December 9, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
They are locked in a high-stakes battle of wills -- two sides staring each other down, waiting for the other to blink.
But the stalemate between Winnipeg police and accused serial killer Shawn Lamb is anything but a game to the families of Manitoba's missing and slain women.
Lamb, 52, has told police he has specific information that could help solve at least five additional cases. He says police haven't acted on his claims quickly enough and aren't taking him seriously.
Lamb has made similar statements to the Free Press in a series of interviews and recorded conversations, even providing the names of five women and details about evidence he claims he can lead officers to.
"I'm not saying I had anything to do with these five. I'm saying I have information," Lamb said Tuesday in his latest phone interview from the Winnipeg Remand Centre. "I'm denying any involvement with anything."
Lamb called the Free Press to say he didn't want the public to think of him as a "media whore" who craves the spotlight. He conducted a series of interviews with local TV reporters later in the day.
Police say they are proceeding with caution because Lamb is a highly intelligent manipulator. Homicide investigators have spoken with Lamb several times in recent weeks and plan to continue doing so. But sources say those meetings have provided more frustration than results.
"He's very much... a chronic BSer. However he does come through when the timing is right," a veteran justice source said Tuesday. "And sifting through the BS is what it's all about with these types, I guess."
A recently retired city homicide investigator said police have dropped the ball in their investigation. James Jewell said Tuesday it's a "travesty" police haven't acted with more urgency since their initial arrest and interrogation of Lamb last summer.
"Inexperience, lack of direction, lack of courage or combinations of all the above created significant delays for investigators who so desperately wanted to cut the red tape and get down to the business of a second interrogation," Jewell said in a public blog post. "It seems to me, incompetence of this magnitude should come with some sort of consequence(s)."
Jewell said police owe it to the public and victims' families to quickly get to the truth.
"Sins of the past aside, the time has come for the police service to realize that a thorough debrief of alleged serial killer Shawn Lamb is in order. It's time to cut the red tape and end the debate regarding process and protocol. Sometimes, you just have to dance with the devil," he said.
Lamb is charged with three counts of second-degree murder for the deaths of Lorna Blacksmith, 18, Tanya Nepinak, 31, and Carolyn Sinclair, 25. He remains in custody without bail. He has not entered a plea. None of the allegations has been proven and he is presumed innocent.
Lamb repeated his claim Tuesday that two missing rolls of film and a box of keepsakes hold the key to solving at least five additional cases. He refused to answer specific questions, including the whereabouts of the items he claims are essential to the ongoing investigation.
"If I say anything about that I'll say it to a police officer," Lamb said Tuesday. But police say that's precisely the problem -- he's made many similar promises to open up, only to stay quiet at the last minute.
Lamb claims he is interested in bringing "closure" to as many families as possible, including the ones of the five names he's provided to police and the Free Press. Lamb has threatened to go public to local aboriginal leaders and even begin calling families personally, while in custody, if immediate action isn't taken. Lamb has complicated matters by recently dismissing his lawyer, Evan Roitenberg, and then briefly representing himself.
Defence lawyer Martin Glazer has now gone on record for Lamb and has cautioned his new client to stay silent -- something Lamb hasn't done.
Lamb denied he is trying to "bargain" with police, saying he expects nothing in return.
Sources say justice officials plan to seek a dangerous-offender designation against Lamb if he is convicted. That would give him an indefinite prison term. If convicted of second-degree murder, he would face a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for between 10 and 25 years.
Police discovered the body of Blacksmith in a yard on Simcoe Street last June. She was allegedly killed in January 2012.
Lamb has also been charged with the December 2011 killing of Carolyn Sinclair, whose body was discovered in March 2012.
The third victim, Tanya Nepinak, was reportedly killed in September 2011. Her remains haven't been found.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 27, 2013 A3