Category Archives: Cold Case

Beasts of the Forest – Joleil Campeau WKT2 #9

On June 12, 1995 Joleil Campeau told her mom she was headed to a friend’s house nearby her home on Debussy St., in the North-West area of Laval. It was late afternoon, a Monday, The 9-year-old girl’s regular path to her friend’s house involved crossing through a wooded area behind her home.

Her body was discovered four days later, submerged in a creek in the wooded area. Whoever killed her had masturbated on her. A coroner determined she died of asphyxiation caused by drowning and declared her death a homicide. 

 

 

1977 headline: Camirand, Houle, Dorion, Monaste, Hawkes

 

 

1995 headline: Desjardins, Cabay, Lariviere, Cote, Poulin, Dalphe

 

 

1995 headline: Lariviere, Cote, Brochu, Lubin, Metivier

 

 

Full page of the La Presse article from December 11, 1999. Julie Surprenant below the fold

 

 

Julie Surprenant: below the fold

 

 

Joleil Campeau

Who murdered Murielle Guay? ( 1982 )

The Surete du Quebec’s cold-case posting on Murielle Guay

 

Conventional wisdom suggests Murielle Guay was butchered by American serial killer William Dean Christensen. Then why is the Surete du Quebec investigating her death as a cold-case?

This much is known. On April 27, 1982, 27-year-old Sylvie Trudel was found decapitated and dismembered in the downtown Montreal apartment of  “Richard Owen.” That same afternoon a pedestrian discovered the dismembered body of Murielle Guay in trash bags in a wooded area of Mille-Îles northwest of Montreal. 

Both murders have long been attributed to American serial killer William Dean Christensen (AKA “Richard Bill Owen”). So why is the Surete du Quebec continuing to pursue Guay’s case as a unresolved murder? (click here to go to their website)

Tracing the origins of misinformation on the internet reveals the following:

At some point between 1995 and 2005 the website CrimeZZZ.net posted the following:

the sectioned corpse of Murielle Guay, 26, was found wrapped in trash bags at Mille-Isles, 50 miles northwest of Montreal. Police were initially reluctant to connect the crimes, noting that Trudel’s killer displayed “a certain amount of expertise,” while victim Guay was “really butchered,” but their doubts were resolved by April 29, with murder warrants issued in the name of William Christenson.

On February 25, 2012 the website Coolopolis reported that:

“[Christensen] also murdered Murielle Guay, 26, of Laval, whose body was found dismembered in Mille Iles, northwest of Montreal, decapitated as well, but with less skill, leading authorities to initially believe that it was not the same killer.”

Finally, in his book, Cold North Killers, published March 3, 2013 Lee Mellor writes:

So when did conjecture become internet fact? Difficult to say. When questioned, my friend and colleague Kristian Gravenor – who runs Coolopolis – stated that he was simply reporting what had been reported.

Fact from Fiction

It’s hard not to hold Christensen as a viable suspect. He was released in error from Montreal’s Bordeaux prison just two weeks prior to the murders of Trudel and Guay. Bordeaux is within striking distance from the Bar América on St-Laurent Street in Montreal, where Guay was last seen on April 17, 1982 (contrary to internet reports, Guay was 19, not 24 or 26).

 

February 17, 1985 La Presse article on William Christensen

 

I cannot find any news item that definitely links Christensen to the murder of Guay. A 1984 La Presse article state he was “thought to be responsible” for Guay’s murder.  In 1985 La Presse reported that Christensen was “suspected” of Guay’s murder.  In 1989 Le Nouvelliste merely states he was being “investigated” in her murder.  

The Washington Post reported in 1985 that Christensen was “charged in the mutilation deaths of two women in Canada.”, but apparently those charges – at least in the case of Guay – were dropped. Currently Christensen is serving time in the United States for a Pennsylvania murder.

So who killed Murielle Guay? It’s curious. From memory I recall one other case of dismemberment: the 1989 case of Valerie Dalpe. 

It’s also curious – and frustrating – why the Quebec media doesn’t show a greater interest  in these matters. The Surete du Quebec have posted new information on over 60 cases. I’m sure they would welcome the attention, investigation, publication and support of media partners.

Apparently the Surete du Quebec no longer consider William Dean Christensen as a suspect, and are looking for answers. 

Literature & Criminology – Interview with Michael Arntfield – WKT #30

 

Michael Arntfield joins us to talk about his latest book, Murder In Plain English – From Manifestos to Memes – Looking at Murder through the words of Killers.

