WILSON DISAPPEARANCE: From murders to a vanishing
March 23, 2004
A couple out for a walk in the Mission Flats area stumbles across the body of Kamloops prostitute Shana Labatte. The 30-year-old was last seen outside the Seymour Street 7-Eleven between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. that day. A month later, police release a sketch of a potential person of interest.
April 9, 2005
A teenager walking through a vacant Surrey Street lot in North Kamloops comes across the bloodied body of Sheri Lee Hiltz. The 44-year-old, who was found fully clothed but with her skirt hiked up above her waist, died as a result of blunt-force trauma to the head and had to be identified by fingerprints. She was last seen the previous evening on Tranquille Road.
June 19, 2005
Mounties in Alberta reveal a potential connection between the murders of prostitutes in Edmonton and similar slayings in Kamloops. According to police at the time, more than 80 high-risk people have vanished from the Edmonton area dating back more than two decades. The announcement comes after police in Alberta said they believed a serial killer was at work in and around Edmonton, preying on sex-trade workers and dumping their bodies in rural areas. RCMP criminal profilers say they believe they are looking for someone who drives a messy truck, van or SUV and is an avid outdoorsman.
May 9, 2006
Thomas Svekla is arrested and charged in Edmonton with second-degree murder in connection with the 2006 slaying of a prostitute. There is speculation Svekla might be linked to Kamloops’ prostitute murders, but he is eventually ruled out as a suspect. He was convicted of second-degree murder in 2008 and declared a dangerous offender two years later.
June 6, 2007
More than three years after Labatte’s body is found at Mission Flats, Kamloops Mounties announce they have cleared a suspect initially believed to have been involved. The man was tracked down after police released a composite sketch of a person of interest in the case three years earlier. The man admitted to having spent time with Labatte on the night she was killed — and driving the brown SUV cops had been looking for — but successfully completed a polygraph test and was ruled out as a suspect.
Dec. 20, 2007
Kamloops RCMP announce charges against Robert Balbar in relation to the 2003 death of sex-trade worker Heather Hamill. Balbar, Hamill’s common-law husband, was arrested at the completion of a Mr. Big RCMP sting and officers quickly rule him out as a suspect in the deaths of Labatte and Hiltz. Prior to the arrest, Hamill’s death was believed to have been connected to the murders of Labatte and Hiltz. Balbar was convicted of second-degree murder in 2009.
Jan. 7, 2008
Police in the Lower Mainland announce a pair of second-degree murder charges against Davey Mato Butorac, alleging he killed two prostitutes in 2007. There was initially some speculation he could be involved in the murders of Labatte and Hiltz, but nothing came of it. Butorac was convicted on both Vancouver-area counts in 2010. He’s since been charged with second-degree murder again, this time in relation to a 2006 prostitute murder in Langley. Butorac is slated to stand trial on the latest charge in 2013.
April 6, 2012
Cassandra Wilson vanishes after being spotted at the Seymour Street 7-Eleven shortly before midnight. On May 2, police reveal they believe she has been murdered.