A Winnipeg woman who claims she was attacked by alleged serial killer Shawn Lamb says she is lucky to be alive — but she's angry that police didn't seem to care when she tipped them off about his violent behaviour.
It was a frigid January night earlier this year when 29-year-old Denise, a sex-trade worker who lived on the streets and sold her body in exchange for crack cocaine, was looking for a warm place to get high.
She knocked at the door of her friend's apartment suite. The friend wasn't home but a neighbour, Shawn Lamb, was. Denise says he invited her inside and they shared some crack that she had just scored.
But he wanted more, said Denise, who didn't want her last name published.
"He was forcing himself on me and I fought him off me and I told him if he don't let me out of this house that I'm going to smash up your house," she said, adding her street survival instincts took over.
"Forget this I'm not going to let this guy do this to me — rape me. I'm not going to let this guy do this because I have been through this so many times on the street and out there I'm a fighter."
She says she fought him off, screaming, kicking, punching, and escaped, running out the door and down the stairs.
Shortly after that she entered a sobriety program, in part because of the disappearance of her friend Carolyn Sinclair, whose body was found near a city dumpster in March.
Like Denise, Sinclair was battling a drug addiction and worked in the sex trade to support her habit.
On Monday, Winnipeg police announced that Lamb, 52, is charged with three counts of second-degree murder in connection to the deaths of women reported missing within the last year.
One of those is Sinclair, who was 25.
The others are Tanya Jane Nepinak, 31, and Lorna Blacksmith, 18.
Lamb, who is originally from Ontario, has an extensive criminal record extending across four provinces.
Since 1979, he has had 109 convictions in Ontario, Alberta, B.C. and Manitoba. In the latter, Lamb has 45 convictions since 2002 for everything from robbery to forgery, fraud, and uttering threats.
Most recently he was charged with sexual assault in May and again this month. When Lamb was picked up on June 21, that was when police say they learned of his alleged connection to the three homicides.
The news of Lamb's arrest angered Denise, who says she has been sober since her January encounter with the alleged serial killer.
After Sinclair's body was found, Denise and others told police about Lamb's violent behavior and their suspicions he could have something to do with missing women cases.
"I had a gut feeling [he might have been involved]. I thought, 'Oh my God.' I was enraged. My stomach was twisted," Denise said.
But police officers just shrugged her off, she said. She never filed a formal complaint with police.
"It made me feel enraged, as if my voice wasn't heard and it wasn't looked upon and other people made reports of him too," she said.
But Denise said she is relieved she did not become another homicide statistic.
"I thank God every day for letting me live, for letting me survive that [encounter]," she said.