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The next official victim, 43-year-old Sherry Rail, would not be reported missing until three years after her January 1984 disappearance.Thirty-three-year-old Elaine Auerbach told friends she was moving to Seattle in March 1986 but she never arrived, reported missing in mid-April.
The drugs of choice are heroin and crack cocaine, supplied by motorcycle gangs or Asian cartels that stake out choice blocks for themselves and defend their turf with brute force.Three years before Expo 86 opened its gates, prostitutes began to vanish from Low Track.By the time police noticed the trend, 14 years later, more than two-dozen had already disappeared without a trace. Many begin as adolescent runaways and never lose the habit of evasion, changing names and addresses so often that investigators have no realistic hope of tracking a specific prostitute for any length of time.When hookers vanish--as opposed to being slain and left in garbage dumpsters or motel rooms, in canals and vacant lots--no one can say with any certainty if they have disappeared by choice or through foul play. Rebecca Guno, 23, was last seen alive on June 22, 1983, reported missing three days later.Most of Downtown Eastsides vanished women were not so promptly missed.In 1994, federal cutbacks left welfare recipients short of cash, while mental hospitals disgorged patients onto the streets.
By 1997, careless sex and shared needles had taken their toll in Low Track, one-fourth of the neighborhoods residents testing HIV-positive.
Vancouvers Downtown Eastside is the poorest neighborhood in British Columbia--in all of Canada, for that matter.
No other slum or ghetto in the country matches the squalor of this 10-block urban wasteland, with its rundown hotels and pawn shops, stained and fractured sidewalks, gutters and alleyways littered with garbage, used condoms and discarded hypodermic needles. Its cold heart is the intersection of Main and Hastings, nicknamed Pain and Wastings by the denizens who know it best.
In 1998 they averaged one death per day from drug overdoses, the highest rate in Canadian history.
But there were other dangers on the street, as well.
Low Tracks recent history is a tale of unrelenting failure.