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 first of the Leopard 2 tanks Canada is donating to Ukrainian forces has arrived in Poland.
Singer-songwriter Tobias Jesso Jr. became a first-time Grammy Award winner at the pre-broadcast ceremony where fellow Canadians Michael Buble and Drake also picked up trophies.
Charles Kimbrough, a Tony- and Emmy-nominated actor who played a straight-laced news anchor opposite Candice Bergen on “Murphy Brown,” died Jan. 11 in Culver City, California. He was 86.
Canada has sent one of its military planes to Haiti to help the country cope with escalating violence. A joint statement today from National Defence Minister Anita Anand and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly says Canada has deployed a CP-140 Aurora aircraft to help 'disrupt the activities of gangs' in Haiti.
A Montreal woman is passing along her father's extensive collection of over 31,000 Expos baseball cards. April Whitzman's father, Steve Whitzman, collected the cards from 1969 to 2016. A huge Expos fan, he's got every player covered.
An investigation that lasted almost two years has resulted in moose hunting violation convictions for six people and a lodge in Red Lake in northwestern Ontario.
Wine lovers have growing options on the shelf to enjoy their favourite beverage as producers in B.C. offer smaller container sizes.
Two men from the Fort Qu'Appelle area were found guilty of causing distress to animals in a dog hoarding case.
Two youths were arrested after allegedly causing mischief in Regina’s downtown early Saturday night.
Saskatoon will no longer supply its own flowers for its summer flowerpots and garden beds, according to a report before city councillors this week.
A person is dead following a snowmobile collision near Candle Lake early Sunday morning.
Greater Sudbury Police Service say it has charged a man and a woman with multiple offences following the investigation into an online ad selling a cellular phone.
A teen is in hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries following an incident in the Greater Sudbury community of Coniston Saturday evening.
An Edmonton family is in mourning after the sudden death of their son and brother in the city's northeast.
RCMP are investigating after a woman was stabbed in a Red Deer grocery store on Friday.
A Métis family is showing off their culture through dance, giving people a chance to enjoy it while also preserving it.
Toronto police have identified the victim of a fatal hit-and-run on the Danforth early Sunday morning, which police say is now being treated as a homicide.
Councillors in Toronto are set to consider keeping warming centres open 24-7 for the rest of the winter amid growing calls for homelessness to be declared a public health crisis in the city.
The historic trees on the chopping block at Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto will live to see another day.
A group of Calgarians gathered along Memorial Drive Sunday to draw attention to what they call "disgusting" treatment of Ukrainian children.
A new Calgary cricket league is allowing children to take a swing at the sport — and it's already seen its popularity skyrocket.
Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide, and Saturday, on World Cancer Day, many shared their stories in the hopes of helping others.
Montreal conductor and pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin scored two Grammys for his classical works Sunday evening. Nézet-Séguin won best opera recording for "Blanchard: Fire Shut Up In My Bones," and best classical solo vocal album for "Voice Of Nature - The Anthropocene."
While the crude suicide rate in Quebec in 2021 was about 13.3 per 100,000 people, it was almost three times higher among veterinarians. No fewer than 15 suicides have been recorded in 15 years by the Quebec association of veterinarians (AMVQ).
Above seasonal temperatures are in the forecast for Ottawa over the next five days, after three straight days of extreme cold temperatures.
The debate on elected officials pledging allegiance to King Charles III will shift to a small town south of Ottawa this week, as Prescott town council discusses a motion on whether to abolish the requirement for newly elected members.
Kingston's Hotel Dieu Hospital is postponing some in-patient appointments scheduled for Monday following a burst water pipe.
After one of the coldest days in years for most of the Maritimes, temperatures were up significantly Sunday. Now, after the big chill came the big thaw -- and a flood of calls for local plumbers.
Cold weather alerts that blanketed eastern Canada for the past two days have largely lifted, but some Nova Scotians and New Brunswickers remain without power due to outages caused by the frigid temperatures and high winds.
New Brunswick RCMP has requested the Nova Scotia Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) conduct an inquiry after a man died during a police response Saturday.
Most read stories of the week: Conestoga Mall robbery, house explosion hearing, cancelled Valentine's Day
An armed robbery at Conestoga Mall, a hearing on a 2018 Kitchener house explosion, and a school cancelling Valentine's Day round out the most ready stories of the week.
Waterloo regional police have arrested a Woolwich man after death threats were allegedly made to a local Member of Parliament online.
The arctic-like cold has come and gone and temperatures are on the rise.
Tucked away on a residential street in Langley, there's a blue cabinet filled with VHS tapes and DVDs bearing the once-familiar logo of Blockbuster video.
A masseur's appeal of three convictions for sexually assaulting female clients has been partially successful – with one of the guilty verdicts being set aside by B.C.'s Court of Appeal.
A dog that was rescued after being found chained to a wall in a Kelowna basement has given birth to seven healthy puppies, according to the B.C. SPCA.
A Victoria nurse has been suspended for five months for failing to adequately assess a patient and then falsifying a medical record regarding the assessment.
When he was 18, John Westhaver was the sole survivor of a crash the killed three friends and left him with life-threatening burns. His journey since then has taken him from anger to love.
Several streets around the B.C. legislature building in downtown Victoria will be closed on Monday during the annual Throne Speech.