angry, said Erin Graham, a mental health advocate at the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre. They believe police never took the disappearances seriously because many of the women were aboriginal.

"There's a lot of attitude flying around the centre, that's for sure," she said. "It's about poverty and sexism and racism.

"We're also concerned that the women who are missing have been labelled by what they do as prostitutes and drug addicts rather than that they're women first. They're mothers, they're daughters, they're our friends."

Relatives and activists began a campaign to push the investigation into higher gear. Valentines Day, Feb. 14, was chosen to mark the women's disappearance annually with a vigil in the downtown eastside.

While $100,000 rewards were quickly posted to help catch a home-invasion gang and someone who was robbing residents in their garages, Lowman criticized Vancouver Mayor Philip Owen for balking at offering a big reward to help solve the missing-women case.

"At one point Mayor Owen said they weren't going to finance a finder's service for prostitutes," said Lowman.

But the tally of missing women kept growing and in 1999 Owen recommended the police board post a $100,000 reward for information in the case.

"They had to be leaned on pretty heavily before they finally took notice," said Graham.

A year earlier, the Vancouver police set up a team of investigators to focus on the disappearances, reviewing files dating back as far as 1971. Lowman said it was spurred by the growing pressure from advocates for sex-trade workers and the relatives of the missing women.

The media played a major role, too, he said. A series of articles in the Vancouver Sun and a story on the case by the popular TV show America's Most Wanted put police activities in the spotlight.

"Everything changed after that," said Lowman. "It took embarrassment."

Because many of the women were originally from other parts of British Columbia, the RCMP came aboard, forming a joint task force with Vancouver police last fall. The investigative team grew to some 30 officers.

But the task remains daunting. Police say they have between 600 and 1,000 suspects and are interested in looking at other properties besides the farm in Port Coquitlam.

Investigators have also travelled to Seattle to interview Gary Ridgeway, charged in December with four of an estimated 49 of the so-called Green River murders in Washington state. Those killings stopped in 1984.

U.S. authorities want to set up a regional task force to probe the deaths of more than 90 women from San Diego to Vancouver.

Even if recent developments help break the case, Lowman said there is plenty of blame to go around the lengthening list of missing women - No. 50 disappeared just last November.

He points a finger at former federal justice minister Anne McLellan, who he said has opposed reforming laws governing prostitution, keeping street hookers isolated and vulnerable to predators.

"What we've done is force them into more and more secluded locations," he said. "The women who are out on the street are often the ones who are in the most dire circumstances on the downtown eastside.

"Unfortunately I think we're going to find bodies and I'm going to say some of the blood has to be laid at the hands of the minister of justice."

© Copyright 2002 The Canadian Press

Break in Vancouver missing women case

Missing women’s task force investigating pig farm

Global Reports

Thursday, February 07, 2002

PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. - There appears to be a major break in the investigation into the disappearance of 50 women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Dozens of police officers including members of the missing women's task force are searching a Vancouver-area farm.

Police arrived at the Port Coquitlam pig farm - about a 45-minute drive east of downtown Vancouver - Tuesday night with a search warrant.

"The missing women’s task force executed a search warrant (at the pig farm) on Tuesday night with Coquiltam RCMP," said task force spokesperson Const. Kate Galliford. "The warrant was executed by Coquitlam RCMP but we were in attendance."

"As a result of that firearm search warrant, the missing women’s team obtained its own search warrant and (officers are on the farm today) to execute that search warrant."

Galliford said that the families of the missing women were contacted Wednesday night.

"(We wanted) to ensure that they received word from us that we were conducting a search of the property and that they didn’t hear it through the media."

The search may take days, weeks or even months to execute.

"We can’t speculate at this time how long it is going to take us to search the various buildings on the property as well as the property itself," said Galliford.

Other than a woman's purse, police won’t say what they have found so far or even what they are looking for.

Forensic identification specialists were brought to the scene Thursday afternoon.

The farm belongs to the Pickton family.

