Many years later I took a course in writing memoir. The assignments required that we think of interesting life events to write about. The story of Diane was interesting but the details that I remembered were sketchy. Maybe that is because all I had to go on were two conversations: the first announcement of her death in our confused homecoming and the few details given a few years later by her partner who, understandably, didn’t want to open old wounds by giving chapter and verse. I hunted down newspaper articles to fill in the details.
The Vancouver Sun and Province newspapers covered the murder and investigation as it was unfolding. The stories started with the discovery of the body, then the hunt for the killer and finally the trail and sentencing. The details that she was nude, a cocktail waitress and that it was a sex killing were the hook in various stories. Some articles contradicted others. The basic agreed-upon facts were that she was in her apartment in her own bed when strangled with a wire. Fingerprints and the wire tied the murder to a male tenant in one of the other apartments in the building. Was it a sex killing or a burglary gone wrong? Accounts did not agree. But why would a man would bring the wire from his TV antenna with him to commit a B&E?
The most disturbing thing about the stories was that they turned Diane into an object, a cliché all to sell the story. And the most surprising thing was that she was only 20 when she died. Even though we had not been present for the discovery of her death and the aftermath the effects of her passing were still strong. With her death our lives seemed more precious and we gave more thought to how and where we wanted to live.
Soon after the conversation with Colin, Chris moved away to another part of BC and later back to Nova Scotia. Eventually all the other members of our group of four drifted back there as well. Much later I upped stakes and headed back to Halifax but, unlike the others, my roots were not there. In a few years I was back in Vancouver.
Vancouver has changed over years. The city hardly seems like the same place we first came to know. But the Vancouver of the 70s is still its foundation and sometimes when I am standing in the back of a bus going down town on Hastings Street I almost catch a glimpse of Vancouver as it was back then.
Downtown Vancouver as seen from Granville Island in 2016
The Province Jan 19, Jan 21, Mar 30 1976
The Vancouver Sun Jan 19, Jan 20, Jan 21, Oct 6, Oct 8 1976
West Ender Jun 12 1986, Apr 2 1992