Wednesday, February 28

Another View on Censored Reporting of Robert Pickton Trial

Written by Kristin Schoonover
Wednesday, 28 February 2007

To the Editorial Desk:
I just wanted to say: Bravo. That was an excellent article.

I am so happy and relieved a journalist finally addressed the disturbing issues involved in the self-censorship of the Can. news community (tv, Internet, print media). I want to know what is happening, and more importantly, the public has a right to that access, and the media have an obligation to provide it.

People have a choice to avoid reading or watching, but for news media to condescendingly make the decision for me about what I can and can't know about the trial proceedings (when it is NOT under a publication ban as was the voir dire) is truly obscene.

What those women went through should not be further ignored, as it has been for far too many years. We, the public, need to keep the legal and judicial systems honest by paying attention to what happens, especially in such an historic case.

I have been aware of the missing women since 1989 from the advocacy of the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre, who were circulating posters amongst women's groups and others to raise the issue and have a police investigation begin. I have read about the lives of many of the missing women ( ) years ago, and am incredibly relieved that evidence has been found and someone is being tried. There were so many failures involved from so many directions. I want to know what happened, what was found, and ultimately, I hope everyone learns things from the trial, e.g. how to avoid this every happening again.

Thank you for your intelligent, incisive, and brave article.

Kristin Schoonover, MLIS, BA (Adv.)

University of Saskatchewan

Editor's Note: the website link supplied by Ms. Schoonover is a comprehensive accounting of the Vancouver Downtown Eastside missing and murdered women. The site authors present each profile as a woman, daughter, sibling or friend. They do not dehumanize the women as "prostitutes" and "addicts", a tactic embraced by the main stream media. /ed

Are CTV and Global National Sanitizing News From The Robert Pickton Trial?

Written by D.L. McCracken
Friday, 26 January 2007

A disturbing trend has been slowly developing in the shadow of the beginning of the Robert "Willie" Pickton murder trial which will no doubt dominate the news over the next year. At this juncture the public have been privy to only minor tidbits of the unspeakable actions allegedly committed by "the pigman" and what we know is indeed troubling to say the least. It is now the duty of our national news providers to fill in the blanks and report to the public in a succinct and thorough manner.

But that's not what we're getting. If you have watched the national news broadcasts over the last few days, you will have already heard from CTV's Lloyd Robertson and Global National's Kevin Newman that, because of the disturbing nature of the facts coming out of the trial and because the facts may be too upsetting for viewers, they have decided to withhold certain aspects of the day's proceedings.

The only disturbing aspect of this trial to me is the sudden decision by national news broadcasters to censor their daily reports to the public which I believe still has the right to know. National broadcasters like CTV and Global have made the decision to protect our sensibilities by providing to us what they think we need to know. Nevermind that the public has the right to know everything no matter how disturbing that information might be. I want to know why the news we receive each day is suddenly being sanitized. Could it be that CTV and Global are of the opinion that we Canadians can't handle the gory details and we will be eternally grateful that big brother is still out there in the form of news reporters who are actively making decisions on what we can and cannot handle?

The facts surrounding the horrendous acts allegedly perpetrated by Robert Pickton will slowly emerge within the walls of a public courtroom. The daily proceedings are officially recorded and will become public record. Because this trial is being played out in B.C.'s Supreme Court, all Canadian taxpayers are funding the procedures. Many of us have followed this case from the beginning. By "beginning" I am referring to that period of time when local police had no choice but to take seriously the disappearances of so many women and were forced to thrust aside the prevailing opinions that the growing number of missing and dead were 'just one more missing whore'. But I digress.

The Canadian Constitution states that the public has the right to open courts and, with the exception of a decree from the bench that a trial be subject to publication bans, all other court records are considered part of a free flow of information to the public. The public includes representatives of the media as well as all individuals.

According to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Code of Ethics, Clause 5 - News Part (1), it clearly states that broadcasters have a responsibility to "ensure that news shall be represented with accuracy and without bias" and broadcasters will also "ensure that news broadcasts are not editorial". The CTV and Global National decision to sanitize the news from the Picton trial strongly suggests that both networks are consciously presenting inaccurate and biased news simply because they are of the opinion that some details will be "too disturbing to report" and those details have been deleted.

Clause 5 - News, Part (2) of the Code of Ethics states "News shall not be....formulated on the basis of the beliefs, opinions or desires of management, the editor or others engaged in its preparation or delivery". The CTV and Global National decision to censor specific portions of the daily Picton trial proceedings has been formulated and presented based on the beliefs and opinions of CTV and Global, a violation of their own code of ethics.

Part 2 also explains that the "fundamental purpose of news dissemination in a democracy is to enable people to know what is happening, and to understand events so that they may form their own conclusions." Unfortunately the public will be unable to form their own conclusions because they are not being provided with all the information that is known to the above national news broadcasters.

It all boils down to the tried and true cliché that the public has the right to know. We expect our trusted national news broadcasters to present their daily stories on that principle. If said national news broadcasters suddenly stop working under that principle, the public's trust may wobble. CTV and Global have the absolute duty to present to their viewing public ALL of the news, disturbing and graphic as it might be. They have no right to assume that some of that viewing public are just too sensitive to be presented with certain facts. That is not their call.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters Code of Ethics Administered by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council can be seen here:

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By Jim Zeeben
Saanich NewsFeb 28 2007

Statistics tell a grim story about the plight of missing First Nations women

There’s a pause over the phone before Evelyn Voyageur offers her explanation for why Canadians pay so little attention to the plight of missing aboriginal women.

Racism is alive and well, says Voyageur, who lived through the residential school system and is now an advocate for First Nations’ issues.

“A lot of people don’t like to admit that but it is. Whether it will ever change we can only hope.”

While there are reports of 500 First Nations women who have vanished, the situation has only recently made headlines. In Vancouver, the trial of an accused serial killer offers terrifying details about the fate that has befallen some of the missing.

However, women across the country have disappeared long before prosecutors made their case in the notorious Pickton Farm trial.

On March 3, the Victoria Native Friendship Centre hosts a guest speaker who is researching the hundreds of aboriginal women who have been murdered or are missing across Canada.

Theresa Ducharme is with the Ottawa-based Native Women’s Association of Canada. In 2004, the association launched a program called Sisters in Spirit that aims to raise awareness about the alarming level of violence faced by many aboriginal women.

Saturday’s event is sponsored by the friendship centre and Aboriginal Neighbours, a committee created by the Anglican Church of Canada.

The chair of the committee, Margaret Smart, says she hopes the forum will be well attended by people who work with First Nations families.

“We hope that by holding things like this it will break down some of the barriers of racism and will raise awareness of what life is like for First Nations,” Smart says, adding that more understanding is needed of aboriginal culture. “I think it will take a long time for First Nations people to overcome the effects of residential schools.”

For Voyageur, who lived through those dark years of Canadian history, being a member of Aboriginal Neighbours is one way to right past wrongs.

“A lot of people don’t understand what happened to us when colonization came in, why some of us don’t look after ourselves,” Voyageur explains. “It was something that we were taught. This is a learned thing.”

For some aboriginals, it’s been seven generations of an imposed way of life.

That means since the days of grandparents’ grandparents, the only life ever known has been one of dependency and disconnection. It’s not an ideal way to turn out role models for future generations.

