British Columbia

Project E-PANA: RCMP to meet with daughter of woman found dead 40 years ago

Nearly four decades have gone by and Vicki Hill is still looking for answers to questions about her mother's death. On Tuesday, that may start to change.

Vicki Hill was only a baby when her mother, Mary Jane Hill, was found dead on B.C.'s Highway of Tears

Mary Jane Hill is pictured on the government dock in Kincolith, B.C. in the 1960s. (Supplied by Vicki Hill)

Nearly four decades have gone by and Vicki Hill is still looking for answers to questions about her mother's death. On Tuesday, that may start to change.

According to Hill, Staff Sgt. Wayne Cleary of Project E-PANA — a task force that investigates disappearances and deaths of women with connections to three highways in northern B.C. — is scheduled to visit her home in Prince Rupert.

The 39-year-old was only a baby when her mother, Mary Jane Hill, was found dead on Highway 16 — the province's infamous Highway of Tears.

According to the coroner's report, the cause of Mary Jane's death was bronchitis and bronchopneumonia.

But a page-long summary in the report includes a chilling sentence: "We further find that the death of Mary Jane Hill was a result of manslaughter."

Hill said she believes someone left her mother to die on the side of the highway.

"Someone has to pay for what they did to her," she said.

"I lived for 38 years without knowing her. It's really hard."

Vicki Hill was only a girl when she set out on a quest to find answers to questions about her mother's death. (Supplied by Vicki Hill)

Newspaper articles written at the time of Mary Jane's death say she was found naked on Highway 16. The reports leave Hill baffled by what she calls the lack of a police investigation.

"Why was she left there and why wasn't anything done? Where was she going? Why was she sick and left for dead? Why didn't anybody do anything?" she asks through tears.

In a photograph from a small collection Hill carries, Mary Jane is pictured on the government dock in Kincolith, B.C. in the 1960s. The Nisga'a mother of three is wearing fashionable clothes and her hair is cut in a short, stylish bob.

They are days that Hill, the youngest of her siblings, cannot remember. She said it's been difficult to accept that she's had to live almost her entire life without her mother.

"It's really tough because I have to do all this, raising my own kids, all alone," she said.

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