A Canadian pig farmer accused of killing 26 women told a friend that there were several bodies on his farm and that he was thinking about suicide.
Gina Houston, who said she has known Robert Pickton for more than a decade, said he discussed committing suicide with her during a conversation in his car, two days before he was arrested in February 2002.
Houston testified Pickton told her there were "one, two, three, four, five or maybe six bodies" in the piggery - a mostly abandoned area behind a building that Pickton used to slaughter pigs and adjacent to the trailer he lived in.
Pickton, 57, is charged with 26 counts of murder. He denies guilt.
In a courtroom more crowded than it had been for several months, Houston testified about a conversation with the accused when he picked her up on Feb. 20, 2002.
"Willy told me we had to do something. We had to do it before Friday," Houston said.
She said he mentioned something about a rope, or a truck or "hanging ourselves."
"'There's only one way out,"' she testified Pickton said to her.
"I can't remember the exact words," Houston said. "But it had something to do with committing double suicide."
Pickton spent several moments looking at his old friend when he first entered the courtroom and sat in the witness box. Later, he rarely glanced at her and spent much of the time doodling on his notepad.
He wrote at least three notes and handed them to his lawyers, seated in front of him.
Houston said Pickton told her "it was all my fault, everything that was happening" but she was not sure why he seemed to blame her.
By the time of their conversation the police had taken over the property as part of the missing women's investigation, Houston testified. Pickton was arrested and charged with two murders on Feb. 22, 2002.
He is charged in the deaths of Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Georgina Papin, Marnie Frey, Brenda Wolfe and Andrea Joesbury.
He is to stand trial on an additional 20 counts of first-degree murder at a later date.