The Picktons have been pig farmers in the area for more than 100 years.

BCTV News did a story on the family in January 1994.

Brothers Dave and Robert Pickton were upset over a high property tax assessment.

They worried at that time they would have to sell some of their land and their 100 pigs.

The property that is being searched has been owned by the Picktons for 38 years.

Just down the road from the police investigation is another property that is said to be owned by the Picktons.

The mayor of Port Coquitlam has offered any assistance the city can give to the investigation including maps of the property.

"I am unable to comment on the evidence - substantial or lack of - at this time but obviously the evidence has led them to this particular site," said Mayor Scott Young.

Neighbour Dawn Sangret said she is shocked by the news of the investigation pointing out that infamous serial killer Clifford Olsen is from the area.

"It is pretty scary in this little town," she said.

Even though authorities are remaining tight-lipped, with the task force investigating the disappearance of 50 Vancouver women, wild speculation about what police will find has begun.

In the meantime, charges have been laid against Robert Pickton in connection with the initial search warrant.

The 52-year-old is charged with storing a firearm contrary to regulations, possession of a firearm while not being holder of a licence, and possession of a loaded restricted firearm without a licence.

Police say neither brother is a suspect in the missing women case.

Families of missing women want closure

Thursday, February 07, 2002

VANCOUVER - For most Lower Mainland residents, Vancouver’s missing women are those faces on the missing persons’ posters.

There are fifty women in all and each one of them has left behind loved ones and friends who wonder to this day just what happened to them.

In fact, the missing women's task force, which is responsible for the search of a pig farm in Port Coquitlam, was only created after families of the women who disappeared spoke-out.

Marnie Lee Frey's family is still looking for her. She is originally from Campbell River and went missing in August of 1997 when she was 24-years old.

"Marnie had a very big heart," said Marnie's stepmother Lynn Frey. "She loved life and she was very rambunctious ... she loved horses and horseback riding."

"We didn’t like why she was down (in the Downtown Eastside)," said Marnie’s father Rick Frey. "We tried in different ways to help her with her problem."

"You would like to be able to grab them and hold them and make them better."

Janet Henry was last seen in the Downtown Eastside in June of 1997. She was 36-years old when she disappeared.

"She is a loving mother ... no matter how messed up she was, her daughter was number one," said Janet’s sister Sandra Gagnon.

"She went through hell before she went missing. She never had an easy life."

"We want to bring her home and have a proper burial."

Dawn Terersa Crey was reported missing in December 2000. She was 43 at the time.

"First and foremost to us she was a sister and a mom and she was an aunt to all of her nieces and nephews," said Dawn’s brother Ernie Crey. "We love her and miss her a great deal. We just hope to learn her fate."

"I think about her a lot. I think about how things could have been different."

Pictures of many of the missing women can be found on the Vancouver Police Department

© Copyright2002 Global BC

Relatives await news as police search farm in missing B.C. women case

CAMILLE BAINS AND GREG JOYCE

Canadian Press

Thursday, February 07, 2002

VANCOUVER (CP) - Feelings of friends and relatives of some of the 50 B.C. women who have disappeared since the early 1980s included dread, fear and even relief Thursday at the news of a possible break in the case. "I have a feeling she's dead," said Sandra Gagnon, whose sister Janet Henry disappeared about June 27, 1997.

"I've thought that for quite a while because her money's still in the bank and she paid her rent and she never did go home." Gagnon, who lives in Vancouver, called the possible break in the disappearances "nerve-racking."

"Overwhelming is the word because you wonder if you're finally going to get answers."

Investigators trying to solve the disappearances dating back to 1983 searched a Vancouver-area pig farm Thursday,

RCMP Const. Catherine Galliford said the site, about 35 kilometres east of Vancouver in the community of Port Coquitlam, was of interest in the investigation.

Most of the missing women were drug users and sex-trade workers from Vancouver's downtown eastside, one of the poorest areas in Canada and well-known for its drug use, prostitution, crime and high HIV and AIDS rate.