“We didn’t just become dysfunctional overnight. It was something that was put on us,” Voyageur says.

The only hope for improving the lives of First Nations people is to escape dependency. Voyageur says her mission is to get people to stand up for themselves and stop accepting the role of victim.

“Empowerment is a very strong tool.”

Walking Together, Expanding the Circle runs 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 3 in the Victoria Native Friendship Centre at 231 Regina Ave.

© Copyright 2007 Saanich News

Monday, February 26

Distraught mom won't give up search - Jessie Foster

Jessie, 22, disappeared without a trace in Las Vegas a year ago

Salim Jiwa
The Province
Monday, February 26, 2007

KAMLOOPS -- A tormented mom is on a single-minded mission to find her 22-year-old daughter who disappeared without a trace in Las Vegas almost a year ago.

"If I stopped, do you know, there would be not one person looking for Jessie on a daily basis," said Glendene Grant, who spends every waking hour of every day searching for her daughter Jessie Foster, who disappeared last March 28.

Grant believes Jessie, a former Boston Pizza waitress, has fallen into the hands of human traffickers.

"Jessie is a real family person," Grant said. "No one believes Jessie took off willingly or anything like that. We all believe she is being held against her will, as a sex-slave somewhere. It may be in Las Vegas, or another state or even another country." Jessie's Jamaican boyfriend, Peter Todd, is believed to be the last person to have seen her.

He claims in a web profile: "I don't do black girls . . . only snow bunnies." Jessie's bank account with $10,000 in it is untouched, her credit cards are unused and her car is parked at the back of her mom's home in Kamloops. There is no answer on her cellphone. She did not phone home at Christmas.

At Grant's modest single-storey home a visitor is greeted by a missing-person poster on the white picket fence, another on the door, another as wallpaper on the computer screen and a picture of the missing blond on the fridge.

"Dwight [Jessie's father who lives in Calgary], he does what he can, but he has already mourned Jessie and put her to rest as a dead daughter in his heart, so he is looking for his dead child's body," said the determined Mom PI.

"I am looking for Jessie alive, come home, write a book, be on Oprah and make a movie." Tired of inaction from Las Vegas police, Grant stormed into Vegas last month with an entourage of media in tow and confronted the attorney-general of Nevada, the mayor of Las Vegas, police and even Todd, the former boyfriend.

Her stubborn pursuit resulted in a five-page cover story in City Life, a magazine that sits in boxes at every street corner. The front cover had a life-sized picture of Jessie's face and the headline asked, "Where's Jessie?" That prompted action from the Las Vegas police.

"I've read the article from LV City Life and your e-mail message," Terri Miller, the director of the department's Anti Trafficking League Against Slavery, said in an e-mail to Grant.

"I think there are human-trafficking indicators in your daughter's case. Do you know what she was doing in Miami, New York and Atlantic City? Those are all cities considered to be hubs for human trafficking. There are actually circuits of prostitution rings that operate out of and into those cities, including Las Vegas.

"I desperately want to help you find some answers." In a second e-mail last week, Miller said she had asked detectives to investigate the disappearance as a possible human-trafficking crime.

"I proposed looking at the case through the scope of human trafficking, which they are acutely aware of now," she said.

Meanwhile, Grant continues to flood the Internet with pleas for information, writing to TV shows and even stopping strangers to introduce herself as the mom of missing Jessie Foster.

© The Vancouver Province 2007

Sunday, February 25


Michelle Caroline Choiniere
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: September, 2005 from Surrey, British Columbia
Classification: Missing Date Of Birth: August 11, 1981
Age: 24Height: 5'9"
Weight: 130 lbs
Hair Color: Reddish Brown Eye Color: Green
Race: Native/WhiteGender: Female
Distinguishing Characteristics: Scar on knee cap.
Medical Conditions: Choinere has been known to abuse drugs.
Clothing : White shirt, jeansJewelry: Might of been wearing a beaded necklace.
AKA: Michelle Shaw


Name: monica choiniere
City: Okanagan
Sent: Thu April 06 2006 10:52 PM
My Michelle, my dear Michelle, where are you? Do you remember when I would take you to Stanley Park in your pretty pink dress and feed the Squirrels? Remember how we would sit at a coffee shop sipping chocolate milk from fancy glasses and seeing who could make the most bubbles? To me you are my beautiful little niece, so full of smiles after a full day falling asleep as we watched a silly movie. I would brush your blonde hair away from your forward as you were always so warm when you slept, sometimes you would pat my hand, others times you would whisper something . I never could hear what you would whisper and now I would give my life to have you whisper it. How I wish I could protect you and brush the hair away from your forehead, just to watch you sleep - God , what would that take? What can I give to bring my Michelle back to me? I have given you buckets of tears, screams of anguish, a million prayers, please take me to where she is , I need to hear her whisper. I love you Michelle Caroline Choiniere, I miss you.
Police ask anyone who might know where these missing people are to call 604-599-0502 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Saturday, February 24

It's frightening to see how romanticized mass murders have become in popular culture

The serial killer as celebrity
It's frightening to see how romanticized mass murderers have become in popular culture

Peter Robb
The Ottawa Citizen

There is nothing like a good mystery. The power of these simple stories is almost irresistible.

That these tales often describe brutal murder most foul usually doesn't affect me, apart from the odd bad dream. My own life, thankfully, has been far removed from the reality of crime -- my only contact being a break-in many years ago that cost me a TV set, some stereo equipment and my sense of security.

But the florid facts of the investigation that are emerging at the murder trial of Robert Pickton raise questions about the significance that we accord to a certain type of violence in popular culture -- that produced by the serial killer. I'm starting to think that our fascination with and exploitation of the serial killer is inappropriate.

The disappearance of 65 women from the streets of Vancouver and the discovery of some of their remains on a pig farm is a tawdry and gruesome reality. The accused perpetrator seems to be a banal man who, from this great distance, has little about his personality that is remarkable.

In that, the accused is typical of the kind of person who is a serial killer. These individuals are not highly cultured, evil geniuses -- far from it. They are usually pathetic in their mediocrity.

In the series of books and films that feature Hannibal Lecter, people are carved up, butchered, fed to pigs and eaten by a cannibal.

The central figure, Hannibal, is a chillingly charming persona. He is witty, erudite, supremely intelligent and even humorous. He is a murderous cannibal, but he has charisma.

Now we have the final instalment, the reason why Hannibal became Hannibal. What purpose does the film Hannibal Rising serve? Is it merely to ensure that we understand and tacitly sympathize with a serial killer?
In his 2005 book Natural Born Celebrities: Serial Killers in American Culture, David Schmid, an English professor at the University of New York at Buffalo, says "serial killer movies not only make seriality as both theme and structure a defining feature of film but also use that seriality to promote the celebrity of the filmic serial killer." Serial killers are stars, in other words.

The serial-killing hero is now on television. In the Showtime series Dexter, seen in Canada on the Movie Network, the central character is a vigilante killer played by the laconic Michael C. Hall, who has previously starred in Six Feet Under as a very conflicted gay funeral home director.

The viewer spends a great deal of time stuck inside Dexter's mind, understanding why he kills and how he avoids being caught.

