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Missing Women inquiry spectators cheer suggestion of police cover-up

BY: NEAL HALL, VANCOUVER SUN October 25, 2011

VANCOUVER - Members of the public gallery at the Missing Women inquiry cheered and applauded when police were accused of being involved in a cover-up.

Lynn Frey, the stepmother of Marnie Frey, was testifying how she had been told by women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside that her daughter may have ended up on a pig farm owned by someone named Willy.

She recalled her foster sister, who lived in Port Coquitlam, suggested Willy might be Robert Pickton, who had a farm in Port Coquitlam.

Frey said they went to Pickton's farm that night, which she thought was sometime in September 1998.

Frey said she told Vancouver police Detective Lori Shenher about Pickton and going to the farm.

But under cross-examination by lawyer David Crossin, who is representing the Vancouver police union and Shenher, suggested Shenher had absolutely no note of the conversation.

"You could be mistaken?" Crossin asked.

"No. I think there is a big cover-up here," Fry testified.

"Right on," someone from the public gallery said. Others cheered and applauded.

"Who do you think is covering up?" Crossin asked.

"I don't know," she replied.

Frey recalled she went to the farm many times after that, looking for evidence that Marnie had been to the farm.

She recalled Shenher telling her about visiting the Pickton farm: "Be careful. Don't go investigating and let police do their job."

Testimony from the families of vicitms of serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton is expected to take all week.

The inquiry now is entering its third week.

In addition to Lynn Frey, the family members expected to testify are:

Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn Crey was killed; Lorraine Crey; Lori-Ann Ellis; Margaret Green; Ann-Marie Livingston; and Lilliane Beaudoin.

In earlier testimony today, Lynn Frey recalled Marnie would call home to Campbell River at least once a day.

Marnie's dad, Rick Frey, is a fifth-generation commercial fisherman from Campbell River.

Lynn told the inquiry that Marnie fell in with a bad crowd in her teens and started smoking pot and later got into cocaine.

She moved out at 18, when Marnie was pregnant with her daughter, which Lynn and Rick adopted at six months old and raised.

Marnie moved to Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in 1995, when she got into herion.

Lynn Frey recalled Marnie phoned home every day and was a loving, caring mother.

She usually came home twice a year to see her daughter.

Lynn recalled Marnie was very open and told her stepmother she worked in the sex trade to pay for her drugs.

"She was addicted and had no other choice," she told Commissioner Wally Oppal.

"She was ashamed and upset that it hurt me. She was very ashamed it hurt her father," she recalled.

Marnie went into drug treatment three times, she said.

Marnie went missing in 1997.

Pickton, 62, was convicted of killing Marnie and five other women.

Lynn Frey recalled the last time she talked to Marnie was on her 24th birthday on Aug. 30, 1997.

She said she had sent a birthday package to Vancouver, which was supposed to arrive on Marnie's birthday.

The package contained new clothes, home-made bread and $50 cash.

Marnie was supposed to pick up the package, she said.

But Frey said she became concerned when she didn't hear from Marnie for a couple of days.

"I got a weird feeling that someting was wrong," Frey told the inquiry.

She said she tries reporting Marnie missing to the Campbell River RCMP, which suggested she wait a few more days.

"They just didn't care," Frey said.

"I knew something was wrong and so did her dad."

She contacted RCMP again weeks later and again after Nov. 5, 1997, which was Lynn's birthday. Marnie always called Lynn on her birthday.

Lynn Frey said she began phoning hospitals, checking to see if they had a Jane Doe who had been killed.

She also said she continued contacting the RCMP, which finally sent a missing report to Vancouver police in January 1998.

"The RCMP didn't care because she was a low life prostitute," Frey testified.

Frey eventually went to Vancouver and began searching for Marnie.

Vancouver police suggested Marnie may have gone on a cruise, which Frey felt was absurd.

"A drug addicted woman waiting for her next fix didn't go on a cruise," Frey testified.

She added she began meeting other families looking for their loved ones on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

She eventually talked to two women who had a tape recording of a man who suggested the missing women had been taken by "Willy."

Frey's foster sister, who lived in Port Coquitlam, said it was probably Willy Pickton, who had a pig farm.

Frey said she went to Pickton's farm that night and she tried climbing a fence but was chased by two dogs on the farm.

This was in September 1998, she said.

She recalled reporting the tape and Pickton to Vancouver police Detecive Lori Shenher, who knew about Pickton and was compassionate.

But she had some harsh words for former Vancouver mayor Phillip Owen, whom she said showed no interest in the missing women.

"If it was his daughter, you can be your bottom dollar he'd be looking for her," Frey told the inquiry.

"I wish they would have taken it seriously."

Earlier Monday, the lawyer for the RCMP, Jan Brongers, said the force was sorry for the loss of the loved ones of the families.

"It takes an enormous amount of courage to be here," Brongers said.

"We do not want to add to your pain, so we'll not be cross-examining you."

Before the families began their testimony, Oppal said he appreciated their willingness for coming forward to share their experiences.

"We can only have effective change if you come foward and tell us what happened to you and how we can change the system, if the system needs to be changed," he said.

The inquiry heard today that Vancouver Deputy Chief Doug LePard is expected to testify next week.

The inquiry can hear the first nations drummers and singers who are gathered outside at Georgia and Granville, which has blocked traffic.

nhall@vancouversun.com

 

Email: wleng#missingpeople.net 

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

Updated: August 21, 2016