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Missing women case looks like serial killer, says Wanted host
 
IAN BAILEY
 
The Canadian Press

July 28, 1999
 
VANCOUVER (CP) - The host of the crime-busting America's Most Wanted TV series says it's obvious a serial killer or killers is behind the disappearance of more than 30 prostitutes from Vancouver's skid row.

"Anybody can put two and two together," John Walsh said Tuesday while in Vancouver to work on an episode airing Saturday that will feature a report on the baffling case.

"When there are 30 women missing and no bodies have been found and they're all of the same type of background, that always smacks of a serial killer," Walsh said in an interview.

More than 20 of the missing women have vanished since the mid-1990s from the city's drug and crime-ridden downtown eastside. But police are looking at files dating back to the late 1970s.

Police have found no bodies. The women vanished without a trace, leaving apartments, welfare cheques and even children.

With his comments, the plain-spoken Walsh seemed to be running ahead of Vancouver police, who have not confirmed the serial killer possibility.

Police asked for help from the popular U.S. show, which has been linked to expediting more than 500 captures since its 1988 debut.

See comment following this article on above statement

"(The police) feel that by putting the millions of eyes of American viewers and Canadian viewers to this case, there might be a chief of police or a coroner who has a Jane Doe or unidentified body or a similar case they can link together," said Walsh.

Police have not said publicly they think the disappearances are the work of a serial killer.

Investigators on the eight-member team probing the disappearances have been talking with other police forces in North America experienced in dealing with such killers, said spokeswoman Const. Ann Drennan.

"We're following many different avenues of investigation, some initiated by our department and some we've learned through speaking to other departments that have been through similar circumstances with multiple murders, multiple missings," she said.

At least 10 U.S. cities are grappling with the murders of 14 or more women, generally involved in the sex trade, Walsh said.

Drennan said it would not be appropriate to detail police strategies to crack a case that has fuelled fears a serial killer may be on the loose in one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods.

However, Walsh - who has been in touch with Vancouver officers to prepare his show - said police may be wary about alarming residents of Canada's third-largest city.

"Law enforcement tries not to scare the public or talk about details they can't really confirm," said Walsh, adding the hunt for a serial killer had been the "underlying tone" of his contacts with Vancouver police.

America's Most Wanted features re-enactments and reports to spur tips from its 14 million viewers. After the weekend segment, operators for the show will be waiting to take tips from viewers.

"Hopefully, Saturday night we will be able to end some of the mystery surrounding the disappearance of these 31 women," said Walsh, who became a spokesman for victims of crime after the 1981 abduction and murder of his young son.

On Tuesday, police and the B.C. government took a major step forward in publicizing the case by releasing details of a $100,000 reward for tips that lead to convictions.

With Walsh attending, police and B.C. Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh also released a poster featuring photos of all of the women and the circumstances of their disappearances.

In the event of multiple tips, Vancouver's police board will decide how to divvy up the $100,000.

The B.C. government is putting up 70 per cent of the reward.

Some observers have suggested the missing women may simply have moved away. If any of the women call, they would not be eligible for the reward.

Dosanjh seemed to acknowledge the obvious with some of his remarks.

"The police don't have any evidence there is any foul play," said Dosanjh, standing alongside Walsh.

"There is a gut instinct that all of us have."

Comment on the above news article,

The comment that the police asked AMW for help in the missing women case is misleading and incorrect.  A family member and myself asked for AMW's help back when there was very little acknowledgement on the part of the Vancouver Police Department that anything serious was going on.  This was around September 10, 1998.  The family member of one of the missing women had written America's Most Wanted asking for help in locating her sister.  Unfortunately AMW could not help as they recieve many such letters asking to help locate a loved one.

I talked it over with her and said that I would contact them on the basis of many women disappearing, among them my friend and perhaps they could do something if more than 1 person had vanished.

Not long after that I contacted  the producer Tom Morris of America's Most Wanted about my friend Sarah deVries and other missing women and said there were many disappearing in Vancouver's Eastside.  There was nothing they could do at this point and said to stay in contact with him and continue to keep him updated on the situation and after he had compiled enough information he would run it past his superiors. Tom would also contact Constable Anne Drennan.  Sarah's sister was  contacted during this time as well.. 

I continued my correspondence with Tom Morris.  The number of women disappearing continued to increase. Some time later we were informed that they would do the segment but it would be 2 months before they could get to it.  We were told shortly before the CKNW series, Where Are These Women that they were going to do the missing women story.  Then we made the announcement on the radio series .  

Missing 31 women in Canada fan serial killer fears
 
By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, July 27 (Reuters) - Authorities turned to the lure of money and the power of television on Tuesday in hopes of finding any of 31 Vancouver women whose disappearance has sparked fears of a serial killer.

But police stressed that despite posting a C$100,000 reward and featuring the investigation on the popular U.S. television program "America's Most Wanted," they still have no direct evidence any crimes have been committed.

Authorities admitted the lack of evidence made it difficult to post a reward for information. The offer is worded to include the possibilities the women have been kidnapped or are held against their will rather than murdered.

"Although police don't have any evidence of foul play, there is a gut instinct that all of us have," British Columbia Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh said, emphasizing that all 31 women disappeared without a trace.

Relatives of the women have accused police of not taking the investigation seriously because most of the women were prostitutes in Vancouver's downtown east side -- one of Canada's poorest neighborhoods.

The cases date back to 1978, but most of the women have disappeared in the last four years. The cases did not receive widespread publicity until earlier this year, when relatives complained about a lack of public concern.

Authorities denied again on Tuesday that they ignored the missing women. 

"Once we became aware that clearly there was something wrong here we kicked in additional resources," Vancouver police spokeswoman Anne Drennan said.

Investigators also said they also think some of the women have committed suicide, died of drug overdoses, or have left Vancouver and do not want to be found. Not one woman's body has been found.

Police hope that publicizing the case on "America's Most Wanted," which re-enacts crimes and is broadcast across North America, will convince any of the women who have left Canada to contact their families.

The program will air on Saturday.

"America's Most Wanted" has featured Canadian investigations in the past, and is credited with leading to the arrest of several high-profile suspects including alleged "railway killer" Rafael Resendez-Ramirez.

Killers on the Loose
A book on unsolved serial murders includes a chapter
on the missing women in Vancouver

CPA Investigative Group-Missing Much Higher

Sparwood Case on American TV-Aug.3/99

No bodies, no clues-Seattle Times

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Updated: August 21, 2016