There do seem to be some marked differences between the missing men in Canada and those in the United States, particularly the wider age range. But as in the U.S., most young men were attractive, physically fit, and had last been seen eating or drinking with friends before they disappeared.
According to the Water Poverty Index (WPI), Canada is ranked as one of the most water-rich nations in the world. The WPI measures "the impact of water scarcity and water provision on human populations" for a particular country, taking into account the amount of water present. And Canada has a lot of it. Canada, the second largest country in the world behind Russia, may contain the largest surface area of freshwater of any country (Natural Resources Canada, 08/26/03).
Yet, despite so many disappearances in such a water-rich country, very few of the men have been found in water. In fact, nearly all of the Canadian men are still missing. It is partly because of this--what has not been found--that I am growing increasingly concerned.
Kim Rossmo, a former profiler with the Vancouver Police Department, told the Vancouver Courier that statistically speaking, he finds it unusual that the men have not yet been recovered, as "90 percent of missing people are found within three weeks, and 98 percent are found within two months. After that the chance of finding a missing person decreases." According to the Courier, Rossmo is currently leading the Texas State University Center for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation; he is considered to be a leading expert in geographic profiling and environmental criminology.
For now, Rossmo says he will remain doubtful as to the existence of a serial killer, at least until he sees evidence. He cautions that it could be difficult to determine if there has been an increase in the number of missing men because "the interest could fluctuate by what's being covered in the media." (Vancouver Courier.)
According to The Canadian Press, "The police have shied away from suggesting any of the cases are connected, but an RCMP spokeswoman said investigators would likely be considering the possibility."
Yet, it would seem that the RCMP has had its hands full investigating other serial killers of late. In December 2007, serial killer Robert "Willie" Pickton was convicted of second-degree murder in the deaths of 6 women and sentenced to life in prison without parole for 25 years. Pickton had been charged with the first-degree murder of 26 women, but a decision was made to split the case into two separate trials, so he was only tried for six. There do not appear to be plans to try him for the remaining cases. Pickton, a pig farmer from Port Coquitlam, had been murdering women in the Downtown Eastside area of Vancouver from June 1983, or possibly even as early as 1979, until 2001 when he was arrested. According to CBS News, the Pickton case became the largest serial killer investigation in Canadian history. Around the same time Pickton was operating, women began disappearing along a northern stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert. The area, dubbed the "Highway of Tears," is roughly 490 miles north of Vancouver (about 9 hours by car) and spans 446 miles from west to east. At least 18 women--mostly described as aboriginal teenagers who were hitchhiking--have disappeared or been murdered along this route since 1989. According to some reports, the number could be much higher. In October 2007, CBS News reported that police said, "the evidence neither discounts nor supports the theory that a serial killer was responsible for the murders and disappearances of the 18 women."
Ron Braumberger, the father of Bryan Braumberger, one of the first men to disappear in British Columbia, told The Canadian Press in May 2009, “there was an awful lot of young people that went missing around that time. I don’t know if it’s connected or what. Look how long it took them to connect the missing women down in (Vancouver’s Downtown) Eastside. So who knows.”
This may be comforting to the families of some of the young men who are wondering if the disappearances could be related.
Due to the mounting concerns about these disappearances in Canada, their close proximity to the border, and how helpful it might be to compare these tragic events in our two countries, I will be making a concentrated effort over the next month to post the faces of Canada's missing.
I hope we can help spread the word about these men.
Photos: Province.com via Facebook posting.