Prison or hospital, self-confessed killer will learn his fate on July 11

Jeremy Skibicki says he is ‘not criminally responsible’ because of a mental disorder.

Warning: This story shares graphic details from a murder trial. Please read with care.

Jeremy Skibicki will learn July 11 if he will go to a psychiatric hospital or prison for murdering four Indigenous women in Winnipeg two years ago.

Court of King’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal told a crowded courtroom Monday he will deliver his decision from the bench in a month before releasing a written decision later.

Joyal heard graphic testimony in R v. Skibicki that began May 9 while the admitted serial killer with a shaved head and greying beard looked on from the prisoner’s box.

Skibicki showed no emotion as he left the courtroom following closing arguments while shackled at the ankles and guarded by sheriff’s officers.

His lawyers have argued he was suffering from a mental disorder and should be found not criminally responsible for killing, defiling and disposing of the remains of Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran, Rebecca Contois and Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe (Buffalo Woman) between March 15, 2022 and May 16, 2022.

“He had paranoid schizophrenia,” said his lawyer Leonard Tailleur.

Faking his symptoms

But Crown prosecutors say they proved Skibicki was faking his symptoms and should be found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder.

“Jeremy Skibicki did not have a disease of the mind when he killed (the women),” said Crown attorney Renee Lagimodiere.

“Homicidal necrophilia was one of the driving forces behind his offending.”

Family members of the victims, who are from two First Nations in Manitoba, attended most of the judge-alone trial, leaving only during some of the most gruesome evidence.

They heard how Skibicki lured the women, who were transient, to his suburban apartment with the promise of alcohol and drugs, then forcibly confined, sexually assaulted and brutally murdered them, before defiling their bodies and throwing the remains in the garbage. He dismembered Myran and Contois.

A forensic psychiatrist for the Crown said Skibicki, a father of two who didn’t finish high school, was aroused by and felt the need to have sex with dead bodies – a rare mental condition known as homicidal necrophilia.

No proof

Dr. Gary Chaimowitz said there was no proof Skibicki had the paranoid schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder he claimed.

“He has highly concerning views about Indigenous people and women,” added Lagimodiere, “… extreme, right-wing, conspiracy-laden views.”

The trial incorporated a number of First Nations customs such as smudging the courtroom on Day 1, testifying while holding an eagle feather, sharing tobacco ties and representing Buffalo Woman with a buffalo headdress. A group of grandmothers, known as kokums, gifted the victim police have been unable to identify with the Ojibwe spirit name Buffalo Woman.

Some family members wore red clothing or ribbons in their hair Monday to represent missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Throughout the trial, they carried ceremonial eagle fans and dressed in traditional ribbon skirts and ribbon shirts.

An emotional support dog was brought into the courtroom on difficult days, including Monday.

Harris, 39, was killed on or about May 1, 2022; Myran, 26, on or about May 4, 2022; and Contois, 24, on May 16, 2022. The Crown said Buffalo Woman, who was believed to be in her mid-20s and Indigenous, was killed on or about March 15, 2022.

Winnipeg murders
(L to R) Rebecca Contois, Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran and an image representing ‘Buffalo Woman’. Photo illustration: APTN News

A report Chaimowitz prepared for the court said both Harris and Contois had mental health issues and, along with Myran, a “history” of contact with emergency responders and Winnipeg police.

All four victims frequented homeless shelters in Winnipeg and were targeted because they were Indigenous, said the Crown. Harris, Myran and Contois were all mothers, while Harris was also a grandmother.

Chaimowitz, in his report, said Skibicki was once homeless and lived in some of the shelters he later cruised to find his victims. Skibicki said he knew Harris as an acquaintance, met Myran at random, and was in an on-again, off-again relationship with Contois, whom he claimed to meet on a transit bus. Skibicki twice interacted with Buffalo Woman, whom he knew as “Pumpkin”, at a shelter, the report added.

Chaimowitz wrote that Skibicki “spared” two additional Indigenous women from death after they impressed him in some way. And, he “denies killing anybody at any other time.

“He acknowledges that (the victims) were racially targeted.”

Police confirmed the victims’ DNA was found in Skibicki’s one-bedroom suite, along with the DNA profiles of 12 more women. Police have said there could be more victims, but the Crown told APTN News it believes Skibicki’s murder spree ended at four.

“We do not believe there are any other victims based on the evidence from video surveillance and his computer, along with the items found in his suite,” said Crown attorney Christian Vanderhooft in an email to APTN. “The fact of other DNA does not mean there were other victims.”

Police told court they continue to try and identify Buffalo Woman.

Read More: 

Not Criminally Responsible: The legal evolution of a mental health defence 

Skibicki ‘would have done it again,’ says psychiatrist at self-confessed killer’s trial 

Chaimowitz, in his report, said Skibicki held “alt-right” and “white supremacist” views, while also expressing anti-Indigenous and anti-semitic opinions. He liked to dominate women, particularly when they were sleeping or unconscious, the report added.

“His behaviours, in my view, were not influenced by any psychosis,” Chaimowitz concluded. “The victims he chose were likely chosen in part because of their vulnerability and accessibility and influenced by some of his right-wing ideation.”

Skibicki, who claimed to be high on drugs when he murdered the victims, told police he learned about putting the remains in the trash from the case of Shawn Lamb, a drug addict and drifter who pleaded guilty to killing two Indigenous women in Winnipeg in 2013.

Like Skibicki, Lamb also confessed, before pleading not guilty and then changing his plea.

Police unsuccessfully searched the city’s Brady Road landfill for two weeks in 2012 for the remains of Tanya Nepinak, 31, whom Lamb denied killing. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the deaths of Carolyn Sinclair, 25 and Lorna Blacksmith, 18, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Police recovered some of the remains of Contois in garbage bins near Skibicki’s apartment building and the rest in the Brady landfill. They believe the remains of Harris, Myran and Buffalo Woman are in the Prairie Green landfill outside Winnipeg, but refused to search citing safety and other concerns.

The families of Harris and Myran, however, continue to demand politicians fund and begin a search for their loved ones and Buffalo Woman.

Support is available for anyone affected by these reports and the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous people. Immediate emotional assistance and crisis support are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a national hotline at 1-844-413-6649.

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