Friday, May 31

Dad hopes for new leads to disappearance of Abbotsford mother of three six years ago


Candace Shpeley, who disappeared March 31, 2007, would turn 30 on Friday. Her father Barry hopes someone will come forward with information about her disappearance.

Photograph by: TBA, PROVINCE

On a day he should be celebrating the birthday of his daughter Candace, Barry Shpeley will instead be updating the media on her disappearance.

That media briefing scheduled for Friday morning in Abbotsford will be quick, he points out, because there is little to report in the case that has gone very cold.

The update will mark Candace’s 30th birthday. She went missing on March 31, 2007, and left behind two young daughters and a son.

“Friday will be her birthday,” said Barry who doubts his daughter would have abandoned her three children.” She is still missing.”

He feels it took police too long to move on his initial report that she was missing. Since then he has talked with at least four investigators, and he feels the case has been shuffled off to the side.

“My daughter’s case has been mishandled from Day 1,” he says.

“We might have had better luck if the police had moved faster on the initial missing person’s report on my daughter,” he said Thursday.

“I am fed up I have had enough.”

A short time after the single mother disappeared, it was discovered she had been helping drive around Abbotsford a former prison inmate by the name of Darryl Cole. “She was giving him rides,” said Barry. “I think someone she knew was saying ‘Can you help him out.’ ”

Barry also believes his daughter was not using drugs. “I asked her right to her face and she said no — and you can do a drug test on me anytime.”

After his daughter went missing, Barry points out a full search of her home was done. “There was no drug paraphernalia anywhere,” he said.

Cole, 44, was later linked to a December 2007 marijuana grow rip, and was convicted of beating Michael Gerald Larson to death with a baseball bat during the robbery.

He was sentenced to 13½ years in prison. But any information he had on Candace was lost after he was found dead in his cell in the maximum security Kent Institution. Foul play was not suspected.

Barry attended Cole’s sentencing hearing in the manslaughter case, but there was nothing further at the time to link him to the disappearance of Candace.

Sgt. Jennifer Pound, spokeswoman for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, said Thursday that investigators continue to work on the Shpeley case, but there is nothing new to report.

“It is still definitely an active file,” she said. “There’s still persons of interest.”

Pound said that Cole may have taken some vital information on Candace to his grave when he died. ”I know one of those persons of interest was Cole,” she said. “That poses a problem because he is deceased.”

On the day Candace went missing, she had lunch with her brother at an A & W restaurant in downtown Chilliwack.

She visited friends in Surrey that evening, and Cole, it is believed might have been among them. That night, RCMP ran the licence plate of her car twice while it was parked outside a suspected drug house. But Candace’s father said it is not clear known whether Candace was at that residence, and he thinks someone may have taken her car.

She was scheduled to pick up her kids the following day, but never arrived. Her green 1995 Pontiac Grand Am was found nine days later in the area of Renfrew Street and 17th Avenue in Vancouver.

Barry is hoping some new lead or clue comes from the Friday news conference. “Someone knows what happened,” he said.

Anyone with information on the missing mom is asked to call IHIT at 1-877-551-4448.

© Copyright (c) The Province

Tuesday, May 21

Vanderhoof-area event will mark second anniversary of young woman’s disappearance


Madison Scott, above, was last seen at around 3 a.m. on May 28, 2011. Her pickup truck and tent were found at a campsite 25 kilometres southeast of Vanderhoof. — Submitted photo

What happened to Madison Scott remains a sad mystery, almost two years after the Vanderhoof woman disappeared after camping at Hogsback Lake, 25 kilometres southeast of her hometown.

Family, friends and the general public are being invited to a search of the area Saturday, May 25, which is as close as possible to the May 28, 2011 weekend when the 20-year-old went to a party and was last seen at around 3 a.m.

Her off-white, early 1990s Ford F-150 pickup and two-tone blue tent were left at the lake but, despite an extensive search, no other trace was ever found of Scott, who is Caucasian, stands 5-foot-4, weighs 170 pounds and has ginger-coloured hair.