We see him engaged in the hunt for people who are unsavoury: people-smugglers, wife abusers. We don't like these kinds of people very much, so the unstated implication is that Dexter is doing society a favour by cleaning up the street.

It is a very good, darkly comic program. Mr. Hall was even nominated this year for a Golden Globe for his work. Dexter, the character, is bright, conflicted and grotesque. But he is not alone.

On crime series after crime series, it seems the serial killer is the ratings draw.

Another high-profile TV drama is Criminal Minds. It features a team of FBI psychologists who are called in to help catch serial killers. It too is a well-conceived program, but like many of the murderers the program portrays, the scripts are escalating their behaviour.

One recent instalment of the program featured the brutal murder and torture of individuals that included a scene in which a person is torn apart by crazed dogs. Thank goodness that was not on camera, but the bloody mat left behind was more than enough for the imagination.

The murderer who unleashed the hell-hounds was a troubled man with a multiple personality disorder that occasionally turned him into a heartless avenging angel. When another of his personalities was in control, the killer was instead a sad young man. We feel sorry for him.

In his book, Mr. Schmid quotes a filmmaker on the subject of violence: "Violence is cinematic. ...

It's like putting mustard on a hotdog," says Abel Ferrara, who has made many movies with violent themes.

As long as the violence remains a mere condiment in the movie or the program, it is tolerable.

But when it becomes the whole sandwich it is deeply troubling.

The depiction of violence in film changed in 1966 when more liberal community standards prompted a rewriting of the codes that govern Hollywood.

That has led to the pervasive violence that appears on screens, big and small today.

What effect does this have? It certainly desensitizes viewers, but it doesn't make killers out of them. But eroding the capacity to feel sympathy is bad enough.

Choosing censorship, however, isn't very practical, but we don't have to watch.

PETER ROBB is a member of the Citizen's editorial board.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2007

Thursday, February 22

Billboards drive home message on Highway of Tears

Thumbing ride 'ain't worth risk'

Suzanne Fournier
The Province

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Stephanie Radek says she and her cousin Tamara Chipman, who disappeared on the Highway of Tears near Terrace in 2005, might never have hitchhiked there had they seen one of 10 new warning billboards.

Radek, 22, said she and Tamara, who was 22 when she disappeared, were both young aboriginal mothers "who loved to talk over coffee."

They had a lot in common, including the fact that hitchhiking was often the only way they could afford to get around.

"I hitchhiked along that highway and I had no idea how dangerous it was, so those billboards will definitely help -- I didn't stop until my cousin Tamara went missing and then it all hit home," says Radek, who now lives in Vancouver with her two children, near her mother, human-rights activist Gladys Radek.

Gladys Radek notes "the billboards were my idea but they're only one of the recommendations that came out of the [2006] Highway of Tears symposium."

"We also need public transit, highway phones and we need the police to quit saying there are only nine women missing and no serial killer involved and start a real investigation."

Radek has documented 19 missing women on Highway 16; others put the number at more than 30.

The billboards are to go up along the 724-kilometre stretch from Prince Rupert to Prince George.

Lisa Krebs, the only paid co-ordinator for the Highway of Tears initiative, said the billboards are "a step forward," but "there's real political apathy despite all the promises."

"The symposium made many recommendations but I don't even have funding for my job after the end of March."

Prince George Mayor Colin Kinsley said his council approved the billboard project on Monday night and the Kitimat-Stikine Regional District will discuss it tomorrow.

"It's a compelling image and, if it stops hitchhiking, that's one goal," said Kinsley.

The dramatic image is based on a painting by Hazelton artist Tom McHarg. He says he painted a young woman with "thumb in the air" surrounded by a "fading row of crosses, with the snow, rain or tears falling and the ghosts of those who have gone before, trying to restrain her from getting in the car."

The $35,000 project includes T-shirts, posters and 10,000 decals for children's backpacks, all with the same image and the slogan, "Ain't worth the risk, sister."

Both Joanne Monaghan, a Kitimat councillor and regional director, and Krebs have requested more funding from the federal government and provincial Solicitor-General John Les, whose ministry contributed about $25,000 to start the project.

RCMP Cpl. Pierre Lemaitre confirmed yesterday that police believe nine women have disappeared or been killed on Highway 16. He added there are no new developments.

© The Vancouver Province 2007
Highway of Tears website:

Tuesday, February 20

is Pickton smart enough to plot?

Police view man on trial for multiple murders as a wily killer who acted alone while his defence team argues that he is mentally too slow and unsophisticated to baffle police for years

Neal Hall and Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Is accused killer Robert (Willie) Pickton just a plain little pig farmer, a simple fellow who is mentally slow and too unsophisticated to plot a string of Vancouver missing women cases that baffled police for years?

Or is he a wily killer who acted alone and was cagey enough to elude capture for years, murdering -- as the prosecution alleges -- 26 women?

Those conflicting views of Pickton -- one held by the Crown, the other by the defence -- have emerged during the first month of Pickton's sensational murder trial, which is expected to last a year.

In its opening days, the trial was the focus of international media attention, especially the grisly details contained in the Crown's opening outline of evidence.

Among the opening-day crush -- 300 journalists have been accredited -- were reporters for The Times of London and the New York Times.

In recent weeks, the international media has departed as the trial settled down to a steady flow of police witnesses who have testified about the massive, 20-month search of the Pickton farm in Port Coquitlam and the scientific testing of items found, including a mind-boggling 200,000-plus DNA samples, which challenged police labs across Canada.

Peter Samija, head of the Vancouver RCMP forensic lab, testified this week that labs are still processing DNA samples gathered more than five years ago from Pickton's semi-rural farm in a suburb of Vancouver.

So far, the key pieces of evidence heard by the B.C. Supreme Court jury in New Westminster were two lengthy videotapes made after Pickton's arrest on Feb. 22, 2002, a Friday night.

The videos contained shocking statements made by Pickton during his formal police interview the next day, Feb. 23, after he was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, and the conversations he had in his holding cell over the course of two days with his cellmate - an undercover officer posing as a career criminal with a violent past.

The police interrogation started off with RCMP Staff Sgt. Bill Fordy trying to make small talk with Pickton, who had spoken to his lawyer and was likely advised not to cooperate with police.

"I'm just a pig farmer," Pickton told Fordy during the first few minutes of the interview.

"I ain't a college graduate," the accused killer added. "I'm just a plain little farm boy."

That has been the theme of defence lawyer Peter Ritchie's questioning in recent weeks -- that his client was an unsophisticated "simple fellow" who had a limited ability to understand police during the lengthy interrogation.

The three police interrogators testified they saw nothing to indicate that during the formal interview, which lasted nearly 12 hours.

One of them, RCMP Cpl. Dana Lillies, was asked by Ritchie if she was told by Pickton's sister Linda Wright that the pig farmer was mentally "slow."

Yes, Lillies replied, but added that the sister went on to say that Pickton wasn't slow and he was good mechanically.

"She said he quit school at the age of 16 to focus on farming and that he didn't do very well academically," Lillies recalled of her conversation with Pickton's sister before his arrest.

Wright said her other brother, Dave Pickton, handled the business end of things and would tell Willie Pickton when to go to bed at night, Lillies testified.

