I’ve been giving some thought and research to the matter of the man convicted in the First Degree Murder of Lailane Silva, Luc Gregoire being the serial killer suspected in the deaths of a number of prostitutes in the Calgary area from 1991 to 1993.
These cold-cases have long been a point of frustration for the RCMP, Calgary Police Services, and the Calgary community (see Homicide: When The Trail Goes Cold and 505 Killing, 25 years: What our analysis says about Calgary). In his 2012 book, Cold North Killers, Lee Mellor dubs these “The Calgary Prostitute Murders”, singling out the files of Jennifer Janz, Jennifer Joyes, Keeley Pincott, Tracy Maunder, and Rebecca Boutilier and suggesting that another six unsolved female murders may be linked:
“Then as soon as the killings started, they stopped. Police suspect the killer may have been jailed for another crime.”
As it turns out there is an offender who fits the profile and timeline. It’s Luc Gregoire. The Calgary cases unfolded between July 1991 and March 1993. Gregoire was released from prison in Alberta January 1991 and arrested in May 1993 for the Silva murder.
Initially when Gregoire was apprehended there was a lot of attention given to the matter, with police reporting that they were investigating Gregoire for other murders ( a May 7, 1993 Calgary Herald article references Gregoire in relation to the then unsolved murder of Dilleen Hemple, as well as Maunder and Boutilier). Gradually, all the attention died-down. In fact, today the only reference you can find linking Gregoire to these cases is in the obscure dark corners of web sleuthy sub Reddits.
Perhaps police did their due diligence and found no evidence. Or perhaps they didn’t like what they found and conveniently chose to ignore where it was leading (note: Gregoire died in a Quebec correctional facility in 2015).
So was Gregoire the Calgary Prostitute Murderer?
The following timeline was developed using three primary source documents. The first document was a 1993 report commissioned by The Correctional Service of Canada analyzing the pre-indicators that lead up to the First Degree Murder charge of Luc Yoland Gregoire after his statutory release from prison in Calgary Alberta on January 21st, 1991. The second document is a report by Calgary sociologist Augustine Brannigan on the victimization of prostitutes and is available (click here) on the internet. Finally there’s Maryanne Pearce‘s most excellent database, An Awkward Silence: Missing and Murdered Vulnerable Women and the Canadian Justice System which documents the history of female homicide in Canada suggesting that possibly as many as 4,000 cases of murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada remain under-investigated by law enforcement (for more on this read the article, The Vanishing of Canada’s First Nations Women)
First some background on Gregoire. Recall that Gregoire had a varied criminal history in Quebec, and did not particularly target any specific type of victim. In 1981 he assaulted a mother of four in a parking lot in Sherbrooke, Quebec and attempted to choke her with his bare hands. In 1983 Gregoire was arrested in Montreal for an assault on a prostitute where he attempted to have sex with her and her injuries resulted after she refused. In 1985 he is arrested in Slave Lake, Alberta and charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
In the month leading up to his murder of Lailane Silva his behaviors appear similarly random. April 6, 1993, Gregoire assaults a Calgary prostitute with a roofing hammer. May 2, 1993, Gregoire attempts to abduct Aida Yuen in front of her Castleridge home. Finally, murder victim Silva is a 7-Eleven employee who Gregoire abducts while she is washing the store windows at 12:30 am, May, 3, 1993. Gregoire rapes and murders (strangulation) Silva in his car, then dumps her body in Calgary.
Gregoire is convicted and sentenced in Edmonton, Alberta on charges of Robbery (4 years), Unlawful Use of a Fire Arm (3 years consecutive, with 10 year probation), Possession of a Prohibited Weapon (2 years concurrent). He serves 3 1/2 years before being granted release on Mandatory Supervision.
JANUARY 21, 1991
Offender Gregoire is released on Mandatory Supervision, and is living in Edmonton, Alberta.