Saturday’s search is the second On The Trail to Find Maddy Poker Ride, which is a competition divided into divisions for walkers, quad all-terrain vehicles and horses who go through checkpoints to assemble poker hands.

Wayne Woods, one of the event’s organizers and a friend of Maddy’s parents Eldon and Dawn Scott, said the area has been searched extensively already, “but everyone is asked to keep their eyes open” for any clues.

The event is more about keeping the hunt for Maddy in the public’s awareness, according to Woods.

“The message we’re trying to get out there is that if anyone has any information — we’re just trying to keep it foremost in people’s minds — that they need to come forward with it,” said Woods.

“Even if it’s a small detail, it can turn into something relevant,” he said. “We haven’t given up hope that she’ll be found and we’re not going to stop looking.”

While the area is remote, it’s not immune to problems — but not like Maddy vanishing.

“Things have happened, for sure,” conceded Woods. “But not like this, where there’s been just no answers at all.”

Her disappearance is still a concern for the community.

“In a small town, normally when something happens you hear rumours and people talk, and what not,” said Woods. “But there just hasn’t been a whisper about anything about Madison.

“It’s like she disappeared and no one knows anything,” he said.

The family offered a reward of $15,000, which was increased to $25,000 and is now at $100,000.

A video re-enactment of the story was done by RCMP, and Maddy’s disappearance was included in a documentary on the Highway of Tears, the route between Prince George and Prince Rupert along which 18 women have gone missing or been murdered.

Maddy was even part of CBS television’s 48 Hours focus on the Highway of Tears, although Woods said neither the family nor police believe she is part of that tragedy.

More information about the poker ride is available online at

© Copyright (c) The Province

Friday, May 17

Pickton lawsuit prompts Steven Point's resignation from advisory board on inquiry recommendations


Steven Point is seen following the release of the report on the findings of the Missing Women Commission in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday, December, 17, 2012.


VANCOUVER — A series of lawsuits filed by children of the victims of serial killer Robert Pickton prompted the resignation of Steven Point, the former B.C. lieutenant governor appointed five months ago to implement recommendations from the public inquiry into the case.

The British Columbia government also warned its own work to fix the problems identified at the high-profile inquiry will also likely be hampered because of the lawsuit.

Point's resignation drew an immediate rebuke from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, and the lawyer for the victims' children who angrily rejected the suggestion that the lawsuits should have anything to do with Point's position.

Point, who was appointed last December, said his resignation was prompted by the four lawsuits filed earlier this month by children of women whose remains or DNA were found on Pickton's farm.

"Litigation has been commenced by certain family members of the victims of Pickton, and I have been served with documents that have put me on notice regarding this litigation," Point wrote in a letter to Attorney General Shirley Bond, dated Friday.

Wally Oppal, a former judge and one-time attorney general, issued a report last December that found significant errors in how Vancouver police and the RCMP responded to reports of missing sex workers from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and blamed systemic bias against vulnerable women.

He made 63 recommendations, many focused on reforming police service in the province, as well as financial compensation for the children of missing women. The province asked Point to oversee the report's implementation.

Earlier this month, the children of four women filed separate lawsuits against Pickton, his two siblings, the B.C. government and the City of Vancouver, seeking damages for the women's deaths and the botched investigation that failed to prevent them. The province was named on behalf of the RCMP and the city was named on behalf of its police force.

Attorney General Shirley Bond released a statement Friday that said the "plaintiffs have put Mr. Point on notice" that his public comments could become evidence in the civil case. A ministry spokeswoman later clarified that the families sent Point a copy of the statements of claim, which he interpreted as having been "put on notice."

A lawyer for the victims' families, Jason Gratl, said they never suggested in any way that Point could be dragged into the civil case.

Although he didn't want to be quoted, Gratl was clearly upset with what he perceived as an attempt to blame the children of the women for Point's decision to resign.

Gratl confirmed he sent Point an email with copies of the lawsuits, but the email makes no mention of Point becoming a potential witness.

