VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
A grieving family still waits: no body, no burial, no trial
Couple told remains found at pig farm
But no charge laid in daughter's death
Even though she was a drug addict and prostitute who had spent nearly five years on the tough streets of Vancouver's downtown eastside, Marnie Frey still kept in close contact with her parents, phoning at least three times a week and as much as four times daily.
So, when the calls stopped on Aug. 30, 1997, the Freys waited, fearing the worst.
Today, those fears have given way to grim reality with news that Marnie was murdered.
But the waiting continues. The Freys still have no body. No death certificate. No trial. And, two years after police began searching a Port Coquitlam pig farm where, the Freys have been told, Marnie's remains were found, the couple still has no closure.
"She's our baby and we haven't even been able to put her to rest yet," Lynn Frey says at their comfortable home in this Vancouver Island city.
On Feb. 5, 2002, police executed a search warrant on the farm of Robert William Pickton, the biggest break in a case involving women — predominantly drug addicts and prostitutes — missing from Vancouver's east side as far back as the late 1970s. It's become the centre of what is now Canada's largest-ever serial murder investigation.
Pickton, 54, who has been in custody since his arrest a few weeks after the search began, is charged with 15 counts of first-degree murder. Prosecutors have said he will face another seven murder counts, including, the Freys have been told, one for their daughter.
And, even though investigators left the property in November, there are still thousands of more exhibits awaiting processing at crime labs across Canada.
The deaths of nine more women were made public at a police news conference last week, bringing to 31 the total number of confirmed dead in the case. And the police continue to probe the disappearance of more than 30 other women.
"It's certainly too early for us to speculate with regard to how high this number will go," says Corporal Cate Galliford of the RCMP-Vancouver police joint missing women's task force.
Since ending the farm search, the longest and most extensive of the sites investigated, police insist they have been working on many additional fronts, including following up on leads relating to other suspects. Pickton remains the only person charged in the case.
At the dining room table overlooking a pond in Marnie's memory in their backyard, Rick and Lynn Frey admit police are now being thorough.
But they are bitter that, in the early stages, the police ignored their concerns, rejecting theories that a serial killer was at work.
Lynn Frey, 50, who married Rick and became Marnie's stepmother when the girl was 6, contacted police, social agencies and hospital morgues in the weeks after she went missing. In 1998, after talking to many women on the street, she says she approached police about rumours of a suburban pig farm where prostitutes went to party.
But the Freys say nothing was done. Although they know it would not have helped save Marnie, they say quicker action would have resulted in more women being alive today.
"They refused to put two and two together when all these women started going missing," says Rick Frey, 56. "It wouldn't have been allowed to happen if it was men or some other group of people in society."
"I'm not letting go until I get accountability and justice," Lynn Frey says. "I'll keep fighting for that even if it takes me until the day I die."
Additional articles by Daniel Girard
Updated: August 21, 2016