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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

MORE INTERROGATION

I wonder what it must be like to be one of the interrogators. And as one of them said "This isn't TV." It took years of investigations, leaving no stone unturned, and a great cost. This is probably going to be the most (to date) historically prominent murder trial in Canadian history. What a way to get noteriety!
SATURDAY, Jan 27
During the 11 hour interrogations, in spite of telling Pickton they had linked him "to tons" of the missing women as well as implicating DNA and other evidence, he keeps denying he is guilty, even denying he knew the two women whose DNA and blood was found in his mobile home, in his bed and some mixed with his own DNA.
"They're not going to find nothin' there," he insists.
The interrogator asks who he is prepared to take down with him, such as his brother.
"What's he got to do with it?" Pickton asks
"So long as you lie, he's attached to your lie," the interrogator says.
Later, when another interogator takes a gentler line of questioning, he says "I'm dead before I start. I should be on death row."
She tells him the most important thing was to give the missing women's families the closure they so desperately need. Pickton just snickers and says, "I'm dead."
In another part of the interrogation he is asked about Gary Ridgway, the so-called Green River Killer who targeted sex-trade workers.
"He may be the only person in North America who's killed more than you," the interrogator says (Ridgway killed about 42 women.)
Pickton laughs and shakes his head.
"Why are you laughing?" the interrogator asks. "Let me ask you a question. Do you know how many people you've killed?"
"I don't know," Pickton says
Pickton wasn't a drinker or drug taker so should remember exactly how many victims he had. "Was it a big deal to you? Or just like killing one of the pigs?"
"What do you want me to say?" Pickton asks.
Later..."There'll be other people coming down too," he says.
"Men or women?"
"A man...there'll be guns involved too,"Pickton says.
"You're having fun playing cat and mouse with me, Willie," says the interrogator.
In fact, in the interrogation on a number of occasions Pickton came close to admitting everything, including how 'sloppy' he'd been in not cleaning up and how he'd had one more planned but botched the chance.
***This interrogation took place before the body parts were found in the freezer.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

THE HEART OF DARKNESS

"Often an entire city has suffered because of an evil man."
Hesiod 700 BC "Works and Days." 1, 265

Why am I reporting all this? Many people I've spoken to (men included) won't read the newspaper reports or listen to the gory details on the TV or radio news. I notice that this week things seem to be toned down somewhat, giving some respite from the initial onslaught of what had been revealed during the eleven hour interrogation last week. It won't end there though. And why I (who won't attend horror movies and is scared stiff even by Dracula and Frankenstien stories) continue to write about it is a puzzle. Well, it's mainly because of my interest in the judicial system (how can a defense lawyer defend a creature like this fairly?) and the workings of the dark hearts and minds of the person who would carry out such carnage on innocent people. What compels a person to behave in such an inhuman way? Or is it 'inhuman'? What about all the other mass killings that are going on in this world (the bombings, the slaughter of innocents in far away countries like Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan...all in the name of 'war' the thousands of innocent victims of juntas and military regimes ) Also, because it is a historic criminal case in Canada, the most extensive and costliest investigation ever carried out. And it all began because the police wouldn't pay attention to the pleas of families who were searching for missing women...not until sixty of them were gone off the face of the earth. So this case is memorable and from it perhaps some good will come and we will learn a tragic lesson.

THE 11 HOUR INTERROGATION: (more about the Pigtown trial. Jan 26/07)
There were a lot of details revealed today that were much too disturbing to report here. In the interrogation Pickton eventually came close to admitting his guilt. When asked how many women he had killed, he said "You're making me more of a mass killer than I am." When the interrogator told him that investigators has found a large amount of evidence, he said "I made my own grave now I'm gonna sleep in it."
"What about the families of the missing women?" the interrogator asked.
"That's not my problem," Pig Man replied. "Shit happens!"
The interrogator did bring up the possibility that others were involved, Pig Man's brother, a woman friend and the Hells Angels. This fits the rumours that have been going around since the beginning. It's going to be very interesting to see if anyone else is going to be incriminated.
I have to ask, "How do people like that sleep at night?"

