Lucie Beaudoin – Flashing Fire Will Follow part 1 / WKT3 #1

Danseuse A GoGo Victime De Son Metier?

La police la retrouve nue et assassinee!

par Michel LeCompte / Photo Police 30 Octobre 1971

Working as a gogo dancer in the clubs and cabarets, is probably very interesting, financially speaking, for a student who wants money for a little luxury. All the more if you dance topless! Nineteen year old Lucie Beaudoin opted for this lifestyle to earn her living. Very pretty, a good figure, she turned the eyes of patrons at the Motel Saint-Hubert on the South Shore of Montreal. Too much? Peut-etre!

It’s an open secret that “topless” dancers often take advances from clients whether they are wanted or not, equally true that on occasion they might encounter undesirable men.

A Double Life

Lucie Beaudoin was not like other dancers, by day she was a CEGEP student in Old Montreal. She operated in two very different worlds. In the clubs she was vulnerable to encounter exploiters or powerful sexual maniacs. We don’t have to tell anyone that “topless” dancers are very provocative by the nature of their dances and their nudity. Was Lucie a victim of her seductiveness? This theory is under consideration, that she was murdered by a sexual maniac who desired her.

A little after the discovery of the body of the young girl, investigators prepared to interrogate several of Lucie’s friends. Fellow students, it is not impossible that the person responsible for her death was also a student. If that is not true, it also appears she was quite connected with a biker who has also been interrogated.

Her booking agent Paul Calcer would find her appointments. Police want to know if the heads of this office had come to know the young girl in question and done business with her regularly, but they claim to not know much about it. She had recently gone to them for new photos, but the photographer has not had the time to take new photographs of her, as he does regularly for all the “artistes” that work for the establishment.

Lucie’s double life has made the work for investigators doubly difficult.

She Disappears

Lucie Beaudoin was not the sort of girl who would leave her parent’s home (her father is deceased) without a good reason, even if her work was providing an attractive income. This is why she still lived with her mother at 5590 boulevard St. Laurent in Montreal. It was on October 5th that she was reported missing when she did not come home since leaving the house 11 hours earlier in the morning. Her photo was given to the media, along with a complete description. It was for another eleven days, the 16th until the police were put on the case.

That day, some children were playing around the Leo Roy quarry, next to 5675 Boule Lapiniere in Brossard. They reported to police the first piece of evidence, a purse that they found at the place. The police determined that it belonged to Lucie. Divers were brought in to explore the nearby water. They discovered floating on the water a big open and inverted trunk containing a sheet. Sticking out was a black leather boot belonging to Lucie. At six o’clock, last Friday, Assistant Director Paul-Emile Blain of the Brossard police, and detective Richard Arpin finally made the macabre discovery: The body of Lucie floating completely naked on the surface of the quarry lake.

From the beginning of the investigation all signs pointed to a murder. Mainly that the body was curled up, the neck was bent back, and the legs were also curled. It’s believed that she was placed in the trunk (which would explain the positioning of the body) and then thrown into the lake. The autopsy that was performed at the beginning of the week confirmed what police had suspected, that Lucie’s neck was broken. “We also know that Lucie was sexually assaulted before being killed, and that she was not shot or stabbed.”

Lucie Beaudoin paid dearly, but why? For being attractive, and revealing her body in public? For having relations with students that were a little shady?

What Happened Next?

The Surete du Quebec would come to assist the Brossard police in the investigation. In December 1971 Henri Vincent was arrested for the October 5th strangulation murder of Lucie Beaudoin. He appeared in court on December 17th. Vincent was a 22 year old biker, also known as “Le Saint ” and “Les Bras”. Vincent had been on the run for several weeks before police apprehended him in Thunder Bay.

Vincent was accused of the non premeditated murder of Lucie Beaudoin. Police stated that Beaudoin was strangled in an apartment in the East End of Montreal at 6525 Papineau, not far from where she lived with her mother.

Police also charged 21 year old Rene Gilles Vinette as an accomplice after the fact.

In the Spring of 1972 Judge Claude Bisson sentenced Henri Vincent to nine years in prison for the murder of Lucie Beaudoin.

It Didn’t End There

47 years later, the victim’s sister, Louise Beaudoin, was plunged back into the matter because of a blunder caused by the Surete du Quebec

In March 2018, Louise Beaudoin was contacted by an investigator from the Sûreté du Québec to announce that the murder of her sister was treated as an unresolved case.

“Since that time, every second, every gesture, every minute, it comes back to me… I’ve been crying a lot every day since March 23,” she says.

Police even made her sign a form to allow them to broadcast the photo of Lucie, and a reminder of the case in the unsolved crimes section of the SQ website.

Although she said that she had informed the police that a suspect had been convicted in this case, the police refused to listen.

Louise Beaudoin says she “doubted her memories” even though she attended court proceedings in 1971.

On May 30, the SQ removed the notice concerning Lucie Beaudoin from their website.

The police admit the mistake and say that in the future, things will be different. It seems that before meeting Lucie Beaudoin’s sister, the police only did summary checks.

Nevertheless, until today, no one has apologized for this blunder. Ms. Beaudoin says she is “shocked”, plunged back into the painful memories for four months.

You can read the original article from TVA here:


Unsolved Murders: “I no longer trust the investigators”

La Presse

The Police Department of the City of Montreal (SPVM) distributes less than 1% of unsolved murder cases on its website, against a target of 100% for the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and the Toronto police, deplores John Allore, author of a podcast on the unsolved murders of young women in Quebec who is preparing a book on the same subject.

On the SPVM website, investigators broadcast four unresolved homicide files in the hope that the public will have information to share with them.

On the Toronto Police Service website, the investigators broadcast 598.

“The SPVM has more than 800 unsolved murders on their hands, and it asks the public for help for four of them?”, John Allore remarks, author of the podcast Who Killed Theresa? on the unsolved murders of young women in Quebec.

“How do you feel if you are a parent, child or relative of one of the other 796 people killed in Montreal whose murderer was never arrested? “

For John Allore, the unresolved homicides have a particular resonance: his sister Theresa Allore was found dead at the age of 19 in 1979 in Compton, in the Eastern Townships. She went missing the year before. Her wallet had been found several kilometers from the remains.

Since then, Mr. Allore and his family have fought to have the police force in charge of the investigation, the Sûreté du Québec in their case, do more to solve the crime. He notes that several police forces in Quebec have been negligent in many cases – including that of his sister – by throwing away or misplacing evidence over the years.

Through his blog and podcast, Mr. Allore has built relationships with the families of several other unresolved homicide victims. Talking to them allows him to have an overview of police work in multiple files, and what he sees discourages him.

Mr. Allore mentions the case of a young girl who was an attempted strangulation victim with her skipping rope in Montreal in 2014. “The SPVM lost the skipping rope and the dress the girl was wearing when she was assaulted. “

“In Quebec, I documented at least 10 cases where the victims’ families were told by the police that evidence had been misplaced or destroyed, and this was holding them back in their investigation. We are talking about the SPVM, the SQ, the Laval police, and Longueuil. It’s serious. “

“Personally, I no longer trust investigators,” says Allore.

In the case of murders where the abuser did not know the victim, and particularly when the victim was a woman, the record of the Quebec police is deplorable, he says.

A CBC analysis of homicide resolution rates between 1976 and 2015 by the various police forces in Canada seems to support it. In this ranking, the Montreal police comes in last place, with a resolution of 65.3%. The penultimate place is the Laval police, with a resolution rate of 67.1% – results attributed by the police to the high proportion of murders and mafia-related murders, which are typically more difficult to resolve. The SQ is doing better, with 80.5%.

The police respond

For Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Anglade, supervisor in the SPVM’s communications and media relations division, we must not make any link between the number of files distributed by the SPVM on his site and the work done by the investigators.

“I can not comment on what’s happening in Toronto, but we’re going to continue to work as we work right now. We focus our efforts on certain issues, which are selected based on investigative elements that can be sought, or that can be explored further. “

Mr. Anglade noted that cases that are not posted on the site are not closed. ” The investigation is still ongoing. There is no investigation that is closed until the case is resolved. “

For its part, the Sûreté du Québec assigned 25 investigators to unresolved murders at the beginning of 2018. Each investigator is responsible for approximately 30 files.

More than 700 unresolved murders are on file at the SQ. On the SQ website, 104 unsolved murders are posted.

For Lieutenant Hugo Fournier, the goal of the Sûreté du Québec is to have 100% of the files posted on the site.

“In early December, we added 16 new files to our site,” he says. It is quite laborious as work, because we have to get the family’s agreement in each case. “

Lieutenant Fournier notes that it is not because a file is not posted on the site that the investigators do not actively work on it.

