VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Lifeline to the street
Cops hope hotline may expose a killer
ByELIZA BARLOW, EDMONTON SUN
April 14, 2006
City vice cops say the "bad date" hotline they want to set up could stop vicious attacks on hookers - and even catch a serial killer.
"It's going to take one call to find out who's been killing the prostitutes around here and this is what's going to do it," said Staff Sgt. Brian Nowlan, head of the EPS vice unit.
"We're literally one phone call away from finding out who this guy is."
Nowlan submitted a proposal on the hotline to police Chief Mike Boyd yesterday morning after getting letters of support from various groups who work with hookers.
He hopes Boyd will approve the proposal in time to have the hotline up and running by the end of the year, if not sooner. Startup costs are pegged at $20,000.
Nowlan says he's taking a cue from bad-date hotlines already operated by the Toronto Police Service and the Niagara Regional Police.
Edmonton's hotline would be a toll-free, unmanned phone line available 24-7, said Nowlan.
The idea is that the city's prostitutes - who are notoriously reluctant to report bad dates to police - can place anonymous calls providing as much information as they can about violent encounters so that other hookers can be warned about certain individuals.
"It's valuable information that we're just not getting," said Nowlan.
"If we get enough reports it would enable police not only to deliver the information back to the streets to keep these girls alive, but also to track serial offenders.
"I don't doubt that every single street prostitute has one bad date per night."
The hotline will be open to anyone with information on bad dates - even non-sex-trade workers like cab drivers.
An RCMP-EPS joint task force, Project KARE, is investigating the murders and disappearances of 83 people, many of them sex-trade workers from the Edmonton area.
Meanwhile, Project KARE said yesterday it appears Maggie Lee Burke, Corrie Ottenbreit and Delores Dawn Brower met with foul play.
All were prostitutes who worked the 118 Avenue stroll and all three are missing. Ottenbreit and Brower were last seen in May 2004, while Burke was spotted in December of the same year.
While investigators hope for the best, they are preparing for the worst, said KARE spokesman Const. Tamara Bellamy.
"All these girls had families that they kept in regular contact with and now, nothing."
Bellamy said investigating a missing person is similar to investigating a homicide, given cops have to determine who last saw them, where they were last seen and who they were with. "If they're found dead, we've already started an investigation."
Maggie Lee Burke
Updated: August 21, 2016