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RCMP apology over Pickton murder 'not enough,' victim's father says

Screen grab of serail killer Robert Pickton from 2007.

Globe files/Globe files

An RCMP apology for failing to do more to catch Robert Pickton sooner has been dismissed as meaningless by families of women murdered by the serial killer.

"I don't accept the apology," Dianne Rock's sister, Lilliane Beaudoin, said on Friday after B.C.'s top Mountie issued the statement. "We need apologies from the officers who did wrong," she said, adding that she will be waiting to see if the officers apologize when they testify at the inquiry into the investigation.

Marnie Frey's father, Rick Frey, said an apology was not enough. "We all know they could have done more," he said. "I don't think you have to be a Philadelphia lawyer to figure that one out."

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An apology should go to RCMP officers who were stymied by their bosses in investigating Mr. Pickton in the late 1990s, Mr. Frey said. Reviews of the RCMP and Vancouver Police Department investigation have revealed that beat cops and detectives believed a serial killer was preying on women in the Downtown Eastside, but senior managers did not.

"Officers were trying to get [senior managers]to wake up, they had a problem. They should apologize to their people, that they did not listen," Mr. Frey said. He also wanted to know what the RCMP are now doing differently.

Earlier Friday, RCMP assistant commissioner Craig Callens offered the apology for the fact that the RCMP did not arrest Mr. Pickton before February, 2002. The statement came 18 months after Vancouver Police Department issued its own apology.

Vancouver police and the RCMP received tips pointing to Mr. Pickton as a serial killer in 1998 and 1999. Mr. Pickton was arrested in 2002 and convicted of killing six women, three of them in 2001. He was charged with murdering 11 more women between December, 1999, and 2002, but the charges were stayed.

Assistant commissioner Callen told reporters at a news conference that the RCMP, "with the benefit of hindsight and measured against current investigative standards" recognizes they could have done more. "On behalf of the RCMP, I would like to express to the families of the victims how very sorry we are for the loss of your loved ones, and I apologize that the RCMP did not do more," he said.

The apology was made at this time in response to events earlier this month at the missing women inquiry, he said.

RCMP Superintendent R.J. Williams, who conducted an external review of the RCMP Pickton investigation, had been asked at the inquiry to apologize to the families on behalf of the Mounties. He said he was not the appropriate person to apologize and it was up to RCMP management in B.C.

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Assistant commissioner Callens said he was recently told about Supt. Williams testimony. The RCMP in August, 2010, expressed "deep regret" that the RCMP was unable to gather enough evidence to charge Mr. Pickton sooner than it did, he said. The proceedings at the inquiry made it clear that the issue of an apology remained in question, he said.

The RCMP approaches serial-murder investigations much differently than in 1998, he added. The RCMP is looking forward to the inquiry's recommendations to improve how they investigate and solve complex major crimes, he said.

The inquiry was appointed in the fall of 2010 to look into why Mr. Pickton was not arrested before February, 2002. Marnie Frey had been reported missing by her stepmother Lynn Frey on Dec. 29, 1977, and her remains were found on Mr. Pickton's farm after he was arrested. Dianne Rock's blood and DNA were found on Mr. Pickton's farm, but Crown counsel stayed a murder charge against Mr. Pickton related to her death.

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