Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Pickton: The Vancouver Missing Women

The Body Farm

Pig farm, aerial view
Pig farm, aerial view

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
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
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.

 

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