Missing women: The investigation so far

Saturday, June 8, 2002

Compiled by Lindsay Kines and Kim Bolan
Vancouver Sun

Between 1983 and 2001 at least 54 women went missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Many of them worked in the sex trade and struggled with addiction. Here are some important dates in the police investigation:

July, 1998 -- Vancouver police say they are concerned about the number of missing women from the Downtown Eastside. The force assigns a second detective to the missing persons section to focus on the case.

July, 1999 -- Under mounting pressure from families of the missing women, police and the attorney-general release a poster offering a $100,000 reward for information in the case. The poster has 31 women on it.

April, 2001 -- After downsizing its investigation, the Vancouver Police department hands the missing women case over to the RCMP to be reviewed.

September, 2001 -- The Vancouver Sun launches an 11-part series on the missing women case, revealing that the numbers of women could be as high as 45 and that the original Vancouver police investigation was deficient -- assigned to inexperienced and overworked officers without the time or resources to do a proper job.

December, 2001 -- The joint RCMP-Vancouver Police review team confirms The Sun's findings and raises the number of missing women to 45. Police say the review team is now a task force with 16 investigators and five support staff.

January, 2002 -- The task force adds five more names to the list, bringing the total number of missing women to 50, and expands its team to 30 investigators.

Feb. 5, 2002 -- Police looking for firearms launch a massive search of a Port Coquitlam farm, at 953 Dominion Avenue, partly owned by Robert (Willy) Pickton, who police sources tell The Sun is a person of interest in the case first identified to them in 1998.

Feb. 22, 2002 -- Two counts of first-degree murder are laid against Pickton in the deaths of Mona Wilson and Sereena Abbotsway. Both disappeared in 2001.

March 28, 2002 -- Police say they are considering adding five more names to the list of the missing. One of the women is later confirmed to be alive and well.

April 2, 2002 -- During a regular court appearance, Pickton is charged with killing Heather Bottomley, Diane Rock and Jaquilene McDonell. Rock and Bottomley disappeared in 2001, while McDonell went missing in January 1999.

April 9, 2002 -- Pickton is charged with a sixth count of first degree murder in the death of Andrea Joesbury. Police confirmed some of Joesbury's remains had been found at the Port Coquitlam farm.

April 17, 2002 -- Police execute a search warrant on a second Port Coquitlam property partially owned by Pickton, on Burns Road.

May 11, 2002 -- The Sun reports that dozens of archeology students with training in identifying human bone are being hired to help with an expanded search at the Dominion Avenue property. Retired police officers are also being offered contracts.

May 22, 2002 -- Pickton is charged with a seventh count of first degree murder, in the death of Brenda Ann Wolfe, who was originally from Alberta and last seen in the Downtown Eastside in February 1999.

June 6, 2002 -- Using heavy machinery, two conveyor belts and dozens of additional experts and technicians, the task force begins excavating the Dominion Avenue property owned by Pickton and his two siblings.

Courtesy of the Vancouver Sun



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

Updated: August 21, 2016