“Wish You Were Here is an investigation intimate and mournful in nature, yet heroic in its level of forensic detail. By bearing witness to how a malefactor slips through the cracks of a haphazard, morally bankrupt system, infected by misogyny and cronyism—and how the legacy of that injustice connects to further calamity—the brave authors take back some of what is lost, bringing some measure of justice to an unending spiral of tragedy.”—Bob Kolker, author of Lost Girls and Hidden Valley Road
“Wish You Were Here is at once a riveting mystery, an astute analysis of sexual violence, an investigation of a police force, and a study in grief and loss. On all levels it succeeds brilliantly. An engrossing, heartbreaking and necessary book.”—Don Gillmor, Governor General’s Literary Award̶ winning author of To the River
As compelling as Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark or James Ellroy’s My Dark Places, this is the story of a brother’s lifelong determination to find the truth about his sister’s death, a police force that was ignoring the cases of missing and murdered women, and, to the surprise of everyone involved, a previously undiscovered serial killer.
In the fall of 1978 teenager Theresa Allore went missing near Sherbrooke, Quebec. She wasn’t seen again until the spring thaw revealed her body in a creek only a few kilometers away. Shrugging off her death as a result of 1970s drug culture, police didn’t investigate.
Patricia Pearson started dating Theresa’s brother, John, during the aftermath of Theresa’s death. Though the two teens would go their separate ways, the family’s grief, obsession with justice and desire for the truth never left Patricia. Little did she know, the shockwaves of Theresa’s death would return to her life repeatedly over the next forty years.
In 2001, John had just moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his wife and young children, when the cops came to the door. They had determined that a young girl had been murdered and buried in the basement. John wondered: If these cops could look for this young girl, why had nobody even tried to find out what happened to Theresa? Unable to rest without closure, he reached out to Patricia, by now an accomplished crime journalist and author, and together they found answers far bigger and more alarming than they could have imagined–and a legacy of violence that refused to end.
“The slow rhythm of reflective time makes possible the dream of freedom”
I am a part of several social media groups that broker in nostalgia. There’s one all about Montreal historical photos, that’s Mario’s site. There’s a french one called “La Nostalgie”. There are two for the Eastern Townships / L’Estrie; one in french, one in english. I used to belong to one called Montreal Memories, but the monitor – a guy named Barry – booted me off.
I’m sitting here this morning drinking from a Montreal Starbucks coffee cup. It’s one of those “Been There” deals, I picked it up at the Dorval airport last winter. I have to say, Starbucks kinda got their research right; there’s a bagel, a hockey stick, a smoke meat sandwich… the biosphere, the Champlain Bridge. But then there are things I just don’t understand; a motorboat, something that looks like the White House. There’s even product placement; a Starbucks frappuccino next to a hockey net.
What got Barry mad was my unwillingness to participate in reflective nostalgia: what the writer, Svetlana Boym referred to as “a longing for a home that no longer exists or has never existed… a romance with one’s own fantasy.” Reflective nostalgia leans heavily on collective memory, the idea that we can all agree on – and I am simplifying things here of course – that Montreal was a better place when the Expos were playing, the Habs were winning, and you could still buy 2 sippy-sacks for 10 cents at the corner Perrette’s.
As any great contrarian can tell you – and the Montreal writer Kristian Gravenor is one of them – there is danger in collective memory. I’m no longer one of these guys who firebombs websites with my negative experiences. I will occasionally join the dance, I’ve posted in “T’es de Sherbrooke Si…” little pieces I’ve found along the way; concert notices for Harmonium or Offenbach from the 70s era, that sort of thing. But never forget that I am a troller of information on those sites. I’m not only looking for specifics of local color, I’m also watching behaviour – People have memories, and some they can’t let go.
It astonishes me how much people do remember. They will post classroom photographs from the 50s and 60s, and instantly people will come from everywhere and catalogue all the names of the people, what they are doing now, who married who, who died – so sad that was. Remember the factory at the corner of this-and-that? What was there before? Well before the factory, there was a gas pump there, with that guy who had the chip wagon…
This is collective memory. It is also selective memory. It’s amazing what people don’t remember, or choose to not-remember, or forget, or don’t tell you that they remember. It’s also worth knowing that Svetlana Boym also wrote that, “The twentieth century began with a futuristic utopia and ended with nostalgia.” Recall that Georges Méliès silent film Le Voyage dans la Lune – based on the Jules Verne novel – was first screen publicly in the spring of 1902.
I only go dark when I’m invited to. So someone posted, “Qui est cet ancien joueur du Canadien meurtrier” / Who is this former Montreal Canadiens player who was also a murderer? People responded:
“He was my neighbor when I was a kid, he smoked a big cigar.”
“Oh, I don’t know this story.”
“A story not so glorious for Nos Glorieux”
“Quest ce qu’il a fait”
His name is Tony Demers. And this is what he did. This is Who Killed Theresa.
Before beginning, full disclosure: There was a bit of zeitgeist-cryptomnesia going on. Some “zeitmnesia”, or “cryptogeist”, some “zeitomnesia”, if you will. Last month, Mario Pompetti posted on his site, Montreal Historic Photos a picture taken by Conrad Poirier of Tony Demers on “The Broken Bone Line”. This was a short-lived union of Demers, Elmer Lach and Maurice Richard, two of whom went on to become hockey hall of famers, Tony most decidedly did not. Dubbed “The Broken Bone Line” because Lach and Richard suffered broken limbs on the ice, while Demers broke his leg in an automobile accident.
In very short order, Kristian Gravenor posted a story about Tony Demers on his site, Coolopolis. Now Kristian has scooped me before, and I rely quite heavily on his research. Often I choose not to read what he’s written if I’m working on a piece because I don’t want to be influenced by it. In this case – I guess I discovered it about here, about mid-way through some research on Demers – and this time I decided to read it – well, skimmed it – more as a way to ensure that I wouldn’t step on his toes. Now I’m firm in telling you that I didn’t decide to do a podcast on Tony Demers because of Mario or Kristian. As I said, I got the inspiration from a french posting, and anyway I’m not in danger of pinching the Coolopolis information, there’s enough that drew me in that has not been covered, and if you’ve listened enough, I’m never really that interested in the subject I’m talking about – this is not really an episode about a hockey-player-murder. When it appears I’m talking about one thing, I’m actually talking about something else.
There are certainly better known hockey cases we could cover. There’s Bill Barilko who’s plane crashed in 1951, with investigators not finding the wreckage for over a decade. The year before that in 1950 almost the entire Soviet hockey team died in a plane that went down in a heavy snowstorm. More recently in 2011 the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash took the lives of 26 hockey players. Tim Horton and Pelle Lindbergh died in auto accidents. There’s the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in 2018. Last year, Austrian player Florian Janny was murdered.
But our story concerns a Montreal Canadiens hockey player, and the year is 1949. Here’s some details on Tony Demers.
(Portions of this story come from the 1940s Sherbrooke Record reporter, Cuthbert Jones.)
Tony Demers was close to being one of the NHL’s greatest hockey stars. He was know to have one of the hardest shots in the game. He joined the Montreal Canadiens full-time in 1939, but in four seasons played less than 100 games, and scored just 20 goals. Demers was prone to injury and illness. He was often out with the flu or a cold. Then came periods of food poisoning or mysterious “stomach ailments”. In December 1941 Demers crashed his car into a tree and broke his leg. This was all journalist-code covering for the reality that Tony Demers was a boozer. By 1943 coach Dick Irvin had had enough with him and sent him to the minors. 1944 saw Demers last professional NHL appearance, he managed just one game with the New York Rangers.
What followed was a brief period of minor league stardom, primarily in Sherbrooke with the Quebec Professional Hockey League (QPHL). The season prior to “the event” saw Demers play his best hockey, in 60 games with the Sherbrooke Saint Francis he recorded 53 goals and 58 assists, and was awarded the league’s Vimy Trophy for most gentlemanly player.
When the story broke in the fall of 1949, Demers had first only been detained as a material witness for a coroner’s inquest into the death of 32-year-old Anita Laberge Robert of Coaticook.
Anita Robert lived in Coaticook with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Laberge. Coaticook, Quebec is about a 10 minute drive south of Compton, and you know Compton because that’s where my sister, Theresa died. So, 10 minutes from Compton, 15 minutes further still from Lennoxville, and it’s 10 minutes even further south from Sherbrooke – all together, a little over a 1/2 hour drive from Sherbrooke to Coaticook, to get your beaings.
Despite residing with her parents, Anita was married to a man named Paul Robert, thus Anita Laberge Robert. Robert was living out of the province at the time working as a chef at a resort in Banff, Alberta. In fact, the morning after her death, it was Anita’s intention to travel and join her husband at the Banff Springs Hotel.
Now into the Laberge / Robert picture enters Tony Demers. The family Laberge had only met the minor league hockey player the evening of their daughter’s death. It’s not entirely clear how long Anita had been acquainted with Demers, who live in downtown Sherbrooke at the Hotel Union, which was at the corner of King street and Alexandre.
On the afternoon of the murder, Thursday, September 15th, 1949, 31-year-old Tony Demers drove his 1938 Chevrolet Coach from Sherbrooke to Coaticook to meet Anita Robert. Demers stopped for a couple of drinks along the way at the Coaticook House hotel before returning there with Robert for a couple more drinks. The couple then drove back to Sherbrooke where Demers had to call on a number of local businesses about sporting advertisements. Around supper time the couple drove back to Coaticook stopping to have more drinks with the manager of the Georgian hotel in Lennoxville.
That early evening, Demers first met Anita’s parents and her two visiting sisters at the family home in Coaticook. After introductions, Demers went out and bought three bottles of beer and a bottle of rye which everyone enjoyed at the Laberge home (by the time of the trial, this detail appeared to have been modified so that the consumption of alcohol within the Laberge home was not part of the story). When the booze was finished, John Laberge joined Anita and Demers at the Coaticook House for one more drink. An employee observed that Demers was not sober, and became belligerent. The three left the establishment with Laberge returning home and Anita and Demers starting for Magog. This was around 10 p.m. that evening.
There had been a dispute as the Laberge home before leaving. Mrs Laberge objected to her daughter going out with Tony Demers. Demers had been clowning with the family, flexing his muscles to impress all the girls. At one point he took off his shirt, “to show that he wasn’t a schoolboy.” Demers argued with both parents. Mrs. Laberge said Anita “seemed afraid of Demers and yet fascinated by him.” Her husband agreed stating that Anita, “seemed afraid of displeasing him, and did not oppose any of his remarks.” Even though she was a married woman, Demers expressed that he wished to marry Anita (earlier in Lennoxville, he had introduced Anita to the Georgian hotel manager as his wife). And yet the parents let their daughter go off with him. Mrs. Laberge remarked that Anita was “clever… well educated and popular, but her mind was turned.”
At this point in the story, as there were no witnesses, only Demers and Robert truly know what happened. In Tony Demers’ version of events, the couple then drove to Magog, about a 45 minute drive northwest through some very rural, dense forested country. They would have passed through Ayer’s Cliff before arriving in Magog, which was – and is now – a resort-ish, touristy town at the northern-most tip of Lake Memphremagog. At some point Demers said that Anita tried to throw herself out of the moving vehicle because she thought Tony wouldn’t love her anymore after having met her parents. The car landed in a ditch, then Anita Robert took the wheel while Demers tried to push them out. According to Demers she eventually fell unconscious. He then placed her in the back seat of the car. When he tried talking to her she didn’t answer. Demers went to sleep in the front seat of the car and when he woke up it was daylight.
