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Week 1: Case set out before jury

Continued from Page 2

Insp. Adam, who would eventually lead the joint probe by the RCMP and Vancouver police, said the Vancouver police case was simply a missing-person's probe and, by 1999, it was badly stalled. In fact, Insp. Adam said, Vancouver police concluded that women had stopped vanishing in 1999.

Insp. Adam thought otherwise and testified that he quickly suspected the missing women were homicide victims.

The joint police probe, dubbed the Missing Women Task Force, began compiling cases of unsolved homicides in British Columbia's Fraser Valley. They also began compiling a list of suspects, chiefly of men who had histories of violent attacks on prostitutes.

Mr. Prevett said Coquitlam RCMP searched the Pickton property on Feb. 5, 2002, on a report of illegal firearms, and subsequently Mr. Pickton was arrested on firearms charges. While searching for the firearms, police spotted several personal items belonging to Ms. Abotsway in Mr. Pickton's trailer, he said. The firearms search was immediately suspended and the Missing Women Task Force began to search the property. Their search continued until November of 2003.

For several days during the trial's first week, the jury heard a videotape of a police interrogation made in 2002. Mr. Pickton had been charged earlier that day — Feb. 23, 2002 — with the murder of two missing women, Ms. Abotsway and Ms. Wilson.

On the tape, he appears as if he had few worries in the world. Slumped in a chair shoved into the corner of a tiny police interview room at the RCMP police station in Surrey, Mr. Pickton responds to questions politely and with patience, speaking slowly in a soft mumble.

"I'm just a pig man; that's all I got to say," Mr. Pickton tells RCMP officer Bill Fordy of the Missing Women Task Force. He laughs and shakes his head as he is told that police, in addition to the murder charges against him, are also investigating the disappearance of about 50 women.

"Wow," he says, dismissing accusations against him as "hogwash." He cannot say much, because he doesn't know anything. "It could be a set-up," he suggests. "There is nothing to say. I don't know anything."

He says he's just a plain working guy. "That's all I am and now I got all those charges," casting his eyes downward to the floor. "It's a little far-fetched, isn't it?"

Throughout the opening hours of the interview, Mr. Pickton responds to police questions without hostility or aggression. He appears comfortable with long silences. He shows no emotion.

Mr. Pickton wears dirty-looking street clothes, slacks, a T-shirt and a hoodie sweatshirt. Staff-Sgt. Fordy, who was a sergeant at that time, sits a few metres away, at the edge of a small table.

Almost three hours after the interview begins, Staff-Sgt. Fordy plunks a poster in front of Mr. Pickton. It shows the faces of 48 women who have vanished from Vancouver's streets. "Have any of these women been to your place?" Staff-Sgt. Fordy asks.

Mr. Pickton replies that he can't keep track of all the women who come and go from his house. He tells his interrogator that he's good with numbers but bad with faces.

"I do not remember faces," he says. "Which ones am I supposed to [be] charged for, for murder, if you don't mind me asking?" The officer says he doesn't mind at all and points to one of the women. Mr. Pickton asks: "That one? Who the hell is she?"

He is told other witnesses say some of the women were at his place. "No way," says Mr. Pickton. "I don't know any of these women."

"Have you even had sex with any of those girls?" the police officer continues. "Not that I'm aware of," Mr. Pickton says.

The officer then points to each face on the poster, one by one, and asks Mr. Pickton if he knows any, or brought them to his house.

Mr. Pickton says "No" to each woman. From time to time, he remarks on how pretty some of them are.

Staff-Sgt. Fordy turns the subject to sex with prostitutes and asks about Mr. Pickton's first experience with "a working girl."

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