Woman’s aunt, cousin missing but ‘the police did nothing'


Lorelei Williams with a picture of her aunt Belinda Williams, who has been missing since 1978.

Photograph by: NICK PROCAYLO, PNG

Lorelei Williams’ life has been bracketed by the disappearance of her aunt — who looks just like Lorelei — and her beloved cousin, Tanya Holyk, whose remains were found on the farm of convicted serial killer Robert Pickton.

Sitting in the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry for the past two weeks, Williams has been struck by the fact that, even though the disappearances occurred 18 years apart, “my family felt both times the police did nothing.

“I was 16 when Tanya disappeared [in 1996]. She was my beautiful cousin who I adored,” said Williams, 31, from Skatin First Nation, near Pemberton.

“Auntie Dixie [Tanya’s mother Dorothy Purcell] called one Vancouver cop over and over about Tanya but he did nothing, and I grew up hearing about my mum’s sister, Belinda Williams, who isn’t even on any missing women poster.

“I hope the inquiry will help — I even think about becoming a police officer and trying to do more for women who disappeared like Tanya and my auntie,” said Williams, cradling a photo of ­Belinda, last seen in 1978.

“Lorelei has had two close family members go missing — it’s such a tragedy that her family deserves answers,” said Lori-Ann Ellis, the sister-in-law of Cara Ellis, whose murder was one of 20 charges stayed against Pickton in August 2010.

On Thursday, Commissioner Wally Oppal will rule on motions by lawyers for the RCMP, who want names of suspects redacted from documents to be made public at the inquiry, and lawyers who want more evidence released.

Jason Gratl, lawyer for Downtown Eastside residents, is arguing sex-trade ­workers must testify at the inquiry by affidavit, to guarantee their safety.

“We heard earlier evidence that 50 or more sex workers may have been to the Pickton farm, but they are vulnerable witnesses who fear violence and retribution from many sources, police, pimps, drug dealers,” said Gratl.

But Vancouver police lawyer Sean Hern argued he should be able to cross-examine witnesses, especially if they make “allegations [against police] so vague they can’t be tested, but are reported in the press.”

Oppal said he is determined “to wind this up by the end of April [2012] and deliver my report by June.”

Slated to take the stand next Monday is Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard.



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Comment by Maureen Reintjes-Peace4 Admin on November 3, 2011 at 11:18am
Thanks Wayne for sharing this article.  My stomach hurts and heart aches for any family with a missing loved one whose case was not taken seriously by those we turn to in trust.  I know exactly what that feels like. Canada, US .... virtually across the world we hear the same stories.  Mostly happens with teen and adults who are missing but not exclusive to them. 

Yet, we are in such a catch-22 situation, damned if you do, damned if you don't ...... we need to work with law enforcement, we want to work with law enforcement but the minute we try and point out how SOME law enforcement is not handling missing person cases correctly we are made to feel like bad people.

It all comes down to training, cooperation and understanding on all sides.


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