Winnipeg's alleged serial killer 'absolutely' maintains his innocence, lawyer says
WARNING: The details in this article may be disturbing to some viewers. Discretion is advised.
The lawyer representing a Winnipeg man accused of killing four Indigenous women says his client 'absolutely' maintains his innocence and intends to plead not guilty.
Two sheriffs led Jeremy Anthony Michael Skibicki into a Manitoba Court of King's Bench courtroom Friday afternoon, his hands and feet chained.
The 35-year-old is accused of killing four Indigenous women between March and May of this year.
Friends and family members of the victims sat in the courtroom as Skibicki was directly indicted on four counts of first-degree murder. A direct indictment means the case goes straight to trial without a preliminary hearing.
'A TYPE OF GRIEF NEVER EXPERIENCED BEFORE': VICTIM'S FAMILY
Winnipeg police began the investigation in May after the partial remains of Rebecca Contois, 24, were found near an apartment building in the 200 block of Edison Avenue.
Police identified three more victims during a news conference on Thursday.
Morgan Beatrice Harris, 39, is believed to have been killed around May 1, and Marcedes Myran, 26, is believed to have been killed around May 4. Both women were members of the Long Plain First Nation.
One woman, who has not yet been identified but has been described as an Indigenous woman in her mid-20s with an average build, is believed to have been killed around March 15, 2022.
A statement from Contois' family says they have experienced paralyzing grief.
"I don’t think we have ever cried buckets of tears, painful wake-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-anxiety, a type of grief never experienced before, deep, deep sadness," they said. "The last couple of months have been incredibly exhausting."
The family said they are sharing their deepest condolences with the families of the other victims.
'THEY DESERVE TO BE KNOWN:' DAUGHTER OF VICTIM CALLS FOR ACTION
Morgan Harris was reported missing on May 1, and was last seen in the area of Main Street and Henry Avenue. Her daughter, 21-year-old Cambria Harris, said she was utterly shocked to hear what had happened to her mom.
"I'm really saddened to hear that my mom was taken in such a savage and gruesome way," she said.
Leafing through family photographs with her own young daughter in the next room, Harris reflected on her mother’s life.
''Everyone knew who my mother was,” she said. “There wasn't a single person when we were searching for her - no one had a bad thing to say. Everyone knew her."
Harris says her mother was homeless and had fallen on hard times, but she wants her mother to be known for more than how she died. She says Morgan was known for her kindness.Cambria said her mother was an amazing woman with a bright soul who had been seeking help to deal with her addictions.
"My mom had fallen on hard times. She was homeless and I guess someone saw that and took advantage of her and took advantage of a vulnerable person."
Cambria said there needs to be more action to stop this from happening again.
"We need to start protecting our vulnerable youth and our vulnerable women – specifically Indigenous because that is the highest rate of who is at risk right now," she said.
"I think it is really important to speak up because as a young Indigenous woman like myself, I shouldn't have to fear going outside, and I shouldn't have to fear having to catch the bus before 6 o'clock so that it is not night-time. I shouldn't have to worry about not being able to leave my house just to go across the street to the store past 8."
She said the four women, and all missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, are more than just victims.
"Those are mothers, those are aunties, those are families, and they deserve to be known as that and not just as another picture on a missing persons’ poster."
POLICE SAY VICTIMS' REMAINS 'LIKELY' IN LANDFILL, BUT ARE NOT ABLE TO SEARCH IT
Shortly after Contois' partial remains were found near the apartment on Edison Avenue, police found additional remains at the Brady Landfill.
The remains of Harris, Myran, and the unidentified woman have not been found.
Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth later confirmed investigators believe the remains of Marcedes Myran and Morgan Beatrice Harris are in Prairie Green Landfill, located near Stony Mountain, Man.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Smyth said while investigators believe it is likely the remains of the other victims are in the landfill, police won't be able to search it.
"The reality is we are talking about a 50-plus-acre site with layers and layers of refuse. We wouldn't know where to begin. We are not in a position to search the whole site," Smyth told reporters on Friday.
