Lilliane Beaudoin is caught in a bind. She is angry with Wally Oppal over the decision years ago, when he was attorney-general, to not bring serial killer Robert Pickton to trial for killing her sister Dianne Rock and several other women.
But Mr. Oppal now heads a government-appointed inquiry into the Pickton investigation. She wants to tell her sister’s story at the inquiry and find out answers to pressing questions about her sister’s death.
“I absolutely don’t forgive him,” Ms. Beaudoin said in an interview.
Yet she does not intend to miss the opportunity to testify.
“I do hope he is going to listen to us with an open ear and be fair to all the families,” she said. “We have been waiting for this [inquiry]for such a long time, and now finally it is here. I’m looking forward to finally having the chance to speak and tell the story,” she said.
As the Pickton inquiry enters its third week on Monday, the focus is expected to shift to some of the women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who were missing and murdered. Previously, testimony was mostly about issues related to prostitution and attitudes of police. Family members from 10 of the missing and murdered women were to testify at the inquiry this week.
Ms. Rock was last seen in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood in October, 2001, a few months before Mr. Pickton was arrested.
The massive police investigation of Mr. Pickton’s pig farm found Ms. Rock’s DNA on items in a motorhome on the property and inside a freezer. They found one of her keys in a black purse in the mud. Police concluded Ms. Rock died on the farm and Crown prosecutors decided the evidence was sufficient to go to trial.
Mr. Pickton, who was arrested in February, 2002, was charged with first-degree murder of 27 women, including Ms. Rock. But the trial judge separated the charges and only six went ahead. One charge was dismissed. Ms. Rock was among 20 that were set aside for a second trial that was never held.
After Mr. Pickton was convicted in 2007, Mr. Oppal, as attorney-general, indicated a second trial was unlikely. “It would not be in the public interest to proceed further against a person who is already serving six life terms with no eligibility of parole for a minimum of 25 years,” Mr. Oppal said shortly afterward.
Ms. Beaudoin could not understand why Ms. Rock was not included in the first trial and hoped to find some answers at the inquiry. “The evidence was there, obviously, and it was fresh evidence. … Why did they not proceed with the trial. To this day, we cannot believe it,” she said.
“It seems to us, when [police]walked on that farm, they found something on her right away,” her husband, René Beaudoin, said.
Ms. Beaudoin came to the inquiry to also find out what happened to her sister’s body. Investigators found body parts on the Pickton farm of women who disappeared before and after Ms. Rock. “I do not understand it,” she said.
She is still upset over how the police in 2002 notified the family that Ms. Rock had died on the Pickton farm, which meant that some family members first heard about her death in the media. More recently, she feels let down by police who refused to share photos of the evidence with the family. She said her mother refused to believed Ms. Rock was dead because no proof was ever provided.
Mr. and Ms. Beaudoin wonder whether the inquiry will discover that the decision to not bring Mr. Pickton to trial for killing Ms. Rock was fraught with as many missteps as the failure to press charges for years against Mr. Pickton as dozens of women went missing.
Mr. Pickton may have been convicted of first-degree murder, rather than second degree, if the prosecution had gone ahead with all the outstanding murder charges against him, Mr. Beaudoin said.