“We tend to improve our site, but we must take the time to do things right. “


Meurtres non résolus: «Je ne fais plus confiance aux enquêteurs»

Pour John Allore, les homicides non résolus ont une... (PHOTO OLIVIER PONTBRIAND, La Presse)


Pour John Allore, les homicides non résolus ont une résonance particulière : sa soeur Theresa Allore a été retrouvée sans vie en 1979 à Compton, dans les Cantons-de-l’Est.


La Presse 

Le Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) diffuse moins de 1 % des dossiers de meurtres non résolus sur son site internet, contre une cible de 100 % pour la Sûreté du Québec (SQ) et la police de Toronto, déplore John Allore, auteur d’un balado sur les meurtres non résolus de jeunes femmes au Québec et qui prépare un livre sur le même sujet. 

Sur le site internet du SPVM, les enquêteurs diffusent quatre dossiers d’homicides non résolus dans l’espoir que le public ait de l’information à leur communiquer.

Sur le site du Service de police de Toronto, les enquêteurs en diffusent 598.

« Le SPVM a plus de 800 meurtres non résolus sur les bras, et il demande l’aide du public pour quatre d’entre eux ?, s’étonne John Allore, auteur du balado Who Killed Theresa ? sur les meurtres non résolus de jeunes femmes au Québec.

« Comment vous sentez-vous si vous êtes un parent, un enfant ou un proche de l’une des 796 autres personnes tuées à Montréal dont le meurtrier n’a jamais été arrêté ? »

Pour John Allore, les homicides non résolus ont une résonance particulière : sa soeur Theresa Allore a été retrouvée sans vie à l’âge de 19 ans en 1979 à Compton, dans les Cantons-de-l’Est. Elle avait été portée disparue l’année précédente. Son portefeuille avait été retrouvé à plusieurs kilomètres de sa dépouille.

Depuis, M. Allore et sa famille se sont battus pour que le corps policier chargé de l’enquête, la Sûreté du Québec dans leur cas, en fasse plus pour résoudre le crime. Il note que plusieurs corps policiers québécois ont fait preuve de négligence dans de nombreux dossiers – dont celui de sa soeur – en jetant ou en égarant des éléments de preuve au fil des ans.

Grâce à son blogue et à son balado, M. Allore a tissé des liens avec les familles de plusieurs autres victimes d’homicides non résolus. Leur parler lui permet d’avoir une vision d’ensemble du travail des policiers dans de multiples dossiers, et ce qu’il voit le décourage.

M. Allore mentionne le cas d’une fillette qui a été étranglée avec sa corde à sauter à Montréal en 2015. « le SPVM a égaré la corde à danser et la robe que portait la fillette quand elle a été tuée. »

« Au Québec, j’ai documenté au moins 10 cas où les familles des victimes se sont fait dire par les policiers que des preuves avaient été égarées ou détruites, et que cela les freinait dans leur enquête. On parle du SPVM, de la SQ, de la police de Laval, de Longueuil. C’est grave. »

« Personnellement, je ne fais plus confiance aux enquêteurs », dit M. Allore.

Dans les cas de meurtres où l’agresseur ne connaissait pas la victime, et particulièrement quand la victime était une femme, le bilan de la police québécoise est déplorable, dit-il.

Une analyse effectuée par la CBC des taux de résolution des homicides entre 1976 et 2015 par les différents corps de police au Canada semble lui donner raison. Dans ce palmarès, la police de Montréal arrive en dernière place, avec un taux de résolution de 65,3 %. En avant-dernière place se trouve la police de Laval, avec un taux de résolution de 67,1 % – des résultats attribués par les policiers à la forte proportion de meurtres liés aux gangs de rue et à la mafia, typiquement plus difficiles à résoudre. La SQ s’en tire mieux, avec 80,5 %.

La police répond

Pour le sergent-détective Emmanuel Anglade, superviseur à la division des communications et relations médias du SPVM, il ne faut pas faire de lien entre le nombre de dossiers diffusés par le SPVM sur son site et le travail effectué par les enquêteurs.

« Je ne peux pas commenter ce qui se fait à Toronto, mais nous, pour le moment, on va continuer à travailler comme on travaille. On concentre nos efforts sur certains dossiers, qui sont sélectionnés en fonction d’éléments d’enquête qu’on peut aller chercher, ou qu’on peut approfondir. »

M. Anglade note que les cas qui ne sont pas affichés sur le site ne sont pas fermés pour autant. « L’enquête est toujours en cours. Il n’y a pas d’enquête qui est fermée tant que le dossier n’est pas résolu. »

De son côté, la Sûreté du Québec a affecté 25 enquêteurs aux meurtres non résolus en début d’année 2018. Chaque enquêteur est responsable d’une trentaine de dossiers environ.

Plus de 700 meurtres non résolus se trouvent dans les dossiers de la SQ. Sur le site de la SQ, 104 cas de meurtres non résolus sont affichés.

Pour le lieutenant Hugo Fournier, l’objectif de la Sûreté du Québec est d’avoir 100 % des dossiers affichés sur le site.

« Début décembre, nous avons ajouté 16 nouveaux dossiers sur notre site, dit-il. C’est assez laborieux comme travail, car nous devons obtenir l’accord de la famille dans chacun des cas. »

Le lieutenant Fournier note que ce n’est pas parce qu’un dossier n’est pas affiché sur le site que les enquêteurs n’y travaillent pas activement.

« On tend à améliorer notre site, mais il faut prendre le temps de bien faire les choses. Il y a des familles qui sont en attente de réponses depuis longtemps. »


Let Them Be Hunted Soundly – WKT2 #28

I am honoured to receive the Senate Sesquicentennial Medal “in recognition of my valuable service to the nation.”

But fortune is a wheel…

Site of pizza parlor where Sharron Prior was headed 1975

Andree Bechard, Pierre Boisvenu and Michel Bergeron

Madame Colette Roy, former Mayor of Lac Magantic

Bikers Against Child Abuse

Music / Let Them Be Hunted Soundly – WKT2 #28

I was originally also going to use Depeche Mode and Queen’s Get Down Make Love. I cut way back.

The music is De Natura Sonoris from The Shining, because it references so much we’ve used / talked about: Beatles Day In A Life, Pedro The Lion Winners, Pat Metheny, ELO, Genesis’ Revine (which references Ken Burns’ Vietnam), Syd’s I’ve Got A Bike (then Floyd’s Time).

I wanted to go back to something simpler, not so polished… my old (not-so-confident, stuttering ) self. Where you’re not completely sure where the soundtrack will come in = tension:


The Survivor Experience – Sherbrooke Record, November 27, 2018

This is the full editorial in today’s Sherbrooke Record I wrote for 16 Days of Action to End Sexual and Gender-based Violence:

There’s a case of an unsolved murder of a 19-year-old CEGEP student from Jonquière, Quebec.  On the morning of April 28, 2000, Guylaine Potvin was found dead in her basement apartment near the college campus. Elements of the investigation have shown certain similarities with another file concerning an event in Sainte-Foy in July 2000, in which another student living alone was assaulted in her apartment. This student – who was left for dead – was more fortunate, she survived.

Last Spring the survivor of the second assault reached out to me.  She had heard that I had a website and podcast where I regularly feature obscure and forgotten Quebec cold cases and illuminate them.  She asked if I would consider doing a program recounting the events of her own sexual assault, and the murder of Guylaine. Like many survivors, after 18 years, she was still looking for answers.

I spent many weeks considering the matter. I made many excuses and arguments about why this was a bad idea. My podcast is in English, its largest audiences are in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.  Too much time had passed, the cases couldn’t be solved.  She countered that none of that mattered. The cases had been featured in the French media, but largely ignored in Quebec English communities. Besides, police had once been tracking a suspect who resided in the United States; we might get lucky. She continued that she’d given up with the usually channels of investigation; discouraged by the apathy of police, tired of endless interactions with social services intake “specialists”, she’d take her chances with me.

One more obstacle. I took the matter to Kathryne Owen of the Lennoxville & District Women’s Centre.  I explained the situation, my reluctance to become involved, the very real fact that I have absolutely no training in the interaction with sexual assault survivors. Kathryne argued that she wasn’t surprised that the victim approached me given my history of championing cold cases. I didn’t need training, just the willingness to offer a sympathetic and non-judgmental ear.

So that’s what I did. Over the summer we got to know each other. I’d ask questions, if something was too personal, we mutually agreed that she did not have to respond.  We started with a name. I call her Isabeau, though that’s not her real name.  After a painstaking and graphic, iterative process, one day Isabeau sent me a poem describing her experience. She offered,  “you can read it on the podcast if you like.”

The poem is a stunning expression of the survivor experience. I insisted that I could not read it, she must record it. After many refusals, she eventually did:

Je me souviens d’une voix de femme : « Reste avec nous ». 