On the morning of Friday, September 16th, Tony Demers visited a friend, Robert Pruneau in Little Lake ( known today as Lake Magog) saying he had “something serious” to show him. Demers then took Pruneau to Pruneau’s cottage – which Demers had broken into – where the badly beaten Anita Robert lay on the sofa naked and covered in a blanket. Pruneau urged Demers to take her to the hospital at once. Before departing, Demers asked for a change of clothes, then instructed Pruneau to take his blooded clothing to the cleaners in Sherbrooke. Demers drove Anita Robert to La Providence Hospital in Magog. When the doctor asked what had happened Demers replied, “I guess it was a fight.”
Demers left the hospital a number of times. On returning for the third time he told the doctor, “We would just as soon not have this known and if you don’t speak to anyone about it I’ll give you a good reward.”
Anita Laberge Robert died that afternoon at La Providence Hospital in Magog. The autopsy revealed that Robert was bruised from the legs to the head. She had a black eye and her nose had been broken. Robert suffered multiple blows, dying due to hemorrhaging in her skull. Her injuries were caused by, “blows struck by a blunt weapon, such as a fist.”
“I am not of the opinion that she jumped or fell out of a car,” the medical examiner added.
Anita’s parents were not aware of what had transpired the night of September 15th, until a reporter who showed up on their doorstep accidentally let slip the news that their daughter had died. When Mrs Laberge realized what had happened her reaction was immediate:
“I told her not to go out with him, she should have listened to me. I had a premonition that something terrible had happened when I did not hear from her all day today. But this is a frightful thing, a horrible thing…”
Then, as if from a script from Oscar Méténier’s Grand Guignol she turned to her husband, “You should have kept her from going with him!”
This story is often painted with shades of, “Oh poor Tony, he could have been such a big hockey star if it wasn’t for that one unfortunate slip of character.” One writer stated that Tony Demers plight was ” one of the sadder stories in the 100 year saga of the Montreal Canadiens.” Sadder for who? They went on to argue that the “details… remain sketchy”, when they are perfectly clear, and were documented in the court record.
At the trial, Anita’s sister, Bella testified that she had seen Demers and Anita Robert the previous year at a guest house in Montreal. Demers had an argument with Anita, struck her, broke her glasses and gave her a black eye. When Bella tried to intervene Demers shouted, “I’ll kill you and your sister too.”
Also at trial a statement was revealed from the morning of Robert’s death in which Demers told police that he “slapped her face and struck her with his fist after she had cursed him.” Demers also told the police he had known Robert for seven years, and admitted having dated her for two years.
Post-mortem photos shown to the jury of Anita Robert clearly revealed the black eye, the broken nose, the blows to her head and body. The defence counsel protested arguing that the photos were “immoral”.
For over two hours Demers commanded the witness stand in his own defence. He was described as giving testimony, “calmly, coolly, and occasionally with flashes of humour.”
Prosecutor Henri Monty called Demers “a good actor, suave and with a soft voice, attempting to impress the jury. He had a wonderful memory of what happened the night of the tragedy, but couldn’t remember to answer any incriminating questions.”
It took the jury just ten minutes to find Tony Demers guilty of manslaughter, reduced from the original charge of murder. A murder conviction would have meant Demers would hang. Manslaughter carried a life sentence of 25-years. But the jury asked for clemency, which Justice Cesaire Gervais granted, sentencing him to fifteen years in prison.
Judge Gervais tried to talk tough arguing that the sentence would “put an end to your brilliant career as an international athlete.” The truth was Demers had already played eighteen years – an eternity for most hockey players – and his career was never brilliant. Demers served eight years. He was paroled in 1959, and occasionally spotted coaching, or playing in “celebrity” old-timers games. My father probably watched him one Saturday morning at The Forum.
At sentencing the judge also argued that Tony Demers had no prior criminal record, but he was hardly a saint. Remember the car crash where he broke his leg? That incident happened coming back to Montreal from a joyride in Valleyfield after midnight. He could have killed the other passengers, his then wife (who eventually left him) and his brother and sister-in-law. Demers “brilliant career” could have ended right there.
In March 1945 Demers was charged with violent theft from a hotel keeper in Chambly, behavior that appeared consistent with his belligerence at the the Coaticook House. He was later acquitted at trial.
In the spring of 1949, the same week he was awarded the Vimy Trophy for most gentlemanly player, Demers was discovered playing in the ‘B’ league playoffs for Dorion under the assumed name, “B. Taylor”. Demers was suspended for 10 games, but in a pattern that would prove familiar – and some might argue fatal – he was given leniency, allowed to serve the suspension at the beginning of the following season, not while his team, the Sherbrooke Saint Francis was making a playoff run. Demers run of excuses and missteps was waring thin, but not enough to result in any meaningful consequence. He was learning that you could get away with bad behavior and talk your way out of things… “a good actor attempting to impress…”
As we said, Tony Demers life after serving eight years was uneventful. Here’s a photo of him playing in a Sherbrooke old timers league in 1967-68, Tony is number 5, bottom center. He was manager at a driving range, a foreman at Sifto Ice Salt… for a while he had a dépanneur at the corner of Conseil and Murray.
After his death at the age of eighty in 1997 the Coaticook Historical Society had this to say about Tony Demers:
Even if we were to believe that, Demers murdered Anita Robert six years after his professional hockey career with the Montreal Canadians was over. He was shown the door by Dick Irvin in 1943, Anita Robert died in 1949.
Memory is a powerful narcotic. You don’t want to go stepping on the mythology of Montreal’s most storied sports franchise. It’s an inconvenient truth that Ginette Reno sang at the wedding of a Hells Angel. Or that flash-in-the-pan star goaltender Jose Theodore had Hells Angels’ numbers in his cellphone. Recently, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard’s brother – Henri “The Pocket Rocket” Richard – died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. One of the most celebrated athletes in hockey – the man won eleven Stanley Cups – but by some accounts Henri Richard was a real son-of-a-bitch. His older brother never once invited him into his home in Ahuntsic. Svetlana Boym called nostalgia, “history without guilt.”
Call Duplessis a fascist, Trudeau a queer, Marois a xenophobic old cow – these folks are politicians, they’re marked targets. But don’t attack our heroes. Don’t mess with nostalgia. Don’t be a buzz kill on our collective high of the past.
Except there was nothing heroic or tragic about Tony Demers. He didn’t have a character flaw. He consistently abused his privilege. Over a period of years Tony Demers verbally and physically abused Anita Robert, and then he killed her. When you begin to chisel at what’s past-preserved its bound to make some people uncomfortable.
A contemporary Russian saying goes that the past has become much more unpredictable than the future. In an essay on friendship Svetlana Boym wrote,
“Friendship is not about having everything illuminated or obscured, but about conspiring and playing with shadows… Its goal is not enlightenment but luminosity, not a quest for the blinding truth but only for occasional lucidity and honesty.”
In her obituary for the New Yorker – Boym died of cancer in 2015 at the age of 56 – her author-friend Masha Gessen wrote, “Once, after reading a book of mine, she said, “You write very directly, don’t you?” I don’t think it was a compliment.”
Boym also writes about the exiles who dream about imagined homelands. At once homesick and sick of home. That’s a pretty apt description of me.
This is Who Killed Theresa.
“Well I’m not a scientist. But I know all things begin and end in eternity.”
My favorite Quebec artist is Jean Paul Lemieux. Not all of the times, but sometimes he paints these stark landscapes where a simple figure stands very prominently in the foreground as if posing for a photograph. This can be seen in the podcast episode about Back River Jane Doe / Armand Duhamel – WKT3 #22 which features Lemieux’s 1961 painting, “The Terminus”. White snow, black sky, and a woman in a red winter coat and hat. There’s something haunting in this work. The woman is almost absent in her presence.
I have a Lemieux print in my home. It’s similar, a young boy in the snow standing to the right of the frame near the shore in Levis, the Saint Lawrence river and Quebec City citadel in the background. I often think I’ll wake up one morning and that boy will be gone.
“History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes”
This is Who Killed Theresa.
I am going to retell and expand on the Halloween episode I did last fall about the Villeneuve family. Remember that the Villeneuves were a family that lived up the street from us growing up in Pierresonds, which is a town in the West Island of Montreal. The Villeneuves used to do a big spectacle at Halloween. The mother, Lysa, and her two daughters – Debbie and Vivian – would dress up like the three witches from MacBeth. They’s have a caldron on their front lawn with a dry ice and a strobe light. To pick it up, I’m going to read from Christopher Bain’s Montreal Gazette article from October 31, 1977, “Kids bewitched into safe Halloween”. I read it on that last episode, but this time I’m going to read the whole article (you can find that first podcast here):
What happened next after that podcast was strange. It wasn’t just strange it was an “Oh Fuck Off” moment. Because that podcast was supposed to have been a breather, a break and brief respite from the gloom that I usually talk about. It was some one-off fun before we leaned back into some real horror. About a week after posting that episode I received the following message.
Now before plunging into this, a word of caution about the messages I’m about to read. In the absence of facts, people tend to feed off suspicion and rumour and fear. Also, there are many suggestions about Villeneuve family lifestyle in these correspondences. And I’m going to leave them at suggestions and allow you to draw your own conclusions.
This is the first message I received from a high school friend of Vivienne Villeneuve, we’ll call her Claire:
CLAIRE’S STORY (a high school friend)
I lived not far from you growing up in Montreal, I’m surprised we didn’t know each other. Vivian Villenueve was a friend of mine and for years I have been trying to find out about her murder with no answers. Do you know anything about her case? Vivian lived and walked this earth and now it is like the whole family disappeared. I understand that Debbie committed suicide a few years after Vivian’s murder.
Viv and I graduated in 79 and I lost track of her as so many of us left Montreal at the time. With the introduction of home computers I started to look for my friends like Vivian. At my 25th high school reunion I learned that Vivian had passed but did not know how. I was searching for her obituary again, then I learned that Viv had been violently murdered shortly after high school. I have searched everywhere for a sign. With Vivian’s family being pagan I did not expect to find any church records. I just want to know what happened to my friend. I understand that you were not aware of the situation
I checked with some high school friends. We figure that it probably happened between 1979-1985. What I was told so far that it was a suspected drug deal gone bad. She was tied and thrown off the roof of a building. I assumed it was Montreal as my friend knew someone who went to the funeral. Let me check with my friend again.
I talked to a number of people last night. The general consensus is that Vivian was killed at a house party in Montreal possibly in 1980. It could have been a drug deal gone bad. There are rumours that it was a very violent death and she may have been thrown from the roof of a building. I find it strange that I can find nothing on a crime of this magnitude. I worked in the justice system for 25 years and something just isn’t adding up to me. How can a family just vanish from history? I will keep looking for Vivian. I do want to thank you for sharing your experiences with her family, it reminded many people of the wonderful times we had with Vivian.
Before I move onto the second message, there was a lot of digging for information that went on through all of this, a lot of back-and-forth messaging. This went on through Christmas and into the new year. Checking newspaper archives, medical legal records, checking with the police. I go into more detail about this in the actually podcast which you can listen to at the beginning of this post. At some point during all this effort, I got the second message from a relative of the Villeneuve’s we’ll call her Carmen:
CARMEN’S STORY (a relative)
Vivian’s sister Debbie did not commit suicide. It was their mother, Lysa who committed suicide. Lisa died first, then Vivian – this is what I heard and trying to figure out why. I can’t find anything, and at the time I was very young, and now everyone has passed, even my mother, Lise’s sister.
I know Debbie was married and used to do dog shows with her german short hair dogs, and then got divorced. Debbie got into drugs, had a car accident, broke her neck and recovered. She no longer spoke to my uncle, not sure why [ MARK THAT – that becomes important]. The family was into witchcraft. My baby sister swears she saw either Debbie or Vivian using their eyes to throw plates at their mother ….my sister was only 3 at the time and swears it’s true.
