VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
MISSING EASTSIDE WOMEN 10
Thirty-one women don't just disappear. The police speculate on the possibility of one or more serial killers hunting Vancouver prostitutes.
Reflecting on the mystery confronting authorities, Constable Anne Drennan, media liaison officer for the Vancouver police, sits in the department’s media room beneath a wall-length series of missing person posters. Each poster bears a colour photo of one missing prostitute; each woman stares out above a brief physical description and the known circumstances surrounding her disappearance. Angela Jardine, 28, has Cupid’s bow lips and the withered skin of a woman three times her age. She was last seen in November 1998. Thirty-year-old Michelle Gurney squints into the camera with the suspicious look of someone who has seen too much. She was last seen in December 1998.
Drennan defends the
police against the accusations that they were slow to react and often
insensitive to complaints. She points out that were 23 UBC coeds to go missing,
their friends and relatives would report it immediately and the details of their
recent whereabouts would be known. With the street prostitutes…Drennan lets
her hands fall open, upward and empty. “We have so little to go on. We’re
not starting at A. We’re starting at N. We have to work both ways – back and
forward, to where they last were and where they’ve gone.” She is now
prepared to admit, in a reversal similar to Mayor Owen’s, that the number of
missing prostitutes is far too high for mere coincidence. Thirty-one women
don’t just disappear. She speculates aloud on the possibility of one or more
serial killers hunting Vancouver prostitutes. The fact that police are not
ruling out that someone is killing Low Track women – and successfully hiding
their bodies – is now reflected in the composition of the newly enlarged,
nine-person Missing Women’s Review Team. Two homicide detectives have been
added to the policing group and links between the 31 cases are now being
investigated. Posters showing the women have been circulated across North
America and the wording of the criteria for receiving the $100,000 reward is
unambiguous. There will be no repeat of the Clifford Olsen cash-for-bodies
embarrassment. Most of the missing women’s families have provided mouth swabs
to help in DNA identification if a body is found. Sarah deVries mother removed a
lock of hair from her daughter’s baby book and sent it to the police.
Accompanied by the sound of native drumming, the crowd paraded through Low Track to the nearby Burrard Inlet shoreline. Jeanie, looking like a miniature of her mother, joined the group of women leading the memorial walk and helped carry a banner that read: Find These Women Now. The mourners stood for a while by the ocean’s edge in silent witness to the missing women, rereading the inscription on the newly installed commemorative boulder for those who’ve been killed in the Downtown Eastside, a tombstone of sorts for the 31 women who have no grave.
The words on the monument are: “ The heart has its own memory.” Without bodies, without answers, without an explanation of the vanished women’s fate, the words are not a blessing, but a curse.
The Case of the Vanishing Women - Georgia Straight
Updated: August 21, 2016