VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN

CONTENTS

HOME

GUESTBOOK

1st GUESTBOOK

NEWS UPDATES

CONTACT US

             
                         

VPD warned in 1990s about understanding in missing persons section, inquiry told

BY NEAL HALL, VANCOUVER SUN  APR 24, 2012

VANCOUVER - A civilian in the Vancouver police missing persons section complained in the early 1990s that the unit was understaffed and needed more officers to properly investigate cases, the Missing Women inquiry heard today.

Sandy Cameron said she discussed the matter with the sergeant overseeing the VPD's missing persons unit and he wrote a memo in 1995 to a superintendent, asking for a full-time sergeant for the unit and a motivated constable.

At the time, the sergeant and missing persons unit was part of the homicide section.

Cameron recalled there were problems in the early 1990s with sex workers going missing but they were not being properly investigated because the missing persons unit was short staffed.

"So the warning flag went up in 1995?" asked lawyer Jason Gratl, who is representing Downtown Eastside interests.

"Yes," replied Cameron, who worked as a civilian clerk in missing persons for 22 years before retiring in 2005.

She said she noticed a spike in the number of sex workers being reported missing in the 1990s, which resulted in Det.-Const. Lori Shenher being added to the missing persons unit.

The inquiry heard earlier that Shenher did her best to investigate the missing women files but eventually became burned out.

VPD Deputy Chief Doug LePard said in his report that senior police managers failed to take ownership of the problem of missing women and assign more resources.

Cameron testified that she agreed with the 1998 findings of Kim Rossmo, then the Detective-Inspector in charge of the VPD's geographic profiling unit, who believed there was a possible serial killer preying on sex workers in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (DTES)

Rossmo wanted to issue a public warning about a possible serial killer preying on women but the idea was shot down by Insp. Fred Biddlecombe, who was in charge of the homicide section.

The inquiry has heard how Biddlecombe had a "hissy fit" when Rossmo presented a draft media release containing the public warning.

Biddlecombe said there was no evidence of a serial killer and didn't believe the women were really missing.

He instead directed Shenher to find the women reported missing.

Cameron said Rossmo was not respected by his colleagues in the senior ranks of the VPD, who didn't want to give credence to Rossmo's findings.

Biddlecombe is expected to testify later today about why police failed to properly investigate the dozens of women reported missing from the DTES.

Biddlecombe will be part of a major crime panel to testify at the inquiry today.

The inquiry is probing why serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton wasn't caught sooner.

Despite tips to Vancouver police in 1998 and 1999 about Pickton being a possible serial killer, his killing spree continued until his arrest in 2002.

One of the tips said a woman had seen Pickton with the dead body of a Vancouver prostitute in a barn on the Pickton farm in Port Coquitlam.

The inquiry has heard that Pickton lured women to his farm with promises of money and drugs.

Once police began an exhaustive 18-month search of Pickton's farm, the remains and DNA of 33 missing women were found.

Pickton was convicted in 2007 of six counts of murder.

He once confessed he killed 49 women.

The inquiry, which began hearings last Oct. 11, is expected to conclude testimony by the end of the month.

The inquiry will begin six policy forums starting May 1, which will be open to the public and will be live streamed online on the inquiry's website (www.missingwomeninquiry.ca).

Here is a schedule of the policy forums:

Forum 1: Ensuring the Safety of Vulnerable Women, Session A: Preventing Violence Against Sex Trade Workers

Date: Tuesday, May 1. 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Location: Vancouver Public Library, Peter Kaye Room 350 W. Georgia St., Vancouver.

- Session B: Preventing Violence Against Aboriginal and Rural Women

Date: 1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Location: Vancouver Public Library, Peter Kaye Room, 350 W. Georgia St.

- Session C: Building Strong Police-Community Relationships

Date: Thursday, May 3, 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Location: Vancouver Public Library, Peter Kaye Room, 350 W. Georgia Street, Vancouver.- Policy Forum 2: Vulnerable and Intimidated Witnesses in the Criminal Justice Process

Date: Thursday, May 3, 1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Location: Vancouver Public Library, Peter Kaye Room, 350 West Georgia St.

- Policy Forum 3: Improving Missing Person Practices, Session A: Accepting and Investigating Missing Person Reports

Date: Monday, May 7, 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Location: Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Room 420- 580 W. Hastings St.

-Session B: Police Relationships with Victims' Families, the Community, the Public and the Media.

Date: Monday, May 7, 1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Location: Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Room 420, 580 W. Hastings St.

- Policy Forum 4: Inter-jurisdictional Collaboration and Coordination Among Police

Date: Tuesday, May 8, 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Location: Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Room 420, 580 W. Hastings St.

- Policy Forum 5: Enhancing Police Accountability

Date: Tuesday, May 8, 1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Location: Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Room 420, 580 W. Hastings St., Vancouver.

- Policy Forum 6: From Report to Substantive Change - Healing, Reconciliation and Implementation

Date: Thurs., May 10, 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Location: Wosk Centre For Dialogue, Room 320, 580 W. Hastings St. Vancouver.nhall@vancouversun.com

nhall@vancouversun.com

 

 

Email: wleng#missingpeople.net 

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

Updated: August 21, 2016