The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has issued a public warning after two female escorts were found dead in the same New Westminster apartment building over the past two weeks. Both deaths are being treated as suspicious.
"Investigators know both women were engaged in a high risk lifestyle and were working as on-line escorts," said Sergeant Jennifer Pound, IHIT spokesperson, in a statement released Monday afternoon. "IHIT's priority is to reach out to all escorts and remind them of the risks involved and to take extra precaution as it is unclear at this point why, or even if, they are in fact being targeted."
Jill Lyons, 45, was found in her apartment around 10 p.m. on Aug. 12 by New Westminster police. A spokesperson for the B.C. Coroners Service said she died on Aug. 9. The cause of death has not been determined, pending a toxicology report.
On Aug. 25, Karen Nabors, 48, was also found dead in her apartment. New Westminster police retrieved evidence indicating "foul play may be a factor," Sgt. Pound said.
Martin Piasta, who lives in the same building at 211 11th St., said Ms. Nabors lived on the fifth floor but because the building is on a hill, there is direct access to her apartment from outside. Ms. Lyons lived on the floor above her.
"The lady that was found yesterday introduced herself to us when we moved in a few months ago, and she was really a good friend," said Mr. Piasta, referring to himself and his common-law spouse. "We took our small dogs to the park together almost every day, and we knew a lot about her story."
Mr. Piasta said both women moved into the building about three years ago, and they both had children who had grown up and moved out on their own. "We knew Karen a lot better than we knew Jill," he said. "Jill was very reclusive, she didn't come out too much. We saw Karen almost every day."
Both women brought clients to their apartments after posting ads online or in the back pages of newspapers, Mr. Piasta said. "They were just earning money to pay for their rent. They weren't ladies who would work the streets or anything like that."
He said Ms. Lyons had been found on Aug. 12 after her dog kept barking over the weekend. "Finally her neighbours next door came over to see what was going on. They knocked on the door, and when she didn't answer, they opened her door and found her lying there," he said.
Initially it was thought that Ms. Lyons had died by accident, possibly from an overdose, but Mr. Piasta said Ms. Nabors was never satisfied with that story. "When Jill died, Karen was always suspicious about the circumstances," he said.
Mr. Piasta said the building has felt increasingly unsafe in recent months, with multiple break-ins to cars in the parking garage and loud arguments in the hallway. He said he doesn't know of a single security camera in the building.
He said Ms. Nabor's family members had contacted him Monday, asking him to knock on her door. "They were trying to contact her all weekend and it seemed that her phone was offline," he said. "But her car was in the garage, so she hadn't gone anywhere. And that's when we got afraid, because it was exactly like what happened to Jill."