VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
FOR THE LOVE OF A DAUGHTER
The Case of Angela Jardine
Academic Supervisor: Dr. xxxxxxxxxx
Field Supervisor: xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Angela Rebecca Jardine
Is it possible for anyone who has never lost a loved one to even imagine what it must feel like for those who have? Is it possible to even fathom what their day-to-day lives are like? I know that I cannot even begin to imagine what it must feel like, let alone try to understand how people cope. Some people are not as fortunate as I am, however. They know first hand what comes with losing a loved one, especially when that loved one is missing and they have no idea of their whereabouts.
You hear time and time again from families whose loved ones are missing that the worst thing is not knowing. Where are they? Are they dead or alive? Are they suffering? Do they know we are trying to find them? These are some of the types of questions that go through the minds of people whose loved ones are missing. For many others, however, the questions are endless.
I have reviewed many missing person cases over the past three months, some with only a few unanswered questions, and some with many. Angela Jardine’s case file had many. It was time, I thought, to see if I could have some of these questions answered. Little did I know that I was heading myself in a completely different direction.
Circumstances lead me to Deborah Jardine. Deborah is the mother of a missing daughter named Angela. And, like so many mothers whose daughters have gone missing, she has many unanswered questions. What makes her questions unique, however, is that they are not ones you would normally hear. "Why did the police not inform me that my daughter was missing?" is not something you would normally hear. Neither is, "How can you try to help find your daughter if the police won’t let you?" When you hear such questions, you cannot help but wonder if they have ever been given a valid answer. In my case, I stopped wondering and starting asking.
The following is a story about a woman whose daughter has gone missing. In this story you will learn who Angela Jardine is – where she grew up, the type of person she is and the types of choices she has made in her life. You will also learn about what went wrong in Angela’s life and what has happened to her. You will be shown through the eyes of a mother of a missing daughter what it is like to be in her position and what it is like being part of an investigation full of trials and tribulations. Finally, you will be shown differences of opinion regarding Angela’s investigation that will allow you to decide for yourself whether Angela’s investigation can be legitimately classified as an investigation.
I was sitting out on my apartment balcony with my mother not too long ago, discussing my first paper on missing children and brainstorming what I was going to do for my second paper. I remember my mother saying to write about something that means something. I know my mother well enough to know that this means writing about something that not only means something to me but that also means something to others.
My initial plan for this paper was to stay with writing specifically about missing children. More specifically, I wanted to write about a fourteen year old girl, Lindsey Nicholls, who went missing in Cumberland, B.C. in 1993. Unfortunately, Lindsey’s mother, Judy Peterson, was not able to meet with me before August. However, after talking with Judy, and after more balcony talk with my mother, I realized that a missing child is not always about someone whose age defines him or her as a child. Although I reached adult status quite some time ago, I am still regarded as the "baby" of the family. Like so many others, regardless of adult status or not, I am still someone’s child and I am still someone’s grandchild. It was then that I realized there is as much meaning to me and to others to write about missing adults, as there is to write about missing children.
My purpose for this paper was not only to discuss some of the problems associated with policing and missing persons. I wanted to be able to talk with a parent(s) of a missing child and hear their story first hand. I did not want to to generate information for this paper strictly from books, articles and newspaper clippings, and then present it to others without really knowing if what I had written is really what happened or is really how it is for parents whose loved ones are missing. Although this may be a little unorthodox for this course, and it may not adhere to the mandate for this particular assignment, it is my belief that a story about a missing child is not entirely real until you hear it from the parents of one. And Deborah Jardine certainly validates this point.
I first spoke with Deborah Jardine shortly after reviewing her daughter’s, Angela Jardine’s, case file. I told Deborah I was interested in writing a paper not only about a missing person, but also about the trials and tribulations that parents of a missing loved one go through. Because I had already done some research on the "problems" associated with missing children (to be discussed in greater detail), and because of the information that I read in Angela’s case file, I thought I was going to be discussing with Deborah information that I already knew. Little did I know that there is a whole slew of problems associated with missing persons that, unfortunately, so little of us know about.
