BC - In the late 1980's, prostitutes in Vancouver, British
Columbia started disappearing. Prostitutes in Vancouver, BC, where
close to 50 women have vanished told authorities they saw Gary Ridgway
cruising for sex. A search of his home turned up a map of BC area
and he reportedly told friends and coworkers they often visited
BC in their RV.
"Certainly there are
some indicators that he was in British Columbia, but I can't be
specific because I just don't know yet," said Det. Jim McKnight.
"It's going to take time and I can't tell you how long it's going
to take. There are just a lot of reading and analyzing that has
to happen. Certainly, there's DNA evidence up in Canada, but it's
too early to tell what I'm going to be doing with it," McKnight
For Americans, the Washington
State border city of Vancouver allows a greater degree of anonymity
in the pursuit of paid sex. Prostitution is illegal in Vancouver,
yet tolerated. Men who arrested go to "Johns" school for first offense,
and then the arrest is expunged on attendance. Subsequent penalties
12-10-01, a team of Canadian
detectives from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Vancouver,
BC, police came to Seattle for a meeting today with Green River
investigators. The team includes a forensic biologist and crime
analyst hoping to learn if Ridgway traveled to British Columbia
and if there's evidence that might connect him to the unsolved disappearances
of 40 prostitutes there. King County authorities did find a map
of BC when they searched Ridgway's property.
US law may not allow
Vancouver authorities to access his DNA profile until Ridgway is
convicted. It could take years, to tie Ridgway to Vancouver murders,
or eliminate him as a suspect. "And I feel for our families and
they want answers. And I want them to know that we do care and we're
down here trying to get answers for them," McKnight said.
Before police can compare
DNA samples, they must find out if the same type of DNA tests were
used. Different types of tests don't produce comparable results.
"As soon as we know what test they used, we'll know what we have
to do," said Paul McCarl, the lead detective in the Canadian homicides.
60 British Columbia prostitutes
were murdered in the last 2 decades, 40 remain unsolved.
the killer lived in the area, or knew the area as a logger, fisherman,
hunter or through the nearby work release program.
RCMP and the Vancouver
Police Department, bulletin boards are covered with photos of missing
women who disappeared from the city's gritty Downtown Eastside between
1983 and August 2001. Some were last seen 2 years before they were
They have no bodies,
no crime scenes, no suspects and no proof that any of they met with
Police want to hear from
anyone who knows if these women are still alive.
Some believe one man
couldn't be responsible for all of the disappearances. It will be
difficult to link disappearances to Ridgway considering the lack
A recent PACE survey
of 183 sex-trade workers found that more than half reported being
robbed and physically assaulted and nearly half had been forced
to have sex against their will while working on the street; one-third
said someone has tried to kill them.
the Downtown Eastside. They were addicted to a substance, whether
it be drugs or alcohol. And the majority of them were in the sex
trade business. That's one of the common denominators, the fact
that the majority of our missing women were in the sex trade business.''
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Danielle Efford
A task force of 16 RCMP
and Vancouver city police officers are investigating the disappearances
women apparently missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, some
since 1984. Police
are considering adding 18 more women to the list of those who have
disappeared in the last two decades, bringing the total to 45.
The joint police task
force took over after criticism that Vancouver city police failed
to act because of the women's background.
RCMP had a prime suspect,
a local roofer with a history of rapes but DNA tests cleared him.
Investigators from a
task force in Vancouver are planning a trip to Seattle to discuss
Efford said police have
yet to look at Ridgway as do not yet have information that Ridgway
was in British Columbia. Since Ridgway's arrest, Canadian authorities
are waiting for critical data. They are checking with customs agents,
waiting for credit card receipts from King County investigators
to see if Ridgway was in Canada when the women disappeared.
Canadian police say deaths
bear similarities with the Green River victims but despite the similarities,
McCarl, is skeptical about a connection. "Some of the physical evidence
(in the Green River killings) is not consistent with the three dead
prostitutes from Vancouver. I'm not really optimistic."
Police said they need
more funding for their investigation. Police have looked through
thousands of files and have 600 to 1,000 suspects in missing women's
cases. Recently officers reviewed reports of 485 missing women in
British Columbia to find 18 with the same profile.
Outside of Vancouver
there are hundreds of thousands of acres of rugged forest land.
In 1995, the bodies of
Tracy Olajide, 30, Tammy
Lee Pipe, 24, and Victoria Younker,
35, were found dumped near remote logging roads in the heavily wooded
Fraser Valley. All
women were sexually assaulted, asphyxiated and left naked.
They were drug addicts
who worked downtown Vancouver, BC In August and September 1995,
the bodies of Olajide, and Pipe, were discovered less than 5 miles
apart in Agassiz, B C within a 3 week period.
In October 1995, a hunter
found the body of Younker, near Mission, BC.
Mary Lidguerre, 30, a
Vancouver prostitute disappeared in 1995. Her skeletal remains were
found in 1997 in a wooded area in North Vancouver.
250 sex-trade workers
drop in WISH each week to warm-up up, shower, watch TV, nap or take
a literacy class. Anxiety is high over the long string of missing
prostitutes dating back to 1983.
Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2011