For nearly a decade, Rick Frey has been searching for answers into the disappearance and death of his daughter, Marnie. Now, on the eve of the trial of the alleged serial killer charged with her murder, Frey has learned that instead of discovering first-hand what happened, the wait will likely continue after he was subpoenaed as a witness in the case.
The surprise move happened late this week to Frey, his wife, Lynn, and the families of the other five alleged victims of Robert William Pickton. The British Columbia Crown's office told Frey yesterday the families should expect to be barred from the courtroom until after they have been called to testify.
With the trial set to begin Monday and last about a year, and no clear answer as to when they will be called to the witness stand, they worry many more months could pass before they can take a seat in the courtroom to confront Pickton and finally learn the truth.
It's horrific enough to suffer the loss of a loved one with no idea if she is dead or alive, then to learn she's been murdered, followed by years of waiting for the trial, but this move makes the horrific even worse.
When police first began scouring the six-hectare property on a wet winter night in February 2002, few expected the enormity of the case that would unfold. Over the next 21 months, investigators painstakingly searched Pickton's trailer, his brother's house at the front of the lot and a collection of dilapidated buildings, old vehicles and farm machinery scattered about. They also expanded their search to include a nearby parcel of Pickton family-owned land containing a building-cum-boozecan that hosted illegal, all-night parties. Locals called it Piggy's Palace.
As the search unfolded, the number of first-degree murder charges against Pickton grew. In May 2005, the indictment swelled to 27 counts before Williams ruled last summer that the charge involving an unidentified Jane Doe wouldn't proceed, leaving the total at 26.
My heart goes out to the families and my hope is that law enforcement can learn how to detect patterns sooner so there are fewer serial killings.