Thursday, May 24, 2007

Here in Toronto, if you say "serial killer" everyone thinks Paul Bernardo. And there's no question--none--that Bernardo is a crazy, evil monster who seriously tests the conviction of Canadians against capital punishment (or say, lynching). But I find it interesting that the same high profile has not accrued (at least in Toronto) to the Pickton case.

A brief summary...starting in the early 1980s, women from Vancouver's Lower East Side began disappearing. However, because they were often transient, prostitutes, heroin addicts, or Native (or more likely, some combination) the disappearances were considered "normal." Robert Pickton, a Port Coquitlam pig farmer, is currently being tried for the murders of six of the disappeared: Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Marnie Frey, Georgina Papin and Brenda Wolfe. Charges have been laid against him for another 20 murders.

For perspective, Bernardo was a serial rapist, but only three murders have been confirmed as his handiwork. Clifford Olsen, heretofore considered Canada's most prolific serial killer, murdered 11 children in the early 1980s.

Although all those cases are horrible in their own special way (Bernardo was an obvious sadist who taped the torture of his victims with his wife as a willing accomplice, Olsen was a pedophile who killed at an astonishing rate) the alleged details of the Pickton case are grisly on a level previously associated with Hollywood movies and television crime drama (it was referenced on a recent episode of CSI). Pickton owned a pig farm, and it is alleged that he used it to dispose of the bodies. He may have fed the meat of his victims to his pigs. He may have ground up their meat along with pork and given it to family and friends.

It's interesting, how we rank our evil by proximity, rather than scope...

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