Pickton sites yield 11,200 exhibits

Document reveals scope of massive investigation involving 200 people

Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Police have taken about 11,200 exhibits from Robert Pickton's two properties and are following up 4,300 tips as part of the mammoth investigation into what is alleged to be Canada's worst serial killer case.

Chuck Stoody, Canadian Press
Personal items taken from pig farm were at the three-hour meeting for relatives to determine if any belonged to missing loved ones.

The rare glimpse into the work of the joint RCMP-Vancouver Police task force investigating the disappearance of 63 women from the Downtown Eastside is provided in a nine-page briefing note sent recently to the women's families. It was obtained by BCTV News on Global and a copy was provided to The Vancouver Sun.

The document does not include specific information about evidence, but offers a general overview of the investigation into Pickton, 53, who is charged with murdering 15 of the missing women.

Some details in the document have been reported before, but the briefing provides some new perspective from the police and Crown counsel.

The document summarizes a meeting on Sunday, Oct. 27, held by police and the Crown to update families of the missing women about the investigation and Pickton's preliminary hearing, which was to start Nov. 4 but has been delayed until Nov. 12.

The document says 200 people are working on the file and that includes 130 investigators on the task force which "is now considered a detachment by RCMP standards."

The investigation is focusing on two properties that Pickton, a Port Coquitlam pig farmer, co-owns with other family members on Dominion Avenue and Burns Road.

Family members were told that "8,600 exhibits have been collected from above and below the ground at Dominion [Avenue] to date." The property, where Pickton had been living in a grungy trailer, is where police found all the evidence to lay the 15 charges Pickton is now facing.

Another 2,600 exhibits were taken from the Burns Road site, where Pickton's brother Dave Pickton lived. The search of that property, which began in April, has now been concluded.

"These comprised of many swabs that have been submitted for DNA testing," the document says of the Burns Road exhibits. Labs have been over-burdened by this case, and evidence will be analysed on a priority basis.

At the Dominion Avenue property, about 20 to 25 per cent of the grid search has been done. "The search will swing south of the houses and is anticipated to be completed in the spring," the document says.

DNA has been collected from families to try to identify victims and the briefing notes say more manpower is needed to process that information.

Police are also "thoroughly" following up on 4,300 tips or tasks related to the case.

The document says the investigation, dubbed Project Evenhanded, will follow up on historical missing person cases, as well as the 63 women who have disappeared from the Downtown Eastside.

"It was stressed that for some families, answers relative to their loved ones may not necessarily come from this investigation, but we are committed to finding as many answers as possible."

Clothing and other personal items taken from the pig farm were at the three-hour meeting for relatives to determine if any belonged to their missing loved ones.

The documents say 35,000 pages of evidence have been submitted to the lawyers who were acting in Pickton's defence. They are currently in a funding dispute with the provincial government.

During a question-and-answer period with the families, one relative asked if additional charges would be laid against Pickton if more evidence was uncovered once the trial begins. The police answered that new charges could be laid by direct indictment, but it would depend on many factors.

Another relative asked if police would avoid laying new charges against Pickton because he is already facing so many. Police responded that they will continue to gather evidence and present it to Crown for a recommendation on additional charges against Pickton or any other suspect.

Constable Catherine Galliford, who speaks for the task force, could not comment directly on the information in the document but confirmed it was mailed to the family members who were unable to attend the Oct. 27 meeting.

"The content of that document is what was discussed at the family meeting," she said Wednesday.

The next meeting for the families may not be held until next May or June.

 Copyright  2002 Vancouver Sun

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

Updated: August 21, 2016