A Vancouver Police Department officer was accused Tuesday of fabricating a story that a missing prostitute whose DNA would later be found on the Pickton farm was actually safe and in a drug recovery program.
Elaine Allan, who ran the WISH drop-in centre in the Downtown Eastside, testified before the Missing Women Inquiry that VPD Const. Dave Dickson told her in 1999 missing woman Tiffany Drew did not want to be contacted to avoid jeopardizing her recovery.
“He lied to me,” Allan said.
She had pressed Dickson to investigate the disappearance when Drew’s friend, a woman named Ashwan, became “hysterical” and insistent something was horribly wrong because they used a buddy system to track each other.
Dickson seemed indifferent and didn’t file a missing person report, she said.
Drew’s DNA was later found in the 2002 search of the Port Coquitlam farm. Serial killer Robert Pickton, who was convicted in six other killings, was charged but never tried for her murder.
Relatives of victims who previously testified at the inquiry had praised Dickson, calling him one of the few officers who seemed to take the disappearances seriously.
Allan told the inquiry she knew 20 women who vanished from the Downtown Eastside, including five of those Pickton was convicted of murdering.
She described Georgina Papin as the “social maven” of the neighbourhood and said she regularly saw the “petite and elfin” Sereena Abotsway.
One by one they disappeared, feeding a sense of terror in the Downtown Eastside.
“It’s like there was a monster out there,” Allan recalled. “There was this evil force swallowing up women and we didn’t know what it was.”
Some believed women were being snatched and put on freighters to be sex slaves before being thrown in the ocean, she said.
“Everyone considered every possible theory.”
Allan also recalled ejecting two women from the WISH centre for “hustling dates.”
The two women – friends of Pickton’s – repeatedly brought sex trade workers to his farm, according to evidence heard at his trial.
The inquiry is investigating how police failed to stop Pickton much sooner despite considerable evidence that pointed to him as a suspect.
Commissioner Wally Oppal warned inquiry participants that time will be tight in light of the new government deadline of June 30 for a final report.
He said testimony will be cut off in late April.
“We have to move this thing,” he said.
Cameron Ward, the lawyer representing the families of 18 victims, complained of foot-dragging by authorities who have yet to release critical records.
He will argue for an adjournment of the inquiry until those documents are disclosed and to ensure he has adequate time to prepare.
That could delay the expected testimony before the inquiry of VPD Deputy Chief Doug LePard, who is set to take the stand next Monday.
The VPD has been accused at the inquiry of failing to properly investigate reports of missing sex trade workers or to act on the advice of its own geographic profiler that one or more serial killers were hunting prostitutes in the Downtown Eastside.
Tiffany Drew’s DNA was eventually found on the Pickton farm. Robert Pickton was charged but never tried with her murder.