It is impossible for me to begin discussing the trials and tribulations surrounding Angela’s case without introducing her first. In my view, this crucial. We, as a society, never know enough about how and why people have become what they have become. Whether that is by choice or not, I do not know. However, I am hoping that by knowing more about people’s history, we, as a society, are able to look beyond what is in front of us and see the big picture.
Angela Rebecca Jardine was born in Sudbury, Ontario, in 1971, and at the age of 9 moved with her family to Sparwood, British Columbia. Her parents, Ivan and Deborah Jardine, knew from the time Angela was little that she was different. Angela walked and talked slow. She was prone to "off-the-wall emotional outbursts" in school and she had a tough time "fitting-in". Psychological assessments (beginning at age five) gave no definitive answers and Angela’s family was left with little direction on what to do. "Angela was like some sort of beacon that kept blinking ‘I’m different’", says Deborah. "It was like an aura that was around her. People who came close to her, right away it made them angry, and they didn’t want anything to do with her, which was unfortunate."
Angela was sixteen when her parents allowed her to be moved into "respite care" in nearby Castelgar. There, Angela met up with a social worker that thought Angela was capable of taking care of herself. Ivan and Deborah, however, thought otherwise. But, in 1990, when she was 19, Angela left Castelgar and moved to Vancouver’s downtown eastside – a place she felt would be more acceptant of her than the smaller areas she grew up in. Worried about their daughter’s safety and well-being, Ivan and Deborah went to Vancouver and brought Angela back to Sparwood. A short time later, Angela took off and headed back to Vancouver. She spent all her 27 years looking for somewhere to fit in", Deborah says. Unfortunately, Angela had been steered in the wrong direction.
Angela is not the kind of person who can hold a nine-to-five job or who can adjust well to a normal routine. According to Deborah, Angela has the mental faculty of a 12-year-old. Eileen McWade, Angela’s caseworker in Vancouver, says that Angela’s "loud approach to life and mannerisms could and did open her up to problems; the area where Angela lives can be dangerous, and she was vulnerable to those dangers". Anyone who knows what the downtown eastside of Vancouver is like can tell you that there are many problems with that area and there are many dangers involved with being part of that area. For Angela, danger took the form of drugs and prostitution.
A DAUGHTER GOES MISSING
"We would like to honor our daughter Angela Jardine today. Remembering her
with smiles and laughter. Remembering all of the happy times. Angela had many
good attributes that were not always visible from the outside. She was a
generous, caring, loving individual with a kind heart. Her persona was often loud
and her mannerisms would make us all cringe, but without those special
characteristics it just would not be Angela.
She approached life with the volume turned way up loud and she would never
back down from it. Angela had an outgoing personality and her childlike
exuberance remain forever etched into our minds.
Each night before I would go to sleep I would ask God to send an angel to watch
over our daughter to keep her safe from harm. We pray she be among the angels
that will blanket her with the golden light of healing love and happiness."
Deborah last spoke with her daughter around the second week of November 1998. They talked about Christmas coming and Angela expressed how excited she was about it. Around the second week of December, Ivan and Deborah became concerned about why they had not heard from Angela for almost a month. Because it was so irregular of Angela not to call, Deborah and Ivan assumed that Angela was trying to get home for Christmas to surprise them. However, an unsettling call from Angela’s caseworker, Eileen, began to make them think otherwise. Eileen stated to Deborah that, "As a parent you have the right to know that something terrible has happened to your daughter". Unfortunately, Angela’s caseworker did not elaborate on the situation and Deborah had just recently suffered a head trauma from a car accident, leaving her with problems such as disorientation, migraines and memory loss. But because Deborah and Ivan did not receive a call from the police telling them that something had happened to their daughter, they continued to think that Angela was trying to come home for Christmas.
