America's Most Wanted 

amwlogo.gif (4384 bytes)On the Fox Network

Sunday, July 23, 2000

Vancouver on most wanted

VANCOUVER (CKNW/AM980) -- Vancouver was featured on a popular American TV show Saturday night, but not always in the most flattering of ways. America's Most Wanted did a piece on the missing prostitutes in the city. It questioned whether a modern day jack-the-ripper was on the loose, and called Vancouver beautiful, with a dark side. The program also sought leads in the recent stabbing of abortion doctor Garson Romalis.

Tuesday, July 27, 1999

VANCOUVER -- Police hope their search for 31 missing prostitutes will be bolstered today by the host of America's Most Wanted. 

John Walsh -- host of the punchy program featuring re-enactments of crimes and information on unsolved cases -- will join B.C. Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh to announce the details of a $100,000 reward for information on the case. 

Most of the women have vanished from the streets of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside since 1995, fuelling fears that a serial killer may be at work. Other disappearances go back to 1978. 

Mr. Walsh is in Vancouver shooting material for a July 31 show devoted to Vancouver-area crimes including the missing women. CP

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America's Most Wanted to air Vancouver episode

Ian Bailey, Canadian Press

The crimebusting TV show America's Most Wanted will focus on the mystery of more than 20 prostitutes who have vanished from one of Vancouver's toughest neighbourhoods.

With the blessing of city police, producers of the Fox TV network show will air a segment on July 31 about the mystery that has fueled fears a serial killer is operating in Vancouver.

"This has become a priority for [Vancouver] police,] show spokesman Avery Mann said from Washington, D.C.

     "We are a friend of the police.

     They want us to work with them. We are happy to do it."

     The punchy show features reenactment of crimes and news of unsolved cases.

     But if faces a challenge in Vancouver.

Since 1995 more than 20 prostitutes have vanished from the city's downtown eastside--a neighbourhood hit hard by cocaine, heroin and drug related HIV.

The women have left behind children, apartments, bank accounts and social assistance cheques. One minute, they were seen on street corners, the next minute, they were gone.

No bodies have been found. Some fear single or multiple serial killers at work. Police are wary about acknowledging that possibility, but have begun treating the cases as a group.

"We have 14 million viewers every week throughout the United States, Canada and in four or five other countries," said Mann.

"If there's someone traveling around or someone who knows something anywhere in North America, they may call in and provide that lead that could lead to an arrest."

Crews from America's Most Wanted will be in Vancouver a few days before July 31 to tape material to introduce the six-minute report, which is almost complete.

The segment features interviews with relatives of the missing women, prostitutes still working the streets, police and even officials of the CPA Confidence Group Enterprises Inc., a Vancouver-based firm of private eyes that has offered to help find the women.

The report is being prepared by Wanted correspondent Kimberly Halkett, a former anchor with VTV. Halkett is now based in Washington, D.C.

Wanted host John Walsh, whose six year old son was abducted and murdered in 1981, will introduce the segment with footage taped in Vancouver's Stanley Park.

A few other Canadian cases will be included in the episode, although Mann declined to discuss those.

Vancouver police are enthusiastically welcoming the show.

"We're more than prepared to work with America's Most Wanted,"said spokeswoman Anne Drennan. "They can achieve tremendous results with coverage of a file."

Police and the province are offering a $100,000 reward for information that helps crack the case. And a team of officers that once consisted of a pair of missing person's investigators now includes homicide officers and specialized profilers.

Last week, officers sought DNA samples from relatives of the missing women in order to help identify remains if found.

Mann said the situation in Vancouver is bizarre even by his show's standards.

"America's Most Wanted is certainly concerned when you have 23 women who have disappeared," said the former Vancouver resident.

"I mean, what's going on? Bodies are not turning up. They're just disappearing. That's a mystery."

There are also no crime scenes and no composite sketches to be shown of suspects.

Since its 1988 debut, reports aired on the show have helped nab more than 500 fugitives--including 10 from the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List.

The show last produced a segment in Vancouver in 1997, covering such crimes as a burglar nicknamed "Spider Man," who was clambering up apartments.

Note: VPD never asked for help from America's Most Wanted as is suggested in various news articles. Sandra Gagnon first wrote AMW to ask for help in locating her sister Janet Henry. AMW wrote back and informed her that they were unable to help as they get so many requests asking to help locate a missing loved one. Sandra and I discussed me contacting AMW about Sarah's disappearance, and that she was among many women who had vanished. I contacted Tom Morris Jr. a producer at America's Most Wanted about the possibility of a serial killer and he was interested and thus began a continuing correspondence between us that resulted in AMW coming to Vancouver. 

- Wayne

America's Most Wanted. Vancouver City Police (VPD) were not involved in bringing AMW to Vancouver. They had opposed the idea but agreed if AMW would air two other Vancouver cases. 

Missing 31 women in Canada fans serial killer fears

July 27, 1999
Web posted at: 6:28 PM EDT (2228 GMT)

VANCOUVER (Reuters) -- Authorities turned to the lure of money and the power of television Tuesday in hopes of finding any of 31 Vancouver women whose disappearance has sparked fears of a serial killer.

But police stressed that despite posting a $66,225 reward and featuring the investigation on the popular U.S. television program "America's Most Wanted," they still have no direct evidence any crimes have been committed.

Authorities admitted the lack of evidence made it difficult to post a reward for information. The offer is worded to include the possibilities the women have been kidnapped or are held against their will rather than murdered.

"Although police don't have any evidence of foul play, there is a gut instinct that all of us have," British Columbia Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh said, emphasizing that all 31 women disappeared without a trace.

Relatives of the women have accused police of not taking the investigation seriously because most of the women were prostitutes in Vancouver's downtown east side -- one of Canada's poorest neighborhoods.

The cases date back to 1978, but most of the women have disappeared in the last four years. The cases did not receive widespread publicity until earlier this year, when relatives complained about a lack of public concern.

Authorities denied again Tuesday that they ignored the missing women.

"Once we became aware that clearly there was something wrong here we kicked in additional resources," Vancouver police spokeswoman Anne Drennan said.

Investigators also said they also think some of the women have committed suicide, died of drug overdoses, or have left Vancouver and do not want to be found. Not one woman's body has been found.

Police hope that publicizing the case on "America's Most Wanted," which re-enacts crimes and is broadcast across North America, will convince any of women who have left Canada to contact their families.

The program will air Saturday.

"America's Most Wanted" has featured Canadian investigations in the past, and is credited with leading to the arrest of several high-profile suspects including alleged "railway killer" Rafael Resendez-Ramirez.  

AMERICA'S MOST WANTED-Vancouver Missing-1999-2000-2002

Cop shop photo-op-Aug 1/99

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