05/23/2012 02:54 EDT | Updated 07/23/2012 05:12 EDT

Former top RCMP officer says Mounties not asked to help in missing investigation

VANCOUVER - A retired top RCMP official says it's obvious more should have been done to find Vancouver's missing women but the Mounties weren't asked to get involved in the Robert Pickton case.

Gary Bass told the inquiry examining Pickton's actions that the RCMP major crimes section was providing some help to the missing women's investigation in 1998, but wasn't in charge of it.

The former deputy commissioner in B.C. says that at the time, Vancouver police still believed the women had simply gone missing on their own, even though RCMP thought foul play was involved as far back as 1995.

He says when the major crime section was finally asked to review the missing women's case in 2000, Vancouver police didn't have their files ready and the investigation was delayed for another six months.

Bass told the inquiry that the RCMP believed there were three serial killers operating in the province at the time — in Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and in northern B.C.

Pickton wasn't arrested until 2002 and was eventually convicted of killing six women, but the DNA of 33 women was found on his family's farm in Port Coquitlam.