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Ex-cop attacks police over missing women

The Daily News (Nanaimo)
Tuesday, June 26, 2001

KIM ROSSMO

VANCOUVER (CP) -- A task force should have been formed to investigate whether a serial killer was preying on women in the gritty downtown eastside, a former geographic profiler with the Vancouver police department suggested Monday.

If we believe, with any degree of probability, that we have a predator responsible for 20 to 30 deaths in a short period of time, do you think our response was adequate?'' Kim Rossmo asked during a civil trial.

Rossmo, 46, is suing the Vancouver police board and deputy chief John Unger for wrongful dismissal.

The trial has heard allegations that an ``old boys network'' controlled the upper ranks of the police force and refused to accept Rossmo's controversial promotion in 1995.

At the time, Rossmo had become Canada's first police officer to graduate with a doctorate degree.

He earned a PhD in criminology at SFU, where he developed geographic profiling, a computerized crime tool aimed at detecting serial rape, arson and murder.

Rossmo had received an offer from the RCMP to become an inspector and set up a geographic profiling unit.

Then-city chief Ray Canuel promoted Rossmo to detective-inspector from constable and allowed him to set up a geographic profiling unit, which won the department international acclaim and awards.

Rossmo said Monday that 10 senior officers resented his promotion and acted negatively toward him during his five years as an inspector.

One of those was Insp. Fred Biddlecombe, who was in charge of the major crime section, he said.

Rossmo said Biddlecombe threw a minor temper tantrum when he suggested in 1998 that police should assess the extent of the problem of women disappearing from the streets of the downtown eastside.

Forty have vanished since 1971, including 16 between 1995 and 1998.

Rossmo suggested the public should be told about the possibility of a serial killer, but Biddlecombe instead denied publicly that a serial killer existed.

Missing women mourned: Women at memorial for missing prostitutes remain convinced one or more serial killers are to blame

The Province
Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Mark Wilson and Lora Grindlay

On Saturday there was a celebration cake, yesterday flowers.

Gladys Montgomery's cake was to mark the seven years she has been drug-free and no longer working Vancouver's streets.

The flowers were to remember the 30-odd prostitutes who have disappeared from those same streets in recent years.

Montgomery, who became a prostitute at 13 and stayed on the strolls for 20 years, is convinced the missing women have been murdered, probably by one or more serial killers.

I knew 10 of the missing women and being street-savvy did not protect them. One of the smartest was named Sarah and she was really streetwise. She has gone.''

Montgomery took part yesterday in a waterfront memorial ceremony for the missing. There were Indian drums and songs because most of the women being remembered were from First Nations.

So is Montgomery, whose father brought her to Vancouver from Winnipeg when she was seven. Her home life was troubled and she ran away, falling in with a pimp. She began drinking heavily and smoking marijuana. Then came cocaine and heroin.

``It got worse and, toward the end, I was needing $500 to $600 a day for my habit. That meant as many johns as I could could get,'' Montgomery said. ``You work to pay for drugs and you need to do drugs in order to do the work. You have hit bottom.''

With help from a support group, Montgomery was able to quit heroin. Today she counsels addicts and sex-trade workers.

She is convinced a serial killer is at large and believes she may have met him. ``One time, I had to run away from a man without my clothes. I think I only got free because I was able to mace him when he started choking me.''

Montgomery was robbed and raped at knifepoint and beaten by both johns and drug dealers. ``You go with men to isolated places like parks and wharves and you know it's very dangerous. I am lucky, very lucky, to have survived.''

- Prostitutes' advocate Jamie Lee Hamilton attended B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver yesterday to show her support for former city police detective-inspector Kim Rossmo, who is suing the Vancouver Police Board for wrongful dismissal.

Rossmo, the first police officer in Canada to earn a PhD in criminology, invented geographic profiling, a computer-assisted method of tracking serial criminals.

In earlier testimony Rossmo said an ``old boys' network'' in the force refused to use his skills and ignored his suggestion to warn the public about the possibility of a serial killer in the Downtown Eastside.

``The likelihood now of police finding the killer or killers is dismal,'' Hamilton said yesterday. ``They got rid of the one individual who has the ability and the expertise to properly investigate it, and that's Kim Rossmo.''

Rossmo told the court that, despite the snubs from an inner elite, ``there are many members of the Vancouver Police Department who think progressively.''

Rossmo is now director of research for the Police Foundation in Washington, D.C.

`THERE IS NO DOUBT IN MY MIND SHE WAS MURDERED'

Sandra Gagnon laid a bunch of red roses at yesterday's memorial ceremony for missing women from Vancouver's east side.

It was four years to the day since her sister Janet Henry, 36, disappeared while working the streets.

``There is no doubt in my mind she was murdered,'' Gagnon said. ``She had a bank account and that money has gone untouched. She had a daughter, 16, living in McBride who she loved.''

Gagnon tried to persuade her sister to live with her in Maple Ridge, to get her away from drugs and prostitution in Vancouver. She failed.

``Janet was seriously addicted to heroin and cocaine and I couldn't get her to break with her lifestyle.''

Born in Alert Bay, the sisters moved to Vancouver when Gagnon was 13 and her sister 11. ``We talked on the phone almost daily as she was my best friend as well as my sister. In our final call we talked about going to lunch at a favourite restaurant. Her last words were about how she was missing seeing me.''

