Wednesday, November 30

Vancouver cop denies he lied to missing women inquiry

BY NEAL HALL, POSTMEDIA NEWS NOVEMBER 30, 2011 4:40 PM

VANCOUVER — Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard denied Wednesday that he lied during his testimony at a Vancouver inquiry probing the investigation of the disappearances and murders of dozens of women.

Lawyer Darrell Roberts, representing First Nations interests at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, suggested LePard gave "false evidence" to deflect the blame away from Vancouver police and onto the RCMP for the flawed police investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton.

"I have done my very best for the last 10 days and take great offence at being accused of not telling the truth," LePard responded.

Roberts suggested that LePard prepared his report, which reviewed the mistakes made by the Vancouver police and RCMP in the Pickton investigation, on the false premise that Pickton committed no crimes in Vancouver.

And this was intentionally done to take the heat off Vancouver police and put it on the RCMP, Roberts charged.

"I couldn't disagree more," LePard replied.

He said there was no evidence that Pickton used a ruse to kidnap sex trade workers from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and take them to his farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C., to kill them.

Roberts suggested that LePard had considered that Pickton committed the crime of kidnapping by fraud in Vancouver before preparing his report, which was released last year.

"Here you gave false evidence," Roberts again suggested to LePard's denial.

The inquiry is investigating why it took Vancouver police and RCMP until 2002 to catch Pickton when they were receiving detailed tips as far back as 1998.

Pickton, 62, is serving a life sentence for the murders of six women. He initially was charged with killing 20 more but those charges were stayed in 2010.

The serial killer has been linked by DNA to the deaths of 33 women and has boasted to an undercover police officer that he killed at least 16 more.

Lawyer Sean Hern, representing the Vancouver police, objected to Robert's accusations.

"I'm deeply concerned by those kinds of questions," he told the inquiry commissioner.

Hern said LePard was called as an expert witness to give his opinions about policing, but he is not a legal expert.

He said Roberts' questioning of LePard was inappropriate.

Roberts has repeatedly asked LePard about Vancouver police's failure to exercise a search warrant on Pickton's farm in 1998 after receiving tips reporting that he was killing women there.

LePard said it was the legal jurisdiction of the RCMP to investigate the murder allegations because Pickton lived in the jurisdiction of Coquitlam RCMP.

Roberts even drafted a mock search warrant that Vancouver police could have prepared in 1998, based on information known then.

The mock search warrant also contained information about a Downtown Eastside prostitute who was attacked at Pickton's farm in March 1997 but survived.

Roberts said the details from 1997 indicated Pickton was using a fraud — offering women money for sex — in order to lure them to his farm to be killed.

LePard has said that police don't know when Pickton formed his intent to kill, pointing out that 13 women stayed at Pickton's farm for between one and 40 nights and lived.

The RCMP lawyer, Cheryl Tobias, will be the next to cross-examine LePard.

Earlier on Wednesday, inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal interrupted a lawyer's cross-examination to ask how much longer he was going to take.

"We've got timing problems here," Oppal told Jason Gratl, the lawyer for "affected Downtown Eastside individuals," who began his cross-examination on Monday. "The fact is, we've got to get this inquiry moving."

"We have a deadline here. We can't go on forever," he added.

The inquiry began Oct. 11. Oppal initially had a deadline of Dec. 31 to file his report to government, which has granted an extension until the end of April next year.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

VPD playing blame game, lawyer tells missing women inquiry

BY SUZANNE FOURNIER, THE PROVINCE NOVEMBER 30, 2011 4:12 PM

Vancouver Police officer Doug LePard during break as he testifies at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry on Nov. 7.

Photograph by: GLENN BAGLO, PNG

A senior lawyer at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry accused Vancouver Police Deputy Chief Doug LePard of giving “false evidence” on Wednesday, through his report that concluded the only crime committed against Vancouver sex workers was their murder in RCMP jurisdiction.

“I put it to you that you wrote your report on a false premise that the only legal jurisdiction to investigate the missing and murdered women was the RCMP, that the only crime occurred in the jurisdiction of the Coquitlam RCMP,” said lawyer Darrell Roberts.

“That was deliberately done to mislead and to take everyone’s eye off the ball for the failures and mistakes of the Vancouver Police Department.”

LePard protested that he took “great offence” to Roberts’ accusation, saying “I’ve been here [on the witness stand] for the 10th day. I’ve tried to answer all questions truthfully. I’m unaware that a crime was committed in Vancouver.”

Convicted serial killer Robert Pickton trolled the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for decades, picking up sex workers and taking them to his Port Coquitlam farm, where many of them perished.

Pickton, who wasn’t arrested until February 2002, is serving a life sentence for the murders of six women, but the DNA of 33 women was linked to the farm and Pickton boasted in jail that he had killed 49 women.

Pickton told friends and confessed in jail to dumping human body parts in 45-gallon drums at an east Vancouver rendering plant.

The VPD had solid informants as early as 1998 telling them Pickton had bloody women’s clothing and ID on the farm and an eyewitness and other hangers-on at the farm told both the VPD and RCMP that Pickton had hung a woman from a hook and “gutted” her.

LePard, the author of a 400-page report on the missing women investigation, has maintained that it was impossible to establish an “intent to kill” on Pickton’s part, saying that as many as 13 women known to police spent between one and 40 nights at Pickton’s farm without being murdered by him.

LePard, in his report and testimony at the inquiry, has acknowledged the use of offensive language by a few VPD officers, such as calling women “hookers” or “f---ing whores,” and the apparent racism of a VPD missing persons clerk who spoke disparagingly of, and to, First Nations families whose loved ones had gone missing.

But LePard has maintained throughout his lengthy testimony at the Missing Women Inquiry that he is “unaware of any evidence that a crime was committed in Vancouver,”and that there was no systemic bias against sex workers or First Nations in the VPD.

LePard noted that the VPD now has 22 aboriginal officers, up from only eight in 2006, and is trying to be as “diverse as the population we represent”.

“There’s no offence that was committed in Vancouver, there’s no evidence of an offence. In fact, we don’t know the intent of his [Pickton’s] picking up women, whether they were kidnapped by force or by fraud,”insisted LePard.

Roberts, and Jason Gratl, both lawyers advocating for First Nations and “affected individuals” on the Downtown Eastside, have insisted the VPD demonstrated a systemic bias toward mostly aboriginal survival sex-trade workers.

Gratl, whose lengthy cross-examination of LePard was cut off by Commissioner Wally Oppal on the basis of delaying the inquiry’s progress, has suggested the disappearance of the survival sex-trade workers should have been of top priority to the VPD since, like elderly Alzheimer’s patients, the disabled or young children, they were highly vulnerable and ill, since almost all suffered from severe drug addiction.

LePard’s tenth day on the stand also marked the beginning of intense cross-examination by federal lawyer Cheryl Tobias, on behalf of the RCMP. LePard admitted to Tobias that his 400-page report was written after Pickton had been arrested, during the ongoing investigation and trial, and “with the considerable benefit of hindsight.”

At issue may be civil lawsuits likely to be filed by some of the 20 families of missing women, represented at the inquiry by lawyer Cameron Ward, who consider neither the VPD or the RCMP to be without blame.

“It’s disgusting to see how the police forces point the finger at each other,” said Lilliane Beaudoin, the sister of Dianne Rock, who was murdered by Pickton in 2001, long after both the VPD and RCMP had informants and eyewitnesses who knew about Pickton’s deadly rampage.

“You have to take responsibility, and Roberts proved to him [LePard] that crimes were committed in Vancouver. How can the VPD say that is not true? If they had listened to the tips they had, and even their own officers, my sister would still be alive.”

The inquiry will continue until Dec. 1 and then adjourn until Dec. 14 to 16.

Hearings next year start early in January but Commissioner Wally Oppal has committed to ending hearings by the end of April and handing in his report by June 2012.

sfournier@theprovince.com

© Copyright (c) The Province

Questions abound on RCMP contract talks

BY ELIZABETH JAMES, SPECIAL TO NORTH SHORE NEWS NOVEMBER 30, 2011 2:06 AM

"Ottawa and Victoria have resolved financial disputes that prompted the federal government to threaten to withdraw the RCMP from its role [of] policing the province, but have yet to resolve issues around management."

Ian Bailey and Daniel LeBlanc, Globe and Mail, Nov. 3

BY the time you read this, we should know whether B.C. SolicitorGeneral Shirley Bond met the federal deadline for a decision on renewal of the RCMP contract with British Columbia.

If she did not, and if the Harper government makes good on its threat to withdraw the force when the current contract expires on Mar. 31, 2012, what is the "Plan B" Premier Christy Clark has in her back pocket?

Although the contract has been under negotiation since 2007, details have been kept from British Columbians - including those of the apparently resolved dispute over the cost implications of a new contract.

What we do know is that the RCMP in this province is in trouble. From the compromised investigation into the shooting of Ian Bush while in custody to the shooting deaths of Kevin St. Arnaud and Donald Dwayne Lewis, from the mishandled Pickton investigation into missing and murdered women - a case that is the subject of the ongoing Oppal inquiry - to the tasering death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver Airport, too many members of E-Division are under a cloud.

Just as we thought we'd heard the worst of it, RCMP Cpl. Catherine Galliford went live with allegations of sexual and other harassments within the ranks.

The good news for us is that Galliford told me she enjoyed the time she spent with the North Vancouver detachment from 1992 to 1997.

Not so for a female civilian employee who, as Jane Seyd reported in the North Shore News on Nov. 18, alleged at an RCMP Code of Conduct hearing that North Vancouver "Staff Sgt. Travis Pearson had forced her into a sexual relationship, stalked her and implied she would be harmed if she broke off her affair with him."

To those who ask why it has taken more than 10 years for these allegations to surface, Galliford said, "There is a code of silence at work. People who speak up become known as a problem. It affects their careers, their families and their relationships, so they put up with the abuse or move. Or, if they're like me, they break."

