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Updated Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 10:46 PM

Report details police mistakes in probing attacks at B.C. pig-farm case

By Jeremy Hainsworth
The Associated Press

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Systemic police prejudice against the poor, drug-addicted sex workers who were targeted in Vancouver by Robert Pickton allowed the killer to spend years hunting his victims unimpeded by authorities, said a report released Monday by a public inquiry into what police have called Canada's worst serial killing..

Commissioner Wally Oppal's 1,448-page final report chronicles years of mistakes that allowed Pickton to lure dozens of women to his farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C., with little interference from police and even less concern from the public.

Pickton was convicted in 2007 of six counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of sex workers. He slaughtered the women at his suburban pig farm and fed some of the remains to his pigs. Pickton was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.

Twenty first-degree murder charges against Pickton were stayed.

Pickton picked the women up from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, several square blocks of squalid hotels, drug dealers and street-level prostitution, luring his victims with promises of money, alcohol and drugs.

There were reports of missing women in Vancouver dating to the 1980s, with disappearances increasing in the mid-1990s.

When relatives and friends attempted to report those women missing, Vancouver police told them the women were transient drug addicts who weren't in any trouble or were simply on vacation, Oppal's report notes.

"The missing and murdered women were forsaken by society at large and then again by police," said Oppal.

Commission lawyer Art Vertlieb said DNA from 32 identified missing women and one unknown woman was found at Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam.

The report said the first major investigative blunders began in 1997, when Pickton attacked a sex worker there. It was later revealed that DNA from other missing women was on his clothes that day. Pickton was charged with attempted murder, but prosecutors stayed the case in 1998, after which 19 more women later connected to Pickton's farm vanished.

Oppal said it was "patently unreasonable" that that investigation was not further pursued.


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