The stark tragedy at the heart of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry was laid bare Monday through the emotional testimony of three women who lost a beloved female relative.

All three witnesses — Lila Purcell, Daphne Pierre and Sandra Gagnon — share the pain of never truly knowing how or even if their loved one died, despite DNA linked to convicted serial killer Robert Pickton in two cases.

No trace of Gagnon’s sister Janet Henry has ever been found. Nor has Pickton been convicted of the murders of any of the three missing women, although police have said privately that Pickton likely killed them all.

All three witnesses expressed pain and anger at an indifferent police search.

“Tanya was like my own daughter,” testified Lila Purcell, weeping at the loss of her niece Tanya Holyk, the daughter of Lila’s sister Dorothy, now deceased. “Even if the [missing] women are what I believe some people consider throwaways, they come from a family like mine. We really loved Tanya…

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