VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Relatives of missing women slam Victims Services' help
Friday, May 09, 2003
Relatives of the missing women are demanding better victims' services than the "next to nothing" they've received throughout the long preliminary hearing of accused serial killer Robert Pickton.
A grieving relative has sent an angry letter to the missing women's task force and Vancouver police Chief Jamie Graham. In it, she says she was offered reimbursement for only 10 per cent of her travel costs and attended court with no counselling or preparation for the shocking evidence she heard about her daughter.
"This is atrocious -- how can the VPD treat the families of the victims in this regard!" wrote Marilyn Kraft, who used her own money to travel from Calgary to Port Coquitlam for the hearing March 23.
"I am a retired single parent living on a fixed income with a teenager to raise with no outside help," said Kraft, noting that families were promised reimbursement of up to $3,000 for expenses to attend court hearings.
B.C. Victims Services is funded by the Solicitor-General's Ministry.
Kraft saved money by staying with a friend and getting a cheap rental car, as well as paying for Cindy Feliks' niece, who Kraft is raising, to attend the hearing because Victims Services declared the girl was not a relative. Cindy Feliks' DNA was found on the Pickton farm.
Rita Buchwitz of Victims Services told Kraft that only $74.81 of the $663 Kraft spent will be reimbursed. Three Victims Services workers have been provided to give emotional support to the families, said the ministry's Susanne Dahlin.
"That's a joke," said Lynn Frey, whose daughter Marnie disappeared in August 1997. "The Victims Services people don't do any debriefing and after what they did to Marilyn Kraft, none of us believe we'll be reimbursed."
Marnie's remains have been found at the Pickton farm.
On the day that Kraft attended court, she said no one from Victims Services helped to prepare her emotionally for the evidence about her daughter.
Lynn Frey had a similar experience.
"I had no idea what I was going to hear because none of those Victims Services workers would tell me anything," said Frey. "I stood up in court and my knees almost gave out, but the victims'- assistance people all just sat there."
Dahlin said late yesterday she will reconsider Kraft's reimbursement request and try to develop guidelines for her staff to provide emotional support, although none of them are professional counsellors.
The hearing for Pickton, who has been charged with the murders of 15 women, resumes June 30.
© Copyright 2003 The Province
Updated: August 21, 2016