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Feb. 2, 2003. 09:31 AM
LYLE STAFFORD FOR THE TORONTO STAR
Rick Frey and daughter Brittney, 10, lead marchers past Robert Pickton's pig farm yesterday.
 
Flash: The missing women  
Lawyer wants reporters banned (Jan. 15)  
Mystery to lift (Jan. 13)  
Shedding some light on 'Willy' (Jan. 10)  
Pickton faces four more charges (Oct. 2)  
Another missing woman's DNA found (Sept. 17)  
List of missing women grows (Mar. 29)  
Investigation could last year: police (Mar. 21)  
B.C. watchdog won't probe case (Mar. 19)  
Missingpeople.net  

Walk honours missing women
Event takes mourners past B.C. pig farm

DANIEL GIRARD
WESTERN CANADA BUREAU

PORT 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 investigation.

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 search.

"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 much."

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 1997.

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 the property.

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 she's dead.

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 street.

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





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Updated: August 21, 2016