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Author Topic: Katherine Mary Brown | Missing | Vancouver | Late 1970's  (Read 1956 times)

Concerned

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Katherine Mary Brown | Missing | Vancouver | Late 1970's
« on: March 12, 2011, 11:57:08 AM »
[
Quote
b]Neighbours knew of abuse, recall missing woman as a 'good mom'[/b]
BY CASSIDY OLIVIER, THE PROVINCE MARCH 11, 2011 COMMENTS (19)

They referred to them back then as the Rupert Street Projects, a cluster of low-income townhouses in Vancouver’s eastside where they slept, played and dreamed of better lives.

For most kids living there in the mid-1970s to early 1980s, waking up was a constant reminder that life was much harsher than what they may have read in a storybook.

There was, of course, some fun — found together when they played — but this was tempered by the poverty, violence and, in many cases, direct abuse that lingered over their heads.

For the six Sturcz kids living in unit 4842, the abuse was allegedly some of the worst. The other kids knew this, but what were they supposed to do? They had their own problems.

“A lot of people had dysfunctional families — ours included,” remembers Mardell Demish, 42, who grew up in the projects. “But everyone tried to stay out of everyone’s business.”

Demish’s admission goes a long way in explaining how the disappearance of Katherine Mary Brown from the Rupert Street Projects went unreported for close to 30 years.

Brown, who lived in unit 4842 with her six kids and husband, Aladar Sturcz, went missing in the late ‘70s. Her husband told everyone she had left the country and wasn’t coming back.

It’s a story, however implausible it may have been, that stood until Wednesday when one of Brown’s sons, Robert Sturcz, 37, told the media he’d seen his dad kill his mom as a child.

Sturcz said his dad strangled his mom then buried her in the basement. Just five years old at the time, Sturcz, a recovering drug addict, said his dad forced him to write a confession note in crayon, saying the murder was his fault.

Vancouver police and archeologists from SFU began an intensive search of the unit Wednesday and remained on scene Thursday.

All police would say, however, was that they were looking into the disappearance of a woman last seen in 1977. They are expected to remain on scene for at least a full week.

Aladar Sturcz passed away in 1987 following a stroke, apparently right before he was supposed to face charges for sexually assaulting at least one of his thee daughters, according to Robert Sturcz.

“We knew about the abuse . . . . I don’t think as kids we felt like there was anything we could do,” says Demish, who was friends with one of the Sturcz girls. “I think somebody should have done something. But I think somebody should have done something for a lot of the stuff that was happening in the projects.”

Decades later, Demish says her mom has told her the adults living in the complex believed Sturcz’s story about his wife leaving. Given the abuse going on in the house, they didn’t blame her.

That’s why, she explains, the adults never called the police.

In an eerie twist, Demish says her aunt lived in unit 4842 for a long time after the Sturczs, now no longer with their mother, moved into a bigger unit in the same complex.

Following Wednesday’s astonishing admission from Sturcz, Demish said her aunt told her there she remembers seeing an uneven spot on the basement floor that looks like it had been redone at one point.

While police remained tight-lipped about what they might find, Julie Broad, who also grew up in the projects and was friends with the eldest Sturcz girl, Kathy, doesn’t have any doubts.

Broad says Kathy told her of the physical and sexual abuse that went on at the home before Kathy ran away when she was just 14. She described it as devastating.

She remembers Aladar Sturcz as a mean, aggressive person, who wasn’t afraid to hit his kids in public. When adults would challenge him on it, Sturcz would tell them to mind their own business, she says.

In contrast, she remembers Katherine Brown as an attractive woman who was also a loving mother.

Broad remembers asking Kathy once if her mother was ever going to come back. Her friend responded that she wasn’t. That was the last time, Broad says, that they spoke about it.

“In my heart, I know she (Katherine Brown) is there (in the basement) and it breaks my heart,” says Broad. “I’m so sad that nobody ever looked into anything. She was such a good mom.”

cassidyolivier@theprovince.com

twitter.com/cassidyolivier

http://www.theprovince.com/travel/Neighbours+knew+abuse+recall+missing+woman+good/4419226/story.html
Quote
Robert Sturcz says he was just five years old when he watched his father kill his mother and bury her in a crude grave dug in the basement of their East Vancouver home.

Quote
Man says he saw father kill and bury mother in Vancouver home
Police, archeologists excavating basement in search for missing woman's remains
By Lora Grindlay, The Province March 9, 2011 Comments (19)

Now, more than 30 years later, Vancouver police and a team of archeologists are excavating the basement of a subsidized housing unit on Rupert Street in a bid to find the body of a missing woman.

What they may find along with the remains of Katherine Mary Brown, Sturcz said, is a confession note, written in crayon, that he was forced to write after seeing his own mother choked to death.

“[The note] said that it was my fault that my mom was dead,” Sturcz, now 37, told The Province. “I wrote what [my dad] wanted me to write.”

Vancouver police Const. Jana McGuinness was mum about the investigation, only saying that a missing persons investigation was launched last fall after police received “credible” information into the disappearance of a woman last seen in 1977.

