Another nine women feared missing

Shock greets disclosure police are trying to locate more missing women from Eastside

Kim Bolan and Lindsay Kines
Vancouver Sun

Friday, July 26, 2002

How many more can there be?

That's the question being asked by community activists and relatives as police seek information about another nine women missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in addition to the 54 disappearances already under investigation.

[Canadian Press] RCMP Constable Catherine Galliford of the missing women's task force tells reporters in Vancouver on Thursday that the task force is considering adding another nine women to an earlier list of 54 women missing from the Downtown Eastside.

Next week, police plan to release the names of another five women who have vanished from the neighbourhood in recent years, bringing the total missing to a startling 68.

"Where is this going to end?" asked Vancouver East MP Libby Davies, who represents the Downtown Eastside and who met this week with community agencies. "I just have so many feelings and responses at an emotional level, whether its anger or frustration or this feeling of absolute horror that is hard to even cope with. The numbers are just so big."

Added Ernie Crey, whose sister is among the missing: "Each and every time a new revelation emerges from this investigation, I am swept away by my emotions."

Port Coquitlam pig farmer Robert (Willy) Pickton has been charged with murdering seven of the women on the list so far, but police are not saying how many of the dozens of others might be part of the Pickton probe.

They are saying the list of missing is expected to continue to grow as the joint RCMP-Vancouver police missing women task force reviews hundreds of missing persons files.

"We do expect in the future that we will be adding more names to the list," RCMP Constable Catherine Galliford said at a news conference Thursday.

Galliford appealed to the public to provide information on the whereabouts of nine women, the oldest case being that of Lillian Jean O'Dare, who vanished on Sept. 12, 1978 and was reported missing the same day.

The other new cases are: Wendy Louise Allen, who was last seen in March 1979; Yvonne Marlene Abigosis and Linda Louise Grant, who disappeared in March and October 1984; Sheryl Donahue, who vanished in August 1985; Teresa Louise Triff, who went missing in April 1993; Linda Louise Grant, who disappeared in February 1996; Richard (Kellie) Little, who vanished in April 1997; and Tanya Colleen Emery, who disappeared in December 1998.

Five of the nine were reported missing earlier this year after the high-profile search of the Port Coquitlam farm began in February.

The other four were reported missing years ago.

Galliford said she could not comment on why it took so long for the cases to be publicized, because they were originally Vancouver police files.

"We've been looking at information in a new context, something that is easier in hindsight when there's more information to work with," she said. "This is an incredibly complex case with webs of connections that are sometimes obvious and sometimes not, and sometimes changing and often disappearing."

She said the task force has been in touch with eight of the nine families and is hoping to get DNA to add to the data bank, which already includes samples from families of all 54 women formally on the list.

But in the case of O'Dare, the police have been unable to locate a relative and are appealing for the public's help, she said.

"If anyone out there knows any family members of hers or if they are a family member of hers, we would really appreciate them getting into contact with us," Galliford said.

Galliford would not say whether police are still trying to identify human remains found earlier at the site that did not match DNA samples already obtained by the task force.

DNA found at the farm led to charges being laid against Pickton in the deaths of Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Heather Bottomley, Brenda Wolfe and Jacqueline McDonell.

Galliford said the nine additional women "easily" fit the profile of the other 54 missing women in that they frequented the poverty-stricken Downtown Eastside, were addicted to drugs or alcohol and in most cases, had some contact with the sex trade.

Eli Triff, Teresa's half-brother, learned from the media Thursday that the police were considering adding his sister's name to the list.

"This has all hit me this afternoon," he said. "In the last hour and 10 minutes, I've found that I've had more immersion into this whole situation than I have in the past several years."

Eli, 36, said he was not close to Teresa. They had the same mother, but different fathers, and Eli was raised by his father in a different province. Their mother died in 1994.

He only met Teresa later in life, and never got to know her well, he said. "She could be a very happy person, a very good person. But I think that she had a lot of problems, a lot of drug abuse that kind of got in the way."

He said Teresa has another brother and a son, and Eli has had more contact with them than he had with Teresa. He last saw her in 1989, four years before she was last seen, and more than a decade before she was reported missing to police.

Eli said he is not even sure who reported her case to police in March of this year.

"There were some times where I was thinking, jeez we gotta try to go to the police and see," he said. "It just never really got there. Had our relationship been maybe closer, it might have been a different story."

Now, he's not sure what to feel, he said. Before Thursday, he was, like most people, horrified by details of the missing women case, but he tried to keep it at a distance.

"I just find it revolting everything that's happened, and I try not to pay too close attention," he said. "I've got two young children and a wife and I'm struggling to keep us above water here in a city where it's not easy to keep above water."

Davies, who has a meeting set in September with the federal justice minister, said the need for a public inquiry grows as as police reveal more about the number of women missing.

"As this continues on, more and more it becomes clear that we have to have a public inquiry at the appropriate time to expose and uncover how this tragedy could have occurred in the first place with such devastating numbers," Davies said.

"There are many reactions. It is partly outrage and anger that this is continuing. It is also a sense of devastation that more women are being added to the list. It is partly just a sense of incredible frustration that there is this massive investigation going on and women are still out on the street and at risk."

Crey, whose sister Dawn disappeared in December 2000, said he can relate to the trauma of the families of the nine women being considered for the list.

"I am sure family members were overwhelmed with emotion when police contacted them to tell them that perhaps a loved one's name would be added to the growing list of missing women," Crey said.

"I only hope the police are able to locate the nine women in question."

The exhaustive file review has brought some positive news for families, Galliford said.

Twenty-one women who had been reported missing over the years but were never on the list were located. Nineteen were alive and two had died. One woman was found in Borneo, unaware that she had been reported missing. 

 Copyright  2002 Vancouver Sun

Courtesy of the Vancouver Sun



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Updated: August 21, 2016