Qui est-elle ? 

Pourquoi me dit-elle ça ? 

 Où suis-je ? 


Je me suis ouvert les yeux, une pièce inconnue, l’hôpital, un médecin.

J’ai demandé une seule question : « Qu’est-ce qui s’est passé ? »

Comme seule réponse : « Tu es arrivée avec des policiers, tu leurs parleras plus tard ». 

« Non, tout de suite ».

Épuisée, désorientée, j’ai flanché.


Un homme, debout près de moi : « Je suis policier »

« Dis-moi qu’est-ce qui s’est passé ? »

Une réponse, celle que je ne voulais pas : « Je ne le sais pas »  

« Comment on va faire pour le savoir ? »

Je me souviens de la feuille de déposition, du crayon, de la tablette improvisée.

Je me souviens de ma question : « Tu veux que j’écrive quoi ? » 

J’ai écrit, peu.


Je dormais dans mon lit, dans ma chambre.

Je me souviens de tes mains sur ma gorge. 

Je me souviens de ton odeur.

Je me souviens de toi. 


Épuisée, désorientée, j’ai flanchée.


J’ai ouvert les yeux.

Une nouvelle pièce : où suis-je ? 

Qu’est-ce qui s’est encore passé ? 

Devant moi, un policier, le même.

Ses yeux bleus, muets.

Sur la table du lit, une boîte blanche.

« Qu’est-ce qu’il y a dans la boîte ? » 

J’ai cru qu’on m’emmenait une réponse,

 Une trousse médico-légale.


Un nouveau policier pour prendre des photos de mes blessures.

Je n’arrive pas à bouger, lui a photographier.

“Place-moi comme tu veux, je ne peux pas t’aider” 

“Tu me dis si je te fais mal” ;  j’ai rien dit. 

Épuisée, j’ai flanchée.


Examen gynécologique.

Je n’arrive pas à bouger. 

Une médecin, enceinte, à genoux sur le pied du lit.

“Ok, vient, on va le faire comme ça”

Elle me tire par les jambes.

Épuisée, j’ai flanchée.


Un appel du policier 

« J’ai des collègues qui veulent te parler » 

Un espoir : on t’a trouvé.

On m’a montré une photo.

Jeune, belle, souriante. 

Tu l’avais choisie elle aussi.

Elle ne se souviendra jamais, elle, de tes mains, de ton odeur. 

J’ai compris : on te cherchait déjà. 



L’espoir, les jours, les cris, les pleurs.

Des amis questionnés, partis.

Le désespoir, une promesse : « On se boira du porto ».

Des maladresses : « Dans l’autre cas, au moins on a une autopsie » 

Des départs, un cold case.

Et la vie, encore la vie.


18 ans déjà.

Je me souviens de chacune des nuits de rage.

Je me souviens d’elle, de chacune de ses photos : 

son gâteau d’anniversaire, son chat.

La couleur de son carnet de téléphone, ses gribouillis, son écriture.


Je me souviens des yeux du policier : bleus, muets.

Je me souviens de ma question.

Je me souviens de ton odeur.

To hear the poem recited by Isabeau listen to the podcast here:



Mélanie Decamps : souvenirs douloureux et révélations inédites

L’histoire originale du Nouvelliste / l’assassinat de Mélanie Descamps par Stéphane Lévesque: WKT2 #27:

Mélanie Decamps : souvenirs douloureux et révélations inédites

Mélanie Decamps : souvenirs douloureux et révélations inédites

Une foule de bénévoles ainsi qu’un hélicoptère dans le but de retrouver Mélanie Decamps.

Crédit photo : Société d’histoire de Drummond, fonds de La Parole

(Par Stéphane Lévesque, collaboration spéciale)

JUSTICE. Camping du parc des Voltigeurs, 9 août 1983. Une mère s’absente quelques minutes. À son retour, sa fille, Mélanie Decamps, est disparue. Douze jours plus tard, la fillette sera retrouvée morte, bâillonnée et attachée à un arbre. Retour sur ce tragique événement survenu il y a 35 ans.

Le mardi 9 août 1983 est une belle journée ensoleillée à Drummondville. Elle va cependant s’assombrir rapidement.

«J’étais au travail quand l’appel est entré», se souvient Gilles Thériault, le responsable du poste de la Sûreté du Québec (SQ) à Drummondville à cette époque.

Sans tarder, des patrouilleurs se rendent au terrain de camping du parc des Voltigeurs pour rencontrer les parents et effectuer, en vain, des recherches aux alentours. Le périmètre de recherche s’agrandit et une demande d’assistance est adressée au niveau du district. C’est maintenant les crimes contre la personne qui s’occupe de l’affaire.

Un groupe de bénévoles fouillant de fond en comble le parc des Voltigeurs pour retrouver Mélanie Decamps, disparue à Drummondville en 1983. (Photo : Société d’histoire de Drummond, fonds de La Parole)

«On avait une disparition ou un enlèvement. À ce moment-là, on ne le savait pas encore», fait observer M. Thériault.

«Je faisais des vérifications régulières au poste de police», se rappelle Gérald Prince, journaliste à La Tribune pendant 27 ans et dans de nombreux hebdos qui ont jalonné l’histoire de Drummondville. «Ce jour-là, j’appelle et on me dit qu’une petite fille est disparue au parc des Voltigeurs. J’ai tout de suite envoyé un texte à La Tribune. Ç’a passé le lendemain matin dans le journal.»

À la recherche de Mélanie

Rapidement, l’équipe de la SQ en provenance de Trois-Rivières s’installe au poste de Drummondville. Barrage routier, plongeurs dans la rivière Saint-François, fouille complète du parc et des environs, tout sera déployé pour retrouver la petite Mélanie. C’est Michel Beaudoin qui est responsable de l’opération.

L’enquête s’amorce. «Premièrement, nous avons rencontré à nouveau Jacqueline Decamps, la mère de Mélanie. Elle m’explique qu’elle est allée au dépanneur du camping pendant 15 minutes en laissant sa petite fille sur une balançoire. À son retour, l’aînée de ses trois enfants n’était plus là. Après, on a fait le tour du parc et des environs. Rapidement, on a diffusé une description de la petite fille», se rappelle Michel Beaudoin.

Dès le lendemain de la disparition de la fillette de cinq ans, un témoin rapporte qu’il a vu, le 9 août, une petite fille tenant la main d’un homme à proximité du pont de fer qui enjambe la rivière Saint-François. Sur la base de cette observation, un portrait-robot est établi et diffusé. À la vue de celui-ci, un informateur déclare : «Ce gars-là, il ressemble à Michel Déry».

Ne faisant ni un, ni deux, Michel Beaudoin charge un de ses enquêteurs de rencontrer l’homme de 24 ans demeurant à Drummondville. Le policier revient faire rapport à l’enquêteur en chef : «Oublie ça, c’est pas lui pantoute. C’est un p’tit nono religieux qui parle de la Bible, pis toute sorte de patentes», avait-il lancé.

Les parents de Mélanie, Jacqueline et Daniel Decamps, en conférence de presse et lançant un appel à l’hôtel de ville de Drummondville. (Photo : Société d’histoire de Drummond, fonds de La Parole)

Gilles Thériault, dans les jours suivant la disparition, croisera également la route de Michel Déry au poste de police de Drummondville. «Une journée, je me rappelle, je sors de mon bureau, je vois un jeune homme assis-là. En passant, je demande : “Qui s’occupe de ce monsieur-là? Est-ce que c’est un visiteur. Quelqu’un qui vient pour une plainte?” Puis, un policier de Nicolet arrive. “C’est notre client. C’est une arrestation pour un vol d’auto. On monte avec pour le faire comparaître”. C’était un jeune homme qui avait l’air d’un enfant. Il était très petit. Ça reste de même. Il a comparu et il a été libéré. C’était Michel Déry, mais il n’était pas connu de la police à ce moment-là», se souvient-il avec précision.

Le vendredi 12 août, une conférence de presse avec Daniel et Jacqueline Decamps, les parents de Mélanie, s’organise. Gérald Prince et des journalistes de Montréal y étaient.

«Dès que les gens voyaient un homme avec une petite fille, ils le signalaient à la police. C’était devenu une vraie folie. Il y avait même des diseurs de bonne aventure qui se prononçaient. Ça dépassait la raison. C’était vraiment une période où il y avait beaucoup de stress dans la population. Je le sentais», indique le journaliste drummondvillois.

