Robert William "Willie" Pickton (born October 24, 1949) of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia is a Canadian pig farmer and serial killer convicted of
the second-degree murders of six women. He is also charged in the deaths of an additional twenty women, many of them prostitutes and drug
users from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. In December 2007 he was sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 25 years –
the longest sentence available under Canadian law for murder.
During the trial's first day, January 22, 2007, the Crown stated he confessed to forty-nine murders to an undercover police officer posing as a
cellmate. The Crown reported that Pickton told the officer that he wanted to kill another woman to make it an even 50, and that he was caught
because he was "sloppy".
Pickton and his brother, David ran a registered charity called the Piggy Palace Good Times Society, a non-profit society whose official mandate
sports organizations and other worthy groups." According to investigators, the "special events" (which convened at "Piggy's Palace", a
converted building on another property adjacent to the pig farm) on Burns Road were raucous gatherings that featured "entertainment" by an
ever-changing cast of Downtown Eastside prostitutes.
On February 5, 2002, police executed a search warrant for illegal firearms at the property owned by Pickton and his two siblings. He was taken
into custody and police then obtained a second court order to search the farm as part of the BC Missing Women Investigation, when personal
items (including a prescription asthma inhaler) belonging to one of the missing women were found. The farm was sealed off by members of the
joint RCMP–Vancouver Police Department task force. The following day Pickton was charged with storing a firearm contrary to regulations,
possession of a firearm while not being holder of a license and possession of a loaded restricted firearm without a license. He was later
released and was kept under police surveillance.
On Friday, February 22, 2002, Pickton was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Sereena Abotsway and
Mona Wilson. On April 2, 2002 three more charges were added for the murders of Jacqueline McDonell, Diane Rock and Heather Bottomley. A
sixth charge for the murder of Andrea Joesbury was laid on April 9, 2002 followed shortly by a seventh for Brenda Wolfe. On September 20,
2002 four more charges were added for the slayings of Georgina Papin, Patricia Johnson, Helen Hallmark and Jennifer Furminger. Four more
charges for the murders of Heather Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving and Inga Hall were laid on October 3, 2002, bringing the total to
fifteen, and making this the largest serial killer investigation in Canadian history. On May 26, 2005, twelve more charges were laid against him
for the killings of Cara Ellis, Andrea Borhaven, Debra Lynne Jones, Marnie Frey, Tiffany Drew, Kerry Koski, Sarah Devries, Cynthia Feliks, Angela
Jardine, Wendy Crawford, Diana Melnick, and Jane Doe (unidentified woman) bringing the total number of first-degree murder charges to 27.
Excavations continued through November 2003; the cost of the investigation is estimated to have been $70 million by the end of 2003,
according to the provincial government. Currently the property is fenced off, liened by the Province of British Columbia. In the meantime, all the
buildings have been demolished. Forensic analysis is very difficult because the bodies of the victims may have been left to decompose or
allowed to be eaten by insects and pigs on the farm. During the early days of the excavations, forensic anthropologists brought in heavy
equipment, including two 50-foot (15 m) flat conveyor belts and soil sifters to find traces of remains. On March 10, 2004, it was revealed that
human flesh may have been ground up and mixed with pork from the farm. This pork was never distributed commercially, but was handed out to
friends and visitors of the farm. Another claim made is that he fed the bodies directly to his pigs.
On March 2, 2006, one of the 27 counts was rejected by Justice James Williams for lack of evidence.
On August 9, 2006, Justice Williams severed the charges and trimmed the indictment from 26 to just six counts. The remaining 20 counts
have not been dismissed, however, and the Crown can seek another trial (or trials) for them at a later date. Because of the publication ban,
full details of the decision are not publicly available; but the judge has explained that trying all 26 charges at once would put an
unreasonable burden on the jury, as the trial could last up to two years, and have an increased chance for a mistrial. The judge also added
that the six counts he chose had "materially different" evidence from the other 20.
The date for the jury trial of the first six counts was initially set to start January 8, 2007, but later delayed to January 22, 2007.
January 22, 2007 was the first day of the jury trial at which Pickton faced first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Marnie Frey, Sereena
Abotsway, Georgina Papin, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe and Mona Wilson. The media ban was finally lifted and for the first time
Canadians heard the details of what was found during the long investigation. In his opening statement, Crown Counsel Derrill Prevett told
the jury of evidence that was found on Pickton's property, including skulls cut in half with hands and feet stuffed inside. The remains of
another victim were stuffed in a garbage bag in the bottom of a trash can and her blood-stained clothing was found in the trailer in which
Pickton lived. Part of one victim's jawbone and teeth were found in the ground beside the slaughterhouse, and a .22 calibre revolver with
an attached dildo containing both his and a victim's DNA was in his laundry room. In a videotaped recording played for the jury, Pickton
claimed to have attached the dildo to his weapon as a makeshift silencer.
As of February 20, 2007, the following information has been presented to the court:
Magnum handgun ammunition, night-vision goggles, two pairs of faux fur-lined handcuffs, a syringe with three millilitres of blue liquid inside,
and "Spanish Fly" aphrodisiac.
