No suspects in killing of Victoria Head, RNC step up patrols in downtown St. John's
Group that helps sex workers says Head killed by 'predator' and women are scared
Many questions remain about how and why Victoria Head was killed and police say they don't have any suspects.
Head was a 36-year-old mother, originally from the Placentia Bay area but living in St. John's and police are calling her death a homicide.
Her body was found near O'Brien Farm on Oxen Pond Road Saturday morning. Police have said she may have worked in the sex trade, but don't know for sure if that could be related to her death.
"We have added extra patrols to certain neighbourhoods throughout the downtown area ... some of what you'll see could be overt. So you may see marked patrols, foot patrols," said Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Const. Geoff Higdon Wednesday afternoon.
"Another could be more covert, so it might be unmarked police cars or you know, those kind of surveillance activities throughout the area," he added.
The RNC said it cannot comment on why it took several hours to identify Head after her body was discovered.
"I can't speak to why, or you know, the timeframe around the identification," Higdon said. "We weren't dealing with a missing person where we could look back at recent missing persons."
CBC News has learned Head was friends with a man involved in a couple of major police operations.
Head's friend Allister Hayley, 48, was picked up in Project Bombard, an investigation into the 2014 homicide of Dale Porter, along with several known members of the Vikings Motorcycle Club.
Hayley was charged with conspiring to traffic oxycodone and participating in the activities of a criminal organization following that investigation. At this time, there is no indication that Head's connection to Hayley is related to her death.
SHOP: 'There is a predator'
An organization in St. John's that supports sex workers and former sex workers says it is hearing from women who are scared, following Head's death.
"We know that another woman has been murdered," said Heather Jarvis, project co-ordinator for the Safe Harbour Outreach Project (SHOP).
"There is a predator who has killed someone. That is a really terrifying thought," Jarvis said.
Because of confidentially, Jarvis won't say if Head ever used the support and counselling services at SHOP.
"Violence against sex workers is unfortunately really high," she said. "A lot of sexual violence, a lot of physical violence, robberies, and thefts."
Jarvis said people are calling SHOP to find out what the group knows.
"People get scared. People contact us and say, 'Who was she? Do I need to be worried?'" she said.
"Even today we are hearing people who are very shaken and grieving."
Stigma is a big problem
Jarvis said sex workers still have a stigma attached to them, and that's why they are often abused.
"That creates an environment where people don't feel they can come forward when they experience violence," she said, adding that sex workers almost never report violence to police.
We do need these warnings. We need this information to be shared.- Heather Jarvis
"There's often a way people speak about sex workers as if they are a nuisance, that they are cast aside."
Her group hears about the stigma "all the time" from the more than 200 women it has connected with.
"That they are less then the valuable members of our community that they deserve to be, which really creates an environment for them to become disposable, which increases the rates of violence."
Need for warnings
The RNC said it has not been determined where Head was killed and they have not released autopsy details on how she died.
She was last seen in the Queen's Road area of downtown St. John's.
Police have warned people downtown and those in the sex industry to be "extra vigilant."
"We do need these warnings. We need this information to be shared," Jarvis said.
SHOP is again calling on the Newfoundland and Labrador government to set up a task force on gender-based violence.
Jarvis said while while sex workers are more at risk of violence, they should not be separated from violence against women in general.
"One out of two women and girls in the province will experience violence," she said.