Search at pig farm will last into 2003

Times Colonist (Victoria)

Thursday, March 21, 2002

VANCOUVER (CP) -- It will take more than a year for the task force investigating the disappearance of 50 women to search a suburban pig farm, police said Wednesday.

Investigators originally anticipated the search of the Port Coquitlam farm belonging to Robert William Pickton would take a few months but that estimate has since increased.

"It'll easily be a year, more or less, that we're going to be, probably, physically on the site," Vancouver police Det. Scott Driemel said.

The joint RCMP-Vancouver city police task force is also continuing to sift through tips and review other missing- women cases that could yet be added to the file. There are 70 to 200 suspects with a history and type of behaviour under scrutiny.

Although they would not say if more charges are anticipated, Driemel said the investigation is producing results.

"Those results will be shared with . . . the public in the very near future," he said.

Fifty women, many of them prostitutes, have disappeared from the poverty-stricken downtown eastside since 1983 -- 39 of them in the last six years.

Pickton, 52, has been charged with the first-degree murders of two of the missing women.

Sereena Abotsway and Mona Wilson were two of the last three women to disappear in late 2001.

Pickton is accused of killing Wilson, 26, some time between Dec. 1, 2001, and Feb. 5. Abotsway, who was 29 when she disappeared, is alleged to have been killed between July 18, 2001, and Feb. 5.

A massive search of the farm where Pickton lived has been underway since Feb. 5.

Since the search began, police have had to contend with rumour, innuendo and unsubstantiated claims, said RCMP Const. Cate Galliford.

"This investigation into the missing women is forcing light onto a part of our society that traditionally resides in the very dark shadows," Galliford said.

Since the search began, friends and relatives of the victims have gone public with claims police were told years ago the pig farm had a sinister reputation.

Pickton was charged with attempted murder after a woman fled his home in the middle of the night of March 23, 1997. Bleeding from several stab wounds, Wendy Lynn Eistetter ran to a neighbour's home and pleaded for help.

Pickton was also charged with assault with a weapon, unlawful confinement and endangering the life of Eistetter by committing an aggravated assault.

The charges were stayed by the Crown in January 1998.

Vancouver city police have been criticized for failing to properly investigate the disappearances.

Earlier this week the Vancouver police complaints commission said it would not launch an inquiry into handling of the case while the investigation was underway.

"We recognize the fact that there are questions that are being raised," Driemel said. "Nonetheless, now we believe is not the right time to go and have anything that's going on that could possibly go and either discourage or distract the investigators."

Driemel said many armchair quarterbacks "might have political issues, or personal axes to grind, or agendas.

"When this is all said and done and it's over, that's the time to go and look at whatever review."

 Copyright  2002 Times Colonist (Victoria)

Mayor says much higher reward required-May 12, 1999



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