The first day of the rest of your life
On the morning of Friday, November 3rd, 1978, Theresa Allore rose to prepare for the last day of the school week. The was about to complete just her eighth week at Champlain Regional College. Outside the temperature was 55 degrees. It was sunny, not a cloud in the sky.
Theresa dresses accordingly. She is wearing a white t-shirt, blue corduroy pants she has borrowed from a friend, a beige knee-length sweater, and on her feet, Chinese slippers without socks. A long, dark green scarf is fashionably wrapped around her neck. She exists her room in the Gillard dormitory and crosses the parking lot to the main residence building, King’s Hall.
King’s Hall is a residence used to house some of the students of Champlain Regional College. It is located in the country village of Compton, situated 10 miles from the School’s main academic campus in the town of Lennoxville, Quebec. King’s Hall is an odd choice for a college residence. The village of Compton pretty much owes its existence to the former girls boarding school. Founders felt that the isolated setting would “supply a good and thorough education with sound religious training.” King’s Hall is a Tudor monstrosity; modeled after the tradition of English boarding schools – it even has a cricket pitch. In 1972, the girls’ school amalgamated with another boarding school in Lennoxville, and the King’s Hall facility stood vacant for three years. In the fall of 1975 Champlain College – faced with a housing shortage and waiting for a new residence to be constructed in Lennoxville – entered into an agreement to lease King’s Hall from its local Compton owners, the St. Laurent family.
At the beginning of the 1978 school year, King’s Hall housed two hundred and forty Champlain students. Approximately one hundred students lived in the main building, the “King’s Hall” building, while the remaining one hundred and forty students were housed in an adjacent, prefab annex building, Gillard house. Two adult supervisors lived with the students in the King’s Hall residence; Stewart Peacock, the Director of Residence, and Jeanne Eddisford, the Assistant Director of Residence. No adults lived with the one hundred and forty students located in Gillard house.
At half past seven Theresa Allore enters the dinning hall located in the King’s Hall building. She eats breakfast with her friends Jo-Anne Laurie and Carolina Greenwood. The girls engage in small talk about music and classes; Greenwood is preoccupied studying for a morning calculus test. They are rushed. They do not want to miss the 8:00 am shuttle bus that will take them to the college campus in Lennoxville.
The shuttle bus ride is monotonous burden that must be indulged by all King’s Hall students – at least, those who do not have access to their own automobile. The buses run every hour, on the hour between the hours of eight and six (there is no noon service). Occasionally, if there is a special event on campus, a late bus will run to bring students back to the residence. The twenty-minute ride takes students across the isolated Townships countryside. On this day the sky is blue, but the trees are naked and the landscape is barren. It is mid-autumn and the cornfields are stripped of their harvest. Looking out the window, Theresa sees clapboard houses and covered bridges as the yellow school bus makes its way to the main campus in Lennoxville.
Champlain College is a community within a community. Champlain is a squatter within the parameters of Lennoxville’s main attraction, Bishop’s University. In 1978 Bishop’s is a 125-year-old institution. Along with McGill in Montreal, it is one of only two English-speaking universities in the province of Quebec. The Bishop’s campus is expansive and modern. There is a library, a sports complex and a brand new computer center featuring a state-of-the-art Xerox processing unit with 80K bytes of memory. The smaller, liberal arts college of Champlain pays Bishop’s for the use of these facilities. They are two academic centers co-habiting the same space. Lennoxville is a college town not unlike many across North America. It has the feel of Kingston, Ontario, or Lubbock, Texas. Both Lennoxville and Compton are part of a large region in Quebec known as the Eastern Townships – a vacation and recreational area located within an hour’s drive of the metropolitan city of Montreal.
The King’s Hall shuttle bus pulls into Lennoxville. It travels along the main drag of route 143 past the Paysane motel – past Perrette’s, and Disco Jeans, and Jerry’s Pizza. At the corner of Belvedere the bus slows and turns in front of Le Lion d’Or – local watering hole for students. It crosses the train tracks at the rail yard and enters the college campus. The bus deposits the students in front of the Dewhurst dining hall at approximately twenty after eight. Theresa hurries with her friends, Jo-Anne and Caroline. She has less than ten minutes to make it to her first class. Along the way she deposits some belongings in her locker located in the Nichols building across campus. The remainder of the morning is spent in two classes, Physics and Chemistry. In Chemistry Theresa is joined again by her friend, Jo-Anne. Jo-Anne asks if Theresa has any plans for the weekend. Theresa remarks that she intends to stay in residence; she has a psychology paper due on Monday. After Chemistry, Theresa and Jo-Anne Laurie part their ways. According to Laurie, this is the last time that she saw Theresa.
Lunchtime is spent in the Dewhurst dining hall. The students partake in what is affectionately known as “Dewey Grub”. At lunch, Theresa briefly speaks with her brother Andre. He comments on the blue corduroys she’s wearing. How they look silly on her. She says she borrowed them from a fellow student, Johannah Knoops. She likes them. She’s thinking of buying a pair. Theresa eats lunch with her friend, Caroline Greenwood. Earlier in the week Greenwood had invited Theresa to spend the weekend at her parent’s place in Hemmingford, a small community south of Montreal. Theresa now informs Greenwood that she has too much homework, and will not be able to get away for the weekend. Theresa then helps Greenwood locate a friend who will hitchhike with her to Hemmingford. According to Greenwood, she never saw Theresa again after lunch.