"I appreciate that neither of you are parties to the action," Gratl wrote in an email to both Point and Oppal, dated May 8.

"But I thought you might be asked to comment on the claims at some point, and it might be of assistance to you if you had a chance to review them first," the email stated.

Point, a former provincial court judge, could not be reached to further explain his resignation.

Bond also said the lawsuits could slow the province's work to implement the report's recommendations, though she did not explain why that would be the case or what specific work would be affected.

"Continuing to address the recommendations is very important to me personally and to our government, but we also need to ensure that as we do that we consider the impact of the litigation that is underway," Bond said in a statement.

"That is exactly what we intend to do and move forward as soon as possible."

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs issued a joint news release criticizing Point's resignation and the government's suggestion that the lawsuits will prevent the province from implementing Oppal's recommendations.

"It appears that the government is prepared to indefinitely stall or abandon this work," Micheal Vonn, policy director of the civil liberties association, said in the news release.

"This is a terrible indicator of the state of the government's commitment to women's safety and equality. "

Oppal, who spent months hearing evidence from police officers, sex workers, and the families of Pickton's victims, said he was disappointed to hear about Point's resignation.

"I know he was making progress on the report, because I met with him on a number of different occasions," Oppal said in an interview Friday.

"Obviously, I am concerned because I wanted to see a speedy resolution as far as the recommendations of the report are concerned. "

The lawsuits involve the daughters and sons of Dianne Rock, Sarah de Vries, Cynthia Feliks and Yvonne Boen. They were not among the six women Pickton was convicted of killing, but their remains or DNA were found on Pickton's property following his arrest.

Pickton was arrested in February 2002 and eventually convicted of six counts of second-degree murder.

The remains or DNA of 33 women were found on Pickton's property in Port Coquitlam. He once told an undercover police officer that he killed a total of 49.

© Copyright (c)

Thursday, May 9

Families of four missing women file lawsuit against Robert Pickton, police, government

The lawsuits also name Pickton's brother, Dave Pickton, and sister, Linda Wright, because they were part owners in the family farm


Serial killer Robert Pickton.

Photograph by: File, Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER - Sarah-Jean de Vries was six years old the last time she saw her mother, a woman who now lives only in distant memories and faded photographs.

An image of her mother reading a Winnie-the-Pooh book to four-year-old Sarah-Jean was hung low on the walls of the family’s home, so the little girl could easily see the picture every day.

Sarah-Jean was raised by her grandmother, Pat, who patiently answered the little girl’s many questions about her mother — Sarah de Vries, who vanished from the Downtown Eastside in 1998.

“Jeannie is interested in how much she’s like her. Did she have acne, or was she good at singing,” Pat de Vries told The Sun in 2006, when Sarah-Jean was 15 years old.

On Thursday, Sarah-Jean and the children of three other missing women launched lawsuits against serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton, five RCMP officers, the provincial Justice Ministry, the City of Vancouver, and Pickton’s brother and sister.

Joining de Vries in filing separate lawsuits in B.C. Supreme Court were Theresa Mongovius, daughter of Cynthia Feliks; Troy and Joel Boen, sons of Yvonne Boen; and Melissa Marin, Carol Cote and Donald Cote, children of Dianne Rock.

In a short email to The Sun on Thursday, Mongovius said: “I want justice for the wrongs that could of saved my mom’s life and possibly many others. I want everyone to know my life would be a lot different for me if my mom was still here.”

DNA belonging to all four women — de Vries, Feliks, Boen and Rock — were found on Pickton’s Port Coquitlam pig farm. He faced first-degree murder in their deaths, but the charges were stayed after he was convicted in 2007 of killing six other missing women.

The lawsuits argue police should have been aware Pickton was attacking sex workers in the Downtown Eastside, in part because he was charged in 1997 with the attempted murder of a woman on his farm. Those charges were stayed, but an RCMP corporal put a note on a police database to warn all officers that Pickton was a threat to women on the street.

