Vancouver city police have added three more names to the list of women
missing from the Downtown Eastside and have formed a joint task force with
the RCMP amid fears that a serial killer is at work on city streets.
The three new names bring to 31 the number of missing women, most of whom
had been involved in drugs and the sex trade.
But Vancouver police Sergeant Geramy Field said the task force has been
in the works for some time and wasn't prompted by the recent disappearances.
Field said her department has assigned two homicide detectives to the
task force, which will be focusing on the known murders of women in the sex
trade as well as the files on missing women. Investigators will be trying to
see if any patterns emerge or if there is useful evidence in solved or
unsolved murder files from across B.C. that can provide clues on Vancouver's
missing women cases.
In the past, police have been reluctant to raise the spectre that one or
more serial killers are at work on the city's streets. But in recent months,
Vancouver city police have dropped their guard somewhat and now publicly
acknowledge the strong possibility that one or more people may be abducting
and killing the women.
Even so, Field said police have no evidence of that, since none of the
women's bodies has ever been found.
"We have no evidence, other than the empirical data that says
statistically this is out of the ordinary," Field said.
The police were unable to provide the exact number of files that
investigators will be examining. But a Vancouver Sun investigation in 1999
found newspaper and police reports on at least 60 solved and unsolved
homicides of women working in B.C.'s sex trade or living a similar lifestyle
in the past two decades.
"This is a long-term project and we're going to solve some murders,
there's no doubt in my mind," Field said.
In addition to the two Vancouver detectives, she said the RCMP is
expected to assign investigators, as well as provide assistance from
profilers and computer experts who use the Violent Crime Linkage Analysis
System to track serial killers, Field said.
The RCMP declined Friday to provide details of their involvement in the
task force. "We're not in a position to discuss it as yet,"
Constable Danielle Efford said Friday. "It's a work in progress and
it's still being developed."
Field admitted it will take a lot of tough slogging by the task force
investigators to solve the files.
"It's either going to be that or it's going to be a fluke," she
said. "Historically, that's where a lot of these have been solved in
the past: A policeman stumbling upon something or stopping somebody and
being able to follow up on something that's fresh -- being vigilant out
there with our street checks.
"I don't think somebody's going to walk in [with the answer]. But
somewhere in this body of evidence is the man or the men, and we just have
to find them."
Sto:lo leader Ernie Crey, whose sister, Dawn Teresa Crey, is among the
missing, welcomed news of the joint task force Friday.
"I think it's long overdue," he said. "My family are still
anxious to learn the fate of our sister."
Crey said his sister lived a "very difficult life on the streets for
nearly 20 years," but was not, to his knowledge, involved in the sex
trade at the time of her disappearance. Crey and Debra Lynne Jones were both
reported missing in December, while Brenda Ann Wolfe disappeared in
February, 1999, and was reported missing last April.
"We still remain very concerned and, of course, we also understand
that there are many other anxious families who would like to know why their
family members disappeared," he said. "I'm sure they'll be glad
about this news [of the task force], as glad as we are."
Crey said his family will do everything in its power to assist the
police. "We did get some early indication that the RCMP were going to
be involved ... and we're happy to hear about that," he said.
The number of women currently listed as missing -- 31 -- is the same as
it was when a $100,000 reward was announced in 1999. The cases date back to
1984, although the majority of the women have vanished in the past five
The numbers have fluctuated over the years as police located four of the
original 31 women -- two were found alive and two had died -- one of a drug
overdose and the other of heart problems.
But last year, the numbers began going up again with the addition of
Jennie Lynn Furminger's name to the list and now the three new cases.
"I guess it does say that the problem still exists," Field said
Friday. "For a while there -- for the majority of 1999 -- we felt that
we didn't have any [more missing] and that either somebody was in custody or
the perpetrator had died or moved on, perhaps because of the media
Of the new cases, Wolfe, 32, was last seen in February, 1999 and was
reported missing April, 25, 2000; Jones, 43, was last seen December, 21 and
was reported missing four days later; and Crey, 42, was last seen Nov. 1
near Main and Hastings and was reported missing Dec. 11