Daughters of missing women inspire hope

Family members, friends find comfort sharing memories of lost ones

Suzanne Fournier
The Province

Activists gathered in a sombre vigil outside the New Westminster courthouse yesterday said they drew hope and encouragement from seeing in court the "bright and healthy" daughters of murdered women.

Bernie Williams gasped in surprise when Britney Frey, 15, and Jeanie de Vries, 16, stepped outside the courthouse for relief from the grim proceedings inside.

"It's like seeing the spirits of Marnie and Sarah here again, because these girls are so much like their mothers -- yet they're healthy and strong so they can carry forward the memories of their mothers," said Williams, who knew all six of the women Robert Pickton is currently on trial for killing.

"The photos of your moms in the paper are of women who were far along in their addictions," he told the girls. "But I remember hanging out with them and they were beautiful women and good friends. They were lots of fun."

De Vries, who lives in Guelph, Ont., with her grandmother, attended the Pickton trial for the first time yesterday and formed an instant bond with Frey, who has been at Pickton's preliminary hearing and trial several times.

"I don't remember a lot, but there are lots of pictures of me and her and I like looking at them," said de Vries, whose mother Sarah de Vries disappeared in 1998.

Frey, whose mother Marnie Frey disappeared in 1997, said it was difficult to listen to defence lawyers try to argue for Pickton to be found not guilty.

"I just want peace for my family and the other women's families," said Frey, who lives in Campbell River with her father.

More than two dozen family members were in New Westminster yesterday, steeling themselves for a week of closing arguments and the judge's charge to the jury.

The Crime Victim Assistance Program is covering the cost of travel, food and accommodation for family members of the 26 women Pickton is accused of killing, even though he's currently on trial for only six of those slayings.

Cynthia Cardinal, sister of Georgina Papin, flew in from Edmonton with another sister and expects more of her siblings to attend before the verdict is handed down. Cardinal said the waiting time "will be pretty tough."

"It's good to know these young women, their daughters are strong," said Cardinal, noting that Georgina's daughter, Kristina Bateman, who grew up in Las Vegas with her grandparents, may also attend the trial.

 The Vancouver Province 2007

Sketches express softer side of missing women

Missing Lives - Marnie Frey

Missing Lives - Sarah de Vries

Missing Lives - Georgina Papin



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

Updated: August 21, 2016