VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Missing women: Vancouver cop among few who listened to 'one who got away' from Pickton
BY SUZANNE FOURNIER, THE PROVINCE APRIL 6, 2012
Vancouver police Det. Const. Lori Shenher is one of the few police officers to take seriously “the only one who got away” — the woman who survived a vicious attack on her life by now-convicted serial killer Robert Pickton.
That woman, a former sex worker who slashed Pickton’s throat ear to ear in 1997 and almost died herself, will take the stand at the inquiry next Tuesday.
Shenher told the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry this week that when she spoke to the woman a decade ago, both of them were painfully aware that because the victim never got her day in court, a dozen more women would die at Pickton’s hands.
Police had Pickton in hospital on that 1997 night with the key in his pocket to the handcuffs he slapped on her, his kitchen knife covered in both of their blood and his bloody clothes, boots and bandages.
They had a victim, alive after dying twice on the operating table.
Shenher would go on to describe her as “feisty” and completely convincing and believable.
Yet the Crown stayed attempted-murder charges against Pickton in 1998.
“You said you were pissed, you couldn’t understand why that prick [Pickton] wasn’t in jail,” Shenher wrote in an unpublished 289-page manuscript about her meeting with the woman, now known as “Ms. Anderson” to protect her identity.
“You said the Crown said you weren’t credible,” Shenher wrote in a heartbreaking “letter” to the woman, revealed for the first time this week.
“On account of your drug addiction, you explained. As if that was typical.”
Shenher told the inquiry she responded that usually a judge and jury decide whether a witness is credible, but Ms. Anderson never got that chance.
“You nodded silently and I was reminded again of all the ways that poor, drug-addicted women are dismissed.”
Asked whether she still believes that today, Shenher said she does, that the women who went missing are still dismissed “by police, by society, by government, by everybody.”
Shenher interviewed the victim, who did not testify at Pickton’s trial for the murder of six women, in a Burnaby women’s jail in 2002, when the woman was clean and sober.
It would be revealed at Pickton’s trial that the Port Coquitlam pig farmer put a price on the woman’s head, promising big money for anyone who could help him “finish her off.”
Pickton talked openly about killing Anderson to many “friends,” some of whom finally went to police.
It is one of the many bitter moments in the long story of the missing women case, which Shenher joined as lead investigator for the VPD in 1998.
Shenher wrote the cathartic manuscript in 2002 and 2003, after Pickton had finally been arrested and it was clear the massive forensic evidence of human remains on his farm would become Canada’s largest serial killer investigation.
She testified that she still agreed with what she wrote back then, of the VPD handling of the missing women and Pickton investigation: “There was no real plan to find these women.” She wrote there were no resources, no support, “even when the number of missing grew almost by the month.”
Shenher realized that “VPD management was convinced [the case] would never amount to anything and would never grow into the tragedy it has become.
“An investigation they could care less about.”
The 1997 case, and the staying of charges against Pickton, are among the key mandates of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, which has been tasked with finding out why Pickton wasn’t on the radar then as a vicious predator.
Also slated to testify next week are Crown counsel representatives to explain why charges were stayed, although the original files, the inquiry has been told, were thrown away.
© Copyright (c) The Province
Updated: January 01, 2007