ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Since 1969, young women, mostly aboriginal, have been disappearing while hitchhiking along Highway 16. Now, the highway has a new name, The Highway Of Tears. Written and produced by Taaron Gorbahn with music by Chris Zabriskie
English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:01it was just another Saturday it was June and it was nineteen ninety four it was nine PM and the sun was setting over the small town of Smithers British Columbia or as the evening wore down Ramona Wilson was finishing dinner with her mother Matilda she was expected to
00:00:28dance in Hazleton and as they ate take out lasagna Ramona told her mother that she was planning on spending the night with a friend and not to expect her back Ramona was a bright girl she did well in school and even though she had a penchant for skipping
00:00:47the occasional class she had recently been hired as a peer counselor I love talking to people and she was excited for the summer to begin as far as she was concerned in already had begun with the school year winding down there seem to be a party or a
00:01:05barbecue or Dan almost every weekend it was nine thirty when Ramona kissed her mother gather to things in walked out the front screen door the sun was still setting and there was just starting to cool as she walked the short distance from our house highway sixteen it was
00:01:29there that she stopped snuck out of town and waited for a ride I'm tearing Corp on and this is monograph when from Mona never arrived at the dance her friend crystal shrugged it off thinking she probably changed her mind and decided to spend the night with her friend
00:02:01Dustin in Morristown it wasn't until Monday when Ramona never showed up to school that crystal became concerned after school crystal called smitteez local pancake diner where Ramona worked on Mondays she never showed up for her shift it was around this time that Ramona was reported missing her parents
00:02:28called the RCMP who were less than helpful they told the Wilsons that she probably just needed to blow off some steam give her some time they said show come back her mother knew better though if for Mona had run away like the cop suggested she would have taken
00:02:47her makeup and clothes which were still left untouched in around this was not the first missing persons case in the small town of smothers just four years earlier on June fourteenth nineteen ninety sixteen year old Delfino call was hitchhiking from smothers to our house and tell class just
00:03:10a short ten minute drive away in point of fact in the months that Ramona Wilson was missing the bodies of two other young women were found along the highway sixteen Roxanne tiara was only fifteen years old and worked as a prostitute walking the streets of the crime ridden
00:03:31city of Prince George during the July long weekend of nineteen ninety four Roxanne disappeared after telling her friends that she was going out with a client her friends watched as she walked around the corner of the building and was never seen again her body was found dumped in
00:03:55a bush off of highway sixteen on August seventeenth Leon Alicia Jermaine was also fifteen years old and also known to have worked in prince George's a prostitute her body was found by three teenagers stabbed to death behind a Prince George elementary school December ninth nineteen ninety five it
00:04:25wasn't until ten months after Ramona went missing that her body was found on April ninth nineteen ninety five two men driving ATV is on the trails behind the smothers regional airport came upon the body of Ramona Wilson near her body was also found a small section of rope
00:04:47three nylon ties and a small water pistol neatly organized in a pile just six months later landed Derek nineteen year old forestry student went missing from a gas station in terrace she was last seen getting into a car with two men accomplices sketch was eventually made of the
00:05:13two men but nothing ever came of it by this time the highway had been given a new name it was known as the highway of tears according to investigators the highways claim to eighteen victims however First Nations groups report that the number is much higher over thirty and
00:05:41and some reports over forty in the fall of two thousand five under mounting pressure from victims families and First Nations groups the E. division criminal operations ordered a review into the unsolved murders and disappearances along the infamous highway sixteen the task force dubbed project E. panda eventually took
00:06:06responsibility for eighteen cases spanning from nineteen sixty nine to two thousand six along with three major PC highways highway ninety seven highway five and of course highway sixteen charged with investigating whether or not a serial killer was stalking BC's highways project E. panda panda being in anywhere word
00:06:34for the spirit god as that looks after souls before they go to heaven eventually amassed over sixty thousand interviews and currently have over fourteen hundred suspects one of their strongest suspects came in the case of Nicole **** one of the few non aboriginal victims of the highway of
00:06:55tears Nicole was a tree planter from red deer Alberta who disappeared from a gas station in Prince George she was planning on surprising her sister and some others who wanted her to attend a local music festival she was last seen with a man in his mid fifties who
00:07:15had a scruffy beard and a pronounced jagged scar on the left side of his neck after dozens of interviews with locals and hundreds of tips from the public the man it was discovered was an associate of Leland Switzer a man that lived on the outskirts of Prince George
00:07:34in the tiny sawmill town of childcare just two days after Nichols disappearance Leland Switzer murdered his brother during us posted argument shooting up through the heart with a rifle some of Switzer's neighbors reported hearing gunshots on the property the night that Nicole went missing and in two thousand
00:07:57nine acting on a tip by a neighbor that Leland was seen pouring gasoline down as well and then lighting it on fire RCMP converged on the property formerly owned by Leland Switzer who was at that point serving a prison sentence for killing his brother despite an extensive search
00:08:18of the property the search yielded no results the first major break in the highway of tears investigations came in two thousand twelve in the cold case of Colleen McMillan Colleen went missing in the summer of nineteen seventy four James was a pretty sixteen year old strawberry blonde she
