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Old 06-03-2011, 04:18 PM  
mohel
 
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Predators


Ridgeway, Rodgers, Jesperson, Yates, Armstrong

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Because the Downtown Eastside disappearances spanned nearly two decades, Vancouver police had to consider the possibility that some sexual predator identified with other crimes might be responsible for some of the earlier cases. Unfortunately, in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest generally, there was no shortage of serial killers competing for attention.


Gary Leon Ridgway
First among equals in that respect was Seattle's elusive "Green River Killer," blamed for the death or disappearance of 49 women--mostly prostitutes or runaways--between January 1982 and April 1984. The "River Man" was also suspected of 40-plus slayings in neighboring Snohomish County, but his murder spree had ended with a whimper, leaving police and FBI profilers wringing their hands in frustration. Finally, on November 30, 2001, DNA evidence led to the arrest of 52-year-old Gary Leon Ridgway, charged with murder in four of the Green River slayings. Vancouver police acknowledged reports that Ridgway had visited their city, but no evidence surfaced connecting him to Low Track's missing women.


Dayton Leroy Rogers
Another long-shot candidate was Dayton Leroy Rogers, a sadistic foot fetishist dubbed the "Molalla Forest Killer, who began stalking prostitutes around Portland, Oregon in January 1987. By August of that year he had claimed eight lives and injured 27 other victims, identified after he carelessly performed his last killing before multiple witnesses. Incarcerated since August 7, 1987, Rogers was examined and finally rejected as a possible suspect in the Vancouver abductions listed before that date.


Keith Hunter Jesperson
Keith Hunter Jesperson was a British Columbia native, born in 1956, who washed out of training for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police after an injury left him unfit for active duty. Instead, he hit the road as a long-haul trucker, traveling widely across North America--and murdering various women in the process. Nicknamed the "Happy Face Killer," for the smiling cartoon signature on letters he sent to police, Jesperson was jailed for a Washington murder in March 1995. At one point he claimed 160 slayings, describing his female victims as "piles of garbage" dumped on the roadside, and while he later recanted those statements, convictions in Washington and Wyoming removed him permanently from circulation. Once again, however, no link could be found between "Face" and the vanished Low Track hookers.


Robert Yates
Other prospects were considered and rejected in their turn. George Waterfield Russell, sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of three Bellevue, Washington women in 1990, was discounted because he enjoyed posing his mutilated victims, putting them on display after he slaughtered them in their own homes. Robert Yates, convicted in October 2000 of killing 13 prostitutes around Spokane, Washington, suspected of two more murders in a neighboring county, could not be placed in Vancouver for any of the local disappearances. John Eric Armstrong, a US Navy veteran arrested in April 2000, confessed to slaying 30 women around the world, but his statements excluded Vancouver and no evidence was found to contradict him.


John Eric Armstrong
In Vancouver itself, police cast an eye on twice-convicted rapist Ronald Richard McCauley. Sentenced to 17 years in prison on his first conviction, in 1982, McCauley was paroled on September 14, 1994. A year later, in September 1995, he was charged with another assault, convicted and returned to prison in 1996. While never formally charged with murder, he is described by police as their prime suspect in the slayings of four Low Track prostitutes killed in 1995 and early 1996. Three of the victims were dumped between Agassiz and Mission, where McCauley resided; the fourth was found on Mt. Seymour, in North Vancouver. Besides those cases, in July 1997 Vancouver police declared McCauley a suspect in the 1995 disappearances of Catherine Gonzales, Catherine Knight and Dorothy Spence. No charges were forthcoming, however, and McCauley was forgotten four years later, as the spotlight focused on another suspect.

This one, too, would be familiar to detectives from the early days of their investigation--and their belated reconsideration would cause no end of grief for the authorities.
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Old 06-03-2011, 04:26 PM  
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The Body Farm


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Abotsway, Wilson

Quote:
Vancouver residents were unprepared for the announcement when it came, on February 7, 2002. That morning, Vancouver Constable Catherine Galliford told reporters that searchers were scouring the Pickton pig farm and adjacent property in Port Coquitlam, first examined back in 1997. "I can tell you a search is being conducted on that property and the search is being executed by the missing-women task force," she reported. Robert Pickton was already in custody, jailed on a charge of possessing illegal firearms. Bailed out on that charge, he was arrested once more on February 22, this time facing two counts of first-degree murder. Authorities identified the victims as Sereena Abotsway and Mona Wilson.


Abotsway, Wilson
Pickton professed to be "shocked" by the charges, but relatives of the victims were equally agitated, noting that both women vanished three years after Piggy Palace was identified as a potential murder scene. On March 8, investigators declared that DNA recovered from the farm had been conclusively identified as Abotsway's. A month later, on April 3, Pickton was charged with three more counts of murder, naming victims Jacqueline McDonnell, Heather Bottomley and Diane Rock. A sixth murder charge, for Angela Josebury, was filed against Pickton six days later. As in the first two cases, all four victims had been slain since Bill Hiscox had fingered Pickton as a suspect in the Low Track disappearances. May 22 a seventh first-degree murder charge was filed against Pickton when the remains of Brenda Wolfe were found on his farm.