He said he understands the need for closure from the families of the victims.
"I would want the remains of my loved ones as well," he said. "We just have no ability to know where that is and where to commence that search. It is not a feasible operation."
LAWYER SAYS NOT-GUILTY PLEAS ARE ANTICIPATED
Outside the law courts building on Friday, Skibicki's lawyer Leonard Tailleur told reporters his client 'absolutely' maintains his innocence.
He said it will be a while before they enter an official plea due to the amount of evidence disclosure provided by the provincial Crown, but he said he anticipates they will be entering a not-guilty plea on all four counts.
The charges against Skibicki have not been proven in court, and he is considered innocent until proven guilty.
Tailleur said with the amount of publicity the case has gotten, there is a concern about his client's presumption of innocence.
"The tendency of people, I speak generally here, is to make assumptions based on assertions that are made in the press or whatever, and that, of course, when they accumulate that becomes potentially a problem," Tailleur said.
-with files from CTV's Taylor Brock
There is a support line available for those impacted by missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S+ people: 1-844-413-6649.
Additional mental-health and community-based emotional support and cultural services are also available through the federal government.
In speaking to media on Dec. 6, 2022, Chief Danny Smyth said investigators believe the remains of Marcedes Myran and Morgan Beatrice Harris are in Prairie Green Landfill, located near Stony Mountain, Man., not in the Brady Landfill.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
With the anniversary of Ukraine's invasion by Russia around the corner, CTV News sat down with a Russian warfare expert to discuss how he sees the conflict playing out and what happens next.
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, as of Thursday morning there were extreme cold or winter storm warnings active from coast to coast, with the harshest extreme cold warnings stretching from northern Alberta all the way to Nova Scotia.
Would you pay $300 a year for quick access to a nurse? Dealing with demand, Ontario doctors get creative
Paid subscriptions to on-demand care are among the many strategies primary health-care providers in Ontario are adopting in order to meet increased demand for access to doctors in the past year, while also managing staffing shortages.
Nestle Canada says it is winding down its frozen meals and pizza business in Canada over the next six months. The four brands that will no longer be sold in the freezer aisle at Canadian grocery stores are Delissio, Stouffer's, Lean Cuisine and Life Cuisine.
A paramedic signing off for duty for the last time got choked up and teary-eyed during his final radio call to colleagues.
Hundreds of customers who scan QR codes for restaurant menus across Canada are being surprised by secret menus instead, revealing the hidden costs behind the food they eat.
One of Saskatchewan’s oldest hockey rinks has garnered national attention for its unique features and unusual design.
The U.S. is tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that has been spotted over U.S. airspace for a couple days, but the Pentagon decided not to shoot it down due to risks of harm for people on the ground, officials said Thursday.
As the most romantic day of the year approaches, Canada's 100 most romantic restaurants for 2023 have been revealed for those who might consider booking a table for Valentine's Day dinner.
One of Saskatchewan’s oldest hockey rinks has garnered national attention for its unique features and unusual design.
The final details are being chiselled into place at the REAL District in preparation for the second annual Frost Festival taking place Feb. 3 to 12.
The Farmer and Rancher Mental Health (FARMh) Initiative has launched a mental wellness network along with a virtual toolbox full of mental health resources for the agriculture community.
Aaron Benneweis, 46, has been charged by Saskatoon Police with sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a minor while in a position of trust or authority.
Brian Hodgkinson always knew there was benzene in natural gas — after all, he spent 40 years working with it for SaskPower, then SaskEnergy.
A report written and reviewed by Saskatoon Water is calling on the city to create a warning system, in particular for drivers, when roadways become “dangerously flooded” due to heavy rain.
An argument between two young children playing outside together escalated to violence when a parent got involved, a North Bay mom says.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. is holding a big reveal Friday morning: the winner of a $48 million Lotto 6/49 Gold Ball draw.
