‘Sweethearts’ podcast examines unsolved murders of 3 teens in Victoria

By Laura Palmer for CityNews

Between the summers of 1990 and 1991, someone murdered three teenage girls in Victoria, B.C.  

News reports of the day described the girls as “teen hookers.”

(Courtesy Frequency Podcasts)
(Courtesy Frequency Podcasts)

Now, a new podcast aims to change how the stories are told and push forward their cold cases.

Sweethearts’ is the latest season of ‘Island Crime’, Rogers Frequency Podcast’s award-winning true crime podcast based on Vancouver Island.

The new series explores the three unsolved Victoria murders.

A rider on horseback discovered Cheri Lynn Smith’s body in the underbrush on the side of the road in a rural Saanich location. Cheri had just turned 18 when she vanished from downtown Victoria in June 1990. Her body wouldn’t be found till September.

“September the 11th, 1990. I still remember the day very clearly. A police officer came to our door, and Cheri was a missing person. And he came and said, I have news about Cheri. But it was not the news we wanted to hear,” Cheri’s father Ed Smith recalled.

Seventeen-year-old Kimberly Gallup was strangled and left tucked into a bed in the old Colony Motor Inn. Kim, too, was last seen in downtown Victoria. 

“She got caught up with the wrong people. And before that, she was just a wonderful, wonderful young lady who had so much to offer this world,” Barb Gallup, Kimberly’s mother explained.

(Courtesy Frequency Podcasts)
(Courtesy Frequency Podcasts)

Meanwhile, a cyclist happened upon Melissa Nicholson’s badly beaten body hidden in the bushes off the side of the road in Shawnigan Lake in June of 1991. Melissa too was last seen in downtown Victoria.

“Melissa was just a sweet kid trying to survive.  I often imagine that she would be 50 now, and she could’ve had grandchildren and all of the life she never had,” Melissa’s stepmother Linda Lefort said.

Melissa’s younger sister, Jasmin Nicholson, shared that growing up, the only thing she had about her sister was the “stories I got to read online.”

“The memory that I have of my sister is that she was a prostitute, and that is how she was perceived. That was her legacy,” Jasmin explained.

 For more than three decades, their families have lived with the shame and stigma that came with the ‘hooker teen’ headlines.

Cheri, Melissa, and Kimberly were too young to consent to being commercially exploited for sex.

“I would just like to erase the prostitute thing. Kimmie was just a young lady that didn’t make it,” Kimberly’s father Del Gallup said.

‘Sweethearts’ explores the role sex trafficking played in their murders.  It also examines whether time and technology could bring answers and justice for their families.

Police responsible for investigating the homicides declined to comment on the cases. When contacted, the Saanich police department, Victoria police department, and the RCMP all responded that they would not provide any information regarding the investigations at this time.

If you or someone you know may be a human trafficking victim, call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010.

‘Sweethearts’ is a series for the Frequency Podcast Network. You can listen to this series and other Island Crime episodes on all podcast platforms.

Rogers is the parent company of this station and the Frequency Podcast Network.

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