Gregoire is assessed by his parole supervisor as “high risk / medium needs”. Psychological intervention is seen as essential and “is being pursued”. Abstention from intoxicants is listed as part of the action plan, Gregoire reports attending bars to test himself and is cautioned by his supervisor, Bruce Anderson.
Gregoire is referred to a treatment center to determine need for counseling.
“The semi-nude body of Shawna Van Der Basch, age 20, is found on June 20, 1991, in a ditch beside a gravel road south-west of Calgary near the town of Priddis. This was the first of three murders in 1991. The evening before the body was discovered, Miss Van Der Basch had been seen in a downtown nightclub in the company of a man with whom she left after midnight. She had been in Calgary for six months since moving from Vancouver. She had worked as a hairdresser and as an escort. The cause of death was strangulation. Shawna Van Der Basch was not known as a street prostitute and nothing was published about her activities as an escort. However, the way the body was discarded bears comparison with both previous and subsequent cases.”
“The second 1991 case involved an adolescent. Jennifer Janz’s body is unearthed at a construction site on August 13 near Valley Ridge Road and the Trans-Canada Highway on the western edge of Calgary in a shallow grave (Calgary Herald, August 15, 1991). She is “battered” and apparently died from a massive blow to the chest (Calgary Herald, August 16, 1991). She was a 16 year old who left home after completing grade nine to live with her street friends. She had attended a Christian camp in Texas in September and October of 1990 with the support of her family. Upon returning to Calgary, she tried unsuccessfully to re-enter high school and drifted back and forth between her family and the street. She was last seen by her family on July 10 when she was driven to hospital by her father for medical treatment. She appeared close to becoming reconciled with her family in the weeks before she disappeared (Calgary Herald, October 6, 1991). Whether she was involved in street prostitution was not publicly disclosed. The case has not been cleared.”
Gregoire attends treatment and becomes agitated at the length of time required for assessment, and the interview is terminated. Under the circumstances, the attending psychologist closes the file and notes that there would not be any benefit in having him re-referred.
Also at this time a Community Risk / Needs Management Scale is completed which assesses Gregoire as “low risk / medium needs”. Gregoire is reluctant to see a psychologist, but is meeting regularly with a pastor of a local church who is trained in counseling.
“The third 1991 case came to attention within days of the Janz murder. Jennifer Joyes, age 17, was reported missing from her group home on August 30, having last been seen at the home on August 10th. Her nude and partially de-composed body is found in a wooded area near Springbank west of the city limits on October 7, 1991 (Calgary Herald, October 8, 1991) – two kilometres south of the spot where Jennifer Janz’s body was found on August 13 (Calgary Herald, Oct. 9, 1991). The body had been in the area for at least a month, according to police. The cause of death was not publicized.”
During a regular supervision appointment Gregoire is observed to have a black eye and scratches. He explains that he was at a night club drinking and intervened on behalf of a woman who was being beaten. Case notes report that this is the first indication that he is drinking again.
NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 1991
Another assessment session is scheduled, however Gregoire is unable to attend due to employment in Calgary. One month travel permit is issued to Calgary.
Community Risk / Needs Management Scale is completed. Alcohol use is reported, but is not seen as problematic. “Low risk / Medium needs” assessment is maintained. Supervision is transferred to Calgary since offender Gregoire will now be working there permanently.
January 18th, 1992, the body of teenager, Anita Gilavish is found in a bird sanctuary in the East part of Calgary. Family mention that she ran with a “rough crowd”, cite use of drugs. Possibly involved in prostitution.
“The case of Keeley Louise Pincott, age 29. News reports described Pincott as a “mother, barmaid and waitress” (Calgary Herald, November 3, 1992). Pincott went missing after working as a barmaid several days before her body was discovered. There was no evidence that she was involved in street prostitution. The cause of death is unknown or unpublished. Her skeletal remains were found 2 kilometres north of Cochrane in a shallow grave in a dead end road used as a ‘lover’s lane’ on 10 March, 1992 (Calgary Herald, March 12, 1992). Police identified the body as that of Pincott shortly thereafter. The location of the remains some 40 kilometres north west of Calgary raised questions about a common killer in the Janz, Joyes and Pincott cases (Calgary Herald, March 12, 1992). In September, 1994, an Edmonton RCMP crime analyst suggested that police had a suspect in the three murders but insufficient evidence for an arrest. Subsequent reports have failed to substantiate this.”
