Canadian serial killer Robert Pickton, who brought victims to a pig farm, is dead after an attack in prison


TORONTO (AP) — Canadian serial killer Robert Pickton, who brought female victims to his pig farm during a crime spree near Vancouver in the late 1990s and early 2000s, has died in prison after an attack, authorities said Friday. He was 74.

The Canadian Correctional Service said Pickton, an inmate at the Port-Cartier facility in Quebec province, died in hospital from injuries sustained in an attack on another inmate on May 19. He was one of Canada's most notorious serial killers and his case made international headlines.

A 51-year-old inmate is in custody for the attack on Pickton, police spokesman Hugues Beaulieu said earlier this month.

Robert “Willie” Pickton was found guilty of six counts of first-degree murder in 2007 and sentenced to life in prison with a maximum parole period of 25 years after being charged with the murder of 26 women.

More than 22 years ago, police began searching the Pickton farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam. The investigation would drag on for years and focus on the disappearance of dozens of women from Vancouver's seedy streets: sex workers and drug users who had been abandoned on the fringes of society.

The remains or DNA of 33 women were found on the farm. Pickton once boasted to an undercover agent that he had killed a total of 49 women.

During his trial, prosecution witness Andrew Bellwood said Pickton told him how he strangled his victims and fed their remains to his pigs. Health officials once issued a tainted meat warning to neighbors who might have bought pork from Pickton's farm, fearing the meat might contain human remains.

Cynthia Cardinal, whose sister Georgina Papin was murdered by Pickton, said Pickton's death meant she could finally put her sister's murder behind her.

“This will bring healing, I don't want to say for all families, I just want to say for most families,” she said. “I think – wow, finally. I can actually move on and heal and put this behind me.”

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

The Canadian Correctional Service said the attack on Pickton is currently under investigation.

“The investigation will examine all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the attack, including whether policies and protocols were followed,” the service said in a statement. “We recognize that the fall of this perpetrator 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.”

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

“Today I learned of the death of an inmate at the Port-Cartier Institution,” Security Minister Dominic LeBlanc said in a statement. “My thoughts are with the families of the victims of this man's heinous crimes at this time.”

When Pickton's sentence was announced, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice James Williams said it was a “rare case that justifies the maximum period of probation available to the court.”