Sherri's killer is a dangerous offender in a Lower Mainland jail, police say

Police believe a dangerous sexual offender in a Lower Mainland jail is responsible for the disappearance of a Kamloops woman 16 years ago.

RCMP Sgt. Tim Shields told a press conference Thursday investigators are certain the man, who has been in jail for more than 10 years, abducted and killed Sherri McLaughlin.

Officers will not release the name of the suspect. However, The Vancouver Sun reports the suspect is Daniel Robert Dow who has three convictions for rape and a criminal history of violent assaults against women going back to 1977.

Dow was declared a dangerous offender in 1999, when he was 40, and was twice released on parole and was twice released on parole, only to commit further crimes, The Sun reported.

McLaughlin disappeared Sept. 19, 1993. The 20-year-old woman was headed to her boyfriend's house but never arrived. Investigators found her mangled bike and her backpack on Parkcrest Avenue.

More than 25 serious crimes investigators pressed hard for leads but the case went cold. Both her current and former boyfriends were ruled out as suspects after taking lie detector tests.

Shields said a generic tip from Crime Stoppers eventually led to the sex offender, who was labelled a dangerous offender 10 years ago for other serious predatory sexual offences and jailed indefinitely. A violent sexual offence occurred on Vancouver Island, he said.

Police also found a deer whistle on Parkcrest Avenue. The glue on the whistle was later found to match sticky residue on the suspect's car.

Despite that hard evidence, officers have never been able to prove conclusively the man was driving the car at the time the young woman was struck, said Staff Sgt. Garry Kerr, the file's lead investigator.

Police also confirmed the suspect was in Kamloops the night she disappeared and left the next day. Family members lived there then and live here still, near where the bike was found.

Officers have learned where he was going that night and where he went after, Kerr said. His movement was tracked to a small town near the Lower Mainland.

Crown lawyers have told police all that evidence does not meet the standard for a substantial likelihood of conviction, Kerr said.

Officers have interviewed the man in jail and pressed him for details. He has steadfastly refused to co-operate, telling investigators he will see them in court if they ever charge him.

Kerr said police are "an inch short of a mile" when it comes to pressing charges against the fellow. The fact he is in prison makes further investigation more difficult, not easier.

"That last inch is going to be hellish," admitted Kerr. "I know who is responsible. I am absolutely certain of that."

He said police are not seeking information from the public. Instead, they want to appeal to the killer to tell them where Sherri's body can be found.

"Please do the right thing and tell somebody where Sherri is . . . and we will get that information," he said. "Because that is our focus, to bring Sherri home.

"We aren't looking for any suspects, because we know who is responsible. I am making a personal appeal to that person. You know who you are, and I know who you are."

One of the suspect's former friends also lives in Kamloops. Kerr said police are also appealing to that person to tell investigators if they know something that will help pin down the case.

Kerr said this case has haunted him. He was one of the original investigators and has lived with it ever since.

"We are close. We are working on it," he said.

Kerr added there is no doubt in his mind this man - a random stranger - deliberately struck Sherri with his car, took her and later disposed of her body.

"She was a true victim," he said. "She was truly in the wrong place at the wrong time."

rkoopmans@kamloopsnews.ca

© Copyright 2018 Kamloops Daily News