A. Cameron Ward Barristers and Solicitors » Missing Women Commision of Inquiry
A. Cameron Ward
Vancouver BC

Our firm is honoured to be representing the families of Dianne Rock, Georgina Papin, Marnie Frey, Cynthia Dawn Feliks, Cara Ellis, Mona Wilson, Helen May Hallmark, Dawn Crey, Angela Hazel Williams, Jacqueline Murdock, Brenda Wolfe, Andrea Joesbury, Elsie Sebastian, Heather Bottomley, Andrea Borhaven, Tiffany Drew, Angela Jardine, Stephanie Lane, Tanya Holyk, Olivia William, Debra Jones, Janet Henry, Marie Lorna Laliberte, Sereena Abotsway, and Dianne Melnick at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.

The Inquiry will focus on the conduct of the Vancouver Police Department and Royal Canadian Mounted Police in handling numerous reported cases of missing women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The Inquiry will also investigate the decision of the Criminal Justice Branch on January 27, 1998, to enter a stay of proceedings on charges against Robert William Pickton, who was later convicted of murdering six of the missing women. Finally, the Commissioner has been tasked with recommending changes respecting the conduct of investigations involving missing women and suspected multiple homicides, and the co-ordination of homicide investigations by multiple police organizations. The complete Terms of Reference are available here.

The Inquiry was established by an Order in Council pursuant to the Public Inquiry Act, S.B.C. 2007, c. 9, and has been granted the powers of both a hearing and study commission. The Honourable Wally Oppal, Q.C. has been appointed sole Commissioner of the Inquiry.

If you have information that might assist the Inquiry, we encourage you to contact the Commissioner, who has invited members of the public to make written submissions. More information on how to participate is found on the Inquiry’s website. If you are a direct family member of a women reported missing, we encourage you to contact us directly.

From time to time we will post an update on the status of the Inquiry on our website.

Latest Action Post

On March 23, 1997 Robert “Willy” Pickton attacked a downtown eastside Vancouver sex trade worker at the Port Coquitlam property he shared with his brother.  The Crown laid charges of attempted murder, forcible confinement, assault with a weapon and aggravated assault against him but stayed the charges as the trial approached.


The VPD and the RCMP had Pickton in their sights as a prime suspect in the disappearances of other downtown eastside sex trade workers from August of 1998 onwards but didn’t apprehend him.  He was able to kill dozens of women, as many as 49 in all, until February 5, 2002.


These are the central factual questions posed by the terms of reference of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.  The anguished families of Pickton’s victims have long sought a public inquiry into these questions, and others.  Now that the Commission is finally hearing testimony from the police officers actually involved in the investigations, will the families get the answers they need and deserve?  Or will the sudden appearance of a host of lawyers for individual police officers to augment the teams that the VPD and RCMP have had to look out for their interests for the last decade throw a spanner in the works?


The latest report from The Vancouver Sun’s Neal Hall is here.

posted by

The next witness at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry will be Vancouver Det. Cst. Lori Shenher, who had primary conduct of the missing women investigation for the VPD from June of 1998 until late 2000.  Before joining the VPD, she was a Calgary journalist.  She is also credited as a technical advisor and writer on 25 episodes of Da Vinci’s Inquest, where a fictional missing women’s case was a recurring theme on the show.  

In July and August of 1998, Shenher received information from Bill Hiscox that a Port Coquitlam pig farmer named Robert “Willy” Pickton was likely responsible for the disappearances of women from Vancouver’s downtown east side.  She determined that the information was credible, and soon learned that Pickton had been charged with the attempted murder and forcible confinement of a Vancouver sex trade worker the year before.  (The Crown dropped those charges; the Commission is supposed to inquire into the facts concerning that decision)  Although three more informants independently came forward with information fingering Pickton as a likely serial murderer, neither the VPD nor the RCMP apprehended him.  On February 5, 2002, a junior Coquitlam RCMP member investigating an apparently unrelated matter found evidence of some of the missing women on a property owned by Pickton and his brother and sister.  Pickton was subsequently convicted of six murders and twenty other first degree murder charges against him were stayed, the Attorney General decising that “it would not be in the public interest” to prosecute him further. Pickton is believed to be responsible for as many as 49 murders, which would make him Canada’s most prolific serial murderer.  The case reportedly cost Canadian taxpayers as much as $200 million dollars to investigate, prosecute and defend.

