Friday, February 8, 2002

Break in case?

Cops search B.C. farm for clues to missing women


PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. -- A man close to the campaign to find Vancouver's 50 missing women says he tipped police off about a pig farm here several years ago, but feels they ignored his warning.

The accusation came as police revealed yesterday that the task force set up to investigate the missing women -- mostly prostitutes -- was searching a ramshackle farm here, about 35 km from Vancouver.

RCMP Const. Catherine Galliford said a search warrant related to firearms was issued for the farm on Tuesday.


Robert William Pickton, 52, has been charged with storing a firearm contrary to regulations, possession of a firearm while not being holder of a licence and possession of a loaded restricted firearm without a licence. Police said Pickton was not being held in custody.

"We do anticipate that we're going to have to do some excavation but at this particular time that's not the stage of the search that we're at," Galliford said.

She said the search of the four-hectare farm, which has a house, barn, trailer and other outbuildings, could take months. More than three dozen officers were on the scene.

The allegation of a missed tip came from Wayne Leng, who has been a tireless campaigner to get police to work harder looking for the missing women since his close friend disappeared off the streets in Vancouver's notorious red-light district years ago.

Sarah deVries, who sometimes shared Leng's home, disappeared in 1998 after Leng had driven her downtown, where she worked as a prostitute to support her heroin addiction.

During his ceaseless campaigns, Leng opened up a hot-line for tips. Among some harrowing calls he received came a call from "Bill."

"This man, who couldn't give me any more identity than Bill, told me a prostitute he knew had been taken to a big pig farm at Port Coquitlam, where she had been badly assaulted," Leng said.

"What's more, the prostitute had told Bill she had seen numerous items of women's clothing and pieces of women's identity cards all over the place."

Leng found it chilling that even as police were setting up their perimeter fencing round part of the pig farm yesterday they stumbled on a woman's black purse half hidden under a bush.


"That's almost the kind of thing Bill described," he said.

In 1998, Leng passed all this information over to Vancouver city police, together with details of how they could contact Bill, but Leng never heard any more about the tip.

At the pig farm yesterday, a friendly Rottweiler roamed the property. A sign on the gate warned: This Property Protected by a pit bull with AIDS.

A neighbour said he wondered about some night-time activities at the farm.

"Just late-night activities," the man, who identified himself only as Scott, said. "Excavators going in and out. Lights in the back late at night."

Police began alerting families of the missing women Wednesday night that a break in the case could be close.

The disappearances began in the early 1980s but the task force was set up only three years ago.

Courtesy of Sun Media 

February 10, 2002

Does pig farm hold key to city woman's fate?

By RACHEL EVANS -- Edmonton Sun

 It will be a tragic end to a tragic life if police scouring a B.C. pig farm confirm the death of Edmonton-born Georgina Papin, says an aunt who wants closure on her disappearance.

 Edmonton's Pauline Papin said even though her niece Georgina was addicted to heroin, living on the Vancouver streets, and ill when they last spoke, she never would have gone over two years without calling if she were alive.

 But she hopes her niece didn't meet a terrible end at the Port Coquitlam pig farm police are searching in relation to the cases of 50 missing Vancouver women - including Georgina.

 "I keep reading the paper, listening to the news ever since this," said a tearful Papin, sister to the missing woman's deceased father. "If she's gone, at least it will be closure for the family instead of wondering if she's alive or whatever happened to her."

 Papin said she tried to report her niece - who'd be 37 now - missing to RCMP in 2000.

 "She kept in contact with me," Papin said, sobbing. "She wasn't living a good lifestyle at the time. Her oldest daughter was saying 'it's not like my mom not to phone me on Christmas and on my birthday. She always has in the past.' Now, it's nothing for two, going on three, years."

 Georgina's eldest child, a 16-year-old daughter, lives in Nevada with her paternal grandparents, and the missing woman has other children who were not in her care at the time she went missing. Her youngest kids are playschool-aged twin girls who live with their father, Georgina's estranged husband, in B.C.

 Papin said her troubled niece had spent time in jail, and had a hard life even before she was last seen in the company of a man in March 1999.

 "Everything went down for her so she was having a hard time coping," she said.

 "The last time she called me was in 1999. That's why I got really worried about her. She told me she wasn't feeling well. She was living on the street. She asked me to take care of her twins, that they were in care. I was unable to, so she was going to try to get hold of her husband and see if he could take the twins."

 Just after that, Georgina spoke to her eldest daughter and told the family she had pneumonia and was going to try and get some help for her addiction.

 "We all think she's gone," Papin said.

 "I have this feeling that she's not around anymore. I'm kind of hoping she's still alive in my mind, but I do feel something did happen to her. It's so hard, the not knowing."

Courtesy of the Edmonton Sun 

Unsolved serial killer files a frustration for cops in B.C., Washington state

Canadian Press

Sunday, February 10, 2002

PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. (CP) - Fifty missing in Vancouver, 49 dead just across the border in the Pacific Northwest. There may be no obvious links between the Green River killings of prostitutes in the Seattle area and missing sex-trade workers from Vancouver's gritty skid row, but investigators face similar daunting challenges.

As Canadian police sift through dirt and gravel at a suburban pig farm just east of Vancouver, a spokesman for the Green River task force says he understands the geographic proximity - less than three hours' drive - would make people speculate about a connection.

"Everybody is trying to read more into this than they probably should at this point," says Sgt. John Urquhart of the King County sheriff's office.

"We've got the largest unsolved serial killing case in the United States and I have to assume that your missing Vancouver prostitutes is the largest in Canada, so they want to link them up. Maybe they're linked and maybe they're not. Most likely, they're not.

