Photo of the Day

A sign along Hwy. 16 outside Smithers, B.C., warning girls against hitchhiking. So many indigenous women and girls have vanished or turned up dead near the remote roadway that residents call it the Highway of Tears. (RUTH FREMSON / THE NEW YORK TIMES)

This is the Highway of Tears

Some highways have souls; others are merely pavement. The soul of Highway 16, the 720-km-long branch of the Trans-Canada that spans northern British Columbia from Prince George to Prince Rupert, is deeply troubled.

It’s a mean road. Logging trucks, as rickety as they are over-laden, roar its length day and night. Convoys of motor homes labour up the long mountain passes as if to taunt other drivers to acts of stunning recklessness. Further east, toward Prince George, the landscape flattens and the highway stretches mournfully to the horizon; the mind grows dim and the foot heavy.

The road’s called Highway 16. It’s part of the Trans-Canada Highway system. … There are places on this road where you will see more bears than you will see cars. The road can take on kind of a sinister aspect to it. It’s a place that can be a good friend to evil. The locals know it as the Highway of Tears. And it’s called that because there’s been a — a series of disappearances and murders of women and girls that date back four decades, and a large number of them are still unsolved. Families and communities have walked the highway’s entire length, and then some, demanding justice.

British Columbia is known for its beautiful mountains and picturesque landscapes, but something sinister has been lurking beneath the pristine scenery of a remote, sparsely populated section of the Canadian province for decades. Authorities believe a serial killer—or serial killers—has been at work in an isolated part of British Columbia since 1969. Since then, dozens of women have disappeared or been murdered by unknown killers stalking victims along the highway.

Small roadside shrines — a wooden cross and maybe a withered wreath or some plastic flowers — mark the places where death has visited Highway 16. Sometimes you can still see the skid marks that map someone’s final seconds. Drive long enough and you learn to spot these places before you get there: a sharp turn in the distance; a logging road up ahead; a pull-off at the crest of a hill.

These dangers you can see. What you can’t see are the highway’s terrible secrets.

The Royal Mounted Canadian Police (RCMP) has a special unit dedicated to the area, and it has linked 18 cases along the highway from 1969 to 2006. But local indigenous leaders estimate that up to 50 or more girls and women have been murdered or have gone missing along the Highway of Tears.

The indigenous people living around the Highway of Tears believe the killings never received the attention they deserved because of the low socioeconomic and social standing of native peoples within Canadian society.

British Columbia’s government plans to improve safety along Highway 16 by installing safety cameras and giving indigenous communities funding for vehicles. Right now the remote communities along Highway 16 have very little lighting on the road, and the only public transportation available has been infrequent Greyhound buses.

It is perhaps not surprising that people would disappear in this place. The area is sparsely populated, with only scattered logging settlements and villages belonging to the Twenty-three First Nations that the highway cuts through. There are vast stretches where there are no people at all, and the lack of public transportation and crippling poverty here conspire to make hitchhiking the most common way to get around. With this remoteness and the inherent dangers of hitchhiking, it seems a perfect storm for murder and vanishings, yet what is shocking is just how many there have been in this area and how few of them have ever been solved. Since 1969, dozens of people, mostly indigenous girls and women, have either gone missing or turned up brutally murdered along the road and its adjacent routes.

Authorities have been largely completely baffled by the cases, which are often surrounded by weirdness and strange clues.

The trail of missing people and murder attributed to the Highway of Tears officially begins in 1969, when on October 25; 26-year-old Gloria Moody was seen alive leaving a bar in Williams Lake, British Columbia. The next day, her dead body was found 10km away stashed in the thick woods near a cattle ranch. The very next year, in July of 1970, 18-year-old Micheline Pare was dropped off at the gates of Tompkins Ranch by two women who had given her a ride, after which she proceeded to vanish off the face of the earth to never be heard from again. She is still missing. 1973 would see the mysterious murders of two young women, Gale Weys (19), Pamela Darlington (19), both of whom had disappeared while hitchhiking and their bodies found unceremoniously dumped in muddy ditches by the side of the road.

