Winnipeg police chief Danny Smyth says he will not resign
Amid calls for his resignation, Winnipeg’s police chief says he will not be stepping down and is committed to getting justice for the four victims of an alleged serial killer.
Calls for Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth’s resignation have been growing from First Nation leaders and grieving family members since he announced police would not be searching a landfill for the remains of two victims of alleged serial killer Jeremy Skibicki.
“I will not be resigning,” Smyth said in a written statement released Friday. “I understand your calls; the pain and sorrow is unimaginable. As the Chief of Police, I am committed to securing a criminal conviction for these heinous crimes.”
Smyth reported earlier in December that investigators believe the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, who were both from Long Plain but lived in Winnipeg, are likely in the Prairie Green landfill.
He said a search for the remains is not feasible due in part to the passage of time and the 10,000 truckloads of garbage dumped in the area since the remains are believed to have ended up in the landfill in the spring.
Speaking in Ottawa on Thursday, Long Plain First Nation Chief Kyra Wilson said failing to search for the women’s remains does not instill a sense of safety in the community.
“The message you are sending to the greater community is that Indigenous don’t matter,” Wilson said. “That if somebody wants to hurt our women that they can dump them in the landfill and no one will look for them.”
Manitoba’s Premier Heather Stefanson, joined by Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham, announced Thursday that operations at the landfill had been paused while officials work to figure out next steps in the investigation.
Winnipeg Police Board chair Coun. Markus Chambers met with the Winnipeg police Thursday night about the search. Chambers told CTV News on Friday that any search would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
However, he said something has to be done that is meaningful and that demonstrates the lives of the victims matter. Along with this, he said a search could also be important for holding future criminals accountable as well.
“Hopefully, it’ll stand as a deterrent that you know, if you plan a murder and plan to use a dump to dispose of the body, there will be a search to that area to ensure that evidence can be collected, and hold that individual accountable,” he told CTV News.
In Smyth’s statement Friday, which was sent to First Nation leaders as well, he said he is ‘supportive’ of exploring whether it is possible to recover the remains of Myran and Harris.
Smyth said the investigations into the deaths of the four victims – Rebecca Contois, Marcedes Myran, Morgan Harris, and Buffalo Woman – has been one of the most complex and important investigations of his tenure.
He said ‘difficult’ decisions were made to advance the investigation to bring charges against Skibicki.
Jeremy Skibicki, 35, is facing four counts of first-degree murder. The charges have not been tested in court.
-with files from The Canadian Press and CTV’s Jon Hendricks