Familiesí pain and horror continues

Pig farmer faces four more first degree murder charges in missing women case

BCTV News on Global

Thursday, September 19, 2002

VANCOUVER - Accused serial killer Robert Pickton was charged Thursday with four more counts of first-degree murder, bringing the number of charges against him to 11.

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Police also announced that the list of missing women who fit the profile of Pickton's alleged victims has officially grown to 63, with the potential for more to be added.

The pig farmer from the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam was charged Thursday with the murders of Georgina Papin, Patricia Johnson, Helen Hallmark and Jennifer Furminger.

Like the others, all these women were drug-addicted prostitutes in Vancouver's seedy Downtown Eastside.

Helen Hallmark vanished in June 1997 - the earliest case so far to lead to charges.

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Papin and Furminger disappeared in 1999 and Johnson vanished in March 2001.

The list of missing women dates back to 1978 but 38 of the 63 women have disappeared in the last six years.

Debbie Cumby, a support worker and former drug addict who knew Papin, said she didn't recognize her friend in pictures distributed by police.

When she knew Papin, she was not a sex-trade worker, Cumby said.

Despite her addiction, Papin liked to play guitar and sing, she recalled.

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Cumby, who now works at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House in Winnipeg, said she sometimes feels guilty for leaving her friends behind when she left the streets.

But, "I feel lucky I left because my profile was the very exact same profile as theirs was,'' she said. "I was so heavily addicted I probably would have went with anybody just to get my shot.''

Cumby said she is angry the disappearances went seemingly unnoticed for so long.

RCMP Const. Catherine Galliford, spokeswoman for the joint RCMP-Vancouver city police task force, said DNA found at the farm led to the latest charges and confirmed there are outstanding samples yet to be processed by police labs.

"We do plan on being on the farm property for many months to come,'' Galliford said. The search of a second property is expected to wrap up by the end of the month.

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"We have forwarded many exhibits to the labs. One of the reasons our charges are coming so sporadically is that we have burdened the labs with a lot of exhibits that we need to have identified.''

Pickton's two properties are being excavated and soil is being sifted in a painstaking search for evidence.

"This has been and will be a slow process with no definitive time frame,'' Galliford said at a news conference.

Police began searching Pickton's farms in Port Coquitlam in February. There are currently 91 police, archeologists, anthropologists and other staff at the two sites in the city.

Another 30 to 40 officers are investigating other avenues and reviewing reports of missing women.

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"We are continuing to review files and there is the potential for more names to be added,'' Galliford said.

There are five missing women in particular that police are trying to locate and could soon be added, she said.

Galliford said there is no indication whether the search will expand beyond the two properties currently owned in part by Pickton. He and his siblings have sold off large tracts of the property in recent years to developers.

Police originally estimated the search of the farm would take a year. Galliford said Thursday they now expect it to take longer.

She said there are other suspects in the missing women investigation but would not comment on whether more charges would be laid.

Pickton now faces 11 charges of first-degree murder - the same number admitted to by Canada's most notorious serial killer, Clifford Olson.

Pickton is to appear in court on the latest charges Oct. 2 in Port Coquitlam.

Pickton was charged earlier with the murders of Mona Wilson, Diane Rock, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Heather Bottomley, Brenda Wolfe and Jacqueline McDonell.

Although many families already believed the women to be dead, they are devastated by the news, said Wayne Leng, whose friend Sarah deVries is missing and who has kept in touch with many relatives.

"It's hard to even imagine that one person, if this is the case, this alleged serial killer could wreak so much devastation, pain and suffering on so many people,'' Leng said.

Papin's friends and family said they are just coming to grips with the fact she may have been a victim of a serial killer.

"When I heard the news, I just got a chill through my body,'' George Papin, Georgina's brother, said in a television interview. "I was just coming to grips with reality that 'hey this has happened. This has happened to my sister.' "

He said that the DNA evidence makes her death a fact.

"It's still hard to deal just knowing the brutality, the way she died,'' said Papin, who lives on the Enoch Reserve west of Edmonton. "The pain that she must have went through.''

DeVries's family has been told her DNA was found at the site but no charges have been laid in her case.

Government officials say the massive investigation will cost up to $20 million this year alone.

The new charges come as the father of a missing woman launches a second lawsuit against police and government officials.

Doug Creison, whose daughter Marcie vanished in 1998, alleges the missing women's investigation was badly mishandled.

Karin Joesbury, mother of Andrea Joesbury, earlier filed suit against police and government officials, as well as Pickton.

Pickton's preliminary hearing on the murder charges is set to begin in November.

© Copyright 2002 BCTV News on Global + CP



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Updated: August 21, 2016