I spoke to Debbie’s first husband, Gerald. Vivian died in the summer of 85 or 86. He remembers it was hot. She lived in downtown Montreal in an apartment building and he can’t remember the street but she lived on the 11th floor. Her hands were tied together and her legs were tied together and she was thrown out of the 11th floor. They would not release anything to the public – and that is why there are no news articles – until the investigation was finished. The investigation took 6 months and then they deemed it a suicide and closed the file. Gerarld never once believed that it was suicide and that something was being covered up.
So this answers the question of why i can’t find articles of news about her. Now to his knowledge Lise was always Lysa which is not true so i wonder if she was buried under Lysa (assuming she changed her name legally)… “Lysa Cartier” as she was not married to my uncle, so she was not a Villeneuve. And in Quebec you don’t change your name as a women sometimes. Gerard said he always believed it was a cover up. yes me too. I need to think.
Viviane was not involved in drugs and those sorts of things but she was quite successful in modeling and was still modeling at the time. I remember her being very tall like her mom and the last time I spoke to Debbie she indicated that Viviane was dying a slow death already with bulimia. She had been this way for years so she must have been quite skinny. So she was a model and my father said she hung out with high society people which is starting to make sense why there is nothing available and sounding a bit like a pay off from a very wealthy person, but I’m no detective. My father said she hung with the high and mighty so that is always a possibility. I am reading that there was a lot of Hells Angels action in Montreal in that period. I’m going to change the focus of my research to figure out what Montreal modeling agency she was associated with. Having uncovered all of this short of talking to retired police officers or old models I’m sure there will be no further information as it’s all been wiped clean.
So it is at this point that I find the autopsy report for Lysa Cartier / Villeneuve. I will read what it says on the podcast….
It’s what i had been told it was a suicidal overdose. Even my cousin thought it was odd that she went by Lysa and must have changed her name legally as she was definitely Lise Cartier at marriage. My cousin also tells me that Vivian was not a professional model but modeled things for her mom… When I asked what I was told was that Lysa dabbled in a few things…nothing more than that. My cousin indicated Vivi died at age 24.
I had a long conversation with my cousin who set me straight on a few things. First of all Viv was not a model. My aunt sold furry bikini’s and Viv would model those. Please don’t ask as it sounds like my aunt was a little funny. The morning that Vivian died, she called her dad and asked him for electrical wire. When he asked why she said she was doing a project, so he brought it to her. That day her hands were tied and her legs were tied when she went over the 11th story balcony. She was not in any trouble or into drugs as far as anyone knows. My uncle blamed himself for years for the suicide and for bringing her the electrical wire. Hmmm… as i said to my cousin…you can’t tie your hands and legs and drop off the balcony on your own, so it’s always been assumed that she had an accomplice help her in her suicide. Her sister Debbie and her ex husband never believed it was suicide, and really there are easier ways to take your life such as pills etc. I’m not sure what to believe but I will continue in my search because either way someone needed to help her.
NOBODY knew what Lysa did for a living. She dressed to the Ts, and hung around with rich people at very fancy yacht clubs, as well as with Hells Angels. I just found out that her sister and brother in law often thought she was a call girl because she just had too much money – hung with the rich, but nobody knew what work she did. She often brought my cousin and her girls to the fancy yacht club to eat. Lysa was in to some very weird stuff and it may very well be that Viv followed in her footsteps as they were very close. Viv used to model her mother’s line of fur bikini underwear and that in itself is very very weird.
Having said that, my cousin says that it’s quite possible that Viv could have been an escort, as she lived in a very very nice building in downtown Toronto. I’m going to try to also get more details on the apartment bldg.
Deborah’s husband Gerry / Gerald has not spoken to his ex-wife in 40 years and has no clue where she is (I figure it was not an amicable divorce). He has not talked to my uncle Marcel in 30 years either. I never got to ask Gerry if he knew where Viv was buried. If you would like i can give you his number to contact him. what do you think?
He used to own a business that provided props for events, movie sets etc in Montreal. Le Roi Rouge or something like this….Le Roi du Tapis Rouge. To find that info I might find Lyson, his partner but for the love of god… I can’t find anything on that either. I even tried searching old articles as my uncle was investigated for a fire/potential fraud for an event fire in either Kingston or Kitchener…don’t remember which one or the year and unable to find anything.
Gerry and Deborah never believed it was suicide and he was married to Debbie at the time of Vivienne’s death. Gerry told me there was no info released for six months then they closed the file as suicide.
And for the life of me I tried the cemetery again they checked under Lysa and Lise Cartier and Villeneuve….they checked under Deborah Villeneuve…..they checked under Marcel Villeneuve and neither my aunt or Lyse is there….she took my number and will keep looking but she spent ten minutes going through all of the details and NOTHING.
For a while I let things settle down. I got busy. Then recently I was talking with my brother. Now I should have gone to my brother in the first place, because he remembers everything. But I don’t like to involve him in these things too much. It depends on his mood. He might respond, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” or “I don’t care, can we talk about something else”. Except he’ll never say that, you just know that’s the case and you quickly drop it.
This time – maybe because we all have a lot of time on our hands – he said… well, it started the usual way. I tell him the story of the Villeneuve’s, so far so good. He remembers this. Halloween, ok, got that. The witches, he’s got me there. Then we switch to murder and suicide, and it’s immediately,
“I don’t know, I don’t remember… I didn’t really know them.., you should talk to Damien Mitchell, he lived next store to them”
“I don’t know who that is.“
“The Mitchell’s? Sure you do. Big family… boys. You used to play with his younger brother, Emmett.
“I don’t remember.”
“Sure you do. Big family? You know who you should talk to? Glenn Poole, he was neighbors with Joanne Bedard, and Joanne was friends with Vivian. Vivian was around my age. In fact… you know? Just when you said that, you know? I think I remember Damien Mitchell, I remember seeing him, at a reunion or a show, this was like 10 years ago, and just with you saying that, I think I remember him telling me about this. That Vivian was killed, and it was all very tragic. Talk to Joanne Bedard. She was a close friend of Vivian’s, and I knew her. That’s how I was in the Villeneuve house. And I remember being scared shitless.”
I never phoned Debbie’s ex-husband, Gerry. I thought about it, but I never picked up the phone. I never contacted Damian Mitchell or spoke with Joanne Bedard. Why put everyone through that. Why put a family through all that – again – on a story that may not be true. Our deepest fears. What if I’m forgotten. Do I really exist. Maybe these people want to be left alone. Maybe they just want to be forgotten.
So what if it’s true. Vivian Villeneuve was bound and tossed from the 11th story of a Montreal apartment building. [11th is interesting. It’s specific. It doesn’t sound made up]. It’s interesting. That would mean 3 young woman from that Pierrefonds neighborhood wound up murdered. My sister, Theresa Allore, the 1976 murder of Barbara Myers who lived just across the railroad tracks, and Vivian Villeneuve who lived up the street from our house on Blondin. Take Blondin up to Woodland and you’re at the house of Joanne Bedard. Blondin the other way ends at Pavillion, our house on the corner. Follow Pavillion two blocks and you’re at the old Villeneuve house.
I still don’t remember Damien Mitchell. I do remember Greg Aldridge. He was my hockey coach and he also lived close to the Villeneuve’s. Greg was an early mentor, he gave me a copy of Boy On Defense, a hockey book by Neil Young’s father, Scott Young. Greg died young of cancer. After his death his wife, Maise used to sit up all night alone in that house with the lights off, suffering in silence and the dark. (needs to tie with Lisa autopsy)
Do you know the concept of cryptomnesia? It’s were you unintentionally copy or plagiarize something. Byron did it. So did J.M. Barrie and Umberto Eco. My favorite cryptomnesia story is about Aerosmith. This is in their heavy, heavy drug use days. I think they were recording Done With Mirrors, and their song, You See Me Crying comes on the radio. That song is an early ballad, it rarely got airplay, and the band never performed it in concert. So Steven Tyler hears it and says, “Hey, that’s a really great song, we should cover it!” to which Joe Perry replied, “That’s us, fuckhead!”.
I’m a little obsessed with cryptomnesia. There’s a story about it, and the writing of this book that I’ll share on the podcast….
I’m also fond of cryptomnesia’s distant cousins, false memory and the Mandela effect. Do you know jamais vu? That’s where something is recognizable, but still unfamiliar. I get this a lot. I’ll hear a word in my head like “plate”, then begin to doubt that word even exists. Presque vu : that’s were something is right on the tip of your tongue but you can’t quite push through that mental wall. We all know Deja Vu, but what about its Jekyll & Hyde neighbor, Déjà vécu. This is a feeling like you’ve already lived through something.
It doesn’t really matter if we finish the story of Vivien Villeneuve. It doesn’t really matter if we find out definitively what happened. The journey learning about the story is a story enough. Everything we do know about Vivian and Lysa and Debbie – broadly speaking – informs everything that came next. Confusion and uncertainty. Victim blaming. Struggling to make decisions, what to run down. What’s the right decision? Pieces of a puzzle that are missing. There are prescient pieces in that puzzle.
“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards”
C’est aujourd’hui le jour anniversaire du meurtre de Tammy Leaky.
La jeune fille de 12 ans a disparu dans la soirée du 12 mars 1981, alors qu’elle se rendait à la demande de sa mère au dépanneur Chez Bert, dans le secteur Pointe-Saint-Charles de Montréal, pour acheter du lait, du café et des friandises.
Aux environs de 22 h 45 ce même soir, Ewig Tait, un homme de 73 ans, circulait sur la rue Lindsay dans le parc industriel de Dorval quand il aperçut « quelque chose en bordure de la route ». Ce qu’il prit d’abord pour des guenilles était en fait des vêtements. Après avoir immobilisé son véhicule, il fit la découverte du cadavre d’un enfant. Celui-ci était encore chaud. Une fois la police avertie, Tammy Leaky était transportée à l’Hôpital général de Lachine, où son décès fut constaté.
Il peut être intéressant de noter que les tablettes de chocolat Mirage, de marque Nestlé, achetées par Tammy (une pour elle et une pour sa jeune sœur) ont été retrouvées, l’une dans le caniveau de la rue de Pointe-Saint-Charles où la jeune fille a été enlevée; l’autre dans ses vêtements sur la scène du crime.
On a beaucoup dit à l’époque que Tammy Leaky n’avait pas été agressée sexuellement. Cela est vrai si l’on part du principe qu’elle n’a pas été violée par voie vaginale. Mais il est indéniable qu’il s’agit d’un crime sexuel. Du sperme a été trouvé sur ses vêtements, dont des échantillons ont été envoyés au Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires de Montréal pour analyse. On ne peut que supposer que l’analyse d’ADN a donné des résultats et si les échantillons ont été préservés. Il serait souhaitable de contacter l’Unité des crimes non résolus du SPVM afin de vérifier si cet élément de preuve se trouve encore entre leurs mains.
Today marks the 39th anniversary of the murder of Tammy Leakey.
The 12-year-old girl disappeared the evening of March 12th, 1981, when she was sent by her mother to a local depanneur, Chez Bert to buy milk for coffee and some candy bars in the Pointe Saint Charles neighborhood of Montreal.
At approximately 10:45 pm on the same evening, 73-year-old Ewing Tait was driving along Lindsay street in Dorval’s industrial park when he noticed “something in the field along side the road”.
What he first thought were rags was actually clothing. He stopped and discovered the body of a young child. The body was still warm. The police were notified, and Tammy Leakey was taken to the Lachine General Hospital. At the hospital she was pronounced dead on arrival.
It may be of some interest that the candy Tammy bought at Chez Burt were Nestle Mirage chocolate bars (one for Tammy and one for her younger sister). One of the bars was found in the gutter of the Pointe Saint Charles street where she was abducted, the other was recovered from her clothing at the crime scene.
