Mother fears addicted daughter already dead

The Province
Frank Luba

Monday May 25, 1998

Sarah de Vries

Worried about his missing friend Sarah Jean deVries, Wayne Leng is putting up posters all around Vancouver's downtown eastside and trying to get her story told.

At her home in Ontario, deVries' mother Pat is beyond worry.  The former head nurse at Vancouver General Hospital fears her adopted daughter, a drug-addicted prostitute, may already be dead.

"She's 29," said Pat.  "This started when she was 12.

"It's been a long, rocky road and I have been preparing all that time for a call from the police to say she's either in jail or hospital or already dead," she added of a daughter who wrote poetry and kept journals at the same time as she worked the streets.

"I've been to the hospital several times and I've been to the jail several times.  I don't think I've probably given up hope entirely.

"She [Sarah] has HIV, she has hepatitis C.  What I do for her now is look after her kids the best I can."  Pat is 60 and divorced from retired University of B.C. professor Jan deVries, who still lives in Vancouver.

She lives with her sister Jean Little, an author of children's books, and has custody of her grandchildren--Jeanie, 7, and her half-brother Ben, 2.  She shooed Jeanie out of the room during a telephone interview about her lost daughter.

"It's very hard to tell a seven-year-old that somebody is missing," said Pat.  "It's something you can't come to terms with, you can't work through, because there's never an end to it."

Leng, who had a short romantic relationship with Sarah, said he just wants to see his friend again.  He last saw her April 13.

Nobody has seen or heard from her since--which is unusual, because that period includes Pat's birthday, Mother's Day and Sarah's own birthday.  She almost always got in touch with Pat at this time of year.

Leng, an automotive technician, says Sarah underwent "a lot of turmoil" in her 29 years.

He pointed to trouble she experienced as an adoptee of mixed parentage in an all-white west-side family.

"She's been through a lot in her life," he said.  "If you could see what she has written, you would realize how awful she feels inside."  

Messages on pager say prostitute dead - July 27, 1998



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