Beaucoup d’appels sont acheminés aux autorités policières. M. Beaudoin cite en exemple : «”La petite fille est icitte, mais je veux deux billets pour Diana Ross pis 200 piastres”. Des ostie de patentes de même», dévoile-t-il dans son langage coloré. Bien que non crédible à première vue, chacune des informations recueillies est analysée. «On était à peu près 100 qui travaillaient là-dessus. À Drummondville, mais aussi à Montréal, à Chibougamau, partout à travers la province, c’était le dossier de l’année. Des enlèvements d’enfants de même, il n’y en avait pas tous les jours.»

Malgré les efforts déployés, on n’a toujours pas de nouvelles de Mélanie Decamps. C’est un hasard, mais surtout un enquêteur de talent qui va résoudre l’affaire : Jean-Paul Prince. Dans l’après-midi du 20 août, il roule dans les rues de Trois-Rivières, après avoir été dépêché sur une scène de crime à Louiseville, avec un collègue trifluvien. «J’allais le reconduire à sa résidence. En descendant, un moment donné, mon confrère me fait remarquer qu’il y a un gars qui ressemble à Michel Déry qui fait du pouce. Il est sur le boulevard des Chenaux à Trois-Rivières. On s’est arrêté. J’ai ouvert ma fenêtre et je me suis identifié. C’était bien lui.»

Jean-Paul Prince invite Michel Déry à bord et une conversation s’amorce, en route vers Drummondville. «Je lui parlais de filles pour voir qui il était. Je lui racontais toutes sortes d’histoires. Je lui ai dit que j’avais déjà arrêté du monde qui avait commis des meurtres, mais que ces individus-là, ce n’est pas toujours de leur faute. S’ils ont tué c’est parce qu’ils sont malades», révèle M. Prince.

En lui faisant des confidences sur le plan personnel, il tente de l’amadouer. «Il m’a confié qu’il avait été battu par ses parents. Il se faisait jeter dans la cave. Il m’a dit qu’il était resté à Saint-Léonard-d’Aston et qu’il était demeuré un moment donné sur la Rive-Sud de Montréal». Une information qui ne tombe pas dans l’oreille d’un sourd et qui sera utile ultérieurement.

Un groupe de personnes à l’endroit où le corps de Mélanie Decamps a été retrouvé attaché à un arbre à sept kilomètres du parc des Voltigeurs. (Photo : Société d’histoire de Drummond, fonds de La Parole)

Progressivement, peu avant la sortie 181, Jean-Paul Prince se met à parler de la petite Mélanie Decamps. Puis, le policier se dirige vers le parc des Voltigeurs. Il y avait là une clôture brisée où l’équipe d’enquêteurs présumait que le suspect s’était esquivé avec la fillette. Arrivé devant, c’est à cet instant que le policier dit : «C’est ici que la petite fille a été enlevée et qu’elle est sortie par-là». Rapidement, il constate que Déry est nerveux. L’homme sur lequel l’étau se resserre ne se sent vraiment pas bien dans sa peau. Jean-Paul Prince revient à la charge en lui demandant s’il l’a enlevée et tuée.

«Il a répondu faiblement : “Oui, mais je l’ai pas tuée, pas tuée!”» relate M. Prince.

L’enquêteur tente de se faire rassurant en lui évoquant la possibilité qu’elle soit encore en vie. L’ayant convaincu qu’elle n’était pas décédée, Jean-Paul Prince amène Michel Déry au poste.

D’autres détails fusent en chemin vers le lieu où se trouverait Mélanie Decamps. Michel Déry explique aux enquêteurs qu’au départ, il avait amené jouer la fillette dans un parc et qu’ensuite, il l’avait amenée chez lui, dans son appartement du 285 rue Brock où ils ont dormi. À ce sujet, les différentes discussions avec Déry et l’état dans lequel a été découvert le corps n’ont pas permis de conclure qu’il y avait eu agressions sexuelles sur l’enfant. Toujours selon ce qu’a rapporté l’homme de 24 ans, le lendemain, le 10 août 1983, il souhaitait ramener Mélanie au parc des Voltigeurs. En voyant les hélicoptères déployés par la SQ dans le ciel, il a eu peur. Il est entré dans un bois, près du chemin Hemming, ramassé des rubans servant à identifier des arbres puis a attaché la jeune Decamps à un arbre, à quelques kilomètres au sud du pont Curé Marchand, près des tours d’Hydro-Québec, à environ 300 mètres de la fin de la rue Reid.

Un groupe de personnes de la SQ en conférence de presse, dévoilant l’endroit exact où a été retrouvé le corps de Mélanie Decamps. (Photo : Société d’histoire de Drummond, fonds de La Parole)

En raison de la noirceur, la recherche ne trouvera pas son aboutissement. Le lendemain, à 5 heures du matin, les recherches reprennent avec d’autres policiers en renfort et l’escouade canine. Des équipes arpentent la forêt, secteur par secteur. On quadrille systématiquement la zone de forêt indiquée par Michel Déry. En raison de forts vents qui nuisent à la détection des odeurs, c’est seulement en soirée, à 21 h30, que Mélanie Decamps est retrouvée morte attachée à un arbre avec ses bas enfoncés dans la gorge et un bandeau sur la bouche. Ces informations viennent en contradiction avec la rumeur voulant que Déry l’ait attachée pour «jouer» et qu’il l’ait «oubliée» où il l’avait laissée. Pour Jean-Paul Prince, il est très clair qu’il l’a attachée et étouffée. «C’est sûr qu’il l’a étranglée.»

La vue de la fillette attachée, gonflée par des journées d’exposition à la chaleur, n’est pas sans provoquer des réactions de rage et de colère.

«Ça marque quand tu vois ça sur place (…) Pour tous les policiers qui sont allés jeter un coup d’œil, au moins 80% sont revenus avec la larme à l’œil. Moi, le premier», témoigne avec émotions Gilles Thériault.

Le procès

Le 22 août 1983, Michel Déry est amené au Palais de justice de Drummondville sous forte escorte policière pour sa comparution où il est formellement accusé de meurtre au premier degré, de l’enlèvement et de la séquestration de Mélanie Decamps. Le procureur de la Couronne, Me Alain Perreault, recommande au juge Yvon Sirois que le prévenu subisse un examen psychiatrique. Déry est jugé apte à subir un procès. L’homme de 24 ans, par l’intermédiaire de son avocat, Me Yves Bolduc, opte pour un procès avec jury.

Le journaliste Gérald Prince se rappelle que des gens l’attendaient à l’entrée du tribunal et l’invectivaient. À l’intérieur, dans la salle de cour, M. Prince rapporte que Michel Déry avait l’air absent.

Michel Déry lors de sa comparution devant le juge Sirois à la salle d’audience du palais de justice pour le meurtre de Mélanie Decamps. (Photo : Société d’histoire de Drummond, fonds de La Parole)

Cette absence, cette folie, cette aliénation mentale supposée sera au cœur des débats présidés par le juge Pierre Pinard. Différents spécialistes, psychiatres et psychologues témoigneront sur la capacité de Michel Déry à distinguer le bien du mal. C’est finalement pour la thèse de la non-responsabilité qu’optera le jury après moins de quatre heures de délibération, le 28 mai 1984.

Déry revient dans l’actualité le 12 juillet 2001 lorsqu’il a réussi à fausser compagnie aux gardiens de l’Institut Pinel, dans le cadre d’un programme de réinsertion sociale. Il a vite été retrouvé et ramené à l’établissement.

Cet acquittement pour aliénation mentale, 35 ans plus tard, laisse toujours un goût amer chez les intervenants rencontrés, dont Jean Fortier. «Je n’ai jamais cru ça l’aliénation. Pas assez fou pour mettre le feu, mais pas assez fin pour l’éteindre. Il était entre les deux», souligne celui qui a couvert l’entièreté du procès pour l’hebdomadaire Allo-Police.

Bref, la disparition et la mort de Mélanie Decamps ont profondément marqué la population. Tant pour Michel Beaudoin que pour Jean-Paul Prince, c’est le dossier le plus marquant de leur longue carrière dans les forces de l’ordre. «C’est l’enquête qui m’a le plus touché. Ça m’a marqué parce que c’est un enfant. Quand tu côtoies les parents comme on les a côtoyés, on vit leur peine. Ça fait 35 ans et j’y pense encore», dit Jean-Paul Prince d’une voix basse empreinte d’émotions.

Soulignons en terminant que l’auteur de ces lignes a tenté en vain de joindre les parents de Mélanie Decamps. Seule une cousine a été informée de la publication de cet article.

Michel Déry, un récidiviste?

Bien que Michel Déry soit détenu, les enquêteurs de la Sûreté du Québec, Michel Beaudoin et Jean-Paul Prince, continuent d’investiguer. C’est ainsi qu’on apprend qu’au parc des Voltigeurs, deux ans auparavant, une petite fille était disparue, mais avait été vite retrouvée.

