Serial killer Robert Pickton, a former pig farmer from Canada, was born on October 24, 1949. He is considered one of the most prolific serial killers in Canadian history.
Pickton quit his apprenticeship as a butcher after leaving school to start working full-time at his family’s pig farm. After inheriting the farm, he is thought to have started killing people in the early 1980s.
He was detained in 2002, tried in 2007, and found guilty of the second-degree murders of six women. A protracted investigation into his arrest also revealed evidence of several other deaths. In 2010, the Crown decided to drop the extra twenty counts against Pickton, many of whom were from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Pickton received the maximum term for second-degree murder under Canadian law at his sentencing: life in prison without the chance of release for 25 years.
The Crown claimed that Pickton confessed to 49 killings to an undercover agent from the Office of Inspector General who was posing as a cellmate during the trial’s first day of jury testimony.
Pickton allegedly informed the officer that he intended to kill another lady to bring the total to 50 and that he was caught because he was “sloppy,” according to The Crown.
The early life of Robert Pickton, the Pig Farm Killer
Pickton was born in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, 27 kilometers (17 miles) east of Vancouver, to pig farmers Leonard (July 19, 1896 – 1977) and Louise (March 20, 1912 – 1979). His older sister Linda was transferred to live with relatives in Vancouver because their parents believed that raising a woman on the family’s pig farm would not be proper.
Early on, Robert and his younger brother David started helping out on the farm. The brothers had to work extremely long hours to raise the farm’s livestock since Louise was demanding, putting the pigs’ needs above the cleanliness of her sons.
She frequently sent the brothers to school wearing filthy, unwashed clothes that smelled like pig manure, garnering the brothers the moniker “stinky pigs” from their peers. Pickton had a close bond with his mother and minimal contact with his controlling father.
The farm was described as “creepy-looking” by Murders Worker Bill Hiscox, who also termed Pickton a “taciturn guy” whose odd behavior occasionally attracted notice despite no signs of drug usage.
The farming operations at the site started to transcend into other activities coordinated by the Pickton brothers.
They soon declared their intention to “organize, coordinate, manage and operate special events, functions, dances, shows, and exhibitions on behalf of service organizations, sports organizations and other worthy groups” and registered the Piggy Palace Good Times Society as a non-profit organization with the Canadian government in 1996.
Its activities included rave, wild parties with Vancouver sex workers, and gatherings in a farm building that had been transformed into a slaughterhouse at 953 Dominion Avenue in Port Coquitlam. There were up to 2,000 attendees at these events. It was reported that Hells Angels members frequently visited the estate.
Early Brush with the Law
Pickton was accused of trying to kill Wendy Lynn Eistetter on March 23, 1997, after he repeatedly stabbed her during a fight at the farm. Eistetter had told the police that Pickton had shackled her but that after receiving multiple lacerations, she had managed to get free. She claimed to have taken his weapon away from him and stabbed him with it.
Eistetter recovered at the closest emergency room, while Pickton sought care at Eagle Ridge Hospital. The $2000 bond allowed for his release. January 1998 saw the dismissal of the accusation.
A few months later, Port Coquitlam officials filed a lawsuit against the Picktons for breaking the city’s zoning laws, disregarding the land’s designated use as agricultural, and “altered a big farm structure on the land to conduct dances, concerts, and other recreations.” The police were “allowed to arrest and remove anyone” attending future gatherings at the farm.
The Picktons disregarded the legal pressure and conducted a 1998 New Year’s Eve party, which led to an order prohibiting future parties. The following year, the society’s non-profit status was revoked due to its inability to provide financial records. After then, it was dissolved.
Hiscox observed that women who visited the farm over three years eventually went missing. Police executed a search warrant at home on February 6, 2002, looking for illicit weapons. Police obtained a second warrant to search the farm as part of the BC Missing Women Investigation after Robert and David Pickton were detained.
The farm, which was shut off by members of the combined RCMP-Vancouver Police Department task force, found personal belongings belonging to the missing woman. Pickton was charged with crimes involving guns the next day. Later, the Picktons were freed, although Robert Pickton remained under police watch.
The Noose Tightens
Sereena Abotsway and Mona Wilson’s deaths were filed as two charges of first-degree murder against Robert Pickton on February 22, 2002. For the deaths of Jacqueline McDonell, Dianne Rock, and Heather Bottomley, three further charges were added on April 2.
On April 9, a sixth charge was announced in connection with the death of Andrea Joesbury, and Brenda Wolfe’s death received a seventh charge shortly after. For the deaths of Georgina Papin, Patricia Johnson, Helen Hallmark, and Jennifer Furminger, four further charges were brought on September 20.
