Caretaker haunted by alleged serial killer’s conduct Witnessed repeated trips to garbage bin night before remains found
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The caretaker who lived in a suite below alleged serial killer Jeremy Skibicki sometimes thinks about the hours before he was arrested by Winnipeg police.
Skibicki mostly kept to himself when he lived at the McKay Avenue block, from November 2021 to mid-May of this year, when he was arrested for the slaying of 24-year-old Rebecca Contois.
Caretaker Jeff Cohan saw him act in a strange manner before the remains of Contois were found in a garbage bin by a nearby building on Edison Avenue in North Kildonan.
“The night prior, I witnessed him (making) two or three trips out to the garbage bins, armfuls of clothes that he was just throwing out. Then the one that I opened, a girl’s backpack was on the top, and then the police took that stuff right away,” Cohan said Tuesday.Caretaker Jeff Cohan, who lived in a suite below alleged serial killer Jeremy Skibicki, with his daughter Jessica Courchene at a vigil for Rebecca Contois in May.
The garbage bags became evidence when the 35-year-old was charged with first-degree murder. This week, police charged him with killing three others: Morgan Harris, 39, Marcedes Myran, 26, and a fourth woman who police have not been able to identify, but has been named “Buffalo Woman” by Indigenous leaders.
Cohan said incidents he thought were odd or off-putting took on a new context once Skibicki had been taken into custody.
He said Skibicki would bring women to the building, and would make them wait outside in the winter months while he went to the store. Cohan felt sorry for them, so he would often let the women take shelter in small entryway of the building.
He believes one woman, who visited numerous times, was Myran.
“It’s sad. I was overcome with sadness and whatnot, that I lived in a building where things like that took place, and I was supposed to be a caretaker,” he said. “And just things like that, that I didn’t know that they were going on.”
The small building is quiet most days, as many of its tenants work full time.
Skibicki lived in unit five, on the top floor, while unit six was being renovated. He was allowed access to unit six because he was helping with renovations, Cohan said, and it was often noisy.
He now wonders what might have happened there; when investigators searched the building, they paid as much attention to the renovated suite as they did to Skibicki’s unit.
“There are probably a lot of times when he was here that, during the day, he was probably the only one in the building… There’s probably times when he probably had the whole building to himself, and then when you got renovations going on in (a) suite, there’s a perfect coverup,” he said.
“It’s sad. I was overcome with sadness and whatnot, that I lived in a building where things like that took place, and I was supposed to be a caretaker.”–Jeff Cohan
Police forensic investigators cut out a piece of the floor and seized it as evidence, as well as garbage and other items.
Cohan’s 20-year-old daughter, Jessica Courchene, who is Indigenous, was the only woman who lived in the building during Skibicki’s time as a tenant. She said he was never openly hostile, but would refuse to acknowledge her presence when he spoke to other tenants.
“When it came out that he was the suspect, it was obviously disheartening, but it wasn’t surprising either, just given his mannerisms and whatnot, it really wasn’t a shock,” she said.
The father and daughter attended a vigil for Contois in May and have followed the case closely.
The suite in which the accused lived in has been renovated, and new tenants moved in two weeks ago. The building has become what Courchene called “a place to gawk at”; curious onlookers often stop by, linger and point to the top floor.
“It’s definitely one of those cases that it seems all the red flags were there, and everyone just kind of turned a blind eye,” she said. “And now here we are.”
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Updated on Wednesday, December 7, 2022 9:41 AM CST: fixes typo in cutline