Peter Ritchie, lawyer for Robert William Pickton
If Pickton was the Low Track slayer, survivors asked, why had the searches of his property in 1997 and 1998 failed to uncover any evidence? More to the point, how could he abduct and murder additional victims between 1999 and 2001, when he should have been under police surveillance?

Proclaiming his innocence on all charges, Pickton was scheduled for trial in November 2002, but detectives were not finished with their search at Piggy Palace. The full operation, they announced on March 21, 2002, might drag on for as much as a year. As for other victims and any further charges, they refused to speculate. No charges have been filed against David Pickton or any other suspect.
Peter Ritchie, lawyer for Robert William Pickton


The Abyss

Quote:
Tabloid headlines screamed their verdict in Vancouver on 10 April 2002: "54 WOMEN FED TO PIGS!"

But were they?

Suspect Robert Pickton, charged with seven murders so far, is presumed innocent until proven guilty, his tentative trial date still six months away at this writing. Police searching his pig farm have declared that they will not be finished with their work before spring of 2003. With results from that search pending, the fate of 47 other missing women remains conjectural--and some critics suggest that the official list is only the tip of the iceberg.

On February 13, 2002, nine days before Pickton was slapped with his first murder charge, spokesmen for Prostitution Alternatives Counseling Education claimed that 110 streetwalkers from British Columbia's Lower Mainland had been slain or kidnapped in the past two decades. Computer data obtained from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police placed the number even higher: 144 prostitutes murdered or missing with foul play suspected over the province at large.

It may be comforting to think one human monster is responsible for all those crimes, at least within Vancouver, but is it a realistic hope? Before Pickton's indictment, detectives favored other theories. Some believed a long-haul trucker was disposing of Vancouver's prostitutes, while others thought the missing women had been lured aboard foreign cargo ships, gang-raped and murdered by crewmen, then buried at sea. Still others rejected the serial killer hypothesis until the very day of Pickton's arrest. The only thing certain about Vancouver's mystery, at this point, is its bitter divisiveness.

Victoria attorney Denis Bernsten announced on April 17, 2002, that he will file a multimillion-dollar class-action suit against Robert Pickton, the Vancouver Police Department and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, seeking damages for relatives of the missing and murdered women. Bernsten accused police of "willful negligent action" in the case, telling reporters, "Deaths may have been prevented. All of these women were somebody's child. Someone loved them."

Among surviving relatives, meanwhile, there is dissension over calls for a public inquiry into police handling of the four-year investigation. Lynn Frey, stepmother of missing Marnie Frey, told the press, "Everyone's fighting about lawyers, inquiries or fundraising, yet none of that is going to bring our loved ones back." Several Aboriginal families complain of "interference" by Vancouver Police Department's native liaison unit, allegedly telling them not to speak with journalists. Victim Helen Hallmark's mother defied the ban, declaring, "We need to meet among ourselves and I'm tired of the native liaison unit telling us what to do." In response to the perceived whitewash, Kathleen Hallmark announced plans to retain a partner of famed attorney Johnny Cochrane and pursue her legal remedies in court.

In the midst of so much tumult, Canadian musicians declared their intent to release a special song, "A Buried Heart," with proceeds from its sale directed toward construction of a drug treatment and recovery center in Downtown Eastside. Artists signed on for the project at last report included headliners Sarah McLachlan and Nellie Furtado, Colin James, Gord Downey and John Wozniak. No site so far has been selected for the new facility. In a parallel effort, Val Hughes--sister of missing Kerry Koski --told reporters that a Missing Women's Trust Fund has been established at the Bank of Montreal, accepting donations for construction of a "rapid opiate detoxification center in the Downtown Eastside."

Beyond hope for the future, there is anger. Val Hughes supports the ongoing task force investigation, but she told The Province, "Like all family members, I feel molten rage when it comes to the Vancouver city police. Their view was that it didn't matter if a serial killer was at work, as long as it was confined to one geographical area where the women were expendable people no one cared about. They told us our loved ones were just out partying. We want a full public inquiry, not to interfere with the criminal prosecution but to get answers."

Those answers, if they come at all, are still a vague and distant object of desire.
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Old 06-03-2011, 04:30 PM  
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Worst Canadian Serial Killer

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Four more charges of murder were laid against Robert William Pickton in Port Coquitlam court Wednesday, October 2, 2002.

Pickton has now been charged with first degree murder in the deaths of Heather Gabrielle Chinnock, Tanya Marlo Holyk, Sherry Irving, and Inga Monique Hall.

