Homicide Detectives Join Search

The Vancouver Sun

Friday, June 4, 1999

Vancouver city Police are expanding their investigation into the disappearance of more than 20 women in the Downtown Eastside drug or sex trade although there is no evidence any were murdered.

Vancouver city police assigned two homicide detectives to a team of officers investigating the disappearance of more than 20 women involved in drugs and/or the sex trade on the Downtown Eastside.

And although police have no proof any of the women has been murdered, investigators have sought assistance from authorities involved in major serial killer cases in Washington and New York states.

Vancouver homicide Sergeant Geramy Field said the discussions are "more general in nature" and have not focused on specific suspects or links.

"We've been talking to investigators from a number of talk about their investigations and how they did it and what they've uncovered and that kind of thing."

She stressed that police have no evidence that a serial killer is at work in Vancouver. "We're just keeping all of our doors open at this point and looking at everything we can."

In particular, she said, police have spoken to investigators working the unsolved Green River killings in Seattle, as well as a Poughkeepsie, N.Y., case in which a man is accused of killing eight women and hiding the bodies in his family's house.

The New York case is particularly interesting to Vancouver police because it began as a missing persons investigation.

All but one of the women had been reported missing and, as in Vancouver, they were involved in drugs and the sex trade.

"What we're going to talk to them about is how they conducted their investigations," Field said Thursday. "Sometimes you learn from other people's pitfalls as well as their successes."

At least 20 women have disappeared from the Downtown Eastside in the past three years, and the Vancouver police board recently approved a $100,000 reward to assist the investigation.

Field, who oversees the missing persons section, said Thursday the department has completed its statistical analysis, which confirms that the number of missing women is abnormally high in the past two years.

But Field cautioned that there could be other factors that account for the sudden rise, such as an increase in deaths related to intravenous drug use and AIDS. It may still be possible to link some of the missing women to unidentified bodies using DNA or dental records, she said.

Still, Field said, the department has assigned two homicide detectives to the files because missing persons investigators have gone to great lengths to locate the women, without success.

"Now we're looking at it from another angle, which may be bringing in the experienced homicide investigators to look at the possibility of serial predator."

She also said investigators will be organizing forums with women on the Downtown Eastside in hopes of eliciting new information.

"One of the things they did in New York, they did a survey of all their prostitutes, and we're going to be doing that."

Field said Vancouver investigators are also working closely with psychological and geographic profilers, although the case involves a lot of guesswork at this point because there are no crime scenes or confirmed homicides.

"We don't have any suspect leads at this point, because again, we don't have a homicide at this point," she said.

The investigators will also be using the department's database of known sex trade customers as a way of identifying possible suspects, she said.

Vancouver fears serial killer

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Updated: August 21, 2016