Task force to talk to families in search for clues to women's disappearances

Canadian Press

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

VANCOUVER (CP) - Police have asked family members of 50 women missing from Vancouver's downtown eastside for information about clothing and personal items they may have owned. A joint RCMP-Vancouver city police task force investigating the disappearances will meet with family members Sunday. Police have asked them for details of personal items, in particular clothing the women may have been wearing when they disappeared.

Police have never confirmed reports they found personal items belonging to some of the women at a suburban Vancouver pig farm they have been searching since Feb. 5.

One of the owners of the farm, Robert William Pickton, has been charged with the first-degree murder of two of the women, Mona Wilson and Sereena Abotsway.

"They have identified Sereena's DNA positively," said Anna Draayers, Abotsway's foster mother.

But Draayers said Tuesday she does not know what police found arm that led them to lay charges.

She suggested it may not be difficult for some families to provide police with a list of personal belongings.

"Sereena, unfortunately, didn't have too many things," she said. "She either lost them or she pawned them."

The women who have disappeared from the downtown eastside in the past two decades were drug addicts and prostitutes whose disappearances seemingly went unnoticed by authorities for years.

As the number of missing women mounted, public pressure from friends and families increased until a $100,000 reward was offered and the RCMP became involved in the investigation.

RCMP have previously met with families and planned another meeting for March 23. But that meeting was moved up after Pickton was charged.

"The meeting is just for an update to the family," Det. Scott Driemel, a spokesman for the task force, said Tuesday.

"We're not going to divulge anything that's potentially going to impact or hamper the investigation itself. It's just a matter of being able to provide support and an opportunity for discussion with the family members."

Family members of the missing women are stretched across the country, Driemel said, but the task force tries to contact at least one family member of each woman.

Michelle Marcella, whose cousin Marcie Creison was reported missing in December 1998, said the meetings with task force members have helped families deal with the investigation.

"It's much better than being kept in the dark and not knowing anything at all," said Marcella.

She said police collected a DNA sample from Creison's mother long before the search of Pickton's Port Coquitlam pig farm began and that police already know what Creison was wearing when she disappeared.

Draayers said police, who contacted families before news of the search broke in the media and met with several a few days after the search began, have given them as much information as possible.

"They have to be very careful what information they give because they won't tell us anything that would, in any chance, damage the trial when it comes up," she said.

Rebecca Guno, the first woman on the list, has been missing since June 1983. Abotsway was reported missing last August and Wilson, the last woman added to the list, was reported missing in late November.

There will be a memorial service for Abotsway at the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver on Monday.

"We can't do a funeral, so the priest suggested that we do some kind of a memorial service," Draayers said. "A lot of people from downtown have been asking for that. It might be a little closure for them, too."

 Copyright  2002 The Canadian Press

Missing women's families to meet police-Mar 5, 2002



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