Gregoire is assessed and the report notes of his reluctance to participate in counseling, and concludes that there would be little benefit in forcing him to attend. In terms of alcohol use, it suggests that if it results “in any criminal charge while he is still on parole then his parole conditions should be varied to abstain and attend treatment for further assessment.”
Community Risk / Needs Management Scale completed by Alberta Justice parole supervisor Betty Buss. Gregoire’s use of alcohol is seen as a major focus of supervision, and notes that should alcohol cause a change in the current situation further action will be initiated. The case plan includes the reduction of use by one half. The General Statistical Information on Recidivism (SIR) rating is recorded as +4 although a new rating has not been completed and the Edmonton supervision records consistently refer to a rating of -8. He is assessed as “low risk / low needs”, and supervision frequency is reduced from twice to once per month.
“Another 1992 case was brought to our attention by Calgary police. This case involved a transsexual, Jean McMaster. No story appeared in The Herald. It is not known whether McMaster was working as a prostitute nor is the cause of death known at this time. This case is uncleared.”
Found August 8th, 1992 at 68th street SE, Calgary.
Gregoire reports to his parole supervisor an unauthorized trip to Banff. A case conference is held with the Director of Calgary Central Parole Office and Gregoire is verbally reprimanded.
“The next case involved Tracy Lynn Maunder who was a 26 year old single mother. She was seen by the building manager in the apartment complex where she lived on October 28, 1992 and her appearance was confirmed later that evening on the main stroll by other prostitutes. Since her child was under supervision of a baby sitter, her disappearance was noticed immediately. Her partially clad body was discovered on November 1 in a grassy field in the area of 17th Ave SE between Garden and Sheppard Roads on the outskirts of Calgary. She had been beaten and stabbed to death. She was survived by an 11 year old son – a son she bore when she was only 14 years old. She had worked previously as a waitress, and had been prostituting for about 6 months prior to her murder, apparently to support her son. At the time of her murder, she was battling cancer. In subsequent investigations, the RCMP discovered a knife near the scene of the crime (Calgary Herald, November 7, 1992). The case has not been cleared.”
Gregoire is granted a six day travel permit to Edmonton to pursue legal action against the Service as a result of his 1988 assault at the correctional institution.
Dilleen Hempel was a waitress when she was abducted on her way home from work, November 16, 1992. Five months after Dilleen’s disappearance, the search ended in tragedy when her body was discovered. A man, unknown to the young waitress, had followed her home from the bar where she worked and lured her from her car. Steven Beirnes then shot her twice in the back of her head and buried her in a shallow grave in sight of his living room window. Beirnes committed suicide while in prison in 2005.
“Claudette Collette Anctil’s body is found beside an apartment building at 1339 10th Avenue SE. She was 27 years old, and was known by the police to frequent the low track stroll around the National Hotel. She was also known as a narcotics user. She disappeared late on Wednesday, December 2 and her bloodied body was discovered early on December 3, 1992. The police did not release the cause of death (Calgary Herald, 4 December 1992). “
Community Risk / Needs Management Scale completed. Alcohol consumption is reported as reduced to the point that Gregoire is now saving money through a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP).
The Corrections report notes, “The following information concerning events of January 31, 1993, is related to an ongoing investigation by the Calgary Police Service and was provided in confidence.”:
January 31, 1993: Gregoire is charged with Impaired Driving after being found asleep at the wheel of his car at midnight in the parking lot of a convenience store close to his home. He is issued an appearance notice and released. There is no record of notification of this arrest to the Alberta Justice duty officer.