Last week, the judge pointed out that what Pickton's sister told Lillies is "hearsay evidence,"
which cannot be used to consider the truth of the sister's statement -- unless she comes to court to testify about the mental acuity of her brother.

The sister's comments can only be used to determine what police had learned about Pickton before interviewing him after his arrest, the judge said.

Ritchie also asked members of the police interrogation team about Pickton's use of odd phrases such as "I'm mind baffling," and "my mom's gonna shine," the latter used while talking about the sun coming up.

The police interrogators agreed Pickton used odd phrases at times, but they thought he clearly understood what was being discussed.

Early during the police interrogation, Pickton's tone of voice and demeanour were reminiscent of Gabby, the hick sidekick in the old Hopalong Cassidy/Roy Rogers western movies, who was known for such phrases as "consarn it," "yer durn tootin," and "yesiree Bob."

Pickton tended to add an "s" to the end of words, such as "everywheres," and often used the phrase, "That's neither here nor there" at inappropriate times when grilled by police about killing women on his farm.

The defence tried to portray Pickton as a yokel who happened to be a millionaire, mainly because the farm was worth millions due to creeping suburban development that had hemmed in the property with townhouses and a golf course.

But Pickton -- who was a 52-year-old single man when he was arrested in February 2002 -- did not live a life of luxury.

Two sets of photos which reporters were able to view this week -- one set could be published, the other could not by court order -- revealed that Pickton lived in a grungy old trailer that was dirty and extremely cluttered inside.

The centre of Pickton's home was his office, which had two desks buried in boxes, papers and junk. That room contained his prized possession -- the stuffed head of his pet horse, Goldie, who he told police officers had died in 1981 after a leg injury.

The taxidermist left the bridle in the horse's mouth, and hanging from his head was a red ribbon.

But as much as the horse's head may reveal a quirky side of Pickton, other photos raised more troubling questions.

One showed a loaded .22-calibre revolver with a dildo attached to the barrel, which police found tucked away on a high shelf above the furnace in Pickton's laundry room.

Layers of plastic, which appeared to be Saran Wrap, were wound around the barrel to keep the sex toy in place. The Crown contends that on the dildo was the DNA of Pickton and Mona Wilson, who disappeared in November 2001 and is one of the six women he is being accused of killing at his first trial.

The other five are Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Marnie Frey, Brenda Wolfe and Georgina Papin, who all vanished from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

On a nearby shelf, police found a box containing 10 packages of .357-calibre ammunition.
And photos of three of the rooms in the trailer -- Pickton's office and bedroom, as well as the spare bedroom -- show multiple bags and boxes of clothes stacked in corners or lying scattered on the floor. The Crown says a leather jacket with Brenda Wolfe's DNA on it and a black boot bearing Andrea Joesbury's DNA were both found in the trailer.

Police have testified that in one of the bags on the floor in the office they found running shoes, books and an asthma inhaler prescribed to Sereena Abotsway.

The photos show a sticker that said "off the wall" on the headboard of Pickton's bed, where multiple items were lying, including faux leopard-skin handcuffs and a book with "love" in the title. Police also testified they found other sex toys, jewelry and a flare gun in the accused's messy bedroom.

Another photograph shows a small cabinet in his bedroom with a bundle of papers beside the TV. Police have said they found a notebook near the TV with the name of a woman of interest to the Missing Women Task Force.

The photos also show a blue Pepsi-Cola plastic bin stuffed full of what appears to be hair products or body lotions in Pickton's bedroom. One bottle containing white cream had a picture of an infant on it and the word "baby" written on it.

Outside Pickton's trailer -- which is in stark contrast to the new rows of modern townhouses built across the street -- were abandoned furniture, old appliances and other garbage.

Pickton had matted, unkempt hair and dirty clothes when he was arrested. He refused to take a shower, and told police he would only have a bath -- which wasn't possible in the Surrey RCMP jail cells where he was being kept overnight.

While the defence has portrayed Pickton in court as the village idiot, the police interrogation team maintained that wasn't true.

"He was playing games with me, taunting me ... toying with me," RCMP Insp. Don Adam, the chief investigator of the missing women case, recalled of the accused's demeanour toward the end of the lengthy police interview.

The senior officer testified that Pickton suggested other people were involved in the killings but never gave any details.

Pickton adamantly denied the Hells Angels or his younger brother, Dave Pickton, were involved in anything, he said.

Under questioning by Adam, Pickton agreed he got "sloppy" by failing to clean up the motorhome containing a blood-soaked mattress -- Adam told Pickton that police had determined the blood belonged to Mona Wilson.

"I had one more planned, but that was, that was the end of it," Pickton said cryptically. "That was the last. I was gonna shut it down...I was just sloppy, just the last one."

Adam asked Pickton if he shot Mona Wilson with the .22-calibre handgun found in his trailer with a sex toy attached to the end of it.

"There's not holes through it, I put no holes through that," Pickton responded.

The defence also suggested to police interview-team witnesses that Pickton may have been suffering fatigue and hunger after his arrest.

The officers testified Pickton was offered food but responded: "I don't deserve to eat...I should be on death row."

The police interrogators testified they didn't feel Pickton was too tired to continue the interview.

Fordy suggested Pickton's yawning may have been an indication that he was bored.

Adam recalled he was more tired than Pickton seemed to be at one point.

By the end of the interrogation, Adam said, Pickton had the upper hand.

"He's got the information I want," the senior officer explained.

He recalled Pickton tried to cut a deal, offering to give police answers to questions if they would take down their fences around the farm and get off his property. "I know all the numbers and everything else so, but that's neither here nor there," Pickton said, looking relaxed with his feet up on a desk at one point.

When the two were sparring about Pickton's offer, Adam recalled, "I think we were both pretty powered up."

When Adam refused to negotiate, Pickton laughed and told the officer to "start digging."

Adam observed: "It's pretty apparent that Mr. Pickton has an amazing memory."

Pickton, for example, said he recalled the exact date and time that his stallion Goldie was put down: Dec. 21, 1981, at 5:30 p.m.

But Ritchie also asked witnesses like Adam how they knew the dates rhymed off by Pickton were accurate, pointing out other instances during the police conversations that his client had clearly got a date wrong.

The defence has suggested Pickton's alleged incriminating statements, made during the police conversations, were elicited. Ritchie argued that officers repeatedly steered Pickton to talk about the 48 women who were then listed as missing -- the photos of the women were on a poster board propped against a wall of the interview room.

Adam went one step further, suggesting Pickton may have killed more, including some whose photos weren't on the poster.

But Pickton just laughed. "You're making me more of a mass killer than I am."

Later, when the police interview ended and Pickton was returned to his cell, he told his cellmate -- the undercover officer -- that his charges were not like Pickton's.

To illustrate his point, Pickton made a hand gesture -- five fingers then a circle that the Crown has alleged was meant to indicate 50.

"I was gonna do one more and make it an even 50," Pickton confided to his cellmate, who cannot be identified because of a court ban.

The undercover officer testified he was given no details about Pickton's alleged offences before being placed in a cell with the accused. That was done, he explained, to ensure he didn't elicit responses from Pickton by feeding him evidence already known by police.

The officer recalled that Pickton went on to say, "Four I was sloppy with."

The accused added he was going to "let everything die for awhile, then do another 25 new ones."

