Winnipeg serial killer’s letters to Nova Scotia prison pen pal used as evidence in trial

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

Nine letters between a confessed Winnipeg serial killer and his pen pal in a women’s prison in Nova Scotia were entered as evidence in the man’s trial on Wednesday.

The nearly 40 pages of writing were penned by Jeremy Skibicki from January to April 2023 and sent to an inmate at the Nova Institution for Women in the town of Truro, N.S., Winnipeg police homicide Det.-Sgt. Michael MacDonald testified.

MacDonald said after learning about the letters Skibicki had written through a pen pal program while incarcerated at the Milner Ridge Correctional Centre northeast of Winnipeg, he and another officer travelled to the institution in Nova Scotia in May 2023 to interview the woman Skibicki had written the letters to.

While she told them she had destroyed two or three letters, the nine remaining letters were turned over to police — including one that was 11 pages long.

Crown attorney Renée Lagimodière asked MacDonald no questions during Wednesday’s hearing about the contents of those letters, which have not yet been released as exhibits. Skibicki’s defence also did not cross-examine the officer about the letters.

Prosecutors previously said their contents would be relevant in assessing Skibicki’s mental capacity — in a trial where the defence lawyers say they plan to argue that while their client has admitted to killing the women, he should be found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.

Skibicki was assessed over the long weekend by a forensic psychiatrist. The Crown arranged the assessment to examine whether Skibicki was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the killings.

Court previously heard defence lawyers already had Skibicki assessed by their own expert.

The Crown wrapped up its case against Skibicki on Wednesday morning.

A witness who was expected to testify in relation to prosecutors’ use of similar fact evidence in the case will no longer appear due to health reasons, Lagimodière said. The woman was previously scheduled to testify last week and did not show up for court, which prosecutors said was due to a medical issue.

The faces of three First Nations women are pictured side by side.
Left to right: Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran and Rebecca Contois. (Submitted by Winnipeg Police Service and Darryl Contois)

Court previously heard from Skibicki’s ex-wife as part of the Crown’s use of similar fact evidence. She testified that she was abused and routinely sexually assaulted in her sleep during their relationship.

Skibicki, 37, is charged in the deaths of three First Nations women — Rebecca Contois, 24, Morgan Harris, 39, and Marcedes Myran, 26 — as well as the death of an as-yet-unidentified woman who has been given the name Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe, or Buffalo Woman, by community leaders. It’s believed she was Indigenous and in her 20s when she died.

Skibicki was arrested in May 2022, after Contois’s partial remains were discovered in garbage bins near his North Kildonan apartment. More of her remains were later found at a Winnipeg landfill.

The remains of Harris and Myran are believed to be in another landfill just outside of Winnipeg. Police have not said where they believe Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe’s remains are.

Skibicki unexpectedly confessed to killing Contois and the three other women, whose deaths police had not known of, during a 2022 interview with investigators after Contois’s remains were found.

Prosecutors have said that the women’s deaths were intentional and racially motivated, and that Skibicki preyed on vulnerable Indigenous women at Winnipeg homeless shelters before killing them and throwing out their remains.

The trial before Manitoba Court of King’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal will take a break before continuing June 3 with the defence case. The defence has not yet said whether Skibicki will testify.

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.