Retributive justice still unserved, families owed more – UPDATED

Following denial of serial murderer Robert Pickton’s final appeal, the BC Supreme Court released a mass of evidence previously banned from public view. Contained are shocking disclosures that emphasize how authorities botched investigations of the DTES missing women.  Victims’ families have said for years that many lives would have been saved had police and prosecutors acted with greater diligence. Those accusations gained new weight when lifting of the ban revealed documents showing police had reason to target Pickton for arrest much earlier.

The most egregious information we learned is that a sex trade worker suffered a near mortal assault at the pig farm in 1997. Stabbed by Pickton, she fought off the attacker and called police. Crown refused to prosecute the case because the victim was a criminal drug addict and considered an unreliable witness. Police failed to connect the incident and Pickton to missing women.

Ernie Cray, whose sister disappeared three years later, was told only last Friday the details of where his sister’s DNA was found on Pickton’s farm. Cray said:

“They had him cold. They had him in their hands. But, someone made a decision not to charge him in the case of that terrible assault on that woman who escaped his murderous clutches.

In 1999, police were adamant that a serial murderer was not active in Vancouver’s downtown. Spokesperson Sgt. Anne Drennan spoke for the VPD when she said at the time:

“We don’t know that they’ve met up with foul play. They are simply missing.”

CBC News says many families and even the police are calling for a public inquiry and accountability. However, this was Gordon Campbell, speaking from Winnipeg where he is holidaying with other Premiers:

“We wanna meet everyone’s needs as we go through this. We wanna make sure that it’s productive and its a useful process. Ah, but, the cabinet will make the decision in a couple of weeks.”

According to CBC’s Alan Waterman:

“The government has said that it would call an inquiry once a Vancouver police review is released. Today, Vancouver Police say that they will release that review after an inquiry is called.”


  • 1978, first known victim disappears from DTES.
  • 1991, with growing list of victims, families and advocates demand improved police action.
  • 1998, police establish task force because list of missing has grown to 40. Police doubt the cases are related or that these woman have met with foul play.
  • 1999, police accept the possibility of connection between victims beyond lifestyle and offer a reward for information.
  • 2001, amid continuing disappearances, VPD interviews Green River killer who has been associated with 49 missing women near Seattle.
  • February 2002, missing Vancouver women list grown to 50. RCMP enter Pickton’s Port Coquitlam farm on a firearm warrant and the missing women’s task force soon begins searching on another warrant.
  • February 2002, the first murder charges are laid against Robert Pickton.
  • October 2002, the official list of missing has grown to 63, the number of murder charges to 15.
  • July 2003, Pickton committed to trial after preliminary hearing.
  • May 2005, 12 additional murder charges.
  • June 2005, pre-trial hearings begin.
  • January 2007, jury trial begins.
  • December 2007, Pickton found guilty.
  • June 2009, BC Court of Appeal denies Pickton appeal.
  • July 2010, Supreme Court of Canada denies appeal.

After families warned of a serial killer, 11 years passed before charges were laid and more than eight years further before courts finished their work on the Pickton file. During much of that time, the VPD was crippled by an internecine feud as old guard officers fought modernizers viewed as unacceptable outsiders. The wounds were exposed during legal action by geographic profiler Kim Rossmo, following his dismissal because he spoke publicly about a serial killer working the streets of the DTES.

Despite having already promised to appoint an inquiry into the justice industry’s woeful performance, Premier Campbell remains non-committal:

Ah, but, the cabinet will make the decision in a couple of weeks.”

The Premier’s shameful record of broken promises continues.

The above was first published August 5.
My statement about an internecine feud preventing Vancouver City Police from focusing appropriately on the DTES missing women cases is confirmed in a Globe and Mail article, Internal police strife delayed Pickton arrest, former officer says. Remember this story when you hear reports that a former Mayor, who also headed the Vancouver Police Board, says that we don’t need a public inquiry.
How about this for an alternative to a Commission of Inquiry. Ask Justice Thomas Braidwood to field a small inquiry staff for 90 days or so with a reasonable but not extravagant budget that would allow them to write a meaningful report based on interviews and document reviews. This doesn’t have to be a long drawn out affair with scientific evidence. No crimes are alleged, only negligence, carelessness and bad case management. A respected outsider has to examine what went wrong and provide public confidence that permanent improvements are in place.

11 replies »

  1. Bill:

    Gordon Campbell was Mayor of Vancouver when the Police told him about the missing women. he said they are only prositutes anyway…..


  2. The VPD`s performance in this case is worse than incompetent though, that it is indeed. when they went as grotesqley far as to offer a huge monetary reward for information leading to the capture of the person breaking into the garages of west side homes just as pickton was murdering his victims shows just how sick and twisted our police force has become. there apolagies now are not just insincere but coldly and callously calculated to deflect attention from there dispicable performance, bearing in mind the most recent vicious assault on a crippled woman who did`nt get out of the path of these gutless bully boys in blue and was pushed to the ground. as for there capability, i doubt these goons could find their own arse holes with a flashlight.


