Winnipeg Police Chief Keith McCaskill
Credits: BRIAN DONOGH/QMI AGENCY
WINNIPEG - It was only recently that Shawn Cameron Lamb promised he was finally ready to reform his troubled, violent and drug-addled life for good -- and for the good of others -- once he got out of jail.
Instead, the rootless career criminal allegedly did anything but and now stands accused of the serial murders of three Winnipeg women, along with sexual assaults on a chronic teen runaway last fall and a 36-year-old woman last week.
"Throughout my life I have abused drugs and have lived from moment to moment with no plans or aspirations," he wrote in a letter to a Winnipeg judge in 2009, after pleading guilty to attempting to mug an innocent mother out pushing her infant in a stroller.
Lamb, now 52, had just huffed back a rock of crack cocaine two minutes before the crime.
"This period of incarceration has changed all that. I want to put my experience, unenviable as it is, to work in the service of others," Lamb said.
Despite Lamb's vast and varied criminal record (he's amassed more than 100 convictions to date), the judge handed him a major break and ordered him to serve a supervised conditional sentence of 18 months in the community.
Less than a week after being freed, however, Lamb reoffended a number of times and on May 26, 2010, admitted guilt to 16 charges -- including two violent muggings, a car theft and forging cheques stolen from a local massage parlour.
One of his victims was a 69-year-old woman. The other was a man robbed and threatened for his cases of beer.
"I don't want to reoffend. I don't want to hurt anybody else. I don't want to spend any more time in jail ...
I just want to start new," Lamb told Judge Linda Giesbrecht. "I've forgiven everybody. I've asked for forgiveness. I believe that I've been forgiven for what I've done."
Court-ordered reports obtained by the QMI Agency put Lamb's alarming background under the microscope and paint a picture of a recalcitrant offender and drifter who has spent a large chunk of his adult life behind bars.
He was born Darrell Dokis to a teen single mom on the urban reserve of Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia, Ont. In 1959, child welfare officials took Lamb from his community as a toddler as part of a politically-motivated "scoop" of aboriginal kids.
He was placed with a white foster family who subjected him to sexual, mental, and physical abuse.
He didn't confirm his aboriginal heritage and existence of his birth family until 2008 -- a revelation he described as "overwhelming" and caused him to resume a long-standing cocaine habit. His mistreatment at the hands of his foster parents led him to a suicide attempt at age 10, he told a probation officer.
"The white family I ended up with were dysfunctional in many ways," Lamb said in 2009. "Alcoholics, sexual sadists, violent and many other negative practices was their way," he said.
Lamb began abusing booze at age nine -- he says his foster folks encouraged him to play bartender -- and became a frequent face at local bars by age 15.
Seeking a greater high than the drink could provide, Lamb turned to all manner of drugs, including a dangerous addiction to mixing doses of cocaine and heroin by 1975.
After running away from home for good at age 17, he told Giesbrecht he lived on the streets of Toronto for a time, occasionally waking up in psychiatric wards. "I thought I would die," he said.
Lamb's record shows he left Ontario for stints in Winnipeg and other places in western Canada.
He was married twice and fathered two sons with a woman who was ultimately convicted of manslaughter in a shooting-related death in Slave Lake, Alta.
A long-term relationship with a woman between 1998 and 2004 was marred by booze abuse and violence.
"He acknowledges that he looked for other women who were as self-destructive as himself," a report said. "His relationships are often addiction-fuelled on the parts of both parties and usually ended in assaultive behaviour."
In 1991, Lamb was handed his longest sentence yet -- four years for a sexual assault in Slave Lake.
Records show he was convicted of breaching parole and statutory release in the years that followed.
He re-emerged in Winnipeg around 1998, and has been habitually offending here largely ever since.
Lamb was diagnosed as bipolar while serving a stint in Stony Mountain Institution, just outside Winnipeg, in 2001.
"His response to this information was that he has received 'many labels over the years,' which includes anti-social personality, depression, (FASD), (ADD) and bi-polar," a probation official wrote.
Lamb is presumed innocent of the new charges he's facing.