* A videotape of Pickton's friend Scott Chubb saying Pickton had told him a good way to kill a female heroin addict was to inject her with
windshield-washer fluid. A second tape was played for Pickton, in which an associate named Andrew Bellwood said Pickton mentioned killing
prostitutes by handcuffing and strangling them, then bleeding and gutting them before feeding them to pigs. However, defence lawyer
Peter Ritchie said the jury should be skeptical of Chubb's and Bellwood's credibility.
* Photos of the contents of a garbage can found in Pickton's slaughterhouse, which held some remains of Mona Wilson.
On December 9, 2007, the jury returned a verdict that Pickton is not guilty on 6 counts of first-degree murder, but is guilty on 6 counts of
second-degree murder. A second-degree murder conviction carries a punishment of a life sentence, with no possibility of parole for a period
between 10 to 25 years, to be set by the trial judge. On December 11, 2007, after reading 18 victim impact statements, British Columbia
Supreme Court Judge Justice James Williams sentenced Pickton to life with no possibility of parole for 25 years - the maximum punishment
for second-degree murder, and equal to the sentence which would have been imposed for a first-degree murder conviction. "Mr. Pickton's
conduct was murderous and repeatedly so. I cannot know the details but I know this: What happened to them was senseless and
despicable," said Justice Williams in passing the sentence.
Pickton still faces a further 20 murder charges involving other female victims from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. On February 26, 2008, a
family member of one of the 20 women named as alleged victims told the media that the Crown had told her a trial on the further 20 counts
might not proceed.
On December 9, 2007, Pickton was convicted of second-degree murder in the deaths of six women:
* Count 1, Sereena Abotsway (born August 20, 1971), 29 when she disappeared in August 2001.
* Count 2, Mona Lee Wilson (born January 13, 1975), 26 when she was last seen on November 23, 2001. Reported Missing
* Count 6, Andrea Joesbury, 22 when last seen in June 2001.
* Count 7, Brenda Ann Wolfe, 32 when last seen in February 1999 and was reported missing in April 2000.
* Count 16, Marnie Lee Frey, last seen August 1997.Vancouver Police Missing Persons Case #98-209922.
* Count 11, Georgina Faith Papin, last seen in 1999.
Pickton also stands accused of first-degree murder in the deaths of twenty other women, and is suspected in the deaths of several more:
* Count 3, Jacqueline Michelle McDonell, 23 when she was last seen in January 1999. Vancouver Police Missing Persons
* Count 4, Dianne Rosemary Rock (born September 2, 1967), 34 when last seen on October 19, 2001. Reported missing Dec 2001.
* Count 5, Heather Kathleen Bottomley (born August 17, 1976), 25 when she was last seen (and reported missing) on April 17, 2001.
* Count 8, Jennifer Lynn Furminger, last seen in 1999.
* Count 9, Helen Mae Hallmark, last seen August 1997. Vancouver Police Missing Persons Case #98-226384.
* Count 10, Patricia Rose Johnson, last seen in March 2001.
* Count 12, Heather Chinnock, 30 when last seen in April 2001.
* Count 13, Tanya Holyk, 23 when last seen in October 1996.
* Count 14, Sherry Irving, 24 when last seen in 1997.
* Count 15, Inga Monique Hall, 46 when last seen in February 1998. Vancouver Police Missing Persons Case # 98-047919.
* Count 17, Tiffany Drew, last seen December 1999.
* Count 18, Sarah de Vries, last seen April 1998.
* Count 19, Cynthia Feliks, last seen in December 1997.
* Count 20, Angela Rebecca Jardine, last seen November 20, 1998 between 3:30- 4p.m. at Oppenheimer Park .
* Count 21, Diana Melnick, last seen in December 1995.
* Count 22, Jane Doe (remains found but not identified) —charge lifted; see below.
* Count 23, Debra Lynne Jones, last seen in December 2000.
* Count 24, Wendy Crawford, last seen in December 1999.
* Count 25, Kerry Koski, last seen in January 1998.
* Count 26, Andrea Fay Borhaven, last seen in March 1997. Vancouver Police Missing Persons Case # 99.105703.
* Count 27, Cara Louise Ellis aka Nicky Trimble (born April 13, 1971), 25 when last seen in 1996. Reported missing Oct. 2002.
As of March 2, 2006, the murder charge involving the unidentified victim has been lifted. Pickton refused to enter a plea on the charge
involving this victim, known in the proceedings as Jane Doe, so the court registered a not-guilty plea on his behalf. "The count as drawn
fails to meet the minimal requirement set out in Section 581 of the Criminal Code. Accordingly, it must be quashed," wrote Justice James
Williams. The detailed reasons for the judge's ruling cannot be reported in Canada because of the publication ban covering this stage of
Pickton is implicated in the murders of the following women, but charges have not yet been laid (incomplete list):
* Mary Ann Clark aka Nancy Greek, 25, disappeared in August 1991 from downtown Victoria
* Yvonne Marie Boen (sometimes used the surname England) (born November 30, 1967), 34 when last seen on March 16, 2001
* Dawn Teresa Crey, reported missing in December 2000
* Two unidentified women
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