VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Vancouver police had enough info on Pickton to execute warrant in 1998, inquiry told
BY NEAL HALL, VANCOUVER SUN NOVEMBER 28, 2011
VANCOUVER — Vancouver police had enough evidence in 1998 to execute a search warrant on serial killer Robert Pickton, a lawyer suggested Monday at the Missing Women inquiry.
Darrell Roberts, the lawyer representing first nations interests, said an informant had told VPD Const. Lori Shenher that there were women's purses at the Pickton property, women's identification, including the ID of a woman who had been missing for two years, and a bag of bloody clothing, which Pickton referred to as "my trophies."
The word "trophies" is often used to describe items kept by serial killers, the lawyer suggested to Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard.
LePard agreed, but said the term can also be used in reference to a person involved in sex assaults.
"There was an intense debate within the VPD as to whether there was a serial killer," Roberts suggested.
"The debate was whether there was even foul play at all,"
LePard replied. "Several investigators were leaning toward foul play."
He pointed out that Vancouver police did not conclude until early 1999 that foul play was likely involved in the rising number of women who were going missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
LePard, now in his eighth day on the witness stand, has repeatedly said the RCMP had the responsibility to investigate Pickton because he lived on a farm in Port Coquitlam, where it was alleged that women were being killed.
Roberts suggested Vancouver police had enough evidence by 1998 to execute a search warrant, alleging kidnapping by fraud of women from Vancouver.
Roberts suggested Pickton used a ruse of picking up the women in Vancouver and offering them money for sex, but intended to kill them.
"I'm challenging the proposition that Vancouver police never had the jurisdiction to investigate these missing women," Roberts suggested.
LePard replied that VPD had the jurisdiction to investigate cases of missing women, but when allegations arose through the first tip in 1998 that the women were being killed at Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam, then the Coquitlam RCMP was responsible for that investigation.
LePard pointed out that in the $100-million joint forces investigated code-named Project Evenhanded, not one kidnapping charge was laid by the Crown against Pickton.
The court has heard that more than a dozen women were killed after 1998 until Pickton's arrest on Feb. 5, 2002.
LePard also pointed out that police interviewed 13 women who spent between one and 40 nights at the Pickton farm and were not killed.
Police do not know why Pickton killed some women but not others, he said.
Roberts suggested to LePard that the VPD's failure to investigate Pickton for kidnapping by fraud was the major cause of the failed police investigation.
"I disagree with that," the deputy chief said.
"It appears there was an appalling lack of resources," the lawyer suggested, accusing the VPD of being indifferent because the missing women were drug addicts and prostitutes, with a large proportion being first nations women.
LePard disagreed, saying investigators such as Const. Lori Shenher were not indifferent and the police force itself was not indifferent.
"When there is a crime against a sex worker, the VPD will do everything it can to solve it," the deputy chief said.
LePard will continue his testimony Tuesday.
Testimony can be watched live on the Missing Women inquiry website:http://www.missingwomeninquiry.ca/ The website also has posted transcripts of previous testimony at the inquiry.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
Updated: August 21, 2016