“Notwithstanding their knowledge of risks to sex workers, (Vancouver police) and RCMP failed to warn Sarah of the specific risk that a serial killer was active in the Downtown Eastside,” the de Vries lawsuit says.

“The VPD and RCMP owed and breached a duty of care to Sarah, as a member of the public and as an individual within a group at heightened risk of harm from a serial killer.”

The lawsuits allege police failed to pursue all investigative leads, mismanaged information, were “inadequate and inept” with surveillance and undercover operations, and failed to confirm or rule out suspects.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

The documents allege a Crown prosecutor was negligent when she stayed the charges against Pickton in the 1997 attack.

“Crown counsel knew or ought to have known that entering a stay of proceedings would increase the risk that Robert Pickton would continue to cause death and serious injury,” the documents say.

The lawsuits name Pickton’s brother, Dave Pickton, and sister, Linda Wright, because they were part owners in the family farm.

“David Pickton and Linda Wright knew that Robert Pickton and others tortured and killed sex workers and other persons at the Pickton property, and were aware that the actions and propensities of Robert Pickton represented a danger to persons attending the Pickton property,” the documents say.

The lawsuits, all filed by Vancouver lawyer Jason Gratl, say the deaths of the plaintiffs’ mothers caused the children to suffer loss of emotional and financial support, as well as challenges to their health and psychological well-being.

Rock’s daughter, Carol, last saw her mother on her 14th birthday in June 2001. When Dianne Rock disappeared four months later, the teenager searched for her in the Downtown Eastside.

“I just wanted to find her, she was really important to me,” Carol told a newspaper at the time.

Yvonne Boen’s mother, Lynn Metin, told The Sun in an earlier interview that she began to worry when her daughter, who had three boys, didn’t show up in March 2001 for a visit with her son Troy.

“She was excited about coming to get Troy, she was happy that he wanted to spend some time with her,” Metin recalled. “(But) she never contacted me. That just wasn’t her. Every holiday, Troy’s birthday, my birthday — it just wasn’t like her not to phone.”

Gratl said his clients are hoping to receive monetary payments, after years of feeling they were not treated well by the justice system.

“The aim of the children of the missing women is to receive financial compensation, a modest leg-up for the future,” he said.

“To bring them back to the point that they would have been if their mothers hadn’t been ruthlessly killed under the noses of the Vancouver police and the RCMP.”

Canadian courts have not been “overly generous” when children sue for the loss of a parent compared to courts in the United States, where the damages awarded have been much higher, Gratl said. He hopes a high-profile case like this may set a new precedent in Canada.

One of the key recommendations made by Wally Oppal, head of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, in his December 2012 report was for compensation to be given to the children of the missing women.

The defendants have not yet filed responses to the lawsuits.

The RCMP officers being sued are Supt. Ric Hall, Cpl. Frank Henley, Const. Ruth Chapman (Yurkiw), Supt. Earl Moulton and Staff Sgt. Brad Zalys. Some are now retired.

The RCMP declined to comment Thursday as the matter is before the courts, but noted Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens has previously said officers “deeply regret” the disappearances. Callens also referred to the case as “a tragedy that caused unimaginable pain for many families.”

Justice Ministry spokeswoman Lori DeLuca would not comment about the allegations in the lawsuit, but noted the government has taken many steps to respond to the recommendations in Oppal’s report, including appointing a “champion” to represent vulnerable women.

The City of Vancouver declined to comment.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Families of four missing women file lawsuit against Pickton, police, government


Robert Pickton listens to his verdict in a artist's drawing in New Westminster, Sunday, December 9, 2007. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Felicity Don

VANCOUVER - The children of four women whose remains were found on Robert Pickton's property have filed lawsuits against the police and Pickton himself, demanding compensation for the failed murder investigation and a chance to confront the serial killer in court.

The daughters and sons of Dianne Rock, Sarah de Vries, Cynthia Feliks and Yvonne Boen each filed separate lawsuits Thursday in B.C. Supreme Court, targeting the provincial government on behalf of the RCMP, the City of Vancouver on behalf the city's police force, a number of police officers, Pickton, and two of his siblings.