A few more days went by and Deborah and Ivan still had not heard from Angela. Deborah contacted the hotel workers where Angela lived and was told not to worry, that Angela would turn up. Obviously Angela was taking her time coming home, they thought, and so they continued to wait. Besides, the police had not contacted them to tell them otherwise.
A few more days go by again and still no Angela. Deborah contacted the hotel workers again and was told that a few of them had been out searching the Lower Mainland for Angela but that their search had been unsuccessful thus far. Both the hotel workers and Angela’s parents knew that Angela did not live a transient lifestyle and that for her to not contact anyone and just "disappear" was totally out of character. Deborah and Ivan were still hopeful that Angela was going to show up at their door. As stated before, they were not told otherwise.
Deborah and Ivan became really concerned when Angela did not show up for Christmas. Angela also never surfaced back at her home in Vancouver. Deborah and Ivan decided to call Crime Stoppers to inquire about making up some missing person posters for Angela. However, they were told that Angela was not classified as a missing person according to their database and so posters were not necessary. Another illusion in the face of reality.
Shortly after New Years, 1998, Deborah talked with Angela’s caseworker, Eileen. Eileen had been talking with a police officer that has been working in the downtown eastside for years. Deborah contacted the officer and was faced with the reality that many of us could never comprehend: Angela was missing.
The officer explained to Deborah and Ivan that Angela was one of several women to have gone missing from the downtown eastside since 1995. They were also told that Angela was last seen on November 20, 1998 at a rally in Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver.
The officer new Angela well enough to know that she was missing and had not just "taken-off". Not only was she missing, they were told, but that she had been classified as a missing person since December 5, 1998. The officers response to Deborah’s question about why no one knew about Angela or any of the other women: "because no one gives a damn".
PEELING THE LAYERS
On January 20, 1999, Deborah Jardine contacted the officer in charge of Angela’s case. She wanted to know what was going on, why the police never contacted her to tell her that Angela was missing, what was being done to find her, and why there was no mention of all of these women that have gone missing from the downtown eastside since 1995. What Deborah did not expect, however, was that she was about to begin a battle to have each of her seemingly straightforward questions be given a straightforward answer.
Red Flags Everywhere
Even though I am not a mother and I have never been close to someone that has gone missing, I understood Deborah’s frustration and anger when she told me that the reason the police never contacted her was because Angela is an adult. Does that mean that if I suddenly disappeared (keep in mind I am not a transient either) under suspicious circumstances and was still missing two months later that my family would never know about it? There are no laws in Canada that state it is unnecessary to contact the family of an adult person who has gone missing and there is nothing of the same within internal policing procedures. Are we not under some sort of obligation to inform a person’s next of kin or at least someone in their family that they have gone missing? If not obligation, then what about common courtesy? Ivan and Deborah were not difficult people to track down. A full-blown investigation was not going to have to take place just so that the police could obtain their home phone number. As said earlier, Angela kept in close contact with her parents. Both Angela’s caseworker and the hotel workers where she lived knew Ivan and Deborah and knew their address and phone number.
Another issue that arose during Deborah’s initial conversation with the detective in charge of Angela’s case was the issue of a missing person poster of Angela. Deborah asked the detective if she could have one. His response was "no" because he "hadn’t gotten around to it yet". Deborah offered to send a recent photo of Angela to him but he insisted that he had one on file. However, when Deborah received the missing person posters in February 1999, the photo was "outdated and a poor likeness of Angela".
Deborah was very specific with me about her first phone call with the detective. Here is a woman who has not only been hit with the unconceivable notion that her daughter is missing (and missing under suspicious circumstances), but who is trying to obtain as much information as she can from the police while suffering form a serious head trauma. For someone in this position, I would not only want to give her as much information as I could, but I would also want to be as understanding and empathetic as possible. Deborah says that she received none of this. She said that talking with the detective was like talking to a brick wall. Not only did she have to pull information from the detective, but also she received nothing in the way of sympathy, empathy, or understanding. "He did not treat me like I was the mother of a missing daughter", says Deborah. "It was as if Angela had no significance."