“Rebecca Boutilier was reported missing by her mother on February 12, 1993 after failing to return home to care for her 14 month old child (Herald February 17, 1993; Herald, March 3, 1993). Boutilier (age 20) had worked the streets since age 17 and had had problems with narcotics. The reports in the press in February and March detailed her mother’s attempts to circulate the photograph of her missing daughter to help track down her whereabouts.
On Thursday March 11, 1993 a naked body was discovered in a crop field in the extreme northwest outskirts of the city. There were obvious “wound marks” on the body which was partially covered by grass (Calgary Herald, March 12, 1993). She has been stabbed. The body was identified on Friday as that of Boutilier but at the time there were outstanding reports of three missing females anyone of whom could have been identified. Police questioned Boutilier’s estranged common law husband, Stanley Wayne Selinger, age 28. Selinger was due to appear in court on February 26 to face assault charges involving Boutilier and their son, Avery, arising from an incident reported December 30, 1992. Because of Boutilier’s disappearance on February 12, the assault case was adjourned (Calgary Herald, March 13, 1993). Selinger was never charged in the homicide. However, the assault case was brought to trial along with related charges on July 27. The Crown dropped the assault charges and Selinger pled guilty to 2 charges of possession of a restricted weapon – a switchblade and martial arts sticks and was fined $800 (Calgary Herald, July 28, 1993). This homicide has not been cleared.”
February 18, 1993: During a routine office interview, Gregoire reports to parole supervisor Buss that he has been charged. Her case notes read in part, “got charged impaired? in care + control, was sleeping in car because he had a few- cut it out” The notes continue to discuss the status of his RRSP and health benefit membership.
MARCH 22nd, 1993
Gregoire case notes indicate “waiting for end now – keep straight after WED..”
APRIL 6th, 1993
The Corrections report again notes, “The following information concerning events of January 31, 1993, is related to an ongoing investigation by the Calgary Police Service and was provided in confidence.”:
Gregoire is charged with Assault with a Weapon on a Female at approximately 0300 hours after a Calgary prostitute complains that she was assaulted with a roofing hammer by a client. He is released on $200 bail later that morning. There is no record to the Alberta Justice duty officer of this arrest.
APRIL 16th, 1993
The final case note entry reads: “Police done today – starting to celebrate – take it easy. On parole to May 13. No need to report.”
The Corrections report notes, “Some of the events included in the chronology for the period May 2 – , 1993 inclusive are the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Calgary Police Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Information on these matters was provided in confidence by the Calgary Police Service”:
MAY 2nd, 1993
Aida Yuen reports to Calgary Police that a man attempted to abduct her in front of her home at approximately 2330 hours. She is able to escape and drives to a nearby store where she reports the incident.
MAY 3, 1993
Approximately one hour after the attempted abduction on May 2, Lailane Silva disappears from her work place. There is substantial media coverage of this event.
At 180 hours, May 3, 1993, the Alberta Justice duty officer (at the Bow River Correctional Centre) is contacted by the Calgary Police Service which is seeking unspecified information concerning offender Gregoire. They are told a message will be left for parole supervisor Buss who will contact them in the morning.
Offender Gregoire is arrested at 2230 hours May 3, 1993 and charged with unlawful confinement. At approximately 0150 hours on May 4, 1993, the Alberta Justice duty officer is advised of the arrest by the Calgary Police Service. A suspension warrant is issued and received by Calgary Police at approximately 0230 hours, May 4, 1993.
MAY 4, 1993
The body of Lailane Silva is found in Calgary and offender Gregoire is charged with First Degree Murder. There is considerable media coverage, including a media conference by the Calgary Police Service, and it is reported that inmate Gregoire is being investigated concerning other disappearances.
A sensational incident report is filed this date by the Director of Calgary Central Parole Office.
The suspension report is completed, and recommends revocation.
MAY 13, 1993
Offender Gregoire’s Statutory Release is revoked.
