Woman's remains found in valley

News comes as police allege a 'serial killer' is preying on sex workers

Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A grieving aunt says the skeletal remains of her niece, a missing woman from Surrey, have been found in the Fraser Valley -- where police allege a "serial killer" is preying on sex-trade workers.

Michelle Choiniere was involved in prostitution and drug use, a profile similar to that of three women who have been linked to accused serial killer Davey Mato Butorac. However, it is not clear whether the RCMP is investigating him in connection with Choiniere.

After Butorac was charged with two murders last week, RCMP Cpl. Dale Carr said the Integrated Homicide Investigations Team was "looking at him linked to other homicides."

Carr said Tuesday he didn't recall Choiniere being among the files IHIT was reviewing for the Butorac probe, but added it would be standard for investigators to check for any similarities.
"That name hasn't surfaced to my knowledge as an interest in the Butorac case," Carr said.

"However, we'll certainly look at it as a possibility to see if there were links because we are open to any and all possibilities," Carr said.

Choiniere's aunt told The Sun Tuesday that bones found in an undisclosed location in the Fraser Valley on Dec. 7 have been confirmed as belonging to the missing woman.

Although the RCMP announced Choiniere was missing in the fall of 2005, no news release was issued to indicate her remains had been found.

Carr said Tuesday he was unable to reach the lead investigator on the file to confirm the information provided to the The Sun by Choiniere's aunt.

The B.C. Coroner's Service and the Surrey RCMP detachment deferred all questions about Choiniere to IHIT.

After receiving the stunning news about the bones being found, Monica Choiniere said she contacted a coroner and a pathologist involved in the file who indicated her niece's identification was made through teeth found at the scene.

The discovery of the remains explained where Michelle was, but not what happened to her.

"It's tragic, it's terrible. The last two years have been hell on everybody," said Monica Choiniere. "[Michelle] was loved. She had a mother and relatives who loved her to bits."

Monica said she's wondered about a possible connection between her niece and Butorac since his arrest.

Butorac, a longtime Fraser Valley resident, was charged Jan. 7 with slaying Surrey sex-trade workers Gwendolyn Lawton and Sheryl Koroll, and is under investigation for the death of Margaret Redford.

Lawton was found last March on a gravel road in rural Abbotsford, Koroll was discovered July 7 in an industrial area in Langley and Redford's body was found in May 2006 in an Aldergrove creek.

Like Michelle Choiniere, all three used drugs.

Monica Choiniere always hoped Michelle would come home one day. Although that won't happen, she wants families of other missing women to know at least some of her questions have finally been answered.

"I wanted to give families some hope that she was found, that there is hope," she said.

A memorial service was held Jan. 7 in Michelle's mother's hometown of Rivers Inlet, a community on B.C.'s Central Coast.

Monica raised Michelle for part of her youth, as the young girl's parents had their own struggles in life. Michelle's mother is native and is from Rivers Inlet, while her father [Monica's brother] is Caucasian.

Michelle, who had a younger brother and sister, grew up in Burnaby and went to high school.

"When she was young, she was a giggler," Monica recalled. "She always wanted to be in the fashion industry, she was always big with trying new things with her hair and her makeup... She was looking forward to one day having children."

However, Michelle was protective of her mother, who eventually became addicted to drugs and worked in the sex trade in Vancouver. Michelle would also be pulled into that world.

Monica's last contact with Michelle was in the summer of 2005, when plans were made to bring the 24-year-old to a treatment centre in the Okanagan.

"She wanted to get out of that life... She said, 'If I don't come up there, then I don't know what will happen to me,'" said Monica, who lives in the Okanagan.

"But when the day came I was to pick her up at her apartment, she had disappeared. I couldn't find her, the police couldn't find her."

Michelle was reported missing a few weeks later, and for the last two years Monica has spoken to sex-trade workers in Vancouver and Surrey, as well as checked missing persons websites, to try to find any information.

In a posting on one website, Monica wrote: "My dear Michelle, where are you? Do you remember when I would take you to Stanley Park in your pretty pink dress and feed the squirrels? Remember how we would sit at a coffee shop sipping chocolate milk from fancy glasses and seeing who could make the most bubbles?" 

The Vancouver Sun 2008

From Monica Choiniere, January 14, 2008

My dear niece Michelle missing since Sept. 2005 was located in December 2007 in the lower mainland. A tribute to her life was shared in Rivers Inlet by all her family on January 7, 2008. She is dearly missed and now at peace. Monica Choiniere (Aunty) 

Michelle Caroline Choiniere

Name: monica choiniere
City: Okanagan
Sent: Thu April 06 2006 10:52 PM
Vancouver Missing Guestbook 2001 - 2006

My Michelle, my dear Michelle, where are you? Do you remember when I would take you to Stanley Park in your pretty pink dress and feed the Squirrels? Remember how we would sit at a coffee shop sipping chocolate milk from fancy glasses and seeing who could make the most bubbles? To me you are my beautiful little niece, so full of smiles after a full day falling asleep as we watched a silly movie. I would brush your blonde hair away from your forward as you were always so warm when you slept, sometimes you would pat my hand, others times you would whisper something . I never could hear what you would whisper and now I would give my life to have you whisper it. How I wish I could protect you and brush the hair away from your forehead, just to watch you sleep - God , what would that take? What can I give to bring my Michelle back to me? I have given you buckets of tears, screams of anguish, a million prayers, please take me to where she is , I need to hear her whisper.
I love you Michelle Caroline Choiniere, I miss you.

V A N C O U V E R M I S S I N G - G U E S T B O O K - 2001 - 2006 - 2 visits - Jan 11
I love you Michelle Caroline Choiniere, I miss you. ..... My Niece - Michelle Choiniere - birthdate Aug/81 has been missing for one month in the ... 

MISSING - Michelle Caroline Choiniere



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

Updated: August 21, 2016