Robert Pickton is charged with 26 murders. In order to lighten the load for the jury, only six cases will be dealt with during the first part of his massive murder trial. Here’s a look back at the victims whose lives will be under the spotlight.
She never really had much of a chance at life, yet friends say she was able to make the best of it.
She was born with fetal alcohol syndrome in a bad area of town. Both her biological parents died when she was young, with her father succumbing to a drug habit.
But her life seemed to turn around when she was taken in by foster parents Bert and Anna Draayers. They did their best with the difficult youngster, and she stayed with them from age four until she was 17.
But she was prone to violence and when her adoptive folks couldn’t control her anymore, they were forced to place her in a group home. It was there the impressionable teen was introduced to drugs and a lifestyle that would eventually see her working the streets.
Despite her life as a prostitute, Abotsway was also an activist for the women she worked with, and when her colleagues began disappearing from the streets of Vancouver in the 80s and 90s, she often spoke up at rallies and demanded action.
But she joined the growing list in August 2001 at the age of 29, and her remains were later dug up and identified on the Pickton farm.
She was removed from a First Nations reserve in Alberta to find a life that varied from extreme happiness to outright misery. As a young girl, she lived in a treatment centre, but was taken out after being found badly beaten in a hallway.
She was placed with a foster family from age eight to 14, and they nurtured her and gave her the only love she would ever know.
She was later put into a home with a single mother and her 14-year-old son, and the love that had helped her blossom soon faded.
Two years later, she would be living on her own in Vancouver, turning to heroin to hide her pain and prostitution to finance her lifestyle.
She disappeared in November 2001 at the age of 26, even as she was trying to kick the habit and turn her life around.
She grew up amid the spectre of alcoholism, physical abuse and mental illness. So when a boyfriend persuaded 16-year-old Joesbury to move away with him it seemed like the perfect escape.
Her boyfriend was a drug dealer who wound up getting her addicted to the products he sold and she ended up on the streets selling herself to support her new habit. She worked for a series of pimps who violently abused her.
But her family remembers her as a loving daughter with a big smile and a person who was a wonderful big sister to her siblings. She had a daughter of her own when she was last seen in June 2001.
Not a lot is known about how Brenda Wolfe got from Lethbridge, Alberta to the mean streets of Vancouver’s East Side. She was briefly addicted to drugs but seemed to have turned her life around, working as a waitress and a bouncer in a local eatery.
Her friends say she was never a prostitute and in fact worked to defend them if they were attacked, in what’s being called a ‘street enforcer’ role.
It was because of that identity that so many were surprised to see her named as one of Robert Pickton’s alleged victims. She disappeared in February 1999.
Both Georgina and her eight siblings were put in foster care early in life and she never really knew her family. By the time she hit 18, the First Nations-born Papin had been living with dozens of different people and couldn’t put down roots anywhere.
She was said to have had an ‘on-again, off-again’ addiction to drugs, but always found time to contact her daughter, who lived with her grandmother.
Papin had seven children in total, but because of her lifestyle – which included some prison time – she was challenged on their custody in court. She was last seen in March 1999, after telling her daughter she wasn’t feeling well and planned to check into a local care facility. She was only 34-years-old.
She seemed to have it all – a loving home and a family that supported her. She even attended a Christian school.
But when Marnie Frey had a daughter at age 18, her life changed. She was lured into the world of drugs though a local gang and finally wound up on the streets of Vancouver selling her body to maintain her habit.
But despite the alteration, she always phoned home, sometimes up to eight times a day, to find out how her little girl was doing.
Her last call came on September 4, 1999. From then on there was only silence. Her remains were among those recovered on that lonely farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C.
For more on the victims and the others who may have died at a serial killer’s hands, click here.
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