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Police didn't pick up suspect who later murdered this woman

Family wants answers: 'If they had arrested him earlier, maybe my sister wouldn't be dead right now'

The Vancouver Sun

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Kim Bolan, Lindsay Kines and Lori Culbert

Vancouver city police did not arrest and charge a suspect in the sexual assault of a prostitute for more than two months -- long enough for him to rape and murder another woman, The Vancouver Sun has learned.

The detective investigating the assault on the prostitute twice contacted Lance Clare Dove on his cellphone and asked him to come in for questioning. Dove did not come to either meeting.

The Sun has learned that one of those conversations with police took place Aug. 3, 1999 -- the day Dove raped and killed Kimberly Ann Tracey, a 28-year-old Vancouver mother.

Now, Tracey's family wants to know how a man identified as a suspect in a sexual assault that took place in March 1999 was left on the streets until he killed someone.

"If they had arrested him earlier, maybe my sister wouldn't be dead right now," Stephen Tracey, Kimberly Ann's brother, said in an interview.

His wife April said Vancouver police did not move quickly enough after the prostitute complained about Dove.

"This woman to me could have been the link that saved Kim's life," April Tracey said.

Dove, a former Burnaby tow truck driver, was convicted of first-degree murder in the Tracey case in July. Last week, a deadlocked jury led a B.C. Supreme Court judge to declare a mistrial in the sexual assault case.

Tracey's family was unaware of the earlier complaint against Dove until contacted by The Sun.

Marie Tracey, Kim's 68-year-old mother who has emphysema and cancer, said Vancouver police should have done more than have phone chats with her daughter's killer.

"Since when do police give an accused criminal an invitation to come in?" she asked angrily, tears welling up in her eyes.

Vancouver police Detective Dean Greene handled the complaint from the prostitute.

He said in an interview he wanted to arrest Dove, but did not know where he was living from the middle of April, when the Vancouver police started its investigation, until his arrest for Tracey's murder in August.

As well, he said, he was "swamped" in his department and did what he could on the prostitute's file. Greene said that Dove's criminal record had no prior sexual assaults on it, so he had no indication the man might be a risk.

Vancouver police media liaison officer, Detective Scott Driemel, said the Traceys could make a complaint to the internal investigations squad if they think there was a problem with how the original case was handled.

"If the family feels that there is a possibility that there was an incomplete or an insufficient investigation, then they should probably contact the supervisor [of the sex offence squad] and try to see if they can just have a conversation with them and hopefully be satisfied with that and if they are not, of course there is still that extra step they can take," Driemel said, adding that the number of cases being handled by the sexual offence squad has been "horrific."

The prostitute, whose name is protected by court order, thinks police could have found Dove if more effort had been made.

"When I heard Kim had been killed, I felt so horrible. I felt it was my fault," said the woman, who is trying to turn her life around after years as a drug-addicted sex trade worker.

She said her life changed forever on March 12, 1999 when she went out to work at her regular corner at Jackson and Cordova in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

It was just after 11 p.m. She had been at a friend's place nearby where they had watched Touched by an Angel and Nash Bridges before she headed out to earn some money.

The man who approached her in a older-model white car seemed nice.

"He sent out no vibes at all," she recalled in an interview.

She got in the car and they agreed on a price for sexual services. But once they got to a spot off Hastings and Clark, she says, the man threatened to rip her face off if she did not do what he told her to for free.

Two decades on the streets of Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver had taught her that compliance was the safest bet.

She said that for more than 90 minutes she was violently assaulted.

As the man was dropping her off, she said she deliberately left the passenger door unlatched so that she would have time to go behind the car and get a licence plate number.

She had no intention of telling police of her "bad date" at first but wanted to warn other women working on the rough streets of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Within minutes, she got a matchbook cover and a pen from a friend and recorded the plate number -- with two possible endings because she couldn't quite remember.

She talked to other women in the Downtown Eastside about what happened to her during an informal gathering at the W.I.S.H.(Women's Information and Safe House) drop-in centre one night at the end of March.

The coordinator at the centre at the time, Elaine Allan, told the woman she should go to police. Already 31 sex trade workers had vanished from the area and many suspected a serial killer was preying on the city's most vulnerable women.

Reluctantly, the woman allowed Allan to call 911. She said it took more than three hours for two officers to respond to the call, even though the drop-in centre for prostitutes is just a block from the police station.

Within days -- on April 15, 1999 -- the woman was giving police a detailed videotaped statement at Vancouver police headquarters. Greene, who worked with the sexual offence squad, was one of two detectives present.

She described the attack in detail, saying the man had threatened to beat her beyond recognition. She described the car used by the man and provided police with the matchbook with the two possible plate numbers on it.

On May 20, she picked Dove out of a photo lineup that Detective Greene brought to her south Vancouver residence.

