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RCMP seek to dispose of evidence in Robert Pickton cases

After DNA evidence linked serial killer Robert Pickton to the disappearance of her sister, Lori Ellis asked police for a prayer card belonging to her sibling. “It was the serenity prayer,” she said.
Marnie Frey with daughter Brittney
Marnie Frey with daughter Brittney. Marnie was killed by Robert Pickton.

After DNA evidence linked serial killer Robert Pickton to the disappearance of her sister, Lori Ellis asked police for a prayer card belonging to her sibling.

“It was the serenity prayer,” she said. “It was found on a shelf in [Pickton’s] slaughterhouse.”

The RCMP has applied to B.C. Supreme Court to dispose of evidence related to the Pickton case, news victims’ families say is traumatizing. The card owned by Cara Ellis is among the items.

“I think it’s absolutely appalling they have done this without notifying the families,” Lori Ellis said of the disposal application. “We were told it would be in storage forever.”

Campbell River’s Rick Frey, whose daughter Marnie was among Pickton’s victims, said news of the bid to destroy the evidence just traumatizes everyone again.

He said Marnie’s daughter is afraid Pickton will be released and come after her. Pickton is in a Quebec prison, ineligible for parole until 2032.

RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Janelle Shoihet confirmed that there is an application to dispose of exhibits related to the investigation.

Documents filed in court in New Westminster say the evidence includes videos of crime scenes, shoes, hypodermic needles, sex toys, rosary beads, knives, a gun, pieces of ammunition and licence plates, among other things.

The documents list most of the items as having no value, with ownership or lawful entitlement unknown. Two items have been returned to their owners, and the licence plates have been returned to ICBC. The videos of crime scenes are being kept by police.

What scant human remains investigators found on the property Pickton co-owned with his brother and sister were returned to the families a decade ago.

The application to dispose of the remaining evidence was filed by lawyer John Ahern, a prosecutor in the case.

In an affadavit, RCMP officer Shane Parsons says he does not anticipate further criminal proceedings related to the Pickton case. “Nor do I believe that the [exhibits] will be required as evidence in criminal proceedings against any other person.”

The Port Coquitlam pig farmer was convicted in 2007 of six counts of second-degree murder involving women who went missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Twenty additional counts were stayed.

Investigative consultant Bruce Pitt-Payne, a retired RCMP sergeant, said evidence disposal is normal in criminal cases.

“The RCMP has very strict polices on when evidence from major crimes such as murder or sex offences may be destroyed,” Pitt-Payne said. “It is in the area of 80 years or more.”

However, once investigators tender evidence to courts, it becomes the decision of the courts on what should be done with it.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

— With files from the Times Colonist

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