Here are my thoughts on the timeline and cases:
- Though Gregoire was paroled from Alberta corrections in January of 1991, he was living in Edmonton for the majority of that year, which is about a three hour drive from Calgary, so I have a hard time pegging him for the Shawna Van Der Basch. Jennifer Janz and Jennifer Joyes murders. Is it possible he committed the murders? Yes, but not very probable. Recall that he had to report to his parole supervisor regularly. Though the interval is interesting, apparently only every two weeks: plenty of time to leave town and come back. However, also note that when he self reported an unauthorized trip to Banff, that this was apparently a big deal and Gregoire was reprimanded. On the other hand, how many times could Gregoire have violated his parole conditions and not reported unauthorized travel?
- Speaking of Banff: the unauthorized travel is also interesting. The incident is documented in September of 1992 (though it is not specified when the travel occurred). Keeley Louise Pincott is found in March of 1992 two miles North of Cochrane, which is on the way to Banff. Boutilier is found North West of the city in March of 1993, also on the route to Banff.
- Back to Janz and Joyes: Both found in shallow graves. Pincott also found in a shallow grave. Dilleen Hempel is also found in a shallow grave. The case is a stranger-homicide and Steven Beirnes is convicted and later commits suicide in prison.
- January 31, 1993: Gregoire is charged with Impaired Driving after being found asleep at the wheel of his car at midnight in the parking lot of a convenience store close to his home: Gregoire’s home was in the Castleridge area of Calgary, in the North East end of the city. A “convenience store close to his home” would be the Rundlehorn 7-Eleven, as that is just South of Castleridge. So was Gregoire using the 7-Eleven where he abducted Silva on May 3, 1993 as a staging ground for his crimes as early as January 1993?
- Also note that Aida Yuen was almost abducted from her Castlebridge neighborhood on the night of May 2, 1993, so Gregoire was hunting in his own neighhborhood, but that was not where he disposed of the bodies.
- Note the pattern of dump sites for Gilavish, Anctil, McMaster, and Maunder: all are found on or near 17th Avenue SE, South of where offender Gregoire lived.
- Note a similar pattern in the Quebec cases of Allore, Camirand, Dube: the bodies were dumped to the South of Sherbrooke / Lennoxville, and geographic profiler Kim Rossmo determined the offender in those cases most likely lived North of the dump cities in the city. Also note that Gregoire was investigated by the Surete du Quebec as a suspect in the Theresa Allore case.
- As the cases progress, police communicate less and less about what happened, or how the victims died. We know Silva was dumped “in Calgary”. After abducting her… “he strangled and raped her before dumping her body in a ditch along 80th Avenue N.E. – an area that was at the edge of the city back then. Homicide investigators arrested Gregoire after a surveillance team saw him trying to dispose of a bag containing Silva’s belongings. Gregoire refused to tell investigators the location of Silva’s body, which was found the next day by a passerby.”
- Maunder and Boutilier are stabbed. The prostitute attacked on April 3, 1993 was assaulted with a roofing hammer. In two Quebec cases from the late seventies when Gregoire was living in Sherbrooke victims are assaulted with a screwdriver and an ice pick.
- The woman assaulted in the Sherbrooke, QC parking lot in 1981, Nicole Couture never went into details, but said, “then he did things to me I don’t want to talk about . . . I was in a terrible state, I was bleeding everywhere.”.
My assessment is that there is a good possibility that Luc Gregoire was responsible for the murders of Anita Gilavish, Tracy Maunder, Jean McMaster, Claudette Anctil and Rebecca Boutilier.
You will note that the media was initially quite diligent in pursuing this angle but very quickly dropped it. Perhaps they too saw that there was no evidence to support Gregoire as the murder of these women.
Perhaps something more.
For what would it say if Gregoire was allowed to prey on the city of Calgary, on some of the community’s most vulnerable members for over seventeen months, right under the noses of those that were enlisted to protect its citizens, the Calgary Police Service and the Calgary Central Parole Office? Never mind the $800,000 settlement in the matter of Lanie Silva, how much might all the other families extract?
Has law enforcement and the media been entirely transparent and responsible in these matters? Did they abandon the cause of a marginalized population? Are they at best lazy, at worst complicit?
Luc is dead. We may never know.