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Missing women: Dave Pickton among 20 outstanding witness requests ignored since 2011

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Bonnie Fournier
Fournier, a street nurse, served the Downtown Eastside for more than 30 years, including operating a sex worker outreach van during the key Pickton killing spree in 1999-2003. Fournier claims she saw a vehicle she believes was Pickton's dragging a screaming sex worker by the hair out the passenger side – implying that two people were involved – but that woman refused to report the attack, out of fear of being killed by organized crime.

Det. Cst. Darcy Sarra
Sarra is one of the key Vancouver Police Department officers in charge of collecting and researching relevant documents on the missing women and Pickton investigations.

Sgt. Brian Honeybourne
Deployed to the Provincial Unsolved Homicide Unit during the worst period of missing and murdered women, this sergeant “appears to have been the only member of that Unit to have attended the February 10, 1999 meeting with the Missing Women Review Team, at which it was determined that no assistance of that Unit would be provided,” the document states. “The Unsolved Homicide Unit refused to get involved in the missing women investigation at that time as there were 'no bodies.'

Cst. Dave Strachan
This RCMP officer – a member of the Serious Crimes Section – searched Pickton's bloody trailer following his attack on "Anderson", the sex worker who escaped Pickton in 1997. He was one of two officers who interviewed her after the attack, which, if it had led to a conviction, would have taken Pickton off the street five years before his killing spree ended.

Insp. Gord Spencer
This VPD officer, who become the force's Major Crimes Section head in April 2000, repeatedly requested more officers be assigned to the missing women investigation. His concerns appear to have been sidelined.

Det. Phil Little
This detective's job was to examine how the VPD prioritized its murder suspects, in relation to the department's joint operation with the RCMP in Feb. 2001.

Little ranked suspects and, according to the lawyers' request, “is uniquely positioned to explain how suspects were prioritized, what factors were considered and how these factors were weighed.” His notes, the document alleges, suggest that “Pickton was not always considered to be the top-priority suspect and that Pickton was lower on draft lists than in the final lists.” But given allegations that the VPD “witheld all information about other suspects under consideration during the time period,” Little's testimony could shed light on failures to zero in on the serial killer years before he stopped murdering.

Cpl. Ted Van Overbeek
This Burnaby RCMP officer received a key tip from informant Leah Best – who strongly believed Pickton was the murderer they sought – on Aug. 6, 1999. But that tip was never investigated, according to the submission, and families want answers as to why Project Evenhanded “made no progress” as a result in catching the killer.

Cst. Nathan Wells
This rookie officer, on the advice of a would-be drug informant, obtained a search warrant of Pickton's property on Feb. 5, 2002 searching for illegal firearms. Though unrelated to the sprawling, inter-agency investigation underway – which had fingered Pickton as a possible suspect and had him under surveillance at times – Wells entered Pickton's trailer and found possessions belonging to missing women. His lucky break turned into the largest police investigation in Canadian history, all over a coincidental gun warrant.

RCMP Sgt. (now Commissioner) Robert Paulson
Paulson – today's top cop in the national force – was a member of the agency's Southwest Major Crime group during the missing women investigation. He was part of the 2000 push to create a joint operation, which took a year to implement.

The lack of response from the Commission to the lawyers' requests  seems to be part of a pattern – earlier this month, lawyer for Aboriginal interests Robyn Gervais resigned in protest after claiming her witness requests were not taken seriously and Aboriginal interests sidelined in an inquiry set up to find why Pickton was allowed to continue killing for years after he came to attention of police as a suspect.

But with Commissioner Wally Oppal releasing a new directive calling for final witness list submissions today, the fate of these 19 living witnesses will not be known until Monday.

"The Commissioner will be dealing with future witnesses next week," Art Verlieb, senior Commission Counsel, told the Vancouver Observer. 
"It is not the policy of Commission Counsel to discuss why a witness was or was not called to testify," he added. 
* April 23 update: Police alleged Dave Pickton was associated with the Hells Angels, but the club denies he was ever a member or associate. "Associate" is a formal designation in the organization.

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