Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Just adding to the pain

Accused killer's claims tormenting families of missing, slain women

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Accused serial killer Shawn Lamb is tormenting the families of Manitoba's slain and missing women by claiming to have information that would help solve at least five of their cases. He says police aren't taking him seriously and he's threatening to call the families personally.

Winnipeg police are taking Lamb seriously enough to have him locked up for the slayings of Tanya Nepinak, Carolyn Sinclair and Lorna Blacksmith. And, despite what a man with a three-decade-long rap sheet says, they're closely examining his latest set of allegations.

Bernadette Smith, the sister of missing woman Claudette Osborne, says officers from the Project Devote task force called her Monday to give her a head's up Lamb was claiming to have valuable information. She says her family isn't holding its breath he's telling the truth.

"We're just kind of waiting it out. We know he's kind of an attention-seeker," Smith says. "He says he wants to give these families closure. Why grow a conscience now? I just think he's talking out his ass."

She says police assured her they were taking Lamb's claims seriously and looking into them.

Kyle Kematch, brother of missing woman Amber Guiboche, is frustrated with Lamb's apparent confessions and retractions to the media.

"It's honestly f -- up," says Kematch. "Is he saying this to cause more pain? It's getting me angry. I don't understand what we've done to deserve this."

Joyce Nepinak, the mother of Tanya Nepinak, says her family is shocked by the twist.

"We don't know what to think. Whether he's lying or not, you have to get to the bottom of it. If it happens to be true, moms can get some closure. We need that. I don't even know where my daughter is."

Gail Nepinak, Tanya's sister, says Lamb is "playing mind games."

"He's heartless. He's torturing us," she says. "He just wants publicity. He just wants the attention."

Community activist Chickadee Richard says it's possible Lamb does have more information to offer.

She believes he didn't act alone in the killings of Nepinak, Sinclair and Blacksmith. She thinks others in the community are preying on aboriginal people and there may be more than one serial killer.

"The families know that Shawn Lamb, he has no moral conscience. He says he wants to connect with the families. Why's he doing this? What's he after?"

Richard says the large number of missing and slain women speak to how aboriginal women are viewed.

"There's racism here. It's like these women don't matter."

Shawn Lamb seems a little short in the attributes column. He's been convicted of assaulting police officers, uttering threats, robbery, carrying weapons, forgery, possessing stolen property, break-and-enter and breaching numerous court orders. In May 2010, he pleaded guilty to 15 more crimes, increasing his total to 99 during a three-decade span.

He got 19 months in jail, in addition to nearly 14 months of time already served, plus three years of supervised probation. His crimes, according to a story by Free Press reporter Mike McIntyre, included mugging a young mother of her purse, threatening to stab another man for his beer, stealing a car and passing numerous bad cheques.

He was serving a conditional sentence at the time for a similar robbery in which he attacked a young mother for her bank card, flipping over a stroller carrying the victim's baby in the process.

He was arrested for the murders of the three women in June 2012.

Winnipeg police believe Lamb is a highly intelligent manipulator. He's cunning and he's likely bored silly sitting in jail. He says he has film and keepsakes to back up his latest claims. He's got the police hopping and shattered families hoping for resolution.

Our police aren't ignoring him. They can't. After the debacle in the case of B.C. serial killer Robert Pickton, no law-enforcement team would risk slacking off and miss the chance to solve these killings.

Project Devote has to take every tip seriously, even if the source is an accused serial killer who may be acting out of spite or tedium.

lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 28, 2013 B1

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About Lindor Reynolds

National Newspaper Award winner Lindor Reynolds began work at the Free Press as a 17-year-old proofreader. It was a rough introduction to the news business.

Many years later, armed with a university education and a portfolio of published work, she was hired as a Free Press columnist. During her 20-plus years on the job she has written for every section in the paper, with the exception of Business. She’ll get around to them some day.

Lindor has received considerable recognition for her writing. Her awards include the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ general interest award and the North American Travel Journalists Association top prize.
Her work on Internet luring led to an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada and her coverage of the child welfare system prompted a change to Manitoba Child and Family Services Act to make the safety of children paramount.

She has earned three citations of merit for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism and has been awarded a Distinguished Alumni commendation from the University of Winnipeg. Lindor was also named a YMCA/YWCA  Woman of Distinction.

She is married with four daughters. If her house was on fire and the kids and dog were safe, she’d grab her passport.
 
lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

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