The undercover officer testified he took Pickton's statements as a confession, but Ritchie interjected, saying that it was up to the jury to decide.

The lawyer suggested his client may have been discussing pending charges, since police had repeatedly told him he was under investigation for 50 murders and because the cellmate had previously been discussing charges that he had pending.

The trial judge, B.C. Supreme Court Justice James Williams, took the unusual step this week of instructing the jury on its duty in assessing Pickton's statements to police. "From those statements and all the surrounding circumstances, you must decide whether those words are true or not," the judge said. "If you decide it is, then it will be evidence which you can consider and you can give it as much or as little importance as you think it deserves in deciding the case."

Next week, the trial is expected to hear more witnesses testify about what was found during the search of Pickton's farm, which involved hundreds of police and forensic experts in the largest and most expensive search in Canadian history.

Pickton on Trial: Day 17
© The Vancouver Sun 2007

The Pickton Trial -

Monday, February 19

Welcome World, We've Done Nothing - from The Tyee

Welcome World, We've Done Nothing
Despite Pickton trial, Canada's government abandons sex workers to danger.

View full article and comments here

By Daniel Francis
Published: January 23, 2007

Vancouver's very own "trial of the century" has started, and with it comes the glare of publicity from members of the media who have gathered from around the world. Unhappily, what they see does not reveal the city, or the country, in a very positive light. Even though we have known for 20 years that Vancouver street prostitutes have been dying in unprecedented numbers at the hands of one, probably more, sexual sadists, we are forced to admit that no steps have been taken to do anything about it.

For instance, it is now certain that as long as the Conservatives remain in power in Ottawa, there will be no change to the legal situation of sex workers in Canada. This much is clear from the report (PDF) issued before Christmas by the parliamentary subcommittee studying the prostitution laws. The report is titled "The Challenge of Change", which is ironic, considering that change is the last thing the committee wants.

Job safety issue

On the one hand, the parliamentarians recognized that the present laws victimize sex workers, especially street prostitutes, by leaving them vulnerable to violent assault and murder at the hands of sexual predators. On the other hand, they decided to do nothing about it.

The apparent paradox is resolved if one considers the basic premise adopted by the Conservative members of the committee. (The Liberals, Bloc and NDP members took a slightly different view, but they were outnumbered.) No woman, the Conservatives believe, would choose willingly to engage in commercial sex. In the absence of choice, coercion is the only explanation for the persistence of prostitution. "The most realistic, compassionate and responsible approach to dealing with prostitution," the report states, "begins by viewing most prostitutes as victims". And because the state cannot condone victimization, nothing should be done to make it easier or safer for prostitutes to ply their trade.

In reaching this conclusion, the Conservatives on the committee appear to have listened to the sex workers who appeared at the hearings, but not to have heard them. Like everyone else, sex workers are divided about what changes they would like to see made to the prostitution laws.

But it is fair to say that one thing they are agreed on is that they are not all victims. Some are.

They are forced into prostitution by economic necessity, a drug habit or a controlling pimp. But many more are not. Much as the Conservatives refuse to admit it, many women, and young men, do indeed choose to engage in commercial sex as a viable way of making a living. Why should their safety be of less concern to Parliament than the safety of any other worker?

Like all prohibitionists, the Conservatives refuse to face the fact that experience has shown that increased penalties, against either johns or prostitutes, merely forces the sex trade deeper into the shadows, placing its participants more at risk. No, prohibitionists know better than the women themselves what is best for them, and what is best is that they leave the trade.

Sensible report ignored

Conservatives are not alone in taking a hard line against commercial sex. Prohibitionists do not conform to conventional political divisions. Any number of left/feminist voices make the same argument that Conservatives do: prostitution is oppression and should be eradicated, not regulated and certainly not decriminalized. As a result, it was easy for the majority of the committee to take a "do-nothing-more-study-is-needed" approach.

A more sensible report appeared a couple of months before the parliamentary one. It was issued in Vancouver by the Living in Community project, a community-based attempt to work out some of the problems associated with the commercial sex trade. The project involves sex workers, police, neighbourhood groups, business associations and health agencies in a series of public meetings intended to "encourage dialogue" and promote safe communities. And that means safe for everyone, including sex workers.

The report, called "Balancing Perspectives on Vancouver's Sex Industry", set out a draft action plan (PDF) to actually do something about the situation that many sex trade workers find themselves in. It eschews the language of victimization. Instead it accepts that "individuals have the basic right to make decisions about their own bodies." It adopts a pragmatic approach to the challenge of reconciling the existence of a commercial sex industry with the need for public safety and propriety.

Already, a variety of programs have been launched in Vancouver to improve the safety of street prostitutes, including drop-in centres, self-defence training, detox facilities, emergency housing and so on. If any improvement is going to take place in dealing with the challenges presented by the sex industry, it is much more likely to come from this community-based process than in the moral posturing of federal politicians who, with the release of the parliamentary report, have made themselves part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Related Tyee stories:

How Do We Protect Sex Workers?
'Survival Sex Work' in BC's North
How We See 'Missing Women'
Green Light Red Light Districts?

Vancouver writer Daniel Francis has just published Red Light Neon: a History of Vancouver's Sex Trade (Subway Books). He writes regularly for Geist. Look for more Tyee collaboration with Geist in the near future.

Back to Welcome World, We've Done Nothing

RCMP officer continues on stand


February 19, 2007

There were no bodies, no crime scenes and no evidence - just the names of several dozen vanished women.

One of the first RCMP officers to formally investigate the disappearances of women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside continues on the stand today, as the trial of accused serial killer Robert Pickton begins its fifth week.

Sgt. Margaret Kingsbury has testified that one of the biggest obstacles facing investigators in 2000 was how to cast a wide enough net in a case with few leads.

"There were no bodies located and there were no crime scenes and there was a lack of forensic evidence," Kingsbury told the court last week.

When Kingsbury joined what would soon become known as the Missing Women Task Force in 2000, investigators were officially dealing with 27 cases.

By the late summer of 2001, that list had expanded to include 45 women, many of them sex-trade workers from Vancouver's gritty Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.

Kingsbury testified investigators assumed the worst.

"We assumed that these women were not missing any longer; that they were deceased," Kingsbury said. "We did keep an open mind that these women could be alive but for the most part we believed they were deceased."

But women continued to disappear even as the task force conducted its investigation.

Andrea Joesbury, Sereena Abotsway and Mona Wilson - three of Pickton's alleged victims - were all reported missing in 2001, months after the task force was officially created.

Kingsbury testified that investigators didn't begin talking to sex-trade workers themselves until October 2001, at least nine months after the task force's inception. That was at the insistence of investigators in the U.S., who were dealing with their own serial murder investigation.

Kingsbury is the 11th of an estimated 240 Crown witnesses.

Copyright © 2007, Canoe Inc. All rights reserved.

Christian duty becomes harder when 'circus' comes to town

Rev. Eileen Nurse
Special to the Sun

Monday, February 19, 2007

Did you notice the circus come to town last month? With tents, acrobats, clowns, even several ringmasters. They all arrived, set up their show in New Westminster and began what promises to be a long running show.

I am referring to the trial for the man charged with killing 26 woman. His trial for killing six of those women began Jan. 22. And the atmosphere that surrounds it is truly circus-like.

