“Forget Willie”: Father of a victim reacts to death of British Columbia serial killer Robert Pickton


Rick Frey, whose daughter was killed by the serial killer, said he was glad he never had to mention his name again.

Rick Frey remembers waiting for his daughter Marnie Frey's body to be found.

Marnie, who disappeared in 1997, was one of the women killed by British Columbia serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton.

At the time of her disappearance, Rick was a commercial fisherman. He remembers being alone on his boat, hearing news reports of bodies being found and wondering if it was his daughter.

“Do you know how hard it is when you're alone? Is that my daughter?” said Frey, who was reached by Glacier Media at his home in Campbell River on Friday. “Tears are streaming down my face when I think about it.”

Pickton, 74, died in hospital on May 31 after being attacked by another inmate at Quebec's Port-Cartier prison on May 19. The death was announced by Correctional Service Canada.

“He died, but he's been dead for a long time,” Frey said. “Nobody wants to hear about Pickton anymore. Everyone is sick of it.”

Frey thinks about his daughter every day, and even after all these years he still has unanswered questions.

“I still don't have any answers…why did he do this to my daughter's body?”

For him, it is now important that other families get answers and evidence is secured, he said.

“Let’s forget him, but let’s not forget the other families who need answers.”

Frey said he was glad he never had to mention Pickton's name again.

“He's gone. Rest in peace. I don't care if he suffered or not. I'm not the guy to say I wish he had suffered more… Let's forget about Willie.”

Pickton was serving a life sentence. When he was sentenced in December 2007, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice James Williams said it was a “rare case that warrants the maximum (25 years) parole period available to the court.”

Pickton was found guilty of killing Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Ann Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey. But the remains or DNA of 33 women were found on Pickton's pig farm in Port Coquitlam.

In a prison cell conversation, he told an undercover agent that he had killed 49 people. He planned to kill one more and then take a break before continuing. Pickton said he was caught because he got careless when he was last arrested in February 2002.

Papin's sister, Cynthia Cardinal, 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.

“It really makes me sad that they were not allowed to appear in court. But I'm also really happy right now,” Cardinal said.

“I think to myself, wow, finally. I can actually move on and heal and put this behind me.”

Investigations into assault are ongoing

More than 22 years ago, police began searching the Pickton farm; the investigation would last several years.

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

In February, Pickton was granted day parole, sparking outrage among lawyers, politicians and victims' families, who criticized the Canadian justice system and said he should never be released.

Correctional Service Canada said in a statement Friday that Pickton's next of kin had been notified.

“We have also contacted registered victims according to their stated notification preferences,” the statement said.

“We recognize that the case of this perpetrator has had a devastating impact on communities in British Columbia and across the country, including Indigenous peoples, victims and their families,” the statement continued. “Our thoughts are with them.”

An investigation has been launched to determine the circumstances of the attack. According to CSC, the investigation will also identify recommendations or remedial actions.

The Correctional Service of Canada announced that the 51-year-old assault suspect is in custody.

British Columbia's Minister of Public Safety commented on Pickton's death on Friday.

“We have witnessed the end of a horrific life,” says Mike Farnworth. “I am thinking today of the families of the Pickton victims and of our entire community. This news has reopened old wounds and brought back painful feelings and memories.”

For more information on the Pickton case, read this detailed story.

— With files from The Canadian Press