On November 10th, 1969 Detective-Sergeant Louis-Georges Dupont of the Trois Rivieres police force was found dead in a field on the outskirts of town slumped across the front seat of his unmarked police vehicle. Dupont had been missing for five days, it was rumored he was suffering from depression. He had been shot twice through the chest and his death was hastily ruled a suicide.
There were many problems with this theory:
- Dupont’s Colt .38 service revolver was recovered from the vehicle, but his fingerprints weren’t on the weapon.
- No bloodstains were found on the interior of the car.
- Though the coroner ruled he had been shot in the chest, the bullet wounds clearly showed that the holes on the front of Dupont’s body were larger than the holes in his back, indicating he had actually been shot from behind, thus marking suicide the implausible / impossible.
- At the time of his death, Dupont was in the midst of an investigation about police corruption within the Trois Rivieres force. The two detectives who investigated Dupont’s death were two of his superior officers. The corruption report that eventually came out of Dupont’s investigative work recommended that the two detectives be fired.
Today we will be delving into the questions and mysteries of what has simply come to be known in Quebec as, L’Affaire Dupont.
We do not have the time to go into every detail about L’Affaire Dupont. There’s a lot of information already out there on this case, but the majority of it is in french. So this is a summary of some of the main points in the 50 history of this case. Everyone in Quebec knows this case, and there are people who have studied it for years, not the least of which is the Dupont family. I don’t really care to answer the question, was it murder of suicide? For me to re-investigate what has already been thoroughly – maybe even exhaustively – investigated would be repetitive, pointless and boring. I’m less interested in the mystery, and more intrigued by the family’s long, episodic journey to obtain justice.
The Trois Rivieres police force had actually been the subject of two separate investigations by the Quebec Police Commission; the one in 1969 for which Louis-Georges Dupont was working on, and a later investigation in 1982.
Little is known about the 1969 inquiry as apparently it was a closed door affair. But the second inquiry – the 1982 inquiry – was a public event held across the Saint Lawrence river at the court house in the small town of Nicolet. People would line up in the morning then stampede the place to hear shocking testimony about the 100-man Trois Rivieres police force.
There were accusations of perjury, intimidation of witnesses, false reports, armed robbery, attempted murder, fabrication of evidence, conflicts of interest, in short everything to suggest that the police force wasn’t there to protect residents, but actually posed a threat to them.
Details of the corruption were reported by David Johnston in the December 13th, 1982 edition of The Montreal Gazette. One of the most shocking testimonials came from a detective who revealed that police staged two armed holdups in 1976 to improve crime-resolution rates. The detective, Denis Leclerc, testified how he and a civilian accomplice gave two boys revolvers loaded with blanks, then instructed them to carry out two corner store robberies. When they exited the holdup, police quickly pounced on them, injuring one of the 16-year-old boys who was accidentally wounded by police gunfire. After his testimony, former detective Leclerc was escorted back to prison because he was in fact now serving a 10 year sentence for the attempted murder of a local woman.
Testimonies continued. Several officers admitted that they owned and operated bars in Trois Rivieres, regularly allowing minors into their establishments. “It’s no big deal”, offered Constable Martineau, who also admitted to operating a company that distributed cheese and sausage to local taverns and brasseries.
Officers confessed that they kept revolvers seized in weapons arrests for personal use, that police paid off informants with drugs, that residents were often extorted for cash. A stripper confessed that she had performed at the detectives offices at the Trois Rivieres HQ, while policemen boasted that they would regularly sleep with prostitutes at the station. The force turned a blind eye to the 250 prostitutes working the downtown corridor – at the time Trois Rivieres had a population of 45,000 – and it was alleged that senior officers controlled and possibly even ran sex worker operations in the town.
The 1982 inquiry was headed up by Judge Denys Dionne, a burly man who in 1978 headed up a different public inquiry into organized crime in Montreal. For that he was severely beaten outside his Peel street home by four thugs.
In the Trois Rivieres inquiry testimony became so embarrassing that the Quebec police union attempted, unsuccessfully to obtain a court order banning reporters and the public from the Nicolet courthouse. The president of the local chamber of commerce, W. Daniel Villeneuve chocked the whole matter up to a pet theory often heard in Quebec; bad apples:
“What’s unfortunate is that a few people are spoiling the reputation of a whole police force. Remember, there are still a lot of good, honest policemen here.”
Which brings us back to Louis-Georges Dupont. Now you can stop me whenever any of this starts sounding familiar. In the years after his death, Dupont’s family – chiefly lead by his two sons, Jacques and Robert Dupont – began privately sleuthing into Louis-Georges Dupont’s death.
Some of the Dupont brothers’ findings included:
- That their father was killed by lead bullets, but the ballistics report on Dupont’s revolver only referenced metal-tipped bullets.
