Police conduct aided a serial killer - they must be held responsible


September 6, 2011

B.C.'s most infamous serial killer, Willie Pickton, has been on my mind.

I turned on the television over the weekend and there was The Pig Farm, a movie about his heinous crimes.

There are books about how he preyed on women and how both the Vancouver police department and the RCMP screwed up.

It's been a decade since he was arrested.

Yet barely a fortnight ago, the Attorney-General's office was suggesting missing women inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal might have to be replaced for daring to disparage police and prosecutors while pleading for legal funding for needy groups.

I'm still scratching my head.

Where did former attorneygeneral Barry Penner or any lawyer for the police get off trying to block this inquiry with such ridiculous allegations against Oppal?

Pickton wasn't an ordinary murderer: He boasted of slaughtering dozens of women. Dozens!

And it still hasn't sunk in that police conduct aided him - not only that investigators made mistakes, but their incompetence was so huge it abetted the killings.

It is so unseemly I don't have words for it.

It is so overwhelmingly horrendous that the legal system has been tying itself in knots to keep the truth from becoming public.

I had to talk with some of the families whose loved ones died at the hands of this semi-literate butcher.

Dad Rick Frey was angry, too. "Oppal [who was attorney-general during the Pickton prosecution] turned a blind eye and I'm going to give him a blast [when I testify at his inquiry] and tell him what I think of him, too," said the plain-speaking fisherman, father of Marnie Frey, one of the six women Pickton was actually convicted of murdering.

"Where were the people so concerned about conflict of interest when the cops were being unfair to us?"

The Freys were among those who futilely demanded police investigate more thoroughly back in 1997, before the wholesale slaughter began.

Oppal, who stayed 20 remaining murder charges after Pickton was convicted on six, is no hero to the families and everyone has waited too long to learn the truth, Frey added.

During Pickton's rampage, the VPD all but told them to get lost.

"I want answers," Frey insisted with all the indignation his pain and experience entitle him to, "and why should we wait longer?"

Lori-Ann Ellis, whose sister-inlaw Cara Ellis vanished in January 1997, one of the alleged victims in the scores of outstanding cases, is equally frustrated.

"I think we have larger issues that should be addressed," she said.

"The funding being denied groups whose information is vital to the truth coming out in this inquiry is an embarrassment."

She can't believe that at this late, late date anyone is trying to derail the process.

A decade ago, the very cops now moaning about Oppal dismissed the families as worrywarts. Now they maintain the public already knows all it needs to - forget it, they say, we've looked after the problem.

What crap.

Wayne Leng was the man who started a poster campaign back in the last century. He was in love with Sarah deVries, who disappeared April 14, 1998. He believed a serial killer was loose and plastered the streets, set up a 1-800 tip line, created a website and interested NBC's America's Most Wanted in the story.

The VPD all but charged him for interfering with their noninvestigation.

Guess what? He was right. A serial killer was loose: Robert William Pickton.

Leng is as angry as the rest of us who will not let the police sweep their indifference and their incompetence under the rug on this one.

"It's disconcerting and troublesome," he said. "It's a mess. But we have to keep Oppal. He's all we've got. Someone has to be held accountable for the terrible screw-up that has taken place here."

No kidding.

For too long, we have been told no one in our institutions is responsible for anything - whether it is for the death of an immigrant from Poland at Vancouver International Airport or the Stanley Cup riot. Well, it's time we changed that.

There are people who didn't do their jobs here and women died; people who are as responsible for the deaths as Pickton.

We should know their names, we should denounce them and we should condemn the appalling apathy and indifference that led to this ungodly tragedy.

That's what public inquiries are for. Let's get on with this one.




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

Updated: August 21, 2016