Women's remains believed to have spent 2 weeks in same Winnipeg dumpster before going to landfill, trial hears

Left to right: Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran and Rebecca Contois. Jeremy Skibicki is accused of first-degree murder in the deaths of all three women, as well as the death of an unidentified woman, whom community leaders have given the name Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe, or Buffalo Woman. (Submitted by Winnipeg Police Service and Darryl Contois - image credit)

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

When police learned a woman's remains were discovered in a Winnipeg garbage bin nearly two years ago, they had no idea the bodies of two other women killed by the same man were a few blocks away and about to be taken to a landfill that same morning, the serial killer's trial heard Friday.

Investigators wouldn't figure that out for over a month, after using surveillance video to cobble together a timeline of when Jeremy Skibicki, 37, is believed to have killed four women and disposed of their remains in garbage bins near his North Kildonan apartment.

The investigation determined that as police searched the area for the remains of Rebecca Contois on May 16, 2022 — after getting a 911 call at 5:24 a.m. from someone who found the 24-year-old's partial remains while looking through garbage bins for things to salvage — the remains of Morgan Harris, 39, and Marcedes Myran, 26, were getting picked up by a garbage truck at 6:40 a.m.

That information was revealed Friday morning — the third day of Skibicki's first-degree murder trial — through the testimony of Const. Brian Neumann, a Winnipeg police identification unit supervisor who worked on the case.

Neumann provided details about how the discovery of Contois's remains in multiple garbage bins that day led police to search the south Winnipeg Brady Road landfill, where they eventually found her additional remains after a weeks-long search.

But it wasn't until June 20, 2022, that police realized Harris and Myran's remains had been taken to the privately run Prairie Green landfill outside Winnipeg — and by then, more than 10,000 loads of garbage had been dumped there, he said.

Jaison Empson/CBC
Jaison Empson/CBC

The constable also testified that the video surveillance reviewed by police shows Harris's remains were put into a garbage bin just after midnight on May 3, while Myran's were placed in the same bin shortly after 2:30 a.m. on May 6.

Both women's remains are believed to have been in the bin for roughly two weeks before they were taken to the landfill. As the constable revealed that, some of the women's family members got up and left the courtroom.

Skibicki has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the deaths of Harris, Myran, Contois and a third woman whose identity still isn't known. She's been given the name Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe, or Buffalo Woman, by community members.

Prosecutors have said those deaths were "intentional, purposeful and racially motivated," and alleged the accused preyed on vulnerable Indigenous women at Winnipeg homeless shelters.

Contois was a member of O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi First Nation, also known as Crane River, located on the western shore of Lake Manitoba. Harris and Myran were both members of Long Plain First Nation in south central Manitoba. Police have said they believe Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe was also Indigenous and in her 20s.

While Skibicki has admitted to killing all four women, his lawyers have said they plan to argue he's not criminally responsible due to mental disorder.

Landfill search described

Const. Neumann on Friday laid out exactly what steps police took from when they discovered Contois's partial remains in bins near Skibicki's apartment to when they combed through debris at the Brady Road landfill in a search for additional evidence that culminated the following month.

He described how he got into one of the bins that morning in May 2022 and discovered "several black garbage bags containing body parts," and how police used a GPS system to track a garbage truck that had already emptied another nearby bin, where investigators found blood but no remains.

However, the truck that emptied the bin containing the other two women's remains at another landfill didn't have the same GPS technology, he said.

Const. Neumann said the GPS system led police to a roughly three-acre (1.2-hectare) section within the Brady Road landfill, where the area of interest for Contois's remains had been marked with an orange traffic cone and flag when they arrived.

Manitoba Court of King's Bench
Manitoba Court of King's Bench

Dr. Raymond Rivera, the pathologist who did Contois's autopsy, testified later Friday morning that while he couldn't provide a definitive opinion on her cause of death because her body was dismembered, the injuries he found on her remains — including certain types of bruising — suggested she had been strangled.

Investigators believe she was the last of the four women Skibicki killed, on May 14 or 15, 2022.

Manitoba Courts
Manitoba Courts

They believe he killed Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe in mid-March of that year, and went on to kill Harris on May 1 and Myran on May 4.

On Wednesday, court heard parts of a 20-hour police interrogation video, in which Skibicki unexpectedly confessed to killing all four women, most of whom he said he met at or near homeless shelters in Winnipeg. He also confessed to performing sex acts on their bodies in his apartment.

Police believe Harris's and Myran's remains are still in the Prairie Green landfill, but the location of Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe's remains is not known.

Manitoba Courts
Manitoba Courts

Skibicki's defence team did not cross-examine either witness called on Friday. His weeks-long trial before Court of King's Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal began hearing evidence Wednesday and is expected to continue until June 6.

Court is anticipated to be shown surveillance video and hear from a homicide detective who worked on the case Monday.

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.

You can also access, through the government of Canada, health support services such as mental health counselling, community-based support and cultural services, and some travel costs to see elders and traditional healers. Family members seeking information about a missing or murdered loved one can access Family Information Liaison Units.