The statements of claim allege numerous failures on the part of Vancouver police and the RCMP, including that both forces botched their investigations into dozens of missing sex workers from the Downtown Eastside and failed to warn women in the neighbourhood that a serial killer was likely targeting women in the area. In addition, the statements say the Crown failed to prosecute Pickton for attempted murder after an attack on a sex worker in 1997, putting other women in danger.

Pickton was arrested in February 2002 and eventually convicted of six counts of second-degree murder.

After Pickton lost his appeals for those convictions, charges related to 20 other women, including Rock, de Vries and Feliks, were stayed by the Crown. Boen is among six women whose remains or DNA were found on the Pickton property but for which no charges were ever laid.

Boen's and Feliks' children allege they were harmed by the insensitive manner in which they were informed of their mother's deaths. Boen's children say the first they heard of their mother's death was in news reports. Feliks' daughter says at first she was only told police had found her mother's DNA on the farm, but she didn't learn until much later that Feliks' DNA had been found in packaged meat in a freezer.

The lawsuits also target Pickton's brother and sister, David and Linda — David for allegedly lying for his brother during the attempted murder investigation in 1997 and both for allowing the killings to happen on a property they owned together with Robert.

The statements of claim, which contain unproven allegations, borrow heavily from a public inquiry report released last December, which outlined a litany of devastating failures within both the Vancouver police and the RCMP and recommended compensation for the children of Pickton's victims.

"The VPD and RCMP owed and breached a duty of care to Yvonne, as a member of the public and as an individual within a group at heightened risk of harm from a serial killer and at heightened risk of harm from Robert Pickton to warn Yvonne of the risk to her safety," says the statement of claim filed by Boen's two sons, Tory and Joel.

"Notwithstanding their knowledge of the risk to sex workers, VPD and RCMP failed to assign adequate or sufficient resources to investigate Robert Pickton or a serial killer or to protect Yvonne or the other missing women."

The Vancouver police, the City of Vancouver and the RCMP each declined to comment. The Vancouver police and the RCMP have each offered public apologies for their failure to catch Pickton earlier.

B.C.'s Justice Ministry provided a statement detailing its response to a public inquiry but did not respond to the lawsuit. A lawyer who represented the Picktons in an unrelated lawsuit involving their property couldn't be reached.

David Pickton, reached by phone, interrupted a reporter reading the allegations that he lied for his brother.

"What?" Pickton said. "I don't know nothing about it, no comment," he continued, before hanging up.

Jason Gratl, the lawyer representing the family members, said in addition to financial compensation, the case could also provide the families with a chance to force Pickton to answer for his crimes. Pickton has repeatedly denied any involvement, despite the mountain of evidence against him.

"Unlike the criminal context, where Pickton has the right to remain silent, in the civil context there is no right to silence, and Robert Pickton will have to answer for his crimes," Gratl said in an interview.

The public inquiry spent months hearing evidence detailing why the police failed to act as women in the Downtown Eastside disappeared in alarming numbers in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Commissioner Wally Oppal released a report last December that made 63 recommendations, including financial compensation for children of the missing women and a "healing fund" for the women's families.

Gratl said the provincial government, the City of Vancouver, the RCMP and the Vancouver police have all failed to take any steps to address the issue of compensation.

"The city and the province have allowed Mr. Oppal's recommendation for compensation for children of the missing women to languish," said Gratl.

"The lawsuit aims to provide the city and the province with yet another opportunity to do the right thing and provide these children with a leg up."

The lawsuits, and the complaints that the province has failed to address the issue of compensation, come in the midst of a provincial election campaign that has so far paid little attention to the issue of missing women and Oppal's recommendations.

The governing Liberals and the Opposition New Democrats have each said they would address Oppal's recommendations, but have not provided any specifics. When asked directly about the compensation issue on Thursday, each party leader offered only vague answers.

