The improvised logic of the Surete du Quebec

I believe in a process where two opposing parties should be civil in the interest of resolving their differences, but occasionally I need to call, “Bullshit”

For some months now, I have been working on a project with Claude Poirier. Claude is a pioneer journalist in Quebec. Back in-the-day, he had a page in Allo Police dedicated to the “police blotter”, it was sort of an update on what prominent cops where doing in the province. Through my research I became very familiar with Claude’s writing. For some years he had a show on Sunday evenings about justice affairs. He was once a regular on Paul Arcand’s morning radio show, one of the top talk-radio programs in Quebec. I have become a great admirer of his work.

Note that SQ's Fauchon (who we have written about in these cases) was sent to France for the Mesrine trial

Note that the SQ’s Yvon Fauchon (who worked several of these cases) was sent to France for the Mesrine trail.

 

Poirier now has a new venture. Next month Historia (Quebec’s History Channel) will premiere L’Enquete Poirier. The one hour program will feature unsolved crimes in Quebec, with interviews conducted by Claude (Poirier is a skilled negotiator and interviewer). I was in the Eastern Townships last month to film and interview with Claude’s team. They will be doing an hour program on my sister, Theresa Allore’s case, but that is still in production and won’t air until season two in the Spring of 2017.

Suzanne DeRome who was featured in the W-5 story, back again with L'Enquete Poirier

Suzanne DeRome, who was featured in the W-5 story, back again with L’Enquete Poirier

 

So back to the Surete du Quebec. Poirier’s team was keen to interview Roch Gaudreault, the SQ detective who was the head investigator on Theresa’s case. Recall that Gaudreault has always maintained that Theresa died of a drug overdose, despite the fact that there is no evidence to substantiate that theory. When a researcher with L’Enquete Poirier contacted Gaudreault by telephone and asked if he would appear on camera, he stated that he was willing, but would need permission from the Surete du Quebec (BTW: He still maintained his drug overdose theory).

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I was asked to broker the deal. I visited the head of the Surete du Quebec’s cold-case unit in April, and asked him if he would consider allowing Roch Gaudreault to speak on camera with Claude Poirier. I was told that this was quite common – old-timers often wanted to have the assurances of their former employers before they publicly talked about an historical case. And anyway, the SQ were great admirers of Poirier, I could expect their full cooperation.

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Claude Poirier, Compton, QC, May 2016

 

Now all of this struck me as rather odd. In 2005 Roch Gaudreault went on camera when CTV’s W-5 did an hour show on Theresa. He was retired then, and felt very comfortable suggesting the drug overdose theory. So why did he suddenly need permission?

Something else transpired in that meeting with the SQ. They wanted me to know that they had good investigators. They had good investigators in the 1970s, and they had good investigators today. I assured them that I believed they had good investigators, but I emphatically insisted that they would never get me to agree that Roch Gaudreault was one of them. On that suggestion we would have to agree to disagree.

Cut forward a month. In early May I was back at the Surete du Quebec headquarters in Montreal, but by now Gaudreault was refusing to do the interview. So I asked the SQ, did Roch change his mind, or did his former employer change his mind for him?

I was told that I had to understand: in order for Roch to go on camera, he would need to have the right information, and that would mean going back and looking at all the evidence in the case to re-familiarize himself with the investigation. This would mean traveling to Montreal from L’Estrie, and he was a senior citizen in his 80s now: he could not make the trip.

Again, odd. He spoke very candidly in 2005, why now this insistence on researching the case?

There is of course the irreconcilable fact that if Roch was going to continue espousing a drug overdose theory, it would fly in contrast with the evidence: “marks of strangulation”… “violent death of undetermined means”, and that this apparently was the theory with which the current SQ was running (if that’s not true, then why have her case prominently displayed on their cold case webpage?).

The SQ then again insisted that Roch Gaudreault was a good investigator. They had talked to old-timers from that era that worked with him an they all said… Roch Gaudreault was a good investigator. One of the best.

I let it go. When I got home something occurred to me. In all the information I had reviewed,  all the paper in the Surete du Quebec’s file on Theresa’s case – reports, testimonials, mug shots – I had never seen one official police document from Roch Gaudreault. I had seen Leo Hamel’s report (the head of the Lennoxville police), but where was Roch’s report? The only conclusions in the file are made by Leo Hamel and coroner Michel Durand. If Roch was so good then why had he failed to file his final report?

I put this question to the SQ in an email. The wrote back, “I will explain it to you.”. Yesterday I got a phone call, and they did.

I was told that certain evidence is always held back. The police couldn’t show me every detail because that might jeopardize the investigation. Little details that only the criminal might know, these they could not disclose to me, and that is why I never saw Roch’s report.

All of that is understandable. I don’t expect to know everything the police know. If they worked like that they could never obtain a criminal conviction. There are just two problems with this logic:

Ten years ago when I reviewed all the case evidence I asked the SQ, “Is that everything?”. Sargent Michel Tanguay of the Surete du Quebec (now, no doubt, retired) assured me that it was: I had seen all the case evidence in the file. 

So I guess that was a lie.

Second – and more important – what could possibly be in Roch’s report that could jeopardize the investigation? For that matter, what investigation? Roch said it was a drug overdose. There’s nothing to investigate. There shouldn’t be any salient detail that only the criminal might know because – according to his theory – there wasn’t a crime: there was no criminal.

So I asked the SQ: In Roch report, is the final conclusion a drug overdose or was that – also – a lie?

They said they would look again at the file and get back to me next week.

 

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