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Judge orders psychiatric assessment of admitted serial killer

May 14, 2024

Crown’s forensic psychiatrist to interview Jeremy Skibicki. 

Warning: This story contains disturbing details. Please read with care. 

A Winnipeg judge has ordered a self-confessed serial killer to undergo a psychiatric assessment at the request of the Crown prosecutor.

Manitoba Chief Justice Glenn Joyal overruled the objection of Jeremy Skibicki’s defence lawyer Leonard Tailleur Tuesday to approve the assessment that is to take place this weekend.

“I have instructed my client to cooperate fully,” replied Tailleur as Skibicki, 37, stared straight ahead from the prisoner’s box.

Crown attorney Christian Vanderhooft said prosecutors can apply for the assessment now that the defence has made Skibicki’s mental capacity an issue.

Skibicki has confessed to the first-degree murders of Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran, Rebecca Contois and Buffalo Woman in the spring of 2022, but has asked to be found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.

Court has been told he suffers from borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Vanderhooft said his expert will assess whether Skibicki was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the killings.

He noted he was making the request now that his expert had reviewed all of the medical records provided by the defence.

“Our application is based on the fact that our expert was able to offer an informed opinion on whether or not a clinical assessment ought to be conducted,” Vanderhooft told Joyal of Court of King’s Bench.

“So ordered,” said Joyal. “I think it’s a good idea.”

When asked after court, neither Vanderhooft nor Tailleur would disclose whether Skibicki has already undergone a psychiatric assessment.

Trial hears testimony from DNA expert

Earlier, Vanderhooft had quizzed a forensics expert who tested more than a hundred items from Skibicki’s apartment for DNA.

Florence Célestin testified remotely from the RCMP Central Forensic Laboratory in Ottawa.

Her results show Harris, Myran, Contois and Buffalo Woman – a still-unidentified victim – were in Skibicki’s apartment sometime prior to their murders between March 15, 2022 and May 16, 2022.

Buffalo Woman is the spirit name gifted the Jane Doe by Indigenous elders.

Célestin said she found DNA belonging to Buffalo Woman on a cuff of a reversible jacket from designer Baby Phat.

“It was female in origin,” she told Joyal.

But she’s not able to confirm whether a person is alive or dead based on a DNA sample.

Investigators believe Buffalo Woman is an Indigenous woman in her mid-20s who was killed around March 15, 2022.

The Crown has said Skibicki forcibly confined Buffalo Woman, choked and then drowned her. It is not known where her remains are.

Skibicki told police he sold the jacket belonging to her on Facebook Marketplace.

The apartment building where Jeremy Skibicki lived in Winnipeg. Photo: Jared Delorme/APTN News

Police were later able to track it down.

Crown prosecutors say the killings were racially motivated and Skibicki preyed on the vulnerable women at homeless shelters. He assaulted the women, strangled or drowned them and disposed of their bodies in garbage bins. Two were dismembered.

They previously presented video surveillance evidence of Skibicki with the three identified victims to paint a complete picture of the investigation into Skibicki’s actions.

Video evidence of him with Contois has not been played in court, as police originally arrested Skibicki after her partial remains were found in a garbage bin on May 16, 2022.

Court has heard police collected about a dozen unknown female DNA samples from Skibicki’s home.

Célestin said nothing else collected from Skibicki’s home matched the sample found on the Baby Phat jacket.

In early 2023, police collected samples from the father and mother of Ashlee Shingoose, a First Nations woman who was last seen in downtown Winnipeg in March 2022, Vanderhooft told court.

Shingoose’s DNA was found on a cigarette butt in Skibicki’s apartment, but was not a match for the sample from the jacket.

Police still consider her missing.

Court also heard Skibicki was unable to identify Myran to police. In September 2022, her family reported her missing.

Read more: 

Police find DNA of another 12 women at self-confessed killer’s apartment in Winnipeg

Police collected DNA from Myran’s mother and in November of that year Célestin was able to confirm it was a match to samples taken from Skibicki’s home that belong to Myran.

Cathy Merrick, grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, attended court Tuesday. She sat in the front row with the family of Harris.

The trial is scheduled to resume Wednesday.

-with files by Brittany Hobson of The Canadian Press

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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