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Forensic psychiatrist doesn't believe admitted serial killer has schizophrenia

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Warning: This article contains content that may be disturbing to readers. Discretion is advised.

A forensic psychiatrist testified he believes admitted serial killer Jeremy Skibicki is not schizophrenic, but rather his four killings were driven by a sexual attraction to dead bodies.

The 37-year-old accused has admitted to killing four women: Rebecca Contois, Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran, and an unidentified woman who Indigenous leaders have given the name Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe or Buffalo Woman.

Skibicki pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder. His lawyers are arguing he should be found not criminally responsible for the deaths due to mental disorder.

Following a court order last month, Ontario-based forensic psychiatrist Dr. Gary Chaimowitz met via video with Skibicki for about eight hours over the May long weekend to conduct a psychiatric assessment.

“In my view, he does not meet the criteria for being found not criminally responsible,” Chaimowitz told the court Wednesday.

He said through his assessment of Skibicki, he believes the man has anti-social personality disorder, substance abuse disorder and homicidal necrophilia – an arousal or sexual attraction to corpses.

The court has heard previously Skibicki drowned or strangled his four victims and then defiled their bodies. Chaimowitz testified there had been a longstanding and evolving interest in necrophilia throughout Skibicki's life, such as his desire to have sex with his ex-wife while she was asleep.

He said this interest escalated, ultimately leading to Skibicki's first killing.

"He now had a taste for what he was doing and he continued to do that," Chaimowitz said. "Once he had a taste for homicidal necrophilia, he was going to do it again."

The court previously heard from Dr. Sohom Das, a UK-based forensic psychiatrist who diagnosed Skibicki with schizophrenia after the accused reported hearing voices and communicating with higher powers at the time of the crimes.

However, Chaimowitz told the court Wednesday he found no evidence that Skibicki is or was suffering from schizophrenia.

“I believe that the plethora of symptoms that Mr. Skibicki described to me were fabrications of a major mental disorder,” Chaimowitz said.

He told the court Skibicki suggested he was being compelled by God to kill the four women, even though he felt it was legally wrong.

“In my view, it was only after Mr. Skibicki was arrested that he started speaking about things which may have been described as hallucinations or delusions such as messages from God,” Chaimowitz said.

Under cross-examination, Chaimowitz was asked about comments Skibicki made prior to his arrest, referencing his belief that he was 'ordained by God'. Chaimowitz told the court Skibicki has 'extremely radical' and 'bizarre beliefs', but noted those beliefs are not a delusion or a sign of schizophrenia.

He said none of the multiple health-care or social service providers Skibicki saw over many years ever reported symptoms consistent with schizophrenia.

“In fact, no one assessing Mr. Skibicki in his periods of custody when he was seen multiple times by health-care providers have ever diagnosed or treated him for schizophrenia,” Chaimowitz said.

Chaimowitz also spoke about the motivation to malinger or fake a major mental disorder to qualify for a not criminally responsible defence, testifying Skibicki may have seen it as “an easier way out.”

“I understand why he would want an NCR defence. I don’t blame him,” Chaimowitz said. “But he doesn’t have schizophrenia.”

The court is expected to hear closing submissions from the Crown and defence on June 10.

There is a support line available for those impacted by missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S+ people: 1-844-413-6649.

The Hope for Wellness Hotline for Indigenous people, with support in Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut, is also available 24/7 in Canada at 1-855-242-3310. 

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