Break she did in 2007.

After enduring years of harassments, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and remains on leave to this day.

As a member of the missing women's task force, Galliford is scheduled to testify at the Pickton inquiry in early 2012 but she emphasizes the diagnosis had nothing to do with her work - not on the street, not on the Air India file and not on the Pickton case.

"What I want to do now," she said, "is use my knowledge and experience to help the families of the missing women; to let them know I support them; and then to get through my lawsuit and move on."

What an end to a fine career.

Approached for his opinion on the imminent RCMP contract, District of North Vancouver Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn confirmed his long-held opinion that, "If the RCMP will not subordinate itself to the community it serves, then, yes! I favour a provincial police force."

A day later, police psychologist Dr. Mike Webster, who until his contract was cancelled after he testified at the Braidwood Inquiry had worked with the RCMP since 1988, was even more outspoken:

"The organization has been plagued with failed management for decades," he wrote.

He suggested that it was time for something different, "perhaps a board of eminent and qualified Canadians to come in and clean house.

Until that happens, if British Columbia signs that contract, [we] would be buying a pig in a poke."

Then, echoing two words from lawyer David Brown's 2007 review of the RCMP pension scandal commissioned by the Harper government, Webster asked, "Would your readers buy a 'horribly broken' vehicle for full price?"

No matter the decisions at the code of conduct hearing, the Oppal inquiry and in Galliford's lawsuit, demands that the RCMP be made directly accountable to the communities they serve are justified.

So while our solicitorgeneral and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews play poker to see who blinks first, we are left waiting to find out what the politicians plan to bind us to until 2032.

Although references have always been to "the contract," what that really means is a three-part agreement:

- the umbrella police services agreement between each province and the federal government;

-the sub-agreements which allow provinces to contract services to municipalities; and,

- the municipal-provincial agreements which allow communities with populations greater than 5,000 to receive RCMP services through that provincial sub-contract.

Municipalities are in limbo until they know what policing costs they will face in the 2012/2013 fiscal year.

Bond has requested a twoyear extension to the existing contract to allow for seamless police services until a new deal can be finalized - or not.

But whether or not the federal government accedes to that request, there is much more about RCMP services to be answered than the issues of costs and management.

This is a 20-year contract. British Columbians are entitled to the numbers and a choice: Plan A for the RCMP or Plan B for a provincial police force.

rimco@shaw.ca

© Copyright (c) North Shore News

http://www.nsnews.com/news/Questions+abound+RCMP+contract+talks/5788632/story.html

Tuesday, November 29

VPD could have pursued Pickton, lawyer says

BY SUZANNE FOURNIER, THE PROVINCE NOVEMBER 29, 2011

Lawyer Darrell Roberts argued at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry on Monday that Vancouver police knew enough about serial killer Robert Pickton in 1998 to get a search warrant for his farm.

Roberts, a lawyer representing First Nations at the inquiry, urged Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard to agree that the VPD should have pursued Pickton for "kidnap-ping with fraud."

LePard, although he admitted the missing women investigation was not the VPD's "finest hour," disagreed strongly with Roberts' view of how the investigation should have been conducted.

LePard said the Coquitlam RCMP took the lead because the more serious crime of murder was alleged in RCMP jurisdiction.

While VPD Det. Const. Lori Shen-her did get tips that bloody women's clothes were on Pickton's farm in 1998, she went to RCMP Cpl. Mike Connor.

By May 1999, when the Joint VPD-RCMP Missing Women Task Force had an active "suspect-focused" investigation into Pickton, LePard noted, the key crime under investigation was murder. No kidnapping charge was ever contemplated.

LePard pointed out that the task force, with over 100 officers and a $100-million budget, interviewed at least 13 women who spent between one and 40 nights on the Pickton farm, and lived to talk about it.

LePard argued it would have been impossible to predict which Down-town Eastside women were picked up by Pickton with the specific intent to kill.

The inquiry continues until Dec. 1, and will resume hearings in January until the end of April, with Commissioner Wally Oppal pledging to hand in his report by the end of June 2012.

Oppal is looking into why the VPD took so long to detect Pick-ton's abduction of women and why the RCMP didn't halt the murders, between 1997 and 2002.

sfournier@theprovince.com

© Copyright (c) The Province

VPD’s ‘hooker’ task force plagued by racism, discrimination, inquiry hears

BY SUZANNE FOURNIER, THE PROVINCE NOVEMBER 29, 2011 2:24 PM

Vancouver Police officer Doug LePard during break as he testifies at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.

Photograph by: GLENN BAGLO, PNG File photo

The early days of the Vancouver police investigation into dozens of missing women appear to have been hampered by “racism and discriminatory attitudes” on the part of some VPD staff and even officers.

That charge was levelled at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry Tuesday by Vancouver lawyer Jason Gratl, acting for “affected individuals on the Downtown Eastside.” Reading from a voluminous stack of internal VPD files and reports, Gratl has been cross-examining VPD Vice-Chief Doug LePard in a bid to get LePard to read and agree to certain points, such as the “discriminatory attitudes” displayed on occasion by the VPD’s Missing Persons civilian clerk Sandy Cameron.

The inquiry has heard that Cameron, who will be called to testify later in the inquiry, could be curt and dismissive to the families of some missing women, especially families who appeared to her to be marginalized, or of First Nations descent. On one occasion, the inquiry heard, Cameron rebuffed the mother of Tanya Holyk — later discovered to have been murderd by Robert Pickton — by telling her that her daughter wouldn’t be missing if she had only been a better parent.

LePard said that sworn officers were supposed to uphold policies against racism, bias and discrimination, and to act “without favour or malice toward anyone,” but that civilian staff were not covered by such a solemn oath. They were supposed to uphold workplace policies against harassment.

Gratl noted that such a worksite policy likely would not help people who approached the VPD looking for help in finding missing loved ones. “That would not cover racist and bigoted conduct insofar as it affected the families, and it wouldn’t do anything to assist the families of missing women,” Gratl asserted, and LePard agreed.

LePard had no immediate authority over the staff currently under discussion at the inquiry but did prepare, after Pickton was arrested in 2002, a massive report on the VPD and RCMP handling of the missing women in which the VPD apologized for its failure to halt the deaths of so many women. The report has been publicly released and is an exhibit at the inquiry.

LePard also agreed that VPD Det.-Const. Lori Shenher, whom he called “heroic” for her efforts to locate the missing women starting in the late 1990s, was appalled by the behaviour of two VPD members assigned to the missing women investigation in 1999. Shenher told LePard that she was “shocked” by the assignment of “renegade” detective team Det.-Const. Doug Fell and Det.-Const. Mark Wolthers to a search for missing sex-trade workers. LePard concurred with portions of Shenher’s interview with him, in which she told him that Fell and Wolthers didn’t share information, were arrogant and referred habitually to survival sex-trade workers as “whores”and “f---ing whores.” The two male officers also are alleged to have openly made racist and homophobic remarks.

LePard admitted “those were assertions that several people made about Fell and Wolthers.” LePard’s report did not deal with disparaging comments the duo also allegedly made about female police officers, or criticize them for their ways of referring to survival sex-trade workers.”

Fell and Wolthers allegedly were loud and openly disparaging in the office and in front of other police officers of both Shenher and Sgt. Geramy Field, opining the two women were “incompetent” and not doing a good job.

LePard did not agree with Gratl that the Missing Women investigation was widely referred to within the VPD as the “hooker” task force.

“In fact, isolated incidents aside, on the whole, the record is clear that the VPD has taken crimes against sex-trade workers seriously,” LePard concluded in his report. He emphasized on the stand today that he still believes that is true, testifying that the conduct of either Cameron or the detective team of Fell and Wolthers was not typical of most officers and in fact many officers “told him they were “disgusted” by such attitudes. LePard admitted Shenher complained she had to regularly apologize to DTES women for the behaviour of the two male detectives.

LePard told the inquiry that he sought legal advice while preparing his report on what to write, or do, about the alleged conduct of the two male detectives. LePard pointed out he wrote his report many years after the alleged racist, homophobic and discriminatory remarks were made. LePard did discuss the detectives’ behaviour with top VPD managers, but discipline was difficult “because we were discussing something that had happened many years ago.

“I agree with you it was appalling,” said LePard, but in defence of Wolthers and Fell, he added: “But they were totally focused on catching a serial killer, they badly wanted to solve the case.”

LePard went on: “I agree those individuals were biassed (to sex workers) but I don’t think that the behaviour of two officers that all other officers were appalled by is indicative of systemic bias or racism in the Vancouver Police Department,” LePard insisted. |

The inquiry is sitting until Dec. 1, resuming for two days in later December and then adjourning until 2012. Formal hearings will continue from January until the end of April. Commissioner Wallly Oppal has pledged to hand in his final report by the end of June 2012.

sfournier@theprovince.com

© Copyright (c) The Province

Monday, November 28

Police clerk told caller ‘missing hookers’ not investigated, inquiry hears

ROBERT MATAS
VANCOUVER – From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Nov 28, 2011

A Vancouver Police Department clerk who took missing persons reports in the late 1990s was overheard saying “racist stuff” and telling a caller that police do not look for “missing hookers,” the Pickton inquiry has heard.

The clerk, Sandy Cameron, also mistreated Dorothy Purcell, the mother of Tanya Holyk, lawyer Darrell Roberts told the inquiry on Monday. Mr. Roberts was appointed by the Missing Women Inquiry to represent the views of aboriginal people. Ms. Holyk, 21, was last seen on Oct. 29, 1996, and police say Mr. Pickton killed her.

Ms. Purcell has said Ms. Cameron did not take her report when she told police that her daughter had gone missing, Mr. Roberts said. The clerk suggested she should have been a better mother, giving a response that Ms. Purcell felt had racial undertones, Mr. Roberts said.

