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Inside The Twisted Mind of BC's Serial Killer: Robert Pickton

Updated: Feb 3

Robert Pickton, also known as the "Pig Farmer Killer," is one of the most infamous Canadian serial killers that used Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside as his hunting ground. In the late 1990s, more and more women vanished from that area, but despite numerous tip offs, the Vancouver Police Department have since admitted to “botching” the case and failing to act fast enough.

robert pickton

Robert Pickton

The heinous crimes Pickton committed on his farm in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, not only led to his conviction but also exposed a shocking lack of attention to the plight of Indigenous women who had gone missing. Let’s examine the case of Robert Pickton and delve into the mind of a psychopathic killer.

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Downtown Eastside, Vancouver

Downtown Eastside: Pickton’s Hunting Ground

Robert Pickton was a pig farmer who lived on a sprawling, dilapidated estate. The rundown barns and slaughterhouses provided an ideal façade for a deranged individual who murdered 49 women and fed their remains to his pigs or disposed of them at the local landfill. Pickton would pick his victims around the Downtown Eastside area.

He became acquainted with the area by frequenting a rendering plant situated in the area where he would discard animal waste. He would drive along the ten-block stretch known as the Low Track, proposition women with cash and drugs and then drive them to his farm.

The police launched an investigation in 2002 after several women went missing in the area, and they eventually focused on Pickton as the prime suspect. In 2004, the police raided his property, and during their search, they found DNA evidence from at least 33 women. The remains of six women were also found on the farm.

Despite refusing to confess to police, Pickton was ultimately caught when an undercover officer was placed in his cell. In a moment of disturbing candor, Pickton boasted about his killings, methods of disposing of the bodies, and expressed regret at not achieving his goal of 50 murders, claiming that he had become careless.

Timeline of Criminal Events

  • In 1991, Robert Pickton was charged with attempted murder after he stabbed a prostitute named Wendy Lynn Eistetter.

  • In 1997, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) began investigating Pickton and his brother David for the disappearance of several women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

  • In 2002, police obtained a search warrant for Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam, where they discovered the remains and belongings of many missing women.

  • In 2007, Pickton was convicted of the murders of six women and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.

robert pickton farm

The Farm

Robert Pickton's Farm

The crime scene, Robert Pickton's pig farm, was located in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. After his parents died, Pickton and his siblings sold the majority of the property for urban development, reducing the farm to 6.5 hectares.

The farm was a well-known hangout spot for prostitutes and drug addicts. According to The Guardian, the police were given numerous tip-offs about Pickton. “Wayne Leng, a friend of another of the missing women, Sarah de Vries, says he had an anonymous tip that a prostitute who had visited the farm had spotted a number of women's identification cards among Pickton's possessions. He said he also passed this tip on to the police, with no apparent result,” says The Guardian.

According to reports, the farm was filthy, with piles of garbage and animal carcasses scattered around. Pickton was known to have used the farm to dispose of the remains of his victims.

Robert Pickton's Mother: A Disturbed Childhood

Helen Louise Pickton, Robert's mother, was known to be abusive and controlling. Her influence on Pickton's disturbed childhood has been cited as a possible factor that contributed to his psychopathic tendencies. Pickton and his siblings’ life was “brutal and difficult” and his father was largely emotionally absent and not involved in raising the children.

Louise expected the children to work almost all hours outside of school to slop pigs and attend to the far work. One anecdote in particular summarizes Pickton’s childhood. According to “On The Farm” by Stevie Cameron, when Robert was little he used to “crawl into the carcasses of gutted hogs to hide from people who were angry with him.”

Robert Pickton's Brother: A Complicit Accomplice?

Dave Pickton, Robert's younger brother, was a co-owner of the pig farm and lived on the property with Robert. Although he was never charged with murder, he was charged with several counts of being an accessory after the fact.

The police suspected that Dave was aware of his brother's actions but chose to remain silent. In an interview with CBC News, Dave denied any involvement in the murders. He “had “no idea” sex workers were visiting his family's property and murdered and he disputes the accusation that he ever helped his brother cover up his crimes.

Arrest And Trial Details

  • Robert Pickton was arrested on February 22, 2002, and charged with two counts of first-degree murder and was convicted for the murders of Marnie Frey, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Sereena Abotsway, Brenda Wolfe and Georgina Papin.

  • The investigation quickly grew as three more charges were added two months later, followed by three more after a few days, and an additional four in both September and October.

  • Forensic analysis proved difficult as the bodies were severely mutilated and in advanced stages of decomposition. It was also rumored that he fed the bodies directly to his pigs and even mixed the human flesh with the pork which he sold to the public, although these are allegations only.

  • On January 30, 2006, Pickton's trial began where he pleaded not guilty to 27 murders. Justice Williams divided the charges into two categories: one group of six counts and another of twenty counts. One of the 27 counts was rejected due to a lack of evidence.

  • On December 9, 2007, the jury found Pickton guilty of six counts of second-degree murder. Judge James Williams sentenced him to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 25 years, which is the maximum punishment you can receive for second-degree murder.

  • There were later attempts to charge him with the deaths of another 20 women, but a second trial was eventually canceled as the charges would not add any more time to his sentence, given that Pickton was already serving the maximum sentence under the law.

Is Robert Pickton A Psychopath?

Pickton was diagnosed with psychopathy, a personality disorder characterized by a lack of empathy, a disregard for the rights of others and a tendency toward criminal behavior. Experts say that psychopathy is a complex disorder that can be influenced by both genetics and environmental factors.

In Pickton’s case, it is believed that his upbringing and his family's history of criminal behavior may have contributed to his psychopathy.

Robert Pickton Documentary: An Eerie Insight into the Mind of a Killer

The documentary, “The Pig Farm,” is an award-winning 2011 documentary that investigates the reasons why it took police so many years to convict Pickton despite numerous tip offs. The documentary is not available on Netflix, but on Amazon Prime.

Robert Pickton’s Net Worth

Robert Pickton’s net worth is unknown.

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