By: Gabrielle Giroday
Posted: 05/28/2011 1:00 AM |
JOHN WOODS/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Bernice and Wilfred Catcheway are criticizing the RCMP’s communication skills as the police launch Project Devote.
There were two groups in Winnipeg dealing with the issue of murdered and missing women Friday.
One was at the RCMP headquarters, a highly orchestrated announcement featuring the top brass of both the Winnipeg Police Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The other was a quieter and less controlled gathering of families that have been impacted by those crimes, like Bernice and Wilfred Catcheway, who sat in the lobby of a city hotel pouring their hearts out over their endless search for their missing daughter Jennifer.
Winnipeg Police Service Chief Keith McCaskill and RCMP Assistant Commissioner Bill Robinson told reporters they're planning to continue the work of a joint task force originally struck in August 2009 dedicated to cases of murdered and missing women.
The Catcheways, by contrast, said they hadn't been told about the police announcement and don't plan to wait on officers to find their missing daughter.
"We just go on searching," said Bernice Catcheway, who spent $10,000 to excavate a dump in Grand Rapids in the search for the Portage la Prairie teen after she went missing in June 2008.
"We're not waiting for the police. They say, 'Oh, we're with you, we're with you.' We don't see that, we have no communication," said Bernice Catcheway.
Their daughter's case garnered intense media coverage after it happened, with the family organizing searches and gathering tips. Their experience with police had been frustrating, they said, and that frustration continues.
"For myself, for ourselves, I don't think enough is being done as far as communication. The only time I hear from the RCMP is when I phone to give information on things that I've heard, so there's no communication. They don't call me to say where they're at. Never, not once," said Bernice Catcheway.
Seven officers and two civilian analysts had been dedicated to work on the task force. Police said the task force will now move into another phase called Project Devote, where officers will take information gathered from the task force's review and apply it to investigating unsolved cases.
There's been some success so far. In July, police announced they'd made an arrest of 40-year-old Theodore Herntier for the 2004 homicide of sex trade worker Divas Boulanger.
"I want you to know that our commitment to the victims, their families, and the community at large remains steadfast," said Robinson at the news conference at D Division headquarters.
"The entire Project Devote team is sensitive to the families' distress and frustration, and understands the families' need for ongoing communication."
An announcement by both police forces last February said the task force had uncovered similarities among 84 cases. However -- more than a year later -- police did not say the number of cases they're now pursuing, or identify specific cases where they're looking for leads from the public.
The Catcheways, for example, said they don't know if their daughter's case is included.
"By designating a number to this, an offender who may or may not be watching this, may think, 'Well, gee, they may not be looking at the case that I may or may not be responsible for,' " said Robinson.