VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Courtesy of the CBC Website
B.C. police make pledge to missing women's families
Saturday, February 9, 2002
VANCOUVER - Relatives of missing Vancouver women at the centre of a huge investigation were given assurances Saturday that police will try to keep them better informed of the latest developments.
RCMP Const. Cate Galliford told a media briefing that police are aware of the relatives' frustrations. But they still don't yet have clear picture of what they're dealing with as they comb a hog farm east of the city.
Police were not saying what if any evidence has turned up as they continued to scour the farm, looking for clues into the disappearances of 50 women from Vancouver's downtown eastside since the mid-1980s.
Several women have complained that they told authorities they had suspicions about the farm, but that police did nothing. Const. Galliford came with a prepared defence.
"Focusing on one element of a case or at any one moment in time in an investigation, is like jumping to conclusions about a giant jigsaw puzzle by shining one light onto one small piece of that puzzle."
She said there is more police can do, however, to help anxious family members.
"The joint task force contacted family members to let them know we were coming to this site," she said. "We're now taking steps to make sure we can keep them updated with whatever information we can share without jeopardizing the investigation."
"Family members are feeling out of the loop," said police spokesman Scott Driemel. "For that we apologize."
As many as 40 people, including forensics experts, will be searching the four-hectare farm at any given time, said Driemel.
To help in the search, the local animal welfare organization began removing animals from the property Saturday. Its dilapidated buildings house about 30 sheep, a dozen pigs, a dozen goats, some llamas and cows.
Investigators said the property must be treated much like an archeological site, and therefore they've erected a fence around the property to keep onlookers at a distance.
Maggie De Vries, who says the property may have some connection to the disappearance of her sister Sarah three years ago, visited for the first time Saturday.
"I wanted to make it real to myself, and I wanted to see the police looking," she said.
De Vries said she looks forward to a meeting between police and all relatives of the missing women that has been scheduled at the end of March.
Peter Ritchie, the lawyer representing the co-owner of the Port Coquitlam farm, said his client is shocked by the Investigation. He said his client, Robert William Pickton, wants to co-operate.
Three firearms charges were laid on Thursday against the 52-year-old man. However, police are not calling him a suspect in the investigation.
Written by CBC News Online staff
Families react with hope and horror to pig farm search
Friday, February 8, 2002
VANCOUVER - Families of 50 missing women watched with a strange mixture of optimism and horror as police began to dig through a Vancouver-area pig farm on Thursday.
When the missing women task force got a warrant to search the farm in Port Coquitlam on Wednesday night, they began to make some phone calls.
They called the families who have been frustrated by an apparent lack of progress in the investigations into their missing daughters and sisters. That changed on Wednesday night.
"He said they had a suspect, that looked like a good suspect," Doreen Hanna said.
Hanna's daughter Leigh Miner has been missing for eight years. Wednesday night was the first time a police officer had anything encouraging to tell her.
But the sense of encouragement quickly turned to foreboding for Miner's sister Erin McGrath, when she began to see the dilapidated pig farm the police were scouring.
"Then there's the sense of dread that my sister could be there – and what a terrible place to end up, in a field," she said.
"It's just so sad."
Police haven't given many details about why they are searching the farm or what they expect to find there. The families say they don't want to get their hopes up.
RCMP Const. Cate Galliford said on Thursday the search could go on for months.
"They seem to feel they have some reason that's going to keep them on that property for some length of time, so I know we're going to be sitting on tenterhooks anticipating what's going to come next," said Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn disappeared some time in 2000.
For the families this is a giant step forward in an investigation they at one time thought wouldn't take place at all.
A Vancouver police investigation was started into 31 disappearances in 1998, but faltered and ultimately stalled. Last spring, it was rejuvenated with the creation of a joint Vancouver police - RCMP task force.
The task force has grown to 30 officers since then and the list of cases they are investigating has expanded to 50 women missing from Vancouver's grungy eastside since 1984.
Most of the missing women are drug addicts and prostitutes.
Written by CBC News Online staff
Farm known to Vancouver prostitutes
VANCOUVER - Residents of Port Coquitlam may be surprised that police have zeroed in on a farm in their community as they search for 50 missing women, but prostitutes working Vancouver's Downtown Eastside aren't.
Women on the gritty streets there say they've known for years not to go to a farm at Port Coquitlam.
"I was invited to that area," said one prostitute known as Susan. "My friend Andrea was invited to that area. I said, 'Andrea, don't go.'
"Now where is she?"
Nobody knows where Andrea Borhaven is – except that she's among 50 women who have disappeared since 1984.
For Susan and others, the search at the Pickton farm 35 kilometres east of Vancouver is a bitter pill. They say they told police about the farm years ago.
"Our rape crisis centre has spoken to people who have identified the farm and identified to farm to police," said Suzanne Jay, who works with the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter. "The suspicion that there was some connection between the missing women and the farm and the men who ran the farm."
Jay says police ignored the complaints.
That's an accusation the police deny.
"Information that was received by police, whether it be by the Vancouver police or whether it be from another agency, that information was shared and whatever information could be acted upon was," said Det. Scott Driemel of the Vancouver police.
Jay says more than three of the women now on the missing list came to her with suspicions about the farm.
That's why the women who work grungy eastside streets aren't too excited about the strong suspect police say they have and the ongoing search.
Written by CBC News Online staff
Updated: August 21, 2016