Of greater importance; much was made at the time that Tammy Leakey wasn’t sexually assaulted. That is true in so far as she was not vaginally raped, but this was indeed a sex crime. Specimens of sperm were found on her clothing, and the samples were sent to the Montreal crime lab for further analysis.
Whether these DNA samples yielded results, and whether they survived after 39 years is anyone’s guess. Someone might want to contact the Montreal (SPVM) cold case unit, and see if they still have the evidence.
Today we’re going to have a conversation with Gladys Radik and Jessica McDiarmid. Gladys is the aunt of Tamara Chipman, the 22-year old went missing from Prince Rupert, British Colombia in September 2005. Jessica is the author of Highway of Tears, A True Story of Racism, Indifference, and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
What do I remember about the FLQ Crisis? Everything. Everything a six year old child would remember. Road blocks. Military check points. The names; Laporte, Cross, Bourassa, Choquette, Rose…
I found something recently. Something that may be instructive.
By the bye, this is our 100th podcast. Let’s celebrate. Let’s have some fun.
We’re going to take the long way home today, I’m going a ways out of the way until we eventually come back towards the end and finally talk about murder.
This is Who Killed Theresa?
I think of these things, I think of them a lot, I guess we all do, those of us that were growing up in Montreal in the late 60s and early 70s. I’ve told the story of receiving that medal, the Canada 150th medal for service. I was honored to receive it from my friend, Senator Pierre Boisvenu in the fall of 2018. The ceremony was held at the Black Watch armory just up from Sherbooke street on Bleury behind the Place des Arts. I doubt that it was lost on any of us that this was the same armory that the FLQ bombed on May 13th, 1963.
To tell you the truth, growing up, we weren’t really that aware of what was going on politically in Quebec in the fall of 1970. Theresa was turning 11, my brother was 10, I was 5 1/2. Truth is, that fall we were really into this:
The Partridge Family made its debut on CBC Montreal channel 6 on Monday, September 21st, 1970 and 8 p.m. We never had any interest in The Brady Bunch, right out of the starting gate we were a Partridge Family family, because for the most part the Bradys were wholesome where the Partridges were irreverent and funny. I went back recently and watched the first season – you can find it on Daily Motion. Fifty years later it still holds up. Laurie is wise and philosophical, an early feminist, always hanging out with intellectuals at some SolCal university. Danny Bonaduce – to this day – is flat-ass funny, his stuff with manager Reuben Kincaid still manages to be comic genius. Keith / David Cassidy may be the most remarkable cast member. Possessed with incredible talent – I still prefer the original opening which has him giving a bluesy feel to Common Get Happy – good looks, and still maintains a sense of humor, writers were pretty aware that Keith must never win in the series: he never gets the girl, never gets that part in the Hollywood screen test, is always bested by Laurie, and mainly by his nemesis Danny.
The Partridge Family in many respects was ground breaking, not only for depicting Shirley Jones as a single mother, but for its willingness to address social issues of the day.
One example is the first season episode Soul Club guest staring Richard Pryor and Lou Gossett ( Richard Pryor you all know, Gossett you will recall recently from HBO’s Watchmen, he plays Will Reeves, who it is revealed was once Minutemen member Hooded Justice ). In the episode, there is a mixup that sends The Temptations to a gig in Arizona and the Partridges to a Motown club in Detroit ( ignore the mental math of that bus driving for 4 days ).
At the conclusion of the episode Danny is given a black beret and made an honorary member of the “Afro American Cultural Society”. Now back up a bit. Soul Club premiered in January of 1971. That means the show was filmed in the summer of 1970, when the younger cast members were off from school. So think of that context: in the summer of 1970, with revolution in the air, on the cusp of the FLQ crisis, Danny is made a member of The Black Panthers.
Of the FLQ’s relation to the Black Panthers, kidnappee James Cross had this to say:
“The kidnappers claimed to be Marxist/Anarchist but I could find no trace of deep intellectual thought of either of these movements…. There was a certain amount of influence from the various movements of the 1960’s which swept the United States, such as the… Black Panthers but I do not think they had any strong intellectual connections. “
I wouldn’t describe myself as a Partridge Family fanatic. To be honest, we didn’t like the music that much, or pretended we didn’t like it. We would have called it “sucky”, and Theresa was taking us into new musical territory; The Who’s Tommy, Pink Floyd, Janis Joplin ( which is really unfortunate because David Cassidy didn’t want to be doing that music either!). I own two pieces of PF memorabilia: one trading card, coincidentally from the Soul Club episode – it has Danny on the front and the lyrics to Bandala on the back- and the Milton Bradley Partridge Family board game ) At one time we owned the second album, Up To Date).
Which brings us to an interesting bit of trivia. My original podcast idea was not a true crime version of Who Killed Theresa, originally I was going to do a podcast with my daughters called Board Game. The idea was that every week, I would introduce this generation weaned on a diet of Nintendo and PS4 to a traditional 70s parlour game: Clue, Masterpiece, The Game of Life. The fun for them would be figuring out how to play the game. The fun for you, listener, would be the added monotony of listing to my daughters play something that was entirely visual: git it? Bored Game. Aren’t you glad I switched to true crime?
The idea never survived beyond the “pilot”, but that pilot – it’s never been aired – survives, and – as it happens – the inaugural board game was, in fact, the Milton Bradley Partridge Family Game. So here it is, an excerpt from Board Game:
There’s a video I made from some home movies, I’ll post it on the website. It’s from the fall of 1970, two birthday parties – the second one being of my brother’s 10th birthday – and we look very much of the style / under the influence of The Partridge Family. Theresa’s in a Laurie Partridge macrame poncho, my behavior clearly influenced by Danny Bonaduce exuberance. My brother, not unlike Keith, especially his hair.
I bring this up because the 8mm movie was clearly shot in October 1970. That’s the date on the Kodak box, Theresa’s birthday, 1970. You can see those black and white posters we talked about in the last episode of Robert Kennedy and Pierre Trudeau. Here’s the thing. Theresa’s birthday is October 12th, so in that year it fell on a Monday. The way my parents did it, you had your birthday party on whatever Saturday fell closest to your birthday, so October 10th. This home movie was shot on the afternoon of Saturday, October 10th: the afternoon that Pierre Laporte was abducted from his front lawn while playing touch football with his nephew 20 miles away on Robitaille Street in Saint-Lambert.
Opening presents and eating birthday cake: that’s what we were doing during the October Crisis.
The 1976 Montreal Olympics
What Quebec couldn’t achieve by violent means they now sought through a political solution. Six years later in the fall of 1976 René Lévesque’s fledgling Parti Québécois swept the Liberals from office, promising to take Quebec out of Canada through a province-wide referendum. But before the PQ victory, there was the last gasp of Mayor Jean Drapeau’s run of success – the 1976 Summer Olympics.
As early as 1966 – even before the launch of Expo 67 – Drapeau had gone on a wooing expedition to IOC delegate nations to secure the 1972 Summer games. Montreal lost out to Munich, which may have been fortunate, imagine how that had turned out if what befell the Olympic village in Munich had unfolded in Montreal and the Dorval airport. In fact, as a result of the Black September Massacre, security at the Montreal games four years later was ultra-tight. It was all-hands-on-deck with federal, provincial, and local law enforcement agencies all pitching in – no one wanted a repeat of Munich, let alone a revisit of October 1970. Some of the players in my sister’s story lended to this effort. Robert Beullac – the private detective hired by my father to locate Theresa – and I believe Leo Hamel – the small town police chief from Lennoxville – both worked security detail for the 76 Summer Games. Even members of Quebec militia units such as the Sherbrooke Hussars joined the effort that summer.
Things started as they always did with a Drapeau project; with the promise of greatness, then quickly spiraled out of control. By the fall of 1975 Montreal Mayor Drapeau realized that the debt for the Olympics would surpass $600 million dollars. Robert Bourassa and the province intervened to ensure the projected wouldn’t be cancelled, and that construction would be completed on time. Several cost-cutting measures were taken including the suspension of construction of the Olympic stadium tower and retractable roof ( those would come later).
Tickets went on sale in May, 1975, exclusively at Eaton’s department stores. I well remember accompanying my father to the downtown Eaton’s branch on Saint Catherines street to purchase tickets. I don’t know why he chose downtown, the Point Claire department store was certainly closer – perhaps he thought there would be better selection at the main branch. I remember an exceptionally long line, and we came out of there with tickets for rowing, the decathlon (yes we saw Bruce Jenner), and a quarter final football match (we saw East Germany beat France 4-0). This would have been on a Saturday, either the 10th or 17th. So it may well have occurred the eve-weekend before Diane Dery and Mario Corbeil were murdered 10 miles away across the Saint Lawrence in Longueuil on Tuesday, May 20th.
The Olympic Lottery
It’s often said that the Montreal Olympics are the reason there are lotteries in Canada. The history goes back further than that, and is another Drapeau innovation. In the spring of 1968 the mayor proposed a municipal lottery dubbed “Voluntax” to help pay for the swollen debt accrued from Expo 67. Montreal residents bought $2 tickets for a chance to win a $100,000 prize. The idea was so successful that it lead to a provincial initiative, Loto Quebec, which became the inspiration for all subsequent Canadian provincial lotteries.
In 1974, with another Montreal world event facing yet another cash shortfall, the Canadian federal government – also, and again on the hook for Montreal’s financial missteps – looked to the lottery model. The Feds sold $10 tickets across the country for the chance to win a $1 million tax-free jackpot – the biggest lottery payout in the world at the time – and thereby raised $15 million for the Games.
Not to be outdone with the spending frenzy, the Montreal police also got in on the act. Montreal MUC police spent what was then a whopping $48,000 on a mobile command unit that within a year was being described as a “white elephant”. In the spring of 1976 the police security council ordered what for all purposes was a mobile home from Campwagon, Ltd., a company outside Quebec City that specialized in building ambulances, with no experience in police security vehicles. According to a Campwagon official,
Everything was rushed and top secret. We had no idea what the mobile home was to be used for except that it played a part in Olympic security. Normally, a job like this should take six months, not two. The security council employee who contacted us insisted that only a Quebec company would get the contract.
The mobile command unit ended up being built in Owen Sound, Ontario, birth place of Canadian painter, Tom Thomson.
In the end, the mobile command vehicle only ever saw 30 days of service before being scrapped and auctioned off. By the time technicians installed 1,500 pounds of equipment, the truck was too heavy and bounced like a rocking chair when driven down the road.
The venues for the Olympics were scattered across the city. The main campus was located in Montreal’s east end at Sherbrooke street and Pie IX, this is where the stadium was constructed, location of the cycling velodrome, athletes’ village, and Olympic pool, with boxing and wrestling hosted at the nearby Maurice Richard Arena. Other venues included the canals from the Expo / Man and his World site for rowing, the Montreal Forum for gymnastics and basketball ( site of the Richard Riot), and the Paule Sauve Arena for volleyball ( where many a separatist rally was held) – you are never far from home.
“Then there was like quiet and we were full of like hate, so smashed what was left to be smashed.”
There was an arts component to the summer games, or at least that was the plan. Corridart was intended as a grand street fair stretching eight kilometers along Sherbrooke street from downtown Montreal to the site of the Olympic Stadium, filled with $400,000 worth of municipal and provincially commissioned art installations, musicians, and performance artists. Mayor Drapeau could have cared less. On the eve of the Olympics he did an evening car-tour of the project and found it decadent. In a move on par with the worst artistic repressions of the Soviet and Nazi eras, Drapeau ordered the installation destroyed. On the night of July 13, 1976 municipal workers supervised by the Montreal police ripped down the works of some of the city’s best known artists and had it carted to the junk heap. Writing in the Village Voice, Annette Kuhn called it “The Rape of Sherbrooke”, “an orgy of municipally sponsored vandalism”.
