Canada

Murdered Edmonton woman was prostitute: police

A 33-year-old woman whose body was found in a farmer's field east of Edmonton Friday was a prostitute who was murdered, police say

A murdered woman found in a field was a prostitute, Edmonton police say – making her the seventh slain sex-trade worker to be found in the city's outskirts since 2002.

"The victim has been tentatively ID'd as a 33-year-old female of no fixed address who was a known sex-trade worker in Edmonton," RCMP Const. Darren Anderson said on Monday.

The RCMP released few other details about the woman, who was found late Friday in a farmer's field just east of Edmonton.

Investigators, who are trying to notify her next-of-kin, didn't reveal the woman's name or details about how she was killed.

Police said she hadn't been reported missing and was likely in the field for less than two weeks.

Police play down idea of serial killer

She's the fourth prostitute to be found in the same area – Strathcona County – in the last two years.

Police are investigating the suspicious deaths of two others found there.

The woman had registered with Project Kare, an RCMP task force. It's looking into 71 cases of missing and murdered people, most of them women, working in the sex trade or otherwise living high-risk lifestyles in Western and Northern Canada.

Since 1983, there have been more than 20 unsolved murders of prostitutes in the Edmonton area alone.

However, the task force is playing down any idea of a serial killer.

"The RCMP has always maintained that one person could be responsible for more than one of these and that's basically where we still stand," Anderson said.

Serial killer likely, ex-detective says

JoAnn McCartney, who used to be a detective on Edmonton's vice squad, disagreed.

"I think the groupings and sort of way things happen – people who are dumped east of the city in a field and left like that for quite a while – I think those are probably done by the same person," McCartney said.

Bill Pitt, a criminologist at the University of Alberta, said police have a good reason to shun talk of a serial killer.

"Then that Pandora's box is wide open and then the scrutiny becomes even more acute: they become much more under the microscope," said Pitt, who is also a former RCMP officer.