The Grisly Case Of Robert Pickton, The Canadian Serial Killer Who Fed His Victims’ Remains To His Pigs

Published April 30, 2023
Updated November 7, 2023

A search of Robert William Pickton's farm turned up DNA from dozens of missing women. Later, Pickton admitted to murdering 49 people — and his only regret was not making it an even 50.

Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions and/or images of violent, disturbing, or otherwise potentially distressing events.

In 2007, Robert Pickton was convicted of the murders of six women. In an undercover interview, he admitted to killing 49.

His only regret was that he hadn’t gotten to an even 50.

Robert Pickton

Getty Images Robert William Pickton.

When police initially executed a search at Pickton’s pig farm, they were looking for illegal firearms — but what they saw was so shocking and vile, they quickly obtained a second warrant to investigate the property further. There, they found body parts and bones littered across the property, many of which were in the pigsties and belonged to Indigenous women.

This is everything you need to know about Robert “Pork Chop Rob” Pickton, Canada’s most depraved killer.

Robert Pickton’s Grim Childhood On The Farm

Robert Pickton was born on Oct. 24, 1949, to Leonard and Louise Pickton, Canadian pig farmers living in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. He had an older sister named Linda and a younger brother named David, but while the brothers remained on the farm to help their parents, Linda was sent to Vancouver where she could grow up away from the farm.

Life on the farm wasn’t easy for Pickton, and left quite a few mental scars. As the Toronto Star reported, his father wasn’t involved in raising him and his brother Dave; that responsibility fell solely on their mother, Louise.

Louise was described as a workaholic, eccentric, and tough. She made the boys work long hours on the farm, even on school days, which meant that they often stank. Their mother also insisted that they only take baths — and as a result, young Robert Pickton was afraid of taking showers.

There were even reports that Pickton would hide in pig carcasses as a kid when he wanted to avoid someone.

He was unpopular with girls at school, likely in part because he constantly smelled like manure, dead animals, and dirt. He never wore clean clothing. He was slow in school and dropped out early. And in one disturbing story, Pickton’s parents slaughtered a beloved pet calf he had raised himself.

But perhaps the most revealing story from Pickton’s childhood is one that does not actually involve him at all. Rather, it involves his brother Dave, and their mother.

Murderous Instincts Run In The Family

On Oct. 16, 1967, Dave Pickton was driving his father’s red truck shortly after getting his license. The details are murky, but something happened that caused the truck to slam into a 14-year-old boy who had been walking along the side of the road. His name was Tim Barrett.

In a panic, Dave sped home to tell his mother what had happened. Louise Pickton returned with her son to the spot where Barrett was lying, injured but still alive. According to the Toronto Star, Louise bent over to inspect him, then pushed him into a deep slough running along the side of the road.

The next day, Tim Barrett was found dead. An autopsy revealed that the eighth grader had drowned — and that while his injuries from the collision were severe, they would not have killed him.

Louise Pickton was a highly influential, if not the most influential, person in Robert Pickton’s life. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that he would go on to kill.

Robert Pickton’s Grisly Killing Spree

Robert Pickton’s murderous streak began in the early 1990s while he was working on a farm outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. Bill Hiscox, a worker on the farm, would later say the property was “creepy,” to say the least.

For one thing, rather than a guard dog, a large boar patrolled the farm and would often bite or chase trespassers. For another, though it was on the outskirts of Vancouver, it appeared extremely remote.

Pickton owned and operated the farm with his brother David, though they eventually began to forgo farming to sell some of their property, The Stranger reports. This move would not only make them millionaires, but it would also allow them to enter a far different industry.

In 1996, the Picktons began a non-profit charity, the Piggy Palace Good Times Society, under the vague aim to “organize, coordinate, manage and operate special events, functions, dances, shows, and exhibitions on behalf of service organizations, sports organizations, and other worthy groups.”

These “charity” events were, in fact, raves that the brothers held in their farm’s slaughterhouse, which they’d converted into a warehouse-style space. Their parties were well known among the locals and often drew crowds of up to 2,000 people, among them bikers and local sex workers.

In March of 1997, Pickton was charged with the attempted murder of one of the sex workers, Wendy Lynn Eistetter. During an altercation at the farm, Pickton had handcuffed one of Eistetter’s hands and stabbed her repeatedly with a knife. Eistetter managed to escape and report him, and Pickton was arrested for attempted murder.

The charge was later dismissed, but it opened farmworker Bill Hiscox’s eyes to a larger problem occurring on the farm.

In the next three years after Pickton’s run-in with the law, Hiscox noticed that women who visited the farm tended to go missing. Eventually, he reported this to the police, but it wasn’t until 2002 that Canadian authorities finally searched the farm.

Robert Pickton Is Finally Caught

In February 2002, Canadian police raided Robert Pickton’s property on a warrant. At the time, they were looking for illegal firearms. Instead, they found items belonging to multiple missing women.

A subsequent search of the farm revealed remains or DNA evidence of at least 33 women.

Excavation of Robert Pickton's Farm

Getty ImagesA team of investigators excavates the Pickton farm.

Originally, Pickton was arrested on two murder charges. Soon, though, three more murder charges were added. Then another. Eventually, by 2005, 26 murder charges had been brought against Robert Pickton, making him one of the most prolific serial killers in Canadian history.

During the investigation, police uncovered just how Pickton had gruesomely murdered those women.

Through police reports and a taped confession from Pickton, police concluded that the women had been killed multiple ways. Some of them had been handcuffed and stabbed; others had been injected with antifreeze.

After they were dead, Pickton would either take their bodies to a meat rendering plant nearby or grind them up and feed them to the pigs that lived on his farm.

The Pig Farmer Killer Sees Justice

Though he was charged with 26 murders, and despite evidence that he had killed more, Robert Pickton was only convicted of six counts of second-degree murder, because those cases were the most concrete. The charges had been broken up during the trial to make them easier for the jury members to sift through.

A judge sentenced Robert Pickton to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years, the maximum sentence for a second-degree murder charge in Canada. Any other charges against him were discontinued, as the courts decided that there was no way any of them could add to his sentence, as he was already serving the maximum.

Vigil For Victims

Getty ImagesA vigil for the victims of the Pig Farmer Killer.

To this day it is unclear just how many women fell victim to Pickton’s gruesome killing spree.

But prosecutors say that Pickton told an undercover officer in his jail cell that he had killed 49 — and was disappointed that he couldn’t make it “an even 50.”

After reading about serial killer Robert Pickton, read about Marcel Petiot, the most despicable killer in history. Then, acquaint yourself with the horrifying crimes of Co-ed Killer Edmund Kemper.

Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
Maggie Donahue
Maggie Donahue is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. She has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and film studies from Johns Hopkins University. Before landing at ATI, she covered arts and culture at The A.V. Club and Colorado Public Radio and also wrote for Longreads. She is interested in stories about scientific discoveries, pop culture, the weird corners of history, unexplained phenomena, nature, and the outdoors.
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Cite This Article
Harvey, Austin. "The Grisly Case Of Robert Pickton, The Canadian Serial Killer Who Fed His Victims’ Remains To His Pigs.", April 30, 2023, Accessed May 18, 2024.