“First nations folks, to report their missing daughters and overcome whatever fears they have, should never have to put up with abuse like that,” he said during cross-examination of Vancouver Deputy Chief Doug LePard.

“I agree,” Deputy Chief LePard said.

The officer also agreed with a suggestion by Mr. Roberts that the police compromised their investigation of the missing women by undermining the trust of some families.

Complaints of racism levelled against the civilian member of the missing person unit, and of ignoring reports of missing women from some families, were previously documented in a report by Deputy Chief LePard released last year. She was identified as Ms. Cameron at the public inquiry, although Deputy Chief LePard did not identify the clerk by name in the report on the Vancouver police investigation into missing women.

Every officer who worked with the civilian member corroborated some or all of the complaints, the report stated. Several supervisors raised concerns about her over the years, but were not successful in their efforts to address her behaviour or have her removed, Deputy Chief LePard wrote in the report.

The relationship between the Vancouver police and many family members had been “terribly and apparently irrevocably poisoned” as a result of her behaviour, he wrote. However, he concluded that an inference of systemic bias throughout the police organization could not be supported based solely on her “inappropriate and prejudicial” behaviour.

No one spoke on Ms. Cameron’s behalf at the inquiry. But in Deputy Chief LePard’s report, she responded to the allegations by saying, “What’s rude to someone might not be rude to someone else. I think their frustration level was high and I was the prime target.” At another point she said: “If you’re rude to me, I might get defensive. … There might have been times I was rude.”

Deputy Chief LePard reaffirmed the report’s conclusions during cross-examination by lawyer Jason Gratl, who was appointed by the commission to represent the views of Downtown Eastside residents and women who work in prostitution.

Mr. Gratl pressed him on why management within the Vancouver police failed to have her removed. Deputy Chief LePard said his focus was on the missing women investigation and he did not look into the issue.

Earlier, Mr. Roberts suggested that police should have considered different investigative approaches in 1998, four years before the serial killer was arrested.

He put together the foundation for a search warrant of the Pickton farm that he suggested could have been compiled in the fall of 1998. The information came from the investigation of an attempted murder charge against Robert Pickton in March, 1997, and from a tip in the summer of 1998 in which the police were told that women’s identifications, purses, bloody clothing, syringes and jewellery were seen in Robert Pickton’s trailer.

Mr. Roberts suggested that Vancouver police could have initiated an investigation into kidnapping and obtained a search warrant that would have broken open the case.

Vancouver police had jurisdiction to investigate kidnappings that began in Vancouver, Deputy Chief LePard told the inquiry. But in practical terms, the Coquitlam RCMP took control of the Pickton investigation in the summer of 1998, after Vancouver police told them about the tip they had received, he said.

© Copyright 2011 The Globe and Mail Inc. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/police-clerk-told-caller-missing-hookers-not-investigated-inquiry-hears/article2252953/

Vancouver police had enough info on Pickton to execute warrant in 1998, inquiry told

BY NEAL HALL, VANCOUVER SUN NOVEMBER 28, 2011 5:22 PM

A small group of first nations drummers shut down traffic once again Monday morning at the corner of Granville and Georgia streets, outside the Missing Women inquiry, to support the families of the victims of serial killer Robert Pickton. Many of the vicitms were first nations women. The inquiry began Oct. 11 and the drumming circle has shut down traffic for most morning that the inquiry is sitting.

Photograph by: Neal Hall, PNG

VANCOUVER — Vancouver police had enough evidence in 1998 to execute a search warrant on serial killer Robert Pickton, a lawyer suggested Monday at the Missing Women inquiry.

Darrell Roberts, the lawyer representing first nations interests, said an informant had told VPD Const. Lori Shenher that there were women's purses at the Pickton property, women's identification, including the ID of a woman who had been missing for two years, and a bag of bloody clothing, which Pickton referred to as "my trophies."

The word "trophies" is often used to describe items kept by serial killers, the lawyer suggested to Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard.

LePard agreed, but said the term can also be used in reference to a person involved in sex assaults.

"There was an intense debate within the VPD as to whether there was a serial killer," Roberts suggested.

"The debate was whether there was even foul play at all,"

LePard replied. "Several investigators were leaning toward foul play."

He pointed out that Vancouver police did not conclude until early 1999 that foul play was likely involved in the rising number of women who were going missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

LePard, now in his eighth day on the witness stand, has repeatedly said the RCMP had the responsibility to investigate Pickton because he lived on a farm in Port Coquitlam, where it was alleged that women were being killed.

Roberts suggested Vancouver police had enough evidence by 1998 to execute a search warrant, alleging kidnapping by fraud of women from Vancouver.

Roberts suggested Pickton used a ruse of picking up the women in Vancouver and offering them money for sex, but intended to kill them.

"I'm challenging the proposition that Vancouver police never had the jurisdiction to investigate these missing women," Roberts suggested.

LePard replied that VPD had the jurisdiction to investigate cases of missing women, but when allegations arose through the first tip in 1998 that the women were being killed at Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam, then the Coquitlam RCMP was responsible for that investigation.

LePard pointed out that in the $100-million joint forces investigated code-named Project Evenhanded, not one kidnapping charge was laid by the Crown against Pickton.

The court has heard that more than a dozen women were killed after 1998 until Pickton's arrest on Feb. 5, 2002.

LePard also pointed out that police interviewed 13 women who spent between one and 40 nights at the Pickton farm and were not killed.

Police do not know why Pickton killed some women but not others, he said.

Roberts suggested to LePard that the VPD's failure to investigate Pickton for kidnapping by fraud was the major cause of the failed police investigation.

"I disagree with that," the deputy chief said.

"It appears there was an appalling lack of resources," the lawyer suggested, accusing the VPD of being indifferent because the missing women were drug addicts and prostitutes, with a large proportion being first nations women.

LePard disagreed, saying investigators such as Const. Lori Shenher were not indifferent and the police force itself was not indifferent.

"When there is a crime against a sex worker, the VPD will do everything it can to solve it," the deputy chief said.

LePard will continue his testimony Tuesday.

Testimony can be watched live on the Missing Women inquiry website:http://www.missingwomeninquiry.ca/ The website also has posted transcripts of previous testimony at the inquiry.

nealhall@vancouversun.com

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Senior VPD officer and First Nations lawyer clash over tactics used in Robert Pickton investigation

BY SUZANNE FOURNIER, THE PROVINCE NOVEMBER 28, 2011 6:06 PM

Vancouver Police Deputy Chief Constable Doug LePard refused to agree with First Nations lawyer Darrell Roberts'd contention that VPD should have pursued Robert Pickton on a "kidnapping with fraud" charge following a 1997 attack and a 1998 tip.

Photograph by: Bill Keay, PNG

Lawyer Darrell Roberts argued at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry that Vancouver police knew enough about serial killer Robert Pickton in 1998 to get a search warrant for his farm.

Roberts even drew up a “hypothetical Information to Obtain (ITO) a search warrant,” citing a 1997 near-fatal attack by Pickton on a Vancouver sex worker and a 1998 tip so accurate the tipster got part of the reward money.

Roberts, who represents First Nations at the inquiry, urged Vancouver Police Deputy Chief Doug LePard on Monday to agree that the VPD should have pursued Pickton for “kidnapping with fraud.”

LePard, while admitting the Missing Women investigation was not the VPD’s “finest hour,” disagreed strongly with Roberts’ view of how the investigation should have been conducted.

Roberts argued that the VPD should have got into gear after Pickton’s violent 1997 slashing of a sex worker that he had lured out to his family’s Port Coquitlam farm.

Then the VPD got tips Pickton was trying to have “Victim ‘97” killed, to prevent her from testifying against him.

Charges against Pickton in the near-slaying of the feisty woman, who fought off his attempt to kill her by slashing his throat, were stayed by the Crown in 1998, a decision that the Inquiry has been assigned to re-evaluate.

Roberts argued the VPD should have launched an investigation in 1998 into “kidnapping by fraud,” saying it could have halted Pickton’s killing spree.

LePard disagreed, saying that the Coquitlam RCMP took the lead because the more serious crime of murder was alleged, in RCMP jurisdiction.

While VPD Det. Const. Lori Shenher did receive tips about bloody women’s clothes on Pickton’s farm from Bill Hiscox in 1998, she went to RCMP Cpl. Mike Connor.

LePard has admitted Shenher and other officers lacked management support.

By May, 1999, when the Joint VPD-RCMP Missing Women Task Force had an active “suspect-focused” investigation into Pickton, LePard noted, the key crime under investigation was murder. No kidnapping charge was ever contemplated.

LePard pointed out that the Project Evenhanded task force, with over 100 officers and a $100 million budget, interviewed at least 13 women who spent between one and 40 nights on the Pickton farm, and lived to talk about it.

LePard argued it would have been impossible to predict which Downtown Eastside women were picked up by Pickton with the specific intent to kill.

The inquiry continues until Dec. 1, and will resume hearings in January until the end of April, with Commissioner Wally Oppal pledging to hand in his report by the end of June, 2012.

Oppal is looking into why the VPD took so long to detect Pickton’s abduction of women and why the RCMP didn’t halt the murders, between 1997 and 2002.

Pickton’s life sentence for the murders of six women was upheld in 2010.

In August, the Crown stayed another 20 murder charges against Pickton.

The DNA of 33 women was found in a detailed forensic search of the Pickton farm, although Pickton boasted in jail that he had killed 49 women.

Meanwhile, the inquiry’s Brenda Belak is inviting the Downtown Eastside community to put forward proposals as to how a parallel study commission should be conducted.

