Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/6/2012 (2841 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
EDMONTON - Investigators in Edmonton are combing through files for possible links after Winnipeg police arrested a suspected serial killer this week for the murders of three aboriginal women.
Shawn Cameron Lamb, 52, was charged with second-degree-murder in connection with the deaths of Tanya Nepinak, 31, Carolyn Sinclair, 25 and Lorna Blacksmith, 18.
Police in Winnipeg said they were working with investigators across Canada to determine if Lamb is connected to the cases of other missing or murdered women.
Edmonton's Project Kare task force examines potential links between missing or murdered sex-trade workers in the Edmonton area, with a focus on potential serial offenders.
Project Kare Staff Sgt. Gerard MacNeil said Tuesday that while Lamb’s name has not come up in direct relation to any open cases, "his name does appear in our intelligence data set."
Lamb, a longtime drifter originally from Sarnia, Ont., has a lengthy criminal history, including convictions for offences, including assault, in Alberta dating to the early 1990s.
MacNeil said there are indications Lamb has spent time in the Edmonton area over the past two decades and investigators are "anxiously awaiting" a package of more detailed information from Winnipeg police.
"At the same time, we’re combing through our data sets to see if there’s anything there that could be linked to Mr. Lamb that might require us to travel to Winnipeg or conduct further investigation here to make sure that if, in fact, he is responsible for any crimes in this province, he is connected to them and hopefully prosecuted," MacNeil said.
Police in Winnipeg said Lamb knew Nepinak and met the other two women on the street. All three women worked in Winnipeg’s sex-trade industry.
Investigators will not release the exact number of open cases under Project Kare. When the task force was formed in 2004, 79 cases were identified as being of interest, including 10 women who were found dead in fields around Edmonton in the years prior to Project Kare’s creation. The unit’s investigative scope has widened since then to include cases of people around the province who lead high-risk lifestyles.
MacNeil said the transient nature of some of the victims and suspects can create hurdles for investigators trying to retrace their steps.
"It’s a huge problem. A person can come into Edmonton tonight, commit a crime, and then go on to Fort McMurray or Vancouver or Toronto, wherever," he said.
Victims are also hard to track down because they may not have people around them who will report them missing, he said.
"For a lot of these women in particular, they don’t have the type of support in their lives that lends itself well to people making timely reports when their normal habit of life has changed," he said.
Earlier this month, RCMP confirmed the death of Deanna Bellerose, who was last seen in Edmonton on Sept. 9, 2002, and was reported missing by her family about a week later.
The 29-year-old was one of a series of transient women who vanished from city streets in the 1990s and early 2000s, leading to Project Kare’s formation. Her remains were found in April by a surveyor working in a Morinville field.
The task force also recently announced it is investigating the death of Annette Holywhiteman, who was last seen in the summer of 2008, and whose body was found on a rural Westlock property by hunters in the fall of 2010.