Serial killer warning 'could have saved my daughter'- 'The women would have taken extra precautions,' a mother tells a civil trial

Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun Fri 22 Jun 2001
Brian Morton

The mother of a woman who went missing in Oppenheimer Park in late 1998 feels her daughter might still be around if police had issued a warning that a serial killer could be operating on the Downtown Eastside.

``I think it might have made a difference,'' said Deborah Jardine, mother of Angela Rebecca Jardine, one of 31 women who have disappeared since 1995 in the area. ``The women would have taken extra precautions, including my daughter.''

Jardine was commenting on testimony at a B.C. Supreme Court civil trial Wednesday in which a former senior Vancouver police officer suggested in 1998 that the department shout-ld issue a public warning about the possibility that a serial killer was in the Downtown Eastside.

But other officers strongly objected to Kim Rossmo's suggestion, so the department instead issued a news release saying police did not believe a serial killer was behind the disappearance of so many missing women.

Rossmo cited the 1998 incident during his wrongful dismissal trial as an example of how certain managers failed to accept him as a senior officer.

However, Jardine said she felt police didn't take her daughter's disappearance seriously enough. ``I was told it wasn't a serial killer, that she just disappeared and started a new life somewhere. I've said all along it was a serial killer or killers.''

However, Downtown Eastside groups that help prostitutes in the area are defending the Vancouver police department's handling of an investigation into the disappearance of the 31 women.

``There was a unit set up and a number of officers worked incredibly diligently,'' said Judy McGuire, chairwoman of Women's Information Safe House [WISH], a drop-in centre for sex trade workers. ``The police obviously took [the investigation] very seriously and acted on it on a lot of fronts.''

McGuire said it was ``common knowledge'' that sexual predators were operating in the area and that police tried to ensure the prostitutes knew that.

``A lot of officers were getting the word out that women were going missing [and] that sexual predators were out there. Whether they should have issued a particular notice, I don't know.''

John Turvey, director of the Downtown Eastside Youth Activities Society, agreed.

``I'm not criticizing the Vancouver police department's handling of the situation. The whole profile of their investigation was a public warning. And I say it's more likely that there was more than one man involved.''

Meanwhile, Detective Scott Driemel, the department's media liaison officer, said Thursday that he can't comment on Rossmo's allegation because the matter is before the courts.

Asked if police deliberately ignored Rossmo's warning, Driemel said there was no hard evidence of a serial killer at the time and that no bodies have turned up.

However, he said a joint RCMP/VPD task force is still investigating the possibility. ``We're not going to rule that out, no.''

Police Chief Terry Blythe also refused comment, saying he will testify at the civil case next week.

Rossmo has testified that his opinions were ignored because some senior officers never accepted his promotion in 1995 by then-police chief Ray Canuel from constable to detective-inspector in charge of the geographic profiling unit.

He said he was terminated five years later and is now suing the Vancouver police board and Deputy Chief John Unger for wrongful dismissal from his $120,000-a-year job.

Rossmo invented geographic profiling, a computerized system to track serial crime, while studying criminology at Simon Fraser University, where he received a doctoral degree in 1995. He was the first police officer in Canada to receive a PhD.

Rossmo said he liked being a police officer and worked hard to achieve his education -- he earned his PhD while working as a full-time beat patrol officer -- and tried to contribute to his profession with his profiling system, which attracted international attention and won awards for the police department.

Part of the reason Rossmo feels he was never accepted by some senior officers was because he cooperated with former police chief Bruce Chambers, an outsider hired in 1997 whose contract was not renewed two years later.

He said members of the old boys network weren't happy with the appointment of Chambers, who had been the police chief in Thunder Bay, Ont.

He said the major crime squad asked for his help only once and the sex offences squad only a few times.

Vancouver Police kept quite on possible serial killer-June 21, 2001



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Updated: August 21, 2016