Tanya Holyk and Inga Hall appeared on the earliest Missing Women list. Holyk was 21 when she was last seen in October 29 of 1996, Hall was 46 when she disappeared February 26, 1998.

Sherry Irving was 23 when she disappeared two months after Holyk, in December of 1996. Heather Chinnock was 31 when she vanished just 18 months ago, on April 15, 2001.

This brings the total number of murder charges laid against Pickton to 15, all women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

The Missing Women's Task Force began searching the Pickton farm in Port Coquitlam in February of this year.

The number of women on the Missing Women list is currently 63. At a Task Force media briefing, RCMP Constable Cate Galliford said, "This case is now the largest serial killer investigation in Canadian history."

In the fall of 1989 Marc Lepine shot 14 female students and a secretary at Montreal University's L'Ecole Polytechniqe, and then shot himself. In 1982 Clifford Robert Olson pled guilty to killing 11 children in Greater Vancouver.
Police Accountability

Quote:
More women victims were linked to the pig farm owned by 54-year-old Robert Pickton. The recent discovery increased the tally to 30 women whose remains have been found on the farm. Fox News reported some of the gruesome details: "Police found human body parts in freezers used to store unsold meat. They also discovered remains in a wood chipper -- the victims' bodies turned into pig feed."

Unlike crime news coverage in the U.S., the details of the worst serial murder case in Canadian history are banned from media coverage in Canada. While this approach protects the accused from pretrial publicity that could affect a jury, it also denies the public an opportunity to hold the police accountable for the speed and quality of their investigation.

According to CBC News, Ernie Crey, an aboriginal leader, and many others have been very critical about the tardy police investigation into this case. The Crime Library reported on this problem repeatedly from 2000 onward. Like many cases where the victims are prostitutes, police assume that the missing women have just moved to other areas to ply their trade. The cases are treated very differently than if a large number of middle class women disappeared.

The Toronto Star interviewed RCMP task force spokesperson Corporal Cate Galliford who told them, "Believe it or not, we're still in the somewhat early stages of our investigation."

The six women who were recently identified are: Yvonne Boen, Dawn Crey, Wendy Crawford, Andrea Borhaven, Kerry Koski,and Cara Ellis. Three of the nine women remain unidentified.

Robert Pickton now faces 22 counts of murder. He has been charged with 15 counts of first-degree murder. His trial is not expected to begin until 2005.

The strict publicity ban on Picton's preliminary trial hearing in July of 2003 was instigated to ensure information was not broadcast to potential jurors before the case was brought to trial but, despite the ban, evidence from the hearing leaked out and was reported widely. Peter Ritchie, Pickton's lawyer told reporters that the leaks were precisely what he was afraid of. "Our concern all along is that we cannot control that," he said, "so we're going to have to follow that to see what has been published."

Prior to the announcement, family members of some of the missing women accused the Vancouver police of "mishandling the investigation" stating that they had "ignored evidence" that a serial killer was responsible and didn't take the matter seriously because "many of the women were prostitutes and drug addicts."


Hunting Humans by Dr. Elliott Leyton
Dr. Elliott Leyton, author of a popular book on serial killers called Hunting Humans, defended the police stating: "Responsible people have to be careful about making wild pronouncements about possible serial killers. When we are not sure if it is true, then it is inappropriate to throw people into a state of panic. Prostitution is a very dangerous profession and many of the people in it are wanderers and not wellconnected to any conventional system of government controls or social services. So they can drift away from the system without being noticed for a very long time, even when nothing may have actually happened to them."

The accusations that police mishandled the investigation gained new momentum when former detective and geographic profiler Kim Rossmo claimed that he had told police a serial killer was probably responsible for the disappearances of prostitutes in the Vancouver area but was ignored. Rossmo, has since sued the Vancouver department for wrongful dismissal when they failed to renew his contract.

The announcement of the new search site came just one day before a preliminary hearing in a Port Coquitlam, B.C. provincial court into the case was to begin hearing final submissions from the Crown and lawyers for Pickton.

The new site, approximately 65 kilometres east of Vancouver, is located in a high-traffic area adjacent to Highway 7, also known as the Lougheed Highway. Galliford reporters: "We started in this area based on evidence we uncovered during the course of our investigation," adding that police became aware of the area "just recently."

She said that some investigators from the Port Coquitlam farm would be searching the new site plus an eight-member team of RCMP divers. She also said that the investigation at the Port Coquitlam property was expected to continue until at least the fall and stated that two of the four soil sifters being used at the pig farm have been shut down so the soil underneath can be excavated and searched and the 52 anthropologists who were manning the sifters would be sent to the new site. The area has since been fenced off and under 24-hour protection.

Prior to the press release, Vancouver police contacted family members from all 63 missing women to inform them of the new investigation. Maggie deVries, the sister of one of the alleged victims was one of those contacted and later told reporters: "It's encouraging and horrifying simultaneously, it gives me the sense that more will be discovered."

