In Today’s Post
A new search, 27 years later
Brother takes lead in probing woman’s death
Allison Hanes, National Post
Published: Thursday, April 20, 2006
A search party will set out on June 17 to retrace the steps of two Eastern Townships hunters who may long ago have stumbled across clues crucial to solving the mysterious disappearance and death of Theresa Allore.
The team of volunteers, led by a Universite de Montreal criminology student, will comb through the brush off a country road near Austin, Que., on the lookout for women’s clothing the hunters reported seeing neatly folded on a log days after the 19-year-old college student went missing.
The effort is remarkable for several reasons.
Theresa was found dead in 1979, so the searchers will be looking to recover evidence that may have sat unclaimed in the woods for 27 years.
And what — if anything — they find may bring the Allore family one step closer to answering the question that has haunted them for three decades: did Theresa die accidentally, or was she murdered?
Theresa’s younger brother John Allore — a 43-year-old married father of two now living in North Carolina — is realistic about the prospect of unearthing fresh clues so long after the fact.
But he is determined to try.
“The point is not, ‘I found something.’ The point is, ‘I tried. I turned over another stone,’ ” he said. “I can’t go forward without at least saying, ‘I went there and I looked.’ “
Theresa vanished from her Champlain College dormitory in Lennoxville, Que., on the night of Nov. 3, 1978.
Her decomposing body was found face down in a stream in nearby Compton five months later. She was clad only in her bra and panties.
At the time, local police wrote off the bright, promising student’s death as the result of experimentation with LSD, other drugs or “lesbianism” gone awry.
But after undertaking his own five-month investigation with an old friend and journalist in 2002, Mr. Allore found evidence Theresa may have been murdered — perhaps by a serial killer stalking the countryside around Sherbrooke in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Manon Dube, 10, and Louise Camirand, 20, disappeared under similar circumstances, in the same geographical area, at the same time as Theresa. Mr. Allore believes those cases are likely linked to his sister’s.
And since starting an online blog, Mr. Allore has received other credible tips, leaving him even more convinced the deaths were the work of a serial killer.
He has now compiled a list of 16 incidents — attacks, encounters and sexual assaults — that occurred in the area at the time, any of which may be connected.
Mr. Allore has handed the information — including the names of four suspects — over to the Quebec provincial police.
But 3 1/2 years later, the Surete du Quebec have not adopted his theory of the crime.
Chantal Mackels, an SQ spokeswoman, confirmed yesterday the cold case is still an open file in the hands of the investigators.
“But we can’t say that it’s a murder. We don’t know the cause of death,” she said. “To us, it’s a suspicious death.”
Although Mr. Allore has grown increasingly frustrated with police, he is buoyed by the support of countless others who reached out to him through his blog, www.whokilledtheresa.com.
Foremost is Sue Sutherland.
The 27-year-old Universite de Montreal criminology student was only six months old when Theresa died. But she will lead the search party in June expected to include dozens of volunteers, John Allore and his older brother Andre Allore, as well as a handful of Theresa’s old friends.
She felt drawn to lend her skills to the unresolved case that she believes inexperienced and territorial small-town police bungled in the first place, and present-day investigators have neglected.
Because the clothes — which matched the description of the dark corduroy slacks and T-shirt Theresa was last seen wearing — were spotted in the woods, there is a slim possibility they could have been preserved, Ms. Sutherland said.
Any scrap of fabric, button, zipper or thread may also offer the first opportunity to obtain a DNA sample. In 2002, Mr. Allore learned police had long ago tossed his sister’s underwear in the trash.
“The chances of finding anything are not enormous, but they’re not non-existent,” Ms. Sutherland said. “It’s worth doing.”
She is hoping to recruit as many volunteers as possible for the search party, and will be backed by the non-profit search and rescue group Secours Quebec on June 17.
But she is still waiting for the lead SQ investigator in Theresa’s file, Sergeant-Detective Benoit Patenaude, to return her call.
Even though police are not participating in the operation, she said she still needs the experienced investigator’s input on the latest forensic methods to use at the site.
What is at stake, Ms. Sutherland said, is figuring out whether a serial killer might still be out and bringing him to justice.
For Mr. Allore, the search is also a symbolic act — of both his undying drive to solve the secret of his sister’s death and his endless frustration with police inertia in the case.
“I find it incredibly uplifting on one hand that all these people want to come out and help after all these years … and incredibly depressing on the other that 30 people are getting together to do the job of the police.”
To join the search party, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.