On March 23, 1997 Robert “Willy” Pickton attacked a downtown eastside Vancouver sex trade worker at the Port Coquitlam property he shared with his brother.  The Crown laid charges of attempted murder, forcible confinement, assault with a weapon and aggravated assault against him but stayed the charges as the trial approached.


The VPD and the RCMP had Pickton in their sights as a prime suspect in the disappearances of other downtown eastside sex trade workers from August of 1998 onwards but didn’t apprehend him.  He was able to kill dozens of women, as many as 49 in all, until February 5, 2002.


These are the central factual questions posed by the terms of reference of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.  The anguished families of Pickton’s victims have long sought a public inquiry into these questions, and others.  Now that the Commission is finally hearing testimony from the police officers actually involved in the investigations, will the families get the answers they need and deserve?  Or will the sudden appearance of a host of lawyers for individual police officers to augment the teams that the VPD and RCMP have had to look out for their interests for the last decade throw a spanner in the works?


The latest report from The Vancouver Sun’s Neal Hall is here.