Death certificates place missing women's deaths at Pickton's farm


Vancouver - Globe and Mail

The B.C. Coroner’s Office has finally issued death certificates for several women who went missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, indicating that they died at serial killer Robert Pickton’s Port Coquitlam farm, although how they died remains unknown.

The death certificates were sent to all the families of the missing women who requested them, Vancouver regional coroner Owen Court said Thursday in a statement released by his office.

The women were presumed to have died at the Pickton farm, Mr. Court said, adding that the deaths were private family matters and he was not at liberty to discuss it further.

The death certificates have been issued almost a decade after police began digging up Mr. Pickton’s property. For years, the coroner’s office has refused to issue the paperwork, waiting for authorities to confirm how the women died. The lack of a death certificate created problems for families who could not gain access to the missing women’s personal property, bank accounts and insurance.

Ernie Crey received the death certificate for his sister Dawn earlier this week. At the time of her disappearance in November, 2000, Ms. Crey was working as a prostitute in the Downtown Eastside and was addicted to heroin. She was 43 years old.

Her family were told by police in January, 2004 that her DNA was found on the Pickton farm. Five years later, police advised Crown prosecutors that they had compiled evidence for charges against Mr. Pickton for the murder of Ms. Crey and five other women.

However the prosecution decided not to pursue the recommendation of criminal charges after Mr. Pickton was convicted of second degree murder of six women and sentenced to life in prison. Crown counsel also dropped outstanding murder charges against Mr. Pickton for the deaths of 20 more women. Police have said Mr. Pickton may have been responsible for as many as 49 deaths.

The Crey family was told last year that all that could be found of Ms. Crey on the Pickton property was blood on an undergarment.

Opening the mail with his sister’s death certificate stirred up strong emotions, even though Mr. Crey was anticipating the envelope. “I was taken aback by it. It was like proof positive that she is dead,” he said. “There was a finality about it. I did not expect to respond to the arrival of the death certificate like I did.”

As long as authorities did not confirm the place of her death, he held out hope that maybe she did not die on the Pickton farm, he said.

Mr. Crey said he was particularly troubled by the lack of charges against others who may have played a role in the death of the women. “He had people in his confidence that were basically coaching women to leave the Downtown Eastside and go to his property. And they did,” he said.

Mr. Crey said he would like to see the Liberal administration under premier-designate Christy Clark consider re-opening the outstanding murder cases.

Even if Mr. Pickton is not charged with killing his sister Dawn, others who were involved in bringing his sister to Mr. Pickton’s Port Coquitlam farm should be brought to justice, he said.

“All the attention so far has been on Mr. Pickton. . . but now there should be discussions about others who may have been involved and played a role,” Mr. Crey said. Mr. Pickton’s confidantes have “wiggled off the hook,” he said. “That [issue] has to be looked at.”

“I don’t mean to sound bitter,” he added, “ but I think [the Christy Clark government] should be sensitive and respond to the families who want to see more done.. . they need to take another look at it and try to decide if other charges should be pursued.”

Constable Jana McGuinness, of the Vancouver Police Department, said Thursday the Vancouver police do not plan to make comments about the case ahead of the Missing Women Commission which has been appointed to review the investigation into the Pickton case. The commission is expected to hold public hearings alter this year.

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Updated: August 21, 2016