Murderer, or emotionally disturbed victim?
With a hint of pride, pig farmer William Robert Pickton, tells police the only reason he got caught was because he got “sloppy at the end”.
A pig farmer by trade, Robert William Pickton of Port Coquitlam BC, stood before the courts charged with the first degree murders of twenty-six women. Pickton stood trial for six of the murders, yet on the first day of his trial it was alleged that Robert Pickton confessed to an undercover cop that he was one kill short of 50. Pickton stated to the police officer that he didn’t get his goal and was only caught because he had gotten “sloppy”.
His goal? Just what was this self-professed, cold-blooded killer out to accomplish?
This was a man who was well known to police for his outrageous parties and obnoxious behaviour. Pickton threw wild parties on his property under the guise of a registered charity called the “Piggy Palace Good Times Society.” The so-called non-profit society had an official mandate to “organize, co-ordinate, manage and operate special events, functions, dances, shows and exhibitions on behalf of service organizations, sports organizations and other worthy groups.”
According to court evidence these ‘events’ were hardly more than wild rave parties, complete with downtown east-side prostitutes; the favoured targets of Pickton. Pickton was arrested during an investigation into illegal firearms on his property. Police later obtained a second search warrant as part of the larger ‘BC Missing Women Investigation‘. This resulted in the discovery of personal items belonging to a missing woman being found on his property. The investigation then turned more serious.
Police combed every inch of Pickton’s pig farm and other property belonging to Pickton. It was a tedious task to uncover any more evidence, as it was alleged that Pickton fed his victims to his pigs. It was also alleged that Pickton may have compounded human flesh with ground pork from his farm, and later given it out to friends and other visitors to the farm.
Before the courts, Pickton pleaded not guilty to all charges of first-degree murder. Of the forty nine murders he was investigated for, Pickton ended up with eight sticking. Pickton was on trial for six of the murders, with evidence getting some cases dropped. It was on the first day of his trial it was alleged that Robert Pickton confessed to an undercover cop that he was one kill short of 50. Pickton smirked when the verdict was read, and second degree murder was reached in a few counts.
Early on in the trial, witness Andrew Bellwood told the jury that Pickton confessed to him he would strangle his victims while he had sex with them, gut and butcher them in his slaughterhouse and feed some remains to his pigs. Pickton has acknowledged the bodies were found on his property, but denied killing them.
Later, the accused serial killer Robert Pickton described how he killed prostitutes after having sex with them and used his pigs to help dispose of the remains. Prosecution witness Andrew Bellwood, who lived briefly at Pickton’s farm, testified that Pickton showed him handcuffs and play-acted as he described stroking their hair and telling them everything would be okay, “it’s over now”. Bellwood said Pickton told him that after butchering the dead women in the farm’s slaughterhouse, he fed some of the remains to his pigs. Any remains the pigs did not eat were put into a container and taken to an animal rendering plant.
As proceedings continued relentlessly, the star witness in the trial of an accused Canadian serial killer offered graphic testimony at his trial in British Columbia. Lynn Ellingsen told the court that she walked into the barn at Robert Pickton’s pig farm to find him covered in blood and a woman’s body hanging from a chain. Ellingsen, a former sex worker, said she recognized the woman’s body as that of a prostitute they had picked up earlier that night. She did not say when the event occurred.
Pickton told a friend he was not a murderer and that a female acquaintance of his was responsible for at least some killings, the Canadian court heard. In another bizarre twist, Pickton blamed the murders of prostitutes whose bodies were found on his Vancouver-area pig farm on Dinah Taylor, who spent time at his property, his friend Gina Houston told the court under questioning by Pickton’s lawyer. Houston, a friend of Pickton’s for more than a decade, said Pickton made the comments in a February 20, 2002, conversation that happened after police raided his farm but before he was formally charged with any of the murders. “Willie told me that she would take responsibility for what she said she would take responsibility for,” Houston said.
Jurors in the trial of a farmer accused of killing 26 women watched videotaped interviews in which he denies knowing the victims and asks a police officer: “Do I look like a murderer?” He was accused of luring women to his pig farm outside Vancouver, where investigators say he threw drunken raves with prostitutes and drugs. In the videotape shown, Pickton is slumped in his chair, often with his head in his hands as he is interviewed by Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Bill Fordy.
Fordy is seen telling Pickton a “huge amount” of blood was in his trailer on the farm. “That’s human blood, lots of it,” Fordy says. “That’s Mona Wilson’s blood. This is where she’d been dumped. There’s DNA all over the place; it’s on the floors, it’s on the walls.”
“But that don’t mean I did it,” Pickton says.
Finally, after more than nine days and into the second weekend, the jury reached a verdict: Pickton was found guilty on six counts of second-degree murder, but not guilty on six counts of first-degree murder. Many in the courtroom were stunned and disappointed. While Pickton will receive a life sentence, he could be eligible for parole in ten years. The jury left this decision in the hands of the judge. The verdict meant that the jury either did not believe that Pickton had planned the murders or that he had acted on his own, although they clearly did believe that he was involved. The problem for the jurors considering the first degree conviction was the absence of an obvious ‘smoking gun’.
