Reward may endanger women, city police say

The Vancouver Sun
David Hogben 

Tuesday, April 27, 1999

Offering a reward for information about the mysterious disappearance of 21 women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside could endanger lives if it is not done carefully, police media liaison Constable Anne Drennan warned Monday.

"There is always the possibility that the offering of a reward of large value might put some of the women who are out there at risk," Drennan said.

Mayor Philip Owen has indicated he intends to ask the Vancouver police board at Wednesday's meeting to approve a $30,000 reward and request another $70,000 from the provincial government to aid in the missing persons investigation.

Advocates for people in the Downtown Eastside and relatives of the missing women have exerted increasing pressure on the mayor's office to offer a reward for the missing women.

Owen said he will support the reward if a way can be found to offer it without endangering the safety of any women who could still be alive or unduly reward people who have chosen to drop out of sight. "The more you get into it, the more complicated it becomes," Owen said.

The city legal department, with advice from the police force, will be asked to help find a way to offer the reward without endangering any women, the mayor said.

Drennan and Owen raised the possibility that the missing women could be endangered, for example, if there is a large reward for information about a dead body and a lesser reward for information about a live person.

In that case, especially given the crime-and-drug-riddled world most of the women were in before they disappeared, there is a chance someone who knew any of their whereabouts could commit murder to gain a larger reward.

The police department has not supported the reward, because no evidence has surfaced that would indicate the women have gone missing as the result of criminal acts.

Rewards are generally used to investigate known criminal acts when other leads have dried up.

Grandma's House, a shelter and advocacy group for prostitutes, has pressured police and city hall to offer a reward after similar rewards were offered to combat strings of home invasions and armed robberies of persons parking their cars in their home garages.

Director Jamie Lee Hamilton and some relatives have claimed a serial killer is likely responsible for the women's disappearance.

Hamilton could not be reached for comment Monday.

Comments about this article? Send mail to David Hogben


Reward to be offered in case of missing women
WebPosted Apr 29 1999 12:08 PM PDT

VANCOUVER - There will soon be a $100,000 reward for information on women missing from Vancouver's downtown eastside. The Vancouver police board has given the award approval in principle.

Police don't believe a serial killer is at work, but do admit some of the women may be victims of foul play. Wording of the reward still has to be worked out.

Jamie Lee Hamilton is with Grandma's house, a group that works with prostitutes. She says 22 women have vanished from the downtown eastside without a trace. Hamilton's pleased with the reward. She says the decision not only displays fairness, it says all citizens of this city enjoy equal status. Rewards have recently been offered for a series of crimes on the more affluent west side of Vancouver.

Hamilton is also calling for the creation of a police task force to find out what happened to the missing women.

Reward posters focus attention on case of 31 missing women

The Vancouver Sun, Lindsay Kines, Tuesday, July 27, 1999.

Investigators have included historic cases and those from other jurisdications in their probe of the disappearances of the women.

Vancouver city police will release today a reward poster featuring the photographs of 31 women who have gone missing from the Downtown Eastside since 1978.

More than 20 of those women, who were all involved in drugs or the sex trade, have gone missing in the past four years.

The most recent case is that of Julie Young who was reported missing July 6.

She was last seen Oct. 9, 1998.

In addition, police have added a number of historic cases, as well as those that were reported to other police departments or RCMP detachments.

The press conference to release the poster will be attended by Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh and John Walsh, host of televisionís Americaís Most Wanted, which is doing a segment on the missing women.

The provincial government and the Vancouver Police board have posted a $100,000 reward in the case.  But city lawyers have been struggling with the wording of the reward, because without bodies or crime scenes, police say they have no proof the women have met with foul play.

Vancouver police currently have eight full and part-time investigators working on the case, which has sparked fears that a serial killer is preying on the women.

Investigators have spoken to their counterparts working on the unsolved Green River killings in Seattle, as well as serial killing cases involving prostitutes in Spokane and Poughkeepsie New York.  Police have also used the services of geographic and psychological profilers, and have met with women who work in the sex trade.

Missing Women at 31 July 24, 1999
Missing Women's Poster July 26, 1999
Missing Women Worth $100,000




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

Updated: August 21, 2016