VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Robert Pickton on Mountie's radar as possible serial killer in 1998: former officer
BY NEAL HALL, VANCOUVER SUN FEBRUARY 6, 2012
VANCOUVER - Serial killer Robert Pickton appeared on a Mountie's radar in 1998, the former officer told the Missing Women inquiry today.
Mike Connor testified that he began an investigation into Pickton as a possible serial killer after being given information from an informant, Bill Hiscox.
He recalled Hiscox said Pickton had women's purses, indentification and bloody clothing on his farm, referred to as "trophies."
"It certainly heightened our interest in Pickton," Connor told the inquiry, which is probing why it took so long to catch Pickton, who wasn't arrested until 2002.
"Until I was in a position to eliminate him, he was going to remain on my radar," he said.
Connor said he wanted to use Hiscox as a police agent in an undercover operation to gather more information on Pickton.
But Hiscox couldn't be found for a period of time and then couldn't be used as an agent because he was having personal problems, Connor recalled.
"He fell off the map for a long period," he told Commissioner Wally Oppal.
Connor said Hiscox first contacted Vancouver police Const. Lori Shenher in August 1998.
He added he considered Shenher as Hiscox's handler - a police term used to describe an informant.
Hiscox was passing along to police information he was told by Lisa Yelds, who was described as a cop-hating biker Nazi who was a friend of Pickton.
Connor said the Hiscox information about Pickton added to what Coquitlam RCMP already had on Pickton, who had been charged in 1997 for the attempted murder of a prostitute who had escaped a knife attack on Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam.
The charges were dropped by the Crown in 1998 because the victim was deemed not credible because she was a drug addict.
Pickton's clothing seized after the 1997 attack were tested for DNA years later and revealed evidence of other women who had been killed on the farm.
Shenher testified earlier that Hiscox was a bit hard to find, but was when was located he was willing and able to help police catch Pickton.
"He was angry Pickton was involved," Connor recalled about Hiscox.
"He wanted to do what was necessary to see he was put in jail."
Connor testified he used surveillance on Pickton several times in 1998 and 1999.
In August 1999, undercover officers followed Pickton driving a truck that brought barrels to a rendering plant, West Coast Reduction, in Vancouver's east side.
He said he knew Pickton was followed to the rendering plant, but wasn't told by the surveillance that Pickton had barrels.
He said he didn't learn about the barrels until a few weeks ago.
Around that time, police received a tip from another informant that he had a friend who witnessed Pickton butchering a woman's body one night.
Connor said the new information seemed credible but when two detectives interviewed the woman who allegedly witnessed Pickton with the body, she denied ever seeing a body.
Connor said he was not happy with how that interview of Lynn Ellingsen was conducted on Aug. 10, 1999.
He said he felt the woman was lying because another informant told police that Ellingsen was blackmailing Pickton for money to stay quiet.
"The interview went sideways on Aug. 10," he testified.
"Lynn Ellingsen, in my view, was a participant in a homicide," Connor said.
"My thought was to undertake an undercover operation with Lynn Ellingsen," he added.
Connor recalled he was promoted later that month to sergeant on Aug. 20, 1999, which ended his role as lead investigator of Pickton.
He said he asked a supervisor to stay on the Pickton case but was told he had to take the transfer.
After his transfer, he said, he would sit outside Pickton's home at night for hours, looking for something out of the ordinary.
Connor retired from the RCMP last year.
Ellingsen was called as a witness at Pickton's trial.
She testified she was with Pickton when he picked up a woman in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and he brought the woman back to his residence to have sex for money.
Ellingsen recalled she was doing drugs in her room, she heard a scream and went to the kitchen and saw the woman's purse but the woman and Pickton weren't there.
She noticed a light on in the barn next door and went to investigate.
Ellingsen said she was horrified to see the woman hanging in the barn and Pickton chopping up the body.
She testified that Pickton warned if she said anything, Ellingsen would end up dead as well.
She said she feared Pickton, which is why she never went to police.
Earlier Monday, Cameron Ward had an outburst, accusing the inquiry of being a "coverup" by refusing to make sure all documents have been disclosed.
Ward, a lawyer for 28 years, told Oppal that he'd never encountered a case where he's been so distressed by the lack of timely document disclosure.
The lawyer still is seeking the unpublished book written by Shenher about her frustrating experience with the investigation.
The inquiry, which began hearings Oct. 11, continues.
Ward is the lawyer representing 25 families of murdered women.
The DNA of 33 women were found on Pickton's farm.
Pickton once confided that he killed 49 women.
He was convicted at his first trial in 2007 of killing six women.
The Crown chose not to proceed on a second trial on another 20 murder counts after Pickton exhausted all appeals.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
Updated: August 21, 2016