July 22, 2006 Saturday

Purse may hold clue in Allore case: Evidence sent to lab: Brother bypasses Quebec police in sister’s death 27 years ago

BYLINE: Allison Hanes, National Post

The vintage woman’s purse was filled with soil when it was pulled from the mud in a secluded wooded area of Quebec’s Eastern Townships a month ago.

And though John Allore is almost positive the handbag did not belong to his sister, he still hopes that when it is sent to a crime laboratory for analysis, it may yield crucial clues to her mysterious death nearly three decades ago.

But the potential piece of evidence in Theresa Allore’s file will not be handed over to the police force officially in charge of investigating the 27-year-old cold case. Instead, the purse and a dozen other items of possible significance recovered from the bush by a civilian search party will be forwarded to an undisclosed lab in Western Canada because of a falling out between Mr. Allore and the Quebec provincial police.

Mr. Allore said he has been frustrated for some time with the Surete du Quebec’s inertia.

But he was particularly dismayed that they refused to help with the June 17 recovery of clues.

“They had no interest in participating in the search, so why would I have any faith in them analyzing the evidence?” Mr. Allore said. “Why would I give evidence to people who put no value in the whole exercise?”

At Mr. Allore’s urging, a Montreal criminology student organized volunteers to scour the woods between Magog and Austin, Que., where in November, 1978, a pair of hunters reported seeing women’s clothing matching the description of what Theresa was wearing when she vanished days earlier.

A proper search was not conducted at the time since police were sure she was a runaway who’d turn up in the spring.

She did — face down in a thawing brook, dead of unknown causes.

The hunter’s glen where the clothes were sighted was only a few hundred metres from where the nude corpse of Louise Camirand had been discovered earlier that same year.

Ms. Camirand, a 20-year-old, was raped, sexually mutilated and strangled in 1978. Her murder remains unsolved.

Although 19-year-old Theresa’s death was long classified as a drug overdose, Mr. Allore’s own detective work five years ago turned up evidence she, too, may have met with foul play — and that her case may be linked to Ms. Camirand’s.

The purse recovered by the search party was found about 100 metres from a country road very near the site of Ms. Camirand’s remains.

“Louise’s purse was never found,” Mr. Allore said, adding efforts are being made to track down the engaged-to-be-married hospital archivist’s family members to see whether they recognize the handbag.

“It looked period,” he said. “I went back and looked at old pictures of Louise’s funeral. Indeed, in one picture her mother is holding a purse that looks very similar, although the colour is different.”

The crime lab asked that any dirt samples from inside the bag also be preserved for examination, Mr. Allore said.

Two rubber shoe soles and an old licence plate are among the other potential exhibits that will undergo DNA and fingerprint testing.

All items were handled with latex gloves, sealed in brown paper evidence bags and had their GPS coordinates marked on a map, said Sue Sutherland, the Universite de Montreal criminology student in charge of the operation.

Test results, which could be available in as little as three weeks, may help exclude, as well as confirm leads gathered in the case, she said.

But Ms. Sutherland lamented the fact she and Mr. Allore felt the need to send the possible evidence out of the province for testing.

“There have been too many mistakes, there’s been too much negligence,” she said, recalling the Quebec police dismissed the search party as a school project. “We can’t take the risk.”


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