Prostitute wrote poetry about disappearances

The Ottawa Citizen
Siri Agrell

Saturday Feb 9, 2002

Just another day,
Just another death,
Just another Hastings Street Whore
Sentenced to death.

When she wasn't working as a prostitute in Vancouver's downtown east side, or wracked in the throes of heroin addiction, Sarah deVries was a poet.

The above lines are from a verse she wrote about four missing prostitutes, acquaintances of hers, who began disappearing from Vancouver streets in 1983.

On April 14, 1998, while turning tricks at Hastings and Princess Streets, Ms. de Vries became the fifth broken down angel, to go missing.

She was such a creative spirit, said her friend Wayne Leng, who posted Ms. DeVries' poetry on the Internet after she went missing. The two met at a Vancouver market in 1994 while Mr. Leng was visiting from California, and struck up a conversation.

He was drawn by the beauty and warmth of a woman who had obviously endured many hardships.

They became friends, and she shared with him the journals of poetry and drawings that helped express the pain of her life, and dreams for the future.

She was the strongest person I ever met, said Mr. Leng. Despite all the abuses she'd suffered, she still wrote about seeing the beauty in people.

While her poems imagined the cruel fate of her colleagues and denounced society's failure to investigate their disappearances, Ms. de Vries' drawings illustrated the simple desires of a woman trapped by poverty and addiction.

She drew pictures of cars and women in fancy clothes, and of smiling suns with teardrops streaming from their eyes.

After returning to the U.S., Mr. Leng spoke with his friend every three days, and when she stopped calling, he instantly feared the worst.

He started the Web site to show the growing number of missing prostitutes were people with feelings and families and beauty.

While Ms. deVries poems were an eerie premonition of her own fate, and of the 50 women who disappeared from the skids of downtown Vancouver, her words also sent a powerful message:

It's not just another day,
It's not just another death.

The Ottawa Citizen

Correction: Wayne was living in Vancouver not California but was living in California
at the time of this interview.



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

Updated: August 21, 2016