There's a part of me that looks at all this and says, "Why are we spending all this money?" "Why are we bothering?"

I know we are a democratic society with clearly defined laws and human rights. We believe that someone is innocent until proven guilty, and if we don't apply that principle to this case then we have no right to call ourselves a fair nation.

This man deserves a full and fair trial, he deserves the best defence that can be provided, he deserves to be judged by a jury of his peers, and we as a community have a right to participate in this through the public disclosure of all aspects of this trial.

As an individual, I may not want to hear every gory detail, but as a citizen I must defend the right of others to know all if they so choose.

But, God, I wish it would all just go away.

We are all, at one time or another, called to proclaim that which some do not want to hear. We resist this calling, just as the prophets of old did.

But as Christians we believe God's love is not to be restricted. As soon as we exclude someone, even someone accused of a terrible crime, from God's love we are pulling ourselves away from it, too.

We find it so hard to understand a love that is bigger than our own prejudices.

In cases such as the trial in New Westminster, this love demands that justice be brought forward to right the wrongs that have been done.

This does not mean turning our backs on others or providing love without justice to those who have been oppressed.

The opposite is true -- it calls us to hold those responsible for crimes and abuse to account in a full, fair and public way and for us to demand justice.

At this time the justice system is doing its best to ensure that this person -- who I don't need to name -- is given a fair trial.

And we as citizens need to support the press and those involved in ensuring that this trial is played out in the public domain and according to the laws of the land.

As distasteful as it may be, it is our Christian duty to defend and support this "circus."

But we also have a much harder job that we are called to do. This trial is the story of the murder of six of God's precious children. As hard as it may be to watch and support this trial, that is not where our hardest work is to be done. We are called by God to ask some even harder questions of ourselves and of our society.

Why? Why were these women allowed to disappear without anyone noticing or caring?

These women were all created in the image of God. They were and are the beloved of God. They were and are our sisters. And this society, which claims to be one of justice, prosperity and compassion, did nothing as one after another of these beautiful people disappeared.

Many of these women led lives of pain, addiction, rejection and abuse. While much of their circumstances would have been caused by the bad choices they made -- they did nothing so horrible as to deserve to be ignored.

Each one of these woman was a daughter, many were sisters, mothers, and friends. Each and every one of them was our sister in the love of God and we have let them down in the worst way possible.

I do not know the answers to how we could have prevented this terrible tragedy. But I do know that we are called to be prophets who demand that we ask of ourselves and of our society these very difficult and painful questions.

That is the sacred calling of each and every one of us.

Rev. Eileen Nurse is a deacon at St. George parish in Fort Langley.

© The Vancouver Sun 2007

Saturday, February 17

Filmgoers Finding Dawn

By Aaron Bichard
News Leader Pictorial
Feb 17 2007

In 2000 Dawn Crey had her name added to a list of 60 others who had disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Four years later she became the 23rd woman whose remains were identified on accused killer Robert Willie Pickton’s Port Coquitlam pig farm.

For her family there was a sense of relief at knowing what kind of fate befell their kin.
For Salt Spring Island-based filmmaker Christine Welsh, the discovery unearthed more questions and set her on a cross-country path to ask why so many Aboriginal women remain missing.

“When I heard that her DNA had been found on the farm, something clicked,” the Métis filmmaker said. “I contacted the family to do a story on her but quickly realized this was part of something much bigger.”

In the past 30 years more than 500 Aboriginal women across Canada have gone missing or been murdered, a number that haunts Welsh.

“Historically Aboriginal women have been invisible and undervalued in society,” Welsh said.
“For some reason our deaths and disappearances go unnoticed.

“By making this film it is one way to bring the issue to the forefront and give it the exposure it deserves.”

Finding Dawn focuses on the lives of Crey, Ramona Wilson, who went missing along the “Highway of Tears” in northern B.C., and Daleen Kay Bosse, a university student and mother who disappeared from Saskatoon.

The documentary deals with the questions of why so many missing Aboriginal women’s cases remain unsolved and looks for hope buried in the tragic tales.

“I think as a filmmaker it is my responsibility not to leave the audience with a feeling of hopelessness and despair,” Welsh said. “There are positives out there and you can see it in the strengths of Aboriginal women and by speaking with their families.

“We all have a job to do to ensure this does not continue to happen.”

Welsh, who also teaches courses on indigenous women’s issues at the University of Victoria, has begun receiving acclaim for Finding Dawn, her fifth documentary focusing on Aboriginal issues, and was recently given the Amnesty International Film Festival Gold Audience Award.

Her other films include a look at residential school effects in Kuper Island: Return to the Healing Circle and a journey back in history in The Story of the Coast Salish Knitters.

Welsh will be on hand at the free screening of Finding Dawn at the Quw’utsun’ Cultural and Conference Centre to discuss some of the issues and stories surrounding the making of the film.

Those wishing to attend are asked to get tickets from Malaspina University College’s student services area in the Cowichan Campus in advance due to limited seating.

Donations will also be accepted to the Cowichan Campus Faculty Bursary.

For more information about this film and Welsh’s others visit the National Film Board website at

© Copyright 2007 Duncan News Leader and Pictorial

Thursday, February 15

Slain sex worker's sister surprised by support

The sister of one of accused serial killer Robert Pickton's alleged victims wasn't sure what to expect at yesterday's march for the missing and murdered women in Edmonton.

But more than 100 people showed up, leaving Elana Papin overwhelmed by the support she received at the Second Annual Memorial March for all the Missing and Murdered Women of Edmonton.

"I wasn't sure about the outpouring of respect and care," Papin said at the Canadian Native Friendship Centre, 11205 101 St.

The remains of her sister, Edmonton's Georgina Papin, were found on Robert Pickton's Port Coquitlam, B.C., pig farm in 2002. Pickton's high-profile murder trial has drawn a lot of attention to the issue of missing women, Elana said.

"People are starting to say, 'Whoa, this is really serious,'" she said.

March organizer Danielle Boudreau, who was friends with slain city sex-trade workers Rachel Quinney and Ellie May Meyer, said it's time people realize the violence doesn't stop at the high-risk lifestyle.

"There are more than (prostitutes) getting murdered out there," she said.

She cited recent killings of Edmonton women who had no ties to the sex trade.

"This can happen to anybody, and until it happens to their family, people don't understand how hard it is."

With a police escort and carrying pictures of their slain or missing loved ones, marchers took to the streets.

They quietly walked east to 97 Street, then north to 118 Avenue, and east again to 95 Street.
They continued south on 95 Street to 111 Avenue, and then headed west back to the friendship centre.
The Edmonton Sun:

Search of Pickton trailer turned up host of material belonging to women

Lori Culbert

Vancouver Sun

Thursday, February 15, 2007

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — After just a few days searching Robert (Willie) Pickton's trailer, police found many items belonging to women scattered inside — including the personal possessions of some of the six women the pig farmer is accused of killing.

Many of the items seized by the Missing Women Task Force in early February 2002 were lying out in the open, with little apparent effort to hide them, his trial was told Thursday.

A black jacket was draped over a box at the foot of Pickton's bed in the master bedroom. Inside a pocket were several papers, one which read: "Mellow yellow fellow. Andrea — No. 201, Roosevelt Hotel, 166 East Hastings."

