Digging begins at Pickton farm as police remain mum on body parts report

Canadian Press

Thursday, June 06, 2002

VANCOUVER (CP) - Police maintained their silence Thursday on reports body parts were found at a suburban pig farm being searched in the investigation into the disappearance of 50 women.

Representatives of the joint RCMP-Vancouver police task force investigating the disappearances held a briefing on the excavation of the Port Coquitlam, B.C., farm that began Thursday. But they wouldn't comment on reports the head, hands and feet of two women were found in a freezer on the farm several months ago. Vancouver police Det. Scott Driemel said the information the public wants to know could jeopardize the investigation.

"The fact is there are now seven murder charges connected to this ongoing investigation and search for missing women," Driemel said.

"What people want to know about this case is the kind of information that, if made public, could well jeopardize a fair trial. This could jeopardize a prosecution. We as police don't think that should happen and we have a legal responsibility as part of the criminal justice system to not let it happen."

Robert Pickton, 52, the farm's co-owner, has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder.

Driemel said the search of the 4.5-hectare farm is a slow and tedious process and no stone will be left unturned.

RCMP Const. Cate Galliford said 26 experts in the study of human bones will be examining soil samples carried on conveyor belts.

The experts are mostly students from universities across the country.

They had to sign non-disclosure agreements and go through a criminal background checks.

The farm site has been carefully mapped out, with red markers indicating the areas to dig.

Galliford said the experts have a tedious task "to differentiate between small rocks and other soil material and foreign matter that might be part of interest to the investigators.

"We anticipate that based on the amount of soil that does have to be examined by the investigators that the students will be on site sifting the soil for the duration of the search."

She said the process is similar to that used in the recovery of remains from the World Trade Centre after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

"It takes a group of two forensic specialists and one investigator approximately one week to go through a vehicle,"Galliford said.

"So that would give you an idea why we're anticipating being on the Pickton farm property for at least a year."

No digging has started on a second Pickton property that's also being searched by police.

The joint task force was formed last year to investigate the disappearance of 50 women, most of them sex trade workers in the city's seamy downtown eastside.

 Copyright  2002 The Canadian Press

Courtesy of Canadian Press



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Updated: August 21, 2016