On October 3, four more additional charges were brought, bringing the total to fifteen for the deaths of Heather Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving, and Inga Hall. The scope of this inquiry was the broadest ever conducted in Canada for a serial killer.
On May 26, 2005, twelve more charges were brought against Pickton, bringing the total number of first-degree murder accusations against him to 27, for the deaths of Cara Ellis, Andrea Borhaven, Debra Lynne Jones, Marnie Frey, Tiffany Drew, Kerry Koski, Sarah de Vries, Cynthia Feliks, Angela Jardine, Wendy Crawford, Diana Melnick, and a Jane Doe.
The provincial government estimates that the cost of gathering the evidence was C$70 million by the end of 2003; excavations at the farm continued until November 2003. The property is fenced in as of 2015 and is subject to a lien by British Columbia’s Crown in Right. Except for a small barn, all the structures on the land had been destroyed.
Because the bodies had been left to rot or devoured by farm pigs and vermin, the forensic investigation became challenging. In the early stages of the excavations, forensic anthropologists brought in large machinery, such as two flat conveyor belts, each 50 feet (15 meters) long, and dirt sifters to look for signs of human remains.
Pickton may have crushed human flesh and combined it with pork that he sold to the general public, according to information from the government released on March 10, 2004, prompting a warning from the province’s health authority.
It was also asserted that he gave the dead straight to his pigs.
Early Investigation into The Pig Farm Killer
A publication embargo on the testimony from the preliminary investigation’s 2003 hearing lasted until 2010. Pickton had been accused of attempted murder in connection with the 1997 stabbing of Wendy Lynn Eistetter, it was discovered during the investigation.
Eistetter testified at the inquiry that Pickton stabbed her in the abdomen after driving her to the Port Coquitlam property and having sex with her. He then slapped a handcuff on her left hand. She stabbed Pickton out of necessity.
She and Pickton later received medical attention at the same hospital, where staff members used a key they discovered in Pickton’s pocket to free the woman from her handcuffs.
Pickton was accused of attempted murder, but the case was suspended on January 27, 1998, because prosecutors thought she was too unstable to testify and had problems with drug use.
Police took possession of Pickton’s attire that evening and kept it there for more than seven years in an RCMP storage locker. The DNA of two women (Borhaven and Ellis) was found on the objects taken from Pickton in 1997, although lab testing didn’t reveal this until 2004.
Detective Constable Lorimer Shenher of the Vancouver Police Department claims that in 1998, a caller requested that Pickton be looked into in connection with the disappearances of the ladies.
According to Shenher’s narrative, which is extensively detailed in his 2015 book about the case, he had trouble getting more police support and attention before the RCMP’s 2002 search of Pickton’s farm.
Police in Canada were informed in 1999 that Pickton owned a freezer on his farm that was packed with human meat. The police didn’t perform a search even though they spoke with Pickton, who denied killing the missing woman and got permission to search his farm.
Trial of Robert Pickton
The trial for Pickton got underway in New Westminster on January 30, 2006. In front of the British Columbia Supreme Court, Pickton entered a not-guilty plea to 27 counts of first-degree murder.
Determining what evidence could be presented to the jury, the voir dire portion of the trial consumed most of the year. Reporters could only reveal the information offered in the arguments. Justice James Williams dismissed one of the 27 counts on March 2 due to a lack of evidence.
Justice Williams separated the accusations on August 9 into two groups, one with six counts and the other with twenty. On the six counts, the trial continued. The remaining 20 counts may have been heard in a different trial, but on August 4, 2010, they were finally suspended.
The judge explained that hearing all 26 counts at once would place an excessive burden on the jury because the trial may continue up to two years; moreover, the judge’s full explanation of the decision is private due to the publication ban.
Additionally, there would have been a higher possibility of a mistrial. The judge continued that the six counts he selected had “materially different” evidence from the other 20 counts. The case agent for the investigation was Senior Investigator R.J. McDougald from the Office of Inspector General.
The first six counts jury trial was initially scheduled to begin on January 8, 2007. However, it was later moved to January 22. On that day, Pickton was accused of killing Frey, Abotsway, Papin, Joesbury, Wolfe, and Wilson in the first degree.
When the media blackout was lifted, Canadians learned for the first time what had been discovered during the lengthy investigation: skulls that had been cut in half with hands and feet stuffed inside; the remains of one victim found inside a garbage bag; her blood-stained clothing discovered inside Pickton’s trailer.
A victim’s partial jawbone and teeth were discovered next to Pickton’s slaughterhouse, and a.22 caliber revolver with an attached dildo.
Pickton claimed to have used the dildo as a makeshift silencer on his gun in a filmed clip shown to the jury; however, this claim was, at best, implausible because it is impossible to silence a revolver in this way.
