A Canadian serial killer who brought victims to his pig farm is hospitalized after a prison assault

This artist's sketch shows accused serial killer Robert Pickton taking notes during the second day of his trial in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, British Columbia, Jan. 31, 2006. Convicted Canadian serial killer Pickton has been hospitalized and is in a life-threatening condition after an assault at a Quebec prison, authorities said Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Jane Wolsack/The Canadian Press via AP)

MONTREAL (AP) — Convicted Canadian serial killer Robert Pickton, who brought female victims to his pig farm during a crime spree near Vancouver in the 1990s and early 2000s, was assaulted in prison and has been hospitalized in life-threatening condition, authorities said Tuesday.

A 51-year-old inmate was in custody for the assault Sunday at a prison in Quebec, police spokesman Hugues Beaulieu said.

The 74-year-old Pickton was convicted of six counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2007, with the maximum parole ineligibility period of 25 years, after being charged with the murders of 26 women.

Police began searching the Pickton farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam more than 22 years ago in what would be a years-long investigation into the disappearances of dozens of women.

The remains or DNA of 33 women, many picked up from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, were found on Pickton’s pig farm in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. He once bragged to an undercover police officer that he killed a total of 49 women.

Cynthia Cardinal, whose sister Georgina Papin was murdered by Pickton, said she was “overwhelmed” with happiness when she received a text message Monday with the news that he had been attacked. She called it “karma.”

The text came from a cousin of Tanya Holyk, another missing woman whose DNA was found at Pickton’s pig farm.

“I don’t think anybody that evil should be walking on Earth, as far as I’m concerned,” Cardinal said Tuesday. “I have happy tears. Very happy tears.”

Federal Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said he was informed of the attack late Sunday and his thoughts immediately turned to the families of Pickton’s victims in British Columbia.

LeBlanc called Pickton “one of the most dangerous criminals in the country” but said he could provide no further details about the incident or Pickton’s condition due to privacy laws.

Vancouver police were criticized for not taking the cases seriously because many of the missing were sex workers or drug users.

The Correctional Service Canada first announced Monday that an inmate had been sent to a hospital after a serious assault at the maximum security Port-Cartier Institution, about 480 kilometers (about 300 miles) northeast of Quebec City.

On Tuesday, the correctional service confirmed that Pickton was the inmate injured in Sunday’s assault. It said none of its staff were involved in the attack.

Quebec provincial police said the sentenced killer’s injuries were considered life-threatening.

Pickton’s confirmed victims were six: Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Ann Wolfe, Papin and Marnie Frey.

At the time of Pickton’s sentencing, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice James Williams said it was a “rare case that properly warrants the maximum period of parole ineligibility available to the court.”