Pearson National Post Thursday, September 19, 2002
Sometimes I wonder: am I in Canada, or one of Kafka’s dreamlike mazes? I watch events unfold with growing amazement. A young Canadian woman dies. The family wishes to know why, what happened, what fate befell their beloved child. The police decide that she died of a drug overdose. They provide no evidence. They refuse to share with the family the results of their investigation. The family must hire a private investigator. Building on the man’s work, they investigate with a journalist. Building on this publicity, they come to rely on the kindness of fellow citizens, who write to them with tips and information. The police do not receive this information with interest. They will not share with this family their reasons why not, nor investigate what information the family can scrounge up on its own. The family appeals to the bureaucrats who oversee the police. The bureaucrats respond that they have referred the matter to the police for review. The family appeals to the provincial coroner to start an inquiry. The coroner responds that the case must be closed before an inquiry begins. The police will not close the case. The family drifts round and round, round and round, in a baffling circle. “There isn’t enough new evidence to restart the investigation.”
So said Constable Jimmy Potvin of the Surete du Quebec’s Eastern Townships detachment on Tuesday, in response to a five-month investigation conducted by myself, and John Allore, into the supposed drug overdose death of his nineteen-year-old sister Theresa. Here is what evidence the Allore family were told about by the Surete du Quebec in 1979, when Theresa’s body was found face-down in a creek, clad in her bra and underwear, one kilometer from her student residence at Champlain Regional College: none. Here is the evidence that the Allores were provided to support a drug overdose theory: none. I phone Constable Potvin and ask him for the evidence of drug overdose. He says he’ll check. For one reason or another, he never quite manages to get back to me. I’ll let readers know what he says just as soon as I hear. Here is the evidence that John Allore and I uncovered in a few short months that has been deemed irrelevant: Theresa Allore’s toxicology report turned up no traces of drugs, legal or illicit. Her scarf was found near the body, torn in two. The initial coroner’s report described strangulation marks, observed on the body by Corporal Roch Goudreault of the S.Q. Two other young women were abducted and killed in the area in eighteen months. One, Louise Camirand, was found strangled within a stone’s throw of the siting of clothes that may have belonged to Theresa Allore. The other victim, Manon Dube, was found within a minute’s drive of Theresa Allore’s body, also face-down in a creek. Theresa Allore’s wallet was tossed alongside the property of a girl her age and appearance, who had been chased and almost-abducted exactly one month before Theresa disappeared. The woman described her assailant to us as noticeably short. The police at the time intercepted the man, ran a vehicle check, and determined that he had a prior sex offence conviction from out west. In 1980, a young woman of Theresa Allore’s age and appearance was stalked and then almost forced into a car by a very short man, at precisely the intersection where Manon Dube was abducted two years earlier. In 1981, a Sherbrooke woman was raped and strangled (but survived). Her attacker was a very short man who, like the assailant near where Theresa Allore’s wallet was found, was found to have lived out west. We have learned of two other women who were abducted but escaped the car and the attacker, both in the area, both in the late 1970s. We are trying to locate them in order to see if the description of the assailant matches. We should not be doing this, the police should be doing this. But they are not. According to Kim Rossmo, an internationally respected investigator at the Police Foundation in Washington, the geography of these attacks suggests a serial offender, not a series of coincidental sexual attacks and murders on the southern fringes of a small Canadian city. This is not the Red Light District of Amsterdam.
Rossmo suggested that the offender was living in south Sherbrooke. The man who raped and attempted to strangle the woman in 1981 lived in South Sherbrooke, along the route of all of the attacks. We brought him to the attention of the Surete du Quebec. As far as we know, this is part of the evidence that they did not consider to be evidence. “We don’t even know how you came up with this guy,” one SQ investigator told me, when I asked why they hadn’t checked him out. I’m sorry, I thought I’d explained.
Was any of our analysis followed up by the Surete?. As of last week, the victim on Macdonald Road had not been interviewed. Was the old police record on her assailant checked? The files of Louise Camirand and Manon Dube were not reviewed alongside Theresa Allore’s. The wallet and watch, which have remained in their evidence bags for twenty-three years and could now be combed over for droplets of blood or strands of hair belonging to an assailant and tested for DNA, have not been requested.
No one in the Surete du Quebec phoned the Allore family to announce the lack of new evidence. Instead, they placed an unsolicited call to the Sherbrooke Record. This is no way for the families of crime victims in Quebec to be treated. The secrecy is appalling. The accountability is awful. The Privacy Laws in place to protect that province’s citizens by restricting access to virtually all information in police investigations have the second, unintended effect of protecting the police.What the SQ has done, in effect, is to shut the Allore and Dube and Camirand families down once again. We don’t know their reasoning, because they won’t tell us, and the privacy laws enable them to stay mum. Thank god, there are other citizens in this nation who want to assist these victims. John Allore is immensely grateful to the women who have come forth with their own painful memories of stalking and assault, in the hope that their observations of the attacker can be of help to his sister’s case. He and I both are equally grateful to the people in the criminal justice community outside of the Surete who have volunteered information, done continuing research and offered analysis that might break the case. We are grateful to the journalists — to Jacques Taschereau of Radio Canada, whose investigation will be broadcast on September 28th on the show Justice, to Sharon McCully of the Sherbrooke Record and to Paul Cherry of the Montreal Gazette, to the free-lance journalists digging up their own clues who prefer to remain anonymous for the time being — to everyone who has taken our investigation seriously, and furthered it. Together we can hope to solve these crimes.