VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
RCMP investigating Alberta prostitute deaths look to B.C. for possible connection
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Police in British Columbia and Alberta are looking for a possible link between the mysterious deaths of more than a dozen prostitutes in Edmonton and three slayings in Kamloops, B.C.
There may be similarities in the way the women were killed, said RCMP Cpl. Wayne Oakes.
"If we have sex-trade workers murdered in one community and sex-trade workers murdered in another community — even if they’re provinces apart — it would be prudent for the investigators to share the information that they’re obtaining to see if there are any links or ties between those homicides," said Oakes, a spokesman for the Mounties in Edmonton.
Police in the Alberta capital have announced they are looking for a serial killer.
They released a profile and are offering a $100,000 reward.
At least 12 sex-trade workers in and around the city have been murdered since 1988, but only announced Friday they suspect they are victims of a serial killer.
So far, Kamloops investigators have said there’s no evidence suggesting their cases are linked, saying only that prostitution is a dangerous occupation related to drug use.
The three slayings in Kamloops date back to the summer of 2003, with the most recent in early April when the body of 44-year-old Sherry Lee Hiltz was found.
She was so badly beaten, pathologists had to use fingerprints to identify her.
Fear grips the community of about 35 sex-trade workers who regularly walk Kamloops streets.
Eight-hundred kilometres northeast, police are hunting for a man believed to enjoy hunting and fishing and who is thought to own a sport utility vehicle.
Police wouldn’t say the exact number of cases or the time frame in which they believe he killed.
The Edmonton deaths are being investigated by a provincial RCMP task force dubbed Project KARE, which is also investigating the deaths of scores of other sex-trade workers across the province.
It took years for investigators in Vancouver to admit they were looking for a serial killer after the disappearance of 68 women, mostly from the Downtown Eastside slum. The Missing Women Task Force was created and is now investigating the cases.
The missing women have histories of substance abuse, worked in the sex trade and were known to frequent the Downtown Eastside. Robert William Pickton, 55, is accused of killing more than two dozen of the women, mostly drug-addicted prostitutes, from the tough and impoverished neighbourhood.
Police found 30 separate DNA samples in their probe of Pickton’s pig farm.
Accused of Canada’s worst serial killing, Pickton has been in custody since his arrest Feb. 7, 2002, when police descended on the property he and his family owned in agricultural Port Coquitlam, a suburb of Vancouver.
Dozens of investigators, aided by forensic anthropologists, took apart every building on the farm and sifted through hundreds of tonnes of dirt looking for evidence.
A lengthy preliminary hearing wrapped up last year and the trial is expected to begin in January.
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Updated: January 01, 2007