A Winnipeg man arrested in the death of an Indigenous woman in the spring has been charged in the deaths of three more women — two also confirmed to be Indigenous and one believed to be.
Jeremy Anthony Michael Skibicki, 35, was charged with first-degree murder after the remains of 24-year-old Rebecca Contois were found in a garbage bin near an apartment building in the 200 block of Edison Avenue May 16.
Contois lived in Winnipeg but was a member of O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi First Nation, also known as Crane River.
At the time of the arrest, police said further victims were possible, and an ongoing investigation led officers to also search at the Brady Road landfill in Winnipeg. Police later said more of Contois’ remains were found at the site.
On Thursday police announced Skibicki has been charged with three more counts of first-degree murder in connection to the deaths of three more women.
The identified victims include Morgan Beatrice Harris, 39, and Marcedes Myran, 26. Both women lived in Winnipeg and were members of Long Plain First Nation.
Another female victim has yet to be identified, but she is believed to be an Indigenous woman, police said.
Investigators say Harris is believed to have been killed on or about May 1 while Myran was killed on or about May 4. The unidentified woman was killed on or about March 15, police say.
“It’s always unsettling whenever there is any kind of a serial killing,” said Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth.
“It does involve Indigenous women. We’re very sensitive to the whole missing and murdered Indigenous women investigation and inquiry and the recommendations that came out of that.”
Smyth would not say whether the women were targeted because they were Indigenous.
Investigators said they believe Skibicki acted alone and there is no threat to public safety.
“He was arrested as soon as we were aware of what was going on.” said Insp. Shawn Pike.
“He has been housed in a correctional facility since that time, and he has, not to my knowledge, been released at any given moment.”
The Winnipeg police missing persons unit sent out an alert asking for help finding Harris on May 24. The alert said Harris had last been seen May 1 near the area of Main Street and Henry Avenue in Winnipeg.
There doesn’t appear to have been a missing person alert released from Winnipeg police for Myran, but an alert posted on aboriginalalert.ca said Myran had last been seen in Winnipeg’s North End in March.
Smyth said the bodies of the three additional victims haven’t been recovered, but investigators believe there’s enough evidence to support the additional charges.
He said he doesn’t believe officers will return to search at the Brady Road landfill site. Police would not say whether they were searching any other locations.
While police released few other details about their investigation Thursday, they said they have no leads to any other potential victims.
‘Taken from us in such a violent way’
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization, which represents the communities the women were from, offered its condolences to the family, friends and First Nations of the victims.
“We will be keeping you in our thoughts and prayers as you grapple with the news that your loved ones have been taken from us in such a violent way,” Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said in a statement.
Long Plain Chief Kyra Wilson called for resources and support for women, girls, two-spirit and gender-diverse people.
“Our First Nation will need support in the days, weeks and months ahead as many of our members will be impacted by this tragic news.”
Wilson told Global News more needs to be done to protect vulnerable Indigenous people.
“Historically, Indigenous women have been unfairly treated and targeted,” Wilson said.
“There’s a lot of violence directed toward Indigenous women, and this is something we’ve had to deal with for generations.
“The dangers of being an Indigenous girl, Indigenous woman, in the greater community — these are hard conversations that we have with our young women in our families. It is unfortunate that this is something that we have to deal with every single day.”
Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham also offered his condolences.
“Anger and sorrow — that mix — is what I’m feeling right now, and I think that many in our city are going to be feeling the same,” he said.
“We have more to do to address safety across this community.”
Gillingham said the latest killings bring the number of homicides reported in Winnipeg this year to 50, continuing the city’s most violent year on record.
Community supports have been offered to both families, said Angie Tuesday, a family support and resource advocate with the police.
“This is a tremendously difficult time for both these families that we’re discussing today, as well as all the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and two-spirit and gender-diverse people in Manitoba.” Tuesday said.
“I want to let people know that we are thinking of you, and our hearts are with you at this time.”
Skibicki was charged Thursday with three additional counts of first-degree murder at Milner Ridge Correction Centre, where he remains.
Police have released photographs of a jacket similar to one they believe to be worn by the unidentified victim and are asking for information from the public.
The jacket has a fur collar and is reversible with one all-black side and one side with black and white stripes. There is a black and white pattern along with the words “baby phat” and a cat-like logo on the front and back of the jacket.
Police have said the unidentified victim is likely in her mid 20s with an average build.
Anyone with information is asked to call the homicide unit at 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS.
–With files from Global’s Keesha Harewood and Brittany Hobson at The Canadian Press