Stone-by-stone search begins of pig farm

Ian Bailey
National Post

Friday, June 7, 2002

PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. - Police, bolstered by a team of archaeologists skilled in identifying human bones, yesterday began poring over piles of soil extracted from a suburban pig farm that has become the focus of the search for 50 missing women.

One member of the Missing Women Task Force likened the search to the hunt for human remains in the wreckage of the World Trade Center towers.

"The process is fairly similar," RCMP Constable Cate Galliford told a news conference called to explain a search expected to last at least a year.

Excavators and dump trucks were on the move across the 4.5-hectare farm early yesterday, hauling soil to a conveyer belt so team members, using tools that resembled barbecue tongs, could look for clues.

As part of a search that police describe as unprecedented, the police have hired about 50 students trained in the human skeleton to help with the search of the farm located in this suburb about 40 kilometres east of Vancouver.

The specialists -- described as "very serious students" -- have been screened with security checks and signed non-disclosure agreements. Yesterday, many of them -- wearing overalls, hardhats, safety goggles and gloves -- worked beside police officers.

Since police sealed off the farm in February, they have found human remains -- a discovery that has prompted criminal charges that Robert Pickton, one of the property's owners, killed seven of the missing women. Most of the women were sex-trade workers who have vanished from the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood of Vancouver, beginning in 1983.

Police have not denied reports that investigators found the heads, hands and feet of two of the missing women in a freezer at the farm several months ago.

Police refused yesterday to say exactly what they are seeking in the search, highlighting the need to avoid saying anything that could affect Mr. Pickton's right to a fair trial. "The investigators are looking for exhibits. Because we have a case before the courts, we can't be any more specific than that," said Const. Galliford.

Detective Scott Driemel of the Vancouver Police Department described the search as a "very long, slow tedious process."

"Literally no stone is left unturned. Everything that is looked at must be carefully documented, recorded and catalogued. This is a unique and huge project, and it will go on in a careful and deliberate manner for a long time yet to come."

Based on a surface search of the property, investigators have flagged areas as priorities for intense examination. Those areas will be dug up first, police say.

 Copyright 2002 National Post

Courtesy of National Post



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Updated: August 21, 2016