Families, loved ones `in limbo'
Women are dead, but no charges laid
`They were loved, they were important'
COQUITLAM, B.C.—Marilyn Kraft needs to know her stepdaughter's life
Last December, police told Kraft that Cindy Feliks, the girl she raised
from the age of 5, was dead and that her DNA had been found at the Port
Coquitlam pig farm that has become the focal point of the largest serial
murder investigation in Canadian history.
But yesterday, as Provincial Court Judge David Stone ruled there was
enough evidence for the farm's owner, Robert William Pickton, 53, to stand
trial in connection with the deaths of 15 women, Feliks' name was absent
from the list of alleged victims.
Feliks, who was reported missing in 1997 when she was in her early 40s,
meets the profile of the other 62 women on a list of those who disappeared
from Vancouver's downtown eastside as far back as the late 1970s. She was a
drug addict who sold her body on the streets of one of Canada's poorest
neighbourhoods to feed her habit.
But these women were also daughters, sisters, aunts and mothers who left
behind grieving families and friends.
So, for Kraft, 57, and a handful of other families who have learned that
their loved ones are dead but no charges have been laid, the pain of their
loss is particularly acute.
"Until there's a charge, it's like she's in limbo," Kraft said in an
interview from Calgary. "I know she's dead but there's no acknowledgment she
died or that she's a victim.
"It's like her life — and her death — didn't matter."
It always will to Kraft, who became mother to Cindy and three siblings
through marriage and continued to raise them when she and her husband
divorced. Just a teenager herself when she became a parent to 5-year-old
Cindy, she watched, helplessly, as her stepdaughter fought a decades-long
battle with drugs that ultimately cost her her life.
Kraft last saw Cindy at Christmas in 1996. Their final conversation was
in the summer of 1997, when her stepdaughter was getting out of jail.
Today, Kraft has a photo album of pictures from happier times to thumb
through. But she has no grave to visit, no memorial service to remember and
no one to hold to account.
"It wouldn't bring her back," Kraft said of charges in Cindy's death.
"But I would still find a lot of comfort if she was acknowledged."
In his ruling, Stone said if the preliminary hearing had begun a month
later than it did, he would have committed Pickton to stand trial on 22
counts of first-degree murder.
For families who have been told their loved ones are also dead, the lack
of additional charges at the end of a six-month preliminary hearing leaves
bitterness and sorrow.
"We're not any closer to closure," said Lynn Frey, who learned last fall
that remains of her stepdaughter, Marnie, were found at the pig farm
although no charges have been laid.
"We need justice and someone to be held to account for what happened to
her — either him (Pickton) or someone else," Frey said in an interview from
Campbell River, B.C.
Maggie deVries, whose younger sister, Sarah, disappeared in April, 1998,
at the age of 28, said she knows the laying of charges, which has not
happened, is completely out of her control.
"But one thing I can do is change people's attitudes towards sex workers
and drug addicts," said deVries, 41.
"They were loved. They loved us. They were important and they mattered.
"Each of us has the power to look sex workers in the eye and smile rather
than turn our head away."
Additional articles by Daniel Girard