I’m not sure when CTV will post the video feed, but I thought I’d save the text to W-FIVE before it goes away
Who killed Theresa?
CTV.ca News Staff
Theresa Allore was just 19 when she was found dead on a Quebec country road in 1979. Police deemed her death a drug overdose. Now, more than 25 years later, her family is asking questions again, convinced Theresa was murdered.
Theresa was enrolled at Champlain College boarding school in Lennoxville, near Sherbrooke. She lived in a residence 14 kilometres from campus in an isolated village called Compton. Students were expected to take buses back and forth to class every day.
One Friday in November, 1978, Theresa was on campus in Lennoxville around suppertime. She told friends she was going back to Compton because she had a book report due on Monday. But she missed the bus back.
Her former classmate, Suzanne De Rome, explains that if you missed the 6:15 bus, the next bus wasn’t until 11 p.m. So if you didn’t want to wait five hours?
“You hitchhiked. Because otherwise it was a very expensive cab ride,” remembers Suzanne.
Incredibly, the school thought it was acceptable for students to hitchhike between the school and the residence. In fact, they offered tips in the student handbook on how to hitchhike.No one knows what happened to Theresa after she left campus. And with students coming and going over the weekend, no one noticed Theresa had gone missing.
She didn’t show up for class on Monday. Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday. No one took attendance and so no one noticed one missing student.
Six days after Theresa was last seen, her brother Andre went to the college administrator and asked the school to organize a search. He was refused.
“He told me no, he wasn’t going to turn the school upside down for this particular thing,” Andre remembers.
When her frantic parents got to Champlain College, they were stunned by the attitude of the school administration.
“They started with character assassination and putting us on the defensive and they started with things like: was Theresa our child or was she adopted?” her father Robert remembers.
Champlain officials suggested there might be something wrong with Theresa. They hinted at a wild, irresponsible girl who could have run away because she was pregnant or even suicidal.
But by all accounts, Theresa was a well-adjusted teenager, a good student with above average marks. The family was forced to take up the search themselves. They put up posters and hired a private detective.
When they called in the Lennoxville Police, they jumped to the conclusion Theresa was a runaway who would eventually come back.
As incredible as it seems neither the school nor the police ever mounted an all out search for Theresa.
As it turns out Theresa was not far. Throughout that winter, her body lay just a few kilometres from her Compton residence. Nobody found her because nobody was out looking.
Finally, in April 1979, a trapper stumbled upon her body in river near a country road. She was found face down, clad only in a bra and underwear.
In a nearby farmer’s field, police found a torn scarf, later identified as Theresa’s. A week later, a farmer spotted Theresa’s wallet in a ditch along another country road, 10 kilometres away.
Because Theresa’s body had spent five months in the water, medical examiners could not say exactly how or when she died except that it was a “violent death of an undetermined nature.” At first, the local coroner thought he saw signs of strangulation. But the autopsy report shows no obvious marks of violence, no evidence of sexual assault.
Leo Hamel was the Lennoxville police chief back in 1978. He’s retired now but after all these years, he still has his file on the missing girl who he now believes was murdered.
Hamel says he had a lot on his plate at the time, but he insists he did everything he could to try to find Theresa. He says there was no ground search in the beginning because he honestly believed she would show up.
Months before her body was found, the former police chief recalls that two hunters reported seeing a neatly folded pile of women’s clothing in a forest the same weekend Theresa disappeared. But when Hamel went to find the clothes, they were gone.
Hamel notified the Quebec provincial police, the Surete du Quebec, about the missing girl. Theresa’s parents say they were shocked when an officer named Roch Geaudreault told them to stop searching for their daughter.
“He said he didn’t believe we should be wasting our time, like we should go home from where we came from,” remembers her father. “She would come out of a snow bank in the spring. That’s exactly what he said.”
The Surete investigator had come up with a theory. There had been a party in the residence the night Theresa disappeared involving LSD. Perhaps she had taken some and accidentally overdosed.
But the Lennoxville police had already looked into that. Everyone at the party said Theresa wasn’t there.
Even after she was found half naked under a bridge, the SQ continued to hold onto the theory that Theresa had probably overdosed and that frightened students covered it up.
“That’s crazy,” believes Theresa’s old friend Suzanne. “At Champlain, you couldn’t kiss a boy on Friday night without the entire campus knowing about it on Saturday morning. There was no way that students could mastermind some massive cover-up like this without anybody knowing it, it’s absolutely impossible.”
The years dragged on and the case remained unsolved. Her family struggled with the shame of the drug overdose theory, the idea that Theresa was somehow to blame for her own death.
Her brothers grew up, and started families of their own. But their sister’s death continued to gnaw at them. In 1994, Andre and his younger brother John returned to the spot where Theresa’s body was found.
“I had to get my brother to show me exactly where it was,” says John. “But the first time we pinpointed where she was in relation to the road, in relation to where she lived, and how she was found — don’t tell me she died of a drug overdose.”