The past few weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster for 16-year-old Ra'Jah Mohamed, a student at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School.
If EPS, sheriffs try a hard crackdown on inner-city Edmonton it could make things worse: criminologist
A former Edmonton Police Service officer believes bringing Alberta Sheriffs into downtown Edmonton is a risky plan that has the potential to backfire if not done properly.
The Operation Friendship Seniors Society (OFSS) announced Wednesday that it would be shutting down services at the McCauley Seniors drop-in facility.
Three more Albertans died from influenza in a one-week period, according to the latest data from health officials, while newly reported cases decreased for the 10th week in a row since the peak in mid-November.
'We win or it’s free' paralegal bribed court clerk in traffic ticket fixing scheme: testimony alleges
A paralegal firm whose tagline is “we win or it’s free” bribed a Toronto traffic court clerk to change legal records to make it look like they had won, said the clerk in the first time he has testified publicly about the case.
Toronto and most of Ontario are in for a frigid bout of winter weather, according to Environment Canada.
A group of Ontario Greens have put together a counteroffer for Liberals trying to poach their leader.
Calgary police are investigating after a carjacking at a northeast dealership on Thursday afternoon.
Calgary's Alexandria Loutitt did it again Thursday afternoon, winning gold at the FIS Nordic Jr World Ski Championships in Whistler.
A Calgary pro wrestling legend has passed away.
After an extremely mild month of January, the province is bracing for a blast of arctic air that will move in tonight and last until Saturday. Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued extreme cold warnings that covers most of the province with wind chills expected to be between -38 and -42 across the South and -50 across Northern Quebec.
A beloved man who was a fixture on the streets of Montreal's Notre-Dame-de-Grace neighbourhood died last year from a combination of street drugs in his system, including fentanyl, a coroner has ruled.
Medicago's parent company has announced that the Quebec City-based biopharmaceutical company, which developed a vaccine against COVID-19, will cease operations.
EXTREME COLD WARNING
EXTREME COLD WARNING | Temperatures to drop to -30 C the next two nights in Ottawa
Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning with Ottawa expected to see its coldest temperatures in years.
Two parents are facing charges of criminal negligence causing bodily harm after a toddler suffered an opioid overdose at a home in Kingston, Ont. last week.
As March Break approaches, travel agents are experiencing a surge in bookings, with many families choosing to travel to Disney World in Florida despite the rising cost.
On the day that Shubenacadie Sam predicted six more weeks of winter, there are extreme cold warnings cautioning that the coldest air of the season is about to arrive in the Maritimes.
Police in Sackville, N.B., are investigating after seven children ingested cannabis edibles at a middle school on Wednesday.
An extreme cold warning has been issued across the region, with some saying the arctic air could break record-low temperatures in the Maritimes.
Police say they’ve arrested multiple people and one person was taken to hospital following reports of an armed robbery at Conestoga Mall on Thursday.
'Time to move on': Reaction as Udo Haan found not criminally responsible for wife’s death, house explosion
A Kitchener man, who was charged with killing his wife and then blowing up their home in 2018, has been found not criminally responsible.
A blast of cold Arctic air is expected to reach southern Ontario Thursday night paired with possible heavy blowing snow, according to Environment Canada.
A man who was gunned down outside of his business in South Vancouver never got the chance to meet his daughter, a court heard as his killer was sentenced.
CTV News has learned that four of five RCMP officers facing charges in the death of an Indigenous man during an arrest in Prince George are still on active duty.
A 17-year-old boy was found fatally shot in a vehicle on a residential street in Burnaby Thursday afternoon, and homicide investigators have been called to the scene.
Hazmat teams were called to the BC Cancer Agency building in Victoria on Thursday due to reports of a "noxious odour" in the building.
A furry mascot endemic only to Vancouver Island is predicting six more weeks of winter on Groundhog Day.
The tight-knit community of Quadra Island, B.C., is grieving the death of 39-year-old Jessica McLaggan, whose death is being investigated as a homicide.