VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Discovery of stepdaughter’s DNA confirms Calgarian’s fears
The Calgary Herald
Friday, December 13, 2002
Byline: Scott Crowson
A Calgary woman knew her stepdaughter was dead long before police found her DNA at the Port Coquitlam pig farm that now is the focus of an investigation into the disappearance of more than 60 women.
Cindy Feliks, a drug-addicted prostitute, frequented Vancouver's seedy downtown eastside, where she was last seen alive in November 1997. Her family believes she was murdered soon after.
Feliks would have turned 48 on Thursday.
"When we heard that they had found her DNA, we weren't really surprised," said Marilyn Kraft, who moved to Calgary a year ago.
"We were shocked, but not surprised."
Police told her the news Dec. 2.
"I've had five years to grieve because even though there's been the odd glimmer of hope, we've known," Kraft said.
Feliks got into drugs when she was 16. Soon, she was running away on a regular basis from her home in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb. She later turned to prostitution to feed her habit and was in constant trouble with the law.
"It got so that every time the phone rang, I worried that it was the police telling me they had found her dead," Kraft said.
In the late 1970s, Feliks tried to settle down. She got married and had a daughter, Theresa, but the marriage didn't last.
Soon, she was back to her bad habits.
Kraft, who raised Feliks from the time she was five years old, repeatedly tried to get her daughter to turn her life around, but it was no use.
"I hoped she would get tired of the way she was living, but she never did," said Kraft, who retired after 25 years with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
"She'd end up on my doorstep, out of it. So I'd give her food and let her rest. Then she'd be on her way in a couple of days."
Kraft last saw her daughter when she came over for Christmas 1996.
"She was a beautiful girl," Kraft recalled. "Cindy was very kind-hearted."
They last spoke when Feliks got out of jail in the summer of 1997.
Despite her troubles, she always kept in regular contact. The family grew concerned when Feliks' friends and daughter started calling because they had no idea where she was.
"When they hadn't seen her, that's when we knew something was seriously wrong," Kraft said. "It's a very tight-knit community. Nobody knew where she was."
Feliks' sister searched the area but found no trace of her.
The family was finally able to convince the Vancouver Police Department to add Feliks' name to a list of missing Downtown Eastside women on Jan. 8, 2001.
"It was three years before they acknowledged that she might be one of these women," Kraft said.
When news broke last February that investigators were searching a Vancouver-area pig farm for the remains of the missing prostitutes, the Dover resident wondered if that's where her daughter ended up.
A constable with the Vancouver Missing Women's Task Force flew out to Calgary Nov. 29 to interview Kraft about her daughter.
Three days later, Feliks' family was told her DNA had been found at the farm, Kraft said. The discovery, however, has not resulted in a murder charge so far.
It's task force policy not to discuss such developments with the media until charges have been laid.
"We did, in fact, have a conversation with the family of Miss Feliks," said RCMP Const. Cate Galliford.
"But I can't share the contents of our discussion with the family."
B.C. Crown counsel spokesman Geoffrey Gaul told the Herald he couldn't predict if new evidence pertaining to Feliks or other missing women would lead to additional murder charges.
"We'll have to wait and see," he said. "I won't speculate on what may happen."
Police asked Kraft not to talk to the media, but she decided to go public due to frustration with their handling of the case.
"I'd gotten over the part of actually grieving because I knew she was dead," Kraft said. "So when they told me, I got to the anger part."
She's angry that authorities initially dismissed suggestions that a serial killer might be responsible for the disappearance of more than five dozen prostitutes in Vancouver.
She's angry the inaction may have cost several lives, including her daughter's. And she's angry that the authorities have told her very little about her daughter's case.
"Police knew about (the accused) several years ago," she said. "If they had acted on it, how many more girls would be alive?"
Kraft fears the missing women were seen as disposable, worthless.
"They didn't treat them as human beings," she said. "Cindy was into drugs and she was a prostitute, but she was still my daughter and she was a human being."
Kraft said she'd like to hold a memorial service for her daughter, but can't do that without her remains.
"We just want to get what there is left of her and put her to rest," Kraft said. "We loved her. She's gone, but definitely not forgotten."
Feliks is one of 64 women who have vanished since 1978 from the eight city blocks that make up Vancouver's poorest neighbourhood.
Thirty-seven of them went missing during a five-year span beginning in 1997.
Robert William Pickton, 53, stands accused of murdering 15 of those women.
His preliminary trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 13.
Police, archeologists and other experts are continuing to search his suburban farm, looking for evidence of other victims.
Updated: January 01, 2007