On February 1, 1999, Ivan and Deborah suffered another illusion regarding Angela’s whereabouts. Deborah contacted the detective and was told that there had been sightings of Angela in the downtown eastside, one at Victory Square and another at a soup kitchen. Now, who and what does a mother of a missing daughter believe? Well, when a detective tells you that your daughter has been seen around town, you want to believe that is true. In other words, you get your hopes up and perhaps even sigh a breath of relief that your daughter is still alive and well. However, when you discover from the officer in charge of the downtown eastside, from the hotel workers where Angela lived, and from Angela’s caseworker that these sightings are of someone who resembles Angela, your hopes are shot and you are left with a detective telling you false information.
Ivan and Deborah felt excluded in their daughter’s investigation. They were the ones who repeatedly contacted the police for updates and to relay information about Angela. The lack of concern and assistance they were receiving from the police, Deborah says, was astounding. But, instead of sitting back and "letting the police do their jobs", Ivan and Deborah began their own investigation.
Working Against the Grain
As stated earlier, Deborah discovered that these so-called sightings she was being told about were false. Deborah also discovered that the police had not been following-up on these so-called sightings. She discovered this after she tracked down the woman who police were saying was Angela and found out her name and phone number. The woman told her that the police never approached her about this mix-up. However, when Deborah contacted the detectives about this information, she was told that they had already spoken with the woman and knew she was not Angela.
Stories from the detectives regarding sightings of Angela continued. Ivan and Deborah knew them not to be true, however, because of what they had been told by those who know Angela (i.e.: officer working the downtown eastside, Angela’s caseworker and hotel workers where Angela lives). If Angela was around, Deborah says, people would know because "you can hear her coming from a mile away." I asked Deborah why she thinks the detectives would continue telling her that there have been sightings of Angela. "I guess they could pacify me by saying, well, there’s been more sightings of Angela," she responded. Regardless of whether this is some sort of tactic or not, the police (in my view) were using the "sightings" excuse as a way to keep the family happy – to keep them from stepping over the line from passivity to reactivity. In other words, they did not want Ivan and Deborah becoming involved in their investigation.
With the continuation of these "sightings" stories also came the question of whether Angela had been entered on the R.C.M.P. Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System. On March 8, 1999, Deborah questioned one of the detectives about whether he had filled out a ViCLAS booklet and sent it to the unit so that they could enter it on their database. His response was that he did not fill out a ViCLAS booklet because of the numerous sightings of Angela. However, he also said that he had given the report to the person in charge of handling the ViCLAS booklets on December 8, 1998 and that he had "no idea what happened to it after that." The detective went on further to say that there is no set time limit for submitting a ViCLAS booklet to the R.C.M.P. unit.
Aside from the various reasoning the detective gave Deborah concerning a ViCLAS entry, the detective was incorrect in saying that there is no set time limit for submitting a ViCLAS booklet to the R.C.M.P. unit. In fact, detectives have sixty days to submit a ViCLAS booklet to the R.C.M.P. unit (constables have thirty days). If the booklet was in fact submitted in and around December 8, 1998 (when he gave the report to another to submit), then for some unbeknownst reason it never showed up to the ViCLAS Unit until March 5, 1999. The unfortunate thing is, however, is that this is nothing new to ViCLAS (it seems they have a great deal of difficulty in getting municipal police departments to submit a booklet). The ViCLAS is an important, useful, and successive tool not only in identifying unknown offenders, but also in linking known and unknown offenders to other unsolved crimes. This is why both Deborah and I have such a difficult time in understanding why a ViCLAS booklet was not submitted sooner.
In July 1998, The Vancouver Sun published an article about the women missing from the downtown eastside. In the article, Constable Anne Drennan talks about some investigative procedures concerning the missing women. According to the article, investigators will "review all the cases to look for any similarities, such as where the women were last seen, the manner in which they disappeared, as well as with whom they associated, including friends, pimps or boyfriends." Constable Drennan was also noted as saying that, "police investigate the cases as they do any other – interviewing friends, families and acquaintances, contacting welfare offices, distributing posters and entering the descriptions on the Canadian Police Information Computer." The interesting thing about Constable Drennan’s remarks, said Deborah, is that they "did not hold true for many of the missing women. None of these things were done for Angela."
