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B.C. killer Robert Pickton dead, days after prison attack

Correctional Service Canada says the 74-year-old died in hospital
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This is a artist’s drawing of Robert Pickton appearing on a video link to B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, Wednesday May 25, 2005. (CP PHOTO/Jane Wolsack)

B.C. killer Robert Pickton is dead, just days after he was assaulted at a maximum security prison in Quebec, Correctional Service Canada confirmed Friday (May 31).

Pickton, 74, died in hospital May 31 after being injured in an assault by another inmate on May 19 at Port-Cartier Institution in Quebec. He was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Correctional Service Canada says it is launching a Board of Investigation in the assault. The invesigation will look into the circumstances around the assault, and whether policies and protocols were followed.

Quebec provincial police spokesman Frédéric Deshaies said Friday afternoon that Pickton had died “in the last few hours.”

He said police were also continuing to investigate the assault and that they had a 51-year-old suspect.

READ MORE: B.C. killer Robert Pickton in life-threatening condition after prison attack

Correctional Service Canada said at the time of his death, Pickton had been serving an indeterminate sentence that began on Dec. 11, 2007 for six counts of second-degree murder, with the maximum parole ineligibility period of 25 years.

He was charged with the murders of 26 women, but the remains or DNA of 33 – many who were taken from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside – were found on Pickton’s Port Coquitlam pig farm. He once bragged to an undercover officer that he killed a total of 49.

Pickton’s confirmed victims were Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Ann Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey.

His next of kin has been notified, and Correctional Service Canada has also contacted registered victims. A coroner has also been notified.

“We are mindful that this offender’s case has had a devastating impact on communities in British Columbia and across the country, including Indigenous peoples, victims and their families. Our thoughts are with them,” Correctional Service Canada said in its news release.

Papin’s sister, Cynthia Cardinal, said Pickton’s death means she can finally move on from her sister’s murder.

“This is gonna bring healing for, I won’t say all families, I’ll just say most of the families,” she said.

“Because they didn’t get their day in court, (that’s) what I’m really sad about. But I’m also feeling really happy right now,” said Cardinal.

“I’m like — wow, finally. I can actually move on and heal and I can put this behind me.”

Police began searching the Pickton farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam more than 22 years ago in what would be a years-long investigation into the disappearances of dozens of women, many of them from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Vancouver police were criticized for not taking the cases seriously because many of the missing were sex workers or drug users.

Pickton became eligible for day parole in February, which sparked outrage from advocates, politicians and victims’ family members who criticized Canada’s justice system, saying he should never be released from prison.

READ MORE: B.C. mayors say allowing Pickton to apply for parole a ‘chilling message’

Premier David Eby said Friday that his first thoughts go to the families of Pickton’s victims. While Pickton’s death could bring closure to some of them, it could also re-open old wounds, he said.

“Robert Pickton preyed on the most vulnerable people in society,” Eby said. What happened to them underscores the need to ensure the dignity of all British Columbians, he told reporters shortly after the news broke.

“Good riddance.”

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West, who was one of several Lower Mainland mayors to sign a letter calling for Pickton to not be allowed day parole, said “Today, my thoughts are with one group and one group only: the victims and all their families.”

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the province will continue to do everything it can to support the families of the victims in finding answers and justice.

“While we have seen the end of a heinous life, we know that for the families of Pickton’s victims, this news has reopened old wounds and brought back painful feelings and memories,” he said.

“That pain is still being felt today for the families of the victims, and our entire community.

Black Press Media has reached out to Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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