«La femme qui s’est fait enlever son enfant n’a pas porté plainte à la police parce qu’elle était avec son amant au camping! En portant plainte, elle aurait été obligée de dire avec qui elle était. Michel Déry, c’est lui qui avait enlevé cette petite fille-là», affirme sans ambigüité Michel Beaudoin.

Jean-Paul Prince se rappelle également avoir été rencontré Michel Déry à la prison de Sherbrooke durant le procès. «On a fait sortir tous les cas non élucidés dans la région et les environs. Il y a un autre cas qui est ressorti à Saint-Hubert : Chantal de Montgayard».

Une discussion amènera Déry à avouer que c’est lui qui avait enlevé la petite fille de quatre ans alors qu’il était adolescent. Selon ce qu’il a indiqué aux enquêteurs, le 4 juin 1972, il l’avait amenée dans un petit bois derrière une église à Saint-Hubert, l’avait attachée après «un ti n’arbre», mais ne l’avait pas tuée, selon ses dires. À l’exception du lieu, c’est un scénario qui ressemble à s’y méprendre à celui de Mélanie Decamps.

Les policiers d’expérience que sont MM Beaudoin et Prince ont évidemment validé la véracité de cette confession. Il faut savoir que dans ce type de dossier criminel, il y a des informations qui ne sont jamais communiquées aux médias. Une de celles-ci, dans le cas de Chantal de Montgayard, c’était la couleur de ses sous-vêtements.

«Il nous a donné la couleur des petites culottes de Chantal de Montgayard et c’était exact. Quand l’enquête a été effectuée à l’époque, en 1972, il n’avait pas été rencontré, car les parents de Déry étaient déménagés à Saint-Léonard-d’Aston quelques jours plus tard. Le corps n’a jamais été retrouvé. Effectivement, il y avait un petit boisé en arrière de l’église, mais ç’a été déboisé pour construire des maisons. On a parlé au procureur de la Couronne, mais comme il a été acquitté dans un cas, ça n’aurait pas donné grand-chose de l’accuser dans un autre. Et à part sa déclaration et sa connaissance de la couleur des sous-vêtements, on n’avait rien pour corroborer», divulgue un Jean-Paul Prince qui croit que Michel Déry a minimalement deux meurtres à son actif.




The Sire of Sorrow / Mélanie Decamps – August 9, 1983 WKT2 #26


Voltigeurs Park campground, August 9, 1983. A mother is absent a few minutes. Upon her return, her daughter, Mélanie Decamps, is missing. Twelve days later, the girl will be found dead, gagged and tied to a tree trunk.

This is Who Killed Theresa?

Today I want to discuss the 1983 murder of 5-year-old Mélanie Decamps. It’s a case that is not unknown in Quebec, in fact, just last summer, marking the 35th anniversary, the Drummondville newspaper, L’Express did an investigative piece about the murder. It is a great long form piece by a journalist I am not familiar with, Stéphane Lévesque.  I only wish there were more stories about cold cases coming out of Quebec like M. Lévesque’s. Today’s story is in part a translation of that piece, including some additional information I’ve uncovered through research, however, what I’m going to ultimately suggest and add to the story has not been featured in any publication.



Tuesday, August 9, 1983 is a beautiful sunny day in Drummondville.

Gilles Thériault, the head of the Sûreté du Québec  station in Drummondville at the time recalls that he, “was at work when the call came in,”


Without delay, patrolmen go to the Voltigeurs Park campground to meet the parents and search for the girl. The search perimeter is expanding and a request for assistance is sent to the district level. The case is quickly handed over to the major crimes unit.

“We had a disappearance or kidnapping. At that time, we did not know it yet, “notes Thériault.

A group of volunteers rummaging through the Voltigeurs Park searching for Mélanie Decamps


“I did regular checks at the police station,” recalls Gérald Prince, a journalist for  La Tribune newspaper for 27 years.  “That day, I call and I am told that a little girl has disappeared in the Voltigeurs Park. I immediately sent a message to La Tribune.”


Quickly, the SQ team from Trois-Rivières came to the Drummondville substation. Roadblocks are established, divers search the adjacent Saint-François River: they complain that the thick pollution prevents them from examining the river bottom.  A thorough search of the park and the surrounding area are completed. The SQ’s Michel Beaudoin is responsible for the operation.

“First, we met again with Jacqueline Decamps, Melanie’s mother. She explains that she went to the campsite’s convenience store for 15 minutes, leaving her little girl on a swing. When she returned, the eldest of her three children was no longer there. After, she went around the park and the surrounding area with a description of Melanie” recalls Michel Beaudoin.

The day after the disappearance of the six-year-old girl, a witness reports that he saw, on August 9, a little girl holding the hand of a man near the iron bridge that spans the Saint-François River. Based on this observation, a composite photo is established and distributed in the community. Seeing it, a man from Drummondville declares: “This guy, he looks like Michel Déry”.

Michel Beaudoin instructed one of his investigators to meet the 24-year-old man living in Drummondville. The policeman returns to report to the chief investigator: “Forget it, it’s not him. this guy’s a religious nut who speaks of nothing but the Bible.”

Les parents de Mélanie, Jacqueline et Daniel Decamps


In the days following the disappearance, Gilles Thériault has a chance encounter with Michel Déry at the police station in Drummondville. “One day, I remember, I come out of my office, I see a young man sitting there. So I ask: “Is someone taking care of this gentleman? Is he a visitor? Someone coming for a complaint? “Then, a policeman from Nicolet arrives. “It’s our client. It’s an arrest for a car theft. ” He was a young man who looked like a child. He was very small.  He appeared, and he was released. It was Michel Déry, but he was not known to the police at that time.”

On Friday, August 12, a press conference with Daniel and Jacqueline Decamps – Melanie’s parents – is organized. 

Police accept offers from several hypnotists, parapsychologists, and a “radiosthesiste” who sought hints of the little girl using a pendulum, a map and a photo of her.

A Drummondville journalist commented, “As soon as people saw a man with a little girl, they would report it to the police. It had become a real madness. There were even fortunetellers who were pronouncing all kinds of things.  It was beyond reason. It was really a time when there was a lot of stress with people. I felt it”. 

Many calls are routed to police authorities. Mr. Beaudoin quotes as an example: “” The little girl is here, but I want two tickets for Diana Ross and 200 piastres “, reveals Beaudoin in his colorful language. Although not credible at first glance, all of the information collected had to be analyzed. “There were about 100 people working on it. In Drummondville, but also in Montreal, Chibougamau, everywhere across the province.”

Police drain a portion of the St-Francis River in the hunt for traces of Melanie Decamps.Two hydro electric dams were completely closed for several hours so police can get a closer look at the  rocky river bottom. 

Despite the efforts made, there was still no news of Mélanie Decamps. It is the work of an especially  talented investigator who will solve the case: Jean-Paul Prince. On the afternoon of August 20, he was working the streets of Trois-Rivières, Prince was sent to a crime scene in Louiseville, with a colleague from Trois-Rivières. “I was going to take him back to his residence. While going down this road, all of a sudden my colleague points out to me that there is this guy hitchhiking who looks like Michel Déry. He is on the boulevard des Chenaux in Trois-Rivières. We stopped. I opened my window and I identified myself. It was him. “

Jean-Paul Prince invites Michel Déry aboard and a conversation begins, en route to Drummondville. “I talked to  him about girls just to check him out. I told him all kinds of stories. I told him that I had already arrested some people who had committed murder, but that it was not always their fault. If they killed it is because they are sick, “says Prince.

By confiding in him,  Prince tries to coax him. “He told me he was beaten by his parents. He was thrown into the cellar. He told me that he had stayed in Saint-Léonard-d’Aston and that he had remained at one point on the South Shore of Montreal “. Information that does not fall on deaf ears and will be useful later.

A group of people where the body of Melanie Decamps was found tied to a tree seven kilometers from the Voltigeurs Park.


Gradually, just before exit 181, Jean-Paul Prince starts talking about Mélanie Decamps. Then, Prince goes to the Voltigeurs Park. There was a broken fence where the team of investigators assumed that the suspect had ducked through with the girl. Arriving in front, it is at this moment that the Prince says: “It is here that the little girl was abducted”. He quickly notices that Déry is nervous. The vice is tightening. Jean-Paul Prince asks Dery directly  if he has kidnapped and killed Melanie Decamps.

“He answered weakly,” Yes, but I did not kill her, I did not kill her! “

The investigator tries to be reassuring by evoking the possibility that she is still alive. Convinced that she was not dead, Jean-Paul Prince brought Michel Déry to the police station.

