Second lawsuit to be filed against police in missing women investigation

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

VANCOUVER (CP) -- The father of one of more than 50 women missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside is suing city police, RCMP, the province and the federal government, saying the investigation was botched.

Marcella Creison

A lawsuit, the second to be filed against police and government officials in the case, is to be filed in a Victoria court Thursday on behalf of Doug Creison.

Creison's daughter, Marcella, was 20 years old when she was last seen in December 1998, working the streets of the poverty-stricken neighbourhood.

"It would be our premise that the negligence of the officials involved and how the investigation was carried out certainly added to even the opportunity for discovering the true ending of her life," said Denis Berntsen, the lawyer filing the lawsuit.

"It's taken away that opportunity, potentially."

Police have charged Port Coquitlam pig farmer Robert William Pickton with the first-degree murders of seven of the 54 missing women.

Creison is not one of them.

Pickton is charged with the murders of Mona Wilson, Diane Rock, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Heather Bottomley, Brenda Wolfe and Jacqueline McDonell.

Joesbury's mother, Karin Joesbury, filed a civil lawsuit against the cities of Vancouver and Port Coquitlam and the Vancouver city police and RCMP in April.

The suit alleges the city of Vancouver and its police "wilfully failed to properly investigate all information received knowing that such wilful failure to investigate would allow the killing to continue."

Joesbury has a second suit against Pickton seeking forfeiture of his farm for use as a memorial site for the women Pickton is accused of killing.

In a one-page statement of defence filed with the court, Pickton denied the allegations.

"The defendant, Robert William Pickton, specifically denies that he killed Andrea Joesbury and further denies that he buried or otherwise disposed of her remains," it said.

Creison does not have a lawsuit against Pickton.

The lawsuits contain allegations that haven't been proven. They do not specify any amount of damages.

Berntsen would not comment on what task force members have told Creison about his daughter's disappearance.

Relatives of five missing women say police have told them the women's DNA has been identified from a search of Pickton's farm. No charges have been laid in those cases.

Police would not comment on whether further charges are expected against Pickton.

They did confirm that task force members recently spoke to the brother of one of the missing women.

Rick Papin said they told him his sister, Georgina's, DNA was found at the farm and that Pickton would soon face a charge in her death.

"We have an obligation to share certain information with the families but that obligation doesn't extend to the media and the rest of the public," RCMP Const. Cate Galliford, spokesman for the joint RCMP-Vancouver city police task force investigating the case, said Wednesday.

Berntsen said the lawsuits will not take the place of a public inquiry, which many relatives have demanded.

They say that because the missing women were drug-addicted prostitutes, police did not take their disappearances seriously.

Berntsen said there is the possibility a class-action lawsuit could be filed.

He said he's been contacted by several families.

"I think it's understandable that there's a lot of hurt people," Berntsen said.

Pickton's preliminary hearing is set to begin in November.

 Copyright  2002 Canadian Press

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

Updated: August 21, 2016