VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Mystery of missing woman solved
Marie Laura Mah has not been seen since 1985.
Photograph by: Missing women's poster.
METRO VANCOUVER - Marie Laura Mah’s is one of the 65 faces on the police missing women poster, and she has not been seen since 1985, according to the tiny bit of information under her black-and-white photo.
But the Missing Women Task Force visited Mah’s son in Alberta this week to tell him officers have confirmed his mother is not, in fact, missing, The Vancouver Sun has learned.
Mah died 23 years ago in Burnaby General Hospital, but her identity remained a mystery until recently because of confusion over names and birthdates.
The surprise discovery was a relief for Daryl Chase, who now knows his long-lost mother died of natural causes and wasn’t the victim of a predator.
“It is better that she didn’t lose her life to someone else’s hand, that she died in the hospital,” Chase, an oil-field worker, said in an interview. “We’re happy that she didn’t end up on somebody’s farm, buried.”
The discovery puts to rest Chase’s constant worrying about Mah’s whereabouts, as well as his anger over his mother’s inclusion on a poster often depicted as a group of sex-trade workers with drug problems.
“She was always a loving mother to me and my sister,” he said, adding that her death certificate indicated Mah had a Burnaby address and a job as a cook when she died at age 42.
Chase said there has been no evidence that Mah was involved in the sex trade or drugs.
Chase and his sister were raised by their mother and father in a Vancouver house until his parents separated when he was seven. He last saw his mother three years later, in 1975, when she was going through difficult times and drinking.
He lived in foster homes, but has since been granted access to his child-welfare records, which show his mother regularly wrote letters to her children and to the ministry about trying to get her kids back.
Mah’s estranged sister reported her missing in 1999.
But police had few leads, said RCMP Cpl. Annie Linteau.
Mah had not been heard from since Christmas 1984 or 1985, her last address was not known, no birth date was provided, and her name was given as Laura Kathleen Mah, even though it was really Marie Laura Mah.
No one connected the woman who died in Burnaby in 1986 with the one reported missing in 1999 until the Missing Women Task Force recently made inquiries with vital statistics, which tracks births and deaths in B.C., Linteau said.
Mah’s photo will be removed from the poster when a new one is made, she added.
Police continue to investigate 38 of the missing women, while Robert (Willie) Pickton was convicted of killing six woman and charged with killing another 20.
Chase will speak with his sister and extended family about a memorial for his mother, and what to do with the remains that were unclaimed for 23 years.
“There she sat in the crematorium, and still sits there.”
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Updated: August 21, 2016