Ivan and Deborah knew a lot about what the police were doing and were not doing with their daughter’s investigation. Deborah’s ongoing contact with Angela’s caseworker and the hotel workers where Angela lived allowed her "keep watch" on their investigation. For instance, Deborah spoke with Angela’s caseworker, Eileen McWade, on March 16, 1999 and asked her whether she had been interviewed by either of the detectives. Eileen told Deborah that she was never interviewed by either of the detectives. However, during a phone conversation with one of the detectives on March 8, 1999, Deborah was told that Eileen had been interviewed several times. Also, Deborah knew from the hotel workers where Angela lives that Angela’s room and her belongings were not examined by either of the two detectives. The detectives do not deny that they never did this. Their reasoning was that the hotel staff had been through Angela’s room and did not "find anything amiss or anything to indicate where Angela might be." The problem with this, however, is that the hotel staff are not investigators. Would they know what is pertinent evidence and what is not? Perhaps there was someone’s name and number written on a piece of paper that Angela was going to visit the night of her disappearance. What if that person knows of her whereabouts today?
Through Deborah’s own investigation she obtained Angela’s dental records. Deborah had asked one of the detectives beforehand (March 19, 1999) if the police had obtained them. The detective told Deborah that she was sure the other detective had put in a request to have the dental records obtained. But when Deborah tracked down Angela’s dentist in Vancouver, he was unaware that Angela was missing. The police had not yet phoned him or contacted him in any way. When Deborah contacted one of the detectives to tell her of her findings, she asked Deborah about the location of Angela’s dentist. According to Deborah, the detective was under the impression that Angela’s dentist was in Sparwood and was surprised to hear that he was not. After Deborah spoke with the other detective on March 22, 1999, she knew that no request was made by him to have Angela’s dental records obtained because he had just "found out about" Angela’s dental records that day.
Dental records are of crucial importance when dealing with missing person, as well as other, cases. Many times, the only key evidence available to identify a "John Doe" or a "Jane Doe" is a dental record. This is especially true when an unidentified person is found completely skeletal because the only really distinguishable features at that point are the person’s teeth. It is understandable then why Deborah was so concerned about obtaining Angela’s dental records.
Distinguishable features or marks are also quite helpful in an investigation. Generally, distinguishable features (such as birthmarks, tattoos and scars) will not be a positive form of identification. However, they can certainly help an investigation because they can exclude other possibilities. Knowing this, Deborah contacted Angela’s caseworker and discovered that Angela had a tattoo of the North Star with the initials "A.G." on her left shoulder and a burn scar above her ankle. When she asked the detective whether he knew if Angela had any distinguishable marks, however, he responded by saying that he knew only of track marks on Angela’s arms and legs. It is obvious, then, to assume that the police were not doing a thorough investigation. In my view, not obtaining Angela’s dental records and getting a thorough description of her was negligent on the part of the police. What if the dental office had burnt down before Deborah or the police could obtain Angela’s records? What if, over time, no one could remember the type of tattoo Angela has or where her burn scar is? Would her tattoos help, in the very least, to exclude others who are missing? These are all questions one should ask when conducting an investigation. Most importantly, however, they are questions that can and should be answered accordingly.
