STAFFORD FOR THE TORONTO STAR
Frey and daughter Brittney, 10, lead marchers past Robert Pickton's
pig farm yesterday.
Walk honours missing women
Event takes mourners past B.C. pig farm
COQUITLAM, B.C.On a rainy winter day, in the shadow of a now-infamous pig
farm, they shared stories, exchanged hugs and made a vow to never forget.
About 75 family and friends of Vancouver's missing women yesterday came
together to honour their sisters, daughters, mothers and wives who are now
inextricably linked to what has become Canada's largest-ever serial murder
The group, some carrying flowers and others holding hands, filed past the
property, which a year ago Wednesday was thrust into the spotlight when
police descended on the ramshackle six-hectare site to begin a painstaking
"It's a very hard thing to come here and see and talk about, but it's
important we do it," said Rick Frey, whose daughter, Marnie, vanished in
August, 1997, at the age of 24.
"Everyone must know these women weren't disposable. They were loved very
Marnie Frey is one of 61 women predominantly drug addicts and
prostitutes who have gone missing from Vancouver's downtown eastside as
far back as the late 1970s.
Pig farmer Robert William Pickton, 53, faces 15 counts of first-degree
murder in connection with women who vanished from the neighbourhood since
His preliminary hearing, which will determine if there's enough evidence
for the case to go to trial, enters its fourth week tomorrow in this city,
35 kilometres east of Vancouver.
Details of the proceedings are the subject of a sweeping publication ban.
Marnie Frey is not among Pickton's alleged victims, although her father
says police told the family in mid-November that her remains were found on
Police refuse to make any comment on Frey's whereabouts.
"It's the worst nightmare that anyone can ever imagine," Rick Frey told
the crowd in a parking lot across from the farm. "We can never ever let
something like this happen again."
To that end, Frey and other family and friends of the missing women are
trying to raise up to $750,000 to renovate a 10-bedroom home in the nearby
community of Maple Ridge and turn it into Legacy House, which would help
addicted women turn their lives around.
"We can't bring our women back," said Val Hughes, president of the
Missing Women's Legacy Society, which organized yesterday's so-called Forget
Me Not Walk.
"But we might be able to prevent some from following their path," said
Hughes, whose sister, Kerry Koski, disappeared in 1998.
Koski has not been found, although her older sister is convinced that
Money raised by the society which has a Web site at
http://www.missingwomenslegacy.ca will go toward the house.
The funds are intended to not only help the women break their addiction,
but also improve their education and training and start a life off the
Mary-Anne Benson, in her 30s, didn't know any of the missing women. But
she took part in the walk, from the pig farm to the nearby banks of the Pitt
River, because she spent time on the streets of Vancouver when she was a
teenager and knows how tough it can be.
"These women certainly weren't out to hurt anyone, especially
themselves," said Benson. "But it's easy for anyone to get addicted and I
know how easily it could have been me."
Additional articles by Daniel Girard