Missing Women Inquiry gets six more months

Extension granted to June for probe of police delays in stopping serial killer

Former Attorney General Wally Oppal is head of the Missing Women Inquiry.

The provincial government has extended the Missing Women Inquiry by an extra six months.

The decision gives Commissioner Wally Oppal – who had asked for an extra year – until next June 30 to deliver his findings on why it took so long to catch serial killer Robert Pickton.

The inquiry had been supposed to report by the end of this year but formal hearings only began Oct. 11 in Vancouver.

Months of further testimony are expected, including evidence from senior Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and RCMP officers.

Attorney General Shirley Bond said the six-month extension should mean only an “incremental” increase in the $2.5-million in provincial funding committed for the inquiry so far.

The VPD has been accused of failing to properly investigate reports of sex trade workers who went missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside or to act on advice that one or more serial killers were hunting prostitutes there.

RCMP officers will be questioned on how it took until 2002 to catch Pickton, even though he was charged with attempting to murder a prostitute on his Port Coquitlam farm in 1997, and why they didn’t act on Pickton’s offer to search the farm in 2000.

Provincial Crown officials may testify on their decision to drop charges in the 1997 incident.

Several women vanished in the five years between the 1997 attack and Pickton’s ultimate arrest, including all six of the women he was ultimately convicted of murdering.

Much of the testimony so far has been from relatives of the victims, experts on prostitution and activists or workers from the Downtown Eastside.