We discuss how artifice and crime are linked and inform each other.

Here is a link to the extensive database of American murders through the Murder Accountability Project, murderdata.org.

Michael Arntfield’s website can be found: (here)

 

 

The theatre of the Grand Guignol:

 

The Ballad of William Fyfe / WKT #26

Notes from the podcast

Prologue: On October 29, 1999 Monique Gaudreau, a 45-year-old nurse at a  hospital in the Laurentians  was found dead at her home  in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec (North of Montreal) . Gaudreau was found in the bedroom.  She had been  beaten, sexually assaulted, and stabbed 55 times. This is the story of William Patrick Fyfe.

Music: The Poppy Family: Evil Grows

William Patrick Fyfe

Some intro on Fyfe:   William Fyfe , known as the Killer Handyman,  Born in late February 1955. One of Canada’s most prolific serial killers. why it’s important to talk about him

So let’s get into how Fyfe was caught.  To answer that we first turn to the case of  Anna Yarnold, a 59-year-old woman who was found dead on October 15, 1999 in Senneville, Quebec (west of Montreal… 1,500 people?). Lived in isolated home on water front.  In analyzing the crime scene police note that the assailant approached the house in a vehicle at night.  Yarnold’s dog was locked in a room with her handbag, wallet.  The body found outside in the garden. Face down in flower bed. There was bruising on the neck and face, and she was beaten with a flower pot. She was initially attacked in the bathroom. She ran outside.  Where she was choked beaten and bashed in the head with a flower pot.  The assailant took credit cards. Police initially suspect her husband, Robert Yarnold because the scene seemed too violent for a mere robbery. crime of passion. There were no forensics / hard to get forensics on an outside murder. (Paul Cherry interviewed, he reported that it probably wasn’t a robbery)

Yarnold & Gaudreau

Police know began to question if this was in some way connected to an incident that happened earlier in the Summer in the West Island of Montreal. In July, 1999 a woman named  Janet Kuckinsky was attacked and murdered on a Bicycle path in the West Island.

At this point police also  go back to the case of  Monique Gaudreau, a 45-year-old victim from Saint Agathe who was beaten, sexually assaulted and stabbed 55 times. However, as with Yarnold police have very little forensics. In fact, not even a robbery, nothing taken.  Outside they find a footprint (blood of Mrs. Gaudreau).  They also find blood droplets belonging to a male individual.  Different causes of death (knife / smashed with pot), therefore different killers?  Forensic biologist Josenthe Prevot:  “It’s difficult to approach violence, to be in there him. To be in the victim’s environment where they live their everyday lives”

Shanahan & Glenn

On November 19th, 1999,  a 55-year old accountant goes missing in Laval, Quebec.   When police go to check her apartment they find four Montreal Gazette’s stacked outside her door.   Teresa Shanahan was found stabbed to death on November 23, 1999.  She had been sexually assaulted,  beaten and stabbed 32 times. The scene was similar to Gaudreau, except there were items missing, jewelry and credit cards. Later there were ATM withdrawals the evening of the murder : $500 / $500.  The assailant obtained her PIN number. At about this time the daughter of Anna Yarnold noticed withdrawals from her account.  Police obtained a grainy / blurry photo produced from ATM, man in kangaroo hoody with a bearded. As Yarnold’s husband was clean shaven this ruled him out.

From this police now piece together that the assailant is torturing victims to obtain PIN numbers. He’s using subterfuge to obtain entry / tradesman or handyman: no break-ins.

December 15, 1999: a  man comes to door of home in Baie-d’Urfé, Quebec (west).   Asks the woman who answers if she’d like any gardening done. He’s doing some work in the area, could he offer services. Woman talks to husband, and then declines the offer.

Across the street on that same day 50-year-old Mary Glenn, was beaten and stabbed to death.  Glenn lived alone in a waterfront home. Same man approaches home. Following morning woman finds her in living room. Interior, beaten, stabbed and violated. Prevost returns. Clothed. Beaten with blunt object.  No forced entry. Very violent, covering many rooms, hair ripped out, blood in multiple rooms. Finished in living room. Turned on back,” beaten to a pulp”  Again, footprints in blood. Blood on hands, washes hands in kitchen sink. Goes to bedroom upstairs, shakes down victim’s purse.  A forensics printer expert,  Jean Paul Menier, finds a finger print. Loads into finger print bank. A match is made: The print is that of  44 year old William Fyfe.

