Shawn Lamb was charged this week with three counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Carolyn Sinclair, 25, Tanya Nepinak, 31, and Lorna Blacksmith, 18.
Lamb, 52, had been arrested in connection with a June 21 sexual assault when police say they learned of his alleged connections with the three homicides.
Lamb was born under the name Darrell Dokis on the Aamjiwnaang First Nation near Sarnia, Ont., in 1959, according to court records obtained by CBC News on Tuesday.
He was removed from his teenage mother's care about a year after he was born and transferred to a non-aboriginal adoptive family near Barrie, Ont.
The court records show Lamb described suffering physical, emotional and sexual abuse in the adoptive home.
Tried to commit suicide
Lamb said he tried to commit suicide when he was 10 or 11 years old by mixing painkillers and soda, according to court documents.
Lamb said he began drinking alcohol from the time he was nine and started drinking heavily by the time he was 15.
He ran away from home several times by the time he was 12, and he dropped out of high school in Grade 10, he said.
Lamb said he progressed towards using heroin and cocaine in the 1970s, according to court documents.
Lamb did not discover his aboriginal roots until 2008. He applied for and received an Indian status card at that point.
In court submissions, Lamb said he has been trying to learn more about his identity and has undertaken traditional healing programs while in custody.
But by the time Lamb learned of his aboriginal roots, he had committed crimes in four different Canadian provinces and spent nearly three decades in some kind of custody.
Records show that Lamb has 109 previous criminal convictions dating back to 1979, in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba.
His convictions have mainly been for offences such as robbery, forgery, fraud, theft, assault, uttering threats and breaching court orders.
In 1992, Lamb served a four-year sentence in Alberta for sexual assault, according to court records.
19-month sentence in 2010
Forty-five of Lamb's convictions are in Manitoba and date back to 2002.
In a court submission, Lamb said he has spent close to 30 years in one form of custody or another.
The last time he was in jail was for a 19-month sentence, handed down in 2010, for 16 charges that include assault and robbery.
The judge overseeing that case accepted a plea deal in the case, even though she acknowledged that Lamb has one of the longest criminal records she has ever seen.
In court, Lamb maintained that he did not have a plan for himself the last time he was released from jail, so he went back to his old habits of crack cocaine use and criminal behaviour.
"I am not going to hurt people anymore," Lamb stated a number of times during his sentencing hearing.
Lamb was in a three-year probation period at the time of his latest arrests.
Winnipeg police arrested Lamb in May and charged him in connection with a sexual assault in October 2011. However, he was released at that time.
Lamb was picked up again on June 21 and charged with another sexual assault. That was when police say they learned of his alleged connection with the deaths of Nepinak, Blacksmith and Sinclair.
No public inquiry, say governments
Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says Shawn Lamb's case is an example of a "revolving door" justice system that the Conservative government wants to change.
Toews responded to reports about Lamb's prior convictions and the fact that he reoffended after receiving a conditional sentence in 2009.
"Why was that individual out on the street anyway after that many convictions?" Toews told reporters in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
"Why would a judge under the criminal code be allowed to provide a conditional sentence in the type of situation where this individual [has had] dozens and dozens of convictions?"
Toews said it is premature to talk about whether a public inquiry should be held into the women's deaths, as it is not known if Lamb is guilty of the killings.
The Manitoba government also said it has no plans at this time to launch a public inquiry, despite a call for an inquiry from some of the province's aboriginal leaders.
"We're not even discussing that at this time. They key thing is we don't want to get in the way of a criminal investigation," Justice Minister Andrew Swan told reporters.
"Right now, that is our priority — to try to get closure for the families that have been pained by this."