Skibicki: calls grow for police to search landfill for victims

WINNIPEG –

Calls are growing louder for Winnipeg police to reconsider a decision not to search a landfill for the remains of two Indigenous women.

Officers believe the remains of Marcedes Myran, 26, and Morgan Harris, 39, were taken to the Prairie Green Landfill just north of Winnipeg earlier this year.

Investigators said they’re both victims of alleged serial killer Jeremy Skibicki, 35, but police believe there’s no hope of a successful recovery.

The decision not to proceed with a search for the women’s remains isn’t sitting well with Jeannie White Bird, co-chair of the Manitoba MMIWG2S Family and Survivor Coalition.

“It’s unconscionable,” White Bird said during an interview in Selkirk, Man.

The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) explained Tuesday too much time passed and too many truckloads of garbage and construction clay had been dumped at Prairie Green by the time they became aware Myran, who they believe was killed on or about May.4, 2022, and Harris, who they believe was killed on or about May 1, 2022, were potentially at the site.

White Bird said she’s thinking of their families.

“I can’t even imagine what they’re going through,” she said. “It must be devastating for them to hear that, to know that their family member is potentially in the landfill and that there will be no recovery.”

Barry Blue, district manager of Prairie Green Landfill, told CTV News Winnipeg he is cooperating with authorities and called the situation an “unspeakable tragedy.”

He said the landfill is a dynamic and dangerous place with lots of equipment and people moving around which could make such a search challenging.

Grand Chief Cathy Merrick of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs wants the WPS to revisit its decision.

“We cannot leave them in a landfill without anybody attempting to search for them,” Merrick said in an interview from Ottawa. “That is so dishonorable even to consider that.”

Kimberly Murray agrees. She’s a Mohawk official tasked with helping Indigenous communities investigate unmarked graves and a former executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

“I think about our women, that the Winnipeg police aren’t going to search for those remains like that is a breach of human dignity,” Murray said during a gathering of Assembly of First Nations chiefs in Ottawa. “Those families have a right to know.”

The partial remains of Rebecca Contois, another of Skibicki’s alleged victims, were recovered this summer by the WPS from Brady Road Landfill. Police said in that case they were able to shut down the landfill within hours of learning in May remains had been found in a garbage bin.

Police said they don’t know the whereabouts of a fourth victim known as Buffalo Woman, who they believe was killed around March 15, 2022.

Scott Gillingham, Winnipeg’s Mayor, said he’s continuing talks with Indigenous leaders who are helping the victims’ families and doesn’t think a search is out of the question.

“Nothing is closed to me,” Gillingham said Wednesday. “I’m open to whatever may be possible in the future.”

That gives White Bird some hope a search is still possible.

“The door isn’t shut,” White Bird said. “I also have faith in families. I have faith in the support networks we’ve built around families.”

Merrick said some people want operations at the landfill halted until further discussions take place and if no search is conducted she said some feel the site should be permanently shut down.

Skibicki has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder. His lawyer has said he plans to plead not guilty to the charges.

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