"There's lots of serial killers out there. We don't necessarily have just one in Green River."

Vancouver investigators compared notes with Washington state detectives in December after the arrest of a 52-year-old truck painter in connection with four of the 49 slayings. Customs checks have not yet determined if Gary Ridgway had ever been to Vancouver.

Canadian police have not said if they have a suspect in mind.

Urquhart says what's similar is the world the victims inhabited, mingling with "the dangerous underbelly of society."

"These are the ones living from drug high to drug high, doing oral sex for $20 or less to get by," he says. "That's the type of hooker (who) is most vulnerable."

There are missing and dead prostitutes all over North America, but no one has totalled them up, says Urquhart.

Missing prostitutes who become murder victims are a nightmare for police. It may be weeks or months before someone reports that they are not around. By then, recollections have been muddied by time, drug use or simple distrust of investigators.

"Police have been struggling with how to get information in prostitute murders since Jack the Ripper," says Bob Keppel, a former member of the Green River task force who has been involved in more than 50 serial-killer cases.

"We get lucky every once in a while. We have improving forensic techniques that have aided in the Green River cases . . . and there's hope that the solution could be around the corner."

The U.S. case has baffled investigators since 1982, when the bodies of prostitutes and hitchhikers began turning up in or along the Green River, just south of Seattle. Forty-five of the killings - which stopped in 1984 - remain unsolved.

Vancouver's street walkers started disappearing in 1983, the last in November of 2001. No bodies have ever been found, although many family members believe their sisters and daughters are dead.

No one has been charged in the Vancouver disappearances. Police have said they are looking at upwards of 600 possible suspects in their investigation.

That was before they sealed off a pig farm last week, the scene of wild parties dating back years. Police won't confirm reports that identification and personal effects of some of the missing women have been found.

Up to 40 forensic experts have been on the site at any given time in a gathering process they warn will be slow and arduous.

"If it is a crime scene they have to treat the place like it's an archaeological dig," says Keppel. "They're not going to have a lot of answers."

The pig farm search has drawn attention from Seattle-area media, who began arriving just hours after it became known police felt they had make a break in the case.

At one point there were about 20 reporters and television crews from American outlets running regular updates on the search. But that interest had dwindled by Saturday after police warned they could be at the site for months.

Urquhart says Seattle investigators will likely come up to discuss what's been found, but notes the Vancouver police are focused on their own search right now.

"At some point we'll be looking to see if there's a connection, but there's no hurry," he says.

A list of some of the world's most notorious serial killers in recent years.

Andrei Chikatilo: Commonly known as the Rostov Ripper, the former teacher raped and killed 52 children and women during a 12-year rampage, searching for victims in train and bus stations. At his 1992 trial, Chikatilo, who was married with children, admitted to killing at least 55. He would boil and eat the sawn-off testicles or nipples of his victims, often not bothering to kill them before beginning the butchery. He was executed near Moscow in 1994.


Anatoly Onoprienko: The Ukrainian man was convicted of 52 murders committed between 1989 and 1996. He admitted to all 52 murders, some of which included slaughtering whole families, including infants and the elderly. Onoprienko claimed he was driven by strange voices.


Ted Bundy: - The law school dropout was convicted of three Florida slayings, including the murder of a 12-year-old girl. Authorities considered him a suspect in the killings of 36 women, mostly in the northwest United States. He would slip into the bedrooms of his victims and rape and torture them. He was executed in 1989. It's believed Bundy stalked young women near college campuses, shopping centres and parks, targeting those with long, dark hair, parted in the middle. He often lured victims into his car by posing as police officer or making false requests for aid.


John Wayne Gacy Jr. - Convicted in 1980 of killing 33 young men and boys between 1972 and 1978. He would lure them to his home for sex, then torture and strangle them. Police unearthed 27 bodies in shallow graves under his house in suburban Chicago. He was executed in 1994.


Patrick Kearney: - He was convicted of 21 murders and sentenced to life in prison. In 1977, he confessed to killing 32 men, some of whose dismembered remains were dumped in trash bags along California highways.


Jeffrey Dahmer - The former candy factory worker, confessed to killing and dismembering 17 men since 1978, including 11 whose skulls were found in his Milwaukee apartment. He pleaded guilty to 15 murders and is serving life in prison. A fellow inmate killed Dahmer in 1994.


Albert De Salvo: He claimed to be the Boston Strangler who killed 13 women from 1962 to 1964. Police didn't have enough evidence to bring him to trial and was instead tried for unrelated assaults, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was stabbed to death in his cell in 1973.


Henry Lee Lucas: The one-eyed drifter was convicted of 13 murders in Texas and Florida. He once claimed to have committed between 100 and 600 murders in five countries including Canada and the United States during the 1970s and 1980s.


Clifford Olson: He pleaded guilty in 1982 to killing eight girls and three boys in British Columbia. He was sentenced to life in prison for 25 years without chance of parole. He has tried to escape from prison seven times.


William Fyfe: The Toronto-born man is serving a life sentence for raping and stabbing to death five Montreal-area women over an 18-year period dating back to 1981. In 2001, Fyfe, who committed his first murder while out on a day pass from prison, confessed to killing four others.


David Berkowitz: Known as the Son of Sam, he killed six people and wounded seven others during a one year string of random shootings. Most of his victims were young women with long, dark hair sitting in cars with their dates. The former postal clerk, who claimed he'd been ordered to kill by his neighbour's dog Sam, is serving a 365 year sentence.

 Copyright 2002 The Canadian Press

The hunt for evidence-Feb 10, 2002

Police search farm for missing Vancouver women-Feb 7, 2002



Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016