Tonight on the TV news they did a sketch of one of the youngest victims, Andrea J. a pretty blonde woman who was only 26. Her doctors said how she was on the road to kicking her drug habit. They described her as 'child-like and hopeful.' They were certain she was going to make it and get off the street. Then she disappeared. Her remains were found on Pig Man's farm.

“YOU’RE A BIG MEDIA CELEBRITY!” Friday, Jan 26
Besides the more than 300 media people who are covering the Pig Farmer's trial, an on-line news service www.Orato.com has hired two former sex-trade workers to write their own impressions and to tell their own stories. These are women who worked the same streets downtown as the victims. So far the media has shown restraint in dealing with the grieving families and have written and broadcast respectful insights into the livesof the missing women. As you get to know more about them, hear their stories and the memoires of their families, it has put a real and tragic face on the victims.

As details of the trial come out, sex-trade workers are turning to each other for support and a drop-in centre downtown is offering them counselling and emotional support.

WHO IS THIS PIG MAN?
They say he sits slouced on a chair, displaying few emotions, yawning, sighing and looking at the floor when not egnaged. Family members of the women say they feel sick to their stomachs to hear him speak and watch hm in the courtroom. He has maintained his innocence in spite of damning statements made to the interrogator's, other statements made by a couple of his friends, and the girsly evidence they've found on his farm.

Teams of forensic specialists, anthropologists, entomologists and blood-splatter experts and the best police in the province have worked on the case for the last five years. When Piggy was told this he didn't seem impressed.
At one point in the interview he blubbers and cries and says "I'm sorry ...if I can take my life for any one of thes people..." Yet he steadfastly maintains his innocence even when shown the photos of his blood-splattered hom and gory stains on his bed.
"I'm tellin' you the honest truth," he says. "I don't know nothin' about this." He is incredulous when told he's in the papers, a media celebrity.
"You're a big media celebrity ...like Osama bin Laden! Everybody knows who you are," the interrogator tells him.
"Shit!" says the Pig Man.

"He harms himself who does harm to another, and the evil plan is most harmful to the planner."
Hesiod l 265

Monday, January 29, 2007

"I'M A BAD DUDE!"

"I'm a bad dude" is an understatement. This case truly is "the heart of darkness". These women, helpless, lost, drug addicted and desperate were lured to the pig farm and slaughtered.
We have to remember them. We see them every day walking the streets of the downtown east side. How did they get there? Where did they come from? Who are they? I know of people who knew them. I know of girls who might have become his victims. Being a woman, though more fortunate than they were, I know how vulnerable they were.

Two young women who I've known since birth, could have easily ended up on Piggy's farm. Both were seduced into drugs when still in their young teens and before they knew it were lost in that deadly maze of addiction. It was a long, desperate struggle, heartbreaking and sometimes hopeless, but their families would not give up hope. Finally, with help of support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and rehab, one of them has been 'clean' now for six years. The other, weaned off the methadone program, is with a partner and just had a baby. It can be done, but it's along, hard struggle. And the problem is, there aren't enough detox centres or rehab shelters for these women. There isn't even enough safe affordable housing for them to help them get off the street. So a man comes along (often a 'john') offers them drugs, money, who knows what else? And off they go with him...never to be seen alive again.
Remember these women. They might have been your sisters, mothers, daughters, friends...