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Old 06-03-2011, 04:33 PM  
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A Quiet Loner

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By Marilyn Bardsley

By mid-Oct, 2004, the 21-month search of Robert Pickton's 14-acre pig farm by 102 forensic anthropologists linked 30 women's DNA to the property. Twenty-seven of the women are among those listed as missing and three have not yet been identified. The newly identified women fit the same profile as the other female victims. "They have histories of working in the sex trade, histories of substance abuse and histories of frequenting the downtown eastside," Cpl. Catherine Galliford stated.

Vancouver police Sgt. Sheila Sullivan said that they had no information that linked all 69 missing women to the farm.

Pickton, who was arrested for trying to murder a prostitute on March 23, 1997, went free after charges were dropped. Also, a person who worked for Pickton tipped authorities to him in 1998, but the government did nothing to investigate the property until 2002.

Despite the wild parties that were held in the Piggy Palace on his property, Pickton is described by his friends as a quiet loner. Emanuella Grinberg of courttv.com reported that Robert Pickton "never drank or smoked but simply dedicated his life to working on the property he and his brother and sister inherited when their parents died in the 1970s." The farm raises and slaughters pigs.

Robert Pickton and his brother, David, who was convicted of sexual assault in 1992, operate a salvage business. But David has not been charged in these murders.

In March 2004, British Columbia's provincial health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, publicly released even more alarming news in relation to serial killer Robert Pickton. According to a March 2004 AP Worldstream article, Kendall suggested that there was a possibility that the human remains from some of Pickton's victims may have been mixed with pork meat and processed for human consumption. He was quoted in the article saying, "It's very disturbing to think about, but (there is) the possibility of some cross-contamination. But the degree of it or when or how much we really don't know."

The Toronto Star reported on March 12, 2004 that Pickton would often entice prostitutes to his farm, along with other guests. The article further suggested that he was, "generous, cooking for them, handing out drugs, hosting wild, never-ending parties." Investigators fear that the food he was serving to his guests may have actually been the remains of some of his victims. According to UPI, the meat products from his farm were never distributed commercially, although some 40 friends and neighbors were given some of the meat for consumption. AP Worldstream quoted Kendall who asked "anyone who may still have frozen pork products from Pickton's farm to return those products to the police."


Robert Pickton in court hearings, sketch
AP Online's article "Human Remains May Be in Canadian Meat" suggested that the risk of any human disease being transmitted to those that have consumed the tainted meat is minimal. If the pork was cooked thoroughly, it is likely that any infectious agents present in the meat would be destroyed, AP Worldstream reported. Regardless, the possibility that they may have accidentally consumed human flesh has repulsed and enraged those who received meat products from Pickton. Pickton's trial date has not yet been set, although it is believed to begin sometime during spring 2005, approximately 3 years after his arrest. Daniel Girard of The Toronto Star quoted Crown attorney Mike Petrie that the reason for the delay is because "more than 10,000 pieces of evidence from the farm," still have to be processed by investigators. Moreover, the state also needs more time to prepare their case against Pickton. According to Trude Hugner's article, the defense team, led by attorney Peter Ritchie, was already set to begin.

It is expected that Pickton's trial will begin in early 2005. Because Canada does not have a death penalty, Pickton faces a number of consecutive life sentences if convicted.

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Old 06-03-2011, 04:38 PM  
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Trial Has Distinct Stages

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Quote:
by Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.

The Pickton proceedings in Canada, have gone through several distinct stages, from interview transcripts to physical evidence analysis from several disciplines to victim profiles. When we last looked, during the fourth week of Robert "Willie" Pickton's trial in mid-February, RCMP officer Jack Mellis had described the blood evidence from a mattress in a mobile home on Pickton's pig farm. DNA testing matched it to Mona Wilson, whose head and hands were recovered from the farm grounds in 2002, six months after she'd gone missing. The skull of one victim now linked to Pickton was found on the side of a road in British Columbia in 1995.

The fifty-seven-year-old man who bragged to an undercover officer that he'd used a rendering plant for body disposal was annoyed that he'd been stopped. He'd pled not guilty to the twenty-six counts of murder, and it took five years to finally get to the first of two trials for six of the victims.


Robert Pickton in court hearings, sketch
Teams have covered the 17-acre farm, states the Vancouver Sun, to look for the most minute pieces of physical evidence ? a bone, spots of blood, teeth, hair shafts ? to find enough material for DNA analysis. They must continue to excavate the ground to dig deep for evidence potentially buried from years ago. No end date has been set.



Investigators at Pickton pig farm
At the end of February, two RCMPs described how in April 2002 they had come across grisly human remains, including severed heads, in a freezer inside a building on the farm grounds. The frozen remains were thawed and eventually identified as parts of Sereena Abotsway and Andrea Joesbury. Investigators also turned up the jawbone of Brenda Wolfe stuck in mud in a pigpen and another jawbone at a different location was identified as that of Marnie Fay.

