Blue Line

Landfill search for murder victims will need to come from Indigenous community, says police board chairman

December 13, 2022  By Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Dec. 13, 2022, Winnipeg, Man. – The chair of Winnipeg’s Police Board says he believes whatever next steps are taken to get a Manitoba landfill searched for the remains of two murdered Indigenous women will have to come from Indigenous groups, and likely will not come from the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS).

“The Winnipeg Police Board is not the arbiter in terms of the next decision or decision-making process or next steps,” Winnipeg Police Board Chair Markus Chambers said on Monday afternoon during a news conference held after the board met with WPS Chief Danny Smyth on Monday.

“That’s really up to the Indigenous communities and the various levels of government to determine what the next steps are.”

The police board met with Smyth on Monday afternoon, as Indigenous groups continue to call for WPS to search the Prairie Green Landfill for the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, who are both believed to have been killed by alleged Winnipeg serial killer Jeremy Skibicki, and whose remains are now both believed to be in the landfill near the town of Stony Mountain.

On Dec. 1, WPS announced new charges against Skibicki in the deaths of Harris and Myran, and an unidentified woman being referred to by the community as Buffalo Woman. Skibici was already facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of Rebecca Contois. The women are believed to have been killed between March and May of 2022.

Smyth told reporters that investigators believe the remains of Myran and Harris, who are both members of the Long Plain First Nation, are in the Prairie Green Landfill, but said WPS does not plan to do a search of the landfill, because their forensics unit sees little hope of a successful recovery, and because of the risks it could pose to those conducting that type of search.

The decision to not search the landfill has been criticized by family members of the victims and Indigenous leaders and advocates, with several, including Long Plain First Nation Chief Kyra Wilson, publicly calling on Smyth to resign during a media conference held last week.

But Chambers said on Monday he does not believe that WPS has the ability to independently plan and conduct that type of a search.

“Any search that’s done now is more from a humanitarian and recovery effort,” Chambers said. “It is beyond the scope of the police in terms of the resources they have available just based on what they were provided with.”

Chambers added that at this point WPS believe they have done what they need to do to move the investigation forward, and are satisfied with the job they have done on this case.

“At this point, the police have done their job,” Chambers said. “They have been able to have charges laid in that regard, which has led them to other parts of the investigation, that’s led to additional charges being laid against Mr. Skibicki. So from that perspective, they’ve done their due diligence.”

He said he believes that Indigenous groups and communities must now communicate with levels of government to determine if a search is feasible, and how it could be planned and funded.

“There was consultation that was done to determine the feasibility of a search, and we know that the Indigenous community is not satisfied with that,” he said.

“So, it’s up to them now to reach out to the levels of government.”

– Winnipeg Sun

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