Getting to the point here, we should pose the question; is Pickton really a cold-blooded murderer, or a victim of his upbringing and society? He has been quoted as saying things such as the references to his apparent notoriety repeatedly, saying “I’m a legend already.” Later in transcripts, Pickton says, “You must have heard about me from the … news or the paper. Everybody knows about me, right?” He continues: “The whole f–king world knows me, all the way to Hong Kong everywheres.” And again, things like – “Now they are trying to charge me for 50 murders. Fifty f–king murders.” … But later, Pickton says he was “gonna do one more, make it an even 50.”
He also complains the investigation has ruined his life, saying, “I’m buried now” and “I hear I’m dead.” He laments police taking “everything away from you, everything you worked for.” When asked by the undercover officer what evidence police have against him, he says they found DNA and “old carcasses.” He also refers to a “rendering plant” while discussing ways to dispose of things. Pickton reveals details of his life growing up, talking about working on the pig farm and saying his family lived in a chicken coop when he was two years old. He tells the informant he has no vices, saying, “I don’t do drugs, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink … I am just a farm boy.”
Apparently, we have a man who is either delusional, or grasping at an insanity plea ..
What is your take on this shambles? Here, we have not only other innocent victims of a debauched society, but is Pickton to be counted among the victims as well? Or is Pickton a manipulative and conniving murderer, who killed his victims in cold blood? Also, how do you feel about the fact that this ‘man’ will soon be eligible to walk our streets again .. free to claim his ‘victim number 50’?
Pickton’s trial commenced on January 30, 2006 in New Westminster. Pickton pleaded not guilty to 27 charges of first-degree murder in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The “trial within a trial” (determine the admissibility of evidence) phase of the trial took most of the year to decide what evidence may be admitted before the jury. On March 2, one of the 27 counts was rejected by Justice James Williams for lack of evidence.
On August 9, Justice Williams severed the charges, splitting them into one group of six counts and another group of twenty counts. The trial proceeded on the group of six counts. The remaining 20 counts could have been heard in a separate trial, but ultimately were stayed on August 4, 2010. Because of the publication ban, full details of the decision are not publicly available; but the judge has explained that trying all 26 charges at once would put an unreasonable burden on the jury, as the trial could last up to two years, and have an increased chance for a mistrial. The judge also added that the six counts he chose had “materially different” evidence from the other 20.
The date for the jury trial of the first six counts was initially set to start January 8, 2007, but later delayed to January 22. On that date, Pickton faced first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Frey, Abotsway, Papin, Joesbury, Wolfe and Wilson. The media ban was lifted and for the first time Canadians heard the details of what was found during the long investigation: skulls cut in half with hands and feet stuffed inside; the remains of one victim found stuffed in a garbage bag, and her blood-stained clothing found in Pickton’s trailer; part of another victim’s jawbone and teeth found beside Pickton’s slaughterhouse; and a .22 caliber revolver with an attached dildo containing both his and a victim’s DNA. In a videotaped recording played for the jury, Pickton claimed to have attached the dildo to his weapon as a makeshift silencer.
As of February 20, 2007, the following information had been presented to the court:
- During Pickton’s trial, lab staff testified that about 80 unidentified DNA profiles, roughly half male and half female, have shown up on evidence.
- The items police found inside Pickton’s trailer: A loaded .22 revolver with a dildo over the barrel and one round fired, boxes of .357 Magnum handgun ammunition, night-vision goggles, two pairs of faux fur-lined handcuffs, a syringe with three milliliters of blue liquid inside, and “Spanish fly” aphrodisiac.
- A videotape of Pickton’s friend Scott Chubb saying Pickton had told him a good way to kill a female heroin addict was to inject her with windshield washer fluid. A second tape was played for Pickton, in which an associate named Andrew Bellwood said Pickton mentioned killing prostitutes by handcuffing and strangling them, then bleeding and gutting them before feeding them to pigs.
- Photos of the contents of a garbage can found in Pickton’s slaughterhouse, which held some remains of Mona Wilson.
In October 2007, a juror was accused of having made up her mind already that Pickton was innocent. The trial judge questioned the juror, saying “It’s reported to me you said from what you had seen you were certain Mr. Pickton was innocent, there was no way he could have done this. That the court system had arrested the wrong guy.” The juror denied this completely. Justice Williams ruled that she could remain on the jury since it had not been proven she made the statements.
Justice James Williams suspended jury deliberations on December 6, 2007 after he discovered an error in his charge to the jury. Earlier in the day, the jury had submitted a written question to Justice James requesting clarification of his charge, asking “Are we able to say ‘yes’ [i.e., find Pickton guilty] if we infer the accused acted indirectly?”
On December 9, 2007, the jury returned a verdict that Pickton is not guilty on 6 counts of first-degree murder, but is guilty on 6 counts of second-degree murder. A second-degree murder conviction carries a punishment of a life sentence, with no possibility of parole for a period between 10 to 25 years, to be set by the trial judge. On December 11, 2007, after reading 18 victim impact statements, British Columbia Supreme Court Judge Justice James Williams sentenced Pickton to life with no possibility of parole for 25 years—the maximum punishment for second-degree murder, and equal to the sentence which would have been imposed for a first-degree murder conviction. “Mr. Pickton’s conduct was murderous and repeatedly so. I cannot know the details but I know this: What happened to them was senseless and despicable,” said Justice Williams in passing the sentence.