Throughout March, more searchers, officers and DNA experts testified. In April, after sixty witnesses had taken the stand for the prosecution, attorneys for both sides met try to shorten the proceedings. Since some 235,000 exhibits had been processed by the RCMP forensic lab, it could take many months to prove chain of custody. The defense stipulated that the remains had been properly handled, so the prosecutor could skip the steps of having each person in possession of evidence testify.

Day in and day out, Pickton's expression rarely wavered as he stared into space or glanced at a witness. He entered the courtroom each day, according to AZcentral, wearing one of four revolving shirts and carrying a binder for his notes and doodles. His boredom seemed to mirror that of the media as the recounting of scientific evidence reportedly became tedious. A law professor suggested that the drop in attendance was due to the lack of a "gripping narrative." Despite the grisly testimony, there are no larger-than-life personalities involved. The victims were mostly drug abusers and prostitutes, and the accused is an aging, uneducated pig farmer who likes to talk about himself. Still, he's allegedly the most prolific serial killer that a Canadian court has ever prosecuted, and the proceedings finally picked up.
The Pig Farm-231878683_1f445d8592.jpg 

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Old 06-03-2011, 04:45 PM  
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Forensic Analysis

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y Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.
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Robert Pickton
There was plenty of coverage as Pickton showed interest ? and even appeared to smile ? during the analysis of a handheld reciprocating saw allegedly used to bisect three skulls and cut through other human bones. There were cut marks on Wolfe's jawbone, as well as several ribs, two heel bones and several vertebrae that had been collected. Ten of the saw's 45 blades came into evidence, only because they could not be eliminated as the blades that had caused the cuts in the bones. The expert was certain a saw had produced them but could not definitely identify what kind.
A forensic entomologist, Dr. Gail Anderson, also testified that the remains of Abotsway and Joesbury had been exposed to the elements for several weeks to several months before being stashed in the freezer where they were found. Insects apparently went into the buckets when the remains were picked up for storage, and their type and stage of development helped to scientifically establish a timeframe.

From April into early May, the jury members were shown graphic pictures of the decomposing heads, hands, and other remains as forensic pathologists testified about the autopsies. The first witness agreed that the skulls were cut from both front and behind with a reciprocating saw and that they'd been forced apart where the cuts nearly joined. He also described the gunshot wounds to three of the victims, although ballistics experts could not link the recovered bullets to any of the guns found on the property. When Justice James Williams noticed the effect this evidence, which included images of maggots and skin sloughing, was having on some of the female jurors, he called for a recess. The next day, they heard that a .22-caliber revolver with a dildo attached over the barrel had yielded DNA from a victim and possibly from Pickton.

Finally, forensic chemist Tony Fung testified that a substance found in a syringe that came from Pickton's office was methanol, commonly used in windshield wiper fluid. CanWest News Service indicated that an acquaintance of Pickton's had mentioned his statement about using this type of fluid to kill drug addicts. However, no methanol had shown up in tests on the remains of the victims in question. Traces of cocaine were found in all the tissue samples, along with methadone and diazepam (valium), but toxicologist Heather Dinn declined to state that the concentration of drugs had been fatal.

Anthropologists took the stand to describe the examination of tens of thousands of bone fragments from a pile, most of which proved to be from animals, but a few of which were human. Specifically, they found several human toe, heel and rib bones.

During the second week of May, the forensic stage briefly gave way to the "human face," with no challenge from the defense.
The Victims

Quote:
On May 10, after 78 witnesses had taken the stand, the jury learned how Brenda Wolfe, the mother of two, had asked for government assistance for food because she'd spent what little money she had to make a good Christmas for her kids. Reporter Greg Joyce described the 24-page booklet composed for the court about the victims and said that Pickton seemed to read this record along with the Crown's attorney, John Ahern. Known movements of each victim were mapped through pharmacy and medical records, police contacts and welfare requests. But it was dry data compared with what was to come.



Andrea Joesbury
Elaine Allen, employed at Women's Information Safe House (WISH) drop-in center, had known five of the six victims and told the jury what she knew about them: how Andrea spoke softly and Georgina Papin was charming and outspoken; how the opinionated Sereena was often beat up and showed numerous tracks from drug use, while Mona had a demanding boyfriend who sent her out to make money. Andrea, she said, had been the best behaved client she'd ever had, being both polite and aware of the needs of others. They often spoke quietly about her difficult life.



Georgina Pepin & Brenda Wolf
Others who had known these women before they disappeared also testified. One had run a focus group attended by women from the streets, and the jury learned that in some cases, the women worked as prostitutes to feed their children, because welfare payments were insufficient. Another witness was a friend of Georgina Papin, and she described how they had spent time baking and playing cards together, but then Georgina fell back into drug use and was soon gone. Then a former prostitute and drug dealer told about her friend, Brenda Wolfe, who vanished in the spring of 2000. Brenda had deteriorated to the point of not bathing or washing her clothes. Before she disappeared, she was a mess, having lost about 50 pounds.

