Robert Pickton, pig farmer who confessed to the deaths of 49 women, dies after prison attack

June 04, 2024

Canadian Serial Killer, Robert Pickton, has died in prison at the age of 74. Pickton had been detained at the institution since late 2007 after being convicted of six counts of murder in the second degree in the deaths of Sereena Abotsway, 29, Mona Lee Wilson, 26, Andrea Joesbury, 22, Brenda Ann Wolfe, 32, Georgina Faith Papin, 34, and Marnie Lee Anne Frey, 24.

Pickton, who was being held at the Port-Cartier Institution, a stand-alone maximum-security institution in the north shore region of Quebec, was attacked by another inmate on May 19, 2024. He later died in hospital as a result of his injuries.

 

Robert William "Willie" Pickton was a Canadian serial killer, who was active from 1983 - 2001. It is believed that he murdered at least 26 women, although he confessed to killing many more to an undercover RCMP officer, expressing that he was aiming to round up to an even 50 before he was caught.

Pickton earned the moniker "the pig farmer killer," as he grew up on his parents pig farm, and eventually dropped out of school in the early sixties to work as a meat cutter for a few years, until he and his siblings inherited the pig farm after their parents deaths in the late seventies.

As children, Pickton and his brother had been kept behind to work on the farm raising pigs and cattle, and since they were rarely sent off to school showered and with fresh clothing, they were picked on and called names by their classmates who often commented on how they smelled. Pickton didn’t do well at school, and his father was reportedly abusive, so he avoided the man as much as he could. His sister was not raised on the farm, but in the city, as her parents believed it to be an unsuitable environment for a girl.

 In the spring of 1997, Wendy Lynn Eistetter, a sex worker, went to police, telling them that she had escaped Pickton's farm after being handcuffed and stabbed multiple times. She told police she and Pickton had gotten into a fight, and that he had handcuffed her, but she had managed to escape after stabbing him with his own knife. After a short stay in a local hospital to recover from his injury, Pickton was jailed, and subsequently released on bail. He managed to get out of an attempted-murder charge as his victim was deemed unstable for testimony due to issues with substance abuse, and thus the court was unable to convict Pickton on the charge.

He and his brother, David, were racking up various charges against them, including sexual assaults in David’s case, and traffic offenses in Roberts.

Together, the brothers would go on to get sued for the way they were managing their Port Coquitlam pig farm on Dominion Avenue in Port Coquitla. They were also facing zoning problems and other issues regarding the buildings on the land. In fact, they eventually began to neglect the agricultural purpose of the farm in general.

They had one such building on the land, an old slaughterhouse, refurbished and turned into a venue they held various events and functions at, under the name “the Piggy Palace Good Times Society,” a charity they started in the mid-nineties. Upwards of 1,500 people would attend events at the farm, which was described as “creepy” and had a pack of dogs running around the property, one of which was actually a 600lb guard-boar that some say would chase and bite like the other dogs.

Bill Hiscox, a 37-year-old widow who had turned his life around when he started working at P&B Salvage, around 20 miles from Vancouver, picked up his work cheques from Pickton's pig farm in the 1990s. He was aware of the Pickton brothers and their property, and was unnerved by it all.

He described the functions hosted by the Piggy Palace Good Times Society as alcohol-fuelled raves with a rotating schedule of sex workers. Their New Years Eve party in 1998 marked the end of Piggy Palace, and police banned any further events.

Unable to provide financial statements for their non-profit, the Pickton’s charity went on to be closed in 2000.

Hiscox had become increasingly unnerved at the newspaper headlines about missing women, and felt uneasy sitting with the knowledge of the Pickton’s seedy parties, Robert’s old van with tinted windows that he could cruise around in, and the fact that he knew the man was often downtown soliciting sex workers. Coupled with the other legal troubles and the stabbing and assault of Wendy Lynn Eistetter, he knew he needed to tip off police.

In late September of 2010, the Lieutenant Governor in Council in British Columbia, launched The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. The Inquiry sought to evaluate how the RCMP responded to reports of missing women. After two years over sixty recommendations were presented, however, response to the inquiry from the public, including Indigenous peoples, was criticized. Indigenous women in Canada are more likely to suffer violence against them, as well as sexual assault, and findings revealed that a shocking 33% of missing women’s cases were that of the Indigenous community.

According to a UMT study: “Indigenous women are 400 per cent more likely than other Canadians to go missing. The problem is so pervasive that the Canadian government does not know how many Indigenous women are missing or have been murdered. Estimates suggest that around 4,000 Indigenous women and girls and 600 Indigenous men and boys have gone missing or been murdered between 1956 and 2016."

In February 2002, a search warrant for illegal firearms was executed by police on the Pickton Pig Farm, ending in the arrest of David and Robert. A second warrant executed under the As part of The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry at the property and turned up items belonging to missing women. The brothers were released the next day, under the watchful eye of law enforcement, and Robert Pickton was arrested on two counts of murder  in the deaths of Sereena Abotsway and Mona Wilson a couple of weeks later.

Over the next several months, more murder charges were added to the list, including the following women: Jacqueline McDonell, Dianne Rock, Heather Bottomley, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin, Patricia Johnson, Helen Hallmark, Jennifer Furminger, eather Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving, Inga Hall, Cara Ellis, Andrea Borhaven, Debra Lynne Jones, Marnie Frey, Tiffany Drew, Kerry Koski, Sarah de Vries, Cynthia Feliks, Angela Jardine, Wendy Crawford, Diana Melnick, and Jane Doe.

Andrea Borhaven and Cara Ellis’s DNA was found on items belonging to Robert Pickton.

In 2004 it was revealed to the public that Robert Pickton may have fed his victim’s remains to the pigs on his property, or potentially ground them up into pork sold at the farm.

Robert Pickton was convicted of six counts of second-degree murder December 9, 2007. Initially, he was charged in the deaths of the other twenty women, but these additional 20 charges were stayed in 2010.

Surviving relatives of Pickton’s victims have been informed of his death.

Correctional Services Canada said of the case: "We are mindful that this offender’s case has had a devastating impact on communities in British Columbia and across the country, including Indigenous peoples, victims and their families. Our thoughts are with them."

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