Police question if killing, disappearance linked

Darren Bernhardt
Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

The major crimes unit of the Saskatoon Police Service is investigating the possibility of a link between the murder of a sex trade worker during the weekend and the disappearance of another woman.

Police have advised sex trade workers of the investigation and warned them to be cautious on the stroll, a residential area extending several blocks to the north and south of 20th Street West.

"When something is that glaring, it is a concern," said Sgt. Keith Atkinson referring to the fact both women were known to frequent the stroll. "There's nothing to indicate the two women are linked in any way, shape or form, but our investigators are keeping all possibilities open at this time."

Members of the police vice-squad have been talking with agencies involved with sex trade workers and the women themselves have "been kept up to speed," said Atkinson.

"I think there's a good awareness out there of what's been happening."

The dangers exposed to sex trade workers has become disturbingly obvious during the past few months. An intensive investigation continues at a pig farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C. where police are looking for clues in the cases of 50 missing women, many of them sex trade workers from Vancouver's tough downtown eastside. The pig farm's owner, Robert Pickton, already faces seven counts of first-degree murder in the case.

A passing Saskatoon Transit bus driver notified police shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday of a 20-year-old female badly injured and lying near the street in the 3100 block of Laurier Drive.

She had been stabbed in the chest. She was rushed to Royal University Hospital where she later died.

Atkinson said her name will be released sometime today. She is described as aboriginal, five-foot five-inches tall, 122 pounds, with brown eyes, shoulder-length brown hair done up at the back. She was wearing a green wrap-around mini skirt and a white, button-up, sleeveless blouse.

According to Atkinson, police have determined the woman was involved in the sex trade. She was last seen on the 1900 block of 22nd Street between 10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Friday and may have been headed to the Avenue R and 21st Street area of the stroll.

Though they cannot confirm that her killing was related to the sex trade, police are strongly considering that possibility, said Atkinson.

"We've been dealing with the family and our vice guys have been dealing with people who work in the stroll area to see if anybody had seen her," he said.

Police are also concerned about 20-year-old Maxine Wapass, who has been missing since May 16. She was reported missing on June 5.

"Maxine may well be somewhere travelling or safe, we don't know. But we did a public appeal (regarding her whereabouts) last week and never heard anything from it," said Atkinson.

Police are requesting the public's assistance in the murder investigation and have also requested anyone with information regarding either of the women call the major crimes section at 975-8440 or Crime Stoppers at 931-8477.

 Copyright  2002 Saskatoon StarPhoenix



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

Updated: August 21, 2016