But testimony about the victims was notably spare. Thus far, their family members have not been called. The next stage involved what Pickton might have done with the women after they died.

Jim Cress, a driver for a Vancouver rendering company, described how he had picked up two-to-five 45 gallon barrels of pork offal and burnt meat chunks from the Pickton farm, to take to West Coast Reduction. Before 2002, customers could dump stuff at the plant themselves, unsupervised, and Cress had seen Pickton there once. While this testimony is suggestive, given the statement Pickton made about victim disposal, it's not proof of anything sinister.

The trial continues.
The Pig Farm-butcher1-330.jpg 

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Old 06-03-2011, 04:54 PM  
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The Victims

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angela joesbury


Georgina Pepin & Brenda Wolf


The Witnesses: Casanova

Quote:
by Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.

Drama entered the courtroom during the first half of June with two controversial witnesses offering potentially explosive testimony. Both were acquaintances of Pickton's. The first man was only mildly interesting, although Canadian papers had created great anticipation, but the second stirred several edgy moments.

Pat Casanova, once arrested during the investigation of fifteen of the victims now associated with Pickton, used to regularly butcher pigs on the Pickton farm, but could not recall ever using the freezer where remains from two of the victims were found in 2002. He said that Pickton had done so. However, he'd said at a preliminary hearing that at times he had in fact used that freezer, up until a month before Pickton's arrest, so the truth about this issue remained unresolved. It hovered over the rest of the testimony.

Casanova, married and suffering from treatment for throat cancer, admitted that he received oral sex from one of the victims, Andrea Joesbury, while in Pickton's trailer. He remembered her name as "Angel," and that Dinah Taylor had brought her to the farm. Casanova had paid Taylor, who gave some of the money to Angel. Casanova said he'd noticed items of clothing in the trailer and some purses that belonged to women who were not present, but admitted that Pickton had never spoken with him about missing women. Casanova had known Pickton for approximately two decades and had seen him angry only once.

Being caught in a lie in earlier statements, Casanova admitted that he'd told the police after Pickton was arrested that he'd been sexually engaged on the farm with only one woman ? "Roxanne." He'd never mentioned Angel, and in fact he might have been one of the last people to see her alive. The defense attorneys seemed to hope to pose Casanova as a good suspect in Angel's murder, although he was not charged with it after his arrest. In any event, the jury did see that Casanova was able to lie easily to protect himself. Thus, he was less than a credible witness ? especially because he'd told a police officer that he doesn't lie. Casanova defended himself on this point with the notion that he's sometimes forgetful.

Regarding certain pieces of evidence, he explained his DNA on a slaughterhouse door as the result of mucous spewed after his throat treatments. He denied using orange bags for carrying butchered pigs, deflecting the implication that he might be the killer, since a victim's DNA was found on such a bag.

Whether Pickton's attorneys were successful at transferring suspicion from their client onto Casanova remains to be seen, but they did manage to undermine his claim to honesty. Similarly, they attacked the next prosecution witness, but to greater effect.
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Old 06-03-2011, 05:03 PM  
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The Witnesses: Chubb

Quote:
by Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.

Scott Chubb was one of the prosecution's key witnesses, writes Robert Matas for the Globe and Mail, having visited the farm a great deal and been privy to certain dark comments Pickton had reportedly made. He was the informant who originally led police to the pig farm.

He'd met Pickton in 1993, becoming an employee, and allowed himself to be videotaped early in 2002 as he related what he knew from his dealings with Pickton. The jury had seen this tape, says Greg Joyce for Canada.com. A police officer, Constable Nathan Wells, had cultivated Chubb as an informant, paying him $1,450 altogether. Thanks to what Chubb revealed (falsely, it turns out), they were able to get the warrant to search for illegal weapons. Wells said that, at the time, he was unaware that Pickton was a suspect in the disappearance of women from Eastside Vancouver. He believed only that he was confiscating an illegal gun.

Prosecutor Geoff Baragar led Chubb, a former heroin user, through testimony that included the fact that he'd had a strange conversation with Pickton one day. Pickton had mentioned that a woman named Lynn Ellingsen was costing him a lot of money and he wanted Chubb to "talk" to her. Chubb understood that he meant that Chubb should hurt or get rid of her. (The police had suspected that she was blackmailing Pickton over something she had witnessed.) Ethan Baron of CanWest News indicates that Chubb said Pickton had offered him $1,000 for this favor. But the subject grew even darker.

