Pickton trial learns about victims' lives

Spotlight in court turns for the first time to the six slain women

Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun

Friday, May 11, 2007

Almost four months after the start of Robert (Willie) Pickton's first-degree murder trial, the focus of the mammoth hearing has moved to the six women he is accused of killing.

For an hour Thursday, Crown counsel John Ahern read a 24-page statement to the jurors -- an agreement reached by prosecutors and defence lawyers about the last few months of activity by the six women before they went missing.

It was a poignant list that showed the women had troubled lives, but that they were also trying to eat, get medical help and provide for their children.

In each case, the women had regular contact with relatives or doctors or pharmacists or community support centres or police officers, but that all stopped for each of them at a specific time.

Then they were never seen or heard from again.

In previous admissions filed in court, the defence has admitted all six of these women are dead. Their partial remains have been found on Pickton's farm.

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Abotsway was reported missing to the Vancouver police by her foster mother Anna Draayers on Aug. 22, 2001.

Draayers told police Abotsway usually phoned her every day -- and sometimes more frequently than that -- but that she hadn't seen or heard from the young woman since late July 2001.

And, Draayers told police, Abotsway visited her foster family every Aug. 20 for her birthday, but that year didn't.

Pharmanet records showed Abotsway had 300 prescriptions filled between Oct. 4, 1995 and July 19, 2001. In the last 10 months before she went missing, in particular, the prescriptions were regularly dispensed.

But that ended suddenly, after Abotsway picked up four inhalers, dated July 16 and July 19, 2001.

The jury has heard inhalers bearing those dates, made out to Abotsway, were found inside Pickton's office or in a garbage pail outside his trailer.

Medical Services Plan records show 80 entries for Abotsway between March 8, 1995 and July 18, 2001, when she attended St. Paul's Hospital.

The Ministry of Human Resources has had a file open for Abotsway since October 1989.

In 2001, the ministry issued Abotsway's welfare payments to the St. James Community Services Society, which managed her money by issuing her $35 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays each week. There were no lengthy gaps in retrieving her money before July 18, 2001.

In the spring of 2001, the ministry paid for two taxi rides from Surrey and St. Paul's hospitals.

On June 13, she moved into emergency housing because she'd been evicted and attended a welfare office to pick up meal tickets.

The next day, she asked for more meal tickets and was turned away because she was living in emergency housing. Abotsway told her welfare worker she got food poisoning and had left the so-called triage housing.

By June 14, she said she was living on the streets and asked the ministry for more food.

On July 11, she was referred to emergency housing again, and her stay was extended there until July 18. On Aug. 21, Abotsway's welfare worker got a call from Draayers, saying she hadn't heard from her foster daughter in a while.

Vancouver police also had 26 contacts in the Downtown Eastside with Abotsway between January 22, 1998 and July 19, 2001.

Tragically, on July 19 -- the date on the last inhaler she picked up -- a police officer spoke to Abotsway in the 200 block area of East Hastings.


Lynn Frey reported her stepdaughter, Marnie, missing to the Campbell River RCMP on Dec. 29, 1997.

"Lynn Frey was concerned because she had not heard from Marnie Frey since August 1997. She said that this was unusual because Marnie Frey regularly phoned to ask for money."

She's had a file with the Ministry of Human Resources since March 1991, but her entries for the latter part of 1997 provide a peek into the ups and downs of the last difficult months of her life.

"On May 30, 1997, the ministry reactivated Ms. Frey's file, as she had just completed a detoxification and rehabilitation program."

She received some benefit cheques, had an "emergency" visit to a dentist and found an apartment on Kingsway in Burnaby.

"On July 4, 1997, Ms. Frey requested and was denied money for a bus pass."

The next month, she asked for permission to take a taxi to a hospital and indicated to the ministry she was now living in the Regal Place Hotel.

On Sept. 24, 1997, she picked up and cashed her welfare cheque. It would be the last one she collected from the government.

"There are no further entries indicating any telephone or personal contacts with Ms. Frey," the admissions say. "Ms. Frey's file was closed on Dec. 16, 1997 and has not been reopened."

Her Medical Service Plan file contains more than 20 entries between Feb. 18, 1995 and May 25, 1997, when she went for an emergency visit to see a doctor.

Her Pharmanet records indicate she received prescriptions four times between Dec. 14, 1995 and Jan. 23, 1997.

Vancouver police and the RCMP had contact with Frey 14 times between May 12, 1996 and Aug. 29, 1997.

Four of the incidents were in 1996, the most serious being on May 12 when Frey "reported that she had been sexually assaulted."

