John AlloreGazetteNovember 22, 2002
On November 11th, a 14 year old girl went missing from Saint Hyacinthe. I learned about this from the Surete du Quebec’s website and immediately, a four alarm bell went off in my head. Has anyone started a search party? Should I contact the SQ? Why isn’t there a report in the papers? Is anyone doing anything about this? As it turns out, this girl has run away quite often in the past, and this time, perhaps she headed for Ontario with her 29 year old boyfriend. I turned off the alarm bell. I was wrong. This time.
You will understand my paranoia when you learn that my sister went missing over 24 years ago. Theresa disappeared like this girl from Saint Hyacinthe, and the authorities erroneously concluded that she was a run away. When her body was found, they wrongly assumed she had suffered a drug overdose, and a half-hearted investigation ensued. We were told someone would come forward. No one ever did. We were told to give it time. We gave it 23 years. I started my own investigation. The SQ said it was pointless. I discovered she had been murdered. The SQ said she was not. I uncovered two other murders. The SQ said they weren’t related. I asked for a reinvestigation. They looked at the evidence, they said there was no basis. I made some threats. They changed their minds. They said my sister had been murdered, there would be a reinvestigation.
In the midst of this, Champlain college conducted itself with equal shame. On September 11th when most of us were mourning, Champlain executives were conducted a 3 hour, closed door meeting with their press agent, and exercising damage control. Their ultimate response was to defer to the Police. If the case was re-d, they would cooperate. Note to Champlain: the case had been re-d, enjoy being investigated.
I welcome the SQ’s assistance, but I can hardly feel grateful. There are no big favors being done for me here. Law enforcement is finally doing the work they should have done 24 years ago. Only, back then they had a chance at catching the murderer. Now justice is remote, at the end of a trail that’s gone cold.
It shouldn’t be like this for the families of crime victims. We shouldn’t have to wait decades, we shouldn’t have to lobby day in and day out, we shouldn’t have to take our tales to the press. We should be able to expect skillfull and committed crime investigations for the dollars we surrender to run the SQ. It should be a bottom-line part of the deal.
Last night I had a dream about my sister, or rather, when I woke up, I remembered the dream. In the dream my brother and I conjured her up to appear for us. We found her in a playground swinging on the swings. She was just as we had left her, and we were as we were now, in our late 30s and 40s, but strangely she was still 19, and still our big sister, so much wiser and smarter than us. She was as funny as I remember her, as full of life, completely captivating, yet selfless. We talked a long time about nothing. What music we liked, what our families were doing, where we wished to travel in our later years. We did not talk about the why, or the what, or the who. How did you die? Do you know who killed you? Are you pleased with what I’m doing to solve it now? She seemed to know that these things were important to me, but she also knew that it wasn’t important. Gently, she managed to steer the conversation away from all that. She controlled the situation, but in the most charming way. She was the quality person I have always loved.
My sister was a quality person. Louise Camirand, Manon Dube, Julie Boisvenu, Julie Surprenant, Julie Bureau were all quality persons.
A quality person deserves a quality investigation. People’s lives are worth saving and their deaths are worth vindicating. If we ask nothing of our institutions, then it’s like saying we expect nothing from ourselves. It does not take “knowing” these people to get involved. You know them. They are of your communities. They are you. And they are lost.
John AlloreGazetteNovember 22, 2002