In August of 1974, 16-year-old Colleen MacMillen went missing as she was hitchhiking to go see a friend. Her brutalised body would turn up in the wilderness one month later. Later that year, in December of 1974, 14-year-old Monica Ignas vanished while walking along near Terrace, BC, and it wasn’t until 4 months later that her decomposed corpse would be found a few kilometres away from where she had disappeared. The 1970s streak of death would continue in 1978, with the disappearance of young, 12-year-old Monica Jack, who was last seen riding her bike along the Highway of Tears. At the time, Monica had just totally vanished off the face of the earth, and extensive searches turned up nothing. It would not be until 17 years later that her skeletal remains would be discovered at the bottom of a remote, forest choked ravine by forestry workers.

The section of Highway 16 stretching from Prince George to Prince Rupert is the so-called Highway of Tears.

The shocking deaths and disappearances did not abate and continued right on into the 1980s. 33-year-old Maureen Mosie was last seen hitchhiking near Salmon Arm, BC, on 8 May 1981, and her severely beaten body would be found at the end of a run-off lane leading to Highway 97 in Kamloops by a no doubt startled woman out walking her dog. In May of 1983, Shelley-Anne Bascu (16) vanished and was never seen again. 24-year-old Alberta Williams wandered off and disappeared after leaving a crowded bar with her sister and a group of friends in September of 1989. No one was quite sure how she could have just vanished, and she had been there one moment and gone the next. A few weeks later, her lifeless body was found near Prince Rupert, BC near some old railroad tracks by the Tyee Overpass. The body showed evidence of strangulation and sexual assault. Also in 1989 was the mysterious disappearance of 15-year-old Cicilia Anne Nikal, who was last seen on Highway 16 near Smithers, B.C. and hasn’t been seen since.

Perhaps the most chilling disappearance here from the 1980s involves not just one lone hitchhiker, but rather an entire family. On the night of August 2, 1989, a man by the name of Ronald Jack allegedly was drinking at a bar in Prince George, BC, when he met a man who offered him 2 weeks of work at a logging camp. Since he had been desperately looking for a job, Ronald gladly accepted, and he reportedly made preparations for him, his wife Doreen, and their two children 9-year-old Russell and 4-year-old Ryan to make the trip to his new place of temporary employment. At 1:30 AM that evening, Ronald called his mother from a resort area along Highway 16 to inform her of his plans. It was the last time anyone would ever hear from him, and Ronald Jack and his entire family simply disappeared off the face of the earth.

What happened to the family remains a mystery, but local First Nations groups suspect foul play and say the story demonstrates how Highway 16, a road offering a route away from the poverty of the region, can leave people vulnerable to predation.

Like most of the young women who have disappeared or been murdered along the notorious stretch, the Jacks were on the road because they were poor and the highway led to the promise of a new job. Others have found themselves hitchhiking because they couldn’t afford any other way to travel the vast, remote region.

Tragically, and not a little spookily, Cicilia Anne’s cousin Delphine Nikal (16) would mysteriously vanish into thin air the following year, on June 13, 1990, as she was hitchhiking on Highway 16 between Smithers, BC, and her home in Telkwa, BC. Like her cousin, Delphine was also never seen again. The 1990s certainly saw plenty of sinister activity along the Highway of Tears, and in 1994, Ramona Wilson (16) vanished without a trace as she was hitchhiking on July 11 of that year on her way to a graduation party. For 7 months intensive searches turned up nothing, and then Ramona’s mother received an anonymous call claiming her daughter’s body could be found in a field near the airport. Strangely, a search of the area turned up no corpse. It was not until 10 months later, in April of 1995, that her remains would finally be found by two moose hunters lying under some trees in the woods well off the road.

Another case from 1994 was the disappearance of a 16-year-old Roxanne Thiara, who in July of that year told her friend that she was going to meet a customer and was never heard from again. Roxanne’s corpse was found by chance stuffed within some dense underbrush near Burns Lake on August 17, 1994. This was a busy year for the seemingly bloodthirsty road, as in December of 1994 there is also the case of Alishia Germaine (15), whose body was found stabbed to death behind Haldi Road Elementary School off of Highway 16 W. outside of Prince George. The following October 1995, 19-year-old Lana Derrick would vanish without a trace as she was heading along Highway 16 from Northwest Community College in Houston, BC to visit her home in the Hazelton area. Lana was last seen on October 7, 1995, at a gas station near Terrace, in BC, and has never been seen again.

