Coquitlam RCMP 'ignored' Pickton: inquiry report
Published Saturday, November 19, 2011 11:36AM PST
Coquitlam RCMP officers called the case of the missing women "the elephant in the room" because they knew they needed to pursue Robert Pickton as a suspect – but many actions weren't followed up, according to a report obtained exclusively by CTV News.
That's because the officer in charge of the Coquitlam detachment, Earl Moulton, decided that other files needed to be dealt with first, and didn't get help from other police agencies to pursue the man that would become Canada's most prolific serial killer.
"Coquitlam RCMP officers had information from multiple sources that Pickton was responsible for a murder and suspected of involvement in the missing women from the Downtown Eastside," wrote Deputy Chief Jennifer Evans of the Peel Regional Police, who had been asked to write the report for the inquiry.
"The information demanded attention and action. If he [Moulton] was unable to deal with it he should have requested assistance and not just ignored it," she wrote.
Reached by CTV News late Friday afternoon, Moulton, who is now retired, said he had not read the report but stood by his decision to focus on crimes that could be solved.
"I'm still comfortable with my call," he said.
The report is in stark contrast to another on the Coquitlam RCMP by Insp. R.J. Williams, who analyzed Mounties' behaviour in anticipation of future lawsuits, and said the officers committed no wrongdoing.
"Based on our experience, and the interviews conducted, it is suffice to say nothing would have changed dramatically if those involved had to do it again," Williams wrote.
The much more damning Evans report is expected to be released to the inquiry on Monday. The public inquest is examining what could have been done differently to stop Pickton from killing as many as 49 women.
Evans says the philosophy of "no body, no evidence, no crime" permeated the investigations, with brass in both the Vancouver Police Department and RCMP unconvinced they should devote resources to solving the disappearances of a growing number of women.
By late 1999, the Coquitlam RCMP had four informants pointing to Pickton as the man behind at least one murder.
But then Cpl. Mike Connor, who was on the case and working closely with VPD Det. Lori Shenher, was promoted away from the detachment.
Without Connor's drive, the report says, Coquitlam RCMP shifted gears. For months at a time, investigative steps were not followed, including following up with Pickton on an offer to search the Port Coquitlam pig farm which eventually yielded evidence of the disposal of 33 women.
Coquitlam RCMP Cpl. Dave McCartney replaced Connor, and described the case as "the elephant in the room, implying that investigators knew it had to be worked on but the actions just did not occur."
Staff Sgt. Brad Zalys told Evans in an interview that he agreed with Moulton's decision to investigate other priorities.
"You can't just ignore a new homicide when it comes in," he said.
But he also told Moulton in 2000 that, "If this turns out to be Pickton, there's going to be an inquiry."
According to Zalys, Moulton said, "Well, I guess we'll have to deal with that when the time comes."