NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. Five hours after she heard Robert Pickton pronounced guilty of murdering her beloved sister, Ada Wilson's emotions were still raw.
But that didn't stop her from speaking straight to the man accused of being Canada's worst serial killer. Throughout his 10-month trial, Mr. Pickton did not display a trace of emotion, even when he was convicted yesterday of the first six of the 26 murder charges he is facing.
"I hope he's listening," said Ms. Wilson, tears streaming down her face. "He has no idea what he's taken away from me. He's got no idea what he did to me."
Mona Wilson's dismembered remains were found on Mr. Pickton's property in June of 2002. She had been shot.
It was particularly difficult having the verdict come down so close to Christmas, Ms. Wilson said.
"It's always hardest around Christmas. That was the best time for my sister, for me, and for the family," she said, choking back more sobs. "It's just not fair. He [Mr. Pickton] is alive, and she is not."
Ms. Wilson walked away from the microphones, unable to speak further.
Grief was plentiful yesterday, as friends and family of the murder victims, all drug addicts and prostitutes from Vancouver's grim Downtown Eastside, struggled to come to terms with both the verdict against Mr. Pickton and the horrific fate of their loved ones.
For many, the day was bittersweet.
"I don't have my sister, but we do have justice," said Patricia Evans, tearfully showing off a colourful medicine pouch she wears constantly around her neck in memory of victim Brenda Wolfe.
"My sister was a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a relative ... and this is a medicine wheel symbol to honour all [the murdered women]."
Karin Joesbury, mother of victim Andrea Joesbury, also wept as she tried to express her emotions.
"Andrea was a very much loved daughter. She's someone who was worth a million dollars to me ... I just hope her death doesn't go in vain, that we change the way we look at the most vulnerable in our society," Ms. Joesbury said.
"I hope this makes a difference in the way we look at each other, the way we look at the poor and disabled. If you've got money, you can hide your addiction. But if you don't, you have to go on the streets, where there are predators like Pickton."
Their sorrow was in stark contrast to the cheers, applause and even laughter that came from family members just a few minutes earlier, as they showed their appreciation to police and prosecutors for their long, arduous efforts to investigate the missing women case and secure Mr. Pickton's conviction.
As soon as it was their turn to talk to reporters, however, emotions changed.
Except for the stolid Rick Frey, whose daughter Marnie was one of Mr. Pickton's six victims, none could speak without weeping.
Since Mr. Pickton's guilt was pronounced, their initial distress that he had been acquitted on first-degree murder charges and convicted of lesser charges of second-degree murder had worn off.
They were relieved he was almost certainly going to spend the rest of his life in jail and that he had not been cleared on any of the charges, despite the difficulty of linking him directly to the killings.
The three sisters of victim Georgina Papin were a formidable force throughout the last days of the trial and the excruciating nine-day wait for a verdict.
Perhaps referring to a moving native smudge ceremony attended by all family and friends - natives and non-natives - just before the verdict came down, sister Bonnie Fowler said the trial had helped to bring people together.
"It's been beautiful. We have found solidarity," she said. "I'd like to thank everyone for sharing their loves, their support, their hugs. I think that's what Georgina was all about.
"She stays alive in all of us, and nobody can take that away."
Earlier, on the cold, wintry day, families and friends sobbed and bowed their heads in a solemn, group ceremony to remember those who had died at the hands of Mr. Pickton.
Shivering as they stood together in a tight circle, they comforted one another, wiped their eyes and knelt to light candles commemorating the 20 more women Mr. Pickton is accused of killing.
Participants then held their own candles toward the snow-flecked sky, small beacons of light against the darkness of the horrific events that claimed the lives of so many women on Mr. Pickton's pig farm.
"We love you," they said, as the gathering concluded amid yet more tears.
Marilyn Kraft, mother of victim Cindy Feliks who is among the 20 murdered women to be the focus of a second possible trial for Mr. Pickton, said the copious tears should surprise no one, given what family members have had to endure for so many years.
"We're crying today, because it's over. And when you start crying here, these families don't ask 'why?' They just hug you."