When I spoke with Deborah, she talked of a general meeting that was being held on June 24, 1999 for the families of the missing women. Because Ivan and Deborah live quite a distance away from Vancouver, they were given the option of designating someone they trust to represent them at the meeting. Deborah wanted Mark Townsend, the manager of the hotel where Angela lives, to represent the family. "Mark truly cared about Angela," said Deborah. "He [Mark] has given tremendous support to me the past little while." One of the detectives, however, informed Deborah that to have Mark at the meeting would not be possible. According to Deborah, the detective did not approve of him and nor did the other families. The detectives reasoning for this was because she did not agree with his political agenda. In the response letter Deborah received regarding her formal complaint to the Police Complaint Commissioner, it says that the detective did not want Mark at the meeting because "she believed he can be confrontational and this would be inappropriate at such a meeting." While Deborah admits that Mark has a lot of issues concerning the downtown eastside, she disagrees that he would have been confrontational during the meeting. "All Mark wanted to do," she says, "is sit there and relay information back to me."
Deborah’s second attempt at having someone represent her at the meeting also failed. Her request to have Wayne Leng, another friend of both Angela and Deborah, was denied. Deborah was told this was because of a relationship that Wayne had with one of the missing women and that family members felt his attendance would be inappropriate. The detective suggested to Deborah that a girl named Sarah [an employee at the hotel where Angela lives] represent her. However, Deborah did not know this woman and did not feel that having a stranger represent her was appropriate. Deborah’s persistence to have either Wayne or Mark represent her resulted in the detective telling her that the meeting was only for family members and that she was only extending her a common courtesy by allowing her to select someone. The problem here is that the detective was extending this common courtesy while at the same time retracting it. Furthermore, the meeting was not limited to just family members. Deborah says that she later found out from others who attended the meeting that one of the detectives allowed a UBC graduate student [who was conducting research on the missing women] to attend.
There is one last issue that I would like to address concerning some of the discrepancies of Angela’s case. During one of their telephone conversations, one of the detectives gave Deborah the name and phone number of a man who he said Angela knew and who might be "able to enlighten her on a few things." What Deborah did not know, however, was that not only was this man one of Angela’s "Johns" but that he was considered a suspect in Angela’s disappearance for a period of time. Also, what Deborah did not expect after contacting this man was to have him repeatedly call her late at night in a drunken stupor. Deborah contacted the officer in charge of the downtown eastside and he was appalled that the detective would have even told Deborah about this man, let alone give her his name and phone number.
Thus far I have talked mainly about how Angela’s case has been investigated by both Angela’s parents and by the police. I talked a great deal about Deborah’s perspective with regards to the detectives’ investigative procedures. However, there was also mention of some of the justifications the detectives used when explaining their own investigative procedures. What will be looked at now are some opinions from the key players in Angel’s investigation, namely Deborah and the two detectives [I throw my two bits in every once in a while too!] It is important, in my view, to point out some of the opinions that each of these people have regarding Angela’s case, mainly because what you see on paper does not always give you the whole picture. Sometimes reality is not always recorded.
OTHER SIDES TO THE STORY
"The missing women deserve to be treated with the same
consideration and dignity as with all other cases involving
a missing person. Don’t be judgemental and think these women
deserved what they got because of their lifestyle. None of us
are in the position to play God."
Deborah has been known to be very vocal in her opinions of the Vancouver Police Department. Her opinions on their investigative techniques, attitudes and personal perceptions have been included in many newspaper articles, journals and letters. She was also able to express some of these opinions during a radio interview.
I asked Deborah during our telephone interview if she ever felt like she was able to go to the Vancouver Police Department and offer her assistance in any way she could. "I want to help." [Y]ou have very little access to anything and there is no way you would ever be able to work alongside them." Deborah says that when she tried to share important information with the police she was sometimes met with hostility. It was apparent to her that the police did not want her telling them information that she had obtained through a few phone calls – information that the police said they already had but really did not. Now, I can understand that the police need to keep certain information confidential and that there are certain parts of an investigation where having a "volunteer" could create legal problems [i.e.: crime scenes, talking with witnesses and/or suspects.] However, what I do not understand is why the police would not be screaming for volunteers [especially volunteers that are as willing to help as Deborah] when they are so short-staffed as it is? It is becoming general knowledge that Canadian police forces have a considerable lack of manpower. This is especially true in the missing persons departments. There are simply not enough officers working on missing person cases or on educating the public about missing persons. Even police officers admit that there is a lack of manpower. In a discussion with the Seattle Times regarding the missing women, for instance, Constable Anne Drennan admitted that the police force is in desperate need of more officers.
