Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Pickton: The Vancouver Missing Women

Limbo

As a new millennium dawned in Vancouver, the task force investigation had expanded to include more than three times the number of missing women initially listed in 1998. Some of the new presumed victims had been missing since the mid-1980s, their disappearance recognized only now, while others continued to vanish from Low Track with the search still in progress. Warnings and surveillance went for nothing, it seemed, as more women dropped out of sight.

Miner, Mah, victims
Miner, Mah, victims

From the '80s, police now listed presumed kidnap victims Leigh Miner, last seen in December 1984, and Laura Mah, whose date of disappearance was listed simply as "1985." Details were equally lacking for vanished Nancy Clark (1991), Elsie Sebastien (1992), and 17-year-old Angela Arsenault (1994). Detectives had a month for Frances Young--April 1996--but no other details were available concerning the 38-year-old woman's final days.

Police acknowledged the disappearance of three more women in 1997, bringing that lethal year's total to nine, but evidence remained elusive. One of the three, 52-year-old Maria Laliberte, had made her last known appearance in Low Track on New Year's Day, but victims Cindy Feliks and Sherry Irving proved less accommodating, their movements so erratic that police could not pinpoint the season of their disappearances, much less specific dates.

Laliberte, Feliks, Irving, victims
Laliberte, Feliks, Irving, victims

And so it went. Thirty-seven-year-old Ruby Hardy vanished sometime in 1998, but she was not reported missing until March 27, 2002. Wendy Crawford, Jennifer Furminger and Georgina Papin all disappeared in 1999, ignored until police listed their names in March 2000. A month later, on April 25, 2000, detectives acknowledged the February 1999 disappearance of 32-year-old Brenda Wolfe. Tiffany Drew, age 27, vanished on December 31, 1999, but she would not make the list for another two years, reported missing on February 8, 2002.

Hardy, Crawford, Furminger, Papin, Wolfe, Drew, victim
Hardy, Crawford, Furminger, Papin, Wolfe, Drew, victim

At times it seemed a hopeless cause, but Vancouver police persevered. Slowly, publicity began to make a difference, if only in the speed with which new missing persons were reported. Dawn Crey, 42, was last seen alive on 1 November 2000, reported missing on December 11. Forty-three-year-old Debra Lynn Jones vanished on December 21, 2000, her disappearance logged on Christmas Day. Police stalled unaccountably on listing Patricia Johnson, last seen alive on February 27, 2001, but 34-year-old Yvonne Boen was listed on March 21, 2001, only five days after she vanished. Heather Bottomley, a 24-year-old described in Vancouver police reports as a "violent suicide risk," held the record, reported missing the same day she vanished, on April 17, 2001. Heather Chinnock disappeared that same month, followed by Angela Josebury in June and Sereena Abotsway in July. Thirty-four-year-old Diane Rock vanished on October 19, 2001, reported missing on December 13. Mona Wilson, 26, was last seen alive on November 23, 2001, added to the list a week later.

Crey, Jones, Johnson, victim
Crey, Jones, Johnson, victim

Whatever progress detectives had made in tracking disappearances, the killer--if indeed there was a killer--seemed to have grown more brazen, striking at a pace unrivaled since the disappearances began. Police, for their part, could only watch and wait for their faceless quarry to make a mistake that would finally place him within their grasp.

 

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