Vancouver Police indifference allowed crimes which paralyse the imagination
They had in their hands a tape
which, had they acted on the information in it, could have saved
the lives of twenty-two of the women pictured on the right margin of this page.
CBC 2011-11-25 Nine years later Mountie Catherine Galliford [re]states: [Sheila Steele's words] "There was a police indifference"
We have been slow to post
this story, watching with horror as it has unfolded. Fifth Estate
did a show last fall which made it known across the country that
only once it got the attention of John Walsh's America's Most
Wanted did the search for the killer(s) of dozens of women missing
from Vancouver's east side get a even grudging glance by the
The same indifference has
operated across the entire country (Helen
Betty Osborne, Pamela George, the Saskatoon victims of John
Crawford, etc.); the magnitude of this one has focused attention
on bad policing. Racism is one element. It is an important one
as we have seen in Saskatoon as the endless inquiries into shootings
and freezings of First Nations people bore us to tears with their
ignored recommendations and mandates to find no fault.
Sexism is also part of it:
police, like the rest of society hold a deep-seated contempt
and even hatred for women that has little to do with whether
women are allowed into law or medical school. The indifference
shown toward victims of Vancouver's east side and Saskatoon's
west side comes from professionals of both genders.
For pictures and biographies of
all the missing women (it was 55 the last we heard) see Missing People Site.
Poverty is the overwhelming
common denominator among victims of police indifference and wrongful
prosecution. This website is full of stories of people whose
lives have been turned upside down by such bad policing -- and
these are the ones we know about, brought to public attention
because someone bothered to pay attention.
It is not outside the realm
of possibility to suppose that others have gone missing who no
one cared about enough to report their disappearance.
More and more people are
literally shut out of the legal economy as the floundering education
systems expel kids rather than teach them, and there are no meaningful
job prospects. At least once a day and sometimes more often,
pedestrians are attacked in broad daylight to have money or tobacco
stolen from them.
The War on Drugs has diverted
attention of police all over the country to seek easy busts,
leaving the controllers of the market intact to insure new generations
of dispossed people to become addicted and fill the jails.
The Saskatoon Police Service
is now opening its inquiries to the public (although they don't
give much advance warning of when the hearings will be held)
so that is a tiny step in the right direction. (See Cst.
Kevin Montgomery). There have always been dedicated cops,
like Vancouver's Gil Puder. A homeless woman's assault brushed aside by Saskatoon police.
Saskatoon Police callous about rapes and deaths of hookers and poor women
There is still no meaningful
addiction treatment centre in Saskatoon despite the national
publicity surrounding Darrell Night's successful complaint against
Hatchen and Munson. Money which has been set aside for single
parent housing and halfway houses has been gobbled up by unscrupulous
slum landlords and housing on Saskatoon's west side remains substandard.
We hope the fallout from
the Pickton Pigbarn scandal will result in meaningful reforms
--Sheila Steele, spring 2002
RCMP-Vancouver police name four more missing Downtown Eastside women
Nov 20, 2003
VANCOUVER (CP) - The missing
women task force identified four more women who have disappeared
from the Downtown Eastside since 1990 and appealed to the public
Thursday to help find them.
But the names haven't been added to the official list of missing
women, which stands at 61. All the women were drug- or alcohol-addicted
and sex-trade workers. The joint RCMP-Vancouver police task force
identified the women as Sharon Goselin, Cara Ellis, Gloria Fedyshyn
and Sharon Ward.
"While these women have not yet officially been added to
the list of missing women being investigated by the task force,
their current status is very important to the case," said
RCMP Cpl. Catherine Galliford.
Robert Pickton, a former Port Coquitlam, B.C., pig farmer has been charged in
the investigation into the disappearance of more than 60 women,
most of them drug-addicted prostitutes from the Downtown Eastside.
Robert Pickton, 54, was committed earlier this year to stand
trial in B.C. Supreme Court on 15 counts of first-degree murder.
The task force said Goselin was last seen in May 2001 and reported
missing in December 2002, Ellis was last seen in 1996 but reported
missing in 2002, Fedyshyn was last seen in January 1990 and reported
missing in July 2002 and Ward was last seen in February 1997
and reported missing the following month.
Galliford said publicity about the missing women case may have
prompted someone to file missing persons reports, years after
some of the women were last seen.