More Things Come to Light
As of February 20, 2007, the court had received the following details:
In Pickton’s trial, staff from the lab testified that about 80 unidentifiable DNA profiles, roughly split between male and female, had been found on the evidence.
What the cops discovered in Pickton’s trailer were: Two pairs of fake fur-lined handcuffs, a loaded.22 revolver with a dildo over the barrel and one round discharged, boxes of.357 Magnum handgun ammunition, night-vision goggles, a syringe containing three milliliters of blue liquid, and “Spanish fly” aphrodisiac.
According to a recording of Pickton’s friend Scott Chubb, Pickton once advised him that injecting a female heroin addict with windscreen washer fluid was an excellent method to terminate her life.
On a second tape, Pickton was heard discussing the execution of sex workers by handcuffing, strangling, bleeding, and gutting them before feeding them to pigs.
Images of the items in a trash can discovered in Pickton’s slaughterhouse, which included some of Mona Wilson’s bones.
In October 2007, it was claimed that one of the jurors had already decided that Pickton was not guilty. The trial judge inquired into the juror, “You reportedly stated that you were confident Mr. Pickton was innocent because there was no way he could have committed this crime based on what you had seen. That the legal system had arrested the wrong person.”
The juror categorically refuted this. Since it had not been shown that she made the statements, Justice Williams decided she could continue serving on the jury.
The jury’s deliberations were put on hold on December 6, 2007, by Justice James Williams, who had uncovered an error in his charge to the jury.
The jury had written to Justice James earlier in the day to ask for clarification of his charge, posing, “Are we able to say ‘yes’ [i.e., find Pickton guilty] if we conclude the accused acted indirectly?”
Pickton was found guilty of six counts of second-degree murder on December 9, 2007, but found not guilty of the six first-degree murder charges. If found guilty of second-degree murder, the defendant faces a life sentence without the possibility of parole for some time between 10 and 25 years, to be determined by the trial judge.
Pickton was given the maximum penalty for second-degree murder—life without the possibility of parole for 25 years—on December 11, 2007, by Justice James Williams of the British Columbia Supreme Court after hearing 18 victim impact statements.
This sentence is equivalent to the one that would have been given for a first-degree murder conviction. “Mr. Pickton frequently engaged in homicidal behavior. Although I cannot know the specifics, I know that what occurred to them (the victims) was senseless and reprehensible,” Justice Williams remarked as she gave the verdict.
Continuing The Last 20 Murder Charges
Twenty further first-degree murder charges against Pickton were brought against other female victims from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. A family member of one of the 20 women listed as alleged victims revealed to the media on February 26, 2008, that the Crown had informed her that a trial on the additional 20 counts might not go forward.
The possibility of additional trials was eliminated when Crown prosecutors decided to suspend the murder charges against Pickton on August 4, 2010.
Melissa Gillespie, the crown attorney, officially stayed the 20 counts during a hearing before the British Columbia Supreme Court in New Westminster.
After attorneys spent hours in court reviewing the various complex bans, the trial judge James Williams of the British Columbia Supreme Court lifted the majority (but not all) of the publication bans in the case.
On August 6, 2010, several media sources made public a transcript of discussions between an RCMP undercover agent and Pickton in his holding cell. The RCMP mostly obscured the name of the undercover officer.
However, some of the material made public by the RCMP had his identity left unfiltered. For roughly an hour, this uncensored version was accessible to the general public via Global News, CTV News, and the Vancouver Sun before being removed and re-edited.
It is unknown how much harm the undercover cop sustained from this error.
Victims of the Pig Farm Killer
Pickton was found guilty of second-degree murder in the murders of six women on December 9, 2007:
Count 1, Sereena Abotsway (born August 20, 1971), was 29 years old when she vanished in August 2001; on August 22, 2001, her foster mother reported her missing.
Count 2 refers to Mona Lee Wilson (born January 13, 1975), who was 26 years old on November 30, 2001, when she saw her doctor. That same evening, she was reported missing.
Andrea Joesbury, count 6, was last seen in June 2001 at 22. She was reported missing on June 8th, 2001.
Brenda Ann Wolfe, count 7, was last seen in February 1999 at 32. She was reported missing on April 25, 2000.
Marnie Lee Frey, count 16, was last seen in August 1997 and went missing on December 29, 1997.
Georgina Faith Papin, count 11, was last observed in January 1999 and went missing in March 2001.
Before the charges against Pickton stayed on August 4, 2010, additional victims included 20 other women who died, for whom Pickton was also charged with first-degree murder.
Jacqueline Michelle McDonell, count three, was 22 when she vanished in January 1999.
Count 4, Dianne Rosemary Rock, who was 34 when last seen on October 19, 2001, was born on September 2, 1967—missing since December 13, 2001.
