DNA of missing woman found on farm

Kim Bolan
Vancouver Sun

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Investigators from the Vancouver police-RCMP missing women's task force began searching a second property co-owned by murder suspect Robert (Willy) Pickton for first time Tuesday.

Helen Hallmark

The property, jointly owned by Pickton and his brother, is adjacent to Pitt Lake on Burns Road in Coquitlam.

It was also learned Tuesday that investigators have found DNA samples matching those of four more women missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

That northeast section of the Burns Road property was part of a search warrant obtained and executed by the task force last April, two months after it executed the initial search warrant at the Dominion Avenue pig farm owned by Pickton and his brother and sister.

Most of the search efforts have been focused on the 4.5-hectare Dominion Avenue property where the remains of several women have been located since the task force moved in Feb. 5.

The Vancouver Sun has learned the Burns Road property was the site of a barbeque pit made by one of Pickton's long-time employees, a Filipino man who would hold pig roasts there with his friends.

Meanwhile, task force investigators have notified families that DNA matching that of four more missing women has been identified as part of their probe.

Almost five years after Helen Hallmark disappeared, her mother Kathleen got the news she long expected. Task force members visited her Monday to tell her Helen's DNA -- in the form of blood -- was found at the Port Coquitlam pig farm that is now the subject of a massive police search. Pickton has been charged with seven counts of first degree murder of women who, like Helen Hallmark, were on the list of 54 who've disappeared from the Downtown Eastside in recent years.

Kathleen Hallmark said police told her that in addition to Helen's DNA, that of three others had been identified and other families were being notified.

In the case of her daughter, Hallmark said police also told her there was not enough DNA to lay charges in connection with Helen's death. In other words, there was not enough blood found to prove that Helen is dead. But it is enough for her mother to have a sense of closure after some extremely difficult years.

"I have had some really rough times in the last few months. They have been really really rough.

"But I am looking to change. I need my life back. That is what I am looking for now," said Hallmark, who has been a vocal force among the missing women's families.

She said she was relieved to get the news about her daughter, who disappeared in August 1997.

"It is good to know. I was worried that they would never find anything because it has been so long," she said.

Hallmark said police told her they were going to make public the information about the new DNA matches, but changed their minds. The task force continued its pattern of non-response Tuesday, issuing a Web site message saying there would be no statement.

"From the beginning the missing women's joint task force has said that any conversations we might have with family members are private ones," the message said. "That situation has not changed."

Hallmark disappeared 18 months before any of the women related to the current charges against Pickton went missing. Pickton, 52, is charged with killing Brenda Ann Wolfe and Jacquilene McDonell, who went missing in early 1999, as well as Heather Bottomley, Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Diane Rock and Andrea Joesbury, all of whom went missing last year.

Sandra Gagnon, whose sister Janet Henry disappeared five years ago this week, watched developments unfold Tuesday with mixed emotions. Gagnon said she was happy that Kathleen Hallmark had some news about her daughter.

Gagnon's sister disappeared just two months before Helen Hallmark.

"It gives me more and more hope that I will get some news about my sister," Gagnon said. "But I am also scared to get that news."

 Copyright 2002 Vancouver Sun

Remembering Helen Hallmark

Courtesy of Vancouver Sun



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

Updated: August 21, 2016