Exclusive: Serial killer Pickton pens bible-quoting book from prison
In an elaborate scheme that involves other inmates, two countries, and an American publisher, Canada’s most prolific serial killer, Robert Pickton, has published a book from behind bars at a maximum security prison, CTV News has learned.
The 144-page book -- called Pickton: In His Own Words -- evaded detection from prison authorities because it was sent out to the United States by a cellmate, a man convicted of sexually assaulting a child who hopes to use the money from the sale to fund a lawyer to secure his own release.
In the meandering narrative, full of biblical passages, spelling mistakes, transcripts of his own police interviews and lengthy descriptions of manual labour on his Port Coquitlam pig farm, Pickton claims his innocence and rants against the RCMP, prosecutors and judges who put him away.
“The RCMP were desperately failing to do their job properly, while looking for someone to take the fall, which is truly evil,” Pickton says in the book.
But families who may have hoped Pickton’s words would have shed light on what happened to his victims will be disappointed. The book claims Pickton is just “the fall guy”, and he offers only vague clues as to who he says really committed as many as 49 murders.
Its existence is already outraging victims’ relatives, who can’t believe that Pickton was able to reach out to the public and to them nearly a decade after his convictions.
“I think at this stage it’s pretty hurtful. Still a lot of raw feelings out there. A lot of unfinished business,” said Rick Frey, the father of one of Pickton’s victims, Marnie Frey.
“He shouldn’t have access to a publishing company or whatever to tell that story. I mean, isn’t he supposed to be in jail?” Frey said.
Pickton was convicted in 2007 of murdering six women on his Port Coquitlam farm. He confessed to an undercover officer that he actually murdered 49 women -- many sex trade workers picked up from the Downtown Eastside -- one short of 50, because he “got sloppy.”
He was sentenced to life in prison and currently is held in Kent Institution, in Agassiz, B.C. A subsequent public inquiry heard he started killing in 1991 and continued almost undetected for 11 years.
Pickton’s communications from Kent prison are closely monitored, with authorities often shutting down his attempts to communicate with the outside world.
But he appears to have sidestepped the efforts of the prison by passing the handwritten manuscript to a former cellmate.
That inmate sent the handwritten manuscript to an old friend, a retired California construction worker named Michael Chilldres, who arranged for it to be typed and whose name appears on the paperback copies.
“It’s his account, how it happened, and how he claims his innocence,” Chilldres told CTV News in an interview from southern California.
Chilldres told CTV News it took several years for Pickton to arrange to get the manuscript to him.
A hard copy retails for $20 Canadian from American publisher Outskirts Press, and is also available by an e-book and mail order from online distributor Amazon.
Chilldres says he feels for the families who have to know that this book is being published. He wouldn’t identify the former cellmate, who he says he met on a trip to Canada some 20 years ago.
“I’d apologize to them. Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just trying to help out a friend,” he said.
He said that he only fact-checked the book by looking at Wikipedia. Chilldres said he’s not sure what to make of Pickton’s claims.
“They say everybody in prison is innocent. Nobody ever did anything,” Chilldres said.
Among those claims: that property and body parts of those women found during an extensive search of his property were actually from vehicles he was trying to salvage from a police auction.
Pickton claims that blood from one victim police found on a mattress was just spilt wallpaper glue. He insinuates, without evidence, that motorcycle gang The Hells Angels was behind some of the killings.
He claims his trial judge was “the blind leading the blind,” and that prosecutors led the jury “down a crooked and dark pathway.” He calls his guilt a “conspiracy theory linked to a bazaar insolent” -- presumably meaning “bizarre incident” -- one of many spelling errors.
And he also claims that one woman who fought him off with a knife in 1997 was actually someone he brought home to help and then turned on him.
“There this squirrelly out of control woman that has savagely attacked me in accompanies with a knife, while I was slashed over and over again,” he says.
That claim was believed by authorities at the time -- and is now seen as a crucial blunder that allowed Pickton to continue killing for years.
As part of an attempt to distance himself from the sex trade workers he killed, Pickton calls himself a “green horn” who had sex only once before that 1997 incident.
“Now being a green horn I would like there to announce I had sex only once before while going as far back to the time frame in early summer of 1992,” he writes.
“I have little experience about women over sexual intercourse as sex is sin without marriage, to the point of where I am guilty.”
CTV News has independently confirmed that the book is indeed written by Pickton.
In Ontario, profiting off a book about your own crimes is illegal, but lawyers and prosecutors asked by CTV News couldn’t point to similar legislation in B.C.
Even then, it doesn’t appear that Pickton is profiting from this publication -- which could make it legal even if the Ontario law applied.
B.C.'s provincial government issued a statement saying they are “deeply disturbed” to hear about the book, and are appealing to Amazon to stop sales.
“We are taking this very seriously and investigating every means available to ensure that the families involved are protected from further harm and that Robert Pickton will not profit in any way from this book,” wrote Mike Morris, minister of public safety and solicitor general.
There appears to be a violation of one of the publication bans against naming that woman who was attacked in 1997.
However, because the book is printed in the U.S., it’s unclear what Canadian authorities can do to stop it.
Pickton isn’t the only serial killer to have published a book: Paul Bernardo released an e-book via Amazon in November, a fictional work about a dystopian future. The book disappeared from the online sales platform after significant public controversy.