April 14, 2009

A date with a serial killer

Willie Pickton was Canada's worst serial killer. He was arrested in 2002 and came to trial in 2007. Vancouver author raincoaster writes about meeting him in another context, a long time ago:
Date with a Devil
Willy Pickton is Canada�s most prolific serial killer. He�s been convicted of 6 counts of murder, and could face 15 more. But the DNA (and by DNA I mean chunks) of over 80 different women have been found on his farm. This month, he�s appealing his sentence (surely the only time in his adult life Willy Pickton has been appealing) and thus I am reminded of the following, the time he tried to make me a notch in his wood chipper.

My story is relatively simple, and happened long before anyone said the words �serial killer� in the neighborhood. By the way, I live on the Downtown Eastside, about two blocks from one of the corners on which he picked up his victims. According to Statistics Canada, in the 90�s the average life expectancy here was 33, because of drugs, disease, and violence (mostly the first two). The government�s response was to give massive tax breaks to old folks� homes, so they�d move in and raise the average. A statistical game, to make the neighborhood look better. It�s now in the mid-forties, which is still less than any nation on Earth [note: on Metafilter someone corrected me. According to the latest stats, Swaziland has a lower average life expectancy, and I wish them luck resolving their civil war and the highest rate of AIDS in the world], and testament to the fact that even stuffing the bell curve with little old ladies can�t hide a real problem.

Anyway, one night back in the 80�s I was a struggling freelancer looking for a story. The Classical Joint was closing; it was an old jazz club that everyone had played in, from Bessie Smith on up, and I figured, what with editors all being middle-aged, a story about the last night of the Classical Joint would be saleable, so I grabbed my notebook, put on a black turtleneck and jeans, and went. It was packed with regulars all getting weepy on whiskey in teapots (no liquor license, very speakeasyish), and as I was taking notes I saw an ugly dude who seemed to know everyone running around taking pictures with a very expensive bunch of camera equipment. Figured pictures would make the article more tempting to an editor, I flagged him down and asked him if he�d be interested in collaborating, provided the pix turned out well.
A chilling story, well told. How many times in our life to we intersect with evil and not know it, not sense something wrong... Posted by DaveH at April 14, 2009 8:59 AM

Thanks for the compliment. That last sentence sums up the situation perfectly.

By the way, I've been scolded. Officially, Clifford Olsen is Canada's most convictedly prolific serial killer, at 11 convictions. But I do believe it's true to say that Pickton killed more people; it's just not something I can prove in court all by myself.

Posted by: raincoaster at April 15, 2009 2:20 AM
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