Winnipeg Police begin grim search of landfill for partial remains of murdered woman

·3 min read

Winnipeg Police (WPS) made the grim announcement this week that they will be searching the Brady Road Landfill for partial remains of a woman who was murdered in Winnipeg last month.

On Thursday evening in a media release, WPS said a ground search for the partial human remains of Rebecca Contois had begun at Winnipeg’s Brady Road Resource Management Facility.

Partial remains of the 24-year-old homicide victim were previously discovered near an apartment block on Edison Avenue in north Winnipeg on May 16, and WPS said they believe there is a chance they could now find additional remains at the landfill.

“On May 16, 2022, soon after the discovery of her partial remains, WPS officers had an area of the landfill secured where it was deemed possible her missing remains could be located, and stopped any further dumping of materials,” WPS said in their release.

“Ten members of the WPS Ground Search and Rescue Team are on-site at the resource facility.”

WPS said the officers involved in the search have been “fitted with respirators, methane detection equipment, and other protective gear to guard against the hazards of searching in a landfill.”

Police added they had hoped to start the search sooner, but extensive preparation work and poor recent weather conditions delayed it from getting underway until Thursday.

The search continued Friday. Police would not say how long they thought the search might take.

"The Winnipeg Police Service will continue to provide timely updates to her family about the investigation and search through a trauma-informed approach,” WPS said.

On May 19, the WPS announced Jeremy Anthony Michael Skibicki, 35, had been charged with first-degree murder in Contois’s death, and at the time investigators said they feared there could be more victims.

In their release on Thursday, police said they have still not ruled out that possibility that there could be additional victims.

"This is an ongoing investigation,” WPS said. “Officers have executed a search warrant on the accused’s residence, located in the area. Another potential scene has been identified at the Brady Road Resource Management Facility. Winnipeg Police Service members remain on scene at Brady, as the investigation continues.

“Due to the nature of the circumstances of this investigation, Homicide Investigators have not ruled out the possibility of additional victims.”

Contois was the first of three Indigenous woman who were killed in Winnipeg in May in a span of just three weeks, as after the May 16 discovery came the news of the homicide of Doris Trout, 25, who was found dead in an apartment lobby on Kennedy Avenue on May 25 in downtown Winnipeg, and the news of the death of Tessa Perry, who was discovered unconscious in the Maples neighbourhood of Winnipeg on May 28, and later passed away in the hospital.

WPS said that before they began Thursday’s search at the landfill, they took part in a traditional ceremony.

“On Monday, a Sacred Fire was lit, and tobacco was passed to a Grandmother, who did a ceremony in honour of Rebecca, her family, and her loved ones, as well as to support the team involved in the search,” WPS said.

In a media release, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee said because of the news of three murdered Indigenous women in Winnipeg last month, he wants people to know that there are supports available for those struggling with the news, and for those who may be dealing with violent or abusive situations.

“MKO’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Liaison Unit supports families and communities who are impacted by the issue of MMIWG in addition to supporting survivors of violence,” Settee said.

“Anyone who needs to access support from our Unit can call us toll-free at 1-800-442-0488 or at 204-677-1648."

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

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