Roxanne Thiara

The list of missing and murdered people on the Highway of Tears has grown well into the new millennium. On June 21, 2002, Nicole Hoar (25) disappeared while hitchhiking from Prince George to Smithers on Highway 16 West. She has not been found and is unusual in that she does not fit the overall pattern because she was not an indigenous woman. In 2005, Tamara Chipman (22) also vanished along the Highway of Tears in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and in February of 2006, the body of 14-year-old Aielah Saric Auger was found in a ditch by a passing motorist shortly after she disappeared.

Even more recent is the mysterious disappearance of 20-year-old Madison Scott in May of 2011. Madison had last been seen camping at Hogsback Lake, around 25 km south-east of Vanderhoof, BC, and according to witnesses, there had been a big party with her friends at the campground on the evening of her vanishing. Madison was last seen in the early hours of May 28, 2011, and after that, no one has any idea of what became of her. She failed to return home and all attempts to contact her cell phone met with failure. A subsequent search for the missing girl found her pickup truck parked right where she had left it, with her purse and backpack left behind but her cell phone missing. Madison’s tent was also found, and it proved to be undisturbed. An extensive ground, air, and water search was launched to try and find her, but no trace could be found.

While police say there’s nothing to link the cases, many in northern B.C. believe a serial killer is at large. (Privately some say they hope it’s a serial killer: better one killer than six.)

Hwy. 16, near Prince George, B.C., in October 2012. At least 18 women went missing or were murdered along Hwy. 16 and the adjacent Hwy. 97 and Hwy. 5 since the 1970s. Most cases remain unsolved, though investigators don’t believe a single killer is responsible. (JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The highway winds by logging camps and northern B.C. First Nations and without public transit, people often hitchhike. A majority of the women lost along the road are indigenous; many of the victims were teenage girls.

Claudia Williams has been waiting for someone to solve her sister’s murder since 1989.

“It goes through my mind every day,” she says, recounting her last moments with her younger sister Alberta. It was a summer night. The sisters had been working in a cannery in Prince Rupert.

Payday came and they decided to go to a cabaret with a group of friends.

After the place closed Claudia says people were milling about trying to figure out where to go next. Claudia got caught up in a conversation with her boyfriend – and says Alberta, 24, was calling for her: ‘Claudia! Claudia! Come on, we’re going to a party!’

“I looked at her and said, ‘Just a minute.'”

Moments later Alberta was gone. A month later her body was found. And 26 years later, no one has been charged. Her contact with the police is virtually non-existent.

Much of Claudia’s faith is placed in a former cop faith is placed in a former cop, Ray Michalko, who has been investigating a number of Highway of Tears cases for years. He’s studied the victims, traversed hundreds of miles, rummaged through the bush, and run down leads, all on his own time and seemingly at his own expense.

“People are going missing. Kids are going missing. Women are going missing. It doesn’t matter who they are or what their race is or anything,” he said. “It shouldn’t matter. Especially in Canada. But, you know, there’s a lot of people who’d tell you it does.”

A portrait of Maisy who went missing in 2008 aged 16, held by her mother Laurie Odjick. Toronto Star. Maisy went missing from Maniwaki, Que, with her friend Shannon Alexander, 17.

A significant development was made in 2012, in connection with one of the earlier murders that had occurred, that of 16-year-old Colleen MacMillen in 1974. When tests were run on the girl’s clothing using advanced, modern DNA analysis, a match was made between male DNA found on the clothes and a man named Bobby Jack Fowler, a drifter who proved to have a long criminal history of sexual assault, violence, and firearm possession. He was strongly suspected to be behind the murder and was believed to have been responsible for the deaths of Gail Weys and Pamela Darlington as well, both also along the Highway of Tears, in a addition to possibly even up to 6 other murders in the same area.

Unfortunately, Fowler was never able to answer for his sadistic murders, as he had died in prison in 2006 while doing time for an unrelated charge of kidnapping and assault, and so it may never be known the true extent of his monstrous crimes. Again, although this evidence helps answer some of the questions hanging over the Highway of Tears, Fowler could not have been behind all of the killings and disappearances, and certainly not the ones that occurred while he was in prison or after he died, leaving much mystery still to solve. Another arrest in connection with the crimes along this sinister highway was made in the form of Garry Handlen, who was charged with the 1978 killing of 12-year-old Monica Jack.