  3. I think one has to ask the police departments many questions. Like how many times police, firemen, mayors, alderpersons, sports clubs, etc, used Pickton's place for their parties, smokers, and such. It was quite a popular place in its day. I personally believe that this was the start of the slowdown in the investigation.

    Kam Lee


  4. Gordon Campbell, as mayor of Vancouver at the beginning of the Picton slaughter, is complicit with the crimes. Anonymous has it right, the Piggy Palace (as it was known) was used by many groups in its day and police, politicians and alike were regular visitors.

    Sad to say, after listening to former Mayor Owen (who is also in massive denial), the entire Vancouver NPA elite were and still are in denial that DTES people are third class losers who deserve what fate awaits them, either death by neglect, death by drugs, deaths by disease or death by Picton.

    Sadly, I think an inquiry would reveal nothing and cost millions, as all those involved will all claim “it's not my fault”. Maybe criminal action for dereliction of duty would be a better way to find the truth.


  5. Yes Kim, many politicians, police (Including chiefs), firemen,(Including chiefs), reporters, etc. ALL of the previous mayors of PoCo (The last three) have been there. Just ask the last disgraced mayor of Port Coquitlam.

    Kam Lee


  6. I've avoided the Pickton stuff from Day One — not because I don't care about mass killings of women (Jeez, just that thought alone is beyond grotesque) but because I couldn't stand the way the media was reporting it … I really do believe that the gruesome details repeated, repeated, are damaging to people's mental health. I would even go so far as to suggest that “some people” were revelling in it … arrggghh! … and for all the wrong reasons.

    However, when the banned materials were released recently, I did watch the video (sound off) of the Undercover policeman in conversation with Pickton in his prison cell.

    I read the printed stream of their conversation, and two things stood out:

    * Picton's complaint that there were “15 other people” who he thought were his friends, who hadn't been charged … only he, Pickton, was charged

    * Picton, while talking of his killing plan, devouring his food like a starving dog, displaying not the slightest indication of feeling.

    I'm impressed to see the comments (above) from people who have had the same thoughts about “other people” who appear to have been implicated in the nightmare of horrors at the Pickton farm.

    This, it seems to me, is what desperately needs investigating.


  7. RE:Poster aug 12th @3:56pm,

    Who would do the investigation? If police and elected officials visited the pig farm, then our 'beloved' police can't be trusted to do the investigation justice!
    I'm reminded of a movie called,'Hostel' about back packers who had sex romps in Europe. One of the opening lines is,” having sex with unconscious women is called 'railing', and that's against the law'!!!

    The crimes at the pig farm went on and on, for the purpose to make snuf movies, or piece work(burtal rape) that get sold and edited into someone elses movie.


  8. Anonymous 8:30,

    I don't know the answer to your question but excuse me if I suggest that it's a self-defeating question. We are not the helpless victims of rampaging brutality … not helpless at all.

    Thank you — and others (above) — for shedding light on that scene. It seems to me that we still haven't begun to show respect for the murdered women until the investigation is pushed farther. And nobody's kids are safe until such nightmarish “products” as “snuf movies or piece work of brutal rape” are exposed and their perpetrators charged.

    For us to do nothing … well, that's how corruption is able to assume control over our province. There's gotta be a way.

    “The crimes at the pig farm went on and on …” are words which will haunt us forever because … if that's true … then we know that those crimes have never stopped … but will continue to go on and on, from new locations, even as we speak.

    B.t.w., is it only women — and not boys too — who are victimized and brutalized?


  9. It was reported that the police had Pictons DNA on the clothes of missing women seven years ealier, and nothing was done! If police and politicans frequented Piggies Palace,then they will go at all cost to cover up their evidence. An inquiry will likely prove nothing but a waste of tax dollars, just like the Mulrony-Schriber,Samolia and the sponsorship scandal, even with Justice Gomery saying that there should have been at least 5 more people charged.Gomery said,this has fallen into another black hole! It is the rank of the participants, who get the last say.
    Does Canada have a whistle blower protection program? I'm reminded of Robert Reed, fired from the RCMP after reporting that the dept. of Immigration for allowing illegal entry into Canada with well known gangsters. And Terry Dunlope, a police office who went beyound his call of duty to unvale a sex ring involving community leaders (police,prists & others) in Cornwall On. The governemnet wouldn't protect
    Dunlope, so he refused to testify at the commission and was sentenceed to jail for 6 months!

    As for boys being victims, I am reminded of the 10 or more children in BC foster care that died with no investigations for cause of dead???

    There is a film production co. in California called 'Extreme Productions', that will film murder and rape. I'm sure Canada has a few, since the Feds legislated not that long ago, that it is NOT too extreme, to film urinating in someones mouth.


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