So who is Fyfe?  Born in Toronto, raised in Montreal. Attended Montreal High School, he was known for urinating on the school bus. His first adult run-in with the law was in 1975, when he was charged with theft over $200 in Montreal and sentenced to six months in jail. Since then a series of  BandEs and thefts. He worked as handyman. He was married, separated with a child. Since then several rel/ships. He did home renovations. Last known address was in a town north of Montreal.

At this point the police have a puzzle: Do they go public and risk scaring him off into hiding, or do they act in the importance of the public interest? The police are given several hours to find him. Ex-girl friend tips that he may be staying at mother’s in Barrie Ontario. OPP Detective  Jim Miller goes to mother’s old farm house. Car with QC plates registered to Fyfe. 24 hour surveillance. Determining if enough evidence to arrest. MUC come to Barrie, publish photo of Fyfe. Say he’s suspect, wanted for questioning. Story goes national. Leaves home, goes to Toronto, looks for newspapers, puts in orders for the Gazette. Dec 21st, 1999. Goes to church, drops three pairs of running shoes. Drove away. Spots on shoes that appear to be blood. Police finally close in on Fyfe at the Husky Truck Stop gas station in Barrie on December 22, 1999, he’s placed under arrest for Mary Elizabeth Glenn. “why don’t you shoot me now?”

Fyfe’s Ford Ranger at Husky Truckstop in Barrie, Ontario

 

Corporal Andrew Bouchard, Montreal police : on the investigation. Bouchard head of Montreal’s major crimes division. Interrogation: “arrogant. Cold like a fish”. First night, they don’t get very far. The secure his cigarette butts for DNA.

Hazel Scattolon

Hazel Scattolon, a 52-year-old woman who was stabbed to death and sexually assaulted in March 21, 1981. Scattalon’s son played hockey with Fyfe. Calls in in aftermath. Fyfe had painted in Hazel’s house. Mount Royal. At this point, where they thought they were investigating a series of murders from 1999, Fyfe has the potential of stretching back 18 years

Through it all Fyfe maintained his innocence, but there was simply too much evidence.  There was blood on Fyfe’s  shoes and clothing. In the case of Anna Yarnold police found traces of her blood on Fyfe’s clothing. The prints from the Monique Gaudreau crime scene tied to shoes recovered at the church in Ontario.  Teresa Shanahan’s stolen ring later turned up as one of Fyfe’s possessions. And finally of course the finger print recovered at the Mary Glenn site turned out to be Fyfe’s.

On Sept 21, 2001 Fyfe is sentenced to life in prison wit out parole for 25 years. He denied involvement in the Janet Kuckinsky case.

During these affairs Fyfe hinted at other cases. After his conviction he confessed to 4 more:

Raymond, Poupart-Leblanc, et Laplante

  1. Suzanne-Marie Bernier, a 62-years-old woman who was stabbed and sexually assaulted October 17, 1979 in Cartierville, Montreal
  2. Nicole Raymond, a 26-years-old woman who was stabbed and sexually assaulted on November 14, 1979 in Pointe-Claire, Montreal
  3. Louise Poupart-Leblanc, a 37-years-old woman who was stabbed 17 times and sexually assaulted on September 26, 1987 in Saint-Adèle, Laurentides
  4. Pauline Laplante, a 44-years-old woman who was stabbed and sexually assaulted on June 9, 1989 in Saint-Adèle, Laurentides

And police also later learn that Fyfe was responsible for a string of violent rapes in the 1980s in downtown Montreal  / “The Plumber”  rapes.

Timeline:

  1. Suzanne-Marie Bernier, Cartierville, Montreal, October 17, 1979
  2. Nicole Raymond, Pointe-Claire, Montreal November 14, 1979

GAP

  1. Hazel Scattolon, Mount Royal  March 21, 1981. Stabbed 27 times.

(series  of violent rapes in the 1980s / Plumber Rapes)

  1. Louise Poupart-Leblanc, Saint-Adèle, Laurentides September 26, 1987
  2. Pauline Laplante, Saint-Adèle, Laurentides June 9, 1989

GAP

  1. Janet Kuckinsky, West island   July 1999
  2. Anna Yarnold, Senneville, Quebec (west of Montreal) October 15, 1999
  3. Monique Gaudreau, Sainte-Agathe, October 29,  1999
  4. Teresa Shanahan, Laval, Quebec  November 19  1999
  5. Mary Glenn, Baie-d’Urfé, Quebec (west).  December 15, 1999

So putting the timeline together, Fyfe’s activity crosses two decades 1979 – 1999.