Other details emerge as Dery is brought to the place where Melanie Decamps would be found. Michel Déry explains to the investigators that from the beginning, he had brought the girl to a park and then brought her home to his apartment at 285 Brock Street where they slept. On this subject, the various discussions with Déry, and the state in which the body was discovered did not lead to the conclusion that there had been sexual assault on the child. According to the 24-year-old man, the next day, August 10, 1983, he wanted to bring Melanie back to the Voltigeurs Park. Seeing the helicopters deployed by the SQ in the sky, he was scared. He entered a wood, near Hemming Road, picked up ribbons used to identify trees and then attached the young Decamps to a tree trunk, a few kilometers south of the Curé Marchand bridge, near the Hydro-Québec towers, about 300 meters from the end of Reid Street.

A group of people from the SQ in a press conference, revealing the exact place where Melanie Decamps’ body was found.


Due to the darkness, the search cannot continue. The next day, at 5 o’clock in the morning, the search resumes with other police reinforcements and the canine squad. Teams survey the forest sector by sector. The forest is  systematically cordoned in the area indicated by Michel Déry. Because of strong winds that hinder the detection of odors, it is only in the evening, at 9:30 pm, that Mélanie Decamps is found dead tied to a tree trunk with her stockings stuffed down her throat and a banner in her mouth. This information contradicts the story  Déry told that he tied her to “play” with her and then”forgot” where he left her. For Jean-Paul Prince, it is very clear that he tied her up and choked  her. “For sure he strangled her.”

The sight of the bound girl, swollen by days of exposure to heat, provokes reactions of rage and anger.

“For all the police officers who had to work that site, at least 80% of them came back with tears in their eyes. Me, the first “,  states Gilles Thériault.


On August 22, 1983, Michel Déry was brought to the Courthouse of Drummondville under a heavy police escort where he is charged with first degree murder, abduction and kidnapping of Melanie Decamps. The Crown Attorney, Alain Perreault, recommends to Justice Yvon Sirois that the accused undergo a psychiatric examination. Out of this, Déry is judged fit to stand trial. The 24-year-old – through his lawyer – Yves Bolduc, opts for a trail by jury.

The journalist Gérald Prince remembers that people were waiting for him at the entrance of the court and insulted him. Inside, in the court room, Mr. Prince reports that Michel Déry looked vacant.


Michel Déry during his appearance before Judge Sirois in the courtroom of the courthouse for the murder of Mélanie Decamps.


This absence, this madness, this supposed insanity will be at the heart of the debates chaired by Judge Pierre Pinard. Various specialists, psychiatrists and psychologists will testify on Michel Déry’s ability to distinguish between good and evil. The jury opts for a verdict of non-liability after less than four hours of deliberation, May 28, 1984.

Déry is incarcerated at the Phillipe Pinel Institute for the Criminally Insane in the East end of Montreal. He returns to the news on July 12, 2001 when he manages to trick the guards at the Pinel Institute, and escape. He is quickly found and brought back to the establishment within 24 hours.


Michel Dery’s escape and recapture, 2001


This acquittal for insanity, 35 years later, still leaves a bitter taste among the stakeholders, including Jean Fortier, a reporter with Allo-Police who covered the trial. “I never thought he was crazy. Not crazy enough to put in the fire, He was in between.”

The disappearance and death of Mélanie Decamps deeply affected the population. For both Michel Beaudoin and Jean-Paul Prince, this was the most memorable case in their long careers in law enforcement. “It’s the one that touched me the most. It struck me because she is a child. When you come in contact with the parents as we came in contact, we live their pain. It’s been 35 years and I still think about it, “said Jean-Paul Prince in a low voice full of emotion.


Although Michel Déry is detained, Sûreté du Québec investigators Michel Beaudoin and Jean-Paul Prince continue to investigate. Two years before Melanie Decamps, again in Voltigeurs Park, a little girl went missing, but was soon found.

“The woman who had her child kidnapped did not complain to the police because she was with her lover at the campsite! In filing a complaint, she would have had to say who she was with. Michel Déry, it was he who had kidnapped this little girl, “said Michel Beaudoin without question.

Jean-Paul Prince also remembers meeting Michel Déry at the Sherbrooke jail during the trial. “We have brought out all the unsolved cases in the region and the surrounding area. There is another case that came out in Saint-Hubert: the disappearance of Chantal de Montgayard “.


Chantal de Montgayard


A discussion lead Dery to confess that it was he who had kidnapped the four-year-old girl when he was a teenager. According to what he told the investigators, on June 4, 1972, he took her to a small wood behind a church in Saint-Hubert, tied her up, but did not kill her. It is a scenario very similar to Melanie Decamps.

M et Mme Claude Montgayard


The experienced police officers  Beaudoin and Prince have obviously validated the veracity of this confession. You should know that in this type of criminal record, there is information that is never communicated to the media. One of these, in the case of Chantal de Montgayard, was the color of her underwear.

Comments Jean-Paul Prince, “He gave us the color of Chantal de Montgayard’s panties and that was correct. When the investigation was carried out at the time, in 1972, he had not been interviewed as a suspect because Déry’s parents had moved to Saint-Léonard-d’Aston a few days later. The body has never been found. Indeed, there was a small woodland behind the church, but it was deforested to build houses. We spoke to the Crown Attorney, but since he was acquitted in one case, it would not have yielded much to accuse him in another. And apart from his statement and his knowledge of the color of the underwear, there was nothing to corroborate. “. Jean-Paul Prince believes that Michel Dery has at least two murders to his credit.


Well, maybe three. If this case sounds familiar to you, it should. Because there are stark similarities with another case from Drummondville, the 1977 disappearance of Claudette Poirier.

We’ve spoken about the Claudette Poirier case before on this podcast, but it would help if I briefly summarized the particulars. I’ve added new information that has not until this point been disclosed:

15-year-old Claudette Poirier lived with her parents at 1190 Monfette in Drummondville. In the summer of 1977 the family decided to do some camping about 7 miles south of Drummondville along chemin Hemming. On July 27th, 1977 the blond haired, 5/’5″ 110 pound girl was  riding her bicycle along 3e Rang de Simpson on her way to a babysitting job on St-Charles boulevard near her home back in Drummondville. 


IMG_0545From that point Claudette disappears. About a week after the disappearance, on August 3rd, 1977, Claudette’s bicycle is found along Rang 3e,  Saint Cyrille,  about 3 miles from her camp site, midway between the camp site and her home in Drummondville.  The bike is off its chain. The man who owns the adjacent property states that the bike – which is in full view at the side of the road – was not there all of the previous week.

The police who investigated the case were the Surete du Quebec forces from Trois Rivieres and Drummondville. After an exhaustive search they are unable to find any trace of Claudette.



On December 8th, 1977 in a chilling article in Quebec’s La Nouvelliste, reporter Yves Champoux suggests that Poirier might have met a similar fate as that of Denise Therrien. In August 1961, 16-year-old Thierren disappeared one morning while disembarking from a bus in Shawinigan. Four years later,  Marcel Bernier, confessed to her murder and agreed to guide the police to the victim’s remains, abandoned in the woods. Some speculated that for the 4 years she was missing, Thierrien was sold into child prostitution. On June 20th, 1962, La Presse featured an article about the “Montreal Paramount Booking” agency, a prostitution ring that would “recruit” 15 and 16 year old girls from Quebec and sell them into sex trafficking in the United States. In the Nouvelliste article, Champoux similarly speculated that Claudette Poirier might have met a similar fate.





9 years after her disappearance on October 9th, 1986, 2 hunters find a skull, other bones and women’s clothing about 15 meters from the road at La Reserve, Saint Lucien about 4 miles from south of the site of Claudette’s disappearance. (I have heard it reported that the bones were charred, as if her remains were burnt). The remains are analyzed by Dr. Andre Lauzon at the SQ medical lab at Parthenais in Montreal and identified as Claudette Poirier. Given the length of time that has passed the cause of death is undetermined.

I made a small map of the Poirier locations, as the story is a little confusing. The map is interactive:  click here and you will be take to the map,  and you can manipulate around the geography:

Screen shot 2016-03-11 at 6.18.53 PM


Basically in the center is where she was camping and last seen, to the left is where she lived and where she was going, to the right is where her bicycle and remains were found. 

So returning to the Melanie Decamps case; what do we find in common here?  To begin with, both victims disappeared while camping in Drummondville, Poirier in 1977 and Decamps in 1983.

In 1977 Michel Dery would have been about 17 or 18, too young to be Poirier’s offender? Hardly. If police suspected him in the 1972 murder of Chantal de Montgayard, when Dery would have been 12 or 13, he would certainly been capable of murdering 15-year-old Claudette Poirier 5 years later.

Where is Poirier’s home? 1190 Rue Monfette is an 8 minute bike ride from the Voltigeurs campground.

