VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Addict who survived Pickton attack told she wasn't credible, inquiry hears
BY SAM COOPER, THE PROVINCE FEBRUARY 06, 2012
One of the key questions of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry — why attempted murder charges were dropped against Robert Pickton after a lone victim escaped following a bloody battle — was answered Monday.
After hearing from the VPD’s lead investigator into the missing women last week — Det. Const. Lori Shenher — this week Coquitlam RCMP’s lead Pickton investigator Cpl. Mike Connor is on the stand.
Shenher had said she still does not know why charges against Pickton were dropped for the attempted murder of a victim known to the inquiry as “Ms. Anderson.”
She broke free from handcuffs at Pickton’s trailer on March 23, 1997 at 1:45 a.m., and escaped after a bloody knife fight with him, the inquiry has heard.
RCMP collected Pickton’s blood-spattered clothing, a used condom, handcuffs and bandages, but never had them tested for DNA. Charges of attempted murder were dropped in January 1998 by Port Coquitlam Crown counsel.
Shenher said after receiving a tip about Pickton she tracked the woman down in August 1998, and was told “they told me I wasn’t credible . . . on account of me being an addict.”
On Monday Connor said he was abruptly told by Crown in January 1998 that the woman was not credible because she was severely addicted to heroin, and had missed a number of meetings with Crown.
Connor said he was never consulted by Crown before the charges on Pickton were dropped, and if asked he would have tracked down Ms. Anderson to insure she gave evidence and attended court.
Appealing the decision was one of the moves he wishes he would have made in hindsight, Connor said.
“I think about this file daily,” said Connor, now retired.
Connor was asked about a piece of Pickton’s clothing collected from the attack on Anderson, which sat in an RCMP evidence locker without being DNA tested until 2005. Testing showed the blood of two missing women, including Cara Ellis.
“Do you know why the (Anderson) clothing was not,” DNA analyzed? Connor was asked.
“Frankly, I never thought to do that,” he responded.
In the gallery Lori-Ann Ellis, sister to Cara Ellis, gasped loudly.
Interviewed outside court, she said: “This was news to me today. I was stunned that someone of (Connor’s) rank wouldn’t think to test for DNA.”
Connor and Shenher have both testified that each other was passionate and engaged in the pursuit of Pickton.
But their evidence about how to deal with Bill Hiscox, a key informant who came forward in August 1998, doesn’t exactly mesh.
Hiscox was Shenher’s source, and he told both officers that Pickton was picking up sex workers in Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster and taking them to his farm to kill and dispose of.
“He was angry,” Connor said. “He had a conscience, and he wanted to do what was necessary to put (Pickton) in jail.”
Hiscox got most of his information from Pickton’s long-time best friend, Lisa Yelds, according to Connor. It was thought that police couldn’t file a warrant on Pickton using Hiscox’s information because it was second-hand. But there were problems with approaching Yelds directly. She was described as a “cop-hater . . . biker, in all senses of the word . . . (and a) Nazi,” according to Connor.
However Hiscox offered in late 1998 to act as a police agent and introduce an undercover agent to Yelds.
Connor said “it was a good idea” and he would have followed through, but Shenher told him that she had lost track of Hiscox. The last word in March 1999 was Hiscox “couldn’t help” because of personal issues, according to Connor.
Meanwhile, victims’ family lawyer Cameron Ward clashed angrily with other lawyers over allegations that the commission is enabling a police “coverup” and lack of evidence disclosure.
Commissioner Wally Oppal said the allegation is baseless.
Vancouver Police lawyer Tim Dixon angrily rejected the allegation.
Ward, in an interview outside the hearing, said he wants to see an unpublished “true crime” book about a “serial murderer investigation” which was penned by Shenher, but hasn’t been disclosed yet.
Ward said he believes the VPD blocked the book’s publication in 2003, after first denying its existence to reporters.
Ward will learn on Tuesday whether the book manuscript, which Shenher has admitted writing as a “cathartic” experience, will be released to inquiry lawyers.
“The book has to be a gold mine of relevant information,” Ward said. “To have it not come forward is concerning to me.”
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Updated: September 16, 2014