Seven Women, and the murder of Joannne Dorion

Buried in the Laval newspaper, Le Courrier  last Friday ( what? you’ve never heard of it?) was a story about the 38-year-old unsolved murder of Joanne Dorion, and the frustrations the family has experienced over these decades trying to engage police to solve the crime.

The family of Johanne Dorion

The family of Johanne Dorion

It’s a familiar story. An experience shared by myself, the Monasts, the Priors, the Provenchers. And it is becoming less and less surprising that you now have to reach out to third tier media like the Courrier – or sites like mine – in order to get this kind of story heard. No one does investigative journalism anymore. La Presse and The Gazette are circling the drain. Even when they do take the time to cover these horrific and unrelenting tragedies it is usually with a heavy dose of sentimentality – “the poor, suffering victims” – when all we ever asked for was police interest and engagement.

I have translated the story here in English in hopes that it doesn’t get buried again. For the record, Le Courrier Laval did not, as they suggest, resurrect this story.  I did. Three years ago I published the piece, Who Was The Bootlace Killer? I had to dig the information out of the archives of Allo / Photo police, an arduous emotional task that took all of one day (one wonders why in 40 years the police never bothered to do the same). I am the only civilian ever to have been granted access to the archive, mostly because the current owners of the archive understand that I appear to be one of the only ones left on the planet who gives a rats-ass about these unimaginably dark Quebec crimes.

Before doing my research there was absolutely no mention of Joanne Dorion – and many of the others- anywhere on the internet. With my blessing and appreciation, Stephan Parent took the information and shaped it into an idea for a documentary, Seven Women. Publishers of Le Courier Laval got wind of it – and journalist, Caroline Mireault, took me literally, and wrongly assumed that there actually was an assailant tagged by the police as “The Bootlace Killer” – then wrote the folllowing piece in Hebdo Rive Nord. From that piece the Dorion family was able to contact Stephan Parent.


Parent with the Dorion family


There are some things from the article I’d like to clarify. First, the Laval police’s suggestion that increased media attention will harm an investigation? That is certainly true in some cases, but not in a 38-year-old cold case. That is lazy police work, and it is all too often heard from Quebec law enforcement, and they need to be held accountable for such irresponsible suggestions.

Second, in the article Parent remarks that physical case evidence should be re-analysed. Stephan is being cheeky here because he suspects – as I do – that the majority of physical evidence in these cases has been destroyed by law enforcement. We know this to be true in the cases of Theresa Allore and Manon Dube. Both of those cases were investigated by the Surete du Quebec. We also know it to be true in the cases of Sharon Prior and Roxanne Luce. Both those cases were investigated by Longueuil police.

Two different forces involved in the systemic destruction of evidence. To what purpose? What could account for such an incompetent breakdown in investigative procedure? We shall see. In the meantime Quebec police are worried. They have good reason to be worried.

Here is the translation of the Dorion article:

Thanks to an article published in Le Courrier Laval in September 2015, the family of a young woman murdered in 1977 was able to make contact with the documentary filmmaker, Stephan Parent.

Parent has been researching the history of Joanne Dorion, 17, who was last seen by a bus driver along 9th Avenue in Fabreville, July 30, 1977 at 12:30 AM.

Eleven days later, her body was found five blocks away, in a wooded area near the Mille Îles River. No one was arrested in connection with the murder, leaving the family in turmoil and perpetual mourning.

Le Courrier Laval met in Saint-Eustache, with the victim’s sister, Colette Dorion, for the filming of a scene for Parent’s documentary, Seven Women, due out at the end of this year.

Colette Dorion, who was 16 in 1977, is currently writing a book about the personal history of her sister in this world, for family purposes, but also the general public.

Speaking with the family, they hope that information on the offender will surface after almost 38 years. With Parent working on his film, they hope that new information will come forward that will help resolve Dorion’s unsolved murder.

“Harming the investigation”

Joanne Dorion’s sister Lise, who was 12 at the time, commented that a few days after the Septemeber 2015 publication of the article in the Courrier Laval on unsolved murders of women, an investigator for the Laval Police contacted her.

“He told us he wanted to investigate a young man who found the body of our sister because his brother had been in love with her. I found it funny, that he wanted to go this approach. I have not heard from the investigator since. He said he wanted to talk to me before he speaks to the media following the publication of the article. “


Michel, who was 22 years old when he lost his younger sister added, “When we talk in the media, we are told all the time by the police that this will harm the investigation. After 38 years, I think it’s time to shake things up… for the investigation to move!  What people don’t realize is that we are always in mourning, as long as the person who committed this murder it is not found.”

Investigation Stopped

The family is often told that investigations have to be stopped because there is always another important case that comes along. “My sister was also important,” insists Colette.

“What I deplore in these cold case of women is that the evidence found at the crime scene could be further analyzed”, adds independent filmmaker, Stephan Parent, who is leading his own parallel investigation, “But there is nothing that obliges [the investigators] to do so, unless there is a suspect or arrest of an individual. This is because a cold case investigation is expensive. So they await for new information to come to them rather than putting a team on it. “

The family has repeatedly asked, in vain, that the Laval Police review the evidence.  In 1977, the crime scene had been trampled badly by people in the neighborhood. Pictures provided by Stéphan Parent from that time show a gathering of onlookers next to the police car. Nothing had been cordoned off.

In addition to the Dorion murder, Parent’s documentary, Seven Women will feature  the cases of Louise Camirand, Helen Monast, Denise Bazinet, Theresa Allore, Lison Blais and Sharron Prior. All of the women were between the ages of 16 and 25, and killed in a similar fashion in the 1970s. The murders took place in Montreal, Laval, Sherbrooke and other areas in South East Quebec.

Le Courrier Laval tried to contact investigators, but they failed to respond.


Leave a Reply