Gagnon said she called police Thursday after hearing media reports about new developments in the case.

But she said police didn't give her any details about the investigation.

"I just feel really full of anxiety to the point where I just hope we'll finally get answers and I just hope that it doesn't come tumbling down and they don't find nothing."

Henry was 37 when she disappeared. She left behind daughter Debra Chartier who is now 17.

Debra said she was shocked to hear about developments in the case when her law teacher talked about them in class Thursday morning.

"I'm not upset and I'm not really setting my hopes up too high because if you put your hopes up too high you're setting yourself up for a letdown," Debra said from the northern community of McBride, B.C.

"I would hope that they would find the bodies and then we can just bury their remains and finally get over the whole situation."

Wayne Leng was a friend of Sarah deVries and last saw her in April 1998.

Her disappearance prompted him to set up a Web site (www.missingpeople.net) devoted to the missing women and which contains information and news stories on most of the women.

"I think it might be a big break," said Leng, who now runs the Web site out of Ontario, Calif., where he moved two years ago.

"They (police) wouldn't go in there if they didn't have something to go on. There must be something there in order to call the families."

Leng said deVries was a prostitute who worked the downtown eastside.

"It makes me feel sick because on the one hand I want to know what happened and on the other hand I'm afraid to know what happened to Sarah."

In Parksville on Vancouver Island, Erin McGrath was awaiting word about her sister, who was last seen in 1993.

"Closure is very important and putting an end to this problem that we have in the downtown eastside with the women going missing."

Ironically, McGrath said, the family moved to Greater Vancouver in 1989 from San Francisco "to get away from all the crime and violence."

"My sister had a drug problem," she said. "We just didn't realize how bad it was and when she went to live in Vancouver we didn't realize that there was a place like east Vancouver."

McGrath said the family didn't know that her sister was a prostitute.

"We found that out later. We didn't know what danger she was in and we didn't know there were missing women back in 1983."

McGrath was also critical of the police efforts in keeping family informed.

"The police aren't telling us anything," said McGrath.

She said police never contacted them to update them on the missing women.

"They never got in contact with us. We always had to call the Vancouver police department."

Michelle Pineault, whose daughter Stephanie Lane went missing in January 1997, said police called her about the new developments in the case at about 8 p.m. Wednesday.

"It was quite shocking," Pineault said Thursday afternoon. "I haven't slept since."

"My hope is that my daughter will always walk through the door. But if that's not possible then I hope there's closure.

"It's tough. It's a daily battle," Pineault said weeping.

Lane was 20 when she went missing. She left behind an infant named Stephen who is now five.

Pineault said her grandson has asked her several times why his mother ran away and when she's coming back.

"Last week he wanted to see her gravestone and I said honey, 'She doesn't have a gravestone.' "

© Copyright 2002 The Canadian Press

Hundreds of potential suspects in case

Seattle’s Green River murder suspect among them

Thursday, February 07, 2002

PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. - Sandwiched between a golf course and a townhouse development, a Port Coquitlam pig farm represents the most significant lead police have in the missing women’s investigation.

For the first time they have a potential crime scene. That is something those investigating the Green River murders in Washington State never lacked.

"There was always a top five and Gary Ridgway was always one of those," said King County Sheriff Dave Reichert during a press conference in November 2001.

Last month, Ridgway was charged in the deaths of four women who were among the 49 deaths and disappearances attributed to the Green River killer in the 80's. The four women were killed between 1982 and 1984.

The first woman to go missing in Vancouver was in 1983. And the similarities don't end there. The women were prostitutes, all with substance abuse problems.

Members of the Vancouver Police Department travelled to Seattle recently to share information with the Green River task force after it was learned Ridgway loved to camp and had travelled to B.C.

In December 2001, Vancouver Police Det. Jim McKnight told BCTV News sex trade workers had told police they recognized Gary Ridgway.