Andrea Joesbury, who disappeared in June 2001 and is one of Pickton's alleged victims, lived in Room 201 at the Roosevelt, RCMP Sgt. Margaret Kingsbury testified in New Westminster Supreme Court.

Also inside the black jacket were a pair of nail clippers and a plastic bottle.

Kingsbury, who searched the property from Feb. 7 to 17, 2002, also testified that investigators found a "ladies' black boot" in the closet in Pickton's bedroom. Although she said nothing further about this piece of evidence, Crown attorney Derrill Prevett said on the trial's opening day that the prosecution would prove a partial DNA profile found on a black boot discovered in Pickton's bedroom matched Joesbury's DNA.

Kingsbury said Thursday that police also seized a pillowslip from the closet in Pickton's laundry room. Prevett said on Jan. 22 that a pillowcase found in the same room had Joesbury's DNA on it.

Pickton has admitted the partial remains of six women were found on his farm, but he denies killing Joesbury, Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin or Marnie Frey.

Kingsbury said the contents of a silver sports bag found on the floor of Pickton's office included an asthma inhaler prescribed out to Abotsway, some running shoes, black high-heel shoes, two syringes, three books and a bible.

In Pickton's bedroom, Kingsbury said police found a "black ladies' top" in the closet.

"I believe it was in a cardboard box in the closet," said Kingsbury, who has been a Mountie since 1980. "There was numerous cardboard boxes in the closet that contained clothing."

Although no further details were provided about the black top Thursday, Prevett said on the opening day of the trial that the jury would "hear evidence of a shirt found in the accused’s bedroom closet that bore Abotsway’s DNA."

Kingsbury also testified that she searched a garbage can located outside Pickton's bedroom window.

On the opening day of the trial, Prevett said police found four additional asthma inhalers bearing subscription labels in Abotsway's name, a Revenue Canada form in her name, and an information sheet addressed to participants in a focus group in which she had participated.

Kingsbury said police also found a brown leather jacket in the closet of Pickton's bedroom. Prevett said on Jan. 22 that the Crown would prove that Wolfe's DNA was found on a leather jacket found inside the trailer.

The trial has already heard that the Crown will try to prove that Joesbury's DNA was on a stain on the bathroom wall, and Wilson's DNA was on a dildo attached to a revolver in the laundry room.

The jury has heard some statements that Pickton made to police that he occasionally had female friends living with him in his trailer. However, there has been no evidence presented that anyone was living with him at the time of his arrest — in fact photos of the spare bedroom in his trailer show a sparsely decorated room with a mattress with no sheets on it.

Crown attorney Michael Petrie also drew Kingsbury's attention to other items in the trailer which appeared to belong to women, such as a jean jacket with embroidery on it in the closet in the laundry room.

An orange garbage bag located in Pickton's bedroom closet contained several items, including a blue purse, two pairs of socks, a hairbrush and some make-up, including two tubes of lipstick, Kingsbury said.

On the floor of the master bedroom was a blue plastic bin containing some beauty products.

"A variety of shampoo and cream rise, hair products," said Kingsbury, who is now the file co-ordinator with the Missing Women Task Force.

A drawer inside a nightstand in Pickton's bedroom contained two while belts, some duct tape and other assorted items. "There appeared to be a cheque, a white belt, a condom, perfume, hairbrush, syringe, various papers," Kingsbury said.

In his spare room was a garment bag lying on the bed with clothes in it. Photographs also show bags of clothes and boxes of clothes piled in his office and master bedroom.

Behind a sticker that said "off the wall" on the headboard in the master bedroom, police found handcuffs lined with faux leopard skin. Kingsbury said other sex toys were also found in the room.

Beside the TV in Pickton's bedroom, Kingsbury said there was a spiral notebook. The jury has already heard a police officer testify that the notebook contained the name of a woman who was of interest to the task force.

The photos discussed in court Thursday revealed some other unusual items in Pickton's home — such as night-vision goggles in the closet in his bedroom.

Police also found some eight-track cassette tapes in his stereo stand when they searched the farm. (Pickton told an undercover officer placed in his jail cell that he was behind the times, and wasn't up on modern technology.)

Defence lawyer Adrian Brooks began cross-examination of Kingsbury late Thursday.

He suggested that police also found items in the trailer belonging to Dinah Taylor, a friend of Pickton's who lived with him for a while. Kingsbury agreed that was true.

Brooks also asked Kingsbury about a note she made on Feb. 8, 2002, at 10:10 a.m. — less than three days after Pickton's arrest for a firearms offence — about the phone in Pickton's office, from where some of the family's businesses were run. Kingsbury agreed that the call display function on the phone indicated there had been 97 new phone calls.

"So, this shows you a very busy phone in use in that office area?" Brooks asked.

"Yes," Kingsbury agreed.

Brooks is expected to continue questioning Kingsbury when the trial resumes Monday.
Pickton has been charged with killing 26 women who disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. He has pleaded not guilty.

A second trial on 20 counts of murder is expected to be held after this first trial is over.

© Vancouver Sun 2007

RCMP found holes in Vancouver police files on missing women, Pickton jury hears

Canadian PressThursday, February 15, 2007


NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. (CP) - An RCMP officer found items that should have been followed up on in Vancouver police files on women missing from the Downtown Eastside, Robert Pickton's murder trial was told Thursday.

Sgt. Margaret Kingsbury told Pickton's defence lawyer that she initially didn't review the 27 cases that sparked the Missing Women's Task Force.

But when she eventually reviewed the files, she found things that should have - and eventually were - followed up on.

Lawyer Adrian Brooks asked Kingsbury whether she was satisfied that the search done for missing women was thorough.

The officer pointed out that the investigation into the many disappearances continues to this day.

In cross-examining Kingsbury, Brooks quizzed her about the pace of the first days of the search at Pickton's Port Coquitlam property.

He pointed out that the first warrant police had to search was only good for three days so they must have been in a rush and at times searching in the dark.

Pickton is currently on trial for murdering six women from Vancouver.

Thursday marks the end of the first four weeks of his trial.

When a search team from Project Evenhanded descended on Pickton's Port Coquitlam property in the winter of 2002, police had spent more than two years trying to figure out what happened to the women.

Kingsbury, a field investigator with the project, testified that police were trying to keep an open mind when the task force was formed early in 2001.

"We looked at what Vancouver city police had done to attempt to find these 27 missing women over a period of time and the checks they made," she said. "We assumed that these women weren't missing any longer but they were deceased but we did keep an open mind."

One of the first things the RCMP discovered was that the list of missing women was a lot longer than they'd originally thought - 45, not 27.

Jurors also heard it wasn't until the middle of 2001 that police decided to take a proactive approach in their investigation.

"What that was was a body of people who would go down to the Downtown Eastside and speak to sex trade workers and determine who was a good date, who was a bad date," Kingsbury said.

Most of the missing women were prostitutes and some had been reported as missing as early as the 1980s.

Among the missing were Sereena Abotsway and Andrea Joesbury.

Kingsbury told the court that in the early days of the investigation, she was mostly in charge of gathering massive amounts of data in an attempt to link a suspect with the disappearances.

But once police obtained a warrant to search Pickton's property, she also went along.

As Crown prosecutor Mike Petrie flipped through more than 70 photographs of the inside of Pickton's trailer, Kingsbury detailed the items police found.

