We all have one or two unnerving neighbors. You know the ones I’m talking about. Maybe they only come out at night, maybe they hold what you imagine to be creepy sex parties, maybe they simply don’t say hello to anyone: whatever the reasons for their awkwardness, it all adds up to an uncomfortable relationship with the people nearby.
Rob and Dave were these kind of neighbors and they fit quite a few of the descriptions above. What their Vancouver neighbors didn’t know, was that at least one of them was up to something far worse than all-night parties in his barn…
A Bleedin’ Escort
Wendy Lynn Eistetter was a prostitute with a history of drug abuse. This combined reputation did nothing to ingratiate her into the good graces of the police. Of course, when she showed up at the hospital with stories of some creep at a farm who had tried to stab her, and the same creep showed up soon after with injuries of his own: the authorities decided they had probably better investigate.
Robert and his brother David were entrepreneurs…of a sort. They owned a farm together in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, just east of Vancouver. It was the type of farm that would be most at home in a horror movie and farm worker Bill Hiscox, though comfortable enough working there, was always happy to head home after a hard day: before nightfall if he could help it…
One of the most unusual things about Robert and David’s farm was the fact that it was patrolled by not only a pack of dogs, but also an ill-tempered, 600-lb boar, one of the few pigs on the property. The boar was one of the meanest creatures in existence and was perfectly at home at the farm and in the company of the brothers.
Hard to Talk To
David Pickton was a pleasant, if slightly awkward fellow, but his brother Robert, well…he was different. Generally quiet, Robert Pickton was the type of guy whose overall demeanor made it difficult to strike up a conversation with him. He would often evince bizarre, outlandish behavior, without the assistance of alcohol, and was a bad influence on his brother…
In time, the two men allowed the farm to slip into disarray as they made plans to create something far grander, and far more fun. They registered a non-profit charity, the Piggy Palace Good Times Society, with the Canadian government. They claimed the organization would organize, co-ordinate, manage and operate special events, functions, dances, shows and exhibitions on behalf of service organizations, sports organizations and other groups.
In reality, the Piggy Palace Good Times Society was dedicated mainly to the good times portion of its namesake. Events the Picktons organized included raves and wild parties they’d hold in the converted slaughterhouse on the farm. These frequent bashes would feature Vancouver prostitutes and would regularly attract as many as 2,000 people. Even members of the Hell’s Angels were known to be in attendance…
Escaped his Clutches
For the most part, police left the party scene at the Pickton place alone. Yet, when Wendy Eistetter showed up at the hospital accusing Robert Pickton of handcuffing and stabbing her, they began to suspect that more than just normal debauchery was going down at the Piggy Palace Good Times Society. Pickton was arrested at the hospital after being patched up and was released on a $2,000 bond.
The charge was dismissed, but the Picktons were now out in the open. Months later, the brothers were sued by Port Coquitlam officials for violating zoning ordinances. They had neglected the agriculture for which they had been zoned and had altered the slaughterhouse so they could hold their Baccinalias. The pressure was on…but the Pickton boys didn’t seem to notice…
Banned from Parties
Robert and David ignored the legal pressure. In 1998, they held a New Year’s bash and were presented soon after with an injunction banning all future parties. This time the police were serious, the injunction made it possible for them to arrest anyone attending any party on the farm in the future. They also lost their status as a so-called, nonprofit.
Over the course of the next three years, the parties did indeed stop. Mr. Hiscox continued to work on the farm, but the brothers’ awkwardness increased with each passing day. Then, one morning, it occurred to Hiscox that many of the women who visited the farm eventually went missing. In 2002, he reported the coincidence to the police, who arrived at the property bearing a search warrant for illegal firearms…
Search the Farm
Both Picktons were taken into custody and while they were in, the police obtained a second court order to search the farm. Personal items belonging to a multitude of missing women were found at the farm and the place was eventually sealed. Robert Pickton was charged with weapons offenses but was released and kept under police surveillance while they searched the farm.
Eventually, enough evidence was found to link Robert Pickton to the disappearances they had on file…and then some. He was arrested and charged with two counts of first degree murder in the deaths of Sereena Abotsway and Mona Wilson. Then, months later, they added three more charges for the murders of Jacqueline McDonell, Diane Rock, and Heather Bottomley. A sixth charge for the murder of Andrea Joesbury was laid a few days later and then a seventh for Brenda Wolfe. The hits just kept on coming after that…
And More Charges
The same September, four more charges were added for the slayings of Georgina Papin, Patricia Johnson, Helen Hallmark, and Jennifer Furminger. Then four more after that for Heather Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving, and Inga Hall. Robert Pickton had a total of fifteen murders on his head, which made the case the largest investigation of any serial killer in Canadian history.
Digging it Up
Excavations continued at the farm as more bodies and belongings were unearthed. Though, forensic analysis proved difficult, because the bodies may have been left to decompose, or be eaten by insects and pigs on the farm, there was no doubt that the police were dealing with an absolute madman. Months passed and more bodies were found, each one laying further charges upon Pickman…
A year later and more bodies were uncovered. Twelve more charges were laid against Pickton for the killings of 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, bringing the total number of first-degree murder charges to 27. It was unbelievable and it was about to get even worse…
On March 10, 2004, the police discovered something most unsettling about the lack of victims’ remains. The investigators believe that only did Pickton grind up human flesh and feed it his pigs, but he may have also mixed some of the ground flesh with the pork he sold to the public. The revelation was coupled with a warning to the public but the damage had likely already been done…
The attempted-murder charge against Pickton which he originally received after the attack on poor Wendy Eistetter, was originally dropped. Wendy’s drug addiction issues made prosecutors believe that she would be too unstable to give testimony. Perhaps if she had been able to, many lives would have been spared, because the clothes and rubber boots he was wearing that night, which were taken by police, languished in a storage locker for seven years. The DNA of two missing women was on the items.
Other items recovered by police in the subsequent investigations included, a loaded .22 revolver with a dildo over the barrel, boxes of .357 Magnum handgun ammunition, night-vision goggles, two pairs of faux fur-lined handcuffs, a syringe with three millilitres of an unknown blue liquid inside, and “Spanish fly” aphrodisiac. It was a serial killers toolkit for certain…
Missed his Goal
In 2007, as the trial was concluding, Pickton admitted something shocking to an undercover agent from the Office of Inspector General, who was posing as a cellmate. He told the cellmate that he had killed a total of 49 people and that he wanted to kill one more so he could make it an even 50. He also admitted that he was only caught because he was, as he put it, “sloppy.”
When it was all said and done, and after years of continued investigation on the Pickton farm, Robert Pickton was charged with the deaths of an additional 20 women. In 2010 though, the Crown stayed those charges and while the families of those victims weren’t happy, Pickton was already sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 25 years.