A sixth family feels the pain

Not 'a single thread of evidence,' police say

Patti Edgar and Mark Hume
National Post

Friday, July 19, 2002

The disappearance of a young woman in Prince George has delivered an emotional blow to the community and to her family, an RCMP officer said yesterday.

"The impact on the family, the extended family and the community just can't be measured," Constable Mike Herchuk said. "The emotional trauma will never be erased from the family, the city or the investigators."

Nicole Doreen Hoar, a 25-year-old tree planter, vanished after friends dropped her off at a highway service station to start a hitchhiking trip on the edge of town on June 21.

A massive police search has failed to find her.

"We do not have a single thread of evidence that would lead us to an explanation," Const. Herchuk said yesterday.

Police have not concluded Ms. Hoar, who is known for her reliability and for keeping in close contact with her family, is the victim of an assault, Const. Herchuk said.

"But the circumstances are certainly suspicious," he said. "There have been other cases across the country where people have been abducted and held against their will for a long time. We still talk of Nicole in the present tense. We don't want to give up hope."

Asked how her family was doing, Const. Herchuk replied: "I don't think anybody can relate to the pain."

In a Prince George news conference yesterday, the Hoar family said it would be leaving soon.

"We have to ease our way back into our real world if there is such a thing anymore," said Jack Hoar, Nicole's father.

The family thanked the community and said any surplus money from a trust fund set up in Red Deer, where the Hoars live, would be shared with the local search and rescue crews that helped look for their daughter.

After Ms. Hoar was reported missing, police and volunteer groups staged a search, walking ditches and side roads along Highway 16, the route she had planned to follow hitchhiking to Smithers.

The case brought back disturbing memories of other young women who have vanished along what relatives of the missing women have taken to calling the highway of tears.

Since 1990, police have found the bodies of three women near the highway and at least two others are still missing. All are considered murder victims.

On June 11, 1994, Matilda Wilson's 16-year-old daughter, Ramona, was spotted walking toward the highway, likely hoping to hitch a ride to a nearby village to visit her boyfriend.

The friendly high school student had wanted to go to the University of Victoria.

She planned to be a psychologist. In April, 1995, her body was found just outside town.

"It's been eight years and every morning I wake up and go through the same struggle," said Mrs. Wilson, crying. "I am trying to be patient."

She said she feels the pain of the Hoar family. She hopes police and northern B.C. residents will also remember the other slain and missing daughters.

"I don't want to say that now this girl is missing maybe they will do more, but maybe there will be more of a focus on these cases. Now people are talking about these girls again."

The first to disappear was 15-year-old Delphine Nikal. She called her family in June, 1990, to say she was hitchhiking the 15 kilometres home to Telkwa from Smithers. Her body has never been found.

Ramona Wilson vanished from Smithers in June 1994.

Two months later, the body of a Prince George prostitute was discovered in the brush near Burns Lake, a town east of Smithers.

Roxanne Thiara, 15, disappeared in July, 1994. She had told a friend she was going out with a customer.

In December, 1994, 15-year-old Alishia Germaine's stabbed body was found behind a Prince George elementary school near the highway.

Lana Derrick disappeared from Terrace, west of Smithers, in October, 1995. The 19-year-old college student's body has never been found.

Recently, two RCMP officers in Prince George completed a 10-month review of all five cases to see whether there were any connections. There were no common threads, Const. Herchuk said.

Highway 16 runs West from Prince George through wild, heavily forested land to Prince Rupert on the B.C. coast.

It is a popular route for tourists and truckers headed to the Yukon and Alaska, Const. Herchuk said.

"We are getting lots of calls from people willing to jump up and down and say we have a serial killer, but they don't understand all the details of the cases in question," he said.

There are 10 officers working on Ms. Hoar's disappearance. Police across northern B.C. are still investigating the five other cases.

For Alma Derrick, Lana Derrick's older cousin, police simply aren't doing enough.

"This has brought back a lot of memories, that's for sure," she said. "People are beginning to think it's the same person doing this. The police don't know who it is, just like everybody else. Until there's proof of who did it, how can they say it's not the same person?"

Anyone with information on any of the cases is urged to telephone local police or the Crime Stoppers hotline in B.C., 1-800-222-8477.



Age at disappearance: 19
Last seen: October 7, 1995, at a service station in Thornhill while home from school or the weekend
Status: Ms. Derrick has not been found.


Age at disappearance: 15
Last seen: June 11, 1994, hitchhiking from Smithers to a friend's home in Moricetown
Status: Ms. Wilson's body was found April 9, 1995, near the Smithers airport.


Age at disappearance: 15
Last seen: June 13, 1990, hitchhiking east on Highway 16 from Smithers to her home in Telkwa
Status: Ms. Nikal has not been found.


Age at disappearance: 15
Last seen: July, 1994, in Prince George, where she worked as a prostitute
Status: Ms. Thiara's body was discovered in the bush along Highway 16, near Burns Lake.


Age at disappearance: 25
Last seen: June 21, 2002, at a service station west of Prince George, hitchhiking toward Smithers
Status: Ms. Hoar has not been found.


Age at disappearance: 15
Last seen: December, 1994, in Prince George, where friends said she worked as a prostitute
Status: Ms. Germaine's body was found behind a school in Prince George.
Research: Joe Brean, National Post

 Copyright  2002 National Post



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Updated: August 21, 2016