VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Police probe sale of pig farm soil on eBay
Authorities doubt anyone could have breached security to get dirt from site of massive murder investigation
Friday, October 25, 2002
Police are investigating a person who is trying to sell soil allegedly taken from a Port Coquitlam pig farm over the Internet auction service eBay for bids of $9.99 US and up.
David Pickton calls the Internet auction of soil allegedly from land co-owned by his murder-suspect brother 'a scan.'
The five-day eBay auction started on-line Thursday as the joint RCMP-Vancouver Police Missing Women Task Force announced it is ending today its search of one of the two properties co-owned by accused serial- killer Robert (Willy) Pickton.
The task force issued a statement saying an extensive search of a property in the 2500-block of Burns Road, which began last April, has been concluded.
The Burns Road property is where Pickton's brother Dave lived and from where he operated his businesses.
RCMP Constable Catherine Galliford said task force investigators are confident the two sites they have been searching for months are completely secure and that no one could have entered to obtain soil.
"The moment we began both searches, the site security has been in place," Galliford said.
"We will be looking into the auction on eBay."
The on-line seller claims to have spent time on the Burns Road property at a hall called Piggy's Palace that was once run by Dave Pickton.
But the seller confuses the two properties in his on-line ad, incorrectly suggesting Piggy's Palace was run by Willy Pickton.
"I live minutes from his farm and have been to his farm to party at his bar Piggy's Palace," claims the seller. "What I'm selling here is the dirt from his pig farm which the investigators are searching through."
The site features a picture of Pickton that is taken from news reports, as well as gruesome speculation about what police have found during their search.
Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn is among 63 women missing from the Downtown Eastside, said he was deeply disturbed about the eBay auction and urged police to investigate.
"What if they are jumping over the fence and actually scooping up dirt and stuffing it in jars and attempting to sell it?" Crey said.
"It is hard to believe anyone stooping to such crass commercialism on the backs of the people who are carrying an enormous burden of pain and loss. The public ought not to indulge this person by responding and attempting to purchase this. They should think of the families and how we might feel."
In an interview Thursday, Dave Pickton also condemned the person conducting the auction on eBay and urged the police to take action against the individual, whose e-mail name is Dizan_Hamilton.
"It is a scam. It is definitely a fraud," Dave Pickton said of the claim of possessing soil from the Pickton farm. "It is just crazy that someone would try to make a dollar like that."
Pickton said he is somewhat relieved to be able to regain control of the Burns Road property, although it was extensively altered because of the police search.
One building on the property that was torn down by investigators was valued at $80,000, he said.
But he said he also understands that police needed to carefully search the site in connection with the case against his brother, which has become Canada's largest serial-murder investigation.
Willy Pickton has been charged with killing 15 women from the list of 63 who disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in recent years. The DNA from another two women on the list has also been discovered. Police said earlier all the DNA evidence collected so far came from the Dominion Avenue farm where Willy Pickton lived until his arrest last February.
The task force also announced Thursday the 17 investigators who have been actively searching the Burns Road property since April will join dozens more at the nearby Dominion site.
"The search of the Burns Road property involved a highly specialized application of the latest forensic investigative tools. The site was divided into grids and an extensive surface search was conducted," the task force said. "Two excavators were utilized to move large piles of debris, including heavy aluminum roofing sheets, timber and steel beams, in order for the investigators to search through and underneath piles."
Piggy's Palace and six other buildings "were subject to a search pattern that at times called for hundreds of grid patterns of only a few inches square to be established," the statement continued.
"In order to conduct as through an examination as possible of a priority area, a makeshift house on the property had to be torn down in order for investigators to sift through the soil beneath it," it said.
Police said that so much attention was paid to detail during the search that investigators actually removed the fish from a small pond on the property, drained the pond, searched it, then released the fish back into the fresh water.
Family members of the missing women were notified of the police termination at Burns Road Thursday.
Meanwhile, the task force is holding a meeting with families on Sunday to answer their questions in advance of Willy Pickton's preliminary hearing, which is due to begin Nov. 4.
Officials from the ministry of the attorney-general continued negotiations with Willy Pickton's lawyer Thursday on funding arrangements for the defence team.
© Copyright 2002 Vancouver Sun
Updated: August 21, 2016