BC Missing Women Investigation

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Park bench memorial to the Missing Women at Crab (Portside) Park, Vancouver, BC.

The BC Missing Women Investigation is an ongoing criminal investigation into the disappearance of at least 60 women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside from the early 1980s through 2002. The investigation is headed by a task force of members from the RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department.

Many of the missing women were impoverished, drug-addicted sex workers from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Much of the investigation centred on Robert William Pickton and his Port Coquitlam pig farm.

Robert Pickton[edit]

On December 9, 2007, Pickton was convicted of second-degree murder in the deaths of six women:

  • Count 1, Sereena Abotsway[1] (born August 20, 1971), 29 when she disappeared in August 2001.
  • Count 2, Mona Lee Wilson[2] (born January 13, 1975), 26 when she was last seen on November 23, 2001. Reported Missing November 30, 2001.
  • Count 6, Andrea Joesbury, 22 when last seen in June 2001.
  • Count 7, Brenda Ann Wolfe,[3] 32 when last seen in February 1999 and was reported missing in April 2000.
  • Count 16, Marnie Lee Frey,[4] last seen August 1997.Vancouver Police Missing Persons Case #98-209922.
  • Count 11, Georgina Faith Papin, last seen in 1999.

On January 7, 2008 an appeal for a new trial was requested by the Crown to the British Columbia Court of Appeal (BCCA). This was an attempt to convict Robert Pickton on twenty-six counts of first-degree murder.[5]

Judgment by the Court of Appeal on June 25, 2009 did concur with the Crown that errors were made during Pickton's trial. However, a new trial would not be granted in support of the Crown.[6]

On the same day as the Crown's appeal was denied, Robert Pickton's appeal for a new trial was denied, as well. Pickton still has the right to appeal the lower court's decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.[6]

On July 30, 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its decision dismissing Pickton's appeal and affirming his convictions.[7][8]

In August 2010, the Vancouver Police Department released Missing Women: Investigation Review, a report which provides a critical analysis of the Missing Women Investigation.[9]

The RCMP said that it continues to investigate the deaths of missing women, with a task force including 51 staff.[10]

At a press conference on July 30, 2010, RCMP assistant commissioner Al MacIntyre said:

"There's still 39 outstanding cases of missing women that are being fully examined and pursued. The joint task force remains committed to our promise to continue to investigate the cases of these missing women until we have exhausted all possible avenues.…You have my word on that."[11]

RCMP inspector Gary Shinkaruk of the Missing Women Task Force suggested that at least one other serial killer may be operating in the region: "There's a number of active investigations that we know are homicides that, again, we are not attributing to Pickton, so we are fully engaged in those investigations."[12][13] This includes five women believed to have been murdered in the Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver, and three women murdered in the Fraser Valley.[12]

Missing Women Commission of Inquiry[edit]

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry was established by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on September 27, 2010 to inquire into the "(BC Missing Women) Investigation and events leading up to the arrest and conviction of Robert W. Pickton and a broader examination of the manner in which cases involving missing women are investigated."[14]

According to a press release issued by the British Columbia Attorney General on September 28, 2010:

"Hearing commissions investigate and make findings of fact in matters where there is the possibility of a finding of misconduct. Commissions are independent bodies under the Public Inquiry Act that provide advice and recommendations to government on specific topics of interest to the public."[15]

The Commission's final report was originally due to be sent to the Attorney General on or before December 31, 2011, but it was granted an extension. The revised date for final report submission to the Attorney General is on or before November 30, 2012.[16]

Similar projects[edit]

The high profile of the BC investigation caused other Canadian jurisdictions to create new task forces to deal with missing persons cold cases. Often these cases involve marginalized women, including sex workers, drug users, and Aboriginals. In Manitoba, Project Devote was looking for 28 people as of 2012[17] Since 2003, Project KARE has been looking for "cases of murdered or missing high risk persons from all parts of Alberta".[18]


Human rights organizations the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Pivot Legal Society and West Coast LEAF have condemned the inquiry for its failure to include the voices of marginalized women. 15 groups representing the interests of marginalized people were initially granted standing at the inquiry but pulled out of the process in protest after being denied funding.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fournier, Suzanne; Fraser, Keith & Jiwa, Salim (2002-02-26). "Daughter phoned daily for 13 years". The Province. Archived from the original on 23 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-29. 
  2. ^ Fong, Petti & Kines, Lindsay (2002-02-26). "Sister trapped by drugs, prostitution". Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on 8 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-29. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-02-10. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-06-23. Retrieved 2007-05-29. 
  5. ^ King, Gary C. (April 2009). "Butcher". New York: Kensington Publishing Corp.. pp.325-327. ISBN 0-7860-1934-4
  6. ^ a b Ministry of Attorney General, "Pickton Trial". (June 26, 2009) http://www.ag.gov.bc.ca/courts/other/pickton/index.htm (June 26, 2009). Retrieved on October 21, 2009.
  7. ^ "Judgments in Appeals" (Press release). Supreme Court of Canada. 2010-07-30. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  8. ^ R. v. Pickton Archived October 22, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., 2010 SCC 32
  9. ^ "Supplemental information provided to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women" (PDF). Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  10. ^ Robert Matas (2010-07-30). "Police apologize to Pickton's victims". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 3 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  11. ^ CBC News (2010-07-30). "Robert Pickton won't get new trial: top court". Archived from the original on 2 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-06. 
  12. ^ a b "Other serial killers" (video). CBC—The National. 2010-07-30. Retrieved 2010-08-06. 
  13. ^ James Keller and Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press (2010-07-31). "Appeal denied: Top court rejects serial killer Pickton's request for a new trial". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2010-08-06. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Supplemental information provided to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women" (PDF). Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  15. ^ "Oppal to Head Inquiry into Missing Women Vancouver". Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  16. ^ "Missing Women Commission of Inquiry". Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  17. ^ http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Provinces-list-of-missing-or-murdered-down-to-28-people-162365056.html?device=mobile
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-03-16. Retrieved 2012-07-23. 
  19. ^ Missing Women Inquiry condemned as a failure by B.C. human rights groups Retrieved 19 Nov 2012

External links[edit]