Knife attack, police inaction: Pickton details revealed
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Thursday, August 5, 2010 9:54PM EDT
Newly released court materials reveal gruesome details in the case of convicted serial killer Robert Pickton, including testimony from the only woman to survive his deadly scheme.
Other freshly released evidence includes details of unidentified female remains which were found in 1995 -- seven years before police began scouring Pickton's notorious pig farm.
Both sets of evidence were sealed during the trial, as the judge wanted to keep jurors focused on the six charges of murder which were put before the court.
In harrowing testimony, Pickton's lone survivor said she was handcuffed and stabbed at his pig farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C., about 30 kilometres east of Vancouver, in March 1997. She broke free, slit his throat with a knife and stumbled onto the highway, where she was spotted by a passerby.
The woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, and Pickton ended up at the same hospital. He was charged with attempted murder, but the case never went to trial.
And though RCMP seized Pickton's clothes, they never checked the items for forensic evidence -- tests that could have tied him to two other missing sex trade workers.
Pickton's neck bears a visible reminder of the grisly incident, said CTV reporter Todd Battis. "You could see this great scar that ran from his ear on one side all the way around to the other."
A decade later, Pickton was found guilty of second-degree murder in the deaths of six women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, all of whom were killed after the 1997 attack.
The Crown announced Wednesday that 20 other murder charges against Pickton would not go to trial, since he already faces life in prison with no chance of parole – the harshest sentence available under Canadian law. The Crown's decision led the court to lift the publication ban on a series of controversial materials previously kept under wraps.
The woman told her story during Pickton's preliminary trial in 2003, but the testimony was excluded from his murder trial after a judge ruled it did not directly relate to the six charges.
In the case of the unidentified female remains, court documents show that half a skull had been found in the Fraser Valley.
The skull had been sawed in half, and investigators later found similarly butchered remains on Pickton's farm. The remains were briefly identified as Pickton's 27th murder victim, but the charge was dropped when a judge ruled that there was not enough evidence for a conviction.
Known only as Jane Doe, the woman's death loomed large during the court proceedings and her identity remains a mystery – one of many women who disappeared from the rough Vancouver neighbourhood where Pickton found his victims.
During a later search on the killer's property, bone fragments from Jane Doe were found by investigators.
Despite hours of evidence in court regarding Jane Doe's death, Justice James Williams asked that the jurors dismiss the testimony. The announcement shocked prosecutors, who briefly considered calling for a mistrial.
More evidence to be released
Pickton's videotaped statement to police after his arrest should become public in the next few days.
Journalist Stevie Cameron, who covered the case and is preparing a second book about it, said that the dropped attempted murder charge remains confounding.
"It was very hard to understand why it was dropped," Cameron told CTV News Channel.
However, Cameron said that the 1997 victim had been harassed and intimidated by a private investigator and the defence lawyer who Pickton had hired after he was charged.
"He had a lot of money and he could afford to hire very good people," said Cameron, who added that Pickton later bragged about spending $80,000 to fight the charge.
Cameron said that the woman didn't testify because of the intimidation tactics employed by Pickton's representatives.
Cameron also revealed that Pickton once admitted to killing 49 women to a cell mate who was an undercover agent planted by police. According to Cameron, Pickton said his goal was to kill as many as 75 women.
Vancouver police last week apologized to the families of Pickton's victim for not catching the mass murderer sooner.
"I hope to God that there is a public inquiry," said Cameron, who noted that many families still have no closure about missing loved ones.
"Think of the families whose daughters were never found."
With files from The Canadian Press