Body hanging in Pickton's barn, witness says

A key prosecution witness in the Robert William Pickton murder trial testified Monday that she saw a dead woman hanging from a chain in his barn.

This story contains disturbing details

A key prosecution witness in the Robert William Pickton murder trial testified Monday that she saw a dead woman hanging from a chain in Pickton's barn.

Lynn Ellingsen, 37, a former friend of Pickton, is the first witness to testify she saw Pickton with a dead body. Earlier testimony at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster detailed body parts and other evidence found at the farm.

Ellingsen testified that she had been living on the farm and doing odd jobs for Pickton for a couple of months when one night the pair went out cruising the Vancouver streets looking for a prostitute for Pickton.

She said they brought one woman back to the Port Coquitlam farm. Ellingsen told the court while the woman and Pickton went in one room, she went into another and got high.

Choking back tears, Ellingsen described how she was woken up by a noise and a bright light coming from the barn next door where Pickton slaughtered pigs and went to look.

"I saw this body. It was hanging. Willy pulled me inside, behind the door. Walked me over to the table. Made me look. Told me if I was to say anything, I'd be right beside her."

Ellingsen told the court that the woman hanging in the barn was the person they had picked up earlier that night.

"This woman that we had picked up — at my eye level was where her feet, like her legs were, I seen red toe nail polish. On this big shiny table, I don't know what it was, but it was lots of blood and uh, hair, black hair."

Asked by the Crown if she had noticed the person's face, Ellingsen said: "Not her face, but it was her hair, like she had long black hair and that's what was laying on the table."

"I just remember her toes."

"Was Pickton doing anything to the woman?" she was asked.

"There were knives with blood on them," she said. "He was full of blood himself."

Later that night, Ellingsen said Pickton put her in a cab and sent her to get drugs. She said she stayed with a friend and left the Lower Mainland out of fear.

But Ellingsen could not remember when this happened, not even the year.

Pickton is facing 26 counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Six of the charges are being handled at the current trial, which began in January, while the other 20 charges are expected to be dealt with at a subsequent trial.

Pickton, who was arrested in 2002, has pleaded not guilty.

Emotional Ellingsen recalls giving up her baby

Earlier Monday, Ellingsen broke down in tears as she talked about having to give up her baby because she was too addicted to drugs to care for him.

She told the court she had been a star athlete in high school who won many trophies, but three weeks after graduation, she gave birth to a boy.

Soon after, she started drinking and using cocaine heavily and had to give her son to her parents.

As Ellingsen told the jury of seven men and five women this tale, she began to cry and asked the judge for time to compose herself. The court ended up breaking early for lunch to give Ellingsen time away from the witness box.

During her testimony, Crown prosecutor Mike Petrie asked Ellingsen to explain the mental and physical effects of the drugs she was using.

"It numbs you," Ellingsen replied. "It doesn't make you see things that are not there. It doesn't make you hallucinate."

She told the jury she was introduced to Pickton by a woman named Gina Houston, a close friend of Pickton. The two women met in a halfway house, where Ellingsen was escaping an abusive relationship.

Pickton eventually offered Ellingsen work at his farm, and had her clean up the trailer he lived in and drive his trucks.

Ellingsen said Pickton knew she used drugs and helped her obtain them.

Her testimony is in contrast to the testimony of other witnesses at the trial, who said Pickton was against drugs and didn't allow them to be consumed on his property.

Pickton is on trial for the murders of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Marnie Frey and Georgina Papin — all women who went missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside between 1997 and 2001.

With files from the Canadian Press