CANADA

Epidemic of murder

JANE O'HARA July 20 1987
CANADA

Epidemic of murder

JANE O'HARA July 20 1987

Epidemic of murder

For and women the bars who around work the Vancouver, streets it was a chilling coincidence. On June 27 the stabbed, partly clad body of Carol Ruby Davis, 29, was found in a ditch in suburban Burnaby—the fifth prostitute found murdered in Vancouver in two years. On the same day police in Seattle, Wash., 220 km south of Vancouver, made a similar discovery. When they identified the remains of Cindy Anne Smith, a topless dancer who went missing at age 17 in March, 1984, police listed her as the 37th victim of a serial murderer who is still the object of an extensive manhunt. The unidentified murderer is known as the Green River Killer because the first of the bodies was found in the Green River near Seattle in 1982. Some of the victims were young runaway women, one was a tavern waitress, but most were prostitutes.

At one time the police and FBI agents who make up the Green River task force thought that the killer might have moved to British Columbia. But Vancouver police and local RCMP insist that there is no link between the unsolved killings. They also say that the five Vancouver-area deaths are unrelated. Still, Marie Arrington, for one, a prostitutes’ advocate, said: “One more down. Who’s next? You can’t tell me something isn’t going on.”

A spokesman for the Green River force said that the murders in the two areas differ markedly. Although investigators decline to reveal the Seattle killer’s methods, they said that stabbing does not fit the pattern. And the RCMP’s Sgt. Michael Eastham, who is investigating the Davis killing, said that the Vancouver murders are “all separate incidents.”

That has not reassured Vancouver prostitutes, according to Arrington, who said that there are several prostitutes missing from the area. Meanwhile, the Green River force—scaled down to 25 detectives from 43 last year—continues its search for a killer who most of its members believe has not struck since 1984. Indeed, some officers say that the Seattle killer may either be dead or in jail, a belief based on the observation that serial murderers seldom stop killing until they are caught. But for Vancouver’s prostitutes, each night brings the fear that a new serial killer may be trailing them.

— JANE O'HARA in Vancouver