One of 'missing' women found, giving kin hope

December 5, 2006

VANCOUVER -- A woman from Vancouver's notorious missing women's case who vanished 27 years ago has been located in Ontario, RCMP spokesman Corporal Pierre Lemaitre said yesterday.

Her discovery has stirred hope for some families that others on the list of missing women may still be alive, Cpl. Lemaitre said in an interview.

Some families "feared the worst" after police alleged that some of the women had been murdered by Port Coquitlam resident Robert Pickton, he said.

"But as police investigators, we always hold hope that they are alive and, like this woman, are living somewhere else," he said.

It's a roller coaster of emotion for families [of the women] still on list," he said. "We wish there was an easier way to get answers."

Cpl. Lemaitre declined to provide details about the woman, who was known as Wendy Allen when she disappeared. She has changed her name and does not want any contact with her family, he said. Police will respect her wishes and will not tell her relatives her new name or where she lives.

"It's a little awkward. On the one hand, it is a relief for the family to know she is alive. But I suppose it brings on a whole new set of questions," Cpl. Lemaitre said.

"It is good news for all of us to know they are not missing and not disappeared, never to be seen again. But it is an anticlimax when you have to come back with the news that [the missing people] don't care to have contact with the ones that were worried about them."

Sandra Gagnon, the sister of a woman on the list who has been missing since 1997, said the discovery of Ms. Allen does not give her hope that police will find her missing sister alive.

"The family and I know that something happened to my sister," she said.

Her sister, Janet Henry, was extremely sick when she disappeared. If she had gone to a hospital, she would have been found, Ms. Gagnon said. Also, her sister would not have left her money in the bank untouched, she added.

"I do not agree with [Cpl. Lemaitre's] comments. I know my sister too well," Ms. Gagnon said.

The woman previously known as Wendy Allen is the most recent of four who have been located by a special task force formed by the RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department. The special police unit has identified 69 women who have disappeared since 1979. Most were dependent on drugs and worked as prostitutes in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.

Mr. Pickton has been charged with the murder of 26 of those on the missing women's list, leaving 39 women whose fate remains unknown. A trial on six of the 26 charges is slated to begin Jan. 8.

In a ruling released yesterday, Mr. Justice James Williams of the B.C. Supreme Court imposed a far-reaching publication ban during the jury selection process, which begins on Saturday for the Pickton trial. "Those persons who are selected to sit as jurors in this case are entitled to a reasonable measure of privacy," Judge Williams said.

"Their hands will be full without having to contend with the glare of attention that will focus on this trial," he said. The judge was also concerned about the possibility that others might seek the jurors out and try to discuss the case or otherwise influence them.

The publication ban will be lifted once 12 jurors and two alternates have been selected, he also ruled.

Judge Williams also described the process for selecting the jurors. Hundreds of prospective jurors have been summoned to attend court on Saturday. They will be prescreened for impartiality. The judge will also ask them questions. The prosecution and defence teams will be entitled to challenge 22 prospective jurors, he stated.

Copyright 2006 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Courtesy of
The Globe and Mail

The Vancouver Sun
Missing woman found alive 12-4-06



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Updated: August 21, 2016