B.C. farm was massacre site, families told

Murder investigation: Relatives told not to expect bodies, only fragments

Ian Bailey

National Post

May 29, 2002

VANCOUVER - Representatives of British Columbia's coroner's office have likened the situation at a farm -- central to the search for 50 missing women -- to the scene of a massacre, families say.

The description came at a recent meeting between families of the missing women and police, Crown representatives and others involved in the investigation of the farm of prime suspect Robert William Pickton, located about 40 kilometres east of Vancouver.

"They said this is like a massacre," Rick Frey, whose daughter Marnie has been missing since 1997, said yesterday as he recalled the private meeting held over the weekend.

"When they said that, I know the lady I was sitting next to had a hard time coping with that. I know other people behind me got up and left. Other people were breaking down. They had to go out and compose themselves and come back and listen to the rest of it."

The rest of the four-hour meeting included a warning that relatives of missing women should not expect to receive the bodies of their loved one's -- only fragments.

"Fragments was one of their big, key words: 'We'll be finding fragments,'" said Mr. Frey.

"What they have found so far is what they have got on the surface, nothing underneath. They have some pretty good ideas of where to dig."

But he said coroner's staff were sensitive to the families. "They were compassionate people. They had a hell of a time saying what they were trying to say."

Families were also shown photos of material gathered from the farm, including clothing, jewellery and handbags, to see if they could identify the items as belonging to their missing relatives.

Representatives of the coroner's office were not available for comment yesterday. Another family member who attended the meeting confirmed the use of the term massacre.

Mr. Frey said the officials were extremely circumspect, and refused, for example, to tell the 50 family members at the gathering what specifically they were finding on the farm that has been the subject of a police search since February.

In February, Mr. Pickton, 52, was arrested. He has since been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of seven of 50 women, mostly sex-trade workers, who have vanished from Vancouver's tough Downtown Eastside since 1983.

Until the search began, no bodies of the missing women had ever been found. However, the police have confirmed they have found human remains on the 4.5-hectare Pickton family farm.

Investigators will soon begin excavating the property to find further evidence. They are hiring 50 specialists to help with a search that will begin next month and likely last a year.

The investigation, one of the largest in Canadian history, is a joint effort largely involving the Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP. It has been given the code name Project Evenhanded.

Mr. Frey said families were told further charges against Mr. Pickton are possible.

"If they identify any more bodies, more charges will be laid -- simple as that," he said, paraphrasing the comments of Crown officials who attended the meeting in suburban Surrey, south of Vancouver.

Courtesy of National Post



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Updated: August 21, 2016