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Pig farmer is now charged with murders of 11 women

Police expect to stay at PoCo farm for months

Suzanne Fournier
The Province

Friday, September 20, 2002

As four more first-degree murder charges were laid against Robert Pickton yesterday -- bringing the total to 11 -- police said the list of women missing from the Downtown Eastside will soon climb to at least 68.

Jennifer Furminger

RCMP Const. Cate Galliford, spokeswoman for the joint

Vancouver police-RCMP missing-women task force, said 91 people, including 52 archeology specialists "manning four conveyor belts of sifted soil," are searching Pickton's pig farm on Dominion Road in Port Coquitlam and a nearby Pickton property on Burns Road.

"We do plan on being on the farm property for many months to come," Galliford said. The search of the second property is expected to wrap up this month.

Galliford said police have "seized numerous . . . exhibits from both properties" and expect more charges to be laid as lab evidence is processed and submitted to Crown counsel.

Helen Hallmark

The list of missing women stands at 63 and police expect to add five more names, she said.

Pickton, 52, is to appear in court again on Oct. 2. He was charged yesterday with the murders of Jennifer Furminger, Helen Hallmark, Patricia Johnson and Georgina Papin, all of whom vanished from the Downtown Eastside.

The charges now total the same number admitted to by Canada's most notorious serial killer, Clifford Olson.

Karen Duddy of the Women's Information and Safe House, a drop-in facility at the First United Church at Hastings and Gore, said: "It just sends shivers up the spine to think that so many women have gone missing from down here, and that now we are finding out the tragic fate of so many of the women we knew and cared for.

"It's heart-rending that at 10 p.m. we have to push women out of our drop-in on to the street, at the most dangerous time, because we don't have core funding to stay open. We used to have 30 people a night and now we have up to 160 women drop in as more and more women are entering the sex trade in response to welfare cutbacks."

Patricia Johnson

Duddy said Georgina Papin, who had six children, was well-liked and had many friends. Alanna Mercredi, Papin's cousin, said she lived with her in the Marr Hotel and "loved her dearly."

"Georgina had a big heart, she'd give you her last dollar and not expect to get it back," said Mercredi. "She was fighting her addictions. We promised we'd always stay in touch. I'm having a very hard time accepting she's gone."

Papin was 38 when last seen, on March 2, 1999.

Her brother George Papin, who lives on the Enoch reserve west of Edmonton, said: "When I heard the news, I just got a chill through my body. It's still hard to deal with, knowing the brutality, the way she died, the pain that she must have [gone] through."

Georgina Papin

Vancouver photographer Lincoln Clarkes, who made an award-winning documentary called Heroines about women of the Downtown Eastside, said Patricia Johnson, who was 24 when last seen, on March 3, 2001, was "very bright and outgoing . . . a very happy, upbeat person who loved her children and talked about them all the time." She had two children, Eric, 8, and Autumn, 7.

Jennifer Furminger was 28 when she was last seen, on Dec. 27, 1999. She liked to read and often told friends stories of fishing with her father as a child.

Her family, reached in Ontario, were grief-stricken. Furminger had a 13-year-old son who lives in the Lower Mainland.

The Province: An archeologist sifts through soil excavated at the Pickton pig farm in Port Coquitlam yesterday.

Helen Hallmark was 30 when she was last seen, on June 15, 1997. Her mother, Kathleen, was told in June that her daughter's DNA was found at the farm, but that police lacked enough evidence at the time to lay charges in her death.

"I knew this was coming but it's still too hard to bear," Kathleen Hallmark said yesterday.

Helen's sister Carrie Kerr adored her and spent hours looking for her, as did Kathleen, who postered the Downtown Eastside with pictures of Helen.

sfournier@pacpress.southam.ca

 Copyright  2002 The Province

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016