"They believe that it was Mr. Ridgway who was in the Vancouver area, (but) there is nothing yet that corroborates that," he said.

Police emphasize there could be more than one serial killer of prostitutes in the Downtown Eastside, considering there are 600 potential suspects, 100 of which are considered high priority, including Ridgway.

"Mr. Ridgeway is only one of hundreds of potential suspects," said missing women's task force spokesperson Const. Catherine Galliford. "We did exchange information with the Green River task force. We have entered that information on a databank."

"However, there are some potential suspects that are standing out at this point much more than others ..."

With no bodies, and no proof that any of the prostitutes met with foul play, the search of a Port Coquitlam pig farm is the biggest step taken by Vancouver investigators.

Unlike the lengthy Green River task force, police started the missing women's investigation three years ago when there 31 women on the list. Today, that number sits at 50.

© Copyright2002 Global BC

Possible break in missing-women probe

Task force seals off, conducts search of farm

Lindsay Kines and Kim Bolan

Thursday, February 07, 2002

The missing-women task force was conducting a search of a Port Coquitlam farm Wednesday in what may be a major break in its investigation of 50 women missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

"I can tell you a search is being conducted on that property and the search is being executed by the missing-women task force," said Constable Catherine Galliford, the spokeswoman for the joint Vancouver police-RCMP task force.

Corporal Pierre Lemaitre of the Coquitlam RCMP confirmed police went to the house Tuesday night to execute a search for firearms. The task force arrived on Wednesday.

"[Police] have been there, obviously, since late last night and all through today," Lemaitre said Wednesday.

Galliford said she will be on the scene again today. She said she had no idea how long the search would take because the property is 11 hectares (28 acres).

Police sources identified Robert Pickton as a person of interest in the case. He is listed on B.C. assessment records as one of three owners of the property being searched on Dominion Road.

The RCMP set up a trailer as its mobile command centre near the property's barn, and were coming and going from the farm late into the night.

There were investigators from Coquitlam and Burnaby on the scene, as well as officers in unmarked police vehicles. The command centre had the markings of Burnaby RCMP.

Large dogs barked and roamed the ramshackle property, which had a darkened house and abandoned vehicles. "No trespassing" signs hung from a huge wired gate, including one threatening an attack by a pit bull with AIDS.

A friend of the man who lives at the farm told The Sun his friend had been interviewed previously by police in connection with the disappearance of downtown Vancouver prostitutes.

But Ross Edward Contois said his friend is innocent. "These guys are totally on the wrong trail," Contois said, adding that his friend is the victim of rumour-mongering.

"It's been going on for years."

The task force recently expanded its investigation to 30 officers as the number of women confirmed missing climbed to 50.

Most of the women who have disappeared over a number of years were involved in drugs or the sex trade in the Downtown Eastside.

© Copyright 2002 Vancouver Sun

 

Police search site linked to missing women

Salim Jiwa
The Province

Thursday, February 07, 2002

A task force probing the disappearance of over 40 women from Vancouver's downtown eastside was last night searching a rural property in a remote corner of Coquitlam in what could be a possible "body dump site."

The task force moved on to the property armed with a search warrant after dark and neighbours told BCTV reporters they had seen suspicious movement on the acreage property on several occasions but thought nothing of it.

RCMP and Vancouver police officers have been quietly talking about the macabre possibility they would sooner or later find a major body dump site since they came to a realization a serial killer was most likely responsible for the disappearances which began several years ago.

RCMP in Coquitlam were kept quiet last night about what their expectations were in the search of the property, which is 10 to 15 acres in size..

But in the past few days, some sources have indicated the total body count, if a burial or dump site was found, could easily exceed 40.

Many of the women were involved in drugs and prostitution and were likely abducted from the streets.

It was not clear last night who owned the property where the police were searching last night.

One neighbour said he had seen police cars on the property for a couple of days.

Some at the scene suggested to reporters police would be digging once they pinpointed the location that interests them.

There was no word on who they suspect, in what could become the worst spree of serial killings in Canadian criminal history.

