Robert Pickton: The Pig Farmer Killer

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“…in some cases, it was suggested that he fed the bodies to his pigs.”

One of Canada’s worst cases of serial killing began in 1983 and continued for 19 years until 2002. Robert Pickton, AKA: The Pig Farmer Killer, was responsible for at least 49 murders. Even though he was only convicted on six of them. He was arrested in 2002 and charged with the deaths of another twenty women.

Forensic detection proved difficult because most of the bodies had either been decomposing for a long time or had been consumed by insects and pigs on the farm. The investigation included heavy equipment and even had 15-metre-long conveyor belts and soil sifters to find evidence of human remains.

In 2004, the Canadian Government confirmed that Pickton may have ground up human flesh and mixed it with pork to be sold to the public and to the wholesale trade. In conjunction with the Health Authority, they issued a warning about meat that had originated from the region.

Almost all of Pickton’s victims were prostitutes from the Vancouver area, and in some cases it was suggested that he fed the bodies to his pigs. He was sentenced in 2010 to 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole in what was the maximum sentence for murder under Canadian law. He confessed to 49 murders but wished to kill another to make it a round fifty.

During the trial, laboratory workers confirmed that 80 unidentified DNA profiles had been detected on the evidence provided to them. Excavations at the farm continued for a year and cost upwards of $70million CAD. The area is now fenced off and all properties belonging to the farm have now been destroyed.

The set-up provided all the victims that Pickton needed

Born in 1949, Robert Pickton came from a family of pig farmers based in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, just 17 miles east of Vancouver. Pickton and his two brothers grew up on the farm and inherited it from their family. In the mid-1990s, they sold parts of the farm for a few million dollars.

A worker at the farm named Bill Hiscox described the remaining part of the farm as a creepy-looking place. He described Pickton as a bizarre individual who would draw attention to himself through any means possible. By 1996, Pickton had already murdered an unknown number of victims. It was in 1996 that things took an even greater turn for the worse.

After selling off parts of the farm, the Pickton brothers neglected the farming operations and looked at events as a way to bring in money. They registered a non-profit company called the Piggy Palace Good Times Society. The operation involved the running and managing of events, including functions, dances, shows, and exhibitions on behalf of service and sports organisations.

Mostly it was a way to host raves and mega parties in a converted slaughterhouse on the farm, which sometimes attracted upwards of 2,000 people a night. Clientele included Hells Angels and Vancouver sex workers. The set-up provided all the victims that Pickton needed.

The raves were against the law as they would sell illegal drugs and alcohol without a license to party-goers, they also charged an entrance fee. It has been suggested that the Piggy Palace Good Times Society was merely a front for their illegal operations.

Pickton had been linked with missing people and murders all the way back to 1978 but was only convicted of murders that took place between 1997 and 2001. A total of 65 women had disappeared in the area from 1978 to 2001. After the largest investigation in Canadian history, investigators are still unsure as to which missing person was the first of his murders.

Aerial view of the Pickton farm

He would lure the women to his pig farm

Prostitutes on the Downtown Eastside area of Vancouver were plentiful in the time that Pickton was killing. The red-light district was known for drug users, prostitutes and crime. Pickton had his pick of victims and it was reported that almost all of his victims were involved in drug use or prostitution. That a murdered prostitute is difficult to investigate, Pickton went unnoticed for two decades.

Before the illegal raves brought a raft of potential victims his way, he would lure the women to his pig farm where no one would hear them scream. He either strangled them with ligatures or shot them dead – before feeding them to the pigs.

Pigs can eat through a human body with ease, it is known that feeding a body to pigs was also used by the Italian Mafia at one point in their history. Because the farm processed the meat on site, Pickton had an easy method of disposal at his hands. It is also unclear whether he fed his victims to the pigs whilst they were dead or alive.

By 2001, Bill Hiscox began to notice that women would be seen entering the farm and never leaving. He finally raised his concerns to police and Pickton was arrested after women’s items were found on the farm. In 2006, he pleaded not-guilty to 27 counts of murder. It is also claimed he attached a dildo to the end of his gun in order to use it as a silencer. It was then suggested that he inserted the dildo into one of the women before shooting them through it.

One of Pickton’s friends, Scott Chubb, claimed that Pickton spoke to him about the best ways to kill hookers. He said that if she was a heroin addict then you could inject her with windscreen washer fluid. He even told Chubb that he killed prostitutes by handcuffing them and strangling them. He claimed he would bleed and gut them dry before feeding them to the pigs.

Pickton was convicted of six murders and the rest were discontinued. The court said that even if the rest were convicted then it wouldn’t change the sentence Pickton had received. The difficult lack of evidence in most cases was hard to convict him on. Even though he claimed a total of 49 murders.

After his arrest, a witness named Lynn Ellingsen came forward to claim she had seen Pickton skinning a small woman hanging from a meat hook on his farm. She didn’t tell anyone at the time as she had been blackmailing Pickton about it ever since.

In 2010, Pickton was sentenced to life with no parole for 25 years, which is the longest possible sentence under Canadian law.


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