Liberal Premier Christy Clark said she hadn't yet seen the lawsuit and couldn't comment on a case that's before the courts. She noted her government appointed former lieutenant governor Stephen Point to oversee the province's response to Oppal's report.

"We'll get a chance to look at some of those issues (after the election)," Clark said at a campaign stop in the northern B.C. Community of Burns Lake.

"It was a terrible tragedy, not just for the women and their families, but for all of us in such a wealthy society to think that women who were so vulnerable were left unsafe."

Clark's attorney general, Shirley Bond, referred comment back to the Justice Ministry. The ministry provided a statement that outlined several things the government has done to respond to Oppal's report without referring to the issue of compensation.

NDP Leader Adrian Dix, likewise, had no specifics to offer, largely ignoring the compensation issue when asked about it in Vancouver.

"Our intention is to work with the families to see the report implemented," Dix said in Vancouver.

"There is a series of things the families want — those are only part (of the report). I think the recommendations in that report are very good and we need to work to implement them and we will."

Pickton was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

The remains or DNA of 33 women were found on Pickton's property in Port Coquitlam. He once told an undercover police officer that he killed a total of 49.

— With files from Vivian Luk in Vancouver and Dene Moore in Burns Lake, B.C.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly said Robert Pickton was convicted of first-degree murder.

Tuesday, May 7

Documentary takes a fresh look at heartache, horror of Highway of Tears


A Los Angeles filmmaker is entering the final stretch on putting together a documentary about the Highway of Tears after travelling through the region with a crew last May to gather footage and interviews.

Photograph by: Ian Smith, PNG files

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — A Los Angeles filmmaker is entering the final stretch on putting together a documentary about the Highway of Tears after travelling through the region with a crew last May to gather footage and interviews.

Matt Smiley expects to screen a final product of more than 60 minutes this June to select audiences in Prince George and Smithers, mostly family members of the victims, before taking it to a film festival in Canada for a public debut.

"We're just seeing which one is the most beneficial at this point," Smiley said.

Smiley, who grew up in Montreal and lives in Los Angeles, tackled the issue when he learned about Nicole Hoar — the tree planter from Red Deer who was last seen June 21, 2002, at a gas station west of Prince George — when visiting his sister and her husband in Prince George.

The Highway of Tears has been coined for the 724-kilometre stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, although the number of missing and murdered woman associated with the term covers a larger area.

The RCMP's Project E-Pana is investigating 18 cases of women who have gone missing or been murdered since 1969 within a mile of Highways 16, 97 and 5, between Valemount and Merritt. In 2009, The Vancouver Sun expanded the criteria beyond the one-mile limit to come up with 31 cases.

Smiley is not the first to tackle the subject. CBS's 48 Hours aired a show in November called Highway of Tears, although much of it was about two cases that are arguably unrelated — the disappearance of Madison Scott and the alleged murder of Loren Leslie.

Smiley said his show will differ from other productions in that it will give greater focus to the underlying issues related to the disappearances. A teaser Smiley has put together is exclusively of aboriginal women expressing their feelings about the disappearances.

"I think all those women who have been forgotten will definitely be showcased here," Smiley said.

Smiley has become an advocate for establishing a better bus service between the small communities along Highway 16 West, saying it's a "small fix" in the larger scheme of things.

The 2006 Highway of Tears Symposium report suggests seven shuttle buses would be required along the 724-kilometre stretch.

In December, Missing Women Inquiry Commissioner Wally Oppal called on the provincial government to "immediately commit" to developing and implementing such a system "to provide a safer travel option connecting the Northern communities along Highway 16."

The documentary is being produced independently in a partnership with Carly Pope, a Vancouver-born actor who has landed roles in numerous television shows and movies.

— Read more B.C. Interior news at

© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

Majority Of Missing Persons Cases Are Resolved : NPR

Majority Of Missing Persons Cases Are Resolved : NPR:

Audie Cornish talks with Todd Matthews, director of communications for the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, about how many people go missing every year, and who they typically are

'via Blog this'