Theresa is not seen that afternoon. Presumably she spent the remainder of the day attending classes, although no one witnesses this. That evening, two students, Suzanne DeRome and Josie Stepenhorst are having dinner in Dewhurst. DeRome and Stepenhorst are roommates in Gillard House, Compton. They share a room three doors down from Theresa. At approximately 6:00 pm, Theresa comes over to their table. She asks if they are going home for the weekend. DeRome and Stepenhorst reply that they are not. The girls decide to get together that evening to listen to records. Theresa agrees to stop by their room around 9:00 pm. Before leaving, Theresa asks Stepenhorst for a cigarette. Stepenhorst replies that her cigarettes are located in her coat pocket in the lobby, and to help herself. Theresa leaves. She gives no indication where she may be going, or what she may be doing between 6:00 and 9:00 pm.
At 6:15 pm Josie Stepenhorst is on board the bus that will take her back to her residence in Compton. By now it has grown dark. The bus doors close, and the vehicle pulls out from the curb. Stepenhorst glances out the window and sees Theresa leaving Dewhurst dining hall. She is walking toward the bus. She has apparently missed the last regularly scheduled bus that evening. It will be a five-hour wait until a special bus is sent out to retrieve students from the campus pub. Apart from this late night bus, there is no way for students to get back to their residence. Some students wait; the more adventurous may decide to hitchhike.
Six in the evening outside the Dewhurst dining hall is the last time Theresa Allore is reported having been seen on campus. After 6:00 pm, it is difficult to determine what happened next. She may have returned to her locker, retrieved some books and proceeded to the library to work on her homework. This was often her habit. She may have left Dewhurst dining hall and made the half-mile walk up the street to the Lion Pub. Possibly she had some drinks, waiting for the midnight bus. Or maybe she met someone in the pub. Or perhaps she got tired of waiting, exited the Lion, and stood on the corner of highway 143 and Belvedere with her thumb extended into traffic.
Back in Compton, it is a quiet night at King’s Hall. Many students have gone home to their parents for the weekend. Theresa’s roommate, Pamela Mitchell, has done this; room 235 is empty. Most of the “jocks”, normally a rowdy bunch on a Friday evening, have all gone to bed the football team has a big game in the morning. At around 8:00 pm, a seventeen-year-old Residence Assistance (RA), Wendy Ford enters the TV room in King’s Hall. She is on duty this night. She observes ten or twelve people watching television, including the Assistant Director of Residence, Jeanne Eddisford.
Over in Gillard house things are quiet too. Student, Greg Deacon, who is in the same chemistry class as Theresa, drops by her room to see if she has completed her homework. He knocks, but there is no answer. He returns to his residence.
By 9:00 pm Suzanne DeRome and Josie Stepenhorst are back in their room listening to records. The door to their room is open. Theresa misses the get-together with her friends. She never shows up to listen to records.
Shortly after 9:00 pm, student, Sharon Buzzee is walking through the entranceway of King’s Hall. Buzzee glances over at the main staircase and is surprised to see Theresa standing there as if she’d come in from outside. Buzzee stops to talk with her. She asks why Theresa did not leave to spend the weekend with Caroline Greenwood as she had planned. Theresa replies that she decided not to go; she has too much homework to do. Buzzee asks Theresa what her plans are for that night. She replies that she intends to do her homework. As Buzzee leaves, Theresa appears to be heading up the stairs of King’s Hall toward the second or third floor.
Sharon Buzzee is the only one to report having seen Theresa on the King’s Hall staircase. Around nine-thirty, another student, Tamara Westall says she saw Theresa in the King’s Hall dining room. She is there, according to Westall, grabbing a late night snack prepared for students. No one witnesses this encounter either. This is the last time anyone claims to have seen Theresa Allore alive.
Theresa’s brother, Andre Allore, lives in a room on the second floor of King’s Hall. It is a room just off the main staircase. Between 9:30 and 10:00 pm he is in his room with his girlfriend. The lights are off. Around this time he hears footsteps coming down the hall. He knows that they are women’s footsteps because the floor creaks differently depending if a man or a women is walking on it. After a moment there is a slight knock on his door. Andre never bothers to answer the door. Whoever knocked eventually walks away.
On the third floor of King’s Hall, up the same main staircase from where Sharron Buzzee says she saw Theresa Alllore, the same staircase she would have had to ascend if she did indeed knock on her brother’s door around nine-thirty, is the apartment of Stewart Peacock, chief supervisor, and Director of Residence for the Compton facility. No one can remember seeing Stewart Peacock on the evening of Friday, November 3rd, 1978. In fact, no one can recall much of anything about Stewart Peacock. He is new to the College, and pretty much an enigma to the staff and students. In the coming months, the little that is known about this college administrator will be wiped from the collective memory of the community.