Despite his even-tempered, milquetoast appearance, Drapeau was a bit of a puritanical hot-head (he was once described by an opponent as a combination of Walt Disney and Al Capone). It’s worth remembering that his rise to success in the early 1950s was largely backed by conservative nationalist Premier Maurice Duplessis. He ordered the partial clear-cutting of the park at the top of Mount Royal because he had heard stories of homosexual encounters in the woods. Both Expo 67 and the Olympics gave way to “slum clearance” initiatives and urban renewal. He loved skyscrapers and shopping malls. He was not above advocating for highways and boulevards running through residential neighborhoods simply because he disliked the local representative. Drapeau would have felt perfectly at home in Robert Moses’ urban world, and at odds with Jane Jacobs’ TheDeath and Life of Great American Cities.
Corridart presented none-too-subtle reminders to Drapeau that not all of his great civic endeavors were appreciated. Among the artworks deemed “ugly” by Monsieur Le Maire was Melvin Charney’s “Les maisons de la rue Sherbrooke”, consisting of a scaffolded facade of Victorian homes erected in front of a vacant lot. Another artwork was simply a giant cross – similar to the one at the top of Mount Royal – laying on its side, suggesting it was in need of a rest.
Drapeau eventually received his comeuppance. Three months after the closing ceremonies Rene Levesque’s Parti-Quebecois swept into power, assuming control of the Quebec provincial government, and immediately launching a full-scale public inquiry into the Olympics, and Montreal’s municipal administration. ( Despite the fact that two years earlier there had already been a Montreal construction inquiry. You’ll recall some of this from last summer’s podcast, Downward Spiral – L’Affaire Matticks and the Poitras Commission – There are more details in that broadcast: The Malouf Commission looked into the billion dollar-plus cost overrun, but somehow Drapeau managed to survive and win the 1978 election). The Parti-Quebecois later passed a law forcing Montreal taxpayers to shoulder $200 million of Olympic debt (Drapeau had once famously stated that the Olympics, “can no more lose money than a man can have a baby.” )
To this day Montreal’s Olympic Stadium is none-too-affectionately referred to as The Big O or Big OWE. Translation = the amount the public had to ultimately shill out for the event. The $1.5-billion price tag for the 1976 Olympic Games was finally laid to rest thirty years later when the last debt payment was made in 2006.
Jean Drapeau would survive as mayor for another decade. He lost the election in 1986, and left office largely in disgrace. In interviews and speeches Drapeau characterized his opponent, Jean Dore as a Communist and a separatist. Reacting to this, and in a reference to Duplessis once blaming the Trois Rivieres bridge collapse on Communist operatives, Paul-Andre Comeau wrote in Le Devoir, “One has the impression of returning 30 or 35 years into the past, to the era when, to explain why a bridge collapsed, one dreamed up a sober plot led by agents from the East.”
The reign of Rene Levesque and his Parti Quebecois was short lived. By 1980 it appeared Pierre Trudeau’s tenure as Prime Minister of Canada seemed to be over. Levesque’s old rival had lost to Joe Clark in the election of 1979, but then the Conservatives were breathlessly swept from office in a vote of no-confidence. With this abrupt change in fortune, the Liberals were left leaderless, and asked Trudeau to come back and lead the party. At the same time, Rene Levesque unwisely hastened his Quebec independence referendum. The province-wide question on Quebec separation took place on Tuesday, May 20, 1980. But the campaigning had begun months before, right in the midst of Trudeau’s Federal election to power. Levesque’s hope for an independent Quebec was doomed from the start, and the question failed by a vote of 60% against separation and 40% in favour. Levesque’s final defeat would come in 1981 in the Ottawa chapter known as “The Night of Long Knives”, but that’s a story that will need to wait for another day.
From a friend: Paroles / Mon Chum:
10,000 castors entre toé pi moé mon chum ta rien a craindre moé j’mange mon blé – d’inde mon chum t’as l’air du bon dieu moé j’ai l’air d’un gru mon chumla grosse Maple Leafs entre toé pi moé mon chum
mais fait attention j’men vient chez nous a Oka mon chum même si j’sort de Kanawaké , mais fait attention cette tête là c’est pas le Canada
Cent milles caisses de bières entre toé pi moé mon chumpour toé sa flotte pour moé j’suis de la crotte mon chum tes en bâteau moé je calle dans l’eau mon chum
mais fait attention a mon bazouka moé j’vient de Kanawaké , ont vient du même pommier mon chumtu vas tomber pi moé je vais te pousser , fait attention mon chum chacun son tour .
Much of the research for this three part series on The October Crisis came from this fantastic Donald Brittain / National Film Board of Canada three part documentary on Pierre Trudeau and René Lévesque, The Champions:
Growing up in Pierrefonds, Montreal, we used to have these two, large black and white posters hanging in our unfinished basement. One was of Robert Kennedy, the other Pierre Elliot Trudeau. This was at the end of the 1960s, my mother had totally bought into Trudeaumania. There was never a poster of that other Quebec political rock star, Rene Levesque.
I’m going to run straight to the punchline. There were two kidnapping, and one was fatal. In October 1970 the Quebec FLQ terrorist group – the Front de libération du Québec – first abducted British trade commissioner James Cross. They then went after Quebec Minister of Labour and Deputy Premiere, Pierre Laporte. Under captivity, Laporte was murdered and his body later found in the trunk of an abandoned car at the Saint Hubert airport.
This is Who Killed Theresa.
The FLQ was founded in 1963, but up to that time there had already been considerable revolutionary and terrorist activity in Quebec and throughout the world – in Cuba, the United States, Ireland, South America, Africa, Continental Europe….
In March 1963, someone unbolted the statue of James Wolfe in Quebec City – British hero who defeated the French at the Plains of Abraham in 1759. Wolfe toppled from his pedestal, smashing into pieces, and it all went downhill from there.
Beginning with Molotov cocktails and then eventually graduating to dynamite bombings, the FLQ waged guerrilla warfare against English institutions in Quebec throughout the 1960s. Targets included armories and military recruitment centers, the federal railroad system, the department of revenue, mailboxes in English residential sectors of Montreal, the Montreal Stock Exchange, the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, and the home of Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau.
Long before Cross and Laporte there had been at least six fatalities, most being ordinary citizens – secretaries and shop keepers going about their business – beginning with the April 1963 death of night watchman Wilfred O’Neil, who was killed when a bomb exploded outside an army recruiting station.
Rather than explaining all subsequent events, it might be best to hear the story of the October Crisis from the one hostage who managed to survive the grueling affair. The following are excerpts from James Cross’ account of events – with some additional notes for clarification – from a taped interview conducted in 1996 at Churchill College, Cambridge:
“October 5th was a typical bright Montreal Autumn day. My wife and I were facing a busy week with a number of important engagements including a visit from the President of the Confederation of British Industries for whom we were organising certain functions and we were discussing the week ahead as I walked between the bedroom and the bathroom dressing, I heard a ring of the doorbell and was surprised that anybody would arrive that early in the morning. My wife suggested that it was probably Hydro Quebec come to read the meter so I took no further notice. I then heard raised voices but did not pay much attention as our maid was inclined to speak loudly sometimes to her small child. The next thing I knew was as I was walking back towards the bathroom dressed only in shirt and underpants. A man came through from the opposite side holding a gun and said, ‘Get down on the floor or you’ll be fucking dead‘. I backed into the bedroom lay on the floor and he then made me turn over onto my face and puts handcuffs on me. Our Dalmatian dog was sitting on the bed beside my wife and started to growl and he told her that if she let the dog move he would shoot it. He then called out another man who came up the stairs into the bedroom carrying a sub machine gun and shepherding the maid and her daughter in front of them. The first man then took me into the dressing room beyond the bathroom put my trousers on and shoes and slipped a jacket over my shoulders. He then led me back through the bedroom. My wife said “you must let me say goodbye to my husband” and came over and kissed me goodbye. They tore the phones out of the sockets beside the bed and told my wife that she must not phone anybody for an hour. I was then taken downstairs where there was a third man also armed. We went out through the front door and there was a taxi sitting outside the house. The only other person I could see was a gardener collecting leaves on the far side of the road. I was pushed into the taxi and shoved down between the front and back seats and a rug thrown over my head. “
“Then we drove for about five to ten minutes and stopped in what was clearly some sort of garage or workshop. I was taken out, made to stand against the wall with my eyes closed and a gas mask with the eye pieces painted black was placed over my head. I was then taken back and pushed into another car in the same position between the seats and we drove for possibly fifteen to twenty minutes. We finally drew up in what was clearly the garage of a house. I was taken out, led upstairs the handcuffs were transferred from behind my back to the front and I was put lying down on a mattress in a room where I was to spend the next fifty nine days. My gas mask was removed and a hood placed on my head. I asked them what their intentions were and they said I would have to wait and see. Later that morning they read me their manifesto which included the demands for the release of political prisoners etc. as had been demanded for Harrison Burgess. If these demands were not met I would be executed within forty eight hours. On hearing this I said, “In that case I must compose myself for death.” During the whole day the radio was on most of the time and they were listening avidly to the various reports coming in. Sometime later in the day following a call to a radio station, messages from the kidnappers were found at the University of Montreal. These listed seven demands to be met “In order to preserve the life of the representative of the ancient racist and colonialist British system”. It gave the authorities until noon on Wednesday i.e. forty eight hours to submit. That afternoon the Quebec Justice Minister made a statement outlying the ransom demands. These, as I have mentioned, were similar to those for Harrison Burgess early in the summer included the release of twenty three “political prisoners”, the provision of an aircraft for their transportation to Cuba or Algeria, five hundred thousand dollars in gold bars, the reinstatement of some postal drivers who had been dismissed as a result of privatisation, the name of the informer who had helped the police apprehend the earlier cell, the publication of the full text of the FLQ manifesto and the cessation of all police activities. “
“The next few days presented a picture of some confusion; I think it took authorities in both Quebec and Ottawa a little longer to recognise the seriousness of the demands and in the first instance it appeared that the Quebec Government were taking the lead with Prime Minister Trudeau refusing to answer questions on the subject. In spite of this the premier Bourassa announced that he was carrying on with a business promotion visit to New York on the Thursday and Friday. On the Tuesday evening a message was delivered to a radio station which contained a personal letter from me to my wife and repeating the demands that the FLQ requests be met in full otherwise, “we will not hesitate to do away with J Cross.” On Wednesday there was a further communication from the FLQ including one from me dictated of course by them, asking that their demands should be met. There was still no clear response from either Quebec or Federal Governments. On Thursday the first step was taken when the FLQ manifesto, a crude polemic attacking every institution in Canada and Quebec and abuse for politicians such as Trudeau and Bourassa was read by a po-faced announcer on Radio Canada’s television network. “
“On Friday [ October ] 9th the Minister of Justice asked for my kidnappers to provide proof that I was still alive and well and a letter containing the message which I had been asked to sign was delivered to a radio station. Saturday the tenth, Choquette the Justice Minister of Quebec came on television and radio just before 6:00pm and said that the kidnappers’ demands would not be met but they offered to provide them with safe conduct to a foreign country in return for my release. He also promised to examine the cases of those “political” prisoners to see if parole or remission of sentence would be justified. During the whole of this week my condition had been static. After the first day or two I was allowed to sit in an armchair for most of the day but still handcuffed. My hood was adjusted so that I could watch television during part of the day although I never saw my captors. Arrangements were made for me to be provided with some pills for my blood pressure for which my wife had appealed on television. The television and radio were on constantly and members of the group were frequently going out to bring back newspapers which they read avidly for news of their exploits. “
“After Mr Choquette had made his statement I asked them what they were going to do with me . They replied that they were going to hold me for a few days “pour baver la police”, to taunt the police. In a few minutes the news came on radio that [ on Saturday, October 10th ] Pierre Laporte the Minister of Labour and Deputy Prime Minister of the Quebec Government had been kidnapped. He had been playing football outside his house with a young nephew when four men drove up in a car, bundled him into it and drove off. This changed the whole situation for whereas I was a virtually unknown foreign diplomat, Pierre Laporte had been a major figure in Quebec politics for the past twenty years. All attention was now focused on his fate. “
“The next week was then concentrated on the cell holding Pierre Laporte. On the Sunday there were three communications from the cell including in the evening a long letter from Laporte to Bourassa drawing attention to the number of people who were depending on him and urging that the kidnappers’ demands be met. It’s well to point out here that all public messages by either Laporte or me were dictated by the kidnappers and accepted as the only means of communication with the outside world. On the Monday morning a letter from me was discovered and the Government then proceeded to open negotiations through an intermediary named Demers. The next few days saw an astonishing rise in support for the FLQ’s demands coming not only from old FLQ militants but also from students and the trade unions. On Wednesday October 14th a message from my cell was found indicating that contact had been made between the two and that their joint demands were that the prisoners should be sent to Cuba or Algeria and thereafter Cross and Laporte would be freed. The same day there came an appeal from a number of leading Quebec figures including publishers and labour leaders. While offering their support to the provincial Government they clearly favoured an exchange of prisoners for the hostages. On Thursday 15th [ Prime Minister Pierre ] Trudeau met with opposition leaders to seek a solution to the situation. He got no general support and on that evening troops were called out in support of the forces of law and order in Quebec. At this point they were only carrying out guard duties and protection in support of the police. That evening there was a rally at the Paul Sauvé Arena. “
“This was originally organised by the opposition party in the civic elections but was taken over by a large number of FLQ supporters including LaMieux the lawyer negotiating for the FLQ, Michel Chartrand a leading nationalist labour leader and several well known FLQ supporters. I was watching the event on television and it did seem at that point as if a very large number of people in Montreal were supporting the aims and objectives of the FLQ. In the early hours of Friday morning (the 16th) the government passed the War Measures Act which, for the first time in peace-time, imposed a state of war in Canada. “
“Immediately a large number of FLQ sympathisers and supporters were rounded up together with a number of other people whose connection with the movement was to say the least slight. Friday evening Trudeau came on television and said that the Government would not give in to these demonstrations and attempts by a small group to force its will on the majority by violence. We were listening to this on television and immediately after he’d finished I heard the woman in the group (presumably Louise Cassett Trudel) say, “Laporte est mort”, Laporte is dead.”
