Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Pickton: The Vancouver Missing Women

Eating Pork and Talking Murder

by Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.

By the end of July, as the courtroom went into hiatus for two weeks to give the jury vacation time, the prosecution in the Pickton case had presented its key witnesses. Andrew Bellwood gave the most disturbing testimony and also took the most heat from the defense. He was the 97th witness to date, and an estimated $100 million (Canadian) has been spent on the case.

Robert Pickton
Robert Pickton

Bellwood seemed cavalier about sitting down to a pork dinner with Pickton in 1999 — no surprise in that, since it was a pig butchering farm — but it was the day after Pickton had described to Bellwood how he had killed prostitutes before feeding their remains to the pigs. Allegedly, he had sex with the women first and then murdered them there on the grounds. Hacked-off parts were tossed to the pigs, which consumed them, and other parts were mingled in barrels with pig entrails and dumped at a disposal plant. It was an easy operation, Pickton supposedly implied, after he lured them to the farm with the drug of their choice.

Pickton's murder method, Bellwood said, involved gagging the victims, handcuffing them, and using a wire with looped ends. He even acted it out for Bellwood. "He motioned to me he would put them doggy-style on the bed and have intercourse with them," Bellwood described for the jury. "As he was telling me the story, it was almost like there was a woman on the bed. It was like a play."

Defense attorney Adrian Brooks found it hard to believe that after Pickton described such disgusting events, Bellwood then ate a meal with him — especially pork. Bellwood's reply was that Pickton was a "nice fellow" who had loaned him money and he'd decided the story was probably fabricated. He wasn't about to go to the police, since he himself was using drugs.

Brooks then pointed to a serious inconsistency in the testimony: Bellwood claimed to have been alone with Pickton during the gruesome conversation, but earlier he had said that Lynn Ellingsen was with them. In response, Bellwood blustered that he would not have gone through all that he had over the past five years only to sit there now and lie. He had simply confused two events, he explained, and Ellingsen must have been present for something else.

The credibility of Bellwood's testimony was also threatened by the fact that he had been questioned in association with several missing women in the Edmonton area, presumably the victims of a serial killer. He claimed the police had picked him up because of his association with the Pickton case, implying it was more or less a vicious circle. He had not been charged with anything. However, during the time he stayed on the farm, heard Pickton's supposed re-enactment of murder, and then ate a pork dinner, he was in the midst of a serious addiction to crack cocaine. Yet Bellwood insisted that his memory about the content of the conversation is clear. His addiction did not affect that, and he left the farm soon thereafter.

In mid-July, Justice James Williams indicated that he expects the trial to end earlier than anticipated — "well before" Christmas. It appears to be moving along faster than at first predicted.


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