A History of Domestic Violence and an Alleged Serial Killer Committing Hate Crimes
Is This the Face of Canada’s Newest Serial Killer?
In 2019, on the first anniversary of her marriage, Erin Leszkovics received the best gift she could imagine; a three-year restraining order against her unpredictable control freak of a husband. She had spent a year living in hell with thirty-five-year-old Jeremy Anthony Michael Skibicki, who could fly into a rage over the slightest infraction of his “rules.” He controlled her cell phone, monitored and restricted her movement, and beat her so often and hard that she still suffers from migraines and double-vision.
Skibicki also had scary sexual interests. He shared with Erin his fantasies of raping and choking her to death. On several occasions, he held a pillow over her face. And he forced her to take “bed meds,” pills that knocked her out. He said he liked to rape her while she slept.
Erin was terrified; things were bad and getting worse. She had called the police several times, but nothing fazed him. But finally, after months, in September of 2019, she got some help; after hearing her tales, a judge believed Erin had good reason to be afraid and ordered Skibicki to stay away from her for three years. Furious, Skibicki tried to get the restraining order overturned, but — fortunately — he had no luck.
Slaps on the Wrist for Serious Assault
In January 2021, Skibicki violated the restraining order. Erin took him to court. He was charged with assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, and uttering threats. She was both furious and terrified when he was acquitted eleven months later. “Sooner or later, Erin thought, “he’s going to kill someone.” She thought it would be her.
This relationship was not the first time a woman believed Skibicki would murder her. In June 2015, three years before Erin’s year of terror began, Skibicki was convicted of assaulting his pregnant common-law partner after grabbing her hair, punching her in the face several times, and attempting to strangle her. He threatened to kill her if she called the police.
That woman had applied for a protection order against Skibicki earlier that same year. She wrote, “Jeremy has admitted fantasizing about raping me and then choking me to death…. He had smothered me so bad my teeth started to bleed . . . I’m afraid he won’t stop until I’m dead.” The application for the protection order was denied.
He spent only two months behind bars and two years on probation for all the hurt and fear he caused his ex-partner. Fortunately, the probation conditions after his assault conviction required him to stay away from her for two years. Unfortunately, he moved on to Erin. And then, according to investigators, serial murder.
Easy Pickings for a Predator
Erin says she was struggling mentally and physically when she met Skibicki in February 2018 at Siloam Mission. This Christian humanitarian organization helps people down on their luck get back on their feet, particularly those who are battling drug or alcohol dependency and who are in and out of shelters. That’s the situation Erin was in. She was standing outside waiting for a warm bed when Skibicki and a few friends showed up. The two of them hit it off right away.
But all was not as it seemed. What was Skibicki doing at the mission since he had a permanent place to stay? Erin didn’t wonder too much about it at the time; Skibicki was charming and friendly and invited her to stay at his apartment, which she gratefully did. It was only a short time before they married. Erin said her wedding vows while high on crystal meth. The worst year of her life had begun.
Despite the odds stacked against her, Erin turned her life around. She’s been sober for almost two years. She goes to school. She has big plans; she wants to help people whose voices have been drowned with alcohol or distorted by drugs find them again. Four other women — also alleged victims of Skibicki — won’t have that chance. According to prosecutors, Skibicki is Canada’s latest serial killer.
From Domestic Violence to Serial Murder
Between March and May of 2022, four Indigenous women were savagely murdered. On May 16, a passerby stumbled on the partial remains of twenty-four-year-old Rebecca Contois behind an apartment building not far from Skibicki’s home. Although she lived in Winnipeg, she was a Crane River First Nation member. Investigators say Skibicki and Contois knew each other but have not said how.
Investigators don’t believe she was Skibicki’s first or only murder victim. Morgan Beatrice Harris, 39, was killed around May 1, and a third, Marcedes Myran, 26, was killed around May 4. Both women were from Long Plain First Nation, a reserve about 55 miles west of Winnipeg. Family members had previously reported each woman as missing. A fourth victim — actually the first to go missing — is still unidentified. Investigators believe she is a young Indigenous woman in her mid-twenties.
We don’t yet know how these women were killed or why. Skibicki was arrested on May 18 and is awaiting trial. He has denied all charges. But police say that DNA has linked him to the murders and that they have sufficient evidence to charge him.
Are These Hate Crimes?
Skibicki’s history of violence suggests he has plenty of hate, especially toward women. But, if he is guilty of the charges, why did he kill Indigenous women? Was he targeting them because of their heritage?
During their investigation, investigators uncovered a Facebook page filled with rantings against women, Jews, trans people, and other marginalized groups. He seems to identify with white supremacy; he posted about holocaust denial and uploaded photos of himself with The Iron Cross — a famous German military medal-turned-Nazi symbol in the 1930s. His profile also lists an affiliation with the Alliance of Patriotic Parallel Movements of European Folks, or “Holy Europe,” a far-right organization that aims to restore Christian Europe, preserve racial-biological identity, and restore patriarchy.
There is a lengthy and well-documented history of institutional indifference toward missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. A 2019 national inquiry found that perpetrators of violence often targeted Indigenous women and girls because they could get away with it. The perception among many perpetrators was that the consequences would be minimal even if it went to court. Investigators believe it is too early to say whether Skibicki targeted these women because of their ethnic identity or because he thought no one with any authority would investigate or care about what happened to them. I don’t know which would be worse.
The Bottom Line
It is heartening to see voices protesting the recent decision not to search a landfill where the remains of the three still-missing women may be because the odds of finding them are low. These voices would have once stayed silent. It is encouraging to see the light being shined on injustices once hidden; insight is a baby step toward behavior change.
It is also clear that Canada’s Indigenous community’s faith in the investigators’ willingness and ability to bring those who prey on Indigenous women to justice is on shaky ground. The successful prosecution of these four women’s murderer would be one step toward rebuilding trust — whether the perpetrator is Skibicki or not.
Based on this alleged serial killer’s unchecked history of violence against his former partners, it is also clear that more must be done to protect all Canadian w omen. We women in the States can relate.
Originally published at https://joniejohnstonpsyd.substack.com on December 29, 2022.