VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
He had prepared for the worst long ago. But when Joel Boen learned DNA evidence had identified his mother as one of the women found on the B.C. pig farm owned by accused serial murderer Robert Pickton, the news still set him back.
By Rod Drabble of the Journal
Melfort Journal — He had prepared for the worst long ago.
But when Joel Boen learned DNA evidence had identified his mother as one of the women found on the B.C. pig farm owned by accused serial murderer Robert Pickton, the news still set him back.
"I decided to deal with it a while ago. I kind of expected the inevitable. There was always the hope she was still around, but I had heard rumours," said Boen, 19, who watched the news in the Melfort home of his grandmother.
"I kind of dealt with it right then and accepted it for what it was. The other day when I was watching TV it dug up those feelings again and made me really upset about it.
"I am glad I know what happened. It is not a happy closure, but it is a closure."
Joel's mother, Yvonne Marie Boen, was 33 when she disappeared almost three years ago after leaving her home in north Surrey, B.C. to visit friends. She was last seen by family Mar. 16, 2001 and was reported missing five days later.
Late last month, investigators with Vancouver's Joint Missing Women Task Force revealed that the DNA of the woman who grew up in Melfort as Yvonne England in the 1970s and early 1980s had been discovered on the Port Coquitlam pig farm owned by Pickton.
Yvonne Boen was one of six women identified through DNA found by investigators at the farm. The DNA of three more women has not been identified. This latest batch of identifications brings to 31 the number of victims linked to Pickton and his farm.
The names of the six women identified, including Yvonne Boen, appear on a list of 65 women reported missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
Pickton, who is accused of being Canada's worst serial killer, was first arrested in February, 2002 when police began a 21-month search and excavation of the farm that concluded in November of last year. He has been charged with 15 counts of first-degree murder, and prosecutors have indicated they have plans to lay seven additional murder charges later this year. His trial is expected to begin sometime this year.
No charges have been laid in connection with the most recent identifications.
Yvonne England was born Nov. 30, 1967. She attended Brunswick School and later the Melfort Regional Division 3 School, but she apparently dropped out of school sometime around Grade 9.
She married Gerald Boen in 1983 and Joel was born in 1984. A second son, Troy, was born the following year. About that time Yvonne and Gerald separated, although the couple never went through divorce proceedings. A third son, Damien, came a year later.
Following the marriage separation, Yvonne moved to British Columbia in the late 1980s, meaning the boys spent little time living with their mother.
Joel lived with his father and grandmother, Edith Boen, and now works and lives in Melfort. Troy has lived most of his life with Yvonne's mother, Lynn Metin, in Kelowna, B.C. The third son was placed in foster care.
Troy and his grandmother were the last family members to see Yvonne. She visited the two of them in Kelowna until March 16, 2001 and phoned her son a day later. Troy was supposed to visit his mother in Surrey the following week during school break, but her never heard from her.
The victims linked to Pickton are identified as sex trade workers and drug users, Yvonne Boen included.
A year after she disappeared, RCMP in Surrey reported she had frequented a crack house in that city, a place visited by those matching the profile of the women who disappeared from the Downtown Eastside.
Joel Boen hadn't talked to his mother for more than a year prior to her disappearance, and he hadn't lived with her since his parents separated when he was only about two-years-old.
But he doesn't want to believe what police say about his mother's life.
"I don't know about the police report saying she was a prostitute, I can't see that. I think she was looking for help ... I don't know if the police were right about that," he said.
"I'm not trying to contradict them, they probably know more than I do."
One thing Joel does know is his mother - and the other women whose DNA has been found on the Pickton farm - didn't deserve what happened to them, no matter how they lived their lives.
"It does make me mad because my mom never deserved that. None of the women deserved that. I know my mom wasn't the best mom in the world, but when she was around she meant well. She totally did not deserve what happened to her."
Although no charges have been filed in relation to his mother's death, Joel said he is angry with Robert Pickton for what happened to his mother and the other women found on Pickton's property.
"Anything that happens to that Robert guy he totally deserves," he said, expressing solidarity with families of the other women found at the farm.
"My heart goes out to those people and I know they return the favour back to all of the others. It kind of feels like you are not alone, and it is really nice to feel that.
"(But) there are still families out there who don't know. My heart goes out
especially to them because they have no sense of closure about it yet. It is
still open case and they still have to deal with that."
"He didn't shower. He was really smelling," he told the Kelowna Daily Courier. "My mother and my aunt met him because the Pickton family had a little bar (in Port Coquitlam)."
The Boen family knew Yvonne had been at Pickton's farm, according to Edith
Boen, her mother-in-law.
"In a way it is good, because we know what happened to her and that she is not some place out there yet."
Many people lost contact with Yvonne over the years, Edith Boen said. She doesn't have many good memories of Yvonne, however she does say that her daughter-in-law was "pretty good with the kids, but they were a bit of a burden to her because she couldn't do her own thing."
While news of the discovery wasn't unexpected for the family, it came as a shock to others who knew Yvonne when she lived in Melfort.
Jacqueline Marchand was a waitress at the Town and Country when she met Yvonne in the 1980s. The two women struck up a friendship, and were close enough acquaintances that when Yvonne later moved to Moose Jaw, Marchand visited her there.
Marchand was cleaning her home in Kinistino with the television in the background when she heard the reporter identify Yvonne Boen as one of the women found on the Pickton farm.
She looked at the picture of the blond hair, blue-eyed Yvonne on television and knew it was the woman she had once known as a friend.
Marchand said she lost touch with Yvonne in the mid to late 1980s, about the time Yvonne moved to British Columbia.
She remembers her as being fun - a woman who enjoyed Bingo and who regularly twirled a strand of her blond hair around her index finger - but also as a woman who had troubles.
Joel has good memories of his mother, even though he didn't have a lot of contact with her.
"She was actually a really cool mom. She didn't really stay around very much, she went her own way, and that is okay with me. I am 19 now and I go my own way. Everyone to themselves. There are lots of good memories," he said.
"We didn't see each other too much, but when she was around she was the best, she was awesome. I enjoyed my time with her so much.
"It is hard to explain how to remember it because you don't hear from the person too much. What I am going to do is remember the good times we had. Really, that is all you got to go on."
He has searched the Internet for news as a means of learning what happened and remembering his mother.
"I downloaded all of that stuff. I kind of wanted to keep it for my memory."
Joel isn't alone with his memories.
He said other people who remember his mother from when she lived in Melfort have approached him in the days since the news broke to express their condolences.
"I never really expected how many people would know. I walked uptown and people were saying 'my heart goes out to you'. People have been excellent," he said.
"I don't even know these people, but they know who I am. They are total
strangers, but they come up to you and say 'I'm an old friend of your mom and I
saw on TV what happened and I'm thinking about you'.
Updated: August 21, 2016