Police begin to ponder the the gaps in time.  And why the slowing of violence? Why did he calm down. Police said Fyfe was always willing to describe  the crimes in vivid detail, but he remained silent as to motive. “What hit you to cause you to kill again? Why did you stab her so many times” /   “that’s for me to know”, Fyfe replied.

In 2000 a task force was formed and Investigation units from Montreal, Laval, SQ went back and check files on 85 cold cases dating back to 1981.

During the 1980s Fyfe lived in St. Laurent (borders Cartierville) , LaSalle, Lachine and Verdun (south of Pointe Saint Charles) during the 1980s and in the Laurentian town of Saint-Jerome in 1993 (north).

He still remains a suspect in at least 5 unsolved murders:

  • 1991 murder of Montrealer Joanne Beaudoin, 35, who was stabbed to death in Town of Mount Royal in May 1990. The killer stole her gray 1987 Honda Accord and several items from her home. Car later found torched.
  • Laval police submitted the case of 55-year-old Theresa Litzak. Her body was found in her Laval apartment on Nov. 22, 1999. Police believe she was killed Nov. 19 (this would mean she was killed the same day as Shanahan who also lived in Laval). She lived alone, as did Yarnold and Glen.
  • 3 Ontario cases.

Looking at our own cases, could Fyfe be a suspect? No: wrong timeline (too young), different modus operandi:

  • Lise Chagnon / Saint Hubert / 1974: entered subterfuge. Struggle, blood in many rooms. Stabbed and bludgeoned .   Fyfe was 19. Saint Hubert adjacent to Longueuil.
  • Roxanne Luce / 1981 / Longueuil.

And Yet:

  • 1977: Hawkes: Beaten, Stabbed, raped, purse missing: Fyfe’s first known murder was in 1979 when he was 24, could he have killed at 22?
  • 1978: Lison Blais: choked, struck on head, raped, purse missing

Note the above two because please only delve back as far as 1979, so we presume they know he was in prison?

  • 1979: Nicole Gaudreault: Beaten about head and raped. Empty purse. Blood on stairs, but extended to back lot: fight?

Was Fyfe operating with a different M.O .at an earlier age, then switched at some point to something less risky? (Outdoors to indoors. Younger to older victims)

Fyfe will be elegible for parole September, 2026. He will be 69 to 70  years of age.

Out music: Terry Jacks / Seasons in the Sun

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The Michael Arntfield Interview / WKT #13

Today we have an interview with Canadian criminologist Michael Arntfield, author of the book Murder City, The Untold Story of Canada’s Serial Killer Capital, 1959-1984:

Arntfield was a police officer and detective in London, Ontario from 1999 to 2014 when he left policing to accept a customized academic appointment at University of Western Ontario where he teaches what he calls “literary criminology” in a combined English literature, professional writing, and crime studies program.

The best-selling and controversial Murder City for which Arntfield is arguably best known, advances a hypothesis, often employing an epistolary format through the use of a now deceased detective Dennis Alsop’s original diary notes, that over a specific interval in the 1960s and 1970s, the city of London, Ontario spawned or otherwise housed more serial killers per capita than any city in Canada, and possibly beyond.

Lynda White

 

Ontario Provincial Police Detective Dennis Alsop

 

Here is a link to Michael Arntfield’s website:

 

Michael Arntfield

 

Opening of the film, Bon Cop Bad Cop:

 

The Wire: Burrell assembles a “task force”. Pryzbylewski has a “light trigger pull”:

 

 

Here is a link to the website for the Murder Accountability Project:

Michael’s latest book is Murder in Plain English: Looking at Murderers through the Words of Killers.  Available now on Amazon:

Lightning Round Questions:

 

It was the 80s, Mike was 9. This is Nash The Slash:

 

Classic G.I. Joe PSA:

 

London’s Wolf of Wortley restaurant:

 

The Kim Rossmo Interview – WKT #12

An Interview with criminologist Dr. Kim Rossmo, whose pioneer work lead to the creation of the field of geographic profiling:

Rossmo joined the Vancouver Police Department as a civilian employee in 1978 and became a sworn officer in 1980. In 1987 he received a master’s degree in criminology from Simon Fraser University and in 1995 became the first police officer in Canada to obtain a doctorate in criminology. His dissertation research resulted in a new criminal investigative methodology called geographic profiling.

