VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A pig farmer alleged to be Canada's worst serial killer was charged Wednesday with 12 new counts of first-degree murder as part of an inquiry into the disappearances of more than 60 women, mainly prostitutes who vanished from a seedy downtown neighborhood.
The new charges come on top of the 15 murder charges that Robert Pickton already faces. The 55-year-old suspect lives with his brother and sister on a farm where the remains of at least 31 women have been found. He is expected to stand trial in the fall.
Pickton has been in custody since his arrest Feb. 7, 2002, when police descended on the farm and other property he and his family owned.
Dozens of investigators, aided by forensic anthropologists, took apart every building on the pig farm and sifted through hundreds of tons of dirt looking for evidence. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Vancouver police's Missing Women Task Force have processed more than 100,000 DNA swabs and thousands of pieces of forensic evidence since the inquiry began.
The half-year preliminary hearing in the Pickton case was covered by one of the most stringent publication bans in Canadian history, so that the jury pool would not be tainted.