How Canadian Police Overlooked a Serial Killer
Back in December 2011, while producing an article about the state of First Nations women in Canada we interviewed Anishinaabe activist Audrey Huntley. She gave us some valuable insights into Vancouver’s infamous crime and drug-riddled Eastside, then told us something we couldn’t believe: “I have a friend who went to the cops in 1998 and told them about Robert Pickton’s whole farm. They called her a ‘junkie ho.’” For the record, police didn’t catch Pickton, the so-called “Pig Farmer Killer,” until 2002.
Not only was her friend right, but now she’s backed up by the recently released missing women inquiry, undertaken by former B.C. Appeal Court Justice and B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal, which found some pretty damning evidence of gross negligence on the part of cops during the investigation of Pickton. As in, they were outright told about a psycho who was killing prostitutes on his pig farm in Port Coquitlam and they did absolutely nothing about it.
The report was spurred on by public complaints against the mishandling of the Pickton case by the Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP. After two years of proceedings it’s now a 1,448-page document (and obviously a total bummer), so we decided to give you some of Oppal’s more important findings to spare you the details:
Oppal delivering his report to the public.
- Between 1998 and 1999, four people told police about Pickton’s alleged activities. Informant Lynn Ellingsen even said she saw Pickton butchering a woman in his slaughterhouse. Apparently Police didn’t act because these witnesses were potential drug addicts and often changed their stories.
- Police failed to connect the huge and very obvious dots. When Pickton was charged with the attempted murder of a sex worker in 1997, an episode which somehow was not considered a warning sign for cops when he was then implicated as a serial killer by four people in 1998.
- Some senior VPD officials refused to consider there was a serial killer in their midst even when their own officer, geographic profiler Kim Rossmo, theorized it as early as 1998 and wanted to warn the public about it.
- When the families of missing women attempted to file missing person reports they faced what Oppal called “degrading and insensitive treatment” by police. In some cases they were told their daughters were transient drug addicts, probably perfectly fine, or on vacation and out partying. READ MORE