Greene, meanwhile, had looked up the registration for the two plate numbers. One was for an older white car belonging to Marcus and Holly Dove -- Dove's brother and sister-in-law, with whom he was living at the time.

Holly and Marcus Dove were extremely cooperative, Greene testified.

Marcus wanted to come in and clear his name as a possible suspect in the sex assault. He didn't match the prostitute's physical description and Greene felt he was telling the truth when he said he had not been in downtown Vancouver on the weekend of the alleged attack.

Marcus and Holly provided Greene with a list of people who borrowed the car, including Lance Dove, who was between jobs at the time and sleeping in the young couple's living room.

But as soon as Greene started making inquiries about the sexual assault, Lance Dove left his brother's house, Greene told The Sun.

"I only had a cellphone number," Greene said. "Mostly it was turned off. I finally contacted him on June 22 -- the first time I was able to get through to him. He was on the Island and going to the Interior after that. He booked an appointment for June 30 -- 8 a.m. and he failed to show for that."

Greene said he doesn't know what Dove believed the meeting to be about, but that the detective had told Dove his brother needed his story verified.

"I was fairly confident that he wouldn't come in if he knew. Whether he knew or not, I don't know," Greene said. "He knew there was a sexual assault and we were looking for a suspect. He was of the opinion that I was asking him to come in to provide an alibi for his brother."

After Dove failed to show up, Greene continued to try to call him on the cellphone.

Asked if he called the cell phone company to try to get an address, Greene said he had not because he assumed it would still be listed as Dove's brother's residence.

Greene reached Dove a second and final time on the cellphone Aug. 3.

"I speak to him and he plays dumb, like he pretends like he doesn't know and when I won't let it go, he does agree that he knows what I'm talking about. And he agrees to come in at 4 o'clock the next afternoon to be interviewed about it."

The evening of Aug. 3, Kim Tracey got ready to meet Rose Cwihula and head to Jaguars, a Kingsway pub she occasionally visited with friends because it was close to home.

Her mother said Tracey had hoped to begin volunteering at Jaguars to get some experience after completing a bartending course. She knew all the staff there.

At the bar, the women met Dove, now 34, and his friend David Sjostrom. The four drank beer and played pool. Cwihula decided to leave with Sjostrom and go back to his house. Dove had been staying in a trailer on Sjostrom's property.

Tracey decided to tag along as Cwihula's chaperone, since they had only just met the two men.

"That was a decision that had tragic consequences," Mike Luchenko, the prosecutor in the murder case, told jurors at the trial.

All four went back to Sjostrom's house, but Cwihula and Sjostrom left Tracey and Dove to get some cigarettes. Around 10 p.m., Tracey decided to head to the 22nd Avenue SkyTrain station to go home to her son, Kevin, and common-law spouse. Dove offered to walk her, according to his testimony in court.

On the way, in a vacant lot on Trapp Avenue, Dove raped and sodomized her, beating the 105-pound woman so brutally that Burnaby RCMP needed to get fingerprints to identify her body.

Instead of meeting Vancouver police Aug. 4 for his scheduled appointment, Dove was turned in to the Burnaby RCMP by his buddy.

And Marie Tracey was notified that her daughter -- the youngest of nine children -- was dead.

The Traceys wonder if police would have moved more quickly to arrest Dove if the original complainant had not been a woman involved in the sex trade in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

"If it had been a college student who accused him, they would have picked him up the very next day. No doubt about it," April Tracey said.

Added Stephen Tracey: "It seems they didn't take her seriously because she was a prostitute. I hear it all the time. They don't consider them people because they are all druggies or whatever, but it is not their fault."

But Greene vehemently denies the investigation into the prostitute's complaint was not taken seriously because of her profession.

"I personally believe that nobody who has gone to the sexual offence squad has been treated unfairly. They may not be happy with the results, but they are not treated like a second-class citizen. But the problem might be in other dealings they have with the police."

He agrees there is distrust between women working in the sex trade and police, and that many crimes may go unreported.

"I don't know how to get around that," Greene said.

He said the sexual offence squad was "swamped" when he worked there. (He has since transferred to the criminal harassment squad.)

"You have no idea how busy you are. You are carrying literally 20 to 30 cases and of those, 10 to 12 of them are going to be quite active files, so it is hard to put a lot of time in," Greene said.

His comments are backed up by a confidential report obtained under B.C.'s Freedom of Information Act, which shows the workload of Vancouver's sexual offence squad has "significantly increased" in recent years, pushing the number of cases to more than 500 annually.

As an example of increased workload, the document notes one member of the squad is juggling several time-consuming jobs: monitoring high-risk offenders, preparing court applications and meeting with offenders to review compliance.

