Additional charges against Pickton not certain

Families of missing women still wait for answers

Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun

Monday, September 22, 2003

Police are about to finish digging up accused serial killer Robert (Willy) Pickton's Port Coquitlam farm, but it is not clear when -- or if -- he will face any additional charges in the missing women case, families of the victims were told at an emotional meeting Sunday.

CREDIT: Peter Battistoni, Vancouver Sun

Rick Frey, father of Marnie Frey, whose DNA was found on the pig farm.

Police have been sifting through soil at the Dominion Avenue farm since the February, 2002 arrest of Pickton, who is charged with killing 15 of the women, and have previously said that search will end some time this fall. At a private meeting Sunday in the Surrey offices of the Missing Women Task Force, relatives were told that will happen soon.

"They said very soon, very soon because apparently their permit is up shortly. We were concerned about what they are going to do at the site. They're talking about a memorial," said Marilyn Kraft, whose stepdaughter Cindy Felix is on the list of missing women.

"But we don't know what is going to happen at the site."

The four-hour meeting was a semi-regular one the police and Crown hold with relatives of 61 sex-trade workers missing from the Downtown Eastside to try to update them on the massive investigation.

But the families got few answers Sunday about whether Pickton will face any new charges. The DNA of seven additional women has been found on his farm, and a judge said at the end of Pickton's preliminary hearing in July that had the court session started just a month later, Pickton would be facing 22 counts instead of 15.

Felix is among the seven women whose DNA was found on the farm more recently. Kraft said the meeting was told that whether Pickton faces any additional counts will depend on the amount of remains found from each woman. She was left uncertain, but hopeful, that there will be charges in Felix's case.

"I doubt very much they'll lay a full seven, based on what they were talking," said Kraft, who travelled from her Calgary home to attend the meeting.

"They're concerned that the more charges that are laid and not substantiated, then the defence will go after them."

Kraft said the investigation could continue for quite some time, although police didn't specifically mention any additional suspects or new sites that would be searched in the future. She said it could be as late as 2005 before the trial starts "because of the mounds and mounds of discovery" found at the farm.

Rick Frey was told in November that his daughter Marnie's DNA was found on the farm, but after Sunday's meeting he said it still isn't clear if Pickton will ever be charged in her death. Although he did not want to reveal sensitive information shared at the meeting, he said the slow legal system is to blame for the uncertainty.

"It's just the way the justice system works. It's slow and they don't want to jeopardize anything," Frey said. "When is it going to happen? When and if."

Frey is supportive of the work done by the task force, but said there is still a long waiting game for the families -- even if the dig at the pig farm ends soon.

"They still have a lot of artifacts and stuff to go through. That will take probably the better part of a year to get all of that out. So, it's going to be a long time coming. It's very frustrating for the families and a lot of emotion," Frey said. "This is how justice is supposed to work. I think it sucks."

Lorraine Crey's family is among 40 who still don't have any information about the whereabouts of their loved ones, but she said police have vowed to continue their investigation into the missing women.

"They haven't given up. And they made that perfectly clear that they are searching for the ones that are still missing," said Crey, whose sister Dawn is on the list of missing women.

"There were many, many tears. A lot of us are wanting to bury our loved ones."

Crey said the meeting was an emotional one, and the families appreciate the work of police and archeology students who have been sifting through dirt on the pig farm.

One of the 15 women Pickton is accused of murdering is Sereena Abotsway, and her former foster mother Anna Draayers said Sunday the meeting was helpful -- but also painful.

"No matter what I say, it doesn't bring my Sereena back. And I kind of feel like I'm going around and around. And let's face it: how long are we going to go around," a weeping Draayers said.

Pickton was ordered to stand trial on 15 counts of first-degree murder at the end of his preliminary hearing in July. The evidence is protected under a sweeping publication ban.

Pickton will return to court Dec. 15 to set a trial date.

The relatives were shown a videotape Sunday of the demolition of the pig slaughterhouse on the farm, and Kraft said those captured in the film were as emotional as the families watching it.

"It was very sombre. There was a lot tears, both by the people that were digging and the police. It's touching everybody, it's not just touching the victims and the families," she said.

 Copyright  2003 Vancouver Sun

Number of murder counts against Pickton could stay at 15 when trial begins-Sept 15, 2003



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

Updated: August 21, 2016