SERIAL KILLER AT LARGE IN VAN? FIRED COP AGREES

The Winnipeg Sun
Tuesday, June 26, 2001

BY Canadian Press

Families of women who disappeared from the city's tough downtown eastside met yesterday to remember their loved ones as the civil trial of a former police officer who investigated the disappearances continued.

A crowd of 50 people gathered in a waterfront park to lay flowers near a bench dedicated to the missing women, many of whom worked in the sex trade.

The cases date back to 1984, although the majority of them vanished in the past five years.

"It doesn't go away," said Valerie Hughes, whose sister, Kerry Koski, went missing in January 1998.

"Maybe for the mayors and the chief of police, but not for us."

Earlier that day, Hughes stood with six others outside a Vancouver courthouse and told passers-by she believes a serial killer is responsible.

Vancouver police officially reject the suggestion.

But former police officer Kim Rossmo supported it while he was a senior officer. He wanted to warn residents about the possible threat.

Rossmo is now involved in a wrongful dismissal trial against the force in B.C. Supreme Court.

Last week, he testified he wanted to issue a public warning in 1998, but other officers strongly objected.

The force issued a news release saying police did not believe a serial killer was behind the disappearances.

Hughes disagrees.

"These are marginalized women and they're being fed to the depraved or sick mind of a serial killer," she said.

In May, the RCMP and two Vancouver police officers joined forces to review the missing women's files in search of possible links.

But the study is still at a beginning stage and it's too early to comment on possible leads, said RCMP spokesperson Danielle Efford.

Dorothy Purcell, who stood with Hughes outside the courthouse, said the investigation has already taken too long.

She said it took police two years to call her for an interview about her missing daughter, Tanya Holyk.

"By then, the trail was cold," said the soft-spoken woman.

Rossmo sought unit to probe women's deaths: Former Vancouver officer is suing for wrongful dismissal

Vancouver Sun
Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Neal Hall

A former geographic profiler with the Vancouver police department suggested Monday that a task force should have been formed to investigate whether a serial killer was preying on women in the Downtown Eastside.

``If we believe, with any degree of probability, that we have a predator responsible for 20 to 30 deaths in a short period of time, do you think our response was adequate?'' Kim Rossmo asked during a civil trial at the Vancouver Law Courts.

Rossmo, 46, is suing the Vancouver police board and Deputy Chief John Unger for wrongful dismissal.

The trial has heard allegations that an ``old boys network'' controlled the upper ranks of the police force and refused to accept Rossmo's controversial promotion in 1995.

At the time, Rossmo had become Canada's first police officer to graduate with a PhD. He studied criminology at Simon Fraser University, where he developed geographic profiling, a computerized crime tool aimed at detecting serial rape, arson and murder.

Rossmo had received an offer from the RCMP to become an inspector and set up a geographic profiling unit. Told of the offer, then-police chief Ray Canuel promoted Rossmo to detective-inspector from constable and allowed him to set up a geographic profiling unit, which won the department international acclaim and awards.

In his second day on the witness stand, Rossmo estimated that 10 senior officers resented his promotion and acted negatively toward him during his five years as an inspector.

One of those, he said, was Inspector Fred Biddlecombe, who was in charge of the major crime section.

Rossmo said Biddlecombe threw a minor temper tantrum when Rossmo suggested in 1998 that police should assess the extent of the problem of women disappearing from the streets of the Downtown Eastside -- 40 have vanished since 1971, including 16 between 1995 and 1998.

Rossmo suggested the public should be told about the possibility of a serial killer, but Biddlecombe instead denied publicly that a serial killer existed.

``I thought it was the wrong approach,'' Rossmo testified. ``We did not put together a task force anywhere near what a real serial murder investigation would involve.''

He also told the court he was rarely asked to consult on cases by the major crime section and sexual offences squad, ``which should have been my main customers.''

Instead, he was asked to assist in investigations internationally and across Canada, including the Paul Bernardo case in Ontario.

Much of Rossmo's cross-examination by defence lawyer Al Hamilton, representing the police board, concerned Rossmo's five-year contract, which expired last Dec. 31. The agreement stated he would be considered terminated if his contract wasn't renewed.

Hamilton reminded Rossmo that he was offered a two-year contract, which Rossmo found unacceptable.

``It was highly undesirable,'' Rossmo said, noting a two-year contract would have left him 28 months short of being able to retire with a pension.

He agreed he could have returned to working as a constable but felt that offer was an insult, considering he had not been a member of the Vancouver Police Union for five years. Before his promotion, Rossmo had been on the union executive.

Although the trial has heard how Unger told Rossmo that his contract wasn't being renewed because of budget cutbacks, Rossmo has alleged the decision was political because he wasn't accepted by the old boys' club, which included senior officers who were promoted after the early departure in 1999 of police chief Bruce Chambers.

Rossmo recalled how he was told that he wasn't being accepted as a regular member of the ``officers' mess'' -- a seventh-floor room within the police station at 2120 Cambie designated for use by only the elite senior officers. Instead, they issued him a membership usually given to civilians, he said.

He suggested the small number of senior officers who continued to react negatively to his promotion were immature and unprofessional. The more progressive officers within the force were supportive and encouraged by his promotion, he said.


 

Vancouver Police kept quite on possible serial killer-June 21, 2001

TIPS pour in from most wanted-Aug 3, 1999

 

Email: wleng@missingpeople.net 

Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: January 01, 2007