How Lindsay Kines and Sun reporters broke missing women story

Vancouver Sun

November 6, 2002

Veteran Vancouver Sun reporter Lindsay Kines started covering the phenomenon of women missing from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver in 1998, the first reporter to do so. The young women were all prostitutes, which is why they had not mattered very much before.

Tipped by a sister of one of the women, Kines dug into the story and his repeated questioning of police officials prompted them to step up their investigation that year.

Some of his earliest stories are linked below:

July 3, 1998
Police target big increase in missing women: Serial killer not behind missing-women cases, police official says. Investigators will look into each incident to determine if there are any similarities 

September 18, 1998
Cases Probed: Vancouver police will review 40 unsolved cases dating from 1971, but they doubt a serial killer was involved in any disappearances 

March 3, 1999
20 women missing: Action demanded 

Missing on the Mean Streets-Part 1: Privilege, despair and death 

Missing on the Mean Streets-Part 2: Who we will not see tomorrow 

Kines dogged the story through the turn of the century, developing sources in the police who spoke of incomprehensible sloppiness and ineptitude in the police investigations of the missing sex-trade workers.

By 2001, frustrated with a lack of closure to the case, Kines and reporters Kim Bolan and Lori Culbert embarked on what would become a four-month joint investigation, taking a total of one year of journalistic man- and women-power. When they began their work, the reporters knew what police had revealed -- that 27 young women caught in the sex-and-drug culture of Vancouver's dismal downtown eastside had, during a number of years, vanished from the face of the earth.

When the reporters finished, they had themselves identified not 27 but 45.

The police had presented to the public an illusion of an aggressive, concerned investigation. The Sun's series of reports showed that, in fact, the investigative work had been flawed by lack of resources, petty conflicts among police officers, confused leadership and inexperience.

Their 11-part periodic series began in September, 2001 and ended in November.

The detective work The Sun team did set off other shock waves, which produced significant changes in the methods and attitudes of police to these unsolved crimes. In the aftermath of the series, the police established a joint RCMP-Vancouver Police Task Force and energized it with competent staff and financial resources. They gave a public commitment to the quick release of information on women who vanish. For the first time, they arranged meetings with the families of missing women, and set up a tip line.

Perhaps most importantly, the stories made a large number of murdered and missing prostitutes too important for either police or politicians to ignore.


Investigation turns up startling new numbers 

How the police investigation was flawed, too few officers, police infighting and lack of experience undermined first probe into disappearances,_2001.htm 

DNA samples are taken but not used: Coroner, police want data bank but B.C. has put it on hold,_2001.htm 

Police didn’t pick up suspect who later murdered this woman: Family wants answers: ‘If they had arrested him earlier, maybe my sister wouldn’t be dead right now’ 

B.C. slow to adopt lessons of Bernardo: Police face obstacles tracking down serial predators

The lesson is: Every human life really matters: The case of the missing women means changes are needed 

A killer’s slip-up gave police a break: Unlike other missing women on the East Side, police found April Reoch’s body

Sexual-predator case prompts police review 

Police build a ‘bridge’ to victims’ families: Relatives of women missing from the Downtown Eastside invited to discuss case

600 suspects in missing women case: Families encouraged after meeting with investigators 

DNA clears key suspects in murders

One woman's disappearance became a focus

One woman's disappearance became a focus Jan 10, 2007



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

Updated: August 21, 2016