Serial killer Robert Pickton is dead

And so ended Robert Pickton's life. He was killed by an inmate at a maximum security prison in Quebec. The details of the attack, which occurred on May 19, were revealed on the day of his death (Friday, May 31) by Rick and Lynn Frey, the father and stepmother of one of Pickford's confirmed victims, Marnie Frey.

Rick Frey told CTV News:

The guy who attacked him first stabbed him in the neck with a toothbrush and then he broke a broomstick… And when you break something like a broomstick, there's always a sharp end left, and so he took the sharp end and stuck it up his nose, up into his skull.

Family members say Pickton, who left prison at age 74, certainly suffered, but not nearly enough. Although he was convicted of murdering six women, “Pickton had boasted about killing 49.”

The identity of Pickton's killer has not been made public, nor has the reason for the attack, which resulted in a medically induced coma from which he never awoke. But such a violent end seems consistent with a person who had the nerve to write and publish a memoir that essentially praised and rehabilitated himself. Pickton: In his own words(The book was distributed by Amazon.)

“Glad to be rid of him,” wrote British Columbia Premier David Eby in an official statement. But we can't leave it at that. It's far too easy to lay all the blame at the feet of Pickton, who, by the way, “was eligible for day parole… and will be eligible for full parole in 2027.” The reason he was able to kill so many women between the mid-'90s and early 2000s is because of their social class (mostly poor) and race (often Indigenous). In fact, police were repeatedly informed of a potential serial killer in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (a neighbourhood with a notoriously bad reputation), but the police department did next to nothing with the information. This went on for four years. Pickton brazenly picked up women, killed them with a knife, and then fed them to the pigs on his farm in Port Coquitlam, a suburb between Burnaby, BC, and the Pitt River. After his arrest in 2002 (by which time the evidence was too overwhelming), police dug around the farm and found the remains and DNA of 33 women.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigators clear debris from Robert Pickton's pig farm in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, on February 19, 2002. Don MacKinnon / Freelancer

I saw and wrote about this dig in 2003. Few nightmares can compare to its scale and setting. All that mud and dung, the haunted barn, the gloomy roof of the house, the cold rain, the clattering conveyor belts, the men and women searching for bones, hair and clothing, and the surrounding suburban housing development.

From my article “Death Farm”:

Construction continues along the border of the pig farm. Developers are still building and selling townhouses. A real estate agent told me the value of homes near the farm has gone up, not down. A house on Dominion Avenue goes for about $300,000 Canadian – about $230,000 U.S. The developers want Pickton's land, and a memorial to the murdered sex workers and drug addicts in the heart of this thriving suburb just isn't enough.

Many of these homes are now worth more than a million dollars.

What you almost never find in Hollywood movies about fictional serial killers is an even remotely realistic economic background. The victims are nothing like Pickton's or Gary Ridgway's. And there's a good reason for the absence of the obvious class factor. The public doesn't care about the poor and destitute. Who cares if you kill a drug addict or a woman of color? This widespread attitude of indifference and even hostility cannot be divorced from the way we treat the homeless in Seattle, Vancouver and other North American cities.