Wednesday, June 11, 2003
VANCOUVER (CP) - The trial of accused serial killer Robert
Pickton is a year or more away but already a U.S. journalist is ready with a
mass-market paperback titled The Pig Farm Murders.
The book by Mike Lewis, a reporter with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
newspaper, will be released by Berkley Publishing Group, an affiliate of Penguin
Books. A Berkley publicist in New York City said Wednesday that a popular Web
site where customers order books online was incorrect when it said the book was
published June 3. "The book is not on sale currently," said the publicist, who
did not want her name used.
"The reason is the gag order (publication ban). Once
the gag order is lifted we can go ahead."
However, the Web site with the incorrect publication date was accepting
credit-card orders for the book. A clerk at a Chapters-Indigo outlet in
Vancouver also said the bookstore had about 20 pre-orders.
Pickton, charged with 15 counts of first-degree murder, is in the midst of a
preliminary hearing being conducted under a sweeping publication ban.
The order, posted on the door of the hearing room, forbids reporting of "any
submissions, rulings respective evidence or the nature of the evidence" at the
The ban extends to the Internet. Some U.S. media outlets had posted stories
concerning the evidence on their Web sites. Such bans normally stay in place
until a trial is completed.
The preliminary hearing began in January and adjourned in late April. It is
scheduled to resume June 30 and could wrap up next month when the B.C.
provincial court judge would rule on whether the case can proceed to trial in
B.C. Supreme Court.
The trial itself may not start until next year.
The publisher described the book as a "mass-market paperback of 272 pages."
The jacket cover of the book pictured on the Web site informs potential readers
that: "One by one, the victims were lured, trapped and slaughtered. What
happened after that was beyond belief."
The cover also tells readers the book contains "Eight pages of shocking photos."
The charges faced by Pickton, a 53-year-old part-time pig farmer from suburban
Port Coquitlam, involve a long list of women who have disappeared from
Vancouver's seedy Downtown Eastside in the last two decades.
The case was ignited by a massive police raid on Pickton's farm on Feb. 6, 2002.
Geoff Gaul, a spokesman for the B.C. Attorney General's Ministry in Victoria,
said it was too early to say whether it would be illegal for the book to be sold
"I can't say because I don't know what's in it," said Gaul.
"The first thing we're going to do is take a look at the book. We're not in a
position at all to comment on whether it's going to impact upon the proceedings
before the court because we have to find out what's in it first."
Pickton is charged with the murders of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Diane
Rock, Jacqueline McDonell, Heather Bottomley, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe,
Jennifer Furminger, Helen Hallmark, Patricia Johnson, Georgina Papin, Heather
Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving and Inga Hall.
The 15 were among a total that eventually rose to 61 women from the Downtown
Eastside - mostly drug-addicted prostitutes - who disappeared from the
The idea that a book on the case could be published at this stage has upset some
relatives and friends.
"How dare they," said Lynn Frey, stepmother of Marnie Frey, who is on the
missing women's list. "How can he possibly even in his right mind write
something like that?"
Frey seemed resigned, however, to the possibility that books on the case will be
written and published.
"I know we're going to have a lot of that happening when this whole thing is all
over," she said.
"There's going to be garbage books going out. The U.S. has different rules and
laws than we do but surely to God somebody's going to be able to get it in
Wayne Leng, who has a Web site devoted to the missing women, said he has
received e-mails from relatives and friends expressing anger.
"It's horrible and sensationalistic but it was also expected," said Leng. "But
that doesn't make it any easier for families.
"We just decided that we're not going to channel our energy on this
sensationalistic stuff because we realize it is going to come out. There's a
buck to be made."