posted by

Today’s session began with David Neave unexpectedly arriving and introducing himself as the lawyer for former VPD Insp. Biddlecombe and advising he intended to cross-examine witnesses and would need time to prepare. Biddlecombe’s role in the investigation of Canada’s worst serial killing was well-documented by VPD Deputy Chief LePard’s August 2010 report, but Biddlecombe did not apply for standing when the Commission sought applications a few months later.   An updated list of the lawyers for the various police interests is set out below:

RCMP: Cheryl Tobias, Q.C., Jan Brongers, Judith Hoffman and Andrew Majawa

Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver Police Board: Sean Hern and Tim Dickson

Vancouver Police Union: David Crossin, Q.C.

Dr. Kim Rossmo (ex-VPD): Mark Skwarok

Doug Fell (VPD): Kevin Woodall and Claire Hatcher

Don Adam (ex RCMP): Janet Winteringham, Q.C.

Gary Bass (ex RCMP): Richard Peck, Q.C. and Tony Paisana

Earl Moulton (RCMP): Ravi Hira, Q.C.

Brian McGuiness (VPD): Greg DelBigio, Q.C.

Terry Blythe and John Unger (ex VPD): Edward Greenspan, Q.C. and Vanessa Christie

Brock Giles (VPD): David Butcher, Q.C. and Anila Srivastava

Gary Greer (VPD): Rick Henderson

Fred Biddlecombe (VPD): David Neave

Peel Regional Police: Linda Bordeleau

posted by

This morning, there were five new lawyers in the room as the Commission anticipated hearing the testimony of Peel Regional Police Deputy Chief Jennifer Evans.  This was another surprise for Mr. Chantler and myself.  Rick Peck, Q.C. appeared as counsel for Gary Bass, David Butcher appeared for Brock Giles, Rick Henderson appeared for Gary Greer, Ravi Hira, Q.C. appeared for Earl Moulton and Linda Bordeleau appeared for the Peel Regional Police.  Toronto lawyer Edward Greenspan, Q.C. is apparently still planning to attend and cross-examine DC Evans, but we still do not know who he represents.

At the end of the day, Greg DelBigio stood up and introduced himself as counsel for “a client”.  We don’t know who he represents either.  We’ve asked Commission Counsel Art Vertlieb to shed some light on these mysteries, but he has declined to do so thus far.


Update: Greg DelBigio has advised he represents Brian McGuiness.

Further update: Edward Greenspan, Q.C. has advised he is representing Terry Blythe and John Unger.

posted by

Today, Janet L. Winteringham, Q.C. appeared at the hearing to cross-examine RCMP Superintendent Robert Williams.  Ms. Winteringham indicated that she represents Don Adam, who is not a participant with standing, but a witness expected to testify at some later date.  She proceeded with her questions for the witness after the Commissioner overruled our objection that it would be inappropriate and time-consuming to permit every interested witness or their counsel to cross-examine other witnesses.  A few minutes later we learned for the first time that Kim Rossmo will be taking the stand a week Monday, January 23, 2012.  The next of the day’s surprises arrived in the form of an email circulated at 1:46 p.m. today by Edward L. Greenspan, Q.C. advising that he planned to cross-examine the next witness, Peel Deputy Chief Evans, for two hours.  This was my first inkling that the eminent Toronto lawyer is involved in this matter at all, and I immediately sent all counsel an email asking who he is representing.  I am awaiting somebody’s response, but if I don’t get one, I guess I’ll find out next week.

As counsel representing the families of 25 murdered women before the Commission, it would be helpful if we were kept informed of developments like these in a more timely way, rather than continually being taken by surprise by unexpected procedural developments.

posted by

web design by rob c - Log in