I only learned recently that Robert Beullac died a year ago today of acute myelogenous leukemia. Bob was a private investigator hired by my father after my sister went missing, when my parents stopped getting sufficient answers about Theresa’s disappearance from police and school officials. Bob was a giant of a man; he stood 6’5″ and carried this huge gun harnessed under his armpit. He was trained as a lawyer and was often used by defense attorneys on cases involving ordinary citizens who had fallen to the wayside of the law – is it any wonder that Bob and the Surete du Quebec never got along.
After twenty-five years, my parents are still left with an understandable bitterness about the events and people that surrounded the disappearance and death of their daughter. But they always had a kind word for Bob. For years they would exchange Christmas cards. Bob would send newspaper clippings about crime in the Eastern Townships to my father. In turn my father would send back some article of interest that he had found, the words, “for your file” written in the upper corner. In time, this correspondence slowly faded.
In 2001, when I began my own investigation, Bob Beullac was one of the first people I called. It had been close to twenty-five years. Where the Quebec authorities struggled for weeks trying to locate my sister’s police file, Bob found his file instantly. It was on the upper right corner of his desk. He told me he had never removed it from that place.
Bob was generous with his time. He would go over the old case in phone conversations and emails. We discussed the old theories, and new ones. Soon, the exchanges began, just like with my father. We would send articles back and forth to each other: “FYI”, or “Did you see this about Julie Boisvenu?”. One day Bob wrote to tell me he was very sick and probably would not be able to write anymore; would I like all his old papers? Soon after a brown package arrived in the mail. In it, Bob’s personal file on my sister’s case, and a couple of crime almanacs from the ’70s published by Allo Police. I never heard from him again.
Bob once told me that my sister, Theresa was killed three times. There was her physical death, then there was her second death when authorities disgraced her memory by providing such a poor investigation, and then her third death; when in 2002, the Surete du Quebec refused to acknowledge their past mistakes (an apology did eventually come – but much later).
I will miss Bob Beullac. His presence was electric, his enthusiasm inspiring. He never condescended to me and my efforts, and with 40 years of investigative experience he had every right to. He was a good man.