Heather Bottomley

A petite prankster who lost herself in drugs

By Alison Auld
The Canadian Press

Heather Bottomley loved to dress up as Jake Blues, the raunchy half of the duo that made the Blues Brothers comedic icons in the early '80s.

The teenager would throw on some sunglasses and belt out tunes made legendary by her favourite movie star at the time, John Belushi. It was a funny sight for friends, who watched the petite prankster swagger about as she took on the persona of the paunchy, slovenly actor.

But it was a perfect match for Bottomley, known to friends as a spirited youngster who loved to laugh.

``She was so funny,'' Danielle Montreuil, a childhood friend who played the part of Elwood Blues, said in an interview with the Globe and Mail in 2002.

``She had the most off-the-wall sense of humour. She was always doing little skits in her backyard.''

The two spent many days together, carrying on in Bottomley's backyard in her suburban neighbourhood of New Westminster, B.C.

Montreuil, who was Bottomley's best friend from elementary through to high school, said the vibrant teen loved sports and seemed to have a happy life at home with a family that was always doing things together.

But that stable life began to falter when Bottomley was in Grade 9 and decided to drop out of school with Montreuil.

The latter returned to school and eventually graduated, but Bottomley stayed away after meeting a boy who introduced her to drugs, according to reports.

Soon after, she got pregnant.

``Out of all of us, she was the last one you would have thought this could happen to,'' Montreuil said four years after seeing her for the last time in a basement apartment in the Downtown Eastside in about 1998.

She was living with a boyfriend and their young child and was pregnant again, a youth herself who was barely able to take care of her own needs.

Her uncle, Terry Bottomley, says the girl with elfin good looks and a glint in her eye had considered getting clean after talking to him.

Her brother was hoping to get help for the young woman and discussed it with their uncle, who thought he might be able to steer her in the right direction.

``She wanted recovery but she wasn't quite sure about it,'' Terry Bottomley said in an interview with The Canadian Press from his home in New Westminster. ``She said she'd get back to me and after that I never heard from her again.''

Weeks went by with no word from the 25-year-old. Bottomley then heard from his nephew that she was missing.

The two began looking for her at local hospitals and treatment centres, but came up with nothing.

The police say she was last seen in April 2001.

``I didn't know my niece too well, but she was a very outgoing, loving person,'' Bottomley said

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