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#BBLStories #VPD #DTES

Her laugh was big and infectious.

You heard her before you saw her, and she is the person I think of first when I look back on my time as a BC Corrections Officer.
She was in prison, serving a federal sentence at the Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women (BCCW) where I was a guard.

Her crime wasn't important but her story is.
She was feisty and spirited woman. She was short but her give-em-hell attitude made her seem taller, made others take notice when they usually noticed nothing.

She was funny, compassionate, and had an incredible zest for life.
She called me "Blondie" when I did my checks. She razzed me as only a federal inmate can.

She was the alpha female on the unit, relegated to beta whenever a guard walked in.

It was tough to watch.
Over time she shared snippets of her past.

Her life on the street. Her struggle to stay clean. Her goal of getting her kids back.

How her eyes sparkled when she spoke of her children.

She was street smart. Savvy. She knew the score.
She was still incarcerated when I started at the police academy, and had been released by the time I graduated.
Months later as I patrolled the DTES on foot, a voice called out, "Hey Blondie!"

And there she was. All 5'2" of her.
She walked over, commented on my new choice of outfit, said she'd heard I'd escaped prison life.

I raised an eyebrow and said it looked like she had done the same.

Oh, how she laughed.

She threw her head back and let loose a big, throaty belly guffaw.
That's how I'll always remember her.
After that, women went missing from the DTES. Many of them.

Her name was added to the list in 1999.

I held out hope.
Then, in 2002, her remains were identified.

She had fallen to a serial killer.

To this day, I can still hear her laugh.
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