However, these successes are ultimately overwhelmed by the large number of mysterious murders and disappearances along the Highway of tears that remain unsolved. The road has accrued such a menacing reputation that it is not uncommon to see signs posted along its length warning of the dangers of hitchhiking here, and announcing the presence of a killer on the loose. Yet these signs are largely ignored due to the reliance on the mostly poor people who live here on hitchhiking as a vital means of transportation. In recent years there has been more public awareness on the need for a proper public transportation system here, and there have even been plans put into action to open up a bus line along the route, as well as improved safety measure along the road such as security cameras and more lightning but this all remains largely on paper, and there has been criticism that action has been slow due to the largely indigenous population of the area.

Nichole Hoar

Gale Weys

A roadmap of British Columbia would call it the “Yellowhead Highway 16” or the “Trans-Canada Yellowhead Highway,” but to many, the lonely stretch of road connecting Prince Rupert and Prince George is better known as the Highway of Tears.

It is a place that is at once beautiful and deadly, a vein through the land that courses with inexplicable murders, vanishings, and indeed perhaps evil itself. This is a hungry, bloodthirsty place, which seems to draw to its violence and death even as it hides itself within the natural splendour. It is a road through some of the most remote, rugged terrain of the country, and which has been ground zero for some of its most numerous and unsolved crimes.

The Highway of Tears is a 720 km long section of Highway 16, the entirety of which spans across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. There are a number of municipalities and 23 First Nations communities that border the Highway of Tears, and it is an area that is plagued by poverty and a lack of public infrastructure, including transit. According to the Highway of Tears Symposium Recommendation Report, many of the highway’s victims are believed to have been hitchhiking immediately before they disappeared or died.

Twenty-five year old Nicole Hoar was one such victim. According to Crime Stoppers, she was working as a tree planter in Prince George at the time when she decided to surprise her sister with a visit in Smithers. She was last seen hitchhiking at a nearby gas station. Her disappearance in June 2002 brought an unparalleled level of national attention to the Highway of Tears, but it also made a wider audience aware that her disappearance was not an isolated incident.

Nicole’s employer reported her missing six days after she was supposed to have returned to work. Police and volunteers mounted a huge search effort believed to be the largest ever in northern B.C. A dozen RCMP officers and 170 volunteers scoured a 24,000-square-km area between Prince George and Smithers, knocking on doors and covering 8,000 km of roadway, ditches, logging roads, hiking trails and campsites. Helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft searched from above.

Nicole’s disappearance was merely part of a long and sinister legacy. Many, mostly young Aboriginal women, have either gone missing or been found murdered on the Highway of Tears since 1969, long before Nicole or the women and girls after her.

The intense media coverage has died down, but you still see signs of those terrible, panic- and grief-filled days in the early summer of 2002. Reward posters with pictures of Nicole and details of her disappearance hang in gas stations, diners and general stores up and down Highway 16.

They’re a reminder of the highway’s sinister side. Highway 16 passes through some breathtaking wilderness, but knowing what has happened here deforms the landscape. As you drive the long, lonely blacktop, your thoughts begin to drift where they shouldn’t: Did a killer pull into this rest-stop? Did the victim see the sunlight glinting off that lake? What must she have been thinking?

Matilda Wilson. Today, Matty focuses on keeping strong. Grief counselling has helped and so has her faith. She attends St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church regularly. “Even if I don’t go, I pray on Sundays,” she says.

You begin to understand why they sometimes call this the Highway of Tears. But then you hear Matilda Wilson’s story and realise you have no idea what tears really are.

Matty Wilson laughs easily, but her laugh has a way of trailing off into a care-worn sigh. She divides her time between her house in Smithers and working as a cook in logging camps.

Matty Wilson is Gitxsan, a residential school survivor, born in Hazelton, B.C., 54 years ago. In 1994, she was a single mother of six living in the Aboriginal neighbourhood along Railway Ave. in Smithers. Her oldest child, Brenda, was 28. Ramona was her youngest, 15 and in Grade 9.

Ramona was very much the baby of the family, says Brenda, doted on by her older siblings and pampered by her mother. Matty loved to brush Ramona’s long, thick hair and made sure she always dressed well. The attention seemed to be paying off: Matty’s “kind, giggly little girl” did fine at school, was good at sports, worked part-time at a pancake house and, in the late spring of 1994, was hired as a part-time peer counsellor at a community service agency. The job was tailor-made — she had her sights set on a career as a psychologist.

