Diana Melnick

'Back side of hell' not a nice place to be lost, says
Melnick friend

By Dirk Meissner
The Canadian Press

One of the few known photographs of Diana Melnick shows her wearing a V-neck vest, white-collared shirt and loose black tie.

The photograph is part of a Vancouver Police missing person's file from 1995.

Melnick's thick, brown hair is cut short. There's a hint of a smile. She looks like a private school student.

But any more information about her is scarce.

Where's her family? Where did she grow up? How did she end up on the streets?

The answers aren't easily found. What's left are the bloodless, bare facts provided by police and court documents.

She was 20 years old when police said she disappeared in December 1995 from Vancouver's drug and poverty-plagued Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.

Vancouver police say Melnick, like so many others, was a known drug user and worked in the sex trade in the Downtown Eastside.

She was born Aug. 26, 1975. She was reported missing Dec. 29, 1995.

She was five-feet-two inches tall and weighed about 100 pounds. Her hair and eyes were brown.

Snippets culled from newspaper articles, web postings and other places provide just a few more hints at the person Melnick must have been, someone with friends, a life beyond the grimness of the police outline.

A note at one of the makeshift memorials at the fence surrounding the farm east of Vancouver owned by Robert Pickton said: ``To Diane Melnick, I'm so sorry. Ingrid.''

Pickton is charged with Melnick's murder and the murders of 25 others.

A brief newspaper item on Melnick mentions that when her hair was longer, she usually wore it in a ponytail.

Messages about Melnick found at websites dedicated to the more than 60 missing Vancouver women say little about Melnick's life before she hit the streets but describe her as a compassionate soul.

``I went to school with Diana Melnick,'' says an online message from Emily Norris in October 2003.

``I work in the Downtown Eastside, the back-side alley of hell. I remembered she loved horses and would never wear her skirt or our uniform,'' says Norris's message

Norris recalls sitting in a friend's bedroom with Diana, listening to heavy metal music, gossiping about boys and planning what to do at the next school dance.

``I hope someone finds her and brings her home,'' says Norris's message. ``It is not a nice place to be lost.''

Ken Philip, who also sent a message to a website, says he is a friend of Diana's and knew her when he lived in Vancouver, He described her as warm and kind.

``My thoughts and prayers go out to my friend and all the other victims,'' says the message.

``Once you were lost, but now you have been found. May God cradle you in His arms forever. Forever your friend and forever in my thoughts.''

Attempts to reach Philip by e-mail and at his last known address were not successful.

Philip sent the e-mail from Picton, Ont.

Efforts to reach Melnicks listed in the telephone book in British Columbia turned up nothing.

Provincial court records provide another obstructed, keyhole view.

She was charged with four-prostitution-related in the months before she disappeared in 1995.

The charges related to incidents where police officers posed as potential customers of prostitutes.

She was also charged with theft from a Shoppers Drug Mart on June 2, 1995.

On Aug. 24, 1995, she didn't show up in court.

2006 The Canadian Press

MISSING LIVES - The Canadian Press

Five years ago a pig farm near Vancouver became one of Canada's largest crime scenes
What followed were headlines about the massive forensic investigation and 26 murder charges against Robert William Pickton.
Far from the headlines have been the stories of the dead women. Twenty-six women who lived on and disappeared from the streets of Canada's most dismal inner-city neighbourhood Vancouver's bleak Downtown Eastside. Twenty-six missing lives.

In the five years since the Pickton pig farm made national headlines, the memories of the women have faded even further from the public spotlight. When mentioned, they are usually referred to only as "drug addicts" or "street prostitutes." They are often only numbers 26 victims, their names seldom used in news reports. All of the stories behind the names have never been told. Until now.

The Canadian Press, Canada's independent news agency, felt those stories needed to be told. Six reporters from across the country spent hundreds of hours researching details not previously reported. The result is Missing Lives: profiles on each of the 26 women.

Missing Lives reveals the 26 women as daughters, sisters, mothers: troubled souls whose lives touched others in lasting ways.



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

Updated: August 21, 2016