The estranged wife of an alleged serial killer is grappling with her emotions and says she is overcome with extreme guilt after hearing her ex is now charged with first-degree murder for the killings of four Indigenous women.
Erin Leszkovics said it was her biggest fear but she thought it was she who was going to die.
“I knew that he was going to hurt somebody,” she told Global News. “He was going to kill someone.”
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 on May 16.
He was arrested two days later. It’s a day Leszkovics said she will never forget.
“I screamed out,” she said. “I just cried.”
For months she says she lived with that pain but now she said it’s an overwhelming feeling of guilt after police laid three more first-degree murder charges against him last week.
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“Why? Why did I get to survive?” she said through tears.
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.
The third, previously unnamed woman now has a name given to her by the community: Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe, or Buffalo Woman.
Skibicki’s lawyer tells Global News his client plans to plead not guilty on all of the charges.
“It’s gut-wrenching,” Leszkovics said.
She says it’s a nightmare she was terrified would come true because it’s an ending she feared for herself.
Jeremy. Jer. Scary Jerry.
Those are the names she had for her estranged husband depending on his mood.
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Leszkovics met Skibicki in February 2018 at Siloam Mission.
“I had gone to Siloam. I was struggling with drug addiction at the time and I was waiting to get a bed,” she said.
While waiting outside in the cold, she said Skibicki and his friends approached her. She said he was charming and seemed nice and eventually, instead of taking a bed at the shelter that night, she went back to his apartment.
Not long after, the two got married. Leszkovics said she was high on meth at the time.
But despite having “charming” moments, she said Skibicki had a dark side.
“He would get angry outbursts. I wasn’t allowed to use the phone. I was smothered with the pillow. … Many times I called the police,” she said.
But still, she said nothing stopped him and her addiction and struggles kept her in a vicious cycle with him that she couldn’t break.
“Things were getting dangerous and I knew that,” she said. “He told me what he would do to me if he killed me.”
She said Skibicki could be ruthless, angry and cruel.
“Had no empathy for a human,” she said. “If you didn’t follow Jeremy’s rules that’s how Jeremy could be. That’s how Scary Jerry could be.”
In 2019, one year after the two got married, Leszkovics applied and was granted a protection order against him.
In her application, she alleges he fantasized about raping her and choking her to death.
“He was having sex with me while I was sleeping,” she told Global News. “He liked to have intercourse as I lay there like a rag doll.”
She alleges he restricted her access to her cellphone, didn’t allow her to leave their apartment without his consent, monitored her movements electronically, and forced her to take her “bed meds,” after which he would sexually assault her as she slept.
“I believe the fear that you have is real,” a judicial justice of the peace said in granting the woman’s protection order.
Skibicki tried to have the protection order overturned but was unsuccessful. He has never been convicted of a crime related to his estranged wife.
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In December 2021, Skibicki was found not guilty after trial of breaching a no-contact order with Erin and one count of disobeying a court order.
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Leszkovics has markings on her forehead from where she said Skibicki hit her repeatedly. She now wears prescribed rose colour glasses to help with her vision.
“I’m getting Botox every few months because I can’t handle the light. I have crazy migraines. I see double vision. All of this was because of the hits to the head,” she said.
But despite everything that happened to her, she said she tried to stop him from not only hurting her, but hurting anyone else.
She called police. She got a protection order. She took him to court.
“I was so angry because I knew he was going to hurt somebody,” she said.
She says she thought it was going to be her that ended up dead.
It’s a pain she says she’s lived with every day since he was arrested for Contois’ death in May. Now, months later, after police allege he also killed three other women, she said the guilt is overwhelming.
“I feel guilty putting up Christmas decorations … because think of these other women. It’s like, ‘Why? Why am I here?'”
Leszkovics believes it’s because of her family she is still alive today.
She is now almost two years sober and in school working towards being able to help other people who also struggle with addiction. But for now, she said she needed to tell her story and be a voice for these women since they no longer have one.
“I just hope that justice is served. I hope that Jeremy gets what he deserves, that these families get some peace.”