(Warning: Some may find the following disturbing. Discretion is advised.)
Robert Pickton may be the man police believe killed 26 women from Vancouver’s east side over three decades, but he wasn’t the only one in their sights.
An RCMP officer who grilled the accused serial killer for 11 hours in 2002 told a New Westminster, B.C. court on Monday that the pig farmer wasn’t the only person police originally arrested for the string of murders.
Under cross examination, RCMP Insp. Don Adam admitted his force originally detained another man and two women and accused them of complicity in some of the slayings.
Adam has also admitted lying to the suspect while he was under intense questioning during a marathon 11-hour interrogation. That tape was played back to the jury last week.
Some of the people named on that tape – Lynn Ellingsen, Dinah Taylor and Pat Casanova – were also detained, but all were later cleared.
In fact the two women were taken into custody a week before Pickton.
It was Ellingsen, a close friend of the accused, who told cops she witnessed Pickton skinning a woman as her dead body hung on a hook.
A third suspect, Casanova, was arrested almost a year later.
Despite the tangled and twisted trail this case has left behind, cops later came to believe the trio was innocent of the crimes.
Adam acknowledges telling Pickton he got Hepatitis C from prostitutes – who were among the most common victims of the murder spree – when he was aware the pig farmer actually caught the disease during a hospital stay.
And he also lied about the amount of one victim’s blood being discovered on his farm.
Under the law, cops don’t have to tell suspects the truth during questioning but the defence may be trying to cast doubt on the certainty of the veteran officer’s testimony.
Meanwhile, despite the complaints of family members that their pleas were being ignored, police contend they were well aware something strange was happening with missing women in Vancouver, even before they stumbled on Robert Pickton’s farm.
Adam also told the court cops suspected someone was hunting prostitutes on the city’s seedy east side and that they began looking at forensic evidence to find the person responsible.
“The one thing we did know is that the victim pool came from the Downtown Eastside and we absolutely believed that somebody is going into that Downtown Eastside and taking them out, ” Adam insisted.
Amidst criticism that authorities were taking too long to move on their evidence, Adam made it clear that police were faced with the monumental task of separating bits of bone and DNA once they finally began searching the suspected serial killer’s property in 2002.
“You don’t go onto a farm like that and start rushing around as though you are on some Easter egg hunt looking for a hot piece of evidence…you take baby steps,” Adam responded, comparing it to the daunting task American officials faced at Ground Zero in New York after the 9/11 attack.
He claims his men eventually took over 400,000 DNA swabs and used every white contamination suit in the entire country as they hunted for clues in the mud and the mess.
“Even as I try to think big, I’ve been guilty of continually underestimating the incredible amount of resources and money this investigation would cost,” Adam noted. “This is the largest, most expensive search that has been done in Canadian policing.”
Pickton has been charged with killing 26 women, mostly hookers and drug addicts, over a three decade span. He’s initially facing trial for just six of those murders, to make it easier on the jurors hearing his case.
The proceeding, the biggest such case in Canadian history, is expected to last up to a year.
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