More about Pigtown Jan 25/07
In court today, more of the video interrogation. Pickton said: "I should be on death row. I'm finished, finished. I'm dead."
More of the interviews with the pig farmer with the police interrogator. And it included a cryptic quote from a friend of his who said Pickton had told him
"A good way to kill prostitutes is with windshield wiper fluid."
The missing women, 26 of whom he is accused of killing, left collectively 100 children behind as well as grieving families and friends. Marnie Frey was murdered on her birthday. Serena A. was also killed around her birthday.
One of the girls was very young, very hopeful...None of them deserved to die this way.
If there's one thing that has been brought forward in the public eye it is the problems in the Downtown East Side. And yet nothing much is being done to improve the situation there, providing housing, safety on the streets, detox centres. The street women of the DTES are discriminated against. This is why 60 of them went missing before anything was done to find them. By then, for most, it was too late.
As one said tonight on the TV news:
"We all live, breath and want like everyone else." To me, that was the most poignant and powerful statement.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

WHAT WENT ON AT PIGGY'S PALACE?

The gruesome details of what went on at the pig farm are starting to be revealed but what else when on there? What exactly was happening at the Piggy's Palace where these pig farmers entertained women and bikers and who-knows-who else? I doubt it was just a friendly neighbourhood get-together with roast pig and kegs of beer. At this point we can only speculate from the disturbing evidence that has been unearthed on the farm. Imaginations run rampant. Rumours sprout like poison mushrooms in manure. It's all beyond comprehension.
But now the trial has begun and the truth will be revealed, no matter how nasty it is.

MONDAY, Jan 22/07
THE TRIAL BEGINS
The trial of the infamous pig farmer starts today after a five year wait. He's on trial now for murder in the deaths of six of the 60 woman who have gone missing from this area since the late '70's. In addition to these six charges, there are another 20 which will be tried separately. He's been in prison the last five years while the pig farm which he operated along with his brother was scoured, literally no stone left unturned, for evidence. The 30 acre or so farmland was completely dug up and investigated by archaeologists specializing in bone fragments. Hundreds of DNA samples were collected. So far only the 26 have been identified. It may come out in the trial that there are many others.

Piggy and his brother ran a party house at the time called Piggy's Palace. It was frequented by bikers (Hells Angels etc)He frequented the downtown east side trolling for street women who were invited to the farm. At the time the case first broke (after years of the police ignoring how many women were going missing) the first thing they checked were the chippers. Get the drift? Remember the movie "Fargo"? Next were the rumours that they had been filming snuff films there. So you can imagine how horrendous the evidence is going to be. Counsellors have been set up in the courthouse to deal with the aftermath of the gruesome evidence that is going to be presented.

Meanwhile the city has been flooded by media from all around the world as this is going to be the most sensational trial in Canada's history. You can find daily updates and details on
www.cbc.ca
or at www.vancouversun.com

Counsellors have also been provided in the downtown area frequented by sex trade workers who might be approached by the media.
These women were mostly addicts and left behind families and children who grieve for them. Unfortunately, some of the family members have been subpoenaed to appear as witnesses and this has created a huge problem for those who have waited all this time for closure because they won't be allowed to attend the court sessions.
Hundreds of people have showed up outside the courtroom waiting to get in, swarming the grieving family members.

At one time I wanted to be a crime reporter, and when I worked for the Van. Sun after high school, one of the women reporters wanted to train me for her desk job. But the city editor wouldn't hear of an 18 year old preacher's daughter working on the crime reports. Instead I ended up being a news librarian in charge of the crime files. I guess that's why I'm always fascinated (though horrified) by these kinds of stories.

Some facts: They built a special courtroom for this trial. The public gallery is separated from the rest of the room by a bullet-proof glass. Pickton sits behind it. Yesterday there were a number of people (especially family members) who left the gallery when the gruesome evidence was given. They've been interviewing them about their thoughts/reactions, and also showing video clips of the various women who were victims. A couple of them left behind beautiful young daughters who have been raised by their grandmas. It's very sad to hear the families and friends talk about them. They were unfortunate women who fell into the sex trade because of drugs. This monster lured them to his farm with promises of a party and good times. He was taped by an undercover person in his cell, bragging about it, how he intended to make it a round 50 but messed up, so only managed to kill 49. There are so far 26 actualy charges, there were other remains found on the farm that matched the dna of a skull found elsewhere, so I think that charge was stayed. The evidence so far has been pretty graphic: severed heads, and body parts found in a freezer; bone fragments discovered at the farm as well as two other locations, on property owned by the pig farmer and his brother. One of the women's body parts were found in the pig sty. It is generally believed that he killed them, butchered them, and put them through the chipper, then ploughed the remains into the earth. The whole 30-odd acres of the farm have been searched, by police, forensic scientists, and archaeologists expert in identifying bones. It has been a five year investigation and the trial is expected to take at least a year.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

