VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Victim's father finally gets questions answered
Campbell River Courier-Islander
Friday, December 21, 2012
It has been 15 years since Rick Frey last spoke to his daughter Marnie, and during that time he has asked many questions about what happened to her, why it happened, and how it could happen. On Monday he heard some answers.
Wally Oppal, Commissioner of the Missing Women's Inquiry, released his report "Forsaken" on Dec. 17 and Frey was surprised at some of the findings.
"I couldn't believe he came out so hard against the police," Frey said. "Particularly as Oppal was the Attorney General, the guy has some baggage and that is scary in itself. Before the trial got started I had sent him a bunch of emails and letters about the problems the families were having with the police, with getting answers, with being treated respectfully, and I never got an answer back."
Frey said he was happy with some of the recommendations but worries that the provincial government will either not have the will or the finances to follow through and an upcoming provincial election could further complicate things or slow things down. Also Frey said that the inquiry should have "gone national" because there were so many stakeholders involved, "a federal police force, a city police force, aboriginal people, downtown east side people."
He also questions the fairness factor.
"There were 25 families represented by two lawyers. But the police, RCMP and VPD, had a lawyer for each person who had fingers pointing to them for wrongdoing, and Eddie Greenspan out of Toronto, was representing the Vancouver Police Chief, he charges $1,200 per hour," said Frey. "How is that fair? It was not a level playing field."
Frey recalls the RCMP being very slow in getting information to the families. He said RCMP Justice Branch Representative Sharon Tobias told him that the RCMP was not bound by the families demanding information and that the RCMP would decide what was pertinent to the case and what the families would be provided.
"No wonder they didn't want to give us everything because it wasn't right," he said. "This is more than just about the missing women you know. There were 150 to 160 DNA samples taken from the farm that were unidentified and half of those were male," Frey said. "Why did they have the parameters from 1997 to 2002 but prior to that there were reports of missing people back to 1983?"
Frey recalls that when they reported Marnie missing in 1997 they thought she might be one of about two or three missing women at that time.
"We found out later that she was number 26," he said. "It was not a police error, it was criminal negligence of their duties."
Frey also fumes over the way he and his wife Lynn and the mother of another missing girl were treated during the preliminary hearing to determine if there was enough evidence to go to trial.
"There was no warning whatsoever, no one from Victims' Services prepared us, and they just blurted out 'We found a piece of Marnie Frey,'" he said. "Lynn doubled over and could barely get out of the chair. Then they said the other girl's DNA had been found in the freezer in a bag of ground meat. There was no one there for us. The victim's workers were too busy not wanting to miss what was being said. It was all more than an error."
Frey said that despite the gruesome nature of the investigation and revelations at the hearings, at least they do not have to think and wonder like a lot of families do who have not found their missing loved ones.
"And we have Brittney, Marnie's daughter who is 20 years old now. Can you believe that? She is starting to open up a little more and we have always included her in everything about her mom," said Frey. "And Brittney is a lot like Lynn. They just see a person in trouble and they want to bring them home. It's probably why I have white hair now. But this makes you a better person."
Frey says people ask him all the time how it has affected him. He said that when the news was originally breaking about Marnie's fate a close childhood friend of his came to him and he ended up comforting him instead of the other way around.
"My friend said we don't know how lucky we are," said Frey. "He said he wouldn't think about passing a homeless person on the street but now that it happened to a friend, well, it just broke him. This mentality, you are not in with the group so you are just a nobody has to stop."
Frey thinks about his daughter a lot. "She didn't want to grow up and be a drug addict and a prostitute. She didn't want to hurt us. She came home one time and tried to detox, she really tried hard. Lynn and I took turns staying up with her," he said. "We rigged pots and pans to the doors so we would know if she was trying to leave. That's what you have to do. But Marnie couldn't do it and away she went.
But she called us every day, sometimes several times a day. I used to worry about the phone bills and now I would give anything for her to call. She loved us. She loved her daughter. She loved animals and probably would have ended up working in the veterinary field."
He remembers Marnie as a child becoming distraught at the death of one of the family's chickens that were being raised in a coop behind the house. Marnie insisted on an autopsy before laying the chicken to rest in the yard.
"So I took it to the vet just to pacify her and it came back that the chicken ate a nail and some screws and had 10 or 15 cents in its gullet," he said. "It cost me $30 to do an autopsy on a chicken. But it was for my girl and everyone was happy in the end."
Frey hopes the recommendations from the Inquiry will make a difference but you have to excuse him if he seems a little jaded, he said.
"Sometimes I will be fishing up around the Alaska border all by my lonesome, look out past the still waters to the horizon, and start to reminisce about my girl and the stuff we used to do," he said. "The tears will start rolling down my face. But what can you do?"
To view the report, go to http: // www.cbc.ca/bc/news/bc-121217-mwireport.pdf.
© Campbell River Courier-Islander 2012
Updated: August 21, 2016