The study commission will provide “more informal and accessible” ways for DTES residents and advocates to provide their views on policing to Oppal.

sfournier@theprovince.com

© Copyright (c) The Province

Friday, November 25

RCMP investigating claims it waited years before searching Pickton farm

As many as 14 actual or suspected Pickton victims were killed in the meantime

by Ken MacQueen on Friday, November 25, 2011 5:56pm - 0 Comments

The RCMP is reviewing explosive claims that its members could have acted much sooner in obtaining a search warrant that may have stopped Robert Pickton’s murder spree years earlier.

The allegations, by Cpl. Catherine Galliford, once the high-profile RCMP spokesperson for the Pickton and Air India investigations, were first revealed in a story in Maclean’s Nov. 28 issue, A Royal Canadian Disgrace. The story was based on interviews with Galliford, and on the 115-page transcript of a statement she gave senior RCMP officers in April.

In that statement and subsequent interviews, Galliford said she had been subjected to years of sexual and emotional harassment by several senior officers and colleagues. She also blamed sexism and misogyny within the force for contributing to the “indifference” with which she said the RCMP investigated allegations that sex trade workers were disappearing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Many of those women were killed on Pickton’s farm in Port Coquitlam.

“The RCMP has received a statement from Cpl. Galliford,” RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen said in a statement. “The statement contains a number of allegations of member misconduct that are of serious concern to the RCMP.” Thiessen, a spokesman for B.C.’s E-Division headquarters, said the RCMP has “initiated a review of these allegations and will take appropriate action to address them.”

He said it would be inappropriate to comment further on Galliford’s allegations relating to the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, a judicial hearing now being conducted into the conduct of both the Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP during the Pickton investigation.

Galliford, reached at home where she is on extended sick leave, said she has had no new contact with the RCMP, beyond the extensive statement she gave them in April. She said her lawyer has advised her to curtail all media interviews and let any review take its course.

In previous interviews with Maclean’s she said that, back in Oct. 2001, she read a file on Pickton that the Coquitlam RCMP had compiled between 1997 and 1999, as she gathered background for her role as spokeswoman for the Missing Women’s Taskforce. “I had one of those ‘oh, no’ moments because I saw what was already on the file. There was enough evidence there for another ITO (information to obtain a search warrant),” she said.

Police had previously been on the Pickton farm to investigate a near-fatal altercation Pickton had with a sex trade worker in 1997. That woman was stabbed several times, as was Pickton. He was initially charged with attempted murder in that case, but it did not proceed after the Crown concluded she was not a credible witness, and because Pickton was also wounded when the woman fought back..

Galliford said there had only been a cursory attempt at surveillance of Pickton although he was a rumoured suspect in the missing women’s case. Surveillance ended after about two weeks because it was impossible to see activity at Pickton’s trailer, which was set far back from the road, she was told. She said a senior officer took no further action on the file, an “appalling” lapse of judgement in her view. Galliford said she intends to testify at the missing women’s inquiry on behalf of the murdered women and their families.

Galliford’s claims are backed by Cameron Ward, the Vancouver lawyer representing at the inquiry many of the families of Pickton’s victims. He told Maclean’s that testimony that has come up earlier in the inquiry and other information he’s gathered, backs her claims that there was ample information in RCMP hands to get judicial approval for a search warrant as early as 1999.

By Ward’s estimate, about 14 women, all actual or suspected victims of Pickton’s, were killed in the intervening time from 1999 until Pickton’s property was searched and he was arrested in February, 2002.

He said he has spoken with Galliford and “it is my hope and expectation” that she will be called to testify at the missing women’s inquiry.

Meantime, other RCMP members are stepping forward with their own claims of emotional and sexual harassment, emboldened by Galliford’s public stand on the issue. Both public and a RCMP members-only support pages have been established on Facebook to support Galliford and to vent their own frustrations.

“I can tell you for a fact the public would be very surprised and shocked to know just how rampant this issue is among the RCMP,” one female member wrote on Facebook. “Many of my female friends who are members feel the exact same way as I, and have been mistreated by their employer as well. We will only speak these words in the locker room though because we feel there is nowhere to turn. Upper management have a very ignorant view on what is appropriate or fair when it comes to female members. We are still living in the caveman days as far as I’m concerned.”

Another former member of the force in the 1980s wrote that as a “naive 22-year-old” she thought she had to accept the abuse as the price of being accepted by the group. “Nothing has changed in all these years. This allegation does not surprise me and I have so much respect for Catherine Galliford for coming out; however my opinion is it will never be safe for her to return to active duty now.”

Another former member in Ontario approached Maclean’s on behalf of several other women, all with stories of harassment. In the end, they decided they could not go public because of fears it would lead to reprimands, or would further damage their careers.

Newly appointed RCMP Commissioner Rob Paulson has said that rooting out sexism and harassment are among his first priorities, but it’s clear many female members still fear an “old boys’ network” will make their lives a misery if they come forward.

http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/11/25/rcmp-investigating-claims-it-waited-years-before-searching-pickton-farm/

Mountie alleging harassment to 'tell truth' at inquiry

The Canadian Press 
Updated: Fri. Nov. 25 2011 6:46 AM ET

VANCOUVER — A high-profile Mountie who went public this month with allegations that she was sexually harassed by supervisors says she'll "name names" when she testifies at the inquiry into the Robert Pickton killings in January.

Cpl. Catherine Galliford, who was the RCMP spokeswoman on the Air India and Pickton investigations, said Thursday that police could have obtained a search warrant for convicted serial killer Robert Pickton years before they arrested the B.C. pig farmer.

She said she's read a 1999 Coquitlam RCMP file that nobody seems to be able to locate now.

RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen responded in a written statement, noting it would be inappropriate to comment on anything related to the inquiry.

"You know what? I'm not an armchair quarterback, I'm not," said Galliford. "Never have and never will be. But the minute I read that file I could have put everything together for another search warrant and nothing was done. It was concluded.

"I have to be very careful about what I say right now," she added. "I'm sure that when I testify on behalf of the missing women inquiry, I'll be able to be more forthcoming."

Galliford said the file she read included information that would have allowed police to obtain a search warrant for Pickton's farm.

She said the file had been "purged" from a 1997 file, noting a purge takes place when a file is too big so the information inside is carried over to another year.

"You had a lot of other potential suspects, but in this certain file, we had enough for another search warrant. He wasn't a potential suspect. He was a suspect and there is a difference in the police world."

Police consider a person a suspect, said Galliford, when they have found evidence and can put the person at the scene of a crime.

"At that time in the investigation, Pickton was the only one," she said. "There were potential suspects, but Pickton was the only suspect."

Thiessen said police are taking all of Galliford's allegations seriously.

'"The RCMP has received a statement from Cpl. Galliford," said Thiessen. "The statement contains a number of allegations of member misconduct that are of serious concern to the RCMP."

"The RCMP has initiated a review of these allegations and will take appropriate action to address them."

A review of the Pickton investigation released this week by Jennifer Evans, deputy chief of Ontario's Peel Regional Police, notes several cases where members of the Vancouver police and Coquitlam RCMP considered Pickton their top suspect.

"Pickton was seen as priority for both Coquitlam RCMP and the VPD but neither agency concluded their investigation and neither agency communicated with each other post September 1999," wrote Evans.

She also noted officers should have assigned a higher priority to the investigation, even though Pickton had no criminal convictions before 2002.

Evans referred specifically to an attempted murder charge against Pickton that was dropped in January 1998, his ability to dispose of a body, his presence on the Downtown Eastside and his association with women who worked in the sex trade.

Police arrested Pickton in 2002 after a junior officer obtained a search warrant related to illegal firearms. The officer wasn't a member of the missing women task force.

A jury convicted Pickton of second-degree murder in 1997 for the deaths of six women, although he claimed to have killed as many as 49.

Another 20 murder charges against Pickton were not pursued after the Supreme Court of Canada rejected his appeal of the killings for which he was convicted.

Galliford said she'll have her own lawyer present when she testifies at the inquiry, but added she doesn't know the specific date yet.

"I think it will be easier for me at the inquiry because I'll actually be able to name names, and say this is what happened, this is what I saw transpiring and I'll be able to speak about it in more detail, but I'm trying to be very careful right now because I don't want to hurt anybody and I don't want to trigger anybody," she said.

"I just want to tell the truth."

http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/20111125/catherine-galliford-pickton-inquiry-rcmp-111125/

Thursday, November 24

Female RCMP officers’ accounts of sexual harassment in force prompt new hotline

BY SUZANNE FOURNIER, THE PROVINCE NOVEMBER 24, 2011 8:08 PM

Angela Marie MacDougall, Jaclyn Sauer (back), and Beatrice have set up a new dedicated hotline for women who have experienced sexual violence or harassment while employed.

Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, The Province

A national hotline for female RCMP officers and others affected by sexual harassment or violence at the hands of police will be up and running by Monday.

One phone call from a female officer, anywhere in Canada, will connect her to “confidential emotional support,” ensure she is safe and refer her to “legal remedies including class action lawyers,” Angela Marie MacDougall of Battered Women’s Support Services said Thursday.

MacDougall said BWSS, which will staff the service, has had numerous calls since “courageous” RCMP officers like Catherine Galliford and Krista Carle spoke out.

“Sexual harassment of women thrives in environments that are male dominated, hierarchal and demand strict adherence to codes of silence like the RCMP,” said MacDougall, noting female officers are afraid to speak up.

MacDougall adds that “police are not an option for women in this crisis.”

RCMP Cpl. Catherine Galliford, on leave for four years following alleged sexual harassment by RCMP and Vancouver police officers, applauded the hotline Thursday and said she wishes such an option had been there for her.

“Female police officers are incredible public servants and the general public is only starting to hear about the harassment that we go through,” said Galliford, former RCMP spokeswoman for the Missing Women Task Force. “It can break you, and then if you need help, it’s very hard to find.

The RCMP’s employee “assistance” program was of no help and even leaked her medical files to the RCMP, said Galliford, who now has good medical support.

