My Little Runaway

On Monday morning, November 13th 1978, Chief of Police Leo Hamel of the Lennoxville detachment begins his investigation into the disappearance of Theresa Allore. Hamel is new to the force. He became Police Chief in the spring of 1978 after the former Chief, Kasimir Kryszak, was forced to resign. In the previous year there were eight rapes in the town of Lennoxville and Kryszak was criticized for largely ignoring these assaults. The Lennoxville detachment is undermanned and under funded. It is constantly threatened of being swallowed up by the Provincial conglomerate, the Quebec Police Force. The QPF has been on an annexation campaign of late, taking over smaller satellite police squads. Hamel is in his mid 40s. He is the new man on the force and already he looks haggard. He smokes too much. He is frenzied and paranoid – constantly doubting his abilities. He has never handled a missing persons case, let alone a homicide. His only experience with detective work is a half-term course on criminal psychology he was required to take at the local French university, located in the bordering city of Sherbrooke.

Hamel’s initial instinct is that Theresa Allore is a runaway. Hamel makes this assumption and manages somehow to ignore that eight women were raped in the tiny town of Lennoxville in the previous year, and that half of these sexual assaults involved hitchhiking. Hamel theorizes that the young student probably decided to take a trip down to the States. Maybe she went out west to visit her boyfriend. Or maybe she was pregnant and decided to hide out at some local religious commune. Hamel’s assumptions are soon fueled by a series of reports he receives:

– Someone reads the notice in the Monday morning paper about the missing girl. They call in to report that they think they spotted Theresa at a motel in Ste Pierre. She was sharing a room with a young man. The girl looked like Theresa. One problem; she spoke French, not English.

– Another report. The previous Tuesday evening a woman came to the door of a house in Sawyerville. She was crying in the rain and asking for a priest. The woman matched Theresa’s description.

– Someone else claims Theresa isn’t missing at all. They saw her last night at the Entre Deux bar in Compton. Or was that the week before?

A lot of contradictory information is coming into the cramped police office. Hamel decides to hit the streets. He makes the twenty-minute trip to the Vermont / Quebec border and shows Theresa’s picture to the customs agents. Have you seen this girl? Can I leave the picture? If you see this girl, will you contact me?

Returning from the border, Hamel stops at a monastery outside the little French village of St Benoit de Lac. He shows the picture to the nuns. Is this girl hiding here? She may feel shame because of her condition. If you see her will you please phone the police?

Hamel continues his chase. He pursues leads up and down the Townships countryside. He looks everywhere except the one place that is most logical – the college campus in Lennoxville and the residence facility located ten miles away in Compton.

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