‘Fabulous girl’ didn't fit in Downtown Eastside

Kim Bolan
Vancouver Sun

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Jacqueline McDonell

Jacqueline McDonell gave the impression she was just passing through when she arrived in the Downtown Eastside sometime in 1998.

"She was so bright and so articulate. She could have been a university student," said Elaine Allan, a former coordinator at a Downtown Eastside drop-in centre for sex trade workers. "It happened so fast. That is the most tragic thing."

McDonell was confirmed dead Tuesday by the joint police missing women's task force.

Robert (Willy) Pickton has been charged with her murder and the deaths of four other women.

Allan said she spent many hours in engaging conversation with McDonell, who was from Ontario but had been living in Nelson.

"I kind of felt she was going through an experimental stage," Allan said. "She just didn't fit down there."

Allan described McDonell as personable, bright and a wonderful conversationalist.

"She was a fabulous girl," Allan said.

McDonell was 23 when she was reported missing to Vancouver police on February 22, 1999.

She was last seen a month or so earlier on Jan. 16.

Police now say Pickton killed her sometime between Jan. 21 of that year and Feb. 5, 2002 -- when the police task force began an exhaustive search of Pickton's pig farm.

Ironically, a warrant was issued for McDonell's arrest in Vancouver provincial court around the time of her disappearance for failing to appear on a minor drug charge.

While her co-accused was pleading guilty on Feb. 19, 1999, McDonell was on her way to becoming a statistic on a growing list of missing women.

Freda Enns, of the Vancouver Police and Native Liaison Society, spent Tuesday talking to the families of McDonell, Heather Kathleen Bottomley and Diane Rosemary Rock, three missing women all allegedly murdered by Pickton.

Enns said it was extremely difficult, not only for the families, but for the relatives of the other missing women.

Enns said the relatives have asked that the media respect their privacy for the time being.

"Right now, they want time for grieving," Enns said. "It has been pretty devastating."

On one hand, the families are glad they may be getting some closure, Enns said.

"But it also really hits some of the families hard," said Enns, who has provided daily support to relatives of the missing for weeks.

Karen Duddy, of the Women's Information Safe House drop-in centre, remembers Diane Rock coming in to WISH for a hot meal.

"She was very quiet, not at all a trouble maker," Duddy said Tuesday.

Rock, who was born on Sept. 2, 1967, was last seen on Oct. 19, 2001 and reported missing to Vancouver police in mid-December.

On Tuesday, her family was also informed that she has been confirmed dead.

Heather Bottomley was 25 when she disappeared last April 21 and was reported missing the same day. Pickton has now been charged with killing her sometime in the last few months.

Court records indicate her life followed the same troubled path as many of the other missing women -- a possession charge and conviction in 1997, a few charges for failing to appear in court, a guilty plea four years ago for fraudulently obtaining a vehicle.

Duddy also remembers Bottomley as a quiet person who kept to herself when she used the WISH centre.

Little is known about the women, although they are now confirmed dead.

"That's the major tragedy of this thing. They are treated as nonentities," Duddy said. "They come, they go and nobody is keeping track of them." 

© Copyright  2002 Vancouver Sun

Preying on weak makes serial killers hard to detect-Apr 3, 2002



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