She will testify at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry in January with the support of Mike Webster, a police psychologist, and said she plans to “name names.”

In a 115-page statement to RCMP Internal Affairs Insp. Paul Darbyshire, Galliford said she documented the sexual harassment she experienced from top RCMP and VPD officers who tried to coerce her into having sex and bragged that they were intimate with her when they were not.

An RCMP boss insisted she go along on road trips to visit victims’ families “and they he’d turn into Octopus-Man in a hotel room at night,” she said.

Galliford named another female officer who had to physically fight off “an attempted rape” by the same officer. Female civilians also were targeted.

Galliford is also haunted by the fact that senior officers appeared to know that now-convicted serial killer Robert Pickton was a “prime suspect” in the murder of Downtown Eastside sex workers at his Port Coquitlam pig farm.

Galliford said she saw “excellent officers” like VPD Det. Const. Lori Shenher and Coquitlam Cpl. Mike Connor “work very, very hard on the missing women file because they knew it was nonsense there were 1,100 suspects.

“They had enough information by 1998 to get a search warrant of the Pickton farm, from informants and witnesses,” Galliford said. At least 18 women were murdered by Pickton after he appeared on RCMP and VPD radars for the attempted murder of a Downtown Eastside woman at his Port Coquitlam farm.

The inquiry will take a break after Dec. 1, resuming in January.

Commissioner Wally Oppal has pledged to hand in his report by June 2012.

Pickton was convicted of the murder of six women, but the DNA of 33 women has been connected to his farm and he boasted in jail of killing 49 women.

MacDougall said the hotline will be available for women RCMP members during business hours at 1-855-687-1868.

sfournier@theprovince.com

© Copyright (c) The Province

Path of first tip in Pickton saga leads to testy words

ROBERT MATAS
VANCOUVER – From Friday’s Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Vancouver police lost the first tip about serial killer Robert Pickton that came in to Crime Stoppers, an incident that was not mentioned in the department’s 408-page review of its missing women investigation.

Vancouver Deputy Chief Doug LePard, who wrote the extensive review, told the Pickton inquiry on Thursday he could not recall if he knew that the tip had been lost when he was working on the report. “I put in what I thought were significant events,” he said during a tense cross-examination by lawyer Darrell Roberts.

A review of the investigation done for the inquiry by Deputy Chief Jennifer Evans of Peel Regional Police in Ontario discovered the tip had been lost.

The Evans review, which was released at the inquiry hearings earlier this week, says that Vancouver Crime Stoppers received a call on July 27, 1998, about someone that the caller believed could be responsible for the disappearances of prostitutes.

The caller described the man and said he lived in a trailer on a large farm in Port Coquitlam. The caller said a woman visiting the trailer spotted at least 10 purses, female identification and women’s clothing. The man, who picked up prostitutes in Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster, had told others he could easily dispose of bodies by putting them through a grinder on his farm, the caller said.

Detective Constable Lori Shenher, who was at that time investigating the disappearances of an increasing number of women from the Downtown Eastside, learned about the tip only when it resurfaced after Crime Stoppers received a second one nine days later.

The tipster, who was believed to be the person who called the first time, identified the man in his second call as “Picton” and said that he might be responsible for killing all the missing women.

Mr. Pickton, who was arrested in February, 2002, was later accused of killing 33 women, including 18 who were killed after those two tips were received. He was convicted in 2007 of second-degree murder of six women.

The inquiry was appointed in 2010 to look into why the police did not arrest Mr. Pickton until 2002.

The Evans review said Det. Constable Shenher spoke with RCMP Corporal Mike Connor of the Coquitlam detachment on Aug. 7, 1998, the day after she heard about the tips.

At the inquiry, Deputy Chief LePard confirmed that he did not include an account of her call with Corporal Connor in his review. “I made choices about what information I put in,” he said.

“[The tips were] interesting, unusual information about one suspect,” Deputy Chief LePard said. But the information had to be considered in the context of the times, he added. Police receive “an incredible amount of information” through Crime Stoppers,” he said.

Although the tip came to the Vancouver police, the RCMP Coquitlam detachment took over jurisdiction of the Pickton investigation after Det. Constable Shenher met with Corporal Connor on Aug. 18, 1998, Deputy Chief LePard said. The RCMP was in charge of the case because site of the alleged crimes was in Port Coquitlam, he said.

Mr. Roberts suggested that Vancouver police retained control of the jurisdiction until October, 1998, and that police had sufficient information as of Oct. 16, 1998, to obtain a warrant to search Mr. Pickton’s trailer.

He also questioned whether Det. Constable Shenher, who had seven years of experience as a police officer, had put the tipster in danger by sharing confidential information with the RCMP and whether she was the appropriate person to investigate a serious murder tip.

Deputy Chief LePard insisted that the RCMP was in charge of the investigation from August, 1998. Det. Constable Shenher did “an excellent job” and had adequate resources for missing women investigations, but did not have the experience to be the lead investigator for homicides, Deputy Chief LePard said.

© Copyright 2011 The Globe and Mail Inc. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/bc-politics/path-of-first-tip-in-pickton-saga-leads-to-testy-words/article2248752/

Cop denies Pickton hatched plot to kill women in Vancouver

BY NEAL HALL, POSTMEDIA NEWS NOVEMBER 24, 2011 7:06 PM

Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard: 'We don't know when (Robert Pickton) decided to kill.'

Photograph by: Glenn Baglo/Postmedia News, NP

VANCOUVER — A senior police officer denied Thursday that a serial killer hatched a plot to kill women while he was in Vancouver.

Police can't say for certain when and where serial killer Robert Pickton decided to kill the women he took to his farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C., Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard said Thursday.

During his seventh day of testimony at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, LePard disputed a lawyer's suggestion that Pickton decided in Vancouver to lure the women to his farm and kill them.

"We don't know when he decided to kill," he told inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal during a cross-examination by Darrell Roberts, the lawyer representing First Nations interests.

LePard pointed out that Pickton killed some of the women he took to his property, but not others.

But Roberts showed the senior officer a decision from the B.C. Court of Appeal, which defined kidnapping as taking a person from one place to another against their will and also by fraud.

He argued that police never investigated the possibility that a serial killer was kidnapping women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and then taking them to Port Coquitlam, where he killed them.

The inquiry is investigating why it took Vancouver police and RCMP until 2002 to catch Pickton when they were receiving detailed tips as far back as 1998.

Pickton, 62, is serving a life sentence for the murders of six women. He was charged initially with killing 20 more but those charges were stayed in 2010.

The serial killer has been linked by DNA to the deaths of 33 women and has boasted to an undercover police officer that he killed at least 16 more.

On Thursday, Roberts read out the statement of a prostitute from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside who was lured in March 1997 to Pickton's farm where he tried to kill her; she managed to slash him with a knife and flee.

The woman's statement said she panicked when Pickton put a handcuff on one of her wrists and then said, "You little b----."

The woman recalled she grabbed anything she could to fight off Pickton while he was trying to get her other wrist handcuffed and she eventually found a kitchen knife. Pickton wrestled it from her hand, then stabbed her a number of times, the Vancouver inquiry heard.

Pickton and the women ended up having surgery in the same hospital. The woman almost died on the operating table but was revived and gave a statement to police.

"That's classic kidnapping, is it not?" Roberts asked.

LePard disagreed, noting Pickton was never charged with kidnapping — only unlawful confinement and attempted murder. (The inquiry will later examine why the Crown chose to stay the charges in 1998.)

We don't know what was in Pickton's mind when he took her to the property, he added.

LePard has said repeatedly that Vancouver police should have done a better job investigating the dozens of missing women who disappeared, but said at the time police didn't believe they were dealing with a serial killer.

"They came to that conclusion too late," he said.

LePard said Vancouver police received the first tip about Pickton possibly killing women on his farm in July 1998 and the information was passed along by Vancouver police Const. Lori Shenher to Coquitlam RCMP because the killing took place in the RCMP's jurisdiction.

Roberts pointed out that the first Pickton tip from a source was received on July 27, 1998, but was lost for nine days, something LePard didn't mention in his 2010 report that looked into the failures of the Pickton investigations by the Vancouver police and RCMP.

LePard said the tip was received by Crime Stoppers, which receives a huge volume of material.

"Your report is not reliable because there is stuff missing from it?" the lawyer asked LePard, who disagreed.

© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

Vancouver police managers failed to take ownership of missing women issue, inquiry told

BY NEAL HALL, VANCOUVER SUN NOVEMBER 22, 2011

Missing Women inquiry Commissioner Wally Oppal said he was upset over an "ethical lapse" that led to a report being leaked to the media.

Photograph by: Ian Smith, PNG

VANCOUVER -- Senior management of the Vancouver police department failed to take ownership of the missing women investigation and failed to provide adequate resources, the Missing Women inquiry heard today.

Inquiry commission counsel Art Vertlieb, during questioning of VPD Deputy Chief Doug LePard, read out portions of a new report that was highly critical of two successive VPD chiefs and three deputy chiefs.

The report by Peel Regional Police Deputy Chief Jennifer Evans concluded that no one in the VPD's senior management and executive provided direction on the missing women investigation.

Evans said it was the job of the deputy chief at the time, Brian McGuinness, to ensure proper resources were provided to the investigation, which was plagued by staff shortages.

Evans also found McGuinness failed to properly supervise then Insp. Fred Biddlecombe, who was in charge of major crime and the missing person unit.

LePard testified that McGuinness, if he could do it over again, probably would have done things differently.

But at the time, he said, police didn't realize they were dealing with an active serial killer preying on women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Still, LePard agreed that the police executive should be held accountable.

He also agreed with Evans' criticism of former police chief Bruce Chambers and Terry Blythe for failing to give enough attention to the missing women problem.

""I believe he did not recognize and take ownership of the missing women issue," Evans' report said of Chambers.

