Friday, November 9, 2012

Missing Manitoba Women: Hank Lecoy

My friends and I run a Facebook group called Missing Manitoba Women. I started it as a school project a few years ago, with the intention of posting about a few of Manitoba's missing women cold cases. I never expected it to become this social media hub where we post about missing people in Manitoba on an almost daily basis.

Truth be told, I didn't realize the extent of this problem until I started this page.

Missing Manitoba Women is, for lack of a better term, a grassroots group. My friends, Sandy and Miranda and I are the page operators; we post the materials as we receive them and we monitor the comments and posts made by others. We try really hard to allow for our page to be a non-bias atmosphere where people can speak freely. That doesn't always happen. We delete comments deemed racist, inaccurate or disrespectful. For the most part though, it's an open forum with more than 7,000 followers who spread the word about the people we feature.

We don't know the people we post about, but we become familiar with many of them. We interact with family members and friends, but 99 per cent of the time, we never meet or know who the people we post about are. This doesn't mean we don't care about them though. On the contrary.

Hank Lecoy/ CTV Winnipeg
This week one of the men we have posted about in the past became Manitoba's 28th homicide victim of 2012. His name was Hank Lecoy, he was 55-years-old. 

I've never met Lecoy. I have no idea why he was reported missing on a couple of occasions earlier this year, nor do I know the circumstances about how, why, or in what condition he was "safely" located-- All I know is what the Winnipeg Police media releases stated; a very generic plea for the public's help in locating him, followed by a notification, when he was located, thanking the public for their assistance in this matter.

That was the extent of my relationship with Hank Lecoy. That's the "relationship" I have with most of the people on the page...

I can't speak for Sandy or Miranda, but for me, running this page has been a real eye-opener: You get this media release in your email inbox, you post it to the page and then you pretty much hold your breath until you get a followup release saying the person has been safely located. Many of the people we feature are, for lack of a better term, chronically going missing. But you're rooting for them and their families; hoping that they just checked out, and need a few days to sort out whatever it is they are going through. Like everyone else on the page, I always have so many questions as to why these people go missing-- Were they taken? Did they run away? What made them disappear? Are they OK? Safe? Scared? Alive?

I'm not privy to more information than anyone else.

When someone we post about isn't "safely located" -- If they have been killed, or if they have just vanished off the face of the earth, the feeling is like a kick in the gut. It hurts, even though you don't know these people, you get to know their families, whether it's through personal interaction or through the media. You see the pain and worry that has become their daily reality. It's like watching a nightmare unfold, except it's very, very real. Even though you have this group that's supposed to help, there is nothing more you can do than post and re-post about the missing and unsolved murders...

It's frustrating most times.

This week, when I saw Lecoy's picture online, I had this sinking feeling of absolute dread. I instantly recognized him. He was one of the people we'd posted about, who had always turned up. This time things were different though. This time he wasn't reported missing, he was just found in his apartment, stabbed to death.

I can't begin to imagine how Lecoy's family feels right now. They are going through something that none of us should have to go through, but so many do. His life was cut short at the hands of another person in such a violent way. I am so sorry for their loss.