Count 5, Heather Kathleen Bottomley, was 27 years old when she was last seen (and reported missing) on April 17, 2001. She was born on August 17, 1973.
Jennifer Lynn Furminger, count 8, was last seen in 1999.
Helen Mae Hallmark, count 9, was last seen in August 1997.
Patricia Rose Johnson, who was last seen in March 2001, is count 10.
Heather Chinnook, who was 30 when last seen in April 2001, is count 12.
Tanya Holyk, count 13, was 23 when she was last seen in October 1996.
Sherry Irving, count 14, was 24 when she was last seen in 1997.
Inga Monique Hall, count 15, was 46 when she was last seen in February 1998.
Tiffany Drew, count 17, was last seen in December 1999.
Sarah de Vries, count 18, was last seen in April 1998.
Cynthia Feliks, count 19, was last seen in December 1997.
Angela Rebecca Jardine, count 20, was last seen on November 20, 1998, between 3:30 and 4 p.m. at Oppenheimer Park during a rally in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Diana Melnick, count 21, was last observed in December 1995.
Jane Doe, count 22; charge dropped.
Debra Lynne Jones, count 23, was last seen in December 2000.
Wendy Crawford, count 24, was last seen in December 1999.
Kerry Koski, count 25, was last seen in January 1998.
Andrea Fay Borhaven, count 26, was last seen in March 1997.
Count 27, Cara Louise Ellis, also known as Nicky Trimble, was 25 when she was last seen in 1996—missing since October 2002.
The unnamed victim’s unrelated murder accusation has been dropped as of March 2, 2006. The court entered a not-guilty plea on Pickton’s behalf because he declined to enter a plea to the accusation concerning this victim, who was referred to as Jane Doe, in the proceedings.
“The count as drawn does not satisfy the fundamental standard outlined in Section 581 of the Criminal Code. Therefore, it must be dismissed,” Justice James Williams wrote. The publication ban covering this trial phase prevents reporting the specific justifications for the judge’s decision in Canada.
Pickton killed the following women, but no charges have been brought against him (this is not a complete list):
25-year-old Mary Ann Clark, sometimes known as Nancy Greek, vanished from downtown Victoria in August 1991.
Yvonne Marie Boen, commonly known by her maiden name England, was 33 years old when she was last seen on March 16, 2001. She was reported missing on March 21.
In December 2000, Dawn Teresa Crey was reported missing. Finding Dawn, a 2006 documentary on murdered and disappeared Aboriginal women in Canada, features Crey as its main subject.
Two unknown females.
Many others began coming forward and discussing what had happened at the property with the police after Pickton was detained. Lynn Ellingsen identified herself as a witness.
Years previously, Ellingsen claimed to have witnessed Pickton skinning a lady dangling from a meat hook, but she kept it a secret out of fear for her life. Ellingsen acknowledged that she had repeatedly threatened Pickton with blackmail over the event.
In May 2013, the children of the victims sued the Crown, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Vancouver Police Department for failing to provide adequate protection for the victims. In March 2014, they came to a settlement without admitting fault in which each kid was to receive C$50,000 in compensation.
“Pickton Letters” for August 2006
Thomas Loudamy, a 27-year-old resident of Fremont, California, said in August 2006 that Robert Pickton had written him three letters in response to letters Loudamy had sent using a fictitious name.
The letters claim that Pickton expresses worry about the cost of the investigation, maintains his innocence, quotes from and allude to the Bible, commends the trial judge, and elaborates on information contained in Loudamy’s letters, which were written under the fictitious name of Mya Barnett, a “down on her luck” woman.
The Vancouver Sun first revealed the letters’ existence in a Saturday, September 2, 2006, exclusive. As of that date, neither law enforcement nor a Pickton representative had independently confirmed the letters’ veracity.
The Sun, however, has taken several steps to validate the legitimacy of the documents, including:
Verifying that the stamps used to seal the envelopes match those used by the North Fraser Pretrial Centre (NFPC), where Pickton was being held; Verifying through a Canada Post representative that the stamps used to seal the envelopes are authentic, and verifying that the machine used to seal the envelopes is the same one used by the NFPC.
As of September 4, 2006, Pickton or his representatives still needed to provide information regarding the existence of the letters Loudamy claimed he had not preserved copies of.
Loudamy had a history of writing to criminals who had been charged or convicted, sometimes using his name (as in his correspondence with Clifford Olson) and other times writing under the alias of someone he thought the recipients of the letters would more readily accept.
According to Loudamy, an aspiring journalist, the letters were made public to give the public more knowledge about Pickton.
RIP victims of Robert Pickton.
Next, read about the Baker Butcher, The Man Who Hunted Women in The Alaskan Woods, and also about the True Story Behind the Christmas Legend of Krampus.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?