Sturcz has told his story many times, to his probation officer, doctor and social worker.

“I even told the cops on the corner of the street,” he said. “I would stop a cop and tell them.”

No one believed him.

“I was a junkie crackhead,” he said.

Sturcz now lives in Maple Ridge and receives disability income assistance. He said he never told his siblings about his mother’s death, though they have since been contacted by police regarding the investigation.

It wasn’t until Sturcz told Dave Dickson his story last fall that police began to believe him.

Dickson is a veteran of the Downtown Eastside, having spent 28 years as a police officer and two years as a community resource worker at the Lookout Society.

“When he sat down and came out with it, I said, ‘Holy cow.’ I took it to the police right away. I believed it 100 per cent,” he said Wednesday. “I didn’t think he was making it up.”

Sturcz speaks with alarming clarity about the day his mother died.

“I remember [my dad] calling me down to the basement,” he said. “I was the only one home. I came down, he’s choking her out and then I seen her collapse and he says, ‘Watch her, make sure she doesn’t move,’”

“He had his fat fingers around her neck and squished it. That’s what I saw.”

Sturcz recalls another grey-haired man helping his father dig through the concrete on the basement floor.

For the month that followed, his father demanded that he keep his three sisters and two brothers from going into the basement.

The kids were told not to talk about their mom’s disappearance and Sturcz is not sure anyone ever reported her missing.

“We were getting beat up all the time by our dad,” he said, adding there was “big-time arguing” between his parents over his mother seeing other men.

Sturcz’s father, Aladar Sturcz, died in 1987 following a stroke, he said, not long before the man was to face criminal charges for sexually assaulting at least one of his three daughters.

The elder Sturcz was a survivor of a concentration camp in Hungary and immigrated to Canada.

As a teenager, Sturcz turned to drugs and spent years on the Downtown Eastside addicted to cocaine and getting in trouble with the law.

“I was medicating myself with drugs for many years but now I don’t medicate myself no more,” he said.

Sturcz said he is two years clean of cocaine.

Dickson, the community resource worker, said he is proud of Sturcz for making “huge efforts” to repair his life and he’s waiting to hear that his mother’s body has been recovered.

“I really want to say to Rob, ‘Your mom didn’t leave you. She didn’t abandon you.’ It’s a bit of closure for him,” Dickson said.

Describing what it will mean if his mother’s body is found, Sturcz said, “It will mean that my mom is buried and when I go to heaven I will see her. It will mean the house won’t be haunted.”

“I used to cry all the time. Now I got no more tears in my tear ducts,” he said.

Police and archeologists from Simon Fraser University will continue to search the home at 4842 Rupert Street, one of 41 units in a complex of subsidized housing run by BC Housing.

lgrindlay@theprovince.com
http://www.theprovince.com/news/says+father+kill+bury+mother+Vancouver+home/4411400/story.html


stephanie

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Re: Katherine Mary Brown | Missing | Vancouver | Late 1970's
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2011, 03:54:21 PM »
Mr Sturz, I hope they find your mom. I respect the courage that it took for you to come forward repeatedly and try to get justice for her. I hope that now at least you and your family can get some answers and some peace.
I regret that you weren't listened to beforehand.

IrenesFriend

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Re: Katherine Mary Brown | Missing | Vancouver | Late 1970's
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2014, 02:08:03 PM »
I am so confused as to what is so unsolved about this murder. I is not unsolved and it is a heart breaking story that should be used in lectures and seminars to millions studying in any related field regarding to abuse and children and the ministry. Stories like Robert Struczs' should be wide spread and should be told for the well being of society. This story is 100% true. I never grew up on Rupert Street nor was I even born when the murder took place. My friend Irene was though. I have not figured out how old she was at the time of the murder but I think she may have been 6 or 4 years of age and when you listen to what she has to say and not many people do it seems that maybe she was about 3 years old. Something at the age of 3 happened to Irene we will most likely not know what that is. When meeting Irene in 2013 at a Single Room Occupancy hotel in Vancouver's downtown Eastside I really didn't know what to think about her. It was not until I got to know her a bit, I would share a cigarette with her from time to time and would listen to her rant and rave about this Katherine Mary Brown. I asked some of the staff at the SRO hotel about this Katherine Mary Brown and why Irene was always yelling about her and that is when I heard the story in brief and the story was not even really fully known or it was just that people couldn't speak of it because it was so terrible. I have previously take a part of a course on early childhood development and know how detrimental abuse is on very young children. When a child's parent is spoken down to in front them or a parent is spoken badly about to their child; this slows the child's brain development.  I could only imagine what physical abuse would do to their brain development? over the past year I have spent some time sitting with Irene and sharing cigarettes while she ranted about the craziest stuff, although not crazy at all. It became apparent to me that may just be screaming things that were said either to her or about her since she was a baby. One day in her room I saw her in a different light, literally the light shined through the window and she looked at me for a second and she looked beautiful. I saw that she really was a pretty girl not to mention she has great fashion, although she is working with freebies from local drop in centres for homeless people she has great style. The Strucz children were once picked on for their bowl style hair cuts and poor attire. I don't know any of them except Irene and she is one of my best friends, I over heard her telling someone that once and it means the world to me.   I don't think she really knows my name she calls me neighbour but she also calls me her best friend and that makes me feel good. I will end today with only this said because I am going to find her and see if she wants to have a smoke. I enjoy her rants and raves about the "murder" of her mother that is an apparent missing person, and the life that she has endured. A life ENDURED not LIVED. KATHERINE MARY BROWN I believe was murdered and the worst part is the abuse that her precious children had to endure. My heart goes out to this family. I don't know what can make it better but WHERE WAS THE GOVERNMENT back then and where are they now? The Strucz children still need to be taken care of because a mother job is never done. I will be back to write more............... God bless Katherine Mary Brown and please take care of her beautiful children. God please forgive us for not saving, not noticing what was happening to them back then. TTYL...............................
« Last Edit: April 24, 2014, 02:32:02 PM by debbiec »