"A lot of these women didn't have daily or weekly or monthly
contact with their families," Galliford said.
"We find that a lot of these women may have just contacted
their families at Christmas or they may have contacted their
families once a year for their mothers' birthdays or they may
have not had any contact with their families at all."
Pickton, who has been in custody almost two years, is scheduled
to return to court Dec. 15 when a trial date might be set.
The massive police investigation was sparked by a raid on the
Pickton family's sprawling suburban property Feb. 6, 2002.
He has been charged with the murders of Sereena Abotsway, Mona
Wilson, Diane Rock, Jacqueline McDonell, Heather Bottomley, Andrea
Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Jennifer Furminger, Helen Hallmark, Patricia
Johnson, Georgina Papin, Heather Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry
Irving and Inga Hall.
A huge team of police forensic investigators, augmented by civilian
experts, painstakingly searched Pickton properties for 21 months.
They finally pulled out of the main site, a 45-minute drive east
of the city, last Tuesday after sifting 338,000 cubic metres
of soil and dismantling buildings in a search for evidence.
The property will revert to the owners, the Pickton family.
Port Coquitlam Mayor Scott Young said the city, RCMP and the
accused's brother, David Pickton, met to discuss safety concerns
involving the property.
Young said the mountains of dirt that police sifted at the site
have mixed with rain and created kind of quick sand.
The RCMP will stop paying for the temporary fencing next month,
but Young said the Picktons plan to keep the fencing up around
In his ruling in July committing Pickton to trial, a provincial
court judge said that had the preliminary hearing started a month
later than it did, he would have been able to commit Pickton
on 22 counts of first-degree murder.
Of the 61 missing women there are still about 40 unaccounted
The women vanished over a two-decade period but most went missing
in the 1990s.
The investigation into the disappearances was stepped up when
Vancouver city police and RCMP formed a joint task force after
a public outcry that Vancouver police had dragged their feet
because of the women's backgrounds.
Pickton tape given to police in 1998:
'He's quite the strange character, eh, very, very strange'
Suzanne Fournier, The Province, April 26, 2002
A chilling 1998 audiotape reveals
detailed information about a Port Coquitlam pig farmer charged
with murdering six prostitutes who disappeared from the Downtown
A copy of the tape was given
to Vancouver police in 1998, yet they did not investigate Robert
"Willie" Pickton until Feb. 5, 2002, when RCMP got
a search warrant.
The tape obtained by The Province
is of a conversation between Wayne Leng, who runs a website on
the missing women from California, and Bill Hiscox, who was employed
by Pickton in 1997 and 1998.
Hiscox did not know until The
Province contacted him this week that the tape existed.
"I'm really happy to hear
it, because it proves I tried to do the right thing back in 1998,
which is go to the police with my concerns about what I and other
people had seen at the farm," Hiscox said.
Hiscox tells Leng on the tape:
"Listen, he [Willie Pickton] was already charged, it seems
about a month ago, with trying to slash a prostitute's throat,
and stab her. And he got off the charges."
[Pickton was charged in 1997
with attempted murder of prostitute Wendy Lynn Eistetter at the
farm. Eistetter, her stomach cut open, ran to a nearby farm.
Pickton was also seriously cut in the incident. The charges were
Hiscox says it's an odd coincidence
"with all the girls that are going missing, and all the
purses and IDs that are out there in his trailer and stuff. He
has a 25-acre farm, a lot of heavy-duty machinery out there and
stuff, you know, easy places to hide things out there. And you
know, he's quite the strange character, eh, very, very strange.
His name's Willie. He's the owner of P & B Salvage here in
Surrey. They salvage crap from old houses and stuff like that.
He's a really strange character.
"He's got a farm out in
Port Coquitlam and you know he frequents the downtown area all
the time, for girls. Everything started clicking on me you know,
about this guy."
Hiscox tells Leng that he has
talked to Vancouver police and that "they're going to look
into it and check this guy out for sure, here." Hiscox says
he spoke to Det. Al Howlett, head of the Vancouver police missing
persons section, and the Surrey RCMP.
Hiscox tells Leng he has spoken
to a friend who knows Willie, "but she doesn't want to get
involved. She's kind of scared about it. But she told me, 'Billy,
you wouldn't believe the IDs and shit out in that trailer. There's
women's clothes out there, there's purses. You know, what's that
guy doing, it is like really weird.' "
David Pickton, Willie's brother,
has told The Province they often bought salvage vehicles that
contained women's clothing and other personal items.