Deborah is also very vocal about what the police consider to be a priority and what they do not. When I spoke with Deborah over the phone, she expressed how different Angela’s case would have been handled had she have been from a middle-class neighbourhood and not from the downtown eastside. In her view, people would have known about these women going missing long ago if they were not prostitutes, drug users, or both. "If these women were from middle-class neighbourhoods, it would be all over the news," said Deborah. I agree with this comment. However, I would extend the comment and include society as well as the police as reasoning for why this is so. In my view, certain policing practices are influenced by society. We do not hear about a person dying on the downtown eastside from a drug overdose like we would a home invasion in North Vancouver. And we would not hear about a prostitute being beaten up by one of her "Johns" like we would if our Attorney General was found beating his wife. There are a number of things I could go into about how policing practices are influenced by society. To do so, however, would require an entirely different thesis and an additional thirty pages. Suffice it to say for now that there is a lack of care for our fellow man/woman building in society and, unfortunately, the police are picking up on this. The officer in charge of the downtown eastside could not have made this point more clear when he said that, "…no one gives a damn."
My discussion with Deborah also led her to talk of how she feels about the police’s initial response to Angela’s disappearance and what she thinks the reasons are for why the police finally took the disappearances seriously. In her view, the police did not take action soon enough after Angela’s disappearance. I have already discussed some of the discrepancies in the detectives’ investigation. However, there is still the issue of the night that Angela disappeared. Approximately 700 people attended the rally that evening, some of which were police officers. A videotape was also made of the rally. Deborah believes that if the police would have "taken action sooner, there would have been more hope of someone remembering something about where Angela went after that meeting." According to Deborah, it would not be "difficult to remember her, especially because of the pink, bridesmaid-like gown she was wearing and because of her loud behaviour." As to where the videotape is today, Deborah does not know. "It is possible that the abductor is on that video," Deborah says, "and that she was on the videotape talking to him, or walking, or getting into his car."
Deborah also expressed to me that the reasons for why the police started taking the missing women seriously was because of the big media hype that her and some concerned others created. "That’s the only reason the V.P.D. got off their butts and did something," says Deborah. Deborah also says that the $100,000 reward offered by the B.C. Attorney-General’s Office [announced July 27, 1999] kick-started the police into conducting a more thorough investigation. "Once that reward was offered," says Deborah, "the police came under an extreme amount of pressure to find some answers."
It is difficult to remain objective when you hear a story such as Deborah’s. However, a great deal of my information is one-sided. I knew before I started this paper that it would be nearly, if not completely, impossible to obtain information from the Vancouver Police Department regarding Angela’s case. I was told by some members at the R.C.M.P. ViCLAS Unit that even they would not have access to Angela’s working file and that for me to try and obtain such information would be impossible. The only thing that I have to go on then is what Deborah has sent to me.
Some of the detectives’ responses have already been discussed earlier. However, there are other responses worth mentioning in this discussion. The letter sent to Deborah from the Police Complaint Commissioner regarding her formal complaint, for instance, talks a little about the efforts made by the police to address Deborah’s concerns. For example, the detective in charge indicated in his report that "it was difficult to address all of [Deborah’s] concerns but attempted to explain what he could." In her report, the other detective stated that, "I have tried very hard to be not only a thorough investigator on these files, but also a comfort to these families and a reassuring influence that we are doing all we can to find these women. This file [Angela’s] has been treated with the same diligence and care as all the others assigned to me. At no time have I been nonchalant or belligerent and I have attempted to be courteous in the face of Mrs. Jardine’s comments and perceptions of events."
Two other comments from the Vancouver Police Department are also worth mentioning. The first comes from Constable Anne Drennan, who says that, "You can always say somebody is not doing enough. We are doing everything literally we can think of that we can do." The second comment is again from Deborah’s letter from the Police Complaint Commissioner. In it it says that both of the detectives have "exemplary police records" and that Deborah’s complaint is the "only complaint received from any of the families of the missing women."
