British Columbia

Sex trade worker jumps from white van to escape assault

Vancouver police are searching for a suspect after a violent assault on a sex-trade worker in East Vancouver Monday night.

Brutal assault reminds Downtown Eastside women of serial killer Robert Pickton

Vancouver sex trade worker beaten

CBC News Vancouver at 6

8 years ago
Police searching for a suspect after an attack on a Downtown Eastside sex trade worker 2:15

Vancouver police are searching for a suspect after a violent assault on a sex-trade worker in East Vancouver Monday night.

Around 8 p.m. PT, a man picked up the 42-year-old woman in the Downtown Eastside. He then drove her to a secluded area where she was allegedly beaten and tied up.

Police say they received several 911 calls half an hour later describing a woman being dragged by a van on Clark Drive near 13th Avenue.

"The woman had managed to partially free herself and, fearing for her life, jumped from the moving van," Const. Brian Montague said.

The suspect is described by police as a white, balding man with a tanned complexion and a moustache or goatee. It's possible he may have an Australian accent. He was driving a white panel van with roof racks.

"We want to make sure he doesn't have the opportunity to do this again," Montague said.

"I can't imagine how terrified this woman must have felt, being beaten, tied up, and driven somewhere that — she didn't know what was going to happen to her."

The victim is in hospital with a head injury and multiple abrasions.

Attack hits 'close to home'

On Tuesday, news of the brutal assault reminded some women about serial murderer Robert Pickton, who preyed on sex trade workers in the Downtown Eastside. 

"My cousin was found on Pickton's farm, so I'm really upset right now. It's really hit me close to home," said Lorelei Williams, a women's youth outreach worker at the Aboriginal Front Door Society.

Mona Woodward, executive director of the society, offered safety tips for the area's sex trade workers.

"Don't work alone, work in pairs, jot down license plate numbers, be hyper alert of your surroundings."she told CBC News. "This is a person that's clearly predatory in nature and needs to be stopped."