debbiec

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Re: Katherine Mary Brown | Missing | Vancouver | Late 1970's
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2014, 02:42:44 PM »

Unfortunately when the basement was excavated no trace of Katherine Mary Brown was found. What happened to her is still unknown.



No trace of woman found in Vancouver home

ctvbc.ca
Published Tuesday, March 15, 2011 11:46AM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 1:12AM PDT

 
The seven-day excavation of an East Vancouver basement has turned up no remains of a woman allegedly killed there more than 30 years ago.

Investigators and archaeologists excavated the home on Rupert Street in connection to the 1977 disappearance of Katherine Mary Brown.

The probe began after her son Robert Sturcz told a veteran VPD officer that he witnessed his father kill his mother in their family home in 1977.

The Maple Ridge resident told CTV News that he was just a little boy when his father dug a hole in the ground for his mother's makeshift grave.

Sturcz, who has struggled with drug addiction and has spent time in prison, said no one believed his story until he told former Vancouver police officer Dave Dickson in September.

Dickson said he believed the man's story was credible.

Const. Jana McGuinness said Tuesday that teams wrapped up the dig yesterday and found no evidence of murder at the home.

"Regrettably, we are no closer to finding out what happened to Catherine Mary Brown," she said.

"We will continue to investigate this as a missing person's case and also seek to gain a clearer understanding of why Robert Sturcz believes that he witnessed the murder of his mother in their family home so many years ago."

Catherine Mary Brown would now be 76-years-old.

http://bc.ctvnews.ca/no-trace-of-woman-found-in-vancouver-home-1.618832

debbiec

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Re: Katherine Mary Brown | Missing | Vancouver | Late 1970's
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2014, 03:40:00 PM »
Quote
The Strucz children were once picked on for their bowl style hair cuts and poor attire. I don't know any of them except Irene and she is one of my best friends, I over heard her telling someone that once and it means the world to me.   I don't think she really knows my name she calls me neighbour but she also calls me her best friend and that makes me feel good. I will end today with only this said because I am going to find her and see if she wants to have a smoke. I enjoy her rants and raves about the "murder" of her mother that is an apparent missing person, and the life that she has endured. A life ENDURED not LIVED. KATHERINE MARY BROWN I believe was murdered and the worst part is the abuse that her precious children had to endure. My heart goes out to this family.


Hi IrenesFriend and welcome.

It is apparent from reading your post that you have a very kind heart. Just as you care for and appreciate your friend Irene, she is also fortunate to count you as a friend. Your support and friendship obviously means a great deal to her.

IrenesFriend

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Re: Katherine Mary Brown | Missing | Vancouver | Late 1970's
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2014, 03:14:18 PM »

When meeting Irene in 2013 at a Single Room Occupancy Hotel managed by Atira Property Management in Vancouver's Down Town East Side, I really didn't know what to think about her. It was not until I got to know her a bit, I would share a cigarette with her from time to time and would listen to her rant and rave about this Katherine Mary Brown. I highlighted the Atira Property Management because they are not just a property management company but Atira whether you think they are great, or controlling, and demanding of their residents and their guests, maybe sometimes they are even "hated" by their residents that occupy their rooms. One thing you should know about Atira is that no matter what you think or don't think yet. This company and it's staff are without a doubt an unconditional PARENT or PARENTS that take care of upwards to about 1500 people living in the DTES. Residents and staff fight and argue like family but at the end of the day Atira is the one putting the roof over the DTES residents heads, and that is cool. Irene will probably live with Atira for the rest of her life. So I turned to Atira staff about this Katherine Mary Brown and asked why Irene was always yelling about Kathrine Mary Brown. They can't say much because of confidentially rules. The story was not even really fully known, or maybe it was just that people couldn't speak of it because it was so terrible. I heard Irene's story in brief and then told I could to google it.  I did but not for a few months which brings me to now April 2014.

 

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