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Cost of missing-women case to reach $70 million by year's end

Scope and cost of case a record for Canada

Craig McInnes
Vancouver Sun

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

VICTORIA -- The cost of the investigation into Vancouver's missing women case is expected to exceed $70 million by the end this fiscal year, The Vancouver Sun has learned.

CREDIT: Vancouver Sun Photo Illustration

$16.75m (to date): Gary Ridgway, Acccused Green River killer; $8m

B.C. Solicitor-General Rich Coleman said the investigation has already cost between $40 and $50 million and the provincial government is budgeting another $26 million for the investigation and $4 million for the trial of Robert (Willy) Pickton, who is charged with the murder of 15 women.

Coleman said the scope and cost of the investigation are unprecedented in Canada for a domestic case.

The costs are exceeded only by the Air India case, which was an international investigation that went on for more than a decade before the case was brought to trial.

RCMP Corporal Catherine Galliford said Monday the missing women investigation is much wider than the Pickton case, which is now awaiting a trial date.

"The Pickton investigation has generated so much publicity, so that's what you think of, but we still have 40-plus missing women," Galliford. "We have hundreds of potential suspects."

There are 61 women, most of whom were sex-trade workers who are missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, involved in the investigation.

Coleman said the province spent $24 million in 2001-02, $22 million in 02-03 and has budgeted $26 million this year.

The joint Vancouver Police-RCMP task force launched an exhaustive search of Pickton's dilapidated Port Coquitlam pig farm after he was arrested in February, 2002.

Galliford said police have had 15 identification officers, 10 civilian support workers and 51 anthropologists sifting through the dirt on the site. They added a second shift of 51 anthropologists for part of the summer.

They have sent thousands of samples from the search for DNA testing.

In addition, there are 50 officers still following leads on the missing women, Galliford said.

Pickton was committed to trial after a six-month preliminary hearing. His trial, which has not yet been scheduled, is expected to last longer than the preliminary hearing.

The cost of the case far exceeds the amount spent by the Green Ribbon task force in Ontario, which investigated the sex-slayings of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy.

It spent about $8 million before the trial in which Paul Bernardo was convicted of first degree murder after his wife Karla agreed to testify against him in return for a chance to plead guilty to manslaughter.

Seattle police investigating the murders of 49 women in the Green River slayings have so far spent $12 million US (about $16.75 million Cdn.).

Gary Ridgway is charged in seven of the 49 Green River murders. The 54-year-old truck painter from the Auburn, Wash. area, was arrested in November 2001 on seven counts of aggravated first-degree murder after DNA evidence linked him to the crimes. His trial is still a year away.

 Copyright  2003 Vancouver Sun

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016