On Monday morning, October 24th, 1977 a truck driver spotted the naked body of a young woman lying next to the road along Autoroute 35 at the Chambly exit in Saint Luc, about 1/2 hour east of Montreal.
Police were notified and at approximately 10:00 am detectives Jean-Louis Savard and Robert Aubertin of the Surete du Quebec’s crimes contre la personne unit arrive at the scene. The victim had been strangled and there were signs of sexual assault. Clothing was scattered, and the victim’s wallet was missing. In hopes of identifying the young woman police issue a press release and publish photos showing the victim’s face, fingers (wearing rings), ear (wearing earring) and wrist (wearing a watch). The brother of the victim recognizes the Timex watch. He immediately travels to the SQ police headquarters on Parthenais to identify the body.
23-year-old Denise Bazinet lived with her parents on 4252 rue Brebeuf in Montreal’s East End. The Bazinets were a large family, Denise had 10 brothers and sisters. She worked as a cashier at Saint Hubert’s BBQ. The last time her mother saw her Denise was going to meet some friends for a drink in a neighborhood bar. She did not come home that Saturday evening, but this was not entirely unusual. As Sunday dragged on with no communication, the Bazinets began to worry and called the police.
Denise was apparently last seen late Sunday evening, just hours before her body was discovered at the corner of Mount Royal and Papineau less than 10 blocks from her house. Police later released this composite of the suspect with whom she was last seen:
The Denise Bazinet murder ended a run of violence that began in March of 1977 with the murder of Louise Camirand. In that time period 6 murders and 5 disappearances (2 of these would later turn up murdered) were reported. To this date, none of those crimes have been solved. Again the papers were quick to pick up on the matter:
And again, no mention of the Sharron Prior murder from 1975.
SQ change in tactics?
You can sense a change in tactics with the Surete du Quebec with this case. Unlike other cases that had multiple detectives arriving at the scene, for Bazinet the SQ sends just two, and two names we have never heard before. Yes, they made an initial appeal to the press, but that is only because at first they couldn’t identify the victim.
With the Bazinet case, the SQ begins to become very guarded with information. They do not release the medical examiner results from Dr. Andre Lauzon. At first, the SQ tries to suggest – because the wallet was missing – that the motive in the case was robbery (how much cash is an unemployed cashier seriously carrying?). When pressed, detectives Savard and Aubertin will admit it could have been a “sex crime”, but not rape.
This is one of the last times that the Surete du Quebec will be so cooperative with the press( the exception being the Manon Dube case, which for 6 weeks was a sensational missing child investigation) . After 1977, it becomes rarer and rarer that SQ permit information such as crime photos, evidence details, etc… to be released to the public.
Bazinet vanishes from the story
The Bazinet case never gets mentioned again. The following summer when Lison Blais turns up murdered the newspapers again invoke the names Hawkes, Camirand, Houle, Dorion, Monast… but not Bazinet. This is odd because Denise Bazinet and Lison Blais were practically neighbors. They lived 3 blocks from each other.
When I first found the Bazinet case, I figured that something must be wrong with my information. Either it had been solved, or perhaps it wasn’t a stranger-murder like I initially thought. Then last week the Surete du Quebec confirmed that Bazinet is in their cold-case portfolio.
So why isn’t it on the website? Why wouldn’t you ask the public for assistance?
Bazinet as pivot
Bazinet is the pivot case. Bazinet is the linchpin.
Bazinet gives justification to link /further-investigate the following unsolved murders which occurred in a 19-month time span:
Camirand – Strangled 1977 in Sherbrooke
Monast – Strangled 1977 in Chambly
Basinet – Strangled 1977 in Saint Luc
Blais – “choke marks on neck”, beaten 1978 in Montreal
Allore – Strangled 1978 in Lennoxville
Also, with the exception of Blais, none of these women suffered significant injures to the face or head.
Basinet was found in Saint Luc, but lived – and was last seen – in the East End of Montreal. Blais also lived in the East End, 3 blocks from Basinet. Blais purse went missing. The missing purse looked very much like a purse that was discovered at the site where Louise Camirand’s body was found. Where Louise Camirand’s body was found is the same site where hunters said they spotted clothing that matched the description of Theresa Allore’s missing clothing.
And I add Helene Monast because Chambly is a 10 minute drive from where Bazinet’s body was found in Saint Luc, and because the murders of Monast and Bazinet occurred within 6 weeks of each other. Both Chambly and Saint Luc are on the way between Montreal and the Sherbrooke area (where Allore and Camirand lived).
Now you may question this and say, “Saint Luc and Chambly are not on the way to Sherbrooke / Montreal, they are south and north of autoroute 10.”
To which I respond, you have to remember that in 1977-78 autoroute 10 was a toll road with five, manned toll stations between Montreal and Magog / Sherbrooke. If you wanted to avoid human interaction and suspicion you would not have used autoroute 10. You would have taken highway 104 heading out from La Prairie to Saint Luc, or highway 112, heading out from Longeueil to Chambly.
And then of course, there once more is that name “Longeueil” …again facing us…
leading us back to Sharron Prior.