Police coddling key Pickton witness

Woman who shared trailer with accused agitated by police surveillance, says friend

Suzanne Fournier
The Province

Thursday, November 21, 2002

RCMP are struggling to control a leading witness in the case against accused serial-killer Robert "Willie" Pickton, offering her cash, restaurant meals, a cellphone, secure housing and access to drug treatment.

CREDIT: Ric Ernest, The Province

Charles Jackson was befriended by Dinah Taylor

But Dinah Taylor, who lived for 18 months in a trailer with Pickton on his Port Coquitlam pig farm where police continue to recover human remains, has resisted full co-operation with her handlers from the missing women's task force.

Taylor, a heroin and cocaine addict, has accepted benefits offered by police, including a cellphone she promptly sold at the Lotus Hotel. But Taylor shrugged off a summons to appear on the first day of Pickton's preliminary hearing Nov. 4.

Charles Jackson, 53, a retired nurse who has the AIDS virus, says he reluctantly allowed Taylor to stay with him in his east Vancouver apartment in early October.

Jackson said he thought the extreme police interest in Taylor was because she knew some of the missing women.

CREDIT: Ric Ernst, The Province

Dinah Taylor walks through an alley in Vancouver. Taylor has been linked to Robert Pickton, who faces trial charged with 15 murders of Downtown Eastside Women.

He says he asked her to leave Tuesday when he discovered she is a former friend of Pickton's.

Jackson says he was scared by how agitated Taylor has become in the last two weeks, in response to the blanket of police surveillance and the attention paid to her by media and the building's neighbours.

"The RCMP were very good to her, but when they served her with the summons and told her she would have to testify at Pickton's trial or she could be charged, she just kind of blew them off," he said.

"They are only trying to help her.

"Dinah would take the $20 from the woman officer, who always seemed to be available or nearby when Dinah called, but she wouldn't use it on groceries or to help me out for feeding her.

"She took the cellphone the RCMP gave her and sold it to some Hispanic guys at the Lotus Hotel, and then tried to get it back."

Jackson said a task-force constable offered to get Taylor into addiction treatment and has found her a secure place to live.

Jackson, who calls himself "a ministering angel" who is "too vulnerable to being used and abused," says Taylor took over his life and his apartment after she moved in. He said she banished him from his own living room and would lock herself in the bathroom for hours.

"She'd sleep all day until about 5 p.m., get up and then she'd be up all night," says Jackson. "She was definitely a bad influence on me.

"She had a lot of friends and people coming and going at all hours. I told her I wanted her to leave. I don't want her back here, it's too stressful.

"I want to clear my name with people in this building, because I don't want Dinah here if she upsets people."

Taylor left Vancouver late last year for her home reserve in Ontario.

She denied that she left to escape the Downtown Eastside or her relationship with Pickton.

"I didn't go back east to escape no scene or nothing," said Taylor. "My father is 66, he's had two operations and he's dying of throat cancer. I go home for Christmas all the time. My family is there and I care about them."

An Ojibway with shoulder-length curly hair, Taylor is bold, aggressive and reluctant to discuss her past.

But she did agree to talk to Ernie Crey, a Sto:lo leader whose sister Dawn disappeared in November 2000, after living in the Roosevelt Hotel where Taylor arranged for women to visit the Pickton farm.

"He's a brother, he's native like me and I'll talk to him," said Taylor.

At first she didn't recall Dawn Crey, but nodded when Dawn was described as having sold clothes to working women from her room in the Roosevelt.

Ernie Crey said Taylor called him in response to his request and was friendly but offered few details.

"She may have seen my sister in the last days before she vanished, and it would be helpful for me and my brothers and sisters to know that," said Crey. "I'd just like to know what Dinah remembers about my sister." 

 Copyright 2002 The Province

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

Updated: August 21, 2016