Arrest little comfort to women still working Vancouver's mean streets

Canadian Press

Saturday, February 23, 2002

Marcie Creison

VANCOUVER (CP) - On the streets where 50 women have gone missing in the last two decades, news that a man has been arrested in connection with two cases brought little comfort.

Vancouver's downtown eastside is known as Canada's poorest postal code and even at noon on a Saturday, the area's drug economy is bustling. Prostitutes are already on the street for the day, or may still be there from the night before. Shay sat on a curb, white platform boots pulled up to her thighs. "They arrested one guy," she said as she smoked a crack pipe. "Every week we get a list of 15, 20 guys, bad dates."

Robert Pickton, 52, was charged Friday with two counts of first-degree murder by the task force investigating the disappearances. He's scheduled to appear in court Monday.

Police continue a massive search of his pig farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam and say they may be there for weeks or months to come.

But for Shay, who didn't want to give her last name, "it don't mean nothing."

One violent "john" paid her with a beating to the head.

"The last bad date I had, the doctor told me if I didn't have so much hair I wouldn't have gotten up," she said, pulling the hair back from a face that would have been pretty in another place, at another time.

About a block from where Shay sat was the last place anyone saw Marcie Creison as she worked the corner near the Drake Hotel on Dec. 27, 1998.

"Drugs got a hold of her and she knew how to get more," her cousin, Michelle Marcella, said Saturday.

Creison had kept in daily contact with her mother. Then the phone calls stopped.

"Within a week we were down all over that surrounding area, putting up posters of her picture and information and giving our phone numbers out and asking women if they had seen her."

No one has.

Out of respect for families, police said they will not release the names of the two women Pickton is accused of killing until Monday. Creison's family knows already she is not one of those two women.

But the arrests have forced Marcella again to wonder what happened to her cousin.

"I think that somewhere in the back of my mind I thought that maybe she would appear, that maybe she actually wasn't really gone.

"Maybe I was in denial and trying to hang on to some kind of hope that she would, you know, just appear."

Creison, who grew up in Toronto and moved to Vancouver in 1996, was working the street around 2 a.m.

Thirty-nine of the 50 missing women disappeared in the last five years.

Police said the investigation will continue and hundreds of tips have yet to be followed up.

"The investigation into the missing women is not over," Const. Cate Galliford told reporters at the farm Friday night.

Police have also said there are hundreds of suspects in the disappearances.

"We made an arrest and charges have been laid but that's just one part of this continuing investigation," Det. Scott Driemel, spokesman for the Vancouver city police, said when Pickton's arrest was announced.

The arrest was a relief for downtown eastside advocates, who took to the streets almost a year ago to demand action from police.

A Vancouver city police investigation seemed to be going nowhere. Friends and relatives felt police were ignoring mounting evidence of foul play because the women were poor, drug-addicted prostitutes.

The Prostitution Alternatives Counselling and Education Society, which advocates to protect prostitutes, commended the joint RCMP-Vancouver city police task force for laying charges.

But the women of the downtown eastside "continue to work under the constant threat of harm," the society said in a news release Saturday.

Creison's sister, Melanie Creison, is still struggling with a drug addiction in the downtown eastside.

Marcella, a former addict herself, tries with her as she did with Creison to help her to leave.

"I used to be one of those women and today I'm a productive part of society," she said. "I work full-time, I pay taxes, I give back to my community and I have changed my life around.

"She (Creison) meant something to people. There was people who loved her and cared about her."

Marcella Helen Creison



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

Updated: August 21, 2016