The Case of the Vanishing Women

The Georgia Straight, November 25 to December 2, 1999.

Police are belatedly investigating missing sex-trade workers. But who's to blame--a serial killer or poicymakers?

By: Daniel Wood

The following introduction is a lead in to the article that appeared in Elm Street Magazine with different photos.

Each night, dozens of street prostitutes from skid row’s “low track” come to WISH – Women’s Information and Safe House—to share a meal and to gossip. The topic they tend to avoid hangs over their heads like a sword of Damocles. It’s something too terrible to discuss.

But on the wall of the drop-in center is a silent reminder of the hazards of their trade: a large reward poster issued recently by Vancouver police. It reads, “$100,000—Missing Downtown Eastside Women”. The poster shows the faces of 31 Vancouver women—all prostitutes, all drug addicts, and virtually all almost certainly murdered, most in the past four years.
   When the following article was being researched late last spring, the number of missing prostitutes was 23. Then it was 25. Now—six months later—it’s 31. Thirty-one Vancouver women who have vanished without a trace. The police have nine officers working on the case now but haven’t a clue or suspect.
   Says WISH coordinator Elaine Allen, 36: “There’s no body, no pattern, nothing. They’re missing because,”…they’re dead.” She says the working women think the explanation for the disappearances lies with crew members of ships in the Port of Vancouver. The street prostitutes admit they’re sometimes taken aboard the moored freighters and, in exchange for drugs, they service the crew. Occasionally, they’re held hostage as sex slaves. The women believe that the bodies of many of the 31 missing prostitutes lie on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

Downtown Eastside women live in the limbo of not knowing what has happened to friends. Sheila Egan (below), last seen in July 1998, is one of the missing. Lincoln Clarkes photos.

Click on link below for complete article in Elm Street Magazine

ELM STREET-Vancouver's Missing Prostitutes



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

Updated: August 21, 2016