VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Human remains found, Pickton faces sixth murder charge
Tue. Apr. 9 2002 10:04 PM
Robert "Willy" Pickton was charged with a sixth count of first-degree murder Tuesday in the deaths of women from Vancouver's downtown eastside as police uncovered human remains on the pig farm in Port Coquitlam he co-owns.
Investigators had previously said they were collecting DNA samples at the farm, but Tuesday was the first time police confirmed they had found body parts.
"Yes, some of the remains that were uncovered did lead to the most recent charge," RCMP Const. Catherine Galliford told a press conference.
However, police refused to comment any further on what they found, out of respect for the families' "need for dignity and their need for privacy."
"We ask you to weigh sensation against sensitivity and perhaps responsibility," said Vancouver Police Joint Task Force spokesperson Det. Scott Driemel.
Driemel added that the investigation at Pickton's farm involving dozens of police officers and forensic experts goes on and will continue "for at least the next year."
"This investigation is about slowly and carefully unravelling a very tangled web of knotted connections, loose affiliations, and conflicting paths," Driemel added. "But rest assured that the unravelling has indeed started."
Sixth murder charge
The sixth murder charge involves the death of Andrea Joesbury, 22, who was reported missing from the downtown eastside last June.
Pickton, 52, was charged in February with first-degree murder in the deaths of two women: Serena Abotsway, 29, and Mona Wilson, 26. Police laid three more murder charges against him last week, in the deaths of Jacqueline McDonell, 25, Diane Rock, 33, and Heather Bottomley, 24.
More than 50 women have gone missing over two decades from Vancouver's eastside; 39 of them have gone missing in the last six years.
Five of the six women names in the charges against Pickton went missing as recently as 2001. That is disheartening to families who haven't seen their loved ones for years.
Kathleen Hallmark, whose daughter Helen Mae disappeared in 1997, said outside court that she didn't know if she'd ever find out what happened to her daughter.
"That was 1997 and these charges are related to ones that have happened in the last few years.''
Hallmark and other family members have contacted the U.S. law firm famous for defending O.J. Simpson over concerns that the police did not act quickly enough.
Anger over investigation
Greg Garley, Wilson's foster brother, told BC-CTV that he was appalled by the way police handled the investigation and suggested that Wilson's aboriginal origins had an impact on how her case was handled.
Garley said that police had the pig farm under surveillance at the time he believes Wilson was taken there and questions why no one acted.
"If it was a white woman from the British Properties she wouldn't have gotten four feet onto the property before the SWAT team would have been there. Why did it take this many women to go missing and all these stories before anything got done?" Garley asked.
Similar concerns have been raised by other family members of the missing women. Many believe some of the women would still be alive if police had acted sooner in the case.
A formal investigation into the case was not launched until three years ago when the number of missing women had swelled to 31. The total increased as investigators reviewed past files and added new cases.
Through the years, family members said the police ignored the women by remaining in a state of denial and missed out on possible leads.
An inside view of the Vancouver Police department emerged during the wrongful dismissal case of a former star cop last summer. Kim Rossmo, who invented geographic profiling, said he suggested the department should issue a warning in 1998.
During that same year, police issued a news release saying they did not believe a serial killer was behind the disappearances of women from Vancouver's eastside. In the meantime, the Pickton pig farm had become well-known on the streets.
A preliminary hearing, during which Crown counsel will present evidence to a judge in a push for a trial, will begin Nov. 4 and run until February of 2003, BC-CTV reported Tuesday.
Updated: August 21, 2016