Where is 285 Brock street, where Dery had claimed to have slept with Decamps? That’s a 10 minute bike ride from the campground across the Saint Francois river.

And where is Decamps body found? 5 kilometers south of Drummondville at the cross section of Chemin Hemming and Rue Reid. Where was Poirier last seen? 10 kilometers south of Drummondville, riding her bike, also along Chemin Hemming. And where are her remains found? 20 kilometers south, also along Chemin Hemming.

The emphasis on bicycles is important. Note that when Dery was first encountered he had been brought to the station for stealing a car. Later, Jean-Paul Prince picks him up while hitchhiking from Trois Rivieres back to Drummondville. In fact, Dery never appeared to own a vehicle. The story suggests when he needed one, he stole one. On August 27th, 1983 article in The Gazette about Dery makes repeated reference to his use of a bicycle:

“Dery stayed mostly in his apartment, going out only for rides on his bicycle or to get groceries.”

“[Sister Clementine] described him as a “miserable soul,” a loner who liked to ride his bicycle all over Drummondville and the surrounding area, and who was drawn to the silence of the woods.”

I think it’s very possible that Dery used his bicycle to stalk and hunt for prey. When he came upon the right victim, he would steal a car for the purposes of abduction. Or maybe he lured Claudette to follow him on his bicycle? Maybe she thought – slight and five foot tall – that he also was a child.


Michel Dery: “He never had love”, a regrettable article from The Montreal Gazette


I spoke with former Surete du Quebec investigator, Jean-Paul Prince, the officer who cracked the case. Prince is of course now retired and living in Trois-Rivières.  I asked if they ever considered Michel Dery as a suspect in the Claudette Poirier case. Prince stated that he did not recall Poirier’s case.but he imagined they probably ruled Dery out because at that time he was possibly not living in Drummondville, but still with his parents in Saint-Léonard-d’Aston.

Still, Saint-Léonard-d’Aston is only a 25 minute drive from Drummondville, the mid point between Drummondville and Trois Rivieres. Maybe Dery could have been driving by the time he was 17 or 18? If not, maybe in 1977 he had some reason to hitchhike there? In fact the day Jean-Paul Prince picked him up, he was hitchhiking from Saint Leonard-d’Aston going toward Drummondville.  Of maybe he road his bike from Saint Leonard-d’Aston to Drummondville. He was said to have ridden his bike, “all over the Drummondville area”.

What is certain: at some point, something eventually brought him to Drummondville. The question is did he arrive as early as 1977?


CODA: On March 7th, 1979, at the back of their Wednesday edition La Presse discloses that like his sister Claudette, 15-year-old Bruno Poirier has disappeared without a trace:

Bruno Poirier

Punch The Clock – November 3rd 1978


When eldest daughter left for college I never quite prepared myself for it. It took me totally by surprise that she leaving home might trigger past memories. The second time, last August, when my middle daughter left I was a little more prepared for the separation.  What totally blindsided me was how similar my home life would track with 40 years ago. So there we are, me and my youngest daughter:  alone at home, her two older siblings off at college. She’s 14: this is exactly me in the Fall of 1978. I didn’t literally get it at first. It was just the feeling of the house. The quiet. The way she behaves is a lot like me then; moody, then funny. Totally independent. She’s just been listening to everything these past 14 years.

The week of late October into November is always such a gut-punch marathon.  There’s Halloween, then my brother’s birthday on November 1st. Of course, November 3rd. And then election Tuesday. There was even a Quebec election that weekend in 1978.
Speaking o the horrors of the season, I found this article on Simone Weil which is a balm:
I woke up this morning wondering what that Saturday must have been like in the Eastern Townships 40 years ago. It was a beautiful fall day, like today. The football team had their big game. The owners of that farm in Compton were probably up and out doing weekend things. And in the field adjacent to their farm, there was this beautiful girl lying dead in perfect stillness. Exposed to the elements in her brassiere and underpants.  Later that afternoon these two hunters enter the woods near Magog and find women’s clothing resting on a tree trunk.
It seems impossible-improbable that it took 8 days for my parents to be notified she was missing. Ten days for me to be notified, November 11, 1978, Remembrance Day.  Then you put on your investigator hat, and when you clock the time, the manner in which events fell out, you understand why it took so long for everyone to wake up.



Mary Gallagher – The Ghost of Griffintown / WKT2 #26


By the pricking of my thumbs, 
Something wicked this way comes:


242 William Street, where Mary Gallagher was beheaded


Prostitutes cavorting with swells. 1879



The Lachine Canal circa 1879



Wellington Street, Point St Charles circa 1879



Dorchester street circa 1879



242 William Street in Griffintown, Montreal 2017


How a Dismembered Montreal Sex Worker Became a Sensation, Then a Ghost, and Now a Fading Legend

Why Mary Gallagher’s brutal murder became a Montreal ghost story.


There’s nothing to see at the spot where 242 William Street once stood: just an empty lot, across from the modern École de technologie supérieure, in Montreal’s Griffintown district. The odd row of narrow duplexes and brick mixed-use buildings lining nearby side-streets are only shadows of what used to be a bustling, crowded, chaotic working-class, largely Irish neighbourhood that grew north of the Lachine canal in the 19th century.

Griffintown was not an atypical 19th Century industrial slum. It was filled with warehouses, flour mills, smelting works, taverns and stables, and populated by a countless number of families, labourers, transients and prostitutes. And none of them would go on to achieve more notoriety than Mary Gallagher, an aging drunken woman who would end up with her head in a bucket and her body in a wash of blood one June morning in 1879.

The story of Mary’s murder has long outlived both her and the neighbourhood in which she lived and died. It’s unique in Montreal lore, a legend that grew out of all its component parts: the ghastly nature of the crime itself, the sensation it created at the time, the vividness with which the local Irish population recounted the story to new generations—all of these were the building blocks of an industrial-era folktale borne out of the streets. The same streets Mary was said to prowl every seven years, searching for her missing head, if the ghost story is to be believed.

The crime itself was unusual for several reasons, not least of which was its brutality. It was also rare: according to one authority on the case, the last murder committed in Montreal was committed in 1877, two years prior.

Adding to the story’s longevity is the identity of the murderer: not an outraged husband or lover, or a violent thief or john, but a friend and fellow prostitute named Susan Kennedy (sometimes known as Susan Kennedy Mears or Myers) with whom she’d spent the morning drinking whiskey.

Here’s what happened.

Sometime between 6 and 7 AM on June 27, 1879, Mary Gallagher and a companion, Michael Flanagan, arrived at the home Susan Kennedy shared with her husband, Jacob Mears (sometimes spelled Myers or Meyers) at 242 William Street, at the corner of Murray. Kennedy said the two had been drinking but didn’t appear to be drunk.

Mary was in the habit of dropping in on the Mears’, Kennedy would testify later, but rarely with company. Jacob Mears was said to be furious at her showing up with a man in tow and left, leaving Kennedy alone with Gallagher and Flanagan. Kennedy soon went out to procure a bottle of whiskey. The home was on the second floor of a two-storey building, and consisted of two rooms: a front bedroom facing William Street and a back room with chairs, table and slop bucket.

Before long, Kennedy returned with a bottle. The three went through most of it and Flanagan, feeling woozy, went into the front room to lie down. Kennedy went in after him, where, Flanagan told the coroner’s inquiry, they talked for about 15 minutes until they were interrupted by Kennedy’s husband, Mears.

“Oh, you are in a room with a man!” he yelled at his wife, per Flanagan. “Shut your mouth, I am only talking to him,” she barked back. He said he would not be in a house where whiskey is being drunk and stormed off once more.

The Montreal Weekly Witness described the happy couple this way: Mears was “an inoffensive man who is rarely, if ever, under the influence of liquor” and “would be rather handsome if behind [his face] intelligence shone instead of stupidity.” His wife, however, is “a tall, powerfully built woman and when under the influence of liquor talks in a silly manner, and some believe her to be insane.” She is “evidently regarded with terror” in the neighbourhood and is well-known to police. “Several policemen stated she was a most difficult character to arrest.” As to her looks, “her countenance, although now defaced with drink, has from appearance not been altogether devoid of beauty.” At the time of the murder, Kennedy was in her mid-twenties.

Flanagan testified that he and the two women then finished what was left of the whiskey before he collapsed in the front room. He said that at the time he turned in the second time, the conversation between the two women remained friendly.

That’s when everything gets hazy.

Flanagan said he woke up a few hours later, around 2 p.m., and asked for a drink of water. Kennedy fetched him one. He then asked her if they should go out for a beer. They argued briefly about money, and Flanagan got up to leave. On his way out, he says he saw Gallagher in the other room, “lying upon her breast. Her feet were turned towards me.” He saw no blood, either on the floor or on Kennedy, and hurried off without speaking further to her, being “in too great a hurry to get something to drink.” He said Kennedy seemed calm but quiet.