"I believe he failed to take ownership of the issue,'" the report said of Blythe.

"It was such a concern to the community that it demanded attention and action," the report added.

Evans was also critical of then deputy chiefs Gary Greer and John Unger for not ensuring Vancouver police asked earlier for a joint forces operation with the RCMP.

Evans report did single out Lori Shenher for her "heroic" efforts to try to investigate the case and get more officers assigned to the missing women investigation.

LePard said a full-time sergeant should have been assigned to the missing women investigation.

"It would have made a huge difference," he told the inquiry.

The sergeant should have been the one advocating more resources, he said.

Instead, the investigation was overseen by Sgt. Geramy Field, who ran the homicide section and tried to oversee the missing women case "from the side of her desk," LePard said.

"It was completely unreasonable and unrealistic," he said of the additional demands made on Field.

LePard said he was impressed by the Evans report, which he said was "98 per cent" consistent with his own report, released last year.

The Evans report has not been made public but was leaked to a TV reporter last Friday.

Missing Women inquiry Commissioner Wally Oppal said he was upset over an "ethical lapse" that led to a report being leaked to the media.

"I find it reprehensible," Oppal said as the inquiry resumed Monday after a one-week break.

"I find it upsetting and I'm disappointed," he said of the report being leaked Friday to a television outlet, which passed it along to Toronto-based newspaper.

The inquiry asked Evans to provide an expert opinion and analysis of what went wrong with the Vancouver police and RCMP investigations of serial killer Robert Pickton.

LePard said the VPD should have issued a warning by August 1998 that police were investigating a possible serial killer.

"It was a significant possibility, given all the red flags," he said.

"The failure to warn the public that women were still going missing was a mistake," LePard added.

The Evans report was also critical of the RCMP's handling of the Pickton investigation.

Evans said then RCMP chief superintendent Gary Bass failed to make further inquiries and should have directed in 2000 a coordinated response between the RCMP with the VPD to investigate Pickton and the missing women.

Evans pointed out that at a meeting attended by Bass and Bob Paulson in March 2000, Staff-Sgt. Keith Davidson said there were three serial killers operating in B.C.

Evans concluded that a regional police force would have provided a quicker and more coordinated police response.

"I strongly agree," LePard said.

The Evans report was filed today as an exhibit for identification only, meaning it won't be made public at the moment, because of an objection by lawyer Cameron Ward.

Ward, who is representing 20 families of Missing Women, objected because he wants to challenge Evans being tendered as an expert witness.

Evans is not expected to testify at the inquiry until January.

The inquiry is probing why it took so long to catch Pickton, who was arrested in 2002 and was eventually charged with 27 counts of first-degree murder.

The inquiry has already heard testimony of families of Pickton victims, who said police didn't take the reports of missing women seriously enough.

LePard testified that police initially believed that the women who had gone missing were historical "so it didn't raise the level of urgency that it ought to."

It didn't become apparent until mid 2001 that an active serial killer was preying on women working as street prostitutes in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Vancouver police received tips about Pickton in 1998 and he was the VPD's prime suspect.

Pickton had attacked a woman with a knife on his Port Coquitlam farm in 1997 and the woman had escaped naked and bleeding to the street. She flagged down a passing car, who took her to hospital.

Three informants told Vancouver police about Lynn Ellingsen witnessing Pickton butchering a woman in his barn one night, but the RCMP interviewed Ellingsen, who denied she had seen anything.

She later admitted she was blackmailing Pickton to keep quiet.

Pickton had offered money to a person to lure Ellingsen to Pickton's farm, so she could be killed.

Pickton was finally arrested in February 2002 after a junior Mountie executed a search warrrant on Pickton's farm to look for illegal weapons.

After officers found identification of some of the missing women, it turned into a homicide investigation and the search of the farm continued for 18 months.

Pickton's murder charges were divided into two trials.

A jury at his first trial in 2007 convicted Pickton of killing six women who disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

After Pickton exhausted all his appeals, the Crown decided not to proceed with a second trial involving another 20 murders, which outraged the families of the victims.

Pickton confessed to a jail cell mate - an undercover officer posing as a criminal - that he killed 49 women and planned to kill dozens more.

A First Nations group of about a dozen people have formed a circle of drummers and singers at the intersection of Georgia and Granville, blocking traffic.

The drumming can be heard inside the inquiry.

A large number of the missing women were first nations.

nhall@vancouversun.com

Wednesday, November 23

Sisters of Pickton victim says she's sickened by officer's accusations

BY SUZANNE FOURNIER, POSTMEDIA NEWS  NOVEMBER 23, 2011

robertpickton

VANCOUVER — The sisters of a woman murdered by serial killer Robert Pickton say they are "sickened" after hearing that RCMP and Vancouver police officers allegedly joked and "fantasized" about how their sister may have died.

"We are very angry, especially when we know that the police could have prevented the murder of one of our sisters," said Cynthia Cardinal, the sister of Georgina Papin.

At Pickton's trial, eyewitness Lynn Ellingsen gave key testimony that she saw Pickton hang a woman from a meat hook in his barn and gut her.

Ellingsen and Pickton had picked up the woman, whom Ellingsen believes was Papin, earlier that night in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

RCMP Cpl. Catherine Galliford, who was the spokeswoman for the Missing Women Vancouver police and RCMP Task Force, revealed in an interview Tuesday with the Vancouver Province, and in a 115-page statement, that male officers told her they had a "fantasy."

"They fantasized about Willie Pickton escaping from prison," Galliford said in her statement to RCMP Insp. Paul Darbyshire and RCMP Supt. Dave DeBolt.

"He would escape from prison, track me down, strip me naked, hang me from a meat hook and gut me like a pig," Galliford told the Vancouver Province.

Galliford, who emphasized she knows many police officers who cared deeply about the missing women, said only one other officer in the roomful of men seemed as shocked and horrified as she did.

At the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday, Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard, author of a 2010 report critical of the Vancouver Police Department and RCMP, admitted that former Vancouver deputy police chief John Unger referred to the dozens of missing women as "just hookers."

The inquiry is investigating why it took Vancouver police and RCMP until 2002 to catch Pickton when they were receiving detailed tips as far back as 1998.

Pickton, 62, is serving a life sentence for the murders of six women. He initially was charged with killing 20 more but those charges were stayed in 2010.

The serial killer has been linked by DNA to the deaths of 33 women and has boasted to an undercover police officer that he killed at least 16 more.

Lawyer Cameron Ward, representing the Cardinal sisters, as well as 19 other families of missing women, charged that Unger meant that drug-addicted sex workers were "a waste of police time and resources."

Cardinal said she is "appalled at how the inquiry is revealing the corruption within the VPD (Vancouver Police Department) and the RCMP."

"It is sickening when I think about how they sat around and made such horrific remarks to one of their own," said Cardinal.

"How then can society trust those that are supposed to protect us?"

LePard explained that the Vancouver Police Department didn't devote huge resources to finding the missing women because most officers didn't believe a serial killer was at work until it was too late.

Vancouver Province

© Copyright (c) The Province

Sister outraged at ‘just hookers’ remark

ROBERT MATAS
VANCOUVER – From Thursday’s Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Nov 23, 2011

lilliane_beaudoin

The sister of a woman killed by Robert Pickton fought back tears as she heard testimony about a top Vancouver cop who allegedly dismissed missing women from the Downtown Eastside as “just hookers.”

During a break in Wednesday’s Pickton inquiry hearing, Lilliane Beaudoin said in an interview that she was appalled by the attitude of the senior Vancouver police officer. And she was horrified to hear a suggestion that police did not do their job because the women were dismissed as prostitutes.

“My sister Dianne [Rock] was not on the street very long, maybe only the last month of her life. She sold her body to support her drug habit,” Ms. Beaudoin said. “[His comments] were extremely offensive.”

Ms. Rock, the mother of five children, was reported missing from the Downtown Eastside two months before Mr. Pickton was arrested in February, 2002. Her DNA and some personal items were found on Mr. Pickton’s farm.

During cross examination on whether women from the Downtown Eastside were treated differently than others who might have gone missing, Deputy Chief Doug LePard of the Vancouver Police Department confirmed that he had been told that another top cop, Deputy Chief John Unger, had referred to the missing women as “just hookers.”

“I agree it is not an appropriate comment. … I thought that it was a terrible remark to make,” he said.

Deputy Chief Unger, who served in that role from April 1, 2000, to Dec. 31, 2002, had wanted to characterize the women as missing, not murdered, Deputy Chief LePard also said. But Deputy Chief LePard dismissed the suggestion that the characterization reflected a dismissive attitude to the women. “It was clear to me that [Deputy Chief] Unger wanted them to be truly missing. He did not want to believe they were murdered,” Deputy Chief LePard said.

Commissioner Wally Oppal listened to the account of Deputy Chief Unger’s remarks without interruption. Unlike a criminal case, an inquiry is not restricted to firsthand information.

However, Sean Hern, a lawyer representing the Vancouver Police Department, told the inquiry later that Deputy Chief Unger denied “in the strongest terms” making the remarks. Deputy Chief Unger is expected to testify at the inquiry but a date has not been set. The hearings are to continue at least until the end of April.

Deputy Chief LePard told the inquiry that some senior police officers found it difficult to make the conceptual leap to conclude that the missing women had been murdered, he said.

“People wanted to see indisputable evidence that there had been a murder. Most investigations begin with a discovery of a murder and [police] backtrack from the murder, the crime scene, the physical evidence, the witness information,” he said.

“When there was none of that, it was difficult, in the absence of a witness, for example, for them to make the leap that [a serial killer preying on women] was actually what this was about,” he said.

“It may seem easy to see that, in hindsight, that the information was so compelling. But people struggled with that,” Deputy Chief LePard said.

