‘Delighted’ she’s alive

Police know 'missing' woman just lying low

Suzanne Fournier
The Province

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Wayne Leng is "shocked but delighted" to hear that his friend Sylvia Melanie Skakum, who he feared was missing, is alive but keeping a low profile in Vancouver.

Leng had released a photograph of Skakum to Vancouver police, Downtown Eastside advocacy groups and The Province after he tried to contact her without success for almost two years. Skakum had agreed to be photographed by Leng because they both feared that she could meet with the same fate as her friend Sarah DeVries, who went missing in 1998.

Leng, who runs a website on the missing women from his home in California, blames the "wall of silence" thrown up by police, whom he contacted many times in an attempt to pass on information about Skakum.

"There is such poor communication between the Vancouver police and the family and friends of the women who are missing or who had connections to the Downtown Eastside," Leng said.

Skakum yesterday told The Province that Vancouver police know where she is and that she is estranged from her adoptive parents, who live in Calgary.

In 1999, Skakum wrote an article for the website about DeVries' disappearance, noting that Vancouver police weren't interested in talking to her about DeVries.

"I know my friends keep disappearing and no one even looks for them," she wrote. "I know this because I was there when Sarah was taken and no one asks me about it."

Skakum referred to her dependence on heroin at the time.

She told The Province: "Is the implication that I am a prostitute or a drug user? I would hope not because I don't even have a criminal record that would indicate that."

A friend of Skakum's said that Skakum is trying to stay away from the Downtown Eastside "and all those people down


Skakum said she knew neither [murder suspect] Robert [Willie] Picton nor his brother Dave.

"I'd seen the one guy around but I didn't know him. He was too creepy-looking for me," she said. 

© Copyright  2002 The Province

He wants friend listed as the 51st missing woman-Mar 19, 2002



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