Friends remember zest for life

Yvonne Marie Boen may have died on Robert Pickton's Coquitlam farm

Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun

Friday, January 30, 2004

Her life, like many of the other 65 women who have disappeared from local streets, was one of drugs, desperation and despair.

Yvonne Marie Boen

When Yvonne Marie Boen vanished in March 2001 at the age of 33, police said she was a drug-addicted prostitute. Later they revealed her DNA had been found at a so-called "House of Horrors" in Surrey, where one prostitute was killed and there was evidence more people had been assaulted.

And then there was the foul-smelling, ponytailed man Boen brought to a friend's barbecue not long before she disappeared, a man friends and relatives swear was the spitting image of Robert (Willy) Pickton.

Pickton is facing 22 counts of first-degree murder in the missing women case.

On Tuesday, police said DNA from Boen and another five women listed as missing from the Downtown Eastside had been found on Pickton's Port Coquitlam pig farm.

The Missing Women Task Force also said it has the DNA of three more unidentified women, but won't say where it was discovered. No new charges have been laid regarding the recent findings.

But friends and family of Boen -- echoing the words of advocates for other missing women -- remember her as more than a drugged-out sex-trade worker. They say the once-beautiful blond woman with three children had a zest for life, a contagious smile, and a good spirit.

"She would do anything for you. Anything. She was such a giving person," said her best friend, Debbie Benning.

"I was dumbfounded [to learn she was dead]. I'm still in such disbelief. I can't believe it, and I don't know if I ever will."

Boen's mother, Lynn Metin, said her "kind-hearted" daughter was born in Saskatchewan in 1967. Her childhood was troubled from the start: Her father died in a car accident when she was four months old. Metin remarried and had two more children, but her new husband was abusive, she said.

Metin, a nurse, did her best to raise her three children as a single parent. Boen liked horseback riding, singing and cycling, but started skipping classes when she was 13 and Metin said counselling provided by welfare was of little help keeping her in school.

Metin herself had a troubled childhood, and believes Boen inherited her waywardness from her mother. But she speaks proudly of her daughter's interest in helping seniors and handicapped children in care facilities.

"Yvonne would come and help feed the elderly and play cards with the ones who were able to. She would come rollerblade through the hospital, and the elderly thought that was cool," Metin said.

Boen married a 25-year-old man when she was just 15 and had three sons by the time she was 21. But the relationship was rocky, and shortly after her children were born, the young, confused woman went to work for a travelling carnival company.

Her eldest boy was raised by his father, her second stayed with Metin, and the third was adopted.

Boen was shy and sober when she started working for the carnival, said her friend Benning, who worked for the same outfit.

"When I met Yvonne in '87, she never drank, she never smoked pot, she never did drugs, she never did nothing," Benning recalled.

"I said, 'God, that girl must have no friends. She just keeps to herself, you never see her out after hours.'"

The two became fast friends, and Benning said that during their 10 years on the road, Boen never did hard drugs. "She was a travelling girl. She loved to move. It gave her a sense of freedom. Everybody out there is one big happy family," Benning said.

The two drifted apart for a few years, but in February 2000, Boen surfaced at Benning's Langley apartment -- and admitted she had become addicted to cocaine.

"She says, 'I'm in a lot deeper than you think.' She says, 'I'm scared and I don't know what to do,'" Benning recalled. "She just lost it and she started crying."

Benning saw her friend sporadically after that, and knew she was working as a prostitute to support her habit. "I know that that is not something she would ever be proud of or ever want anybody to see," Benning said.

She said Boen often asked for rides to Surrey, but never mentioned the 'House of Horrors'.

In 2002, long after Boen went missing, the RCMP revealed she had frequented a Surrey crack house where at least two murders -- including one of another sex-trade worker -- took place. Police said DNA from Boen was found among 20 different blood samples taken from the rundown house.

Benning said her friends cannot be certain, but they believe Boen brought Pickton to a barbecue in the summer of 2000. "Yvonne showed up with a guy, had a ponytail, dressed really grubby and smelled bad."

When Pickton's picture was published after his February, 2002 arrest, Boen's friends at the barbecue were sure he was the same man, Benning said.

Benning and another friend, Trenna Niebergall, hung posters throughout Surrey in March 2001 when Boen vanished, refusing to believe she was gone. "Yvonne isn't weak, she's strong; very, very strong," Niebergall said.

The last time Metin saw her daughter alive was at her home near Kelowna in February, 2001. "You could tell she was into drugs pretty heavy. She looked way older. She just wasn't the same pretty girl," Metin recalled.

A month later, Boen phoned Metin on a Saturday to say she was coming to visit her son Troy.

"She was supposed to be here that Sunday to pick him up and she didn't show up. She was excited about coming to get Troy, she was happy that he wanted to spend some time with her," Metin said.

Metin knew something was terribly wrong.

"She never contacted me. That just wasn't her. Every holiday, Troy's birthday, my birthday -- it just wasn't like her not to phone. And every holiday I just prayed that this would be the holiday that she phoned. And she couldn't."

Metin had been worried about her daughter's well-being for 20 years, but when the police came knocking at her door Monday night, she immediately knew her worst fears were confirmed.

"I just opened the door and said, 'She's gone, isn't she?'" Metin said, crying softly.

Knowing her daughter's whereabouts answers one question, but leaves many more.

"I need to know how she died. I need to know what exactly did they find, what was left? I understand that [police] can't tell me right now because they don't want to jeopardize the case," Metin said. "It's been rough, but at least we know. And we can start building again."

 The Vancouver Sun 2004

Nine more women linked to Pickton case, total 31-Jan 28, 2004



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

Updated: August 21, 2016