Young momís slide to drugs and death

Suzanne Fournier
The Province

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Jacqueline McDonell

Jacqueline McDonell grew up in Trail and was a loving mother and friend, until drug addiction drew her repeatedly to the Downtown Eastside.

McDonell, who would be 26, moved between Trail, the home of her mother and stepfather; and Victoria, where the father lived, and the Downtown Eastside, where she was last seen on Jan. 21, 1999.

McDonell was named yesterday as one of three more alleged murder victims of Robert (Willie) Pickton, the Port Coquitlam pig farmer who is already in jail, charged with the first-degree murders of Mona Wilson and Sereena Abotsway.

Pickton was also charged yesterday in the murders of Diane Rosemary Rock, 34, and Heather Kathleen Bottomley, 28.

McDonell's daughter Andrea, who is now eight, "was everything to Jacquie," her friend Willo Bartels said in a recent interview.

"I remember when she was born, Jacquie was so happy. She went overnight from being a loving, fun caring but kinda flaky girl to being very responsible. All the money she had went to her daughter who always had nicer clothes than Jacquie."

Bartels grew up with McDonell and tried to be a good friend even after McDonell fell in with a drug-addicted boyfriend and became addicted. Bartels told Trevor Greene (author of Bad Date: The Lost Girls of Vancouver's Low Track) that Jacquie tried to clean up to regain custody of Andrea, who was apprehended at age four by the children's ministry.

Jacquie, who was "trusting" and prone to "bad judgment," was fighting a losing battle with drugs when Bartels last saw her in 1999.

But "she (stood) up for herself," said Bartels. "If somebody tried to hurt her, she would scream and and start flailing."

Heather Bottomley's family was told by police just a half hour before Pickton's court appearance that their daughter was an alleged murder victim. Rock's family was also notified by police early yesterday.

Leanne Bailey, 34, a Maple Ridge mother who was a Downtown Eastside prostitute for 15 years but has been drug-free for close to a year, said she was "shocked" at the latest charges against Pickton.

"Oh my God, I knew all of those women," she said. "I knew Jacquie, and Heather and Diane, down there; they all worked near Jackson and Hastings, they were on the stroll with me. We were friends.

"Heather was a really sweet girl, quite pretty, never would have been down there turning tricks, except for her addiction."

Karen Duddy, who runs the Women's Information and Safe House drop-in at First United Church, said she knew all three of the latest alleged victims.

"What is so tragic is that I didn't know any of them well, and it was the very anonymity of these women that allowed predators to prey on them, that allowed them to go missing in some cases without anyone realizing it."

© Copyright  2002 The Province

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