Another factor was that some women reported missing were later found. Deputy Chief LePard cited examples of one woman who went missing in 1997, was reported missing a year later and found two years later in Arizona. Police found two missing women in Ontario, another who changed her name and two who had died, but not of foul play.

“That fed into the misconception police had – look, if we look hard enough, we are going to find them,” he said.

When compelling evidence was available in the summer of 1999, the Vancouver Police Department did not have strong leadership that accepted that a serial killer was preying on women, he said.

In addition to Deputy Chief Unger, Bruce Chambers, who was chief from August, 1997, to June, 1999, never fully accepted the serial-killer theory, Deputy Chief LePard said. Neither did Brian McGuiness, deputy chief from January, 1999, to March, 2000.

Investigators who had the best understanding of the issues, such as Constable Lori Shenher, had written memos about the possibility of a serial killer. But senior officers did not accept the information, he said.

© Copyright 2011 The Globe and Mail Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Vigil for missing mom

angeline-pete

Published: November 23, 2011 10:00 AM
Updated: November 23, 2011 10:31 AM

The Comox Valley Transition Society is sponsoring a vigil for Angeline Pete, a young aboriginal woman originally from Quatsino who’s been missing from her home in North Vancouver since May.

Family members say Angeline was beaten and “had her lip split open” the night before she went missing.

Police have since turned the case over to the serious crime unit.

There is grave concern about Pete’s well-being as she has not contacted family and friends and there has been no activity in her bank account.

Angeline grew up in Quatsino and has family and friends in the Comox Valley.

When Angeline’s cousin, Tracy Glover, recently  approached the Transition Society to ask for help with a vigil, “We knew right away this was something we wanted to support her with,” said Anne Davis, program co-ordinator at the Transition Society.

“Our agency works every day with women who have been assaulted, and with their families,” she said.

“More than 500 Canadian aboriginal women are missing and/or have been murdered over the last couple of decades.”

Angeline’s family held a press conference last month in front of the building where the Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry is reviewing the police investigation into the disappearance of scores of women from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

Angeline’s aunt said her niece was a free spirit, but “never a druggie” and always stayed in contact with her family.

There’s been recent information Angeline may have hitchhiked north through B.C. along Highway 16, the Highway of Tears where many aboriginal women have disappeared over the last few decades.

“We all miss her and want to bring her home safe and sound,” said cousin Tracy.

“She has a seven-year-old son who misses her a great deal and doesn’t understand why his mom isn’t around.”

The vigil will be held on the lawn of the Courtenay courthouse, 5 p.m  Nov. 23.

At least 18 women murdered after police had ‘solid’ evidence of serial killer: LePard

BY SUZANNE FOURNIER, THE PROVINCE NOVEMBER 23, 2011 7:19 AM

Angel Wolfe was only eight when told of her mother' Brenda Wolfe's death. She learned the grotesque details of Robert Pickton and his victims from the media.

Photograph by: Glenn Baglo, PNG

At least 18 women were killed by Robert Pickton after 1998, when Vancouver Police Deputy Chief Doug LePard has told the Missing Women Inquiry police had “solid, corroborating” eyewitness testimony that Pickton was killing women.

At trial, eyewitness Lynn Ellingsen said she and Pickton picked up a woman on the Downtown Eastside, believed to be Georgina Papin. Pickton took Papin back to the farm, hung her from a meat hook and gutted her.

Pickton’s life sentence for murdering six women was upheld in July 2010.

The DNA of 33 women was found on his farm and he boasted of killing 49 women to a police officer “cellmate” after his arrest in February 2002.

Most of the women linked by DNA remains to Pickton died after 1998. They are:

• Sereena Abotsway, last seen in August 2001.

• Heather Bottomley, 25 when she disappeared in April 2001.

• Heather Chinnock, also last seen in April 2001.

• Wendy Crawford, 43, disappeared in December 1999.

• Sarah DeVries, 29, whose April 1998 disappearance raised the profile of the missing women when her “friend” Wayne Leng postered and went on American TV.

• Tiffany Drew and Jennifer Lynn Furminger, who disappeared in December 1999.

• Inga Hall, last seen in February 1998.

• Angela Jardine, not seen since late 1998.

• Patrica Rose Johnson, 25, disappeared in March 2001.

• Andrea Joesbury died in June 2001, at only 22.

• Debra Lynne Jones, disappeared in late December 2000 at age 43.

• Kerry Koski, disappeared in January 1998.

• Jacqueline McDonell was 23 when she was last seen on Jan. 16, 1999.

• Georgina Faith Papin, 34, a vibrant Cree woman whose three sisters have attended much of Pickton’s trial and now the inquiry, died in 1999.

• Diane Rock, a beautiful blue-eyed social worker who was driven to drugs by domestic violence, was last heard from in October 2001, at the age of 34.

• Mona Wilson, whose sister Lisa Wilson has attended much of the inquiry, was last seen in November 2001.

• Brenda Ann Wolfe, whose daughter Angel Wolfe gave an emotional statement at the inquiry about her beloved mother, was 32 when last seen in February 1999.

Pickton was convicted of the murders of Abotsway, Wilson, Joesbury, Wolfe, Marnie Frey and Papin, while charges were stayed in 20 more counts.

sfournier@theprovince.com

© Copyright (c) The Province

 

http://www.theprovince.com/least+women+murdered+after+police+solid+evidence+serial+killer+LePard/5755125/story.html

Tuesday, November 22

Witness shocked Pickton testimony contradicted by Vancouver Police

frey_lynn

ROBERT MATAS
VANCOUVER – From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail
Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The stepmother of a woman killed by Robert Pickton says she is appalled by an attack on her credibility at the Pickton inquiry.

Lynn Frey says she stands by the testimony she gave at the Missing Women Inquiry last month about a phone call she made to police in 1998. She testified that she wanted to let them know about Robert Pickton’s pig farm after going out to the property in Port Coquitlam, B.C., in September, 1998.

Vancouver Deputy Chief Doug LePard, who conducted an internal review of the Vancouver Police Department investigation in the Pickton case, testified Tuesday he did not find any evidence of Ms. Frey calling police with information about the Pickton farm.

He found a reference to Ms. Frey speaking to Vancouver police Constable Lori Shenher about a wood chipper, which was subsequently located in a hotel basement. “But no such information regarding Pickton,” Deputy Chief LePard said.

Constable Shenher at that time was vigorously pursuing leads in the missing women case, he said. “[A call about the Pickton farm] would have been extremely important information and of great interest to her,” he said.

In an interview later, Ms. Frey said she was shocked. “I know what I did. I am not stupid,” she said. “We phoned her and told her what we found out.”

Ms. Frey’s stepdaughter, Marnie, was last seen in September, 1997. While searching for her the following summer, Ms. Frey met someone who had a tape recording of a woman saying that the missing women from the Downtown Eastside would never be found. Ms. Frey told the inquiry that the voice on the tape recording said: “Willie’s got them and he has a pig farm.”

Ms. Frey testified that she drove out to the farm with Joyce Lachance, who knew where Willie, the pig farmer, lived. Ms. Frey recalled trying to climb a fence around the Pickton property and being chased away by dogs.

Ms. Frey said she phoned Constable Shenher the following day to tell her about the farm. Ms. Frey said she was told not to play cop and she should not go to the farm.

Her husband, Rick Frey, said he expected the inquiry will hear evidence later that will bolster Ms. Frey’s testimony.

Ms. Lachance, who has not testified at the inquiry, said in an interview she also recalled the phone call to Constable Shenher on the day after going out to the farm. “For [Deputy Chief LePard] to say that, that really hurts me,” Ms. Lachance said.

“It just tells me, these women meant nothing to them … no one cared,” Ms. Lachance said.

At the inquiry, Deputy Chief LePard also challenged testimony indicating that Vancouver Constable Dave Dickson ignored calls to look for missing prostitute Tiffany Drew after she disappeared. Elaine Allan, who worked at a prostitute’s drop-in centre, testified she was certain her conversations with Constable Dickson were in 1999, not in 2000.

However, Vancouver police spoke to Ms. Drew on Mar. 10, 2000, according to a report that Deputy Chief LePard said he had seen. Ms. Drew went missing in March, 2000, and her DNA was later found on the Pickton farm. Mr. Pickton was charged with first-degree murder of Ms. Drew and 19 others, but the charges were stayed.

Deputy Chief LePard also contradicted testimony of prostitute Susan Davis that police failed to respond to a call after she was raped around January, 1991. He said he did not find any records of a 911 call from Ms. Davis in a review of all 911 calls related to a sexual assault from November, 1990, to the end of February, 1991.

The inquiry was appointed to look into the police investigation in the Pickton case from 1997 to his arrest in February, 2002. Mr. Pickton was convicted of the second-degree murder of Ms. Frey and five others in 2007. The inquiry hearings are expected to continue into next spring.

© Copyright 2011 The Globe and Mail Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Cops watched porn, skipped work instead of investigating missing women: Galliford

Galliford; is going to blow this inquiry wide open," says sister of Pickton murder victim

BY SUZANNE FOURNIER, THE PROVINCENOVEMBER 22, 2011 10:04 PM

RCMP Corporal Catherine Galliford, left, said she will speak on behalf of victims at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.

Photograph by: Jason Payne, Province

RCMP Cpl. Catherine Galliford, the former calm, professional voice and face of the Missing Women Task Force, said Tuesday she knows her evidence will be “explosive” when she appears at theMissing Women Commission of Inquiry.

Galliford, 44, is slated to testify at the inquiry in January, but says she won’t be testifying for the RCMP, but rather on behalf of the victims.

In an interview, and in a 115-page statement given to the RCMP, Galliford said top Mounties had “enough evidence for a search warrant” of serial killer Robert Pickton’s farm in 1999. From 1999 to 2002 14 women were brutally murdered by Pickton, a fact that haunts Galliford.

