Teri-Lyn remembered

By Dan Ferguson - Surrey North Delta Leader

Published: June 25, 2010 6:00 AM 

The man in the white van pulled up while Merle Goertz was repairing the small memorial near the place where police found Teri-Lyn Williams.

Someone had removed Teri-Lyn’s photo from the small cross Goertz made and taken some of the potted daffodils he left on on the north side of 104A Avenue off Whalley Boulevard.

The van driver said he was the passerby who called police about someone lying in the bushes early in the morning of June 9.

“Was there blood?” Goertz asked, hesitantly.

“I couldn’t see any,” the man in the van said.

“But I didn’t go in [for a close look]. She was lying on her back. It looked like she was sleeping.”

Goertz thanked him and explained that he used to know Teri-Lyn.

It had been 12 years since he’d seen or heard from her.

He was shocked by her haggard appearance in a police-issued photo released shortly after her murder.

“That’s not how I remember her,” Goertz said.

“She was the most beautiful, sweet, charming girl.”

They met more than 20 years ago in Edmonton.

She was 19, working as an exotic dancer at a club where Goertz was friends with two other dancers.

He was outside having a cigarette when she walked by, smiled a brilliant smile and said hi.

They were friends for about a year-and-a-half before the relationship became romantic.

She told him about being a street prostitute and drug abuser before he met her.

A pimp inflicted the scar that ran along the right side of her jaw.

She was an adopted child who knew nothing about her birth parents except that one of them was likely dark-skinned.

Her birth mother was probably drinking through the pregnancy because Teri-Lyn had all the symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome, Goertz said.

But she seemed to have overcome her troubled past.

She was a superbly fit amateur bodybuilder and a hard worker who ran her own one-woman cleaning company.

Still, there were ups and downs.

Without warning, Teri-Lyn’s moods could suddenly shift from warm and loving into a wild anger at everything, even the man she loved.

The relationship with Goertz ended badly, with harsh words and hurt feelings, but Goertz never moved out of the building they shared in Vancouver’s West End. Part of him, he said, always hoped that she would come back.

Goertz now knows that Teri-Lyn returned to Alberta, where she built a life with another supportive friend, Calgary resident Dan Swainston.

In a telephone interview with The Leader, Swainston said he never crossed the line from a friendship to a romantic relationship with Teri-Lyn.

He remembers her as a warm, hardworking woman who could be moody, but otherwise was doing fine.

But when she turned 40, Teri-Lyn started to fall apart, Swainston said.

She walked away from her business, drifting into debt and back into drug use and street prostitution.

A grieving Swainston said he did everything he could to help, but it wasn’t enough.

“I could always pull a rabbit out of the hat for her [with loans of money and other assistance], but not this time.”

The last time he heard from her was June 2, when she phoned asking for money to help with her rent.

Swainston didn’t have the money to give, and she got angry.

Swainston said he was “devastated” to learn about her murder and he wants people to know that his friend was more than a mere street prostitute.

“She wasn’t a nobody.”

Her adoptive father, Edmonton resident Mel Williams, suspected his daughter’s emotional problems were the result of drug or alcohol abuse by her birth mother, who a social worker told him was a hooker on Edmonton’s infamous stroll.

Williams feared for Teri-Lyn’s life after learning she had gone back to the street.

“Unfortunately, I’d been kind of expecting something like this ...but nothing prepares you.”

He prefers to remember the often-happy child who did cartwheels down the halls of her home and would ask her father to sing “Delta Dawn” all the time.

“It was her song” he said.

The other day, he heard it playing.

It was the part about “she’s 41 and her daddy still calls her baby,” and it hurt to hear it.

Anyone with information about Teri-Lyn’s movements before her death is asked to call the IHIT TIP Line at 1-877-551-IHIT or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.




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

Updated: August 21, 2016