Kennedy told a different story. She said she went into the bedroom after Flanagan, and fell asleep on the floor beside him. At some point, she heard Gallagher invite another man into the house, and the pair drank some more. Kennedy said she vaguely knew the stranger, but could not recall his name. After falling back asleep, she woke up and heard the two arguing: “He called her an old grey-haired rot. He said she took him to an ( sic) hotel one night to sleep, and that he had thought her a much younger woman,” Kennedy told the coroner’s inquiry. (Although initially believed to be around 60, Gallagher’s estranged husband said she was in fact only 38.)

Kennedy went back to sleep. When she woke up, the young man was gone and Gallagher was dead.

“When I saw her I got such a fright that I fell upon the floor,” she said. “She was lying on her breast. Her body was next to the door with the feet pointing to the street. Her head was in the tub, also one of her hands. (pause) I am not sure but that this hand was on the floor. I went to call the police but I was too weak.” She added that Flanagan saw the body after he’d woken up and ran off.

Her husband arrived soon after, saw the gore and then fled to get the police.

When the police arrived, Kennedy, whose clothes were stained with Gallagher’s blood, swore she was innocent. She said she tried to clean up the blood that had pooled on the floor but slipped and fell in it. She also insisted Flanagan was innocent.

According to a policeman quoted in the Weekly Witness, Kennedy told them that “a man came into the house Friday morning and gave her (Kennedy) some money, which, arousing the jealousy of the deceased, the latter and the man had a quarrel and the man killed her. She said she saw the man wash the blood from his hands and clear out. Before going he warned her not to tell the police. She did not know the man’s name, and was glad he had escaped because he was a good-looking fellow.”

By then, a crowd had formed outside the house and police struggled to manage it. The Weekly Witness reporter eventually got inside 242 William and saw a “repulsive sight” that “will never be forgotten.”

“The headless trunk lay prostrate on the breast. The jags in the neck showed that a score at least of blows had been struck by some clumsy hand before the head had left the body. The maimed arm lay underneath the body, while the legs were extended in a perfectly natural position. A thin cotton dress with apparently little underclothing were on her. In a large bucket or wash tub nearby were the ghastly head and severed right hand. The grey hair could hardly be distinguished owing to the clots of blood on it, while several gashes across the forehead would indicate that she had received the first blow to the head. The blood had evidently been washed up.”

Police eventually found Jacob Mears’ hatchet, which he usually used for cutting firewood, covered in blood and bits of flesh and hair, inside the apartment. Flanagan and Kennedy were both arrested and tried for murder.

Following a trial by jury, well-attended by the public, Kennedy was found guilty. The evidence against her was pretty strong: one witness said the two women were heard arguing between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., while Flanagan was passed out. Kennedy, the witness said, had been standing by the window “insulting passers-by.” When Gallagher tried to pull her away from the window, Kennedy said words to the effect of, “If you don’t leave me alone I’ll split your head open with an axe.” The Mears’ downstairs neighbour said she also heard what sounded like a body falling to the floor, chopping sounds and Kennedy saying, “I’ve wanted revenge for a long time, and I finally got it.”

After deliberating for an hour and a half, the jury pronounced her guilty though recommended clemency. That did not sway presiding Judge Monk, who said Kennedy “should not expect any pity on the parts of men.” He urged her to beseech God and beg forgiveness for her crimes, and sentenced her to hang on Dec. 5 of that year.

Kennedy, however, did not die that day. Her death sentence was commuted, and she was released from prison after 16 years. No one knows what happened to her after that.

Flanagan was not so lucky. In an extraordinary coincidence, on Dec. 5—the day Kennedy had been sentenced to hang—Flanagan was working aboard a boat in the Peel Basin when he missed his footing and fell into the water. He disappeared beneath the ice and drowned.

As for Mary Gallagher, she was buried in a pauper’s grave. But she lived on in the imaginations of generations of working class Irish who grew up in Griffintown, and remains a linchpin in the memory of the Griffintown Irish community.

Alan Hustak, a former reporter for the Montreal Gazette and author of The Ghost of Griffintown: The True Story of the Murder of Mary Gallagher, says it is not only the particularly gruesome facts of the case, but also the time and the place within which the murder took place that has helped the story survive for so long.

“This murder was extremely unusual,” he says. “Men murder women and women murder men, but the idea of one woman chopping off the head of another… you really can’t forget that, right?”

The fact that both perpetrator and victim were alcoholic sex workers probably added to the public interest. Not that they would have been unusual for the time, says Mary Anne Poutanen, a historian at McGill University who has studied 19th Century prostitution in Montreal.

As in most industrial age cities, urban prostitution was common, especially, though certainly not exclusively, in crowded slums like Griffintown. “Prostitution is all over the city,” she says. “From the streets where judges lived to every part of every class of neighbourhood. It’s everywhere.”

There was no official red-light district, Poutanen says, but there were areas where brothels and street-walkers were concentrated. They were often in poor and immigrant-heavy neighbourhoods, where men, unattached by family and without close acquaintances, could find temporary companionship in the arms of a woman, and a partner with whom they could enjoy a drink.

“There was a lot of alcoholism” among 19th Century sex workers, says Poutanen. “But you have to think about the importance of alcohol culturally, in daily life. It was safer to drink than it was to drink the water. But clearly … some women had huge problems with alcohol.”

So, says Hustak, “You had the shock value, and then you have the whole Irish tradition of banshees and ghosts. You have a cultural element to it.” Flanagan’s coincidental and untimely death accentuated the supernatural part of the story. “The whole story took on a whole different ghostly [aspect] within the Irish community.”

It did not take long before locals began swearing they saw Mary Gallagher’s ghost wandering around the intersection of William and Murray, looking for her head. Everyone in the tightly-knit neighbourhood knew the story of the murdered prostitute, and Irish parents would use the story as a way to threaten their children: eat your cabbage, or Mary Gallagher will come and get you. Eventually there arose a tradition that Mary would appear every seven years on the night of her murder, headless.

One Griffintown Irishman, Denis Delaney, told Hustak that as a child he was regularly warned against Mary’s ghost. If he was going by William and Murray, he’d walk on the opposite side of the street where 242 William once stood because Mary Gallagher might get him. Despite his precautions, Delaney told Hustak that he’d seen her ghost three times over the course of his life, the first when he was four years old.

“Denis was a real character and over beers one time he told me he had Mary Gallagher’s necklace,” he says. “He told me that one night [in 1956] he was walking down the street and this apparition appeared and it pointed to a tree. So he went to the tree and he pulled out this necklace and when he turned around, the apparition was gone and he knew immediately that it was Mary Gallagher’s necklace. I have to tell you that Denis drank a lot and had a great imagination and was Irish.”

There are next to no Irish left in Griffintown these days though, and most of the row houses and duplexes that were home to thousands of families, workers, soldiers and prostitutes have been knocked down or left to rot. Griffintown’s relentless decades-long decline is blamed on Montreal’s autocratic mayor Jean Drapeau, who revolutionized the city in the post-war years and decided that Griffintown, like other low-income, inner-city neighbourhoods, had to go. The area was re-zoned and starved of oxygen, until it withered almost to extinction.

But in the past few years Griffintown has been undergoing a radical rebirth, with glass tower condos mushrooming into the sky. New industries, including hip, expensive boutiques, are moving in. But Griffintown still lacks any kind of street-level warmth or sense of community. Mary Gallagher’s world is receding ever further into the past—but it hasn’t been entirely forgotten just yet.

“Mary’s story has survived because you could still stand on the corner [of where the murder took place,]” says author and musician Gern Vlchek. “But I don’t know how much longer it will.”

Vlchek wasn’t born in Montreal but spent two decades living in its southwest, an area encompassing Griffintown and other traditionally Irish and French-Canadian working class neighbourhoods like St-Henri, Little Burgundy, Point St-Charles and Verdun. His keen interest in his adopted city’s history, though, informed the song-writing of his previous band, the United Steelworkers of Montreal; they even recorded a song called The Ballad of Mary Gallagher. (Vlchek didn’t write that song, though. Their guitarist discovered the story on a custom placemat at one of Montreal’s Irish pubs and decided to put it to music.)

Griffintown, he says, “was a very historically present place. The history, up until about eight years ago, would slap you in the face, it was there. You didn’t, but you could almost expect to see the blood of Mary Gallagher on a sidewalk 100 years later, y’know?”

When asked if he thinks people will still remember Mary’s story in 50 years, Vlchek says, “It’s hard to say. Normally, these kinds of things would be enshrined in some local bar, but there are no local bars down there.”