© Copyright 2002 The Province

 

Police search Vancouver-area pig farm in case of 50 missing women

GREG JOYCE AND DENE MOORE

Canadian Press

Thursday, February 07, 2002

PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. (CP) - Michelle Pineault has always hoped her missing daughter would someday walk through the door - alive, safe and sound. Dozens of other relatives and friends of some 50 missing B.C. women - mainly sex-trade workers from Vancouver's sordid downtown eastside - have the same wish, some enduring vigils of unrequited sorrow for nearly two decades.

On Wednesday night, many of them got a call from police - the late-night ring they never really wanted but desperately needed.

The police were on to something big in the unsolved case of the missing Vancouver-area women, and they wanted relatives to know because the media was about to be told - and then their phones would be ringing for hours and days.

A whirlwind of speculation and an outpouring of emotion came after police revealed Thursday that the task force set up to investigate the missing women was searching a pig farm in suburban Port Coquitlam.

A search warrant was issued Tuesday allowing police to go to the unkempt property in the small community about 35 kilometres east of Vancouver.

The warrant related to firearms, but there were clear indications the police were searching for something else on the four-hectare spread.

They weren't giving out much information to the media throng that began gathering outside the entrance to the property in the middle of the night.

RCMP Const. Catherine Galliford said police were there in connection with the disappearance of the women, dating back to 1983.

The hustle and bustle, however, strongly suggested this was no mere fishing expedition.

Dozens of police officers came and went. Portable toilets were trucked in. A couple of trailers to serve as command centres were set up. Lights were brought in, indicating police intended to work into the night.

Investigators wearing white paper coveralls and rubber gloves picked up a purse lying in a ditch on the side of the driveway and put it in a paper bag, then took photographs.

A few hours after the media were briefed by Galliford in the grey drizzle, RCMP said Robert William Pickton, 52, was charged with storing a firearm contrary to regulations, possession of a firearm while not being holder of a licence and possession of a loaded restricted firearm without a licence.

Police said Pickton, an owner of the pig farm, was not being held in custody.

Pineault's daughter has been gone for five years.

"My hope is that my daughter will always walk through the door," she said. "But if that's not possible then I hope there's closure."

Lane was 20 the last time she was seen and she left behind Stephen who is now five.

Pineault's need for answers, one way or the other, is made clear by the questions she gets from Stephen.

"Last week he wanted to see her gravestone and I said honey, 'She doesn't have a gravestone.' "

Police have been under intense pressure and criticism for many years concerning the missing women's file as the number grew in media stories: a couple dozen, 31, then 45, then 50.

Galliford indicated the police will take their time at the site.

"Right now we're just sorting out logistical problems," she said. "We're bringing in some barriers to give the investigators some privacy.

"We do anticipate that we're going to have to do some excavation but at this particular time that's not the stage of the search that we're at."

A cursory glimpse at the farm, where pigs have been raised and a hollowed-out area indicates a gravel excavating business, suggested disarray.

Several pieces of heavy machinery sat idly in various areas of the sprawling site. A house in one corner needed work; green mould covered its walls. Fencing had succumbed to time and gravity.

As a Rottweiler paced back and forth, piles of gravel mounds from an excavation site and old barn completed a scene of neglectful domesticity.

Sandra Gagnon's sister, Janet Henry, also had dormant emotions jolted with the news.

"I have a feeling she's dead," said Gagnon, whose sister vanished about June 27, 1997.

"I've thought that for quite a while because her money's still in the bank and she paid her rent and she never did go home."

Late in the afternoon, Wendy Lachance came to the site from her nearby home.

Unlike the giggling and gawking teens and other lookie-loos who stopped by throughout the day, Lachance was on a mission.

Her cousin, Marnie Frey, disappeared in August 1997.

"She just stopped showing up," said Lachance. "She stopped calling.

"I want to know. If they find anything I want to be the first to know. It's like you're getting hurt all over again every time you hear something."

