VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
PROSTITUTES MISSING IN VANCOUVER
July 27, 1999
By Robert Anthony Phillips
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (APBNews.com) -- Police have added the names of four more prostitutes to the list of missing sex-trade workers, bringing the number who have vanished from one of the city's notorious red light districts to 31 since 1978.
News of the additional missing prostitutes came as Vancouver police and the province's attorney general announced plans today to distribute a new poster with pictures of all the women and offer up to a $100,000 (Canadian) reward to anyone who could help solve the case.
Some community activists and family members of the missing women believe that a serial killer has been preying on the prostitutes. Police have stated that they have no evidence that a serial slayer is stalking the red light district of the Downtown Eastside, the small, impoverished neighborhood were all of the women were last seen.
Women's fate a mystery
Constable Anne Drennan, a spokeswoman for the Vancouver Police Department, told APBNews.com that despite an increase in manpower assigned to find the women or learn their fate, investigators still don't have a clue as to what happened to them.
She said police have yet to find any bodies or even crime scenes that would help the investigation. However, Drennan said that since the case has been publicized, police have been able to locate two of the women who were once reported as missing.
Drennan said one of the women was in Arizona, where she was arrested during a crack binge. She gave police a false name and was placed in a psychiatric hospital. Another missing woman was found several months ago living on an island outside of Vancouver. When police talked to the woman, she told them that "she did not wish to be found," Drennan said.
All of the missing women have a history of drug abuse and prostitution, police and family members have said.
Drennan said police now have eight full-time officers and one part-timer working on the case.
Drennan said she could only provide sketchy information about the four women just added to the list. One of the women was last seen in 1998, and the others in 1992, 1994 and 1997, she said.
Drennan identified the women as Andrea Borhaven, 27, last seen in 1997 and reported missing May 18, 1999; Linda Coombes, 40, last seen between November 1993 and April 1994 and reported missing April 4, 1999; Karen Smith, 35, last seen June 1992 and reported missing April 27, 1999; and Julie Young, 32, last seen in October 1998 and reported missing July 6, 1999.
Police had previously announced in May that Borhaven and Coombes were missing. In total, six women were reported missing between 1978 and 1992 and 25 since 1995. However, some of the women were last seen years before they were reported missing, police said.
Drennan said she did not know whether the information on the new group of missing women came from other police departments or was developed by Vancouver police.
The new posters on the missing women were unveiled today at a press conference attended by British Columbia Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh and Vancouver Mayor Philip W. Owen.
Dosanjh said in a prepared statement that the "number of women missing without explanation from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside is extremely troubling and warrants these kinds of extraordinary measures."
The poster contains the names, dates of birth and dates each woman was last seen and reported missing.
The Vancouver police board is offering the reward upon the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for unlawfully confining, kidnapping or murdering any one or more of the women listed in the reward poster. Only those people who volunteer information by May 1, 2000, will be eligible.
Police asked that anyone with information on the women to call them at any
one of three telephone numbers: in the Vancouver area, (604) 717-3415, anywhere
in North America at (800) 993-8799, or on a special line for anonymous tips at
Robert Anthony Phillips is an APBNews.com staff writer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Updated: August 21, 2016