Men and boys with similar attributes, living in similar places are going missing and staying missing, prompting some people to ask whether there could be a serial killer lurking on Vancouver Island.
This is the question Laura Palmer seeks to answer as she investigates the cases of five missing men in season two of her Island Crime podcast, Gone Boys.
B.C., she notes in one of her episodes, is a hot spot for missing people. In a 2019 article in the Toronto Star, reporter Jeremy Nuttall said about 2,500 people have gone missing and stayed missing in B.C. since records started being kept decades ago. That’s more than a third of the approximately 7,000 cases nationwide.
And, adult men are the most likely category of people to stay missing, Kevin O’Shea of the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains tells Palmer.
|Laura Palmer hosts the true crime podcast Island Crime. (Courtesy of Laura Palmer)|
In her podcast, Palmer works to make the men she is reporting on more than tragic statistics. Her storytelling is in-depth and victim focused. It’s riveting, but not sensationalized.
“I have a responsibility to be respectful and to get it right,” Palmer said. “I need to be able to look these people in the eye and feel like I’ve done their stories justice.”
Palmer spent nearly three decades working at the CBC before moving to Vancouver Island, but the reporting she does now is different than the current affairs and public policy she had been steeped in. Without daily deadlines, she can spend as long as she needs to speak with the friends and family of the missing men and learn their stories.
What Palmer does learn is that each of the men were vulnerable. Brain injury, trauma, mental illness, drug addiction and disability forced them into the margins of their communities. They often had unstable living conditions and several of them would walk or bike along the highway to get from place to place.
In each of her episodes, Palmer focuses on one of the cold cases, weaving in expertise from criminologists, coroners, community leaders, psychologists and the RCMP. And, in each one, she works to determine whether these men are alive and don’t want to be found, fell victim to an accident, chose to end their own lives or, if something more sinister is afoot.
In her final episode released on Monday (March 29) Palmer didn’t draw any conclusions, but did reveal that she’s receiving constant tips and new information from people listening to her podcast. Several people claim to know a serial killer.
So far, police have refused to share details with Palmer, but she assured listeners that if that changes or if she is able to corroborate new details, she will release more episodes.
Gone Boys and Palmer’s first Island Crime season, Where is Lisa, can be found at islandcrime.ca.
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