Leng said yesterday that he
taped all phone calls after putting up posters seeking information
about the disappearance of Sarah deVries in April 1998.
Hiscox said he phoned Leng
after seeing one of the posters and thinking about the Pickton
Police searching the farm have
recovered human remains and alleged evidence of a serial murderer
at work for several years.
Leng said he gave the tape
to police in 1998, and since then 22 women have disappeared,
including the six women Willie Pickton is alleged to have murdered.
A total of 54 women are missing.
Pickton, 50, is charged with
the murders of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Jacquilene McDonell,
Heather Bottomley, Diane Rock and Andrea Joesbury.
Ernie Crey, whose sister disappeared
in late 2000 or early 2001, said he was shocked at the specific
information in the tape.
"If [police] had been
doing a thorough investigation, they could not have failed to
understand what the tape was telling them, or find the person
referred to in the tape," said Crey.
"It hits me like a sledgehammer…
something went deeply wrong in the Vancouver Police Department
and we need to get to the bottom of it."
Deborah Jardine's daughter
Angela disappeared in November 1998, about four months after
police heard the tape.
Jardine, of Sparwood, is demanding a public inquiry.
Vancouver Det. Scott Driemel
yesterday refused to answer questions about the missing women.
"We'll not answer those
sorts of questions in between the briefings," he said.
email@example.com © Copyright 2002 The Province
Body parts found in freezer at B.C. pig farm: report
Saskatoon StarPhoenix, June 5, 2002
VANCOUVER (CP) -- The families
of at least 50 women missing from Vancouver's gritty downtown
east side were in shock Tuesday after news reports that at least
one head, along with the feet and hands of two women, were found
in a freezer at a pig farm.
"It was shocking,"
said Ernie Crey, who watched a television report Monday night
about the grisly discovery at the 4.5-hectare property in suburban
"It was like someone sort
of hit me in the stomach," said Crey, whose sister Dawn
disappeared in November 2000.
"I can only imagine how
some of the other families are feeling about this at this point
in time, especially those families who've already been told that
their child, or their family member met their end out at the
Robert Pickton, 52, co-owner
of the property, is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths
of seven of the women who have disappeared since 1983. Thirty-nine
haven't been seen since March 1995.
Crey and other relatives were
taken aback by the TV report. Police normally update them about
developments before they're made public in what has become a
mammoth investigation involving 80 officers in the joint Vancouver
police-RCMP task force.
"It was a cruel disclosure,"
he said of the television report.
"I can understand why
all the families would be very upset. I know that I am and my
entire family are just troubled by it."
RCMP Const. Catherine Galliford
refused Tuesday to say what police had discovered at the site
that investigators, forensic and archeological experts are scouring
Galliford would not say anything
about the TV report that said police had found the women's body
parts several months ago in a freezer recovered from the farm
where an intense search for clues began in February.
"We're not making any
confirmation and we're not making any denial based on the fact
that not only do we have an ongoing investigation but we've also
got an accused before the courts, so we're not going to make
any comment whatsoever," she said.
Galliford also would not say
whether the task force is conducting an internal investigation
to find out whether information in the report was leaked by a
"Certainly we wouldn't
make any comment with regard to whether or not there is an ongoing
investigation into that," she said.
Crey said he assumed police
would soon meet with family members to discuss relatives' concerns
but Galliford said there were no plans for any such meeting.
A news conference won't be
scheduled until some other information worthy of releasing comes
to light, Galliford added.
Sandra Gagnon, whose sister
Janet Henry is also on the list of missing women, said news of
the body parts has made her wonder about what she may hear from
she said. "I just feel kind of numb and sick."
Gagnon said police have already
collected DNA samples from her but called Tuesday morning asking
for samples from other family members.
"I don't know why they're
wanting more now from the whole family," she said. "I
wonder if they're close to finding Janet."
Pat Devries, whose daughter
Sarah hasn't been seen since April 13, 1998, said police contacted
her Tuesday to say news reports about the body parts did not
contain information released by the task force.
"They phoned me to tell
me that it had been leaked," Devries said from Guelph, Ont.
"I don't care," she said. "She's been gone for
four years and I am concentrating on living, not on ghoulish
dwelling on such things."