- Several of the original medical legal documents from Dupont’s file had gone missing.
- The Dupont’s hired two pathologists from outside Quebec – one from Vancouver and one from the United States – who concluded that the blood stain patterns and bullet wounds clearly pointed to a murder.
The Dupont sons knew nothing about police work and the Quebec justice system, but they grew to become experts over the course of their investigations.
Asked to describe the Quebec justice system Jacques Dupont replied without hesitation,
“It’s like driving a bicycle down a road and someone keeps coming out of the bushes to push a piece of wood into the spokes of your wheels… You ask a direct question, and they turn around and lead you into another subject.”
For nearly a decade the Dupont family lobbied four successive provincial public-security Ministers – Herbert Marx, Claude Ryan, Robert Middlemass and Serge Menard – demanding a special commission take a second look at the ruling of suicide. All four ministers refused the request. So the family asked the Quebec Superior Court to order such an inquest on the grounds that the ministers’ refusals constituted a breach of public duty.
Justice Ivan St. Julian agreed with the family and ordered public security minister Serge Menard to open an inquiry. The investigation into L’Affaire Dupont began in the summer of 1996. Testimony was heard from over 50 witnesses. Before the process had even concluded Justice St. Julian – who by this time was merely an observer of the proceedings – publicly remarked that Dupont had been murdered and added, “since 1969, everything has been done to avoid casting light on this dark affair.”
The family even went to the extremity of having their father’s body exhumed and re-examined by Dr. Michael Baden, a forensics expert who had worked on the O.J. Simpson defence team.
In the end it was all for nothing. In December 1996, in her 176-page report presiding judge, Celine Lacerte-Lamontagne ruled that Dupont’s death was “more compatible” with suicide and “incompatible” with murder. Undeterred the Dupont family vowed to keep on fighting.
One of the most controversial matters in this case concerned the two-volume report of the 1969 inquiry, the first inquiry. Remember we are now talking about three inquiries; the one in 1969 that Dupont was working on, the 1982 inquiry, which was the public event and the courthouse in Nicolet that helped shed light on the 1969 inquiry, and the 1996 inquiry to determine the cause of death of Louis-Georges Dupont.
The first volume of that 1969 report had been made public, but the second volume – the one that contained Dupont’s investigative work and testimony – had been put under a publication ban for 160 years. I’ll say that again, the Quebec government ruled that a report into the corruption of a municipal police force cannot be seen by anyone until 2129.
So picture this. Fast forward 159 years. It’s 2128; we’ve achieved world peace, reversed climate change, put some people on mars. We found Atlantis, D.B. Cooper, Jimmy Hoffa, Kruger’s millions, the Nazi gold train. Oak Island is no longer a mystery. Who Killed Theresa? is now He Killed Theresa…
… but we still don’t know the thoughts and conclusions of a detective-sergeant from a small Quebec town concerning his police force.
Earlier we referred to the fact that Dupont may have been suffering from depression, however who wouldn’t be if he knew what he’s alleged to have known. Dr. Roger Caron testified that he had prescribed tranquilizers to Dupont 11 months before his death, and that Dupont had “personal problems” unrelated to his police work. Others testified that Dupont had debts and was under financial strains. Dr. Rejean Letourneau said he treated Dupont seven times for depression in the three months prior to his disappearance on November 5th, 1969.
Still others suggested that the strain was work related. A lawyer for the police union who worked with Dupont, Guy Lebrun, said that Dupont had a difficult job during the 1969 inquiry because he was responsible for verifying all allegations of corruption made against his colleagues, and then reporting back to the police union of his findings.
In the Dupont inquiry, the family was seeking $300,000 in compensation as well as a widow’s police pension which obviously would have been denied in the case of a suicide. While the father was alive the Dupont’s could have been described as middle class. After his death all that changed, the family continued to live together as the boys matured into adults in a modest rented apartment, with many of them collecting welfare.
When his body was discovered, a suicide note was found in the patrol car. A handwriting expert confirmed it was Dupont’s handwriting. The note is addressed to his wife, Jeanne d’Arc, and reads,
Jeanne d’Arc, You will see the lawyer Yvan Godin and notary Gilles Gareau (sp) for all the documents. I love you very much. I ask for your forgiveness. Louis-Georges
To me, it doesn’t matter as much whether it was murder or suicide. Either way the same forces appear to have driven Louis Georges Dupont to that outcome.
At the 1996 inquiry Dupont’s wife, Jeanne d’Arc had testified,
“Before my husband died, he was very upset, terrified, He said he was being followed and he was afraid someone was going to kill him. He told me, “It’s not safe for me, it’s not safe for you, and it’s not safe for our children.”