Police find woman missing for 21 years-Dec
Courtesy of The Toronto Globe & Mail
By Camille Bains, Canadian Press, Vancouver
Vancouver force says it is following all leads to locate 31
others feared murdered
Police have located one of the women thought to have been
missing and possibly murdered by a serial killer in one of Canada’s poorest
Constable Anne Drennan, a Vancouver police spokeswoman, said
investigators traced the whereabouts of the woman through a medical database.
Patricia Perkins, 43, vanished in 1978 but was not reported missing
until 1996, Constable Anne Drennan said.
"So you can see the incredible problem of trying to locate
someone who has been missing for 21 years," she said.
The disappearances gained national attention this year after
activists in Vancouver’s downtown eastside began agitating for more action by
They were concerned the disappearances were being ignored by
investigators who didn’t care about women involved in drugs and prostitution.
Police circulated posters of the women this year and put up a
$100,000 reward for tips.
Originally activists like Jamie Lee Hamilton, who runs a drop-in
centre for prostitutes, said there were 21 women unaccounted for since 1995.
Constable Anne Drennan and Ms Hamilton agree that number has risen to 31.
The case was broadcast on the television program America’s Most
Constable Drennan said Ms. Perkins left Vancouver to start a new
life elsewhere in Canada and doesn’t want her whereabouts known.
In October, police released the names of two other women who’d
been reported missing.
Karen Smith died of a hepatitis-related illness in an Edmonton
hospital in Feburary.
Linda Jean Coombes, who died of a heroin overdose in 1994, was
identified through DNA records.
Constable Drennan said people have become more aware of informing
police quickly when a prostitute goes missing.
"That means we can start working right away and track back to
the last point, the last sighting, who they were last with and what stroll they
Ms Hamilton, a 44-year-old transsexual who runs Grandma’s House,
said she’s not holding out any hope that the other missing street-trade
workers will be found alive.
"Its been too long now," Ms Hamilton, who sought a city
council seat in November, said.
Some of the women have vanished without explanation and with money
in their bank accounts, she said, adding some also left behind young children.
She maintained the prostitutes may have fallen prey to a serial
killer and that police aren’t taking the matter seriously enough.
"We’ve found so many people that should have been
interviewed and they haven’t been," Ms. Hamilton said.
But Constable Drennan said police are following all leads.
"The information we’re releasing [about the missing woman
who’ve been found] is an indicator of the dogged determination of the
investigators. They’re literally leaving no stone unturned," Constable
"We’re going to extraordinary lengths on files where we have
almost nothing to begin with. We don’t have crime scenes or bodies," she
added. A group of 25 prostitutes will soon try to obtain certification from the
Labour Relations Board to form a union, Ms. Hamilton said.
Vancouver cops find missing woman-Dec.17,1999