‘The sufferings of the women can only be imagined. Not one body has been found intact, and a wood chipper and Mr. Pickton's pigs are believed to have devoured much of the evidence, leaving behind mostly microscopic traces of DNA.’
New York Times 23 November 2003
Many serial killers, such as Dennis Nilsen, are only discovered after neighbours notice unusual smells. Canada’s candidate for ‘most savage psycho killer’ had a practical solution to the problem of multiple rotting bodies. Robbert Pickton fed his victims to his pigs. He is charged with the murder of just six women but is implicated in the deaths of at least 60.
Robert William ‘Willie’ Pickton was born in a suburb of Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, in British Columbia in 1949. He and his brother and sister inherited the family farm when their parents died in the 1970s. The pig farm may have been 30 miles from Vancouver but as the city expanded, Pickton started to sell off parts of his land to encroaching housing estates and shopping centres. One of the places that escaped development that Pickton liked to visit was Downtown Eastside.
It was from this area that he procured prostitutes for his social club nights at the aptly named ‘Piggy’s Palace’. He found it surprisingly easy to entice women with the promise of drink, drugs and money. But perhaps surprisingly for a sex obsessed serial killer, he didn’t drink or smoke. Neighbours remember him as a quiet but hard-working man who would either work on the farm or on his salvage business.
It was one of his workers, Bill Hiscox, who first fingered Pickton as a suspect. The police were aware of Pickton because he had attacked a prostitute in 1997, but the case had been dropped. Despite this, he was still blacklisted by many prostitutes who also suggested to police that Pickton might be responsible for the rise in missing women from Downtown Eastside.