“The following day was reasonably quiet with no great activity that I could see. Then in the late evening watching television, news came in that there was something strange happening at St Hubert Airport to the east of Montreal. Shortly afterwards one began to see the television cameras arriving on the scene. In the early hours of the morning the trunk of a car which was parked there was broken open to reveal the body of Pierre Laporte. It was then revealed that a telephone call to a radio station earlier in the evening had given this news. Thus the journalists arrived almost as soon as the police. The rest of that evening or early morning was chaotic. Shortly after the announcement that Laporte’s body had been found there was an announcement that my body had been found at Rawdon near Quebec. This was naturally an appalling piece of news since I feared that my wife might be watching. I wanted to get up and shake the television set and scream “I’m not dead! I’m not dead!”. Finally I think even my captors took pity on me and gave me some aspirin or something to calm me down. The following morning they allowed me to write a letter to my wife. “
“Before we continue the rest of the story I might describe the conditions under which I was held during the first week. As I mentioned I began by being handcuffed then after a day or so these were changed that two handcuffs linked together with cloth to avoid them fraying my wrists were attached. I was allowed to sit in an arm chair for most of the day and watch television or listen to the radio or read news papers. While these conditions were not terrible onerous it was clear that there were other measures to be taken if I should prove recalcitrant. For example, there were bolts fitted to the floor which could be used to chain me down and there were all the implements for gagging and other methods of restraint. Accordingly I decided that the only way to survive 8 was to go along with the kidnappers and obey their orders.”
“The next six weeks were into a fairly steady routine. The first few days there was the drama of Pierre Laporte’s funeral and the surrounding interest and excitement. Also reports of the various police raids and arrests of those suspected of FLQ sympathies. Mayor Drapeau fought his municipal election and swept the opposition (suspected of FLQ sympathy) from the field. My own position sank into one of inertia. The kidnappers refused to discuss their next moves with me but one evening I heard a number of them talking in another room and one returned to give my guard the news. I could not hear the full gist of his statement but I clearly heard the word ‘indefinitely’. The routine was that I usually got up about 10 in the morning, was allowed to wash and go to the lavatory, sometimes to shave although the woman in the party was reluctant to allow me to do so. Then I returned to sit in the chair facing the television set and spent the rest of the day there. I would either read, watch television when they had it on, listen to the radio or play innumerable games of Patience. Another means of occupying my mind was to go over holidays or things I had done in the past, for example, I began to retrace in my mind the walk of about three quarters of a mile which I used to take to school as a small boy. In the beginning I could barely remember the details, but after a few weeks I could probably have described every blade of grass on the route. Food usually consisted of toast and coffee in the morning, two pieces of toast, one with peanut butter. In the evening there was some sort of a mess, sometimes soup sometimes a Chinese meal or some sort of mess up. The food was not very adequate and in fact I lost 22lbs in my eight weeks incarceration. After the excitements and dramas of the first two weeks in captivity culminating in the terrible night when Laporte’s body was found the remaining six weeks were very much a period of stagnation. I followed the same routine getting up late watching television, reading or playing patience during the day and going to bed very late at night after the last television programme had finished. My selection of reading was a curious mixture, on the one hand there were the revolutionary manuals such as Valliere’s on the wrongs of the French Canadians, ‘The Wretched of the Earth’ by Franz Fanon the Algerian psychologist who was a guru of the Algerian revolution and a few miscellaneous works on the revolutionaries of the 1960’s. On the other hand there was a very good selection of early Agatha Christies in French and it was surprising how good many of them were to read again. One curious book they supplied me with was an early work by Jules Verne about the French Canadian patriots of 1837. I believe that, in addition, to his science fiction work he also went through an anti-British period when he wrote works about British imperialism in Canada, India and Ireland.”
“In the first two weeks I had been interested in their political ideas and their objectives and we had had a certain amount of discussion but after La Porte’s death I felt that I no longer wanted to pursue these subjects and we really sank into our two solitudes. The great problem throughout was that I never knew what was going on behind me and it would have been a disaster for me to have turned my head and seen any of my captors. This was sometimes very difficult to avoid if a sudden noise happened behind me or somebody spoke to me. The only major events of those weeks were first an occasion when they sat me on a box (supposedly containing dynamite) took certain pictures of me which were later released to the press together with a letter from me (dictated of course by them) and a letter to my wife. It caused rather an unpleasant incident with my captors because they had spelt the words prisoners in English with two N’s (as in French) and I had not corrected it. The press took this up as suggesting that I was trying to pass some sort of code message. As, of course, I was being held in north Montreal it could have been an attempt to convey information but, of course, I had no idea where I was. Following press commentary on this they were quite hostile to me for a couple of days, practically the only occasion on which any really nasty incidents arose.“
” I’d already adjusted my mind to getting through the period up to Christmas and was beginning to think that I might possibly have to last through the whole winter. At the beginning of December there seemed to be a little more activity around with people coming and going and discussions about the amount of money they had which suggested that they were finding it difficult to keep going. “
“The 2nd December was a day much as usual. I noticed that there did not seem to be so many people around but this was not unusual as they sometimes left for a few hours. This evening they came and put handcuffs on me which was the first time this had happened for a number of weeks. I asked what had happened and they told me that the police knew where I was and had arrested two of their comrades who had gone out during the day and not returned. Later that evening all the lights in the apartment went off and at that I was taken from my chair, led into the passageway between the rooms and handcuffed to a door handle. In this extremely uncomfortable position where I could neither sit nor stand I spent the rest of the night. They clearly expected an attack during the night and on one occasion began to compose a message of defiance to be thrown out of the window. When they had finished drafting this somebody said, “We must add our slogan ‘nous vaincrons'” meaning ‘we shall win’. At that absurdity of three men defying the whole of the Canadian security services we all burst out laughing. Dawn came. I was allowed to stand up and move around the corridor. They remained on the alert. At some time in the morning the negotiator appointed by the Federal Government, Mr Mergler, a lawyer who had represented FLQ members in the past, came and knocked on the door. There was considerable dismantling as they had wired the door with explosives against attack. He came in and as his first question asked me the name of the bull terrier we had when living in Delhi. This had been agreed by my wife as a codeword. Interestingly enough the full title of the story from which the name is drawn is “Garm a hostage”. Then followed two hours of negotiation. The government proposal was that we should all go to the EXPO site where a building had been designated as the Cuban consulate for the day. I would remain there under the supervision of the Cuban Consul while the kidnappers and their families were flown to Cuba. As soon as they arrived in Cuba I would be released. They were extremely suspicious of all this and suggested that as soon as they got outside the building they would be mowed down. Mr Mergler and I pointed out that they could hardly do this if I was among them. Finally they agreed and towards 1:00pm we went down into the basement and climbed into the battered old car in which I presume I had arrived two months before. The back of the car was covered in newspaper to prevent a shot being taken. I got in the back with Lanctot and Carbonneau the taxi driver and Seguin were in the front. Carbonneau was extremely nervous and as we drove out of the garage scraped the wing of the car. When we got outside into the bright sunlight it was an astonishing sight with hundreds of police and soldiers lining the streets. Mergler climbed into the front of the car and we started this terrific ride behind police outsiders across Montreal. The back door of the car was shaky and at time as we went round corners I was worried that Lanctot would fall out so I hung on to him. Finally we crossed the long bridge to the Expo site, pulled up outside the then designated Cuban Consulate. Bill Ashford, my information colleague, was there waiting for me and we went into the building. I turned to one side, my kidnappers to the other and I never saw them again. I had to remain in the Consulate then until about midnight. I first t a l k e d t o m y wife in Switzerland an d t h e n t o t h e H i g h Commissioner in Ottawa. I spoke later to Mr Trudeau and to Mr B o u r a s s a t h e P r i m e M i n i s t e r o f Q u e b e c . “
“F o o d a r r i v e d , unfortunately nobody had thought to provide any drink, a great deprivation after two months without alcohol. At 6:00 the kidnappers left; their families having been collected at the airport, and then Mr Chauquette (the Minister of Justice) arrived, then my daughter came, then later in the evening Mr Bourassa the Prime Minister. I stayed there until midnight when I was driven to the Jewish General Hospital (my GP was a consultant there) where I was weighed, tested and spent a peaceful night. The following day I had further tests, then a long session with the police recording my impressions of the kidnappers and went to the office to see the staff. On Saturday morning early we drove to the airport and I made a short speech before flying to England together with my daughter. On the plane I gave a long description of the whole affair to Jim Davy – one of Mr Trudeau’s aids but alas he had failed to switch his tape recorder on. When we landed at London my wife came on board to meet us and we descended to meet the press. After a brief interview we went by car to Dorney Wood, the Foreign Secretary’s country residence where we spent a quiet weekend. “
Two days before Christmas, December 23rd, 1970 Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau announces that all troops stationed in the province will be withdrawn from Quebec by January 5, 1971.
On December 28th the three members of the Chenier Cell still at large, Paul Rose, Jacques Rose, and Francis Simard, are arrested after being found hiding in a tunnel in a Saint Luc rural farming community 20 miles south east of Montreal. Later they would be charged with the kidnapping and murder of Pierre Laporte.
