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Relatives of Vancouverís missing women mark investigationís anniversary

EMILY YEARWOOD-LEE
Canadian Press

Saturday, February 01, 2003

PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. (CP) - A silent crowd of people turned their backs and walked away Saturday from the decrepit former pig farm where an investigation into the disappearance of scores of missing Vancouver women was launched nearly a year ago.

About 60 people gathered in a parking lot across the street from the farm, then walked about 20 minutes down a back road to the edge of the Pitt River.

The march was held partly to "acknowledge that a year has passed since the initial first few steps onto the farm," said organizer Val Hughes, whose sister, Kerry Koski, disappeared from Vancouver's drug-infested Downtown Eastside in 1998.

Hughes said she used to follow the same path away from the farm when she needed a break from the sight of the intensive police investigation still underway on the fenced-in property.

"If I took that walk to the dike, it would restore the energy in my heart," said Hughes.

Police swooped down on the seven-hectare suburban property last February, sealing off the farm, setting up investigation command centres and extensively excavating the property in search of evidence.

By October, the farm's co-owner, Robert Pickton, had been charged with 15 counts of murder in connection with the missing women case.

Beginning in 1978, more than 60 women, mainly drug-addicted prostitutes, are believed to have vanished from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Thirty-seven disappeared over a period stretching from 1997 and 2001.

Hughes said the march Saturday was also intended to raise public awareness so the continued plight of women like her sister would not be forgotten.

"We need to provide solutions so women across Canada and the States get protection and from what is still happening to them," said Hughes.

Donations raised at the event were to be put toward a recovery home for addicted women.

Hughes said she feared the public would grow indifferent to the plight of such women, recalling the shock that first greeted the investigation.

"But our lives are so busy and we hear so many terrible things that we tend to cocoon ourselves," she said.

Hughes admitted she was worried that if the ongoing investigation at the farm did not provide clues to her sister's fate, no one would continue to look for her.

A preliminary hearing for Pickton began Jan. 13 and continues under an extensive publication ban that prevents any description of the evidence being presented or even of its general nature.

The outcome of the hearing, expected to run for months, will determine if there is sufficient evidence to send Pickton to trial.

© Copyright  2003 The Canadian Press

House a legacy of missing women-Jan 31, 2003

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Updated: August 21, 2016