WARNING: This story contains graphic details related to the case of Robert William "Willy" Pickton, who was convicted of murder in 2007, as well as graphic, offensive language.
Lynn Ellingsen, who testified at the trial of Robert William "Willy" Pickton in 2007, has been sentenced for uttering threats to her former employer, including one that specifically referred to feeding the focus of her threats to pigs, a troubling reference to the Pickton case.
Ellingsen was given a 12-month suspended sentence, along with conditions at a sentencing hearing in an Abbotsford Provincial Court room on Friday.
Ellingsen appeared as a witness for crown prosecutors in Pickton's trial, describing gruesome details of her experience with Pickton, which included living at his pig farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C., performing odd jobs for him, doing drugs there, and on one occasion, driving around with the serial killer to find a sex worker.
She testified that she later saw the sex worker dead in Pickton's barn, where he slaughtered pigs.
On Friday, the court heard that among the threats Ellingsen sent her then-boss at a traffic control company was one that directly referred to her connection to the serial killer.
"You know what you stupid bitch we're going to raise pigs and you — you're going to be the first one I feed to the pigs, you got it?" Ellingsen said in a voicemail sent to her former boss, Tammy Sampson, in March 2020.
Investigators ultimately found the remains or DNA of 33 woman at Pickton's pig farm. He was convicted of murdering six women, and charged in the deaths of 20 more — however, those additional charges were later stayed.
Flurry of threats
The court heard on Friday how Ellingsen had worked for the traffic control company B.C. Road Safe for five years leading up to the incident.
Very early one morning in March 2020, she began texting Sampson, her former boss and the owner of the company, apparently upset over having lost a shift.
An exchange followed, in which Ellingsen's messages became abusive and vulgar, as Sampson told her to stop and return a company truck.
Angry, threatening texts for a day and a half
The court heard that Ellingsen continued to send angry and threatening texts, saying she had driven the truck into the Chilliwack River, and that she had planted drugs in it and called the police.
She told Sampson she had paid people to collect her money, an apparent reference to her final pay cheque, after Sampson told her she had been fired.
"You should go to sleep eyes wide open," was one of the threats that evening, along with "I paid to have my money collected at your home."
There were also references to Sampson's husband and school-age children.
Crown prosecutor James Boxall told the court that between 11 p.m. and 9 a.m., Sampson received 32 text messages from Ellingsen, whom she believed was dangerous and capable of doing the things she threatened. The voicemails and texts continued through the night, for a day and a half.
Ellingsen's lawyer, Kelly Merrigan, didn't dispute the nature or specifics of the messages and threats. He told the court his client had a history of being with an abusive boyfriend who once pointed a gun at her head, before making the "unfortunate" acquaintance with Pickton.
Merrigan said Ellingsen was given residency at Pickton's farm, but was also a victim of his, and witnessed his crimes. He said her association with the serial killer had dogged her ever since, and that people "throw it in her face often."
"She's quite embarrassed to be here and quite embarrassed about the incident," he told the court.
Ellingsen said little during the proceedings, except to answer questions from the judge. She declined to make a statement, aside from "I apologize and I'm sorry."
Merrigan said his client does well when sober, but not when she isn't and she's been undergoing counselling.
Judge Jill Rounthwaite made the unusual recommendation — though not order — that Ellingsen seek victim-of-crime counselling herself, as she appears to be turning to alcohol to deal with the trauma she's experienced.
"You've got to deal with the trauma that's underlying this kind of behaviour," said Rounthwaite. "It seems clear she's had her own significant disadvantages in life."
Merrigan has asked for a conditional discharge, so the conviction wouldn't be added to his client's criminal record, but the judge dismissed the suggestion.
Outside the court, Sampson said she was happy that her former employee's threats were added to Ellingsen's criminal record, but she said she would have liked to see her sentenced to some time in jail.
"I think that the nature of her threat is disgusting and it would make a lot of people feel terrible to hear that she spoke those words," said Sampson.