In 1995, he was promoted to detective inspector and founded a geographic profiling section within the Vancouver Police Department. In 1998, his analysis of cases of missing sex trade workers determined that a serial killer was at work, a conclusion ultimately vindicated by the arrest and conviction of Robert Pickton in 2002. A retired Vancouver police staff sergeant has claimed that animosity toward Rossmo delayed the arrest of Pickton, leaving him free to carry out additional murders. His analytic results were not accepted at the time and after a dispute with senior members of the department he left in 2001. His unsuccessful lawsuit against the Vancouver Police Board for wrongful dismissal exposed considerable apparent dysfunction within that department.

After serving as director of research at the Police Foundation in Washington, DC, from 2001 to 2003, he moved to Texas State University where he currently holds the Endowed Chair in Criminology and is director of the Center for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation. Since then, he has applied techniques of geographic profiling to counterterrorism, animal foraging, and epidemiology. He has also researched and published on the subject of criminal investigative failures. He has written three books.

At the conclusion of this interview Kim very kindly wrote, “I just wanted to tell you that I have done a lot of interviews over the years and your questions today were really good. I could tell you put a lot of thought and planning into this.”

Rossmo as a “beat cop” in Vancouver:

More information on Rossmo and the Vancouver downtown Eastside missing persons can be found by clicking on the links. 

Patricia Pearson’s book When She Was Bad about women who murder. It’s a great read and you can order it from Amazon:

Here is Rossmo’s geographic profile of San Francisco’s Zodiac killer:

Serial killer Clifford Olsen:

The Banksy application to geographic profiling:

Michael Herr’s novel Dispatches:

 

The Bee Gees, Islands In The Stream:

The King Curtis cover of Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale:

My favorite Supertramp album (I hope it’s Kims!):

The Guess Who, Running Back to Saskatoon:

Crime & Culture in the City of Montreal – Interview with Kristian Gravenor – WKT #6

Here’s our interview with Kristian Gravenor, author of the soon to be released MONTREAL: 375 TALES.

 This is Episode 6 of the Who Killed Theresa? podcast:

Here are links to some things we discussed including Coolopolis, Montreal Biker Gangs (including legendary figure Michael French), the Reet Jurvetson case, Sharon Prior, Norma O’brien / Debbie Fisher and the Chateauguay Full Moon Killer murders, the Montreal tabloid Allo Police:

Here’s a link to Kristian’s blog, Coolopolis, and the Chateauguay Full Moon Killer case:

Here’s a link to Coolopolis’ reporting on the Charles Manson / Reet Jurvetson case:

Satan’s Choice biker Michael French and the connection to the Sharon Prior case (French is at the bottom on the left):

The history of Allo Police / Photo Police:

Link to National Film Board of Canada documentary, Station 10:

Maurice “The Rocket” Richard:

This happened:

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An inquiry about Melanie Cabay

imgres-1
Dear Sir:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the unsolved murder of Melanie Cabay.
First, I am aware of all those cases you speak of, and I believe Poirier Enquette is doing stories on both Cabay and  Marie-Ève Larivière. I am happy to help you with anything. I have been asked before to take my research into the 80s and 90s: I haven’t done that because I find the work exhausting / disturbing: I can’t do everything. But I am happy to assist anyone with my ideas.
I will offer a few things:
On the one hand, there are similarities with the cases I researched and the cases you bring up from the 1990s: abductions in cities, with bodies being disposed of on the frontier of cities. Clothing scattered. These may be patterns of a single offender. On the other hand they may also be patterns of simply what offenders do: You don’t “shit where you eat” as they say in english. So you don’t want a body around where you live and play (in this case “play” = stalking and killing women).  The clothing scattered: this may be what all offenders do in a panic: they dump the body: they don’t want anything associated with the body near them, in their car, etc… so they get rid of it quickly: I don’t think in any of these cases we are talking about the rape and murder occurring at the site where they were found: the rape and murder (in the cases where this happened) occurred somewhere else, THEN they dumped the bodies.
So again, could this be the work of one person? Possibly. I am more inclined to think it is maybe 4 or 5 similar offenders, who repeated several crimes, and who copycatted each other (if you observe that a woman in the early seventies gets raped and murdered and the police do nothing about it? maybe this inspires a criminal: maybe they think they can get away with it too. Better still, if they copy it, maybe the other guy will get blamed for it. Understand?) This happened in