VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
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The following article appeared in The Province on Monday May 25, 1998 written by Province Reporter Frank Luba.
Mother fears addicted daughter already dead, by Frank Luba, Staff Reporter.
Worried about his missing friend Sarah Jean de Vries, Wayne Leng is putting up posters all around Vancouver's downtown eastside and trying to get her story told.
At her home in Ontario, deVries' mother Pat is beyond worry. The former head nurse at Vancouver General Hospital fears her adopted daughter, a drug-addicted prostitute, may already be dead.
"She's 29," said Pat. "This started when she was 12.
"It's been a long, rocky road and I have been preparing all that time for a call from the police to say she's either in jail or hospital or already dead," she added of a daughter who wrote poetry and kept journals at the same time as she worked the streets.
"I've been to the hospital several times and I've been to the jail several times. I don't think I've probably given up hope entirely.
"She [Sarah] has HIV, she has hepatitis C. What I do for her now is look after her kids the best I can." Pat is 60 and divorced from retired University of B.C. professor Jane deVries, who still lives in Vancouver.
She lives with her sister Jean Little, an author of children's books, and has custody of her grandchildren--Jeanie, 7, and her half-brother Ben, 2. She shooed Jeanie out of the room during a telephone interview about her lost daughter.
"It's very hard to tell a seven-year-old that somebody is missing," said Pat. "It's something you can't come to terms with, you can't work through, because there's never an end to it." Leng, who had a short romantic relationship with Sarah, said he just wants to see his friend again. He last saw her April 13.
Nobody has seen or heard from her since--which is unusual, because that period includes Pat's birthday, Mother's Day and Sarah's own birthday. She almost always got in touch with Pat at this time of year.
Leng, an automotive technician, says Sarah underwent "a lot of turmoil" in her 29 years.
He pointed to trouble she experienced as an adoptee of mixed parentage in an all-white west-side family.
"She's been through a lot in her life," he said. "If you could see what she has written, you would realize how awful she feels inside."
From The Province Monday, July 27, 1998. By: Frank Luba, Staff Reporter.
Messages on pager say prostitute dead: : Please read letter that follows this article.
A series of chilling calls has unnerved a man looking for his prostitute friend, whose disappearance from Vancouver's mean streets is part of a police investigation of missing women.
Police say Sarah Jean deVries is among 10 women who've gone missing in the past two years. Four out of five missing so far this year are prostitutes.
In her life, deVries is described as a drug addict who frequented the downtown east side before going missing April 14.
To Wayne Leng, she was a special friend who kept a journal as she wrestled with her personal demons while her adoptive mother, a former head nurse at Vancouver General Hospital, cared for her two children in Ontario.
Leng has posted deVries' picture around the downtown eastside. There's even a $1000 reward to anyone calling in the right tip to 1-800-659-1187.
But three phone calls Leng got on his pager Saturday night around midnight left him fearing the worst.
"Sarah's dead," said a man's slightly slurred voice, with music pounding in the background. "So there will be more girls like her dead. There will be more prostitutes killed. There will be one every Friday night. At the busiest time."
The second message contained the same voice but a slightly different tone. 'You'll never find Sarah again," he said, the same music playing in the background. "So just stop looking for her, all right?
"She doesn't want to be seen and heard from again, all right? So, 'bye. She's dead."
The caller felt compelled to leave one final message.
"This is in regard to Sarah. I just want to let you know that you'll never find her again alive because a friend of mine killed her and I was there."
Leng says he will give complete tapes of the calls to Vancouver police.
Leng said the mystery caller knew some things about deVries not known by many others.
The following letter was sent to the Province's Byline but was never printed: July 28, 1998.
In response to Frank Luba's article Messages on pager say prostitute dead. The focus on Sarah deVries prostitution and her drug addiction denies her her other roles in society, such as mother, daughter, sister and friend.
The article states that four out of five women missing this year from the downtown eastside are prostitutes. Is this supposed to put the rest of society at ease? Do we think because a woman works the streets that she chooses to go missing, even possibly murdered. Are women in this profession considered so incidental that we consider it their job to be the victims of sadistic men? So the rest of us can breath easy about the safety of our "respectable" wives, daughters and mothers. This is exactly the same as saying a rape victim is "asking for it" because her dress is too short. Instead of being incensed that women are missing, the general attitude seems to be nonchalant--that the disappearance of the women is somehow accounted for, or justified, by the fact that they are prostitutes.
Are the police doing their job? Are we as a society putting pressure on the police to actively find these women? Society should be outraged against attacks on women, all women, instead of viewing some women as expendable.
Updated: August 21, 2016