VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
HIGHWAY OF TEARS IN FRASER VALLEY?
Police had eyed same suspect in Merritt death and unsolved 1970s child slayings in Abbotsford
By Cassidy Olivier
October 19, 2007
Seven years ago, officers investigating two cold-case murders in Abbotsford confirmed to Black Press the name of a suspect they believed may also have killed Monica Jack — the 12-year-old girl who disappeared in May 1978 while riding her bike home along Nicola Lake near Merritt.
The similarities in the murders, combined with the suspect's criminal record — which included multiple rape convictions — left police thinking they had the right guy.
But, unable to prove anything, the suspect, in his 50s, was left to walk free and was last reported to be living in Ontario.
Meanwhile, the murders of Kathryn Mary Herbert (11 years old when murdered in 1975), Theresa Hildebrandt (15 years old when slain in 1976) and Jack remain unsolved, although their remains have since been recovered.
However, with the recent addition of Jack's name to the probe of women suspected of having gone missing along the so-called Highway of Tears between Prince George and Prince Rupert, new questions arise regarding the scope of the trail, as well as whether police are closing in on a suspect or suspects.
In Prince George last week, Mounties announced the list of women believed to have gone missing along the infamous stretch of highway had been increased from nine to 18. Included on the list were names of missing woman from the Kamloops area.
If police still believe the man suspected of killing Herbert and Hildebrandt is also responsible for Jack's death, the Highway of Tears then potentially stretches much farther than police initially thought — down to the U.S. border in the Fraser Valley.
It also means a potential suspect may be within reach of the law.
However, the possible connection between the three deaths and the implication this would have on the investigation isn't something Sgt. Pierre Lemaitrie of the RCMP's E Division major-crime section is willing to discuss.
Due to the sensitivity of the probe, he told KTW this week that he doesn't want to go near the topic of suspects for fear it will compromise the investigation.
Lemaitrie would not elaborate on why the announcement was made last week, other than to say the task force had decided it was time to provide the public with an update on the investigation into the Highway of Tears murders and other slayings now believed to have links.
"If we have suspects, that is not something the task force is willing to talk about openly," Lemaitroe said. "There are just some things we need to protect. We don't want to give a suspect a head start."
He did, however, say police have been inundated with tips following the Prince George conference, leading him to comment that the probe looks "promising."
Lemaitrie said a further update will not likely be made for at least another month or until there is a breakthrough in the investigation.
Along with Jack, police last week added the following murders to the Highway of tears probe: Gale Weys, killed in Clearwater in 1973; Pamela Darlington, found dead in Kamloops in 1973; and Maureen Mosie, found dead in Kamloops in 1981.
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Highway of Tears
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Updated: August 21, 2016