WHO IS THIS GUY? AND WHO ARE THE WOMEN?

Looking back in my earliest diary, from 1947, when I was barely a teen ager, I had this fascination with crime involving murder cases. I recall when we first moved to the Coast when I was twelve, I was horrified to read about hangings that took place in a prison not far away. I made notation in my diary about a certain case where two young men had been hung for killing a policeman. "I feel very sad," I wrote. I remember the pall that used to fall over the city whenever an execution was to take place. Now we don't have capital punishment, and I don't agree with it because who knows how many innocent people were punished before we had DNA testing? But there are certain individuals that the tax-payers are paying to support who I wonder about...such as the notorious Clifford Olson who killed children and sits in prison mocking his victim's families. Why did he deserve to live?

WHO IS THIS GUY? Robert "Willie" Pickton (57)
He calls himself "The Pig Man". He bragged about how one day he killed 35 pigs and how good he was at the job.
He is now accused of killing 26 women who's remains have been found on his pig farm.

SOME BACKGROUND ABOUT THE CASE
By the Fall of 2001 there were 45 women officially listed as missing from the Downtown East Side of Vancouver. The investigation was hampered by police infighting, inexperience, under-resourcing and mistakes. By Feb. 2002, after a lot of public pressure and a shake-up in the police dept. the police raided the farm and laid the first of 26 charges.
Now, five years later and an extensive investigation that has/will cost millions, the day of reckoning has come. This crime trial has made news all over the world and 350 representatives of the world's press have descended on the city. Some of the details are so gruesome both TV and newspapers are posting warnings before revealing them so viewers/readers have a choice of watching/reading. Some of the media's websites are posting stories about how to deal with the disturbing elements of the story.
Due to the huge anticipated volume of people interested in attending the trial, the courthouse will have an overflow room. No bags or electronic devices are allowed in either courtroom (except for media who are allowed to record the testimonies). Everyone entering will pass through a metal detector and through two security screenings.
The second day of the trial (and today) the jury saw a videotape of Pickton being interrogated by police. He, of course, claims no knowledge of even knowing the missing women, in spite of evidence found right in the trailer where he lived!

WHO ARE THE FIRST SIX OF THE WOMEN HE IS CHARGED WITH MURDERING?
Sereena Abotsway (30)
Mona Wilson (26)
Andrea Joesbury (23)
Brenda Wolfe (30)
Marnie Frey (30?)
Georgina Papin.(37)

Each of them left behind caring families and friends. Why did they deserve to die?
As one of the grieving fathers said: "These are our sisters, our daughters, our mothers, all human beings -- all great people"
Note: There had been 60 women listed as missing, but several eventually surfaced. Pickton will be tried on the remaining 20 charges after the first trial is over which is expected to take up to a year.