During the course of this conversation, Chubb says that Pickton told him it was easy to kill drug addicts because they had needle marks and tracks already; if a person injected windshield washer fluid into them, they'd die and police would dismiss it as the result of a drug overdose. (The jury has already learned that investigators had found a syringe containing windshield washer fluid in Pickton's trailer.) This seemed like pretty damning testimony.

Under cross-examination, Pickton's attorney, Peter Richie, put Chubb on the spot, intending to show that he was a malleable person, easily exploited to state whatever facts the prosecutor required, even in contradiction to things he'd already said. He wanted Chubb to admit he'd been trying to get money from the police in exchange for his testimony ? to the tune of several thousand dollars - but Chubb said it was for protection for himself and his family, in case Pickton's brother, who'd threatened him, came after him. He denied being paid as an informant, although police notes indicate they had paid him specifically for information. There were other contradictions, too, but Chubb offered a head injury as an excuse for his poor memory. Still, his comments sounded more like revisionist memory.

He denied and then admitted to certain facts, such as his claim that he did not know much about guns and had only handled Pickton's, when he actually had a conviction for possession of an unregistered weapon. In explaining why he'd gone to the police at all, he said it was to get them to go after a drug dealer to help get his girlfriend off cocaine. He'd supposedly told police at that time that he'd seen a forbidden firearm on the property, a Mac-10, but in court Chubb admitted he'd only been told about it. He said it was Wells who got the information "confused."

Pickton seemed to be enjoying the dismantling of Chubb's credibility, and some reporters believed he was nearly ready to laugh, despite the grim nature of the accusations. Even so, Chubb told the attorneys they could go ahead and attack his character, but he was not the one on trial for six counts of murder.

The trial continues. This month, too, a controversial book on the subject, The Pickton File, has been published in Canada by Stevie Cameron, detailing early parts of the case and victim backgrounds. She expects to publish the sequel when the trial concludes.
The Pig Farm-farm0001.jpg 

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Old 06-03-2011, 05:08 PM  
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Eating Pork and Talking Murder

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by Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.

By the end of July, as the courtroom went into hiatus for two weeks to give the jury vacation time, the prosecution in the Pickton case had presented its key witnesses. Andrew Bellwood gave the most disturbing testimony and also took the most heat from the defense. He was the 97th witness to date, and an estimated $100 million (Canadian) has been spent on the case.



Robert Pickton
Bellwood seemed cavalier about sitting down to a pork dinner with Pickton in 1999 ? no surprise in that, since it was a pig butchering farm ? but it was the day after Pickton had described to Bellwood how he had killed prostitutes before feeding their remains to the pigs. Allegedly, he had sex with the women first and then murdered them there on the grounds. Hacked-off parts were tossed to the pigs, which consumed them, and other parts were mingled in barrels with pig entrails and dumped at a disposal plant. It was an easy operation, Pickton supposedly implied, after he lured them to the farm with the drug of their choice.

Pickton's murder method, Bellwood said, involved gagging the victims, handcuffing them, and using a wire with looped ends. He even acted it out for Bellwood. "He motioned to me he would put them doggy-style on the bed and have intercourse with them," Bellwood described for the jury. "As he was telling me the story, it was almost like there was a woman on the bed. It was like a play."

Defense attorney Adrian Brooks found it hard to believe that after Pickton described such disgusting events, Bellwood then ate a meal with him ? especially pork. Bellwood's reply was that Pickton was a "nice fellow" who had loaned him money and he'd decided the story was probably fabricated. He wasn't about to go to the police, since he himself was using drugs.

Brooks then pointed to a serious inconsistency in the testimony: Bellwood claimed to have been alone with Pickton during the gruesome conversation, but earlier he had said that Lynn Ellingsen was with them. In response, Bellwood blustered that he would not have gone through all that he had over the past five years only to sit there now and lie. He had simply confused two events, he explained, and Ellingsen must have been present for something else.

The credibility of Bellwood's testimony was also threatened by the fact that he had been questioned in association with several missing women in the Edmonton area, presumably the victims of a serial killer. He claimed the police had picked him up because of his association with the Pickton case, implying it was more or less a vicious circle. He had not been charged with anything. However, during the time he stayed on the farm, heard Pickton's supposed re-enactment of murder, and then ate a pork dinner, he was in the midst of a serious addiction to crack cocaine. Yet Bellwood insisted that his memory about the content of the conversation is clear. His addiction did not affect that, and he left the farm soon thereafter.

In mid-July, Justice James Williams indicated that he expects the trial to end earlier than anticipated ? "well before" Christmas. It appears to be moving along faster than at first predicted.
Wrap-up on the Pig Man: Guilty
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by Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.

It surprised some that the jury deliberated so long to return their verdict for Robert Pickton, the fifty-eight-year-old hog farmer who has been in court since his trial began last January. There was a lot of evidence to get through in this longest trial in Canadian history, and the issues apparently weren't always clear-cut. More than 40,000 photos were taken of the crime scene, 235,000 items were seized, and there were some 600,000 exhibits from the lab. Ninety-eight witnesses for the prosecution and thirty for the defense, both lay and expert, gave testimony, and there were half a million pages of documents, including background on all six victims: Mona Wilson, Brenda Wolfe, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Georgina Papin, and Marnie Frey. In addition, Pickton's taped interrogation spanned over twenty hours.



