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
The World Health Organization will announce Monday whether it thinks COVID-19 still represents a global health emergency but Canada's top doctor says regardless of what the international body decides, Canada's response to the coronavirus will not change.
Video released publicly Friday shows the husband of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi struggling with his assailant for control of a hammer moments before he was struck in the head during a brutal attack in the couple's San Francisco home last year.
In an emotional and powerful speech at an International Holocaust Remembrance Day event in Ottawa, a survivor stressed the importance of remembering the millions of victims murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War and underscored the need to stand up against anti-semitism and hate.
An outside group may have accessed the online personal information of some Running Room customers in Canada over the last several months, the retailer says.
Mike Davy always dreamed of going to a Toronto Maple Leafs game, and once it finally happened, he passed away the night after.
Pamela Anderson is addressing discussion about a story regarding her 'Home Improvement' co-star Tim Allen that is part of her new memoir, 'Love Pamela.'
The Liberals have spent years trying to pass online streaming legislation and now the current iteration, known as Bill C-11, is closer than ever to passing. With a potential parliamentary showdown ahead, here's what you need to know about how the contentious Broadcasting Act bill got to this stage.
Though you won't be able to sit on the old, cracked pleather benches and take in the thick smell of gravy and fries, while the gentle sound of clanging dishes provides the soundtrack for your lunch, Zellers plans to roll out food trucks for those 'craving a taste of nostalgia.'
Members of Parliament are making their way back to Ottawa ahead of resuming sitting on Monday, as the city prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of the arrival of 'Freedom Convoy' protesters.
A Saskatchewan man who had his charges stayed based on pandemic delays in court will be headed back for trial, after a ruling from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.
'The downtown represents the spirit of the city': Local groups calling for downtown revitalization with major catalyst projects
Three downtown business organizations are advocating for the City of Regina to locate a new multi-purpose events centre and central library branch in the downtown core.
More medical professionals are on track to join Saskatchewan’s healthcare system, as the province’s action plan progresses.
The SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival is on the move.
'Just the ultimate to play in this': Sask. welcomes Scotland for one of curling's oldest tournaments
Sixteen Scottish curlers and 16 Canadians squared off against each other Friday morning as part of the 2023 Strathcona Cup, a tournament taking place across Canada.
Universities around Canada are faced with a new look at an old problem. How do students use technology as a tool, and not as a resource to cheat?
The manager of a Tim Hortons in North Bay was wrong to fire a long-term employee because of her physical limitations, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled.
The body of a 29-year-old Sudbury nurse was recovered Wednesday night from a lake near Parry Sound after her snowmobile went through the ice, police say.
A survey on parking at city-owned lots throughout the city, as well as on-street parking downtown, began recently in the Sault.
John de Ruiter makes first court appearance; book author says women in Oasis have been 'traumatized'
The self-proclaimed spiritual leader accused of sexually assaulting four of his female followers between 2017 and 2020 made his first court appearance in Edmonton.
An Alberta government email review of whether Premier Danielle Smith’s office interfered with Crown prosecutors has taken a confusing turn, with duelling statements from two spokespeople on what was investigated.
The city and other stakeholders in downtown Edmonton say more help is needed to address social issues in the area.
The TTC is adding dozens of staff across the system daily in an effort to increase safety as it grapples with recent violent attacks that have left many riders shaken.
Mike Davy always dreamed of going to a Toronto Maple Leafs game, and once it finally happened, he passed away the night after.
Three people have been charged after allegedly impersonating the owners of a Toronto home and selling it while they were away on vacation.
The crash happened in the area of Highway 2 and Highway 581 just before 11:30 a.m.
Upward of five centimetres of snow fell in Calgary early Friday morning and officials said conditions were good, but the situation deteriorated later on Friday, leading to plenty of crashes and road closures.
The quiet streets of Coutts are a stark contrast to one year ago, when more than 100 vehicles blocked the highway in opposition to COVID-19 measures
The Francois Legault government announced the formation of an interdepartmental 'action group' on the French language to find ways to halt the 'decline' of the language in Quebec.
Angela Orosz is one of the youngest survivors of the Holocaust. On Dec. 21, 1944, she was born in a concentration camp. Between 1941 and 1945, Nazis and collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews across German-occupied Europe and Nazi Germany. More than two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population was killed.
Anti-feminist blogger Jean-Claude Rochefort, 74, has been sentenced to a year in prison for wilfully promoting hatred towards women. Rochefort openly glorified the Polytechnique shooter, who claimed the lives of 14 women in 1989 as part of an anti-feminist attack.
Police increase downtown presence, access to Parliament Hill restricted on anniversary of 'Freedom Convoy' protest
Ottawa police and Bylaw Services are telling residents and visitors they will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to parking, noise and fireworks violations downtown this weekend, on the one-year anniversary of the 'Freedom Convoy' demonstration.
'Inexcusable and deeply troubling:' Ottawa police condemn Tyre Nichols' death as world braces for release of video
As the world awaits the release of a police video showing five officers viciously beating Tyre Nichols, Ottawa police have issued a statement condemning his death.
An Ottawa councillor is calling on the Ottawa Senators and Canadian Tire Centre tocancel controversial psychologist and self-help author Jordan Peterson's book tour stop on Monday night.
A jury has delivered a guilty verdict in the 2020 murder of a man from the Yarmouth, N.S., area.
With three structure fires in three days, it's been a busy week for the Moncton Fire Department.
The Nova Scotia government will help open a medical school at Cape Breton University, the same post-secondary institution that saw faculty go on strike Friday, by fall 2025.
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) shut down a section of a Perth County roadway Friday after they say a passerby discovered a body in the area overnight.
A Kitchener elementary school is responding to reports of a suspicious man who appeared to be watching or following students on two separate occasions.
An Elmira woman born with Pectus Excavatum, a condition where her ribcage is caved in, is getting set for a life-changing surgery in May.
Charges that were laid against three former University of British Columbia football players over an alleged sexual assault in Vancouver more than four years ago have been stayed.
Two proposed 32-storey towers would bring hundreds more rental units to Vancouver's West End if rezoning applications are approved by city council.
Sentencing held for anti-pipeline activists over game of dinosaur badminton at TMX construction site
Supporters gathered outside B.C. Supreme Court in downtown Vancouver on Friday morning, as two anti-pipeline activists awaited sentencing over a disruptive game of badminton played last May.
The number of people moving from British Columbia to Alberta has reached a 20-year high, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.
Victoria’s newest council has greenlit a contentious housing initiative that makes it easier to densify neighbourhoods, after a tumultuous and lengthy debate that’s gone on for years.
An armed robber remains at large after a small grocery in Nanaimo, B.C., was held up at knifepoint.