00:08:44lived in lack Lasher small lake community off of highway ninety seven she was known for being shy friendly and level headed on August seventh she told her little brother Sean that she was leaving the house to go see a friend and not to tell her mother that she
00:09:03was hitchhiking her body was found ditched along an old logging road so that hundred mile house the case remained cold for over thirty years until using newly available techniques in the field of forensics a DNA profile was compiled of the perpetrator it was then sent to Interpol where
00:09:25it is found a match the DNA belong to Bobby Jack found there an American drifter from Texas who spent time in British Columbia during the seventies he had already died of lung cancer in an Oregon prison ten years into a sixteen year sentence for the sexual assault and
00:09:47kidnapping of a sixty six year old woman investigators announced the DNA match in September of two thousand twelve and have since name Fowler as the prime suspect in two other highway of tears murders still Fowler is not responsible for the majority of murders along the highway of tears
00:10:10valor only lived in BC for short time during the seventies and he could not have been responsible for the string of disappearances and murders along highway sixteen in the nineties this leads me to believe that there is not one not two but possibly even three or four killers
00:10:30at work along the highway of tears signs the case of Colin McMillan only one other highway of tears case has ever been solved and that was the case of twelve year old Monica Jack Monica disappear on may sixth nineteen seventy eight while riding her bike along the highway
00:10:57near the Nicola ranch in mission BC when she never arrived home her parents became concerned and called the police the next day at around four PM Monica's bike was found but it wasn't until seventeen years later on June second nineteen ninety five that her body was found badly
00:11:21decomposed just north of marriage six kilometers from highway five some witnesses in nineteen seventy eight call hearing a young girl screamed and %HESITATION beat up camper driving in the area that Monica went missing in two thousand fourteen RCMP investigators announced a connection in the case too serial rapist
00:11:45Gary Taylor hand land he was arrested and charged without incident for the murder of Monica Jack as well as the murder of eleven year old Katherine Mary a girl who went missing in nineteen seventy five and was not a part of the official victims Lewis accusations of racism
00:12:07and police and government incompetence of plague the investigations into the highway of tears from the start Nicole **** who was one of the few non aboriginal victims who disappeared from the highway of tears was the first victim to attract national and international media attention and it was the
00:12:25result of the highways new found infamy that eventually led to the creation the task force dedicated to solving them enters in addition to many victims families allegations that RCMP officers were often reluctant to investigate cases of missing aboriginal girls it was recently discovered that a former staffer in
00:12:47BC ministry of transportation was ordered to delete dozens of emails related to the highway of tears when he protested the system and snatched his keyboard away and did the deed cell it was in two thousand six at a symposium was held in Prince George attended by civic leaders
00:13:08First Nations groups and many of the victims families the conference eventually produce the highway of tears symposium recommendation first among its thirty three recommendations was the proposal of a shuttle bus service that would run between Prince George in prince Rupert considering the cuts to the area's greyhound bus
00:13:27route it would have been a great idea though nothing ever came of the recommendation the report also made the recommendation that Cecilia and the call should be considered an official victim of the highway of tears Celia lived and some others and disappeared in nineteen eighty nine where she
00:13:46was last seen along highway sixteen RCMP however maintain that she went missing from Vancouver and the US should not be included as an official victim of note Cecilia and the call is the cousin of Delfino call another girl who went missing from smothers and nineteen ninety less than
00:14:08a year after the disappearance of her younger cousin still he pandas reluctance to take on new cases could be a result of this significant cuts to its yearly budget in two thousand twelve the same year the task force announced their DNA match to Bobby Jack Fowler project the
00:14:28panel was receiving in excess of five million dollars per year buy a two thousand thirteen their budget had been cut by more than three million dollars by a two thousand fourteen they were receiving eight hundred and three thousand one hundred and nine dollars and one point the task
00:14:49force had over seventy full time officers working on the highway of tears but today they have just a handful in the dark RCMP storage room boxes upon boxes containing police reports and interviews fill every single shell from floor to ceiling they contain the efforts of thousands of hours
00:15:15of police work hands unfortunately despite all that work these cold cases will likely never be solved and well the missing women of the highway of tears may be gone they will never be forgotten they live on in the hearts and in the memories of those who in the
00:15:39woods behind this man there's regional airport small plaque sets hidden among the moss an overgrown weeds it commemorates Ramona Wilson every year her mother Matilda leads a candlelight vigil on the highway to the spot where they found her body if you drive along highway of tears you will
00:16:00see some of the most beautiful landscapes you ever laid your eyes you'll see lakes and you'll see mountains you'll drive in your past beat up cars faded bumper stickers you'll keep driving you'll see a deer or moose even if there you'll come upon a bill nestled on the
00:16:22trees and overlook the fast you'll see the pictures three young girl their faces smiling the rough the road you might even see a girl we stand her arm will be stretched some and you'll never drive on the hi monograph was written and produced by Armonk Chris if you
00:17:18have any information about any of the girls related please call Crimestoppers one eight hundred to to to to set thank you for listening

Transcribed by algorithms. Report Errata
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