The attorney-general's ministry has made strong recommendations to police departments about better monitoring of serious sexual offenders, but the report says complying would be difficult for the already over-worked squad.

Greene said that after Dove was arrested in Tracey's murder, he referred his file to the officers investigating the disappearance of dozens of sex-trade workers from the Downtown Eastside.

"I hope they are looking at this guy," Greene said. "I certainly put a report over to them suggesting he was someone to look at."

Advocates who work with prostitutes told The Sun they have experienced many problems with police when women sex-trade workers report sexual assaults.

Raven Bowen, program director at Prostitution Alternatives, Counselling, and Education, said she thinks police have to do more to solve the violent assaults and make the women more confident in the investigators.

"If police follow up more on the rapes and assaults of sex trade workers -- that will open up the door in the missing women case," Bowen said. "But so much of this is swept under the rug."

Allan, who was coordinator at WISH for three years, said she had several experiences of women coming into the centre after a sexual assault and police not responding to 911 calls.

"They don't come. They say 'We've got other calls.' I've got some girl bleeding and she'll have to go to the hospital and she'll come back after she's got her head stitched up and no police. That has happened. That has happened quite a few times when I was at W.I.S.H.," Allan said. "There are also some really good cops down there."

Allan said the woman who first identified Dove "went through hell" after Kim Tracey's murder.

"She moved to Edmonton. She called me every day from Edmonton. She called me at W.I.S.H. and she called me when I got home and she would just be like: `I can't sleep. I feel guilty. I can't eat. I am throwing up.' She would be crying. And this went on for months and months. The post-traumatic stress was just so intense," Allan said.

"The woman went through complete hell. You know, 'If only I had done this. If only I had done that, that it could have been me.' All those sorts of horrible things."

The victim herself thinks police could have done more -- more to move her case along before a young mother was killed. And more to investigate the disappearance of dozens of women from the Downtown Eastside, some of whom she knew well.

"They should have a bigger task force. They should be out there talking to women, even if it takes talking to the same woman two or three times. There should be more meetings with the girls at W.I.S.H.," she said. "A lot of girls don't trust police. I've seen the cops down there get very belligerent and rude.

"Some think the girls are society's scum. Nobody really cares when it comes right down to us. They don't care if we die because that is one less person in the system they don't have to support. That's how they look at it."

She said she would like to meet Kim Tracey's family to tell them how sorry she is about what happened.

"I just can't believe it happened. I just went into total seclusion when I found out," she said, breaking down in tears.

But the Traceys don't fault the woman, who they believe did everything she could under the circumstances.

"It is not her fault. It is not her fault because she did what she had to do. She went and reported it," Marie Tracey said. "The police failed to follow up on it."

Marie Tracey is still crying for her daughter, who she said was as innocent and loving as anyone you could find.

"She wore her heart on her sleeve. She was a good girl. I lay in bed some nights and I talk to her and I get mad at her. And you know, she had just finished a computer course. And she said 'Mom, I need something to fall back on,' and she took the bartenders' course."

The murder not only took her daughter, but her nine-year-old grandson Kevin, who was given to his biological father in Calgary and hasn't seen his mother's family since.

"Do you know she was only a pound and six ounces when she was born and she fought all that time to live?" Marie Tracey said. "She didn't know what a slap was because I never hit my kids and then that scum gives her more beatings in an hour than one person can take. She never gave in to him. She fought."

April Tracey, who took a month off work to sit through Dove's murder trial in July, said the evidence showed Dove had dragged her sister-in-law through the bushes before raping and sodomizing her.

There is now a small white cross, covered with flowers, at the place where the attack happened.

"Kim's friends maintain it," April Tracey said. "No one from the family has gone. I don't want to go to the place where it happened."

Marie Tracey keeps her daughter's ashes in an urn upstairs in the small Maple Ridge townhouse she shares with April and Stephen. She wants Kim's remains spread with hers in some park with lots of flowers when she dies.

"When I go, I want us to go together," she said.

Despite her own grief, Marie Tracey has great compassion for the prostitute who was sexually assaulted.

"Please tell this lady that I'll say prayers for her. She'll get what she deserves and she deserves justice because it don't matter if you are a prostitute or not, if you say no, it is no. Right? A woman has the right to say no. You don't have to be killed for it."

Investigation turns up more missing women-Sept 21, 2001
DNA Samples not used-Sept 24, 2001
B.C. slow to adopt lessons from Bernardo case-Sept 26, 2001
A killer's slip-up gave police a break-Sept 28, 2001
Sexual predator case prompts review-Sept 28, 2001
The lesson is: every human life matters-Sept 27, 2001
Police build a bridge to families-Oct 4, 2001

Vanished without a trace-July 29, 2001

 

Email: wleng#missingpeople.net 

Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016