VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
'Police have some accounting to do,' brother of slain woman testifies
BY NEAL HALL, VANCOUVER SUN October 27, 2011
The brother of a victim of serial killer Robert Pickton told the Missing Women Inquiry on Wednesday he is angry that authorities failed to prosecute Pickton for attempted murder after a 1997 knife attack.
Ernie Crey said he believes his younger sister, Dawn Crey, would be alive today if Pickton had been jailed then.
"I feel it failed my sister and failed my family and the other families," Crey told inquiry Commissioner Wally Oppal, a retired judge.
"Mister commissioner, I can't begin to tell you how angry I am about that," he added.
"The anger and frustration my family carried. I want people to understand how let down we feel by the system and how angry we are to this day."
In 1997, Pickton was charged with attempted murder, unlawful confinement and other charges stemming from his knife attack on a prostitute from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, who ran naked and bleeding from Pickton's farm and was picked up by a passing motorist.
The charges were stayed by the Crown in 1998. The reasons why will be probed later at the inquiry.
"We're interested in discovering why this occurred," Crey, with his sister Lorraine Crey, explained to reporters outside the inquiry.
"If the charges would have been proceeded to trial, this guy would have been in jail and he would have been off the streets," he added.
"Police have some accounting to do. That's why we're here," said Crey, 64, a prominent first nations leader and frequent critic of the police investigation that led to the arrest of Pickton in 2002. "There were 18 women who went missing from the Downtown Eastside between 1997 and 2002 and one of those women was my sister. We firmly believe she would be alive today."
Cameron Ward, the lawyer representing 18 families of Pickton's victims at the inquiry, had earlier read out portions of the Vancouver police report by Deputy Chief Doug LePard.
The report stated that a man called Crime Stoppers in July 1998 and said a man named Willie, whom the caller called a "sicko," picked up prostitutes, had 10 purses and the identification of women in his home and had bragged that he could easily dispose of bodies by using a meat grinder to prepare food for his pigs.
The same caller, later identified as Bill Hiscox, called Crime Stoppers again on Aug. 5, 1998, giving the suspect's full name, Willie Pickton. He said Pickton had a farm in Port Coquitlam, that he killed Sarah DeVries, one of the missing women, and that "he might be responsible for all the missing girls."
Earlier in the day, Margaret Green testified that she believed that racial stereotyping of her relative, Angela Williams, had hampered a proper police investigation after Williams was found dead beside a rural Surrey road on Dec. 13, 2001.
Green recalled when she reported Angela missing to Vancouver police on Dec. 26, 2001, police seemed to focus on the fact that Angela was a first nations drug addict who dabbled in prostitution.
She said when Angela was found dead, Surrey RCMP initially assumed it was a drug overdose.
But an autopsy found only a trace of cocaine in Angela's system, indicating she had used the drug a week earlier. A second autopsy found evidence of bruising on the neck, she told the inquiry.
"They seemed to have tunnel vision that Angela's case was part of that life," Green testified.
"I really think this is another case of racial stereotyping."
She was also upset that there seemed to be no communication with the Vancouver police missing persons unit and the RCMP.
Green, the legal guardian of Angela's two youngest daughters, recalled that one of Angela's daughters kept asking: "How did mommy die? Why didn't they catch the person?" She said the last update from Surrey RCMP on the case was in 2007, when Green told police one daughter wanted to visit the site where her mother was found.
Two officers took Green and Angela's two daughters to the site, where the girls laid flowers.
"I want to know how mommy died," one of the girls told the Mounties.
One officer pulled Green aside and said: "It's pretty clear to us she died of manual strangulation."
That was the first time police confirmed it was believed to be a murder case, she said.
"I want to know why no one cared enough to investigate properly," Ashley Smith, 21, one of the daughters of Angela Williams, told the inquiry.
"Was it because she was native? It's been 10 years and I don't know how she died," she added.
The inquiry continues today with more testimony of families of Pickton's victims.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
Updated: August 21, 2016