Our lives are ruined, says Picktonís sister

Kin of accused serial killer pleads for privacy

Kim Bolan
Times Colonist (Victoria)

Saturday, June 08, 2002

VANCOUVER -- The family of accused serial killer Robert (Willy) Pickton is struggling with the unwanted whirlwind of notoriety now attached to the Pickton name.

"Our name has been tarnished," his sister, Linda Pickton, told Southam Newspapers Friday. "It has a humbling effect on us. Any good you've ever done in your life has been destroyed."

Linda Pickton said she has enormous sympathy for the victims and what their families are going through.

But she pleaded for privacy and asked reporters to leave her alone. "I am such a private person. I value my privacy."

An intense police search at their Port Coquitlam pig farm and the seven first-degree murder charges laid against Robert Pickton has been devastating and shocking, Linda Pickton said.

She said the emotional trauma of the last few months has been absolutely overwhelming for the family, which can barely stand to open a newspaper or watch a television newscast.

"We are still in a state of shock and disbelief and going through tremendous turmoil at this time," said Pickton, who has neither spoken to nor visited her accused brother since the search of the farm began Feb. 5.

Linda Pickton, who Southam Newspapers agreed to identify by her maiden name to protect her children, said life as she knew it ended the day police executed a search warrant at the farm once owned by her late parents.

The joint RCMP-Vancouver Police missing women's task force responsible for investigating the disappearances of 54 women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside has been at the property ever since.

Investigators have found enough evidence there -- including human remains of some of the women -- to lay seven murder charges against Linda Pickton's unmarried younger brother.

"This has been a nightmare for us, but at least a nightmare you can wake up from. We do not wish to minimize the pain and suffering of the victims' families. However, we also feel like victims," she said.

Linda Pickton, 54, said she didn't share any holidays or social events with her brother Robert, 52, who she mostly saw at a lawyer's office in recent years regarding legal arrangements over the 16-hectare property they and their brother David inherited. Their mother Helen Louise died of cancer in 1979. Their father Leonard passed away a year earlier.

She never lived on the Dominion Avenue farm, which was purchased in 1963 by her parents for just over $18,000.

By the time the family moved there from their old Coquitlam farm where the Lougheed Highway now runs, she had gone away to school.

"I left home when I was 12 or 13," she said.

Asked how her brother David, the youngest of the three at 50, is coping with the stress of their sibling's arrest, Linda Pickton said he, too, is devastated.

"He and his family are also in a state of total, total disbelief. It is extremely hard because he has children. He has daughters the same age as the victims and is finding this totally, totally devastating," Linda Pickton said.

She reluctantly agreed to break her silence after Southam Newspapers requested information about how much the family profited from selling sections of the Dominion Avenue farm in the last decade.

According to public land title records, it appears the three Pickton siblings made millions from the development and sale of about 10 hectares of the farm.

In September 1994, they sold the first part, at the north end of the farm, for $1,760,000, to Eternal Holdings, a development company which constructed townhouses on the site.

Less than a year later, in July, 1995, the sell-off continued with a parcel purchased by the City of Port Coquitlam for $1,171,165 and another piece for $2.3 million by the Coquitlam school district. The city's land was turned into Blakeburn Park, while the school board developed Blakeburn Elementary on its newly acquired land.

The total of all the sales is more than $6.6 million.

The remaining Dominion Avenue land now being excavated by a team of police investigators and forensic experts is assessed at $3.05 million.

But Linda Pickton said it is deceiving to total up the sale prices without looking at the cost of development for the land, which was also in the millions of dollars.

"If they checked out the cost of development, without us doing much of the pre-fill, they would find the cost of development would have been more than the properties' worth," Linda Pickton said.

"It sounds like a lot of money was made but because of the fill, the hydro, the telephone lines and the roads -- we had to put all of that in."

One road on the northeast corner of the original property cost the Picktons more than $1 million, she said.

And the entire site had to be topped with about three metres of structural fill brought in from across the Lower Mainland to meet the city's development requirements, she said.

Most of that work was done by her brother David, who has a landfill and trucking company.

Without his years of work on the land, it would not have been worth developing, Linda Pickton said.

She said the small profit made on the land sales was put back into developing the site now being searched by police. That site was also slated for development one day.

"Now (the profits) are lost and our lives are totally destroyed," she said. "Dave has worked so hard his whole life."

© Copyright  2002 Times Colonist (Victoria)

Courtesy of Times Colonist (Victoria)



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