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VPD officer's unpublished Pickton book ordered disclosed at Missing Women inquiry

BY NEAL HALL, VANCOUVER SUN   MARCH 7, 2012

VANCOUVER -- The unpublished book written by the first Vancouver police detective to investigate tips about serial killer Robert Pickton was ordered disclosed Wednesday.

But first it should be vetted to exclude the private thoughts of Detective Constable Lori Shenher, inquiry Commissioner Wally Oppal ruled.

"It's a lengthy one - 370 pages," Oppal said, adding he read the book before making his decision.

Shenher's manuscript "deals with...her private thoughts about former police chiefs" and why Pickton wasn't caught sooner, Oppal said.

Shenher testified earlier at the inquiry that she almost quit because she found it frustrating investigating the missing women case. She testified that she felt Pickton was the only viable suspect after receiving tips about Pickton in 1998 and 1999.

One of the tips was that a woman had witnessed Pickton butchering a woman's body in his barn, where he often butchered pigs.

Cameron Ward, the lawyer for the families of 25 murdered women, made an application last January for Shenher's unpublished book to be disclosed.

Ward argued there should be no privacy issue because Shenher planned to publish the book - she had a contract with McClelland & Stewart, which was cancelled in May 2003, shortly after the first media stories appeared about the officer writing a book on the Pickton case.

Ward asked for the full manuscript to be marked as an exhibit and put in a sealed envelope, because he plans to appeal the vetting ruling.

"I'm going to seek a judicial review," Ward said.

David Crossin, the lawyer representing the Vancouver Police Union at the inquiry, told Oppal that he will contact Shenher and they will vet the document and return it to Oppal.

Ward pointed out that he would like to have the document before he begins his cross-exam of VPD managers, including a deputy chief, next week.

Starting Monday, the inquiry will hear from a panel of four VPD managers: Insp. Fred Biddlecombe, Insp. Dan Dureau, Sgt. Geramy Field and Deputy Chief Brian McGuinness.

The inquiry will take a one week break starting March 19. It expects to finish hearings by the end of April and submit its report and recommendations to government by the end of June.

On Wednesday, the inquiry also resumed the cross-examination of Don Adam, the former team commander of Project Evenhanded, the joint VPD-RCMP investigation that started in January 2001.

Adam said the investigation at first reviewed what the VPD had done and then began compiling a list of potential serial killer suspects, which included Pickton.

He said his mandate was to review the VPD's investigation of the missing women from the Downtown Eastside, along with a number of unsolved murders to determine whether they were the work of one or more serial killers.

He pointed out that it wouldn't make sense for Project Evenhanded to begin focusing on Pickton or another suspect before the review was completed.

"That would have spun out of control and been a disaster," Adam told the inquiry.

He said it would have taken up to 30 officers to do a surveillance and wiretap operation on Pickton. And Pickton was only one of "priority one" suspects, he said.

Adam pointed out that the investigation did find another serial killer responsible for what he called "the alley murders" in Vancouver, but the suspect died before he could be charged. The man's name has not been made public at the inquiry.

He said the investigation would have eventually led police to Pickton, but was not there yet.

"Am I upset that we didn't get him sooner? Absolutely," Adam said.

Ward, during his cross-examination of Adam, suggested Pickton didn't kill by himself and asked if police investigated Pickton's brother Dave as a suspect.

"We working him as a co-target. We wanted to find out whether he was in league with Willie," Adam said.

"Why wasn't he charged?" Ward asked.

"You need evidence," Adam replied.

"He lived on the property where remains were found," Ward put to the witness.

"And that would make him guilty of murder?" Adam countered. There was no evidence to warrant charges against anyone but Willie Pickton, he said.

Ward also suggested to Adam that RCMP Cpl. Catherine Galliford, the former spokesperson for Project Evenhanded, may testify at the inquiry that Adam had all he needed in 1999 to execute a search warrant at Pickton's farm but did nothing with it, but used the same was the same information used to get a search warrant in 2002.

The lawyer said Galliford suggested that to Adam during a conversation they had in 2002, after police got on Pickton's farm, but Adams walked away from her without response.

"This is not true," Adam said. "She made the story up."

The witness pointed out that police did not have the evidence in 1999 of the inhaler and identification of missing women found by RCMP Const. Nathan Wells when he executed his warrant to search for illegal guns on the Pickton farm on Feb. 5, 2002.

The search by Wells, a rookie Coquitlam Mountie, triggered an exhaustive search of the farm that became the largest forensic crime scene search in Canadian history.

Police found the DNA of 33 women at the farm but Pickton once confided he killed 49 women.

He was convicted at his first trial in 2007 of six murders. After Pickton lost all his appeals, the Crown decided not to proceed with a second trial involving another 20 murders.

nhall@vancouversun.com

 

 

Email: wleng#missingpeople.net 

Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016