Police find woman missing for 21 years-Dec 17, 1999

Courtesy of The Toronto Globe & Mail

By Camille Bains, Canadian Press, Vancouver

   Vancouver force says it is following all leads to locate 31 others feared murdered
   Police have located one of the women thought to have been missing and possibly murdered by a serial killer in one of Canada’s poorest neighbourhoods.
   Constable Anne Drennan, a Vancouver police spokeswoman, said investigators traced the whereabouts of the woman through a medical database.
   Patricia Perkins, 43, vanished in 1978 but was not reported missing until 1996, Constable Anne Drennan said.
   "So you can see the incredible problem of trying to locate someone who has been missing for 21 years," she said.
   The disappearances gained national attention this year after activists in Vancouver’s downtown eastside began agitating for more action by police.
   They were concerned the disappearances were being ignored by investigators who didn’t care about women involved in drugs and prostitution.
   Police circulated posters of the women this year and put up a $100,000 reward for tips.
   Originally activists like Jamie Lee Hamilton, who runs a drop-in centre for prostitutes, said there were 21 women unaccounted for since 1995. Constable Anne Drennan and Ms Hamilton agree that number has risen to 31.
   The case was broadcast on the television program America’s Most Wanted.
   Constable Drennan said Ms. Perkins left Vancouver to start a new life elsewhere in Canada and doesn’t want her whereabouts known.
   In October, police released the names of two other women who’d been reported missing.
   Karen Smith died of a hepatitis-related illness in an Edmonton hospital in Feburary.
   Linda Jean Coombes, who died of a heroin overdose in 1994, was identified through DNA records.
   Constable Drennan said people have become more aware of informing police quickly when a prostitute goes missing.
   "That means we can start working right away and track back to the last point, the last sighting, who they were last with and what stroll they were working."
   Ms Hamilton, a 44-year-old transsexual who runs Grandma’s House, said she’s not holding out any hope that the other missing street-trade workers will be found alive.
   "Its been too long now," Ms Hamilton, who sought a city council seat in November, said.
   Some of the women have vanished without explanation and with money in their bank accounts, she said, adding some also left behind young children.
   She maintained the prostitutes may have fallen prey to a serial killer and that police aren’t taking the matter seriously enough.
   "We’ve found so many people that should have been interviewed and they haven’t been," Ms. Hamilton said.
   But Constable Drennan said police are following all leads.
   "The information we’re releasing [about the missing woman who’ve been found] is an indicator of the dogged determination of the investigators. They’re literally leaving no stone unturned," Constable Drennan said.
   "We’re going to extraordinary lengths on files where we have almost nothing to begin with. We don’t have crime scenes or bodies," she added. A group of 25 prostitutes will soon try to obtain certification from the Labour Relations Board to form a union, Ms. Hamilton said.

Vancouver cops find missing woman-Dec.17,1999



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Updated: August 21, 2016