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Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth says he won’t quit

Amid calls for his resignation, Winnipeg’s police chief said he would not step down and pledged to seek justice for the four victims of a suspected serial killer.

Calls for the resignation of Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth have grown from First Nations leaders and grieving family members since he announced police would not be searching a dump for the remains of two victims of suspected serial killer Jeremy Skibicki.

“I will not resign,” Smyth said in a written statement released Friday. “I understand your pleas; the pain and grief is unimaginable. As Chief Constable, I am committed to securing a criminal conviction for these heinous crimes.”

Smyth reported earlier in December that investigators believe the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, who were both from Long Plain but lived in Winnipeg, were likely in the Prairie Green landfill.

He said a search for the remains was not possible in part due to the passage of time and the 10,000 garbage trucks dumped in the area, as the remains would have ended up in the landfill in the spring.

Speaking in Ottawa on Thursday, Long Plain First Nation Chief Kyra Wilson said the failure to search for the women’s remains was not instilling a sense of safety in the community.

“The message you’re sending out to the whole community is that Indigenous people don’t matter,” Wilson said. “That if someone wants to harm our women, he can throw them in the dump and no one will look for them.”

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, joined by Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham, announced Thursday that operations at the landfill have been halted while officials work to determine the next steps in the investigation.

The chairman of the Winnipeg Police Commission, Con. Markus Chambers met with Winnipeg police on Thursday evening regarding the search. Chambers told CTV News on Friday that any search would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

However, he said something needed to be done that is meaningful and demonstrates that victims’ lives matter. Along with that, he said a search could also be important in holding future criminals accountable.

“Hopefully that will be a deterrent, you know, if you’re planning a murder and planning to use a landfill to get rid of the body, there will be a search in that area to make sure evidence can be gathered , and hold that individual accountable,” he told CTV News.

In Smyth’s statement on Friday, which was also sent to First Nations leaders, he said he was “supportive” of exploring the possibility of recovering the remains of Myran and Harris.

Smyth said the inquests into the deaths of the four victims – Rebecca Contois, Marcedes Myran, Morgan Harris and Buffalo Woman – have been one of the most complex and important investigations of his tenure.

He said “difficult” decisions were made to move the investigation forward to bring charges against Skibicki.

Jeremy Skibicki, 35, faces four counts of first degree murder. The charges have not been tested in court.

-with files from The Canadian Press and CTV’s Jon Hendricks

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