Robert Pickton, who was convicted in 2007 of killing six women in British Columbia, is not going to become a bestselling author...if Amazon has a say. The e-tailer pulled a 144-page paperback called Pickton: In His Own Words from its website on Monday, after an online petition surfaced calling for the book to be barred from sale.
Pickton: In His Own Words became available on Amazon on January 29. The book was released by Colorado-based self-publisher Outskirts Press and carried a retail price of $14.95. The petition, from Change.org, calling for Amazon to stop selling the book, drew over 50,000 signatures in 24 hours.
The 66-year-old, who confessed to an undercover police officer that he killed 49 women in total, is currently in prison, serving a life sentence. While the Change.org petition requested for the book's removal from Amazon out of respect for the families of Pickton's victims, there are also legal ramifications for selling a book such as this one.
B.C.’s Solicitor General Mike Morris contacted Amazon, asking the retailer to halt sales of the book. Outskirts Press announced Monday it would no longer be publishing the book, and asked Amazon to remove it. As of roughly 7 p.m. EST Monday, the book had been removed from Amazon’s website as per the publisher's request.
The book was published under the authorship of Michael Chilldres, but Outskirts Press said in a statement that Chilldres did not actually write the book. Chilldres is Pickton's friend and former cellmate, and received a handwritten manuscript from Pickton. Chilldres then typed up the manuscript, and submitted it to the publisher on Pickton's behalf.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark expressed concern on Monday that if Pickton were to earn money from the sale of the book, it could fly in face of Canadian law. The Canadian provinces of Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia have laws in place that prevent those convicted of violent crimes from profiting off of the recounting of their crimes. While B.C. does not yet have a law like this in place, it is thought that the province will soon establish one. A similar law, known as the Son of Sam law, exists in the U.S.
The book, in detailing Pickton's life, accuses the Royal Canadian Mounted Police of corruption. Clark said B.C. will now move to establish a law, like the ones in the aforementioned provinces, that will prevent Pickton from profiting off of the title.
A similar incident took place in Canada in November 2015, when convicted killer Paul Bernardo released a self-published e-book called A Mad World Order. Bernardo, 50, was convicted in 1995 of the rape and murder of two teenage girls; he was also serving a life-sentence when his book was published.
Because Bernardo’s book was a work of fiction, he was not legally blocked from profiting off of its sales. Nonetheless, the book was removed from Amazon.
In both cases, the Correctional Service of Canada was unable to explain how the criminals, who do not have access to Internet in prison, were able to publish a book.