Also in that year, she was issued a traffic ticket, said she'd witnessed an assault and was "checked" by police on East Hastings.

In 1997, her contact with police included her allegedly being issued another traffic ticket, being found smoking marijuana in a car and injecting drugs in Burnaby.

On Aug. 8, 1997, police found Frey on West Hastings Street and believed she'd overdosed from drugs. She was taken to hospital.

One of the last contacts Frey had with police was on Aug. 25, 1997, when officers saw her in a car at Hastings and Main.


On June 8, 2001, Kelly Goodall, a street nurse who knew Andrea Joesbury, reported her missing to Vancouver police.

"Ms. Goodall was concerned that Ms. Joesbury had not been showing up at Ms. Goodall's clinic to have dressings on a wound changed," the admissions say.

Joesbury attended the Downtown Community Health Clinic more than 70 times in 2000 and 2001, but wasn't seen there after June 5, 2001, when she went to have an open sore on her foot cleaned and dressed.

Joesbury's Pharmanet records show she received more than 300 prescriptions between Sept. 26, 1995 and June 6, 2001.

And her Medical Services Plan file shows more than 220 entries between Jan. 12, 1995 and May 11, 2001, when she visited St. Paul's Hospital.

Joesbury has had a file with the Ministry of Human Resources since September 1995.

In her final year, the ministry issued her several cheques, including a "Youth Works" cheque on May 23, 2001.

The documents say Joesbury had contacted the ministry on Feb. 21, 2001, to submit a doctor's note to indicate she was unable to work.

"There are no further entries indicating any telephone or personal contacts with Ms. Joesbury," the admissions say.

"Ms. Joesbury's file was closed on July 5, 2001 and has not been reopened."

Vancouver police had nine contacts with Joesbury between Aug. 23, 1997 and March 28, 2001, and the incidents illustrate the young woman's struggles on the Downtown Eastside as she tried to support a drug habit by working the streets.

On Aug. 23, 1997, police spoke to Joesbury at the Washington Hotel on East Hastings, "where she was trying to buy cocaine."

Six days later, police noted speaking to her again on East Hastings near Main Street. One week later they spoke to her again.

On Jan. 18, 1999, police saw her in a car speaking with a man near 300 Alexander St. Five months later, police noted seeing her in a lane off East Hastings.

On June 1, 2000, police found Joesbury was in possession of heroin on East Hastings near Main Street.

In her final year, police made contact with Joesbury three times in March: outside the Carnegie Centre; at the Hazelwood Hotel on East Hastings because of a noise complaint and inside a bar at the Roosevelt Hotel on East Hastings.

"Vancouver police records indicate no in-person contacts with Ms. Joesbury after March 28, 2001," the admissions conclude.


Kathleen Smith reported her sister, Georgina Papin, missing to Vancouver police on March 4, 2001.

"Ms. Smith was concerned because she had not heard from Ms. Papin for about two years."

Papin had a file with the Ministry of Human Resources since early 1993. Her last contact with the ministry, from April through June 1998, chronicles her attempts to provide shelter and food for her children.

She indicated on April 27 that she planned to live in a new residence, and the ministry paid for the move and rent at her new address.

"On May 6, 1998, Ms. Papin received money for milk and food. On May 19, 1998, Ms. Papin requested, but did not receive, money to buy a washer and dryer," the admissions say.

"On May 28, 1998, the ministry received information that Ms. Papin had been away for a week and that her four children had been taken into care."

The government then heard in July 1998 she'd left the province.

But St. Paul's Hospital records show she returned to B.C. She was admitted to the downtown Vancouver hospital on March 16, 1999 complaining of chest pain.

"She was diagnosed with pneumonia and a drug overdose. On March 21, 1999, a nurse saw Ms. Papin going to the fourth floor for a cigarette. Later that same day, Ms. Papin could not be located in the hospital. Her IV and IV pole were found abandoned in a bathroom," the submissions say.

"Ms. Papin left the hospital before proper community followup for her drug addiction could be arranged."

The hospital didn't treat her again.

Papin's Medical Services Plan file indicates more than 90 entries between April 17, 1996 and Jan. 6, 1999, when she went to see a doctor.

Her Pharmanet records indicate she received three prescriptions between Dec. 10, 1996 and Jan. 7, 1999.

Vancouver police and RCMP had contact with Papin nine times between June 13, 1995 and Dec. 30, 1998.

She was arrested for robbery in 1995, and complained to Mission RCMP in 1996 that she'd been assaulted. "She was bleeding from the mouth and eyes."

The rest of her contact with police took place in 1998, including allegations that she smoked marijuana and shoplifted in Campbell River, possessed a stolen car in Vancouver and committed breaking and entering in Mission.

