Police collect DNA samples of missing

Thursday, July 25, 2002

The police task force investigating accused serial killer Robert Pickton made a public appeal Thursday for information about nine more women that could be added to the list of missing from Vancouver's downtown eastside.

Families of the missing women have been told a makeshift memorial at the excavation site may have to be moved due to road construction in the area. [Global BC]

The women fit the same profile as 54 women currently on the list, including the seven women Pickton is accused of killing.

Yvonne Marlene Abigosis, last seen on January 1, 1984

Wendy Louise Allen, last seen March 30, 1979

Dawn Lynn Cooper, last seen in 1996

Sheryl Donahue, last seen May 30, 1985

Tanya Colleen Emery, last seen December 1, 1998

Linda Louise Grant, last seen October, 1984

Richard "Kellie" Little, a transsexual, last seen April 23, 1997

Teresa Louis Triff, Last seen April 15, 1993

Lillian Jean O'Dare, last seen September 12, 1978

Some of the over 50 women who have disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. [Vancouver Sun]

"These women frequented the downtown eastside of Vancouver, they had dependency problems either with drugs or alcohol or both," said Const. Catherine Galliford, spokeswoman for the joint RCMP-Vancouver City Police task force.

The 54 women currently on the list were prostitutes. All but two of the nine women who may be added had a history in the sex trade, including Richard "Kellie" Little, an aboriginal transsexual reported missing in April 1997.

Pickton, 52, has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder since February, when police began searching suburban Vancouver properties he owned jointly with his siblings.

It is Canada's largest-ever crime scene investigation.

At the same time, investigators have been reviewing hundreds of unsolved missing women cases from across the country.

Galliford said police have exhausted all other means of locating the nine women, prompting the public appeal for help.

"We've gone through all of the various government agencies, we've gone through their known acquaintances, we've gone through whatever family we can go through," she said.

"We've taken all of the steps that we generally take in order to locate these missing women."

If the women aren't located through the public appeal they will be added to the list, bringing the number of women missing from the impoverished Vancouver neighbourhood to 63 disappearances since the early 1980s.

Forty-three of the 54 women already on the list have vanished from the drug-infested downtown eastside since 1995.

There are five other cases still under review that could be added to the list in the near future.

Many women have been reported missing to police since the serial killing investigation began, including several of the nine who may be added.

Police have found human remains at the farm where Pickton lived. Galliford wouldn't say whether police have found DNA that doesn't match family DNA samples of the 54 women on the list.

Investigators have travelled as far as Colorado and Louisiana to obtain family DNA. Samples from the women's biological parents are particularly important, Galliford said.

Police have located relatives of eight of the nine new women but made a specific appeal for information that would help them locate family members of Lillian Jean O'Dare, who would now be 58. She was last seen September 12, 1978 and was reported missing the same day.

"We're appealing to the public, if anyone out there knows any family members of hers of if they are a family member of hers, we would really appreciate them getting into contact with us," Galliford said.

Since the task force began its review of other cases, 21 women have been located. Nineteen were alive -- one living as far away as Borneo -- and two were dead.

"Many of these women made a conscious decision to make a break from their past lives, which included family and friends and in many cases they were unaware they were reported missing," Galliford said.

"The solving of these 21 cases means many family and friends have found closure or peace of mind just in the past six months."

Pickton's preliminary hearing is expected to begin in November.

 Copyright  2002 Canadian Press



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Updated: August 21, 2016