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Meet the man who alterted police about Robert 

Pickton more than three years before serial killer's 

arrest

 

Meet Bill Hiscox, who alerted police about Robert Pickton 31/2 years before the serial killer's arrest. Now Hiscox wants a public inquiry.

BY LINDSAY KINES, TIMES COLONISTAUGUST 15, 2010 7:04 AM

Bill Hiscox: "Twenty-two of those women would still be alive today if they would have listened to me in 1998. I mean, what did they take me for, some kind of an idiot...."

Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury, timescolonist.com

Of all the people calling for a public inquiry into Vancouver's Missing Women case, few have a more compelling reason than Bill Hiscox.

Twelve years ago, he gave police information that pushed Robert Pickton to the top of their suspect list and triggered an investigation of the Port Coquitlam pig farmer.

But, to this day, Hiscox has no idea why it took police 31/2 years to arrest Pickton -- a period of time during which more than 20 women vanished from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

"Twenty-two of those women would still be alive today if they would have listened to me in 1998," he said this week. "I mean, what did they take me for, some kind of an idiot or what? I just don't understand that."

Hiscox, 49, now lives in Victoria, where he is struggling to get back on his feet after battles with drugs and alcohol, and his own scrapes with the law. But back in 1998, he was working for Pickton's P and B Salvage company in Surrey, and occasionally visiting the farm where Pickton lived.

A woman who cleaned Pickton's trailer told Hiscox at the time that she had noticed bags of bloody clothing and women's identification there.

"We sat down one night and [she] told me, 'You know what, Billy, I think that's where all the girls are going, right there.' I said, 'You know what? I've got the same friggin' feeling.' And she says, 'Well, what are we going to do about it?' And I said, 'Well, somebody's going to need to make a ... phone call here, and I guess I'm going to have to do that.' And I did."

In July 1998, Hiscox not only called police, he contacted Wayne Leng, who was searching for his friend, Sarah de Vries, and had left his telephone number on posters around the Downtown Eastside.

Leng would later give a copy of his taped conversation with Hiscox to police, and it's chilling to see the accuracy of Hiscox's information back in 1998, according to the excerpts published by Province reporter Suzanne Fournier in 2002.

On the tape, Hiscox tells Leng that Pickton had been charged earlier with trying to kill a prostitute at the farm, but that the charges were dropped, Fournier reported.

Hiscox also says that the charge is an odd coincidence "with all the girls that are going missing, and all the purses and IDs that are out there in his trailer and stuff. He has a 25-acre farm, a lot of heavy-duty machinery out there and stuff, you know, easy places to hide things out there. And you know, he's quite the strange character, eh, very, very strange. His name's Willie. He's the owner of P & B Salvage here in Surrey. They salvage crap from old houses and stuff like that. He's a really strange character."

"He's got a farm out in Port Coquitlam and you know he frequents the downtown area all the time, for girls. Everything started clicking on me you know, about this guy."

Hiscox also tells Leng that a friend of his also knows Pickton, but doesn't want to get involved, The Province reported. "She's kind of scared about it. But she told me, 'Billy, you wouldn't believe the IDs and shit out in that trailer. There's women's clothes out there, there's purses. You know, what's that guy doing, it is like really weird.' "

Though Hiscox's story has been told before, the assumption has always been that police did nothing with his information. Police officers familiar with the case, however, say the truth is even more disturbing -- investigators took the information seriously, but were blocked from carrying forward with the case in the fall of 1999 for reasons that have yet to be fully explained.

Vancouver police and Coquitlam RCMP investigators spoke with Hiscox a number of times through 1998, though police sources say he was difficult to contact at times, and didn't show for some of the interviews.

Meanwhile, Hiscox's female friend, who had first-hand information about the bags of bloody clothing, had ties to the bikers and was believed to be "anti-cop," further hampering the investigation.

Then, in mid-1999, investigators received a second tip about another woman who was telling people that she had seen a body hanging in Pickton's barn. Police now had two sources telling them about two women who, independently of one another, claimed to have seen incriminating evidence at the farm.

Police talked of getting a wiretap and running an undercover operation, but the investigation stalled in August 1999. Though she would later become a star witness at Pickton's trial, the woman who had told people about seeing a body at the farm, denied that in interviews with police. Some officers thought she was telling the truth, while others suspected her of lying, but the police probe into Pickton seems to have sputtered to a halt.

It wasn't until a rookie RCMP constable got a search warrant to look for weapons that police finally got onto the farm in February 2002 and discovered items linked to the missing women.

Hiscox says none of it makes any sense to him, and that only a public inquiry will get to the bottom of what happened.

"I would like an inquiry, too, to find out why they didn't act on all this information, why they didn't do what they were supposed to do," he says.

Instead, it's Hiscox himself who, at times, has been subjected to scrutiny and ridicule. One media report during Pickton's trial portrayed Hiscox as a toothless misfit with a criminal past who was angling for reward money.

A look at the case chronology, however, shows that Hiscox came forward to assist police in July 1998 -- almost a full year before the Vancouver police board approved a $100,000 reward in the case.

Hiscox, who grew up in foster care on Vancouver's tough east side, readily acknowledges that he's no angel. But despite his flaws, he says, he was trying to do the right thing in 1998.

"When I came forward, I came forward to just put closure behind these families, not for people to sit back and look at my life and chew it apart and judge me for who the hell I am," says Hiscox, who declined to provide details of his life in Victoria today except to say: "I've been struggling since then."

Vancouver lawyer Michael Mines, who has represented Hiscox in various brushes with the law over the past 15 years, says his client has been hurt, at times, by his portrayal in the media and the focus on his own misdeeds.

"This has weighed hugely on him," Mines said. "Quite frankly, I think, more than anything, he's been looking for some validation that, 'You did the right thing, Bill.'"

lkines@tc.canwest.com

 

Email: wleng#missingpeople.net 

Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016