Serial killer on loose?

Bodies of 9 young women found in edmonton-area fields

Florence Loyie
The Edmonton Journal

Saturday, July 12, 2003

EDMONTON - Police are investigating the possibility that a serial killer is at work on the streets of Edmonton, finding his victims among vulnerable women in the city's sex trade.

(Kelly Dawn Reilly)

CREDIT: Journal Stock

In the last 15 years, the bodies, or the remains, of nine women have been found in rural communities surrounding Edmonton. Most led what police call "high-risk lifestyles," meaning they were involved in prostitution or were living drug-addicted lives on the street.

Five of these women have been found in the last 10 months, the latest discovery coming earlier this week when the skeletal remains of a female were discovered by a farmer in a hayfield near the tiny community of Rollyview east of Leduc.

Police have no evidence that a single person is behind the deaths, but they have not ruled it out as a possibility and continue to look for patterns and similarities.

"We are obviously looking for any evidence that there are links or commonalities between these different cases because we are as concerned about the possibility of a serial killer as anybody else is," said RCMP spokeswoman Roxanne Beaubien.

(Cara King)

CREDIT: Journal Stock

University of Alberta criminologist Keith Spencer said it's hard to avoid concluding there is a link between the cases considering who the victims are and where they are ending up.

"It is not unreasonable to speculate that there is a common thread linking them all, and that is the person who is dumping them there," Spencer said.

"From a criminologist's point of view, there are too many coincidences to deny that there is the likelihood of a link."

The coincidences Spencer referred to are many: the victims were women; most were in the sex trade; all were 30 years old or younger; their bodies were dumped in fields; the last five corpses have been found relatively close together, in rural areas east and southeast of Edmonton.

Spencer theorized the deaths were likely the work of a "loser type," a misfit who preys on the most vulnerable.

 (Monique Petrie)

CREDIT: Journal Stock

"I think that is the pattern you are going to find. I don't think it's anybody with a crusade," meaning someone who feels he has a mission to clear the streets of people who don't meet his moral standards.

Police announced Friday they have a possible identification on the body found Monday near Rollyview after reviewing missing persons cases from the Edmonton area.

Investigators won't release details until the medical examiner has confirmed their suspicions, said Beaubien.

"We don't want to be releasing any information about the missing person because we don't want to cause any undue concern for family members and friends," she said.

But physical characteristics found in two missing persons reports from the Edmonton area are likely matches.

(Georgette Flint)

CREDIT: Journal Stock

All RCMP have revealed about the body so far is that it is of a woman over the age of 25, and that her remains had likely been where they were found since last winter or this spring. A forensic pathologist and a forensic anthropologist have been brought in to determine exactly how she died.

A Journal source said the latest victim is believed to be Caucasian with a slight build and blondish hair.

Edmonton police have three missing persons reports involving local prostitutes.

Spencer said police are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to solving the murders of sex trade workers simply because of the solitary nature of the victims' occupation.

"Nobody is phoning in and saying 'Well, she didn't come in to work this morning'.

(Melissa Munch)

CREDIT: Journal Stock

"By the time the bodies are discovered, the trail is pretty cold, the evidence lost, disturbed or rained on."

There is also the public's ambivalent attitude towards sex trade workers and those who live on the fringes of society, which can have an impact on police investigations, he said.

Beaubien denied that was the case.

"The lifestyle or activities of a person is completely and totally irrelevant when it comes to the importance we place on an investigation of a homicide or a missing person. These are top priorities and members are working diligently to find the person or the persons who are responsible in these (nine) cases," she said.

Spencer said he thinks what police really need is a bit of luck -- someone who will be able to link a licence plate with a found body.

Police gather evidence at a gravel pit east of Villeneuve where the body of Kelly Dawn Reilly was found.

"I don't envy the police as the pressure increases to solve these crimes.

"But if the local (farmers) out there are more vigilant about checking their properties, particularly open areas near roads, and watching for unusual activity and strange cars at night, they have a better chance of catching who is responsible," he said.


The bodies of nine women have been found in rural areas surrounding Edmonton in the last 15 years.

- July 7, 2003 -- Unidentified body of a woman over the age of 25 is found in a farmer's field near Range Road 235 and Township Road 500.

- April 12, 2003 -- The skull of an unidentified caucasian woman between the ages of 25 and 35 is found near Miquelon Lake, about 20 kilometres north of Camrose.

- Jan. 12, 2003 -- Melissa Munch, 20, is found in a field south of Highway 16, and west of Range Road 220.

- Jan. 8, 2003 -- Monique Pitre, 30, is found in a field near Township Road 540 and Range Road 222.

- Sept. 23, 2002 -- The smouldering body of Edna Bernard, 28, is found in a field near Rollyview Road and Range Road 245.

- Jan. 27, 2001 -- Kelly Dawn Reilly, 24, and the mother of one, is found dead in a field near secondary Highway 633 and Range Road 264 by Villeneuve.

- Sept. 1, 1997 -- Cara King, 22, is found dead in a canola field near Highway 16, in Sherwood Park.

- Oct. 25, 1989 -- Bernadette Ahenakew, 22, and the mother of three, is found in a ditch on a rural road near Sherwood Park. No cause of death is determined and police believe she was probably killed the day before she was found.

- Sept. 13, 1988 -- Georgette Flint, 20, is found dead in Elk Island National Park. No cause of death is determined.

--Florence Loyie

Sept. 13, 1988: Georgette Flint, 20, found dead in Elk Island National Park

Oct. 25, 1989: Bernadette Ahenakew, 22, mother of three, found in a ditch on rural road near Sherwood Park. Police believe she was killed the previous day

Sept. 1, 1997: Cara King, 22, found dead in a canola field near Highway 16 in Sherwood Park

Jan. 27, 2001: Kelly Dawn Reilly, 24, mother of one, found in a field near Villeneuve

Sept. 23, 2002: Smouldering body of Edna Bernard, 28, found in a field near Rollyview Road and Range Road 245

Jan. 8, 2003: Monique Pitre, 30, found in a field near Township Road 540 and Range Road 222

Jan. 12, 2003: Melissa Munch, 20, found in a field near Highway 16 and Range Road 220

April 12, 2003: Skull of unidentified Caucasian woman age 25 to 35 was found near Miquelon Lake, 20 kilometres north of Camrose

July 7, 2003: Body of unidentified woman over 25 found in farmer's field near Range Road 235 and Township Road 500

Ran with fact box "Deadly Toll", which has been appended to this story.

 Copyright  2003 Edmonton Journal

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Updated: August 21, 2016