Matty says she was surprised but not overly concerned when Ramona failed to show up for her first day on the counselling job. It was June and end-of-school parties were everywhere. Kids often stayed out late, thumbed rides from party to party and slept over at friends’.

But Ramona wasn’t with her friends. She’d been seen in downtown Smithers at mid-day on June 11, but not since. Some speculated she’d set out to meet her boyfriend in Moricetown, a Wet’su-wet’en village about 35 km west on Highway 16. But no one there had seen her. At first, police leant to the view that she had run away. When her birth control pills and an uncashed paycheque were found in her room at home, everyone began to suspect something more serious.

For Matty the first few days were a vortex of fear and confusion. Police had “not much to go on,” she says. She and her children needed to do something but had no idea what. “We were on our own, stumbling in the dark,” says Brenda. Her brothers and a few friends searched in and around town while Matty and Brenda worked the phones.

“I never searched,” Brenda says, “because I didn’t think I could handle it if I found something.”

Ramona Wilson, 16, last seen by her family on June 11, 1994.

Once-familiar, friendly streets darkened with suspicion. “For the first month, all I did was look at everybody, wondering,” says Matty. Adds Brenda: “I was always aware of how people acted around me, especially if they seemed to be acting nervously.”

They searched all that month, then off and on all summer and into the fall. Matty kept in constant touch with the police but it was clear they were making little headway. “They always gave me the same answer: `We’ll contact you if there’s anything to report’.” By November, police were also searching for 15-year-old Roxanne Thiara, who had gone missing from Prince George. A month later 15-year-old Alishia Germaine’s body was discovered behind a Prince George school near the highway. Police told Matty they had their hands full.

Posters offering $10,000 for information leading to Ramona’s whereabouts were released on April 8, 1995, almost 10 months after she disappeared.

Forty-eight hours later, two boys riding on an all-terrain vehicle near the Smithers airport got stuck in the spring mud. They went into the bush to find a log to pry the vehicle free and stumbled upon human remains underneath a tree. Police brought Matty out to the site off Yellich Road. The remains were badly decomposed but there was no mistaking the long, dark hair. It was Ramona.

Years later, only one person knows where Ramona Wilson was killed, when she died and how she died. That person remains at large.

Why she died is a question as troubling as Highway 16 is long.

“It just felt like I couldn’t go on anymore because that was the baby of our family,” says Matilda.

Matty Wilson’s obsession with finding her daughter has become an obsession with finding her daughter’s killer. The 10 months Ramona’s body lay in the woods made the RCMP’s forensic work all but hopeless. Yet Matty continued to press police when she heard rumours or thought of a fresh angle. She still grasps hopefully at every shred of new information.

Investigators have come and gone. “Every time it’s like you have to start over,” she says. “There have been a few who have been really interested in the case and tried to get as much information as they can, but they say they don’t have much to go on.”

Ramona disappeared on June 11, 1994. Her murder remains unsolved. Ramona’s case is just one more of the murders and disappearances along the highway.

Colleen MacMillen

This is rough, untamed country, where wild animals outnumber humans and the nearest settlement could be miles away through a thick, dark sea of trees. It is a tangle of unkept wilderness that despite its breathtaking beauty is permeated with a certain sense of foreboding and bleak desolation, where one certainly does not want their car to break down. This unavoidable ominous shadow that seems to hang low over the land is only empowered by the fact that it is here that dozens of people have gone to vanish of the face of the earth, or to even end up dead under mysterious circumstances, earning this wild slash of highway the sinister nickname.

Dotted along this section of roadway are First Nations communities with no access to public transportation. Many residents resort to hitchhiking. In 2005, the RCMP launched Project E-PANA to look into the disappearances and deaths of women along the Highway of Tears. The RCMP officially lists 18 murdered or missing women as part of its investigation. Community leaders say the real number is much higher — more than 40 women since the 1970s.

“They are not just a statistic. They are people. They are little girls … They figured the world would never hurt them in any way,” says Matilda.

Ramona’s story is just one among many of Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women.

In 1989, 24-year-old Alberta Williams was found dead along the Highway of Tears near Prince Rupert, B.C.