THE TRIAL BEGINS

After five years of intensive investigation, the trial of the pig farmer has begun. The press has issued plenty of warnings about the content of the news and put up banners (on TV and in the newspapers) alerting people of the disturbing contents. A lot of people I've spoken to don't want to hear it. But in a way I think it's important to know the truth. More important, we must not forget the victims or their families. Counsellors have been provided at the court for the familes and viewers and in the downtown area for the sex-trade workers who will definitely be affected. Already there has been evidence described that is so horrifying I won't repeat it here. What interests me is the judicial system and how this is going to affect the jurors and families, because the reckon this trial is going to last a whole year! (And this is only the first six of 26 charges!)
MONDAY, Jan 22/07
THE PIG FARMER’S TRIAL BEGINS
The trial of the infamous pig farmer starts today after a five year wait. He's on trial now for murder in the deaths of six of the 60 woman who have gone missing from this area since the late '70's. In addition to these six charges, there are another 20 which will be tried separately. He's been in prison the last five years while the pig farm which he operated along with his brother was scoured, literally no stone left unturned, for evidence. The 30 acre or so farmland was completely dug up and investigated by archaeologists specializing in bone fragments. Hundreds of DNA samples were collected. So far only the 26 have been identified. It may come out in the trial that there are many others.

Piggy and his brother ran a party house at the time called Piggy's Palace. It was frequented by bikers (Hells Angels etc)He frequented the downtown east side trolling for street women who were invited to the farm. At the time the case first broke (after years of the police ignoring how many women were going missing) the first thing they checked were the chippers. Get the drift? Remember the movie "Fargo"? Next were the rumours that they had been filming snuff films there. So you can imagine how horrendous the evidence is going to be. Counsellors have been set up in the courthouse to deal with the aftermath of the gruesome evidence that is going to be presented.

Meanwhile the city has been flooded by media from all around the world as this is going to be the most sensational trial in Canada's history. You can find daily updates and details on
www.cbc.ca or at www.vancouversun.com
Counsellors have also been provided in the downtown area frequented by sex trade workers who might be approached by the media.
These women were mostly addicts and left behind families and children who grieve for them. Unfortunately, some of the family members have been subpoenaed to appear as witnesses and this has created a huge problem for those who have waited all this time for closure because they won't be allowed to attend the court sessions.

On the news just now, hundreds of people outside the courtroom waiting to get in and swarming the family members.
At one time I wanted to be a crime reporter, and when I worked for the Van. Sun after high school, one of the women reporters wanted to train me for her desk job. But the city editor wouldn't hear of an 18 year old preacher's daughter working on the crime reports. Instead I ended up being a news librarian in charge of the crime files. I guess that's why I'm always fascinated (though horrified) by these kinds of stories.

MONDAY, Jan 22
10.30 pm
Well they said it would be shocking and it was. And this was just the preliminary hearing of a trial that is expected to take up to a year. There is major TV coverage which includes interviews with the victim's families (two left behind beautiful young daughters). Quite a crowd showed up for the first day.
What was revealed was pretty gruesome: severed heads and body parts found in a freezer; bone fragments and pieces of limbs found in the field; personal belongings of the victims. And yet the guy of course pleads 'not guilty'.
It's almost surreal. like watching parts of a CSI segment or something. But it's real. And it happened right here near our beautiful city.

Friday, January 26, 2007

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PIG FARM?

Back in 2000 an alarming number of women were going missing from the Downtown East Side of my city. Nothing much was being done to locate them in spite of requests by anxious relatives and friends. By 2001 there were a total of 60 women on the list. All of them were sex-trade workers with addiction problems. All of them had left behind families, children and friends who worried over their fate. It wasn't until 2002 that an investigation began at a pig farm on the outskirts of town where two brothers were known to have a place called "Piggy Palace" where they often entertained the likes of Hells Angels and other folk, including a lot of women who came from the Downtown area. Finally, armed with a search warrent, and looking for fire arms, the police descended on the farm. Much to their horror, they found more than firearms. They found the remains of a number of women. And so the five year long investigation began.

When I first began working in a newspaper editorial office after highschool, I wanted to be a crime reporter and investigative journalist. Instead I ended up in the news library in charge of the crime and bio files. Now I'm a travel journalist and historical fiction writer, but my interest in the judicial system and the criminal mind still draws me to cases like this, gruesome as they are, so horrifying you can't imagine how a human being could behave in such a dispicable way.