She says she will testify that both RCMP and VPD officers, even after the Missing Women Task Force was formed in 2001, engaged in sexual liaisons and harassment, watched porn and left work early “to go drinking and partying.”

“The saddest part of this is that the women who were killed were the most vulnerable people in our society, other than children,” she said.

“I will not be testifying on behalf of the RCMP at the inquiry,” she said, saying her first concern is for people whose loved ones didn’t have to die.

“Tell the families,” said Galliford, her voice breaking, in an interview with The Province on Tuesday. “I’ve got their back.”

Galliford’s statement to the RCMP contains serious allegations that have not been proven.

Galliford, who has been off work for four years with post-traumatic stress disorder, is agoraphobic and reluctant to leave home, but is taking Veterans Affairs’ medical aid, and is “finally healing” and plans to go to law school.

Galliford said she was constantly sexually harassed and bullied by some RCMP officers, although she emphasizes that she also worked with “many fine police officers, both men and women, who cared deeply about missing women.”

Galliford agrees with the conclusions of Peel, Ont., Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans, who has reported to the inquiry that top RCMP and VPD officers on the missing women case displayed “a lack of leadership and commitment.”

When very junior RCMP Const. Nathan Wells finally obtained a firearms search warrant on Feb. 5, 2002, for the Pickton farm, Galliford said, she confronted a top RCMP officer, telling him, “You’ve known this since 1999.”

The officer, who is also slated to testify, ignored her, she said.

“He is a misogynist, which is probably why he blew off the missing women investigation,” said Galliford, noting he got rid of other female officers.

One of the women he “bumped out” had developed a “brilliant protocol” to identify the women’s remains through DNA obtained from Pap smears, she said.

Perhaps the most chilling thing that happened to her, Galliford said, came after the gruesome details had begun to emerge about how Pickton butchered women and scattered their remains at his Port Coquitlam farm or dumped them at an East Vancouver rendering plant, West Coast Reduction.

A group of RCMP personnel were, she said, constantly “making jokes about sex toys,” laughing and giving each other “fist bumps.”

The officers, Galliford alleged, wanted to tell her about “their fantasy.”

“They wanted to see Willie Pickton escape from prison, track me down and strip me naked, string me up on a meat hook and gut me like a pig,” said Galliford, who also recounted the episode in her formal statement to RCMP.

Galliford said one officer did not join in and also was horrified. “He just looked at me, like, ‘Holy crap.’ He didn’t last, either.”

Galliford said she does not want to publicly name the officers to avoid legal repercussions and to help focus on the needs of the victims’ families to finally achieve justice.

Lilliane Beaudoin, whose sister, Dianne Rock, was confined, beaten and raped twice at the Pickton farm before Pickton finally murdered her in October 2001, predicts Galliford “is going to blow this inquiry wide open.”

“My sister would be alive today, along with 13 other women, if the RCMP and VPD cared enough about women going missing from the Downtown Eastside,” said a visibly upset Beaudoin as she read Galliford’s report late Tuesday.

“The real story of why the police let Pickton keep killing our sisters and daughters, when they had evidence about him almost murdering a sex worker at his farm back in 1997, is going to come out, for sure. We are waiting.”

At least 18 women were killed by Pickton after 1998. Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard has told the Missing Women Inquiry that by then police had “solid, corroborating” eyewitness and informant evidence that Pickton was killing women.

The inquiry is looking into how the VPD failed to stop Pickton from abducting women from 1997 until 2002, when Coquitlam RCMP finally arrested Pickton.

sfournier@theprovince.com

© Copyright (c) The Province

Pickton knew he was under surveillance during killing spree: Senior officer

BY NEAL HALL, POSTMEDIA NEWS NOVEMBER 22, 2011 10:06 PM

Robert Pickton continued his killing spree even though he knew he was under surveillance two years before his arrest, Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard told the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry Tuesday.

Photograph by: Bill Keay, PNG

VANCOUVER — Robert Pickton continued his killing spree even though he knew he was under surveillance two years before his arrest, a Vancouver inquiry heard Tuesday.

Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard told the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry Tuesday that Pickton was their prime suspect by 1999.

LePard testified the police had an "inadequate response" to the disappearance of dozens of women from Vancouver's troubled Downtown Eastside.

"I think the ineptness was after the summer of 1999," he said, adding police failed to provide sufficient resources and make the investigation a high priority.

The inquiry is investigating why it took Vancouver police and RCMP until 2002 to catch Pickton when they were receiving detailed tips as far back as 1998.

Pickton, 62, is serving a life sentence for the murders of six women. He was charged initially with killing 20 more but those charges were stayed in 2010.

The serial killer has been linked by DNA to the deaths of 33 women and has boasted to an undercover police officer that he killed at least 16 more.

Up until the summer of 1999, police did a good job investigating the disappearances, LePard said, citing the "heroic efforts" of Const. Lori Shenher of the Vancouver police missing person unit, who had by then identified Pickton as the prime suspect.

But the investigation stalled as police began looking at 500 other possible suspects, he told inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal.

Police missed many opportunities to solve the case after that time, LePard said.

Earlier, the inquiry heard how Vancouver police investigated three important tips in 1998 and 1999 that suggested Pickton had a farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C., where he killed at least one woman and had the ability to dispose of human remains in a grinder.

Two sources told police that a woman they knew, Lynn Ellingsen, had witnessed Pickton butchering a woman's body in his barn, where he often killed pigs.

LePard said Vancouver police investigated the information and passed it along to the Coquitlam RCMP because Pickton lived in their jurisdiction and the murders were reportedly committed there.

Pickton wasn't arrested until Feb. 5, 2002 by a rookie Coquitlam RCMP officer who executed a search warrant to look for illegal weapons.

The officer immediately found identification from some of the dozens of missing women who had disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

LePard said Tuesday that 13 women disappeared between 1999 and Pickton's February 2002 arrest and the DNA of 11 of the women was found on the farm.

In December 2000, the Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP formed a joint forces operation known as the Missing Women Task Force, which was headed by RCMP Staff-Sgt. Don Adam.

Cameron Ward, the lawyer for the families of the missing and murdered women, suggested to LePard that Adam had served some years with the Coquitlam, B.C., detachment and had some knowledge of the Pickton and his brother David.

The officer recalled that Adam had referred to the brothers as "ne're do wells" and petty thieves who seemed like a couple of banjo-playing hillbillies out of the movie Deliverance.

Ward suggested two detectives learned by July 1999 that Willie Pickton held illegal cockfights on his property, attended by up to 40 people who made bets, almost every weekend in the summer.

He added that police could have executed a search warrant on the property to let Pickton know police were watching him, which may have saved the lives of some women.

But LePard said Pickton, by that time, knew he was under surveillance at times and continued to kill women, making it a complex investigation.

He also said police couldn't enter the property with one search warrant to investigate suspected murders.

nhall@vancouversun.com

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Monday, November 21

Botched Pickton investigation 'a tragedy like no other in Canadian history': Report

BY SUZANNE FOURNIER, THE PROVINCE NOVEMBER 21, 2011 8:07 PM

Vancouver Police officer Doug LePard during break as he testifies at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.

Photograph by: GLENN BAGLO, PNG

An Ontario police officer’s scathing report calls the botched B.C. police investigation into the murders of dozens of Vancouver women “a tragedy like no other in Canadian history.”

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry has heard much about the indictment of cops by Peel Regional police Deputy Chief Jennifer Evans, but her massive report wasn’t made public until Monday.

“My review of the investigations has revealed the difficulties that existed for police were delayed reporting, a lack of traditional physical evidence and a misunderstanding of the lifestyle of the victims,” Evans concluded.

After many detailed interviews, with unprecedented access, Evans excoriates individual Vancouver police and RCMP officers, but mostly police leadership.

Evans noted that individual Vancouver Police Department officers, like Det. Const. Lori Shenher and Sgt. Geramy Field, were “heroic” in their efforts to bring forward to their bosses informant and eyewitness evidence about serial killer Robert Pickton.

But VPD top brass, including successive chief constables Bruce Chambers and Terry Blythe and other senior managers, were bogged down by infighting.

The VPD mantra was a “recurring theme of no body, no evidence, no crime,” noted Evans.

Meanwhile, the VPD and RCMP had clear evidence as early as 1998 that Pickton was picking up sex workers on the Downtown Eastside, butchering them and disposing their bodies at his farm and at West Coast Reduction.

The VPD and the RCMP had “strong, corroborating evidence” from “independent sources” as early as 1998 about Pickton from informants Bill Hiscox, Ron Menard, Ross Caldwell and Leah Best, as well as eyewitness Lynn Ellingsen, said Evans.

Noting that although “in hindsight, it appears easy to see a clear path to Pickton,” Evans said the police made massive errors, “not out of malice, but rather, from a lack of leadership and commitment.”

On the stand Monday, Vancouver Deputy Chief Doug LePard, author of the VPD’s own report into the missing women case, praised Evans’ report, which he said was “98 per cent” in agreement with his findings.

“The VPD could have done more to be proactive on the safety issues,” he said.

Evans noted the RCMP kept “reviewing files” while Pickton kept killing.

“Both the VPD and the RCMP initially failed to recognize” the serial murders were still happening, said Evans. “When they did, they failed to act inappropriately and accept ownership.”

On Monday morning, Inquiry Commissioner Wally Oppal blasted the leak of Evans’report on Friday night to a TV reporter.

Oppal agreed to release Evans’ report to the media and public later Monday after objections from The Province and five other major media outlets.

Meanwhile, lawyer Cameron Ward, acting for 20 missing women’s families, called Evans’ report a “whitewash” by an “insider member of the police fraternity.”

Ward opposed Evans as an “expert” witness, despite her 28 years of policing on complex matters, including the Paul Bernardo investigation.

The public inquiry continues until Dec. 1, then will resume in January until the end of April.

sfournier@theprovince.com

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