Project E-PANA began in the fall of 2005. PANA is an Inuit word describing the spirit goddess that looks after the souls just before they go to heaven or were reincarnated. It was the investigators on the file who chose the name.

The Task Force was created as a result of E Division Criminal Operations ordering the review and investigation of a series of unsolved murders with links Highway 16, infamously dubbed The Highway of Tears. The purpose of the investigation was to determine if a serial killer, or killers, is responsible for murdering young women travelling along major highways in BC.

In 2006, the Task Force took ownership of nine investigations. In 2007 the number of cases doubled from nine to eighteen.

Project E-PANA consists of 13 homicide investigations and five missing people’s investigations.

The cases that were being included in the project now ranged in date from 1969 to 2006, the specifications also evolved. This meant victims had to be female and either be involved in hitchhiking or other high-risk behaviour and last seen or their body found within a mile or so from three B.C. highways (Hwy 16, Hwy 97 and Hwy 5).

The women the E-PANA investigation is centered around are: Gloria Moody (homicide, last seen alive October of 1969); Micheline Pare (last seen1970); Gale Weys (last seen October of 1973, remains found in April of 1974); Pamela Darlington (remains located November of 1973); Monica Ignas (last seen alive in December of 1974 and her remains were found in April of 1975); Colleen MacMillen (last seen alive in August of 1974 and her remains were found in September of 1974); Monica Jack (remains were located in 1995); Maureen Mosie (remains found in May of 1981); Shelley-Anne Bascu (disappeared in 1983); Alberta Williams (body located September of 1989); Delphine Nikal (last seen June of 1990); Ramona Wilson (last seen alive June of 1994, body located April of 1995); Roxanne Thiara (remains were found in August of 1994); Alishia Germaine (found murdered in 1994); Lana Derrick (last seen October of 1995); Nicole Hoar (last seen in June of 2002); Tamara Chipman (last seen September of 2005); Aielah Saric Auger (body was discovered in February of 2006).

The most recent case on the E-PANA investigation is the 2006 murder of Aielah Saric Auger of Prince George, BC. Unlike most cases on the Highway of Tears, Auger’s body was found about just a week after she was reported missing, reported by a passing motorist travelling east to Prince George on Highway 16. Her mother, Audrey Auger, would spend the rest of her life relentlessly pursuing justice and seeking answers on Aielah’s death. She started doing awareness walks and worked to change the moniker of Highway 16’s violent and tragic past, referring to it instead as the Highway of Hope. Audrey died on the same highway just seven years later in a two-car collision. The family still does not know what happened to Aielah.

Delphine Nikal vanished on June 13, 1990. She was 16 years old and living in Telkwa, British Columbia. On the day she went missing, she was going to visit friends in Smithers, British Columbia, about 16 kilometres from her home. She was last seen by two friends hitchhiking east from the town. Nikal’s case is one of 18 confirmed cases listed under Highway of Tears.

Missing Women (photos)

The most recent arrest was made in 2014, but the crime occurred way back in 1978. It’s the story of the murder of Monica Jack, who at 12 years old was the youngest Highway of Tears victim.

According to the Vancouver Sun, she was about to turn 13 in a few days. Her father had given her money to go shopping for some shoes and a present for her little sister, who was also celebrating a birthday. Monica rode her bike with her 14-year-old cousin into a nearby town. It was the first time her mother had given her permission to go such a long distance.

On their journey back, the two girls parted ways when they rode off to their separate homes, and Monica vanished. Her bike was found at the side of the road but it wasn’t until 17 years later that her skeletal remains were discovered by forestry workers in a ravine. Her family describes her as someone who always seemed happy. Monica’s sister told the Vancouver Sun that even at such a young age Monica knew she wanted to be a social worker to help kids.

A previously convicted paedophile named Garry Taylor Handlen, who was 67 when he was arrested in 2014, was charged with the first-degree murders of Monica Jack and one other girl, who was only 11—and discovered with her skull fractured and a broken jaw.

Garry had been sentenced to 18 years for a rape conviction in 1979. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the judge at the time said to him: “Your record at 32 is appalling. This is your fourth sexual conviction since 1969.”

But his sentence was later reduced and he got out in 12 years. While Garry was arrested, he has not been convicted of Monica Jack’s murder. He is currently in jail and awaiting a trial.

The youngest of these victims was 12-year old Monica Jack. She was last seen riding her bike along the highway near the Nicola Ranch in Merritt, BC in May 1978.