The search of the farm, which contains other outbuildings, could take days or months.

Investigators had talked to the farm's owners but didn't know where they were.

As the missing women case dragged on and the numbers kept mounting, speculation grew of a serial killer preying on prostitutes in the downtown eastside.

Police initially discounted the theory, saying there was no evidence to support it. But as the list grew, the theory gained credence.

Here is the list of 50 women who have disappeared from Vancouver's downtown eastside since the early 1980s, along with the date they were last seen:

1. Rebecca Guno - June 1983

2. Sherry Rail - January 1984.

3. Leigh Miner - December 1993.

4. Laura Mah - sometime in 1985.

5. Elaine Allenbach - March 1986.

6. Teressa Williams - July 1988.

7. Ingrid Soet - August 1989.

8. Nancy Clark aka Nancy Greek - sometime in 1991.

9. Kathleen Wattley - June 1992.

10. Elsie Sebastien - sometime in 1992.

11. Angela Arseneault - sometime in 1994.

12. Catherine Gonzalez - March 1995.

13. Catherine Knight - April 1995.

14. Dorothy Spence - August 1995.

15. Diana Melnick - December 1995.

16. Tanya Holyk -October 1996.

17. Olivia Williams - December 1996.

18. Frances Young - sometime in 1996.

19. Stephanie Lane - January 1997.

20. Helen Hallmark - June 1997.

21. Janet Henry - June 1997.

22. Marnie Frey -August 1997.

23. Jacqueline Murdock - August 1997.

24. Cindy Beck - September 1997.

25. Andrea Borhaven - sometime in 1997.

26. Sherry Irving - sometime in 1997.

27. Cindy Feliks - sometime in 1997.

28. Kerry Koski - January 1998.

29. Inga Hall - February 1998.

30. Sarah deVries - April 1998.

31. Elaine Dumba - Apri 1998.

32. Sheila Egan - July 1998.

33. Julie Young - October 1998.

34. Angela Jardine - November 1998.

35. Marcella Creison - December 1998.

36. Michelle Gurney - December 1998.

37. Jacqueline McDonell - January 1999.

38. Georgina Papin - sometime in 1999.

39. Brenda Wolfe - sometime in 1999.

40. Wendy Crawford - sometime in 1999.

41. Jennifer Furminger - sometime in 1999.

42. Dawn Crey - sometime in 2000.

43. Debra Jones - sometime in 2000.

44. Patricia Johnson - March 2001.

45. Heather Bottomley - April 2001.

46. Heather Chinnock - April 2001.

47. Angela Josebury - June 2001.

48. Serena Abbotsway - August 2001.

49. Diane Rock - October 2001.

50. Mona Wilson - November 2001.

© Copyright 2002 The Canadian Press

Police search Vancouver-area farm in case of 50 missing women

Canadian Press

Thursday, February 07, 2002

VANCOUVER (CP) - Police began searching a Vancouver-area farm Wednesday night in the case of 50 women missing from the city's downtown eastside.

RCMP sealed off the farm in Port Coquitlam, checking credentials before letting anyone on the property, but would not comment on their investigation.

Some of the women have been missing since 1984. Reporters were kept back from the farm, which covers four to six hectares, but police appeared to make a brief preliminary search of the house on the property Wednesday evening.

In mid-January, the task force added five women to the list of those who had disappeared from Vancouver's gritty downtown eastside to bring the total to 50.

Vancouver police started the missing-women investigation three years ago when the number was thought to be 31.

Police have speculated that the high number of disappearances could mean a serial killer is preying on sex trade workers in the downtown eastside.

Police have said all the missing women were addicted to either drugs or alcohol and most worked as prostitutes.

© Copyright 2002 The Canadian Press

Break in the case of the missing women-Feb 10, 2002

The hunt for evidence-Feb 10, 2002

Police told years ago about pig farm-Feb 9, 2002

 

Email: wleng#missingpeople.net 

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

Updated: August 21, 2016