I’m beginning my preparations for a new class in which we will be studying the “worst of the worst” offenders. It will focus on the people who have committed the most heinous crimes. One of the first contenders is Robert William “Willie” Pickton.
Willie is a former pig farmer and serial killer. He was convicted of killing six women. He was also charged in the deaths of an additional 20 women, many of whom were prostitutes and drug users who originated from downtown Vancouver. He confessed to an undercover police officer, who was posing as his cellmate, to having committed 49 murders.
He also told the officer/cellmate that he wanted to kill one more woman to make an even 50.
What makes Willie “the worst of the worst” is what he did with the bodies of the women. If you have a squeamish stomach you may want to stop reading now.
He ground up the human flesh of his victims and mixed it with pork. The pork was never distributed commercially however, he did feed it to friends and visitors of the farm. It is also believed that some of the bodies were fed directly to his pigs.
“…the DNA of two victims found in packages of ground meat, a partial leg bone of another victim found in a cistern, assorted bones and teeth buried about the farm property, which Canadian lawmen privately called the “killing fields” …”
Willie was sentenced to life in prison, the harshest penalty under Canadian law.
A Vancouver detective named Kim Rossmo attempted to investigate the case using a new technique called geographic profiling. When he shared his research with the head inspector of the homicide division, the inspector didn’t want to hear it.
Rossmo’s research is now world-famous. He is the director of the Center for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation at Texas State. He developed an algorithm during his doctoral dissertation which allows him to better understand the geographical environment in which an individual committed a crime.
His research is in high demand. He has created geographic profiles for the Zodiac Killer, the Austin Ripper murders, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and translated World War II Gestapo files from Berlin. His work has been portrayed in movies, television shows and books.
Rossmo is not angry about the fact that the police rejected his ideas. Instead, he wondered how we stop people from making these types of mistakes in the future.
Based on his research there are three main reasons for criminal investigative failures: (1) cognitive biases; (2) understanding probabilities; and (3) organizational issues (e.g. groupthink).
Rossmo’s innovative investigative technique, many believe, might have saved the lives of at least 14 women who ultimately became the victims of Willie the pig farmer.
Hopefully, his investigative techniques can save the lives of others.