Paul Rose had been vacationing in the United States in the fall of 1970 when he got word that James Cross had been kidnapped. He quickly cut short his vacation and hurried back to Montreal, and basically improvised the abduction of Pierre Laporte. The versions of Laporte’s death have changed over the years. At once, it was deemed an accident, they “accidentally” strangled Laporte with the religious chain around his neck when he tried to escape. Later Rose and Simard basically fell over themselves claiming they had murdered Laporte, and would gladly do it again. Still later, Rose claimed that the murder was the result of frustration after authorities had cut off communication between the FLQ cells. In this version Rose blamed the establishment for Laporte’s death.
The outcomes from the October Crisis have always been unresolved and less than satisfactory. What did anyone learn? Jacques Trudel and his wife Louise Lanctôt negotiated safe passage to Cuba and lived there for 4 years. In 1977 Rene Levesque announced he was seeking a pardon for Trudel and Lanctot. They returned to Montreal in 1978. For the kidnapping of James Cross they received five years on probation; they served two. Trudel became a successful screenwriter and filmmaker, receiving financial assistance from Téléfilm Canada.
For the murder of Pierre Laporte, Francis Simard was given a life sentence, but was paroled in 1982. Jacques Rose served even less time, he was paroled in 1978. At the 1981 Parti Quebecois convention Jacques Rose was given a standing ovation, Levesque shook his head in disgust, never wanting his party controlled by extreme voices. Paul Rose served 13 years. By the mid-eighties he was out, attempting to resume his teaching career in Montreal. Rose applied for work at an elementary school just blocks from where Pierre Laporte’s widow was living.
In a 1978 interview with Photo Police Paul Rose was without remorse:
“I regret nothing: 1970, the abductions, the prison, the suffering, nothing. I did what I had to do. Placed before the same circumstances today, I would do exactly the same thing. I will never deny what I did and what happened. It was not a youthful indiscretion. “
My experience is that you cannot remain agnostic about the events of October 1970, people in Quebec expect you to take a side. My own thoughts have evolved over the years, I am now a long way from that basement in the West Island of Montreal with those black and white posters.
There’s a sketch comedy series in Quebec called Bye-Bye. It’s a year-end New Year’s Eve round up of funny skits that summarize events of the previous year. Bye Bye 1970 is memorable for the sublime bit, Olivier Guimond a Westmount – I’ll post it on the website. Guimond was a tremendously gifted physical comedian – think Charlie Chaplin.
The sketch opens outside an affluent home on New Years Eve, Guimond dressed as an army officer standing watch on the front entrance. It’s snowing… he’s cold, he’s bored. Glancing at his watch he calls into his supervisor.
“Hello Chef? It’s Corporal Olivier. Yes, I’m still at Westmount. Chef? Can you call my family and wish them happy new year? And my little ones two, eh… Merci Chef. “
Then out stumbles the rich, english owner of the manor, drunk and dressed in a dishevelled tuxedo. His wife urges him to come back inside, it’s too cold:
“No, no… I want a chat with him”
“With HIM??? Oohhh!”
In very bad french he offers Guimond a nip from his bottle of scotch. Some physical comedy follows, some funny stumbling from getting drunk. The english millionaire asks the french soldier guarding his home where he’s from:
“Where is it?”
“just en bas. Direct en bas” ( he points down)
“Oh yes, right down there.”
“There’s no light down there…”
At the end of the sketch Mr. English returns to his safe, warm home, and Mr. Quebecois continues his sentry – protecting Mr. English – in the evening cold. Guilmond carries the skit with such a spirit of humanity, never has the Quebecois condition in the 1970s been expressed quite so eloquently.
MYLÈNE MOISAN / LE SOLEIL, Le Soleil / 10 février 2020
“When the facts are not enough, what sheds light for us, what helps us in a normal investigation, is to see if there are contradictions, improbabilities, avenues that have not been explored. In Dupont’s case, it’s yes, yes and yes. And there are masses of them. ”
The observation is by Stéphane Berthomet, who worked for two years trying to shed light on a most nebulous story, the death of a Trois-Rivières policeman, Louis-Georges Dupont, found on the morning of November 10, 1969 in his patrol car, five days after his disappearance.
Since then, the official thesis has been suicide.
I have been interested in this story for almost 20 years now and, like Berthomet, I have a feeling that the authorities – police and political – never wanted to get to the bottom of it. Admitting that Louis-George Dupont was killed because he disturbed the established system does not help this system.
Two of Dupont’s four children, Jacques and Robert, who have been asking questions for half a century, are also disturbed. Over the years, they have assembled an impressive number of gray areas, a missing file here, a car missing there, the list goes on.
The impression that the truth is being made up remains consistent.
The morning of the discovery of the body, Sergeant Jean-Marie Hubert – note this name – went to Dupont’s doctor, left with a letter saying that Dupont was depressed and in anguish. With the suicide note found in the car, the case was in the bag.
So Louis-George Dupont left the police station on the morning of November 5, he went to a wooded area on the northern edge of the city on the edge of Saint-Jean boulevard to shoot himself in the chest.
And it was Jean-Marie Hubert who pulled the strings of this “investigation”, he who was only supposed to do office work. He had just been reinstated on this condition two months after being dismissed following the recommendations of the Quebec Police Commission, because of his involvement in a local prostitution ring.
He was playing well, he was leading the moral squad.
The Police Commission also recommended the dismissal of the chief of police, Captain Detective George Gagnon, as well as another member of the morality squad, Paul Dallaire.
Who is one of the only police officers to have collaborated in the Commission’s investigation?
A few days after discovering the body, Georges Gagnon and Jean-Marie Hubert both produced a report in which they recount the events. On November 17, Captain Gagnon said that on November 5, the day of the disappearance, “at 10:15 PM, I went to the station, Mr. Hubert was accompanied by Mr. Gendron, owner of the La Perruque store [friend of M. Dupont]. Mr. Gendron told me that he had seen Mr. Dupont at his establishment the day before and he told me that Mr. Dupont was sick, that he had nine pills to take per day, and that he was trying to spit and he had no saliva ”.
On November 18, Jean-Marie Hubert said in his report that on November 5 “around 10:30 PM, Mr. Jacques Gendron calls me to tell me that he wants to see me and that it is urgent. So I meet him and […] he tells me that the week before, he went to see him at La Péruque inc on rue Royale and that at that time, he had let him see that he wanted to kill himself. Dupont said that he could no longer afford to keep his house, that he was sick and that he had to take nine pills a day and he said: “Gendron, I try to spit and I have no more saliva.””
Was it the day before or the week before?
This contradiction is added to all those highlighted by Stéphane Berthomet in an 11-episode podcast produced by Radio-Canada, Dupont the incorruptible. “When I launched into this story, I knew it would be heavy, but I did not expect that there would be so many details, to find so many improbabilities and contradictions, so many elements that do not stick.”
Captain George Gagnon also recounts in his November 17, 1969 report that he sent Sergeant Clément Massicotte “with the gun and the bullet” to the Institute of Forensic Medicine.
At that time, there was no bullet.
In the official thesis, which contradicts itself, it was Jean Hould, the doctor who made the first autopsy, who would have sent Clément Massicotte 10 hours later to look for the bullet in the car seat, in the dark . And the bullet which would have been found was so damaged that it was impossible to connect it to the weapon which was at the foot of Dupont… And in 2011, “on the program Enquête for Radio-Canada, Massicotte, was recorded without his knowledge , and said he hadn’t been looking for the bullet, “notes Berthomet.
The podcast creator focused on the first “investigation” in 1969, including an expeditious session chaired by coroner Marcel Chartier, held in the skaters’ shack in Parc Sainte-Marguerite. People who were on the attendance list were not there.
Chartier concluded the only possible thesis, suicide.
Berthomet spent a lot of time analyzing what was said at the Lacerte-Lamontagne commission, another “investigation” held in 1996, he noted testimonies where people report a second bullet wound near Dupont’s shoulder, he also highlighted the fact that there are only four photos of the autopsy, “which is unusual”.
Another track that has never been followed.
Berthomet also highlighted the failing memory of Jean-Marie Hubert, who has only one answer to all the questions asked of him about Dupont’s testimony before the Police Commission in September 1969, to which he would have attended. “I do not remember. […] I would like that, remember… ”, he assures.
His memories are surprisingly much clearer when it comes to talking about Dupont’s “depressed state.” “I can tell you that at some point he told me that he had to take pills, drugs. […] I advised him several times to go to a psychiatrist. ”
However, in his report of November 18, he said he learned that the night of his disappearance, when Jacques Gendron told him that he was worried about his absence. “Not knowing Dupont’s sickness, I tell him there is nothing to worry about, because he must be busy and he should be back soon.”
Justice Louise Lacerte-Lamontagne also accepted the suicide thesis. “Was a commission of inquiry like this the right tool? I think the judge was in good faith, she relied on facts, but there are very few facts. I have the impression that there are things that have escaped her attention. “
Like all unanswered questions.
Among other things, she accepted one of the explanations of forensic expert Michael Baden, who came to assert that a hole made by a bullet in a sternum can shrink. He had to explain why a bullet like the one supposedly found in the car was bigger than the hole in Dupont’s sternum. “No other Commission expert has gone in this direction and has even been cross-checked. All the experts I have consulted tell me that the bone cannot shrink as claimed by Baden. One of the experts said it is ridiculous. “
According to the murder thesis, Jean-Marie Hubert and Paul Dallaire were scheming with their colleague Laurence Buckley so that the latter would make Dupont believe that they had to go to Champlain for a case. At this destination, Dupont would have been kidnapped in what people called the “Boisclair cabin”, an infrequent place where drink and prostitution went hand in hand.
A place that the police attended.
Louis-George Dupont was allegedly killed on the evening of November 9, transported to the woods at the northern limits of Trois-Rivières, then placed in his company car.
There were tire marks around.
The car had been refueled the previous day, and the number of miles on the odometer shown. The odometer was read in the car when they found it in the woods, the distance covered corresponds to that which separates the police station from the Champlain chalet, then from the chalet to the woodland.
The account of the events as they would have happened is based on confidences that Buckley would have made to Jean-Pierre Corbin, who was a bar owner, therefore privileged witness of what was happening in the “clubs” where the morality squad managed the lucrative and flourishing market of girls for pleasure.
One of these clubs belonged to an alderman.
The third “investigation” was carried out in 2011 by the Sûreté du Québec, who promised to review the file from “A to Z”, but brushed aside the inconsistencies and the many questions left without answers. For the most part, the SQ report only refers to the testimony heard by the Lacerte-Lamontagne commission, which abounds in the direction of the official thesis, including that of Hubert.
Jean-Marie Hubert is the main suspect in the murder thesis.
He’s clean as snow in the suicide thesis.
The investigators met Jean-Pierre Corbin, the latter never felt that they were interested in what he said. “They told me it was crazy.” Period. In the report – which I managed to obtain by a request for information which took seven months -, it is written that an “investigation” was made, that “the history of the chalet, where M Dupont, would never have existed in 1969 “.
Stéphane Berthomet was very interested in this point, he found an important witness who affirms, beyond any doubt, that the “Cabane à Boisclair” was there at least until the early 1970s, he went there a few times with his brother who met disreputable people there.
His account of the place is in all respects to the other testimonies I have obtained from people who knew the place.
What is more, I found an aerial photo taken by the Minister of Lands and Forests on October 20, 1970, and where we can clearly see the building near the river, just after the bend in avenue des Quatorze-Soleils in Champlain , along the river. Berthomet’s witness places him there exactly.
This corroborates the story of Jean-Pierre Corbin, the SQ did not miss an opportunity to attack his credibility.