If the exact number of the Highway of Tears’ victims is difficult to pin down, it’s near impossible when one looks nationwide. A 2014 RCMP report on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women determined overall 1,017 Aboriginal women had been murdered between 1980 and 2012, and another 164 were considered missing. But when you consider cases like Roxanne Fleming, a single mother who went missing in August 1982 in Lillooet, BC but wasn’t reported missing until 2003, it’s easy to see why many believe the number is actually much higher.

Roxanne Elaine Fleming, 18, was a mother to one daughter. The last confirmed sighting of Fleming was in August 1982 in Lillooet, B.C. She was checking herself into the Lillooet District Hospital, where she was treated for a broken finger in August 1982. Her adoptive parents reported her missing in October 2003, and on Jan. 21, 2015, the Lillooet RCMP reopened the missing person case. As for a federal inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous girls and women, Stevenson, whose mother was a member of the N’Quatqua Band in B.C., is sceptical.

“If it’s a toss up between the inquiry and getting the resources and if things started right now, I would choose to not do it,” she said.

“Because, I mean, how long is it going to take? There are women murdered and still missing right now.”

A vigil is held on Parliament Hill on March 5, 2014, for Loretta Saunders and to call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. Saunders, a young Inuk from Labrador, was found slain in February in Halifax. (SEAN KILPATRICK / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO)

In January 2017, a partial bus service began, nearly a decade after residents asked for one, along a dangerous stretch of remote British Columbia roadway. The bus service is running six days a week, linking the communities of Smithers and Moricetown, about a 30 km stretch of the nearly 800 km highway. The province is spending $4 million on the entire bus service with the federal government kicking in another $1 million — the money is going toward the buses, driver training, webcams and better shelters.

B.C. Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad acknowledges it has taken a long time to get the bus service rolling, but said that is due to geography and an effort to work with indigenous communities to make sure they have the safest service possible.

2014 RCMP report concluded there were nearly 1,200 murdered and missing indigenous women and girls in Canada, dating back several decades, a figure many believe to be much higher.

In 2014, then-PhD student Maryanne Pearce created the first of its kind public database on missing and murdered Indigenous women. Her research, which cross-referenced newspaper articles, police websites and reports, court documents, and other public sources, came up with a list of 824 cases. Once again, cases were concentrated in the western provinces, with BC holding 226 of the 824 cases (about 27%). Of the cases where the victim’s age was noted, an overwhelming majority were under the age of 50. In her research into the profiles of these missing and murdered Indigenous women, Pearce found 80% of these women were not in the sex trade, contrary to the stereotype.

To this day, police are confounded by their lack of progress in catching the serial killer—or killers—who has left this path of destruction along Highway 16. A staff sergeant in the Royal Mounted Canadian Police recently told the CBC that many of the killings may never be solved: “That’s the reality, and that’s what I tell the families.”

Police have keyed in on several suspects, including a deceased American rapist and murderer named Bobby Jack Fowler, and they have actually charged serial killer Cody Legebokoff with one of the murders, but the overwhelming majority of the killings along Highway 16 remain a mystery.

Before Justin Trudeau became prime minister of Canada, the government were accused of not putting resources into solving the crimes. The Washington Post reported, the former prime minister Stephen Harper insisted that most of the cases had been solved and that “the issue has been studied to death.”

After Trudeau was elected he announced a national inquiry into the disappearances and murders, pledging to spend $40 million Canadian dollars.“The victims deserve justice, their families an opportunity to heal and to be heard,” he said. “We must work together to put an end to this ongoing tragedy.”

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Highway of Tears murders – Wikipedia

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Four things to know about Highway of Tears scandal, and the …

Highway of Tears – CBS News

Highway of Tears – Jezebel

Life and Death Along Canada’s Highway of Tears | VICE News

Highway of Tears partial bus service ready to roll | Toronto Star

The Highway of Tears: Canada’s Killing Fields – did you know?

Up To 50 Girls And Women Have Been Murdered On The Highway Of …

The Mysterious Murders Of The Highway Of Tears – Curiosity

Mysterious Murders and Vanishings on the Highway of Tears …

NewJourneys / The Highway of Tears

Highway of Tears Website – Murdered & Missing Women – Current …

Highway of Tears | The FADER

 


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