VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Grief and police criticism fill pages of officer's book
Shenher stands by most of what she wrote
BY SUZANNE FOURNIER, THE PROVINCE APRIL 5, 2012
Vancouver police Det. Const. Lori Shenher told the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday that she stands by most of the book she wrote that is full of raw grief about the murdered women, as well as scathing criticism of police.
Shenher, who was the lead investigator in the late '90s when dozens of women went missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, was also convinced after solid tips in 1998 that now-convicted serial-killer Robert Pickton was the only prime suspect.
"Elation, shock, dread, excitement, sorrow, grief - it was all there," Shenher wrote in the book about how she felt when she learned on Feb. 5, 2002, that the joint VPD-RCMP Missing Women task force was searching Pickton's farm.
Asked on the stand if she stood by what she wrote, Shenher replied, "Yes."
Shenher also wrote that she dreamt frequently that she had found the missing women, but would wake in sorrow, knowing they wouldn't ever be found alive.
She wrote: "The police were searching the property of the man I had always considered our No. 1 suspect and they were finding evidence."
She agreed that she had "hoped and prayed" it wouldn't be Pickton who was found to be murdering women. "But it was. It had always been Pickton."
Commissioner Wally Oppal, who has read Shenher's book, refused Thursday to enter the book as an exhibit open to the public, despite objections by lawyer Cameron Ward, acting for 25 missing and murdered women's families.
Oppal said that he already had heard a great deal of evidence that the VPD was dysfunctional and that infighting hindered the missing women investigation.
Ward then read passages from the book into the public record, asking Shenher to comment. She muted some of her criticisms but stood by most of what she wrote, in a cathartic rush from mid-2002 until early 2003.
Shenher said she never published the book, not because the VPD "suppressed" it, as Ward suggested, but because the Pickton investigation was ongoing and evidence was emerging that was going to lead to a long legal process.
Shenher wrote that she left the case in 2000 "in what I saw as a protest move."
"I was protesting the lack of commitment to the case by VPD management, the lack of resources to do the job properly . . . and the lack of action in the Pickton investigation.
"I felt that as long as I was there, management would feel the case was in good hands and being dealt with by someone who could continue to put a good spin on it and assure the public and the families we were doing all we could. We weren't."
The book also contains some chilling details never before revealed about the case. "Again I heard from investigators that they had witness testimony indicating the women were used as sport for Pickton's pigs - thrown into the pen still alive and savaged and chased by the pigs until they died."
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Updated: August 21, 2016