A syringe with blue fluid was found on an entertainment unit.

An old Pepsi-Cola box filled with shampoos and conditioners stood nearby.

In a laundry room closet was a brown jacket.

Strewn across a box at the foot of Pickton's bed was a black jacket, with some papers sticking out.

"Mellow, yellow, fellow," read one note. "Andrea 201 Roosevelt Hotel."

Kingsbury testified she later found out that the Roosevelt Hotel was Joesbury's last known address.

Jurors had already heard of the grey tote bag with Abotsway's inhaler in it. It was the discovery of that bag that prompted police to suspend their initial search of the farm.

But jurors learned Thursday that also in the bag was a Bible, a tube of Polysporin, black high-heeled shoes and two syringes.

Kingsbury testified Thursday that in looking for a suspect in the disappearances of women like Abotsway and Joesbury, police focused on assaults against sex trade workers and hitchhikers, eventually sorting through 3,000 sexual assault files from Vancouver alone.

Among the at least 500 people considered of interest to police in their investigation was the Green River killer in the U.S.

Gary Ridgeway was eventually convicted of murdering more than three dozen prostitutes in Washington state.

They also examined unidentified human remains and old attempted murders to see if there was DNA they could match and they followed up on thousands of tips.

They also developed theories.

"There was an investigative theory that the person who was responsible or could be responsible for the missing women of the Downtown Eastside could be one or more persons," Kingsbury said.

"Or it could be, say, one or more serial killers, so the theory was that this person or persons may have entered the police universe at one point in time."

As the volume of information grew, police switched the database they used to the one designed for the Swiss Air disaster in Nova Scotia.

The Evidence and Report database, as it was called, held every single scrap of information generated in the case.

Eventually, Kingsbury testified, it would come to list 12,700 items on the police's investigative to-do list and over 100,000 actions that had been taken in connection with those items.

"If one was to print the whole Evenhanded database it would be over two million pages," Kingsbury said.

Pickton is being tried on six counts of first-degree murder.

He has been charged with 26 murders in total.

© The Canadian Press 2007

Thousands of tips investigated in search for Vancouver's missing women

Canadian Press
Thursday, February 15, 2007

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. (CP) - What started as a local police matter involving 27 missing Vancouver women quickly ballooned into a massive investigation that generated two million pages of information, jurors in the Robert Pickton trial heard Thursday.

RCMP Sgt. Margaret Kingsbury testified the RCMP became involved in the investigation early in 2001 and by August of that year it became apparent there were double the number of missing women than Vancouver police had originally thought - 45 instead of the initial 27.

Jurors also heard that it wasn't until the middle of 2001 that police decided to take a proactive approach in their investigation.

"What that was was a body of people who would go down to the Downtown Eastside and speak to sex trade workers and determine who was a good date, who was a bad date," Kingsbury said.
Most of the missing women were prostitutes and some had been reported as missing as early as the 1980s.

Kingsbury told that jury that the Green River killer in the U.S. was among the at least 500 people considered of interest to police in their investigation.

Gary Ridgeway was eventually convicted of murdering more than three dozen prostitutes in Washington state.

Kingsbury was a field investigator with the Missing Women's task force, also known as Project Evenhanded.

Jurors heard that her work encompassed everything from creating a databank of the women's DNA to reviewing old case files and unidentified human remains.

Police focused on assaults against sex trade workers and hitchhikers, eventually sorting through 3,000 sexual assault files from Vancouver alone.

Kingsbury said in reviewing the existing information on the missing women, they tried to keep an open mind.

"We looked at what Vancouver city police had done to attempt to find these 27 missing women over a period of time and the checks they made," she said. "We assumed that these women weren't missing any longer but they were deceased but we did keep an open mind."

As the volume of information grew, police switched the database they used to the one designed for the Swiss Air disaster in Nova Scotia.

The Evidence and Report database, as it was called, held every single scrap of information generated in the case.

Eventually, Kingsbury testified, it would come to list 12,700 items on the police's investigative to-do list and over 100,000 actions that had been taken in connection with those items.

"If one was to print the whole Evenhanded database it would be over two million pages," Kingsbury said.

Pickton is being tried on six counts of first-degree murder.

He has been charged with 26 murders in total.

© The Canadian Press 2007

Sereena Abotsway once joined missing women march

Now she's among the dead honoured

Doug Ward
Vancouver Sun
Thursday, February 15, 2007

CREDIT: Ian Smith, Vancouver Sun
Elders lead the march for missing women along East Hastings Wednesday.

VANCOUVER - On Valentine's Day seven years ago, Sereena Abotsway joined the annual march for women who have gone missing on the Downtown Eastside.

Abotsway carried a poster she had made, which had a photograph of a funeral and the words "grief" and "tears."

On Wednesday, about 500 participants in the 14th annual Women's Memorial March honoured Abotsway's memory by stopping in front of the former Portland Hotel on Hastings Street.

The hotel was the last place Abotsway was ever seen, said march official Marlene George.

She disappeared in August 2001 and is one of six women Robert (Willie) Pickton is accused of killing in his current trial in New Westminster.

An image of Abotsway at the annual missing women's march in 2000 was captured by photographer David Campion, who talked to her at the time.

"She was friendly and forthright about her life and difficulties," Campion said Wednesday, "and I actually gave her a copy of the photo back at the time but then I lost contact with her."

Campion said that Abotsway, a sex-trade worker at the time, brought the poster to the march because it was "her way of creating some art to express her sorrow" over the missing women.

Campion said the photograph eerily captured the tragic connection between Abotsway's participation in the march and her fate. "Here she was protesting and then she becomes a victim."

Abotsway was one of many missing women honoured by this year's march participants, who walked in heavy rain through the Downtown Eastside, accompanied by aboriginal drummers and people singing an aboriginal women's warrior song.

The procession stopped at many other hotels and places where missing women were last seen or murdered.

A small group of women approached each of the designated sites along the route, said a prayer and left a yellow rose and some tobacco.

Among the march participants was Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who told a public meeting earlier at the Carnegie Centre that law enforcement authorities took too long to seriously confront the disappearance of women on the Downtown Eastside.

The police didn't value the "lives of our sisters," said Fontaine.

He said Canadian society failed to give the disappearance of native women in Vancouver the same attention given to the murder of 14 women at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique in 1989.

Fontaine said aboriginal women "were forced onto the streets of Vancouver by grinding poverty that causes so much pain and suffering for our people."

Fontaine later told reporters he didn't want to make light of the horror of the Montreal murders. But the deaths of aboriginal women in Vancouver "is simply a massacre and no less than the situation in Montreal."

The march stopped at the Vancouver police headquarters on Main Street, where speakers addressed the issue of the police response to the disappearance of sex-trade workers.

"We have to come to a place of forgiveness. I'm still working on it and one of the things I do know is that they did not hear our voice," said Cee Jai Julian, a former sex-trade worker who knew many of the missing women. "They called me a junkie, a transient and a hooker. She doesn't know anything. She doesn't even know what day it is. Yes, I was a drug addict. But I am a recovering drug addict and I do know what day it is today. It is the day that we celebrate the hearts and memories of our sisters."
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Pickton on Trial: Day 15

© The Vancouver Sun 2007