Papin also told police she'd been the victim of crime twice in December that year. She said she'd been threatened and assaulted with a weapon and was a victim of theft.


Steve Rix, the common-law husband of Mona Wilson, reported her missing Nov. 30, 2001.

On March 10, 2002, her sister Ada Wilson was shown a photograph by police of a necklace and cross pendant.

"Ada Wilson recognized the object," the admissions said. "She observed Mona Wilson wearing [the necklace and pendant] on many occasions, including when Mona Wilson was in St. Paul's Hospital during the summer of 2001."

The Crown has told the jury it will prove that the necklace recognized by Ada Wilson is the same necklace police seized from Pickton's office.

Pharmanet records showed she was dispensed more than 700 prescriptions between Dec. 6, 1995 and Nov. 29, 2001. About 40 per cent of those were issued in the final year, when she picked up a prescription nearly every day -- mostly for methadone maintenance.

Her last billing was for medical supplies on Dec. 4, 2001, and Pharmanet never heard from her again.

The Medical Services Plan showed more than 200 entries for Wilson between July 12, 1995 and Nov. 30, 2001, when she had her last doctor's appointment.

Wilson received benefits from the Human Resources Ministry beginning in February, 1994. Starting in May, 2000, her welfare payments were sent to the St. James Community Services Society, which managed Wilson's finances by meting out three small payments to her each week.

In her final month, she asked St. James for several advances: $40 for food, $5 for bus fares, and four cash advances of less than $30, the last one on Nov. 15.

The society paid her rent on Nov. 19, but the last contact it had with her was four days earlier.

In her last few weeks, Wilson appeared increasingly transient.

On Oct. 31, 2001, she was evicted from her apartment, and by Nov. 9 had found a new place on Pandora Street in Vancouver. But by Nov. 26 she had moved again, this time to East Pender Street.

The last file for Wilson concerned a security deposit for her new landlord Dec. 6.

"There are no further entries indicating any telephone or personal contacts with Ms Wilson," the admission says.

Vancouver police and the RCMP had 19 contacts with Wilson between March 28, 1997 and Nov. 25, 2001.

The last was five days before she went missing, when police responded to a complaint about a fight on East Hastings on Nov. 25, 2001.


Patricia Belanger reported her sister, Brenda Wolfe, missing on April 25, 2000, to the Vancouver police.

"She said that she had last seen Ms. Wolfe on Oct. 22, 1998 at her residence on East Sixth Street."

On May 23, 2002, just three months after Pickton was arrested in this case, police showed Belanger a photo of a black jacket with a pink and purple liner, which has been entered as a court exhibit in the Pickton case.

(The vast majority of the exhibits entered so far were seized from one of two Port Coquitlam properties co-owned by Pickton.)

"Ms. Belanger recognized the object depicted in the photograph as a jacket belonging to Ms. Wolfe," the admissions say.

Her file with the Ministry of Human Resources was opened in August 1996, and her contact with the government in the last two years of her life tells a touching tale of a struggling mother trying to provide for her children.

On Nov. 6, 1998 she requested employment counselling, and three weeks later she was given a benefit cheque for her and her two children.

"On Dec. 29, 1998, the ministry issued a cheque to Ms. Wolfe, who had contacted her welfare worker to report that she had spent all her money on Christmas and needed bread and milk."

In January 1999, the ministry couldn't make contact with Wolfe and in February she called her welfare worker to explain she had missed an appointment. Five days later, her welfare cheques were halted, and Wolfe called again on Feb. 17 to rebook her appointment.

But the worker didn't hear from Wolfe again.

"On Feb. 24, 1999, Ms. Wolfe's welfare worker noted receiving information that Ms. Wolfe had been evicted from her apartment and her children were living with their father in Toronto."

Mail sent to her last address was returned unopened.

Wolfe's Pharmanet records indicate she received more than 280 prescriptions between July 29, 1996 and Feb. 8, 1999. Her last prescriptions were issued on Feb. 2 and Feb. 8, 1999.

Her Medical Services Plan showed more than 150 entries between Aug. 2, 1996 and Feb. 8, 1999, when she went for an appointment with a doctor she saw regularly.

Dr. Ronald Joe saw Wolfe 11 times in 1998 and five times in January, 1999. The final visit was to treat an "abscess on her arm related to intravenous drug use. . . . . "Dr. Joe has not seen Ms. Wolfe since Feb. 8, 1999."

Vancouver police had contact with Wolfe nine times between Nov. 7, 1996, and Dec. 18, 1998.

 The Vancouver Sun 2007

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