Joanne Dorion disappeared the same day as Chantal Tremblay, July 29, 1977. Both lived North of the Montreal region; Tremblay just off the island of Laval in Rosemere, and Dorion at the Northern most reaches of Laval in Fabreville. Both were 17 years of age.
Johanne Dorion worked as a medical secretary at Sacre Coeur hospital in Cartierville. She left work around 11:45 pm on the evening of July 9, 1977 taking the bus back to Fabreville. According to the bus driver, Dorion got off the bus in Fabreville at approximately 12:30 am at the corner of boule Arthur-Sauve and Sainte Rose. This is the last sighting of Johanne Dorion.
The following morning at 7:00 am, Johanne’s parents – who live at 9th avenue in Fabreville – noticed that their daughter had not come home that evening. For the month that she was missing the investigation was lead by Lt. Maurice Legault, Gerard Danse, and Richard Lefebvre of the Surete Municipale de Laval. The parents insisted that Johanne would not runaway from home.
On Thursday evening, August 11th, 1977 close to 6:00 pm 12-year-old Martin Fountaine is walking close to the shore of Riviere des Mille Iles when he smells a foul odor. He then notices a blue plastic bag in the bushes. Fountaine approaches the bag. About 100 feet from the shore he sees a foot with a woman’s shoe, and a hand wearing a bracelet near some trees. He immediately goes and tells his older brother and father.
Dorion is found off a gravel road between 2nd and 3rd avenue in Fabreville approximately 8 blocks from where she was last seen at the bus stop at Arthur Sauve and Sainte Rose, and 6 blocks further away from her home on 9th avenue.
The police arrive at approximately 9:50 pm. The body lies under three trees near the river. It is in an advanced state of decomposition. Police observe a skirt, blouse and underwear on the body. The blue plastic bag the boy saw turns out to be a Dominion shopping sac containing papers identifying Johanne Dorion. Also found near the body is the right sleeve of Dorion’s blouse. It is completely torn off and bloodied.
Back at the location where she left the bus, police find Dorion’s eyeliner in the parking lot of a casse-croute named Chateau Laval. The investigation is led by Sgt Detective Pierre Bazinet, assisted by Danse, Lefebre, and Legault of the Laval municipal police. They are later joined by Remi Tetreault, G Sauve, and M Boilard.
The autopsy is performed by Roch Heroux, assisted by Andre Brosseau and M. Mallette at the medical lab at Parthenais in Montreal. The 5’11”, 100 lbs victim was stabbed several times in the chest, and suffered massive hemorrhaging to the heart and lungs. There is too much deterioration to the pelvic region to determine whether Dorion was raped or not.
Newspapers from that era were quick to suggest a connection between the Dorion case and the cases of 5 other missing persons at that time:
- Johanne Danserault also from Fabreville who went missing 6 weeks weeks earlier, 6/14/77.
- Sylvie Doucet from East Montreal who went missing a month earlier, 6/27/77.
- Claudette Poirier who went missing just days earlier from Drummondville, 7/27/77 (and whose remains would be found 9 years later).
- Chantal Tremblay who went missing 20 days later from Rosemere, 7/29/77 (and whose remains would be found 2 years later).
- Elizabeth Bodzy who would go missing the following day, 7/30/77 from the Laval area where both Dorion and Danserault also lived. Update: Elisabeth Bodzy returned home safe on August 15th 1977.
The Sharron Prior case would again resurface in the media, but not due to a suggested connection. On August 16, 1977 Yvonne Prior, the mother of Sharron Prior wrote a letter of sympathy to Adrienne Dorion, the mother of Johanne. The letter was published in Allo Police under the headline, POURQUOI?:
… you do not know me, but I would like to let you know that my thoughts are with you since the loss of your lovely daughter Johanne.
I am writing as a mother who knows the days hurt and sorrow of losing a teenage daughter in such a brutal manner, and the anger that you feel inside.
My 16 year old daughter Sharron met the same fate two years ago, her murderer or murderers have not been caught yet. She was found in Longeueil.
I grieve with you now at Johanne’s passing and say, as I’m sure you must also say, “Why”?
The case receives a lot of attention in the Montreal papers. Allo Police’s editorial writer, Claude Poirier publishes a 6 page interview with Adrienne Dorion in their sister paper, Police-Police. 500 people attend Johanne’s funeral.
- This cold case currently resides in the portfolio of the Laval police. You can read about the Dorion family’s long struggle with the Laval police here.
- Dorion is our first stabbing victim. Up to this point we have seen beatings (Houle, Prior), strangulation / suffocation ( Prior, Choquette, Camirand) and unknown due to advanced decomposition (Poirier, Tremblay)
- Early on the police has a suspect. Jacques Chaing who had been arrested previously for kidnapping, forcible confinement and murder, but Chaing had an alibi for Dorion and the police let him go.
- We are beginning to see a pattern of victims who are pedestrians or using public transportation. No victim has their own vehicle.
- The newspapers make the suggestion that Dorion was using the same bus route as Chantal Tremblay:
- I believe what they are suggesting is that at some point the Tremblay bus – from Rosemere taking rout 344 – and the Dorion bus – from Fabreville – would have converged when they met Autoroute 13. The bus would have then crossed into Montreal where it would turn East, passing through Cartierville (where Dorion worked), then on to its final destination at Henri-Bourassa (where Tremblay was last seen). (I am currently attempting to verify this.)
But as we will soon see, there was another victim two months later using the same bus line.