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Robert Pickton's Farm of Horror

Updated on December 13, 2011

For those who knew him, Robert William Pickton was considered just a simple pig farmer in Vancouver, B.C. However, he was to become the subject of Canada's largest crime scene investigation in history. Pickton's grisly tale began in the late 1970s and ended with a list of about 66 names of missing women…Pickton was responsible for at least 49.

Pickton generally went by the nickname of “Willie.” He was born in October of 1949 on a small farm near New Westminster, British Columbia. Their farm was located close to the grounds of an institution for the criminally insane where he and his two siblings frequently went to play. Whether that coincidence had anything to do with Willie’s later deranged state has never been determined. His father raised hogs for a living and Willie grew up to do the same. The family eventually moved their farming operation close to Vancouver.

Researchers delving into Pickton’s early life found he was basically lazy and had extremely poor hygiene habits. Most people avoided him as he always smelled of pig manure. He wasn’t known as a particularly bright student and frequently skipped school to work on the farm.

After his parents passed away in the late 70s, the Pickton kids sold parts of their property to land developers who built condominiums and strip malls. They made a tidy profit. With their new found wealth Willie, along with his sister and brother, turned a plant nursery into what they called the "Piggy's Palace Goodtime Society."

They cloaked their enterprise as a nonprofit organization raising funds for needy causes, but in reality it was nothing more than a den of inequity where wild parties, orgies and drug use proliferated. Attendance was said to number over 1500 guests at times. But, eventually the government got wind of what was going on and their nonprofit status was pulled. The Piggy Palace was shut down and Willie’s siblings went their own way.

Willie began hanging around Vancouver’s seedier downtown Eastside picking up prostitutes and taking them to his farm. Oddly enough women began disappearing in the area about the same time. Between January and December 1997, at least 14 women were reported missing. But police paid little notice as those missing were mostly known prostitutes who frequently changed locations. Besides, no dead bodies were showing up.

No one suspected what was really going on. Pickton had been taking women to his pig farm where he unmercifully tortured them. When he tired of the sport they were strung up, butchered and then fed to his hogs. Little did consumers who bought pork products from him realize what they were buying.

Not only did he sell pork, but also made money off the offal, (hog carcasses, entrails and other left over wastes) by selling them to a rendering plant nearby to where many prostitutes conducted their business. These eventually ended up in such things as perfume, shampoo, cosmetics and household items.

During his frequent trips to the rendering plant many of the working girls became familiar with Willie. He became known on the street as a “bad date.” A “bad date” was a John known to have become violent at times. However, the drug addicted girls would willfully get into his truck regardless of his foul smell and reputation, because they knew he would give them money and drugs. Surprisingly, it took a long time for the girl’s contemporaries to realize many never returned after going off with Pickton.

In March 1999, one of Pickton's few friends, 29 year old Lynn Ellingsen, was staying at the farm while recuperating from an abusive relationship. In later testimony she was to tell a horrifying account. Ellingsen said one night Pickton picked up Georgina Papin, a prostitute, on their way home. When they got to the farm Pickton and Papin went to one room, and she to another. Ellingsen eventually fell asleep.

Later, Ellingsen was awakened by a loud noise. She got up, went to look out the window and saw a light on in the building where Pickton slaughtered his pigs. Curious as to why Willie would be working at such a late hour she went to investigate. When she opened the barn door a crack to peek in Pickton suddenly yanked her inside. He was covered head to toe in blood and Georgina was hanging from a meat hook. Her body had been skinned and her hair was on a table.

Pickton threatened to do the same to her if she told anyone about what she had seen. Scared out of her wits she solemnly promised never to tell. Pickton then sent her on an errand to buy more drugs. After what she had just seen Ellingsen gratefully took the opportunity to leave. Instead of returning to the farm she moved in with another friend. Terrified of what might happen if she told what she knew she kept her silence for nearly three years.

Meanwhile, Police had been growing suspicious of Pickton's activities and he was arrested on an unrelated illegal weapons charge in February 2002. After making bail he returned to the farm, where officers were waiting to present him with a search warrant. During the initial search police found prescription inhalers bearing the name of a woman who had been missing for quite some time. During the following 20 months investigators would become numb from the sheer number of atrocities they found to have been committed on the farm. In addition to numerous items of women's clothing and accessories, human blood, skulls, jawbones, teeth and human heads sawn in half were also found.

In December 2007, after a trial lasting nearly a year, Robert Pickton was sentenced to six concurrent life sentences with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

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    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Paradise...USHISTORY and I are planning to bust him out next week. He he.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 

      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Those poor women. The ultimate "bad date", eh? Prostitutes or not, nobody deserves such an end to a life. I hope the guy never gets out of prison.

    • USHISTORY4YOU profile image

      Anthony Carrell 

      6 years ago from Lemoore California

      I've read a bit about the case,and that was one of the things that stuck with me about it. There were pictures of people in haz mat suits all over the place. Please don't think I'm criticizing you.I enjoy your writings.

      It just shows that different people approach the same subject sometimes from different angles.

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      You are right History. I don't always include every detail, just the most important ones. Since you're the know it all around here...why don't you write my next one? ROFL Just kidding. I appreciate your knowledge and input on the topics I write about.

    • USHISTORY4YOU profile image

      Anthony Carrell 

      6 years ago from Lemoore California

      The clean up of Pickton's pig farm is said to have been one of the most costly in Canada's history. The place was a toxic nightmare from what I've read.

    • gunsock profile image

      gunsock 

      6 years ago from South Coast of England

      Another great story and a well written hub. Thank you.

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      I really appreciate your knowing a well written story. I really put a lot of effort into my work. Thanks.

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 

      6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      This is a well-written and chilling account of true crime. I voted it 'up' for 'useful' because although such things may be grisly, I do believe the old cliché 'knowledge is power;' hopefully one's knowledge of what to look out for is increased.

      Good Job.

      Take it easy

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