Because I have such little information from the police about their investigation, it is difficult to make any sort of judgement about it. What I can say, however, is that I find it impossible to believe that everything Deborah has told me about how the police handled Angela’s case is false. If it was, then I think there would be some discrepancies in Deborah’s story (I have yet to detect any.) I also think that if her story was less that accurate that more people that have become involved in the case (i.e.: Angela’s caseworker, hotel workers where Angela lived and the officer in charge of the downtown eastside) would speak up and "tell it like it is." I would also expect that a well-known and prestigious officer, such as the officer in charge of the downtown eastside, would be included in the Police Complaint Commissioner’s response letter if his information and comments to Deborah were false or inaccurate.
Because I cannot speak for the two detectives, I cannot make a final judgement about their investigation. It would be wrong of me to give weight to Deborah’s story and say that Angela’s investigation was handled very poorly. However, I find no reason at this time not to take Deborah’s story to heart. Besides, I have no solid evidence that tells me otherwise. And until someone tells me otherwise, namely the Vancouver Police Department, Deborah’s story will be what rings true to me and will be what I think of every time I think of Angela and the angel watching over her.
As stated earlier, my purpose for this paper was not only to discuss some of the problems associated with policing and missing persons. I wanted to be able to talk with a parent(s) of a missing child and hear their story first hand. Although I did not go into as much depth about some of the problems associated with policing and missing persons as I had hoped, I was able to combine the two purposes and learn a great deal more than if I had only stuck to one. I have Deborah to thank for this change in direction.
Introducing Angle at the beginning of this paper was very important to me because I wanted the readers to know who she is before they knew about how and when she disappeared. In my view, the more people know about a person right away the less likely it is that they will be quick to judge and form opinions of that person.
Discussing the events leading up to Angela’s disappearance was as equally important to me because of their significance in Ivan and Deborah’s life. So many things happened from the last time that Deborah spoke with Angela to the time she discovered Angela was missing. Deborah’s discovery is what started her and her family on the Ferris Wheel that has yet to stop turning.
The first ride was with the detective in charge of Angela’s case. Deborah was hit with the notion that she was never contacted about Angela’s disappearance because "Angela is an adult." She later faced many police discrepancies such as false sightings of Angela, the lack of interviewing Angela’s friends and family, and the lack of pertinent information the detectives could have easily obtained (i.e.: dental records and distinguishable features.)
The last discussion dealt with some of both Deborah’s and the detectives’ opinions regarding Angela’s case. In Deborah’s opinion, the police were not giving her the opportunity to assist them in her daughter’s investigation and they were not taking her daughter’s investigation seriously because of her social status. In the detectives’ opinion, they were doing everything possible to find Angela. They were also of the opinion that they answered all of Deborah’s questions as best they could and attempted to relay as much information as they could about Angela’s case to her.
I found Deborah’s story to be quite an eye-opening experience. It is amazing how much differently things look to you when you hear a story such as Deborah’s. Now when I drive through the downtown eastside to go to work I do not see and feel what I used to. Things are different – the buildings, the streets and the people. I no longer feel like I am driving by. Instead, I feel as though I am walking along its sidewalks – looking, examining and investigating.
I see the poster of the missing women each day I go to work. I look at the picture of Angela and wonder if she can sense me looking at her. The image of her face follows me to my desk. I say a short prayer to her in my head before I sit down, with the hope that she can hear it and will know what to do with it. Never has a story made me look and feel in these ways. My reasoning is that I have never heard such a story first hand, nor have I ever experienced a conversation with a complete stranger that was filled with so many different emotions. Stories that have made me look and think differently have traditionally come from books and articles. However, they never hit me with the same feeling of reality as Deborah’s story did. I suppose I was right when I said earlier that story about a missing child is not entirely real until you hear it from the parents of one.
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Updated: August 21, 2016