Dead woman was poster girl in cop drug film
April fought hard to get off the street; she lost the battle Christmas Day John Colebourn The Province


  Vancouver police photo shows 20-year-old April Lynn Reoch. Reoch was featured in Through a Blue Lens.

She was the poster girl in a Vancouver police department documentary film about all that can go wrong with life on the streets using hard drugs.

The transformation of April Lynn Reoch from young red-headed beauty to a barely recognizable drug-ravaged skeleton in the National Film Board-produced film Through a Blue Lens sent a graphic message to young audiences of the horrors of heroin and cocaine.

April made at least five attempts at getting off drugs through various detox programs, and by the age of 24, April had a bad heart condition from the abuse.

Doctors told April she would have to change her lifestyle because of the heart condition, and for a time she did, staying at a Surrey recovery house to get her life in order.

But the lure of the street was too much and April was found dead in a rooming house on East Hastings Street on Christmas morning.

Now, friends and the police officers who shot the eye-opening film are waiting for an autopsy report to find out exactly what killed April.

They do know she skipped out of her recovery house after getting a $6,000 cheque from the Squamish band for being a status Indian.

And that money in her pocket may have been just too much of a temptation, says Vancouver police Const. Al Arsenault, who works on the force's anti-drug unit called the Odd Squad.

"With $6,000 given to an addict, that could throw the whole recovery process off," said Arsenault.

"All it takes is one little step in their recovery and they're gone.

"She had a bad heart, but she could have been murdered for the money," added Arsenault.

Arsenault said by showing April's decline, the film hit home to young audiences.

"She became our poster girl for kids coming down and getting hooked on drugs," he said.

"It had a real impact."

April's friend Danny Dee, 38, said she had a tough upbringing and by the age of 17 was on the street. He also questioned the type of recovery program that was available to April.

"The recovery house, they didn't have enough resources for that type of person," he said last night .

"With more resources we could have had a different outcome."

Police honour memory of addict
The Province
Steve Berry The Province


April Reoch was a drug-addicted prostitute whose short, brutal life ended with her being stuffed into a small bag and put out with the garbage.

The mother of an 11-year-old boy, she was a bubbly, kind-hearted woman with an engaging personality who laid bare her life in the hope others would stay away from drugs. She was 25.

Tomorrow, Vancouver police officers will honour her with an official piper and a ceremonial parade from 100 E. Hastings St. to the First United Church at 320 E. Hastings, where a memorial service will be held. The parade starts at 1:45 p.m. "She was so disrespected on her death that we wanted to bring a strong sense of dignity to her memorial," said Const. Al Arsenault, who saw her three days before her death. "She was happy and excited about a new kitten she had just got.

"She was on her way to see her son."

Arsenault is part of the Odd Squad, a team of Vancouver officers who filmed the lives of six drug addicts for the National Film Board documentary Through a Blue Lens. April, known on the streets and in the film as Shannon, was the inspiration for the movie, Arsenault said. "She was a naive little kid who got caught in an environment that was eating her up," he said. "She was a very, very warm, kind-hearted person."

Her body was found in a small, fabric bag at 9:30 a.m. on Christmas Day by a janitor at 40 E. Hastings. The bag had been placed in a garbage area, accessible only to residents.

The investigation into her death is continuing. Meanwhile, police have set up a trust fund at the VanCity Credit Union seeking donations for Reoch's son. "We lost April, but her legacy lives on," said Arsenault.

Obituary of April Reoch.

Recognizing a lonely death

Edna Brass Vancouver Sun

Congratulations to writer Terrance Armstrong and to The Sun for an article that was a breath of fresh air (Death in the alley: A love story, Insight, Jan. 6).

April Lynn Reoch has finally been portrayed for what she was: a human being, not a statistic, not just another junkie from the east side.

The article addressed the very important fact that the reporting of April's death "beat the odds," and that hundreds of deaths are never mentioned in the media. Mr. Armstrong wrote, "Tomorrow there will be another death. It's expected in the Downtown Eastside. That's not news."

That is the truest and most telling statement I have read in a newspaper in a long time. "Vancouverites have become desensitized to death" at a time when all us should feel shame that this is happening in our back yard.

Edna Brass

Vancouver Police and Native Liaison Society

CN BC: PUB LTE: Far Too Many Share April's Fate

Pubdate: Thu, 04 Jan 2001
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2001 The Province
Address: 200 Granville Street, Ste. #1, Vancouver, BC V6C 3N3 Canada
Fax: (604) 605-2323
Author: Wayne Leng


As a former resident of Vancouver, I was saddened to hear of April Reoch's death in the Downtown Eastside.

I remember her in the Vancouver Police Department's Odd Squad documentary, Through the Blue Lens, and seeing her occasionally on the east side.

April's life and death will affect many of us personally, myself included.

I lost a close friend to drugs on the east side.  She is missing and presumed murdered.

That April should be found dead and on Christmas Day will stay in my memory for a long time.

April is described as being kind-hearted with an engaging personality.  That describes my friend also.

It appears that April had attempted to get off of drugs a number of times and was not successful.  She joins the ever-growing list of women and men who have died from overdoses or diseases like AIDS, and been murdered or just simply vanished -- as in the case of the 28 missing east side women.

Perhaps we should realize that although April made a choice to do a drug for whatever reason, she didn't choose to become addicted and ultimately lose her life.

And with the Vancouver police officers honouring April, they also honor our loved ones.

Wayne Leng, Los Angeles

ODDSQUAD-Through A Blue Lens
Far Too Many Share April's Fate
AprilReoch-$10,000 reward



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

Updated: August 21, 2016