They felt certain their sister had been murdered, but the trail grew cold. More time passed. Finally in 2000, John set out to re-investigate Theresa’s death and asked to see the Surete du Quebec file on his sister.
John got the autopsy report from 1979 and discovered no drugs were found in Theresa’s body. He started to ask more questions about the bra and panties Theresa was wearing and the torn scarf found in the field nearby.
“I wanted to see what they had in terms of physical evidence from the crime,” says John.
He was told that the evidence had been destroyed five years after Theresa’s body was found. He was stunned.
There was no DNA testing in 1979, but with advances in forensic science, something on Theresa’s underwear or scarf might have revealed the identity of her killer. Today, cases are being closed decades after the fact. That opportunity was lost forever.
John combed through old newspapers from the late 70’s and made a startling discovery. It began with an article from April 1979, the month Theresa’s body was found. The article said her death recalled the death of Manon Dube.
Dube was 10 years old when she vanished from Sherbrooke in January, 1978. Her fully-clothed body was found two months later, face down in a creek kilometres away. Police speculated she was the victim of a hit-and-run and that the driver dumped her to cover up the crime.
Then John discovered another article. It mentioned the death of Louise Camirand, a 20-year-old woman who was found 14 months prior in the Memphramagog area, face down in the snow. She had been raped, stabbed and strangled. Camirand had also disappeared from a street in Sherbrooke.
It turned out all three cases remained unsolved. Was it possible they could be connected? The Allore Brothers began to really dig.
John tracked down the hunters who had seen clothing in the woods the weekend Theresa disappeared. He was stunned to find the spot was along the very same road where Camirand’s body was dumped.
The country road itself took on a new significance. One way leads back to Compton, where Theresa was found. The other way leads into south Sherbrooke, past the point where Manon Dube disappeared. A little further on it goes past the Armoury where Louise Camirand was heading the night she disappeared.
“So it’s like this nexus here,” says John. “It is this very fluid connector to all these events.”The Allores began to document the connections between the three unsolved cases. Armed with that information, they turned to Kim Rossmo, a pioneer in the police science field of geographic profiling.
As a Vancouver city cop, Rossmo helped develop a computer program to determine if seemingly random crimes can be linked. The program is now used by the RCMP, the FBI and Scotland Yard.
“If we can decode the pattern left by the locations of the crimes, we can use that type of information to help us focus on where the offender might be,” he explains.
Skeptical, but intrigued, Rossmo asked the Allores for maps of the incidents. Looking at all three deaths, Rossmo spotted a persuasive pattern.
Given the unusual cluster and the low rate of female homicide in that part of rural Quebec at that time, Rossmo came to one conclusion: It is highly unlikely the three deaths are random occurrences.
“The simplest, the most powerful, the most likely explanation is that there was a serial killer operating in that area south of Sherbrooke in that time period, preying on young women,” believes Rossmo.
Rossmo thinks the deaths should be reexamined. “It certainly seems to me to be a reasonable approach to go back and approach this as a single pattern and see where that might lead.”
There was never any doubt Louise Camirand had been abducted, sexually attacked and murdered. Why hadn’t police ever considered the possibility the same thing had happened to Theresa? John believes that investigators form pet theories and become very stubborn about abandoning their theories.
In 2002, after the Allores went public with Rossmo’s opinion, retired SQ agent Roch Gaudreault appeared on local television defending the drug overdose theory.
W-FIVE tracked down Geaudrault at a private investigation firm in Sherbrooke, but he refused to talk about the Allore case.
To this day, the SQ says there are no connections between all the cases.
“All theories are good but we need physical proof. We need something to lead us in our investigation and in Theresa’s case, we don’t have that,” says SQ Agent Chantel Mackels.
“We did try to make a connection. In the case of Louise Camirand, it’s evident there’s signs of strangulation. In Theresa’s case, it’s not. So there, you don’t have that similarity. Yes, they are two women in about the same age, in the same area. But to this day we have no physical evidence to prove they are linked.
“In the case of the young Manon Dube, she was a 10-year-old girl. She was all dressed up when we found her. It’s not the same case.”
Rossmo believes that is missing the point. It’s the timing and the locations that count. Three disappearances, three bodies in such a confined geographic space that rules against chance.
“They need to be looked at together,” he says. “If you don’t look, if you don’t ask the question how will you know?”
It’s not the first time Rossmo’s theory about the possibility of a serial killer has been dismissed. He was the first police officer in Vancouver to warn that women disappearing from the Downtown Eastside were likely victims of a single predator.
Pig farmer Robert Picton is now facing 22 counts of first degree murder and if convicted, will go down in history as Canada’s worst serial killer.
The SQ would not give W-FIVE any details of its investigation but Theresa’s brothers say the SQ has re-opened the case and is looking at two possible suspects.
No matter what happens, John says he and his brother have found some peace setting the record straight for Theresa.
“To know that our family in some ways have come together and come through to her aid, that is extremely satisfying.”