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Police continue the search for Laura Lee Banman's killer

By Paul Walton
Nanaimo Daily News

Tuesday  May 21  2002

She lived a hard life on the streets and died an undignified, probably brutal death.

While the death of Laura Lee Banman is not unlike the deaths of some half-dozen women from Vancouver's lower east side, it has not gained the attention or notoriety.

Banman, also known as Laura Lee Chalifoux and Raven on the street, was last seen in August 1999 in Nanaimo. She was reported missing in January 2000. Her remains were found several months later on a logging road outside Campbell River.

For the man investigating Banman's killing, Sgt. Dwight Dammann with the Campbell River RCMP, the effort to find her killer deserves as much attention as the 50 missing women from Vancouver's downtown east side.

The problem is that Dammann doesn't have 10 acres to comb for evidence, or other sex trade workers taking the unusual step of contacting police with information.

The little evidence police do have, such the results of an autopsy, are not being released. Right now, police are reviewing statements and the few clues they do have. They have put up signs near to where the body was found, and checked every possible lead with no solid results.

Dammann said their best hope now is that someone decides to do the right thing and come forward with crucial information. He has no doubt that someone between Nanaimo and the north Island has that information.

"We know there's someone out there who knows something," said Dammann. "I'm sure it's more than one person who knows what went on."

Banman was originally from Alberta, but had lived on the Island for a number of years. When last seen she was known to police in Nanaimo as an intravenous drug user and sex trade worker. Police are unable to say whether they suspect a bad trick or if Banman may have crossed someone on the street, possibly over drugs.

Regardless of any theory, Dammann said those who knew Banman well would have known who she was with just before her death, or even who killed her and why. Like her, he said, those associates used to travel between Nanaimo and the north Island by bus or hitchhiking as they continued using drugs and turning tricks. Banman may have been labelled a junky and hooker, but Dammann said her killer now needs to be labelled guilty.

"We'd certainly like to put this one to rest, if just for the sake of her family."

 Copyright  2002 Nanaimo Daily News

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016