Rosser landfill suspended operations in June in area possibly containing victims’ remains
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The owner of a Winnipeg-area landfill where the remains of two Indigenous women may be buried stopped dumping waste in June in a section city police marked as a possible search area.
Police believe the remains of Morgan Harris, 39, and Marcedes Myran, 26, were deposited at the Prairie Green Landfill, just north of Winnipeg, after they were slain by an alleged serial killer in May.
An Indigenous-led committee is studying the feasibility of searching the site.
At a Jan. 6 meeting with members of a technical sub-committee, Prairie Green’s owner confirmed waste hasn’t been dumped in an area of interest since June, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said Tuesday.
“This information means there is less overburden (waste) to remove for a proper search if it is… determined to be feasible,” the AMC stated in a news release.
Forensic anthropologist Emily Holland, who worked on the investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton in B.C., is a co-chair of the sub-committee.
Last month, the province and members of Harris and Myran’s families told the Free Press an area, or cell, has been cordoned off for a possible search.
In December, police said 34 days had elapsed before officers learned, on June 20, that Harris and Myran’s remains were believed to have been deposited at the landfill in the RM of Rosser.
The facility is owned by Waste Connections of Canada.
Homicide detectives believe four Indigenous women — Harris, Myran, Rebecca Contois, 24, and an unidentified victim since named Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe (Buffalo Woman) by elders — were killed by the same suspect last year.
The remains of Harris, Myran and Buffalo Woman have not been found.
The Indigenous-led committee is asking Ottawa to provide funding for a search of Prairie Green.
It has submitted a funding proposal and expects a decision soon from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, said the AMC, which provides updates on the committee’s meetings and progress.
The feasibility study will likely be completed by the end of March, while the committee tries to conduct its work promptly and urgently, according to the AMC.
The Winnipeg Police Service decided not to search the landfill, after its own assessment found the likelihood of finding the women was low due, in part, to the amount of waste deposited in May and June.
The committee also plans to study the feasibility of searching the city-run Brady Road landfill, where some of Contois’ remains were found by police in June.
In December, police said they do not have a definitive location for Buffalo Woman’s remains.
Jeremy Skibicki, 35, is charged with four-counts of first-degree murder in the women’s deaths.
Skibicki intends to plead not guilty to all the charges, his lawyer Leonard Tailleur said Tuesday.
Premier Heather Stefanson and Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham announced Dec. 8 operations at Prairie Green had been temporarily paused amid growing calls for a search.
“I’ve since learned that there’s been no dumping in that cell,” Gillingham told reporters Tuesday. “That’s good news because, of course, there’s the feasibility study and the real possibility of a search being conducted there.”
Operations at Prairie Green have since resumed.
Moments before Stefanson and Gillingham spoke to reporters Dec. 8, officials were informed Prairie Green had paused operations on the cell in question, a spokeswoman for the premier said, adding the province is providing technical advice to the committee.
Provincial funding will be assessed when the feasibility study is completed and reviewed.
— with files from Joyanne Pursaga
As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.
Updated on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 5:58 PM CST: Adds Stefanson's comment