Robert Pickton
In September, the Justice James Williams threw out several days' worth of evidence and instructed jurors to disregard evidence regarding a skull found on the 16-acre hog farm. Unidentified, the remains were referred to only as "Jane Doe," and no explanation was offered as to why the evidence was withdrawn, except that the presence of the skull could not be directly related to any of the charges.

Once the final arguments wrapped up and the judge had made his detailed instructions, the jury retired, working throughout the weekend as November became December, telling the families of the victims nothing. In fact, during the first three days, they did not even ask any questions, so no one knew whether they struggled over some evidence or a legal concept. At one point, the judge decided he had made an error and rephrased his instructions, over the defense attorneys' protest.

Finally, after more than nine days and into the second weekend, the jury reached a verdict: Pickton was found guilty on six counts of second-degree murder, but not guilty on six counts of first-degree murder. Many in the courtroom were stunned and disappointed. While Pickton will receive a life sentence, he could be eligible for parole in ten years. The jury left this decision in the hands of the judge. The verdict meant that the jury either did not believe that Pickton had planned the murders or that he had acted on his own, although they clearly did believe that he was involved. The problem for the jurors considering the first degree conviction was the absence of an obvious smoking gun.
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Old 06-03-2011, 05:11 PM  
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What the Jury Considered

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by Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.

All the evidence, according to the Vancouver Sun, was discovered within 100 meters of the trailer where Pickton had lived and to which he had brought women. Prosecutor Mike Petrie went methodically through the significant items and testimony. Among the physical evidence were items with DNA from several dead women, buckets of body parts, a dildo with a revolver attached, DNA from unidentified people on several objects (including victims' teeth), and remains of two female bodies in a freezer. Five of the sixty-one items linked by DNA to missing women had a confirmed or possible link to Pickton as well. An eyewitness claimed to have seen Pickton with a saw in a room in which a woman's body was hung, and others associated him with several of the victims. Then there were the incriminating statements that Pickton made to the police during his lengthy interrogation, as well as the statements he allegedly made to an undercover plant in his cell that his goal had been 50 victims. Another witness said Pickton told him about strangling and gutting women and feeding the remains to the pigs.



DNA of some of these missing women was found on Pickton's property.
"Let's have a reality check," Petrie had said. "This case is about the police finding the remains of six dead human beings essentially in the accused's back yard."

Defense attorney Adrian Brooks insisted the victims were not clearly linked to Pickton. He argued that the investigation had been clumsy, negligent and contaminated, and that Pickton's intelligence was too low for him to have masterminded such so many killings. Pickton, the defense maintained, had not confessed at all, but had merely parroted back information the police fed him, or had responded out of fear to the lies they had told. "He did not have the knowledge of the murderer," Brooks argued of Pickton.

If Pickton had claimed a goal of 50 victims, it had been merely to enhance his status in prison. He was an amiable, subservient guy who allowed questionable characters onto his property, which, coupled with the unidentified DNA samples and the poor credibility of the eyewitness who was a drug addict with a spotty memory, should constitute sufficient grounds for reasonable doubt. In addition, there was no smoking gun, the dismemberment method used had been unlike Pickton's method for hogs, and some of the evidence pointed to other potential suspects. Brooks named one of the witnesses against Pickton, Pat Cassanova, as a prime possibility.

The prosecution countered that Pickton's intelligence did not matter. He had experience as a butcher and was inured to death. He had an easy means at hand for disposal of remains. Common sense should dictate the verdict, not the "straw man" issue of an unknown bogeyman.

Then it was Justice Williams's turn to assist jurors in the fine points of law at stake, reading from a thick binder of notes. He cautioned them to disregard their awareness that Pickton faced a future trial for other murders. He then recounted the results of the extensive search on Pickton's property and the points on which experts had disagreed. Finally, he explained the concept of reasonable doubt, adding that they did not need to find that Pickton had acted alone in order to decide he was guilty. But to be guilty, he had to act, not just be present or in the vicinity. In order to deliver a verdict, they did not have to have all questions answered. "You have only to decide those matters that are essential for you to say whether the offenses charged have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt."

Pickton sat motionless throughout the closing arguments and judge's summation, but when the verdict was read, he looked at the floor. He faces trial for another twenty counts of murder, and there are at least 14 women missing from Vancouver's East Side for whose disappearance Pickton is suspected.

The estimated cost of the investigation thus far is $100 million, and many legal experts believe that there won't be another trial, because it will be even more difficult to get a conviction, and the diminishing likelihood of conviction won't justify the additional expense.

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