Despite all the contradictions, despite all the improbabilities, the authorities continue to sweep under the carpet – as they have always done – all the elements that do not stick. “With all we know, I wonder what more is needed to move the file forward. Unless you have first-hand testimony, someone who says, “I was there,” I don’t know what it would take. “
And maybe there is such a witness. “I keep hoping…”
MYLÈNE MOISAN / LE SOLEIL, Le Soleil / 10 février 2020
Partager«Lorsque les faits ne sont pas suffisants, ce qui nous éclaire, ce qui nous sert dans une enquête normale, c’est de voir s’il y a des contradictions, des invraisemblances, des pistes qui n’ont pas été explorées. Dans le cas de Dupont, c’est oui, oui et oui. Et il y en a des masses.»
Le constat est de Stéphane Berthomet, qui a travaillé pendant deux années à essayer de faire la lumière sur une histoire des plus nébuleuses, la mort d’un policier de Trois-Rivières, Louis-Georges Dupont, retrouvé le matin du 10 novembre 1969 dans sa voiture de service, cinq jours après sa disparition.
Depuis, la thèse officielle est celle du suicide.
Je m’intéresse à cette histoire depuis presque 20 ans maintenant et, comme Berthomet, j’ai le sentiment que les autorités — policières et politiques — n’ont jamais voulu aller au fond des choses. Admettre que Louis-George Dupont a été tué parce qu’il dérangeait le système en place ne fait pas l’affaire de ce même système.
Deux des quatre enfants de Dupont, Jacques et Robert, qui posent des questions depuis un demi-siècle dérangent aussi. Au fil des années, ils ont assemblé un nombre impressionnant de zones d’ombre, un dossier manquant par ci, une voiture disparue par là, la liste est longue.
L’impression que la vérité est maquillée reste tenace.
Le matin de la découverte du corps, le sergent Jean-Marie Hubert — notez ce nom — s’est rendu chez le médecin de Dupont, en est reparti avec une lettre disant qu’il filait un mauvais coton, qu’il était dépressif et angoissé. Avec la note de suicide retrouvée dans la voiture, l’affaire est dans le sac.
Ainsi, Louis-George Dupont est parti du poste de police le matin du 5 novembre, il s’est rendu dans un boisé aux limites nord de la ville en bordure du boulevard Saint-Jean pour se tirer dans la poitrine.
Et c’est Jean-Marie Hubert qui a tiré les ficelles de cette «enquête», lui qui ne devait faire que du travail de bureau. Il venait d’être réintégré à cette condition deux mois après avoir été destitué à la suite des recommandations de la Commission de police du Québec, en raison de son implication dans le réseau de prostitution.
Il avait beau jeu, il dirigeait l’escouade de la moralité.
La Commission de police a aussi recommandé le congédiement du chef de police, le capitaine-détective George Gagnon, ainsi qu’un autre membre de l’escouade de la moralité, Paul Dallaire.
Qui est un des seuls policiers à avoir collaboré à l’enquête de la Commission?
Quelques jours après découverte du cadavre, Georges Gagnon et Jean-Marie Hubert ont tous deux produit un rapport dans lequel ils font le récit des événements. Le 17 novembre, le capitaine Gagnon raconte que le 5 novembre, jour de la disparition, «à 10:15 PM, je me suis rendu au poste, M. Hubert était accompagné de M. Gendron, propriétaire du magasin La Perruque [ami de M. Dupont]. M. Gendron m’a raconté qu’il avait vu M. Dupont à son établissement la veille et il m’a raconté que M. Dupont était malade, qu’il avait neuf pilules à prendre par jour, et qu’il essayait de cracher et qu’il n’avait pas de salive».
Le 18 novembre, Jean-Marie Hubert raconte dans son rapport que le 5 novembre «vers 10:30 PM, M. Jacques Gendron m’appelle pour me dire qu’il veut me voir et que c’est urgent. Je le rencontre donc et […] il me raconte alors que la semaine précédente, il est allé le voir à la Péruque inc sur la rue Royale et qu’à ce moment-là, il lui avait laissé voir qu’il se supprimerait peut-être. Dupont disait qu’il n’avait plus les moyens de garder sa maison, qu’il était malade et qu’il devait prendre neuf pilules par jour et il disait : “Gendron, j’essaye de cracher et je n’ai plus de salive.”»
C’était la veille ou la semaine précédente?
Cette contradiction s’ajoute à toutes celles qu’a mises en lumière Stéphane Berthomet dans une balado de 11 épisodes produite par Radio-Canada, Dupont l’incorruptible. «En me lançant dans cette histoire, je savais que ce serait lourd, mais je ne m’attendais pas à ce qu’il y ait autant de détails, à trouver autant d’invraisemblances et de contradictions, autant d’éléments qui ne collent pas.»
Le capitaine George Gagnon raconte aussi dans son rapport du 17 novembre 1969 qu’il a envoyé le sergent Clément Massicotte «avec l’arme et la balle» à l’Institut de médecine légale.
À ce moment-là, il n’y avait pas de balle.
Dans la thèse officielle, qui se contredit donc elle-même, c’est Jean Hould, le médecin qui a fait la première autopsie, qui aurait envoyé Clément Massicotte 10 heures plus tard chercher la balle dans le siège de la voiture, à la noirceur. Et la balle qui aurait été trouvée était si abimée qu’il était impossible de la relier à l’arme qui était au pied de Dupont… Et en 2011, «à l’émission Enquête à Radio-Canada, Massicotte, enregistré à son insu, a dit qu’il n’avait pas été chercher la balle», note Berthomet.
L’auteur de la balado s’est attardé à la première «enquête» de 1969, entre autres sur une séance expéditive présidée par le coroner Marcel Chartier, tenue dans la cabane des patineurs du parc Sainte-Marguerite. Des gens qui étaient inscrits sur la liste des présences n’y étaient pas.
Chartier a retenu la seule thèse envisagée, le suicide.
Berthomet a passé beaucoup de temps à analyser ce qui s’est dit à la commission Lacerte-Lamontagne, une autre «enquête» tenue en 1996, il a relevé des témoignages où des personnes font état d’une deuxième plaie de balle près de l’épaule, il a aussi mis en lumière le fait qu’il y a seulement quatre photos de l’autopsie, «ce qui est inhabituel».
Une autre piste qui n’a jamais été suivie.
Il a aussi mis en lumière la mémoire défaillante de Jean-Marie Hubert qui n’a qu’une seule réponse à toutes les questions qu’on lui pose sur le témoignage de Dupont devant la Commission de la police, en septembre 1969, auquel il aurait assisté. «Je ne m’en souviens pas. […] J’aimerais ça, m’en souvenir…», assure-t-il.
Ses souvenirs sont étonnamment beaucoup plus clairs quand vient le temps de parler de «l’état dépressif» de Dupont. «Je peux vous dire qu’à un certain moment, il m’a dit qu’il était obligé de manger des pilules, des médicaments. […] Je lui ai conseillé à quelques reprises d’aller voir un psychiatre.»
Pourtant, dans son rapport du 18 novembre, il dit avoir appris ça le soir de sa disparition, lorsque Jacques Gendron lui aurait dit qu’il s’inquiétait de son absence. «Ne connaissant pas l’état maladif de Dupont, je lui dis qu’il n’y a pas lieu de s’inquiéter, car il doit être occupé et qu’il devrait être de retour bientôt.»
La juge Louise Lacerte-Lamontagne a aussi retenu la thèse du suicide. «Est-ce qu’une commission d’enquête comme celle-là était le bon outil? Je pense que la juge était de bonne foi, elle s’est appuyée sur des faits, mais il y a très peu de faits. J’ai l’impression qu’il y a des choses qui ont échappé à son attention.»
Comme toutes les questions sans réponses.
Elle a entre autres retenu une des explications de l’expert légiste Michael Baden, qui est venu affirmer qu’un trou fait par une balle dans un sternum peut rétrécir. Il devait expliquer pourquoi une balle pareille à celle supposément trouvée dans la voiture était plus grosse que le trou dans le sternum de Dupont. «Aucun autre expert de la Commission n’est allé dans ce sens-là et on l’a même contre-vérifié. Tous les experts que j’ai consultés me disent que l’os ne peut se rétracter comme le prétend Baden. Un des experts l’a dit, c’est ridicule.»
Selon la thèse du meurtre, Jean-Marie Hubert et Paul Dallaire auraient manigancé avec leur collègue Laurence Buckley pour que ce dernier fasse croire à Dupont qu’ils devaient se rendre à Champlain pour une affaire. À destination, Dupont aurait été séquestré dans ce que les gens appelaient la «cabane à Boisclair», un lieu peu fréquentable où boisson et prostitution allaient de pair.
Un lieu que les policiers fréquentaient.
Louis-George Dupont aurait été tué le soir du 9 novembre, transporté dans le boisé aux limites nord de Trois-Rivières, puis placé dans sa voiture de fonction.
Il y avait des traces de pneus autour.
Le plein d’essence de la voiture avait été fait la veille, et le nombre de milles au compteur indiqué. L’odomètre a été relevé dans la voiture lorsqu’ils l’ont trouvée dans le boisé, la distance parcourue correspond à celle qui sépare le poste de police du chalet de Champlain, puis du chalet au boisé.
Le récit des événements tels qu’ils se seraient passés s’appuie sur des confidences que Buckley aurait faites à Jean-Pierre Corbin, qui était tenancier de bar, donc témoin privilégié de ce qui se passait dans les «clubs» où l’escouade de la moralité gérait le lucratif et florissant marché des filles de joie.
Un de ces clubs appartenait à un échevin.
La troisième «enquête» a été effectuée en 2011 par la Sûreté du Québec, on a promis de revoir le dossier de «A à Z», on n’a fait que balayer du revers de la main les incohérences et les nombreuses questions laissées sans réponses. Pour l’essentiel, le rapport de la SQ ne fait que référer aux témoignages entendus à la commission Lacerte-Lamontagne qui abondent dans le sens de la thèse officielle, entre autres celui de Hubert.
Jean-Marie Hubert, c’est le principal suspect dans la thèse du meurtre.
Il est blanc comme neige dans la thèse du suicide.
Les enquêteurs ont rencontré Jean-Pierre Corbin, ce dernier n’a jamais senti qu’ils s’intéressaient à ce qu’il disait. «Ils m’ont dit que c’était loufoque.» Point. Dans le rapport — que j’ai réussi à avoir par une demande d’information qui a pris sept mois —, il est écrit qu’une «enquête» a été faite, que «l’histoire du chalet, où aurait été séquestré M. Dupont, n’aurait jamais existé en 1969».
Stéphane Berthomet s’est beaucoup intéressé à ce point, il a trouvé un témoin important qui affirme, hors de tout doute, que la «cabane à Boisclair» était là au moins jusqu’au début des années 1970, il y est allé quelques fois avec son frère qui y rencontrait des gens peu recommandables.
Le récit qu’il fait de l’endroit correspond en tous points aux autres témoignages que j’ai obtenus de gens qui connaissaient l’endroit.
Qui plus est, j’ai trouvé une photo aérienne prise par le ministère des Terres et Forêts le 20 octobre 1970, et où on voit très bien le bâtiment près du fleuve, juste après le virage de l’avenue des Quatorze-Soleils à Champlain, en longeant la rivière. Le témoin de Berthomet le situe à cet endroit exactement.
Voilà qui vient corroborer le récit de Jean-Pierre Corbin, dont la SQ n’a pas manqué une occasion d’attaquer la crédibilité.
Malgré toutes les contradictions, malgré toutes les invraisemblances, les autorités continuent à balayer sous le tapis — comme elles l’ont toujours fait — tous les éléments qui ne collent pas. «Avec tout ce qu’on sait, je me demande qu’est-ce qu’il faudrait de plus pour faire avancer le dossier. À moins d’avoir un témoignage de première main, quelqu’un qui dirait : “J’étais là”, je ne sais pas ce qu’il faudrait.»
Et peut-être qu’un tel témoin existe. «Je garde espoir…»
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