VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Oppal report says Marnie Frey, others, were 'forsaken'
Campbell River's Marnie Frey would have turned 40 next August, but instead, according to Commissioner Wally Oppal, in his report on the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, she was forsaken.
Due to systemic bias within the RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department, Oppal said they failed all the murdered women and their families.
Marnie, who called home to her parents in Campbell River almost every day, stopped calling on Aug. 30, 1997, her 24th birthday. Her parents reported the disappearance to police. She was not listed as a missing person until five months later.
"Forsaken" is the name of the 1,445-page report, released on Monday, following 93 days of hearings and submissions from 400 individuals impacted by the murders of at least 33 women.
In her testimony before the Missing Women Inquiry Commission, Marnie's stepmother Lynn Frey said that she was forced to conduct her own search for Marnie when she realized the police were not looking for her daughter. After talking to many people in the downtown east side of Vancouver, including prostitutes, her investigation led her right to the Pickton farm in Port Coquitlam.
She tried to scale the fence but was chased off by guard dogs. She told the Vancouver Police Department about her findings. "They just didn't give a damn," she told the Commission.
"They did not receive equal treatment from police and as a group they were dismissed," according to Oppal, who blamed both the RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department for ignoring and discounting reports and subsequently not investigating sooner and possibly sparing lives, including Marnie's.
His 63 recommendations include funding a 24-hour emergency services centre for sex workers, creation of a single regional police force for the Greater Vancouver area, improve missing persons policies and implementing measures to help prevent violence against women.
Marnie Frey's DNA was found along with the DNA of 32 other women on Robert Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam. He was originally charged with 26 counts of first degree murder, but was convicted on six counts of second degree murder, including the death of Marnie Frey, and is serving a life sentence.
In addition to holding the police to account, Oppal also blamed inadequate housing, food insecurity, health issues, inadequate access to health care, extreme poverty and drug dependence, and distrust of police for contributing to the women's vulnerability to violence.
In his victim impact statement, Marine's father Rick Frey said, "It was not just Marnie's death that affected us so strongly. Our emotional anguish was made even worse by having to deal with issues around the police investigation.
"We were troubled by so much of the focus being on (Pickton) rather than on Marnie herself and her family.
"We felt ignored and brushed aside because people just saw her as a drug addict and prostitute, not a mother and a daughter."
When Marnie went missing, she left a five-year-old daughter who was adopted by Rick and Lynn after Marnie's murder.
"Our family will forever be tormented by visions of what happened to our loved one," her dad said. "Our daughter and mother Marnie, who was just an innocent woman caught in the wrong place and time"
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Updated: August 21, 2016