On Saturday, September 10th, 1977, Helene Monast was celebrating her 18th birthday at Chez Marius pizzeria in Champly, Quebec. Exiting Chez Marius, the 5’3″. 125 lbs girl waved goodbye to her brother, Yves and crossed rue Bourgogne, entering the Canal Chambly park on the banks of the Richelieu river.
Helene was escorting her friend, Christiane home. Helene intended to spend the night with her aunt. At 11:15 pm Christiane and Helene parted company. This is the last sighting of Helene Monast.
The following morning, Sunday, September 11, 1977 a woman looks out her bedroom widow and sees a body lying across the street in the Chambly park, “underneath a large tree”, approximately 75 feet from rue Bourgogne, near the Chambly monument. Helene’s body is found in the park across the street from Chez Marius.
As this was Chambly, the case fell to the jurisdiction of their municipal force: Richard Sauve and Rene Richard were first on the scene. Followed by Jean Pepin, Robert Rousseau and, Chief Marcellin Cyr. Soon joining them are Jacques Marceau, Maurice Miausse,Claude Raineville (technician), and Gaston Rioux of the Surete du Quebec in Montreal. Rioux had worked both the Norma O’Brien and Debbie Fisher cases back in 1974 and 1975.
Helen was found naked except for her shirt which was pulled up to her arms. She was wearing a Timex watch, a neckless. She was lying on her back. Clothing was found next to her body: blue jeans, sweater of the same color, an earring in the grass. She had been strangled to death.
Other items found in the area: a plastic cup, a pack of Export A cigarettes, a box of Chiclets. Missing is Helene’s purse.
There are two accounts of her shoes: one says her shoes were missing, the other says her shoes were there next to the body with her socks neatly placed in them. In the second account, the shoe laces were missing.
According to Helen’s sister, Nicole, investigators asked her family at the time of the discovery whether Helene wore shoes with laces. When Helene’s sister saw the body she noticed a thin line along her neck from strangulation.
The autopsy was conducted by Jean Hould at the coroner’s office at Parthenais in Montreal. Interestingly the lead investigators are identified as Gaston Rioux and Jacques Marceau of the Montreal SQ, not anyone from the Chambly municipal police. The autopsy confirms death by strangulation, but no evidence of rape. The doctors observe the following, “she had been cruelly struck with multiple bite marks on the body, especially a breast.”, which then lead to the conclusion of a sex-crime.
- Monast is the first case since Camirand in March of 1977 that is a pure strangulation, and possibly by shoe laces. And curiously the murder occurs between Montreal and the Eastern Townships, a little further West from where Louise Camirand was found near Austin, Quebec, and a little bit inching closer to the regions of Longueuil (Prior, Unknown victim) and Montreal (all the other victims): what does this mean, if anything?
- The newspapers are quick to reference the murders of Johanne Dorion (proximity due to time) and Louis Camirand (proximity due to location).
- When the Surete du Quebec’s Cold Case Unit was created in 2009, Helene Monaste’s case was one of the first investigations added to the portfolio. That’s great news, but the question is, Pourquoi? Why this case and not other cases? When I asked this question a number of years ago I was told that that was as far back as their “mandate would allow”. But we know this to be a lie. By this logic SQ cases that came after Monast should have been added: Bazinet, Dube, Allore. And yet it took another 7 years to add Allore, and Bazinet and Dube still have not been included.
We need more information. We need the subsequent murders of Denise Bazinet and Theresa Allore to fill-in-the-blanks.
Those cases come next: keep reading.