Monday, December 10, 2007

In Memoriam: Pickton's Six (proven) Victims

On Sunday night, one long-awaited event dominated Canadian news networks: the official verdict of the Robert Pickton trial. Once the jury had spoken, Pickton joined the likes of one of the country's most prolific serial killers as he was found guilty on all 6 counts of second-degree murder. While many were initially dismayed by the seemingly lesser charges of homicide, lead Crown councel, Michael Petrie, reassured the media that the only difference between a first-degree and second-degree charge was in the culprit's parole eligibility. Pickton's second-degree sentencing means that he would receive life in prison while being eligible for parole after 10 years. A first-degree charge would also result in life imprisonment, however the accused would only be eligible for parole after 25 years behind bars. But as Pickton has 6 counts of murder under his belt, his chances for parole seem pretty dire. He will be sentenced on Tuesday and still faces 20 additional counts of murder in the first-degree.

As the media has since moved onto the verdict of the Conrad Black trial, I would like to turn your attention to the victims of Pickton's misogynistic crimes. The real story lies behind the lives of these women who were brutally murdered and soon forgotten on account of their work in the sex trade. They deserve to be remembered.

Andrea Joesbury was a vibrant young woman with a new lease on life. She had a troubled childhood and ran away from her home in Victoria in search of a better life. At only 16 years-old, Andrea had been lured onto the streets of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside by her drug dealer boyfriend. Once excelling in drama and sports in school, she was soon trapped in a world of drugs and prostitution.

But her future still looked bright.

Having spent nearly 7 years on the streets, Andrea was in the process of kicking her long-time heroin addiction with the help of Vancouver's methadone program. In her last phone conversation with her grandfather, the young woman expressed excitement in turning her life around and eventually moving back to the Island.

Sadly, Andrea did not have the chance to follow through on her dreams. Alarm bells started to go off as she missed her daily methadone dose at a local clinic. On June 8, 2001, Andrea was reported missing.
(photo courtesy of Victoria's Time Colonist)

Sereena Abotsway had a heart of gold and a hearty laugh to match. She had been raised by her foster parents until she was 17, but Sereena had started to reflect serious behaviourial issues associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She was then moved into a group home for troubled teens. It was there that Sereena was introduced to drugs and soon found herself on the streets of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, using sex to support her drug habit.

But after years on this path, Sereena had found solace in Christianity. She had started attending a church, located on ground-zero of Vancouver's most notorious strip, and had even been baptized in the ocean tide of Burard Inlet.

Ironically, Sereena had also become a strong advocate for the missing women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Many of those lost were her friends and she had participated in community rallies in order to pressure local law enforcement to investigate each of their disappearances.

Sereena became one of these tragic statistics once she disappeared in August 2001
(photo courtesy of

Marnie Frey was a generous person--so generous, that she often came home from school with missing articles of clothing since she gave away pieces of her wardrobe to friends in need. Even when she became a young mother at 18, Marnie was still known for sharing her formula, diapers, and baby clothes with other moms in order to lend a helping hand.

And her bright spirit didn't stop there. Marnie loved animals. Growing up in Campbell River, her family had a little chicken coop on their property. When Marnie was 10 years-old, she became extremely distraught when one of her chickens was suddenly found dead. So in order to placate her daughter's pleas, Marnie's father, Rick, agreed to have an autopsy done on the deceased fowl. What was the cause of death? Apparently, the poor chicken had swallowed a nail.

But as the sad story goes, Marnie unfortunately got tangled up in drugs and eventually ended up on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside as a sex trade worker. The last time her parents heard from her was right before her birthday in 1997. While Marnie was last seen on August 1997, she wouldn't be reported missing until an entire year later.
(photo courtesy of the Vancouver Sun)

Brenda Wolfe was often known as a "guardian angel" as she worked as both a "street bodyguard" in order to provide protection for those working on the streets, and a bouncer/server at Downtown Eastside's Balmoral. But despite the tough exterior, many remember her as a caring and gentle soul.

While Brenda originally came from southern Alberta, the events surrounding her descent into drugs and the streets of Vancouver is highly speculated.

Like the tragic fate of so many before her, Brenda also became one of the dozens of missing women on February 1999.
(photo courtesy of Vancouver 24 Hours)

Mona Wilson had endured a heart-wrenching childhood marred by both physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her biological family. When she was finally taken into protective custody, Mona was welcomed into the home of her foster family.

At 14, the ministry moved her out of the safey of her long-time foster home into another. Two years later, Mona was walking the downtown streets of Vancouver's notorious Eastside in order to support her emerging heroin addiction.

As Mona became one of the city's many missing women in November 2001, her foster dad, Ken Garley, laments, "She would have been a great wife and great mother, she had true love in her heart."
(photo courtesy of

Georgina Papin was a loving mother of 6 who had fallen on hard times. As a child, she was bounced between foster homes and residential schools in Alberta.

Despite Georgina's downfalls as a drug addict, her daughters, Kristina and Ruth Bateman, still had fond memories of their mother. Since Georgina was a member of the Enoch Cree First Nations outside of Edmonton, she really wanted her daughters to be in touch with their Native heritage so she encouraged them to attend Cree powwows and taught them the secret to making the perfect bannock (traditional biscuit).

When she finally jumped on the wagon of sobriety in an attempt to gain custody of her kids, Georgina went missing in March 1999. However, her disappearance wouldn't be reported until two years later.


webmaster pomona said...

thanks for posting this---and RIP to these souls

--Bamboo Blitz-- said...

Hey webmaster pomona...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. This is really such a tragic story since many of these women were in the process of reinventing their lives. Also, they represent only a tip of the iceberg since more than 40 women went missing from this area.

Francis said...

It's sad news and tragedy

DaisyDeadhead said...

A beautiful commemorative post! My heart just aches for these women. :(

--Bamboo Blitz-- said...


Welcome and thanks for commenting! I know, it's such a tragic story beyond what I could ever imagine...

--Bamboo Blitz-- said...

Hello, daisydeadhead....

Thanks for your kind words. This story has received a lot of attention (in Canada anyway) and I really hope that these women can be remembered as humans and NOT merely as drug-addicted sex trade workers.

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