VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
'Back side of hell' not a nice
place to be lost, says
By Dirk Meissner
One of the few known photographs of Diana Melnick shows her wearing a V-neck vest, white-collared shirt and loose black tie.
The photograph is part of a Vancouver Police missing person's file from 1995.
Melnick's thick, brown hair is cut short. There's a hint of a smile. She looks like a private school student.
But any more information about her is scarce.
Where's her family? Where did she grow up? How did she end up on the streets?
The answers aren't easily found. What's left are the bloodless, bare facts provided by police and court documents.
She was 20 years old when police said she disappeared in December 1995 from Vancouver's drug and poverty-plagued Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.
Vancouver police say Melnick, like so many others, was a known drug user and worked in the sex trade in the Downtown Eastside.
She was born Aug. 26, 1975. She was reported missing Dec. 29, 1995.
She was five-feet-two inches tall and weighed about 100 pounds. Her hair and eyes were brown.
Snippets culled from newspaper articles, web postings and other places provide just a few more hints at the person Melnick must have been, someone with friends, a life beyond the grimness of the police outline.
A note at one of the makeshift memorials at the fence surrounding the farm east of Vancouver owned by Robert Pickton said: ``To Diane Melnick, I'm so sorry. Ingrid.''
Pickton is charged with Melnick's murder and the murders of 25 others.
A brief newspaper item on Melnick mentions that when her hair was longer, she usually wore it in a ponytail.
Messages about Melnick found at websites dedicated to the more than 60 missing Vancouver women say little about Melnick's life before she hit the streets but describe her as a compassionate soul.
``I went to school with Diana Melnick,'' says an online message from Emily Norris in October 2003.
``I work in the Downtown Eastside, the back-side alley of hell. I remembered she loved horses and would never wear her skirt or our uniform,'' says Norris's message
Norris recalls sitting in a friend's bedroom with Diana, listening to heavy metal music, gossiping about boys and planning what to do at the next school dance.
``I hope someone finds her and brings her home,'' says Norris's message. ``It is not a nice place to be lost.''
Ken Philip, who also sent a message to a website, says he is a friend of Diana's and knew her when he lived in Vancouver, He described her as warm and kind.
``My thoughts and prayers go out to my friend and all the other victims,'' says the message.
``Once you were lost, but now you have been found. May God cradle you in His arms forever. Forever your friend and forever in my thoughts.''
Attempts to reach Philip by e-mail and at his last known address were not successful.
Philip sent the e-mail from Picton, Ont.
Efforts to reach Melnicks listed in the telephone book in British Columbia turned up nothing.
Provincial court records provide another obstructed, keyhole view.
She was charged with four-prostitution-related in the months before she disappeared in 1995.
The charges related to incidents where police officers posed as potential customers of prostitutes.
She was also charged with theft from a Shoppers Drug Mart on June 2, 1995.
On Aug. 24, 1995, she didn't show up in court.
© 2006 The Canadian Press
Updated: January 01, 2007