I started making notes about this case on my other on-line journal back in 2002 and decided to post them here along with updates as the trial has now began for the man who calls hims "The Pig Man", Robert "Willie" Pickton. He is charged with 26 counts of murder, six of which are being tried now and the rest later.

FRIDAY MIDNIGHT, Oct 4/02
It seems the brothers who owned the Pig Farm have been selling topsoil.
Of course the farm is now under a massive investigation, every inch of soil there being inspected for possible bone fragments of the missing women.
Now it is reported that soil from this very killing fields has been sold around the Lower Mainland to unsuspecting people for use in landscaping.
Tonight on the news it was reported that the police are concentrating an investigation at a local Indian Reserve where apparantly a load of this soil had been delivered. How ironic that a large number of the missing women happened to be aboriginal women.
The Chief of that particular reserve now has to make a decision to have the areas dug up and searched by one of the investigative teams. This, of course, may be a long procedure and will involve having a large area of ground being dug up. Quite a dilemma.
But how creepy it is, to know that the soil in your gardens or lawns that you bought from said Pig Farm may contain the remains of missing women. And as the Chief said, they owe it to the families who are still waiting to hear if the remains of their loved ones are recovered so they can get some closure.
This is shaping up to be one of the most hideous murder cases in Canadian history. What next? everyone is asking.
And now Mr. Piggy's lawyer is threatening to quit because he says they need a team of at least six lawyer to deal with the case. Piggy claims to be broke. And they want the government to chip in for the legal costs. What next is right!
More as the case unfolds. Incredible, isn't it?

THURSDAY, March 11/04
After seeing "Monster" last night, I'm still thinking about it. An excellent movie. Intense and compelling and such a story! The script was excellent, not overly graphic, but showing how this abused woman became such a 'monster' so you could have some compassion for her and for a couple of her hapless victims.
Meanwhile more horrifying events are unfolding right here in my city in relation to the infamous "Pig Farm" and disappearance of over 60 Downtown East Side street women. There have been over 15 charges laid so far in the case. The culprit is the Pig Farmer, a sleezy red-haired creep named "Willie".
For anyone not up on this story, which is likely the worst case of serial
killing in Canadian history: They've been investigating over a year now with a team of archaeologists sifting through soils from the farm. It became clear early on (from the first week or two) that there was a sinister, evil thing happening out there when the police started checking the equipment such as the meat grinder and chipper, then investigating meat-packing plants where he might have sold his pork.
So now it is headlines that they are warning anyone who got meat off this farm for the last couple of years (it wasn't commercially sold, but given to friends, associates etc) that the meat might be contaminated by human flesh. Meaning?..you guessed it...how he disposed of the bodies. This is possible one of the grossest cases ever to surface in some time. And there will undoubted be more to come as the rumours are rampant about
'snuff killings' and implications that biker gangs were often 'entertained' on his property.
The investigation has brought a lot more focus on the precarious life of hookers. In another recent case some supposedly 'ordinary' Joe with a wife and kid got arrested for a long series of serious assaults on street workers and in the investigation they found videos of him involved in sexual activity with young girls in Asian countries. And this guy was supposed to be an accredited member of one of those international aid programs who help needy kids in foreign countries.
As in the case of some of Aileen's
victims in "Monster" you cannot feel sympathy for some of the men she attacked as she had been horribly abused since her childhood. Such a tragic story with tragic consequences. Just like the hideous events at the Pig Farm.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BABY!

Baby Alexandrea on her first birthday.

JANUARY 4, 2007

Today is my beautiful daughter's birthday. I wish she was here so I could give her a big hug. But wherever she is, I hope she celebrates and has a great day.



Here's a photo of her at her very first birthday. She loved it when we sang "Happy Birthday" to her. After that every time I went to the piano she would say "Hap Bungdee". At first we didn't know what she meant, til it dawned on me, she wanted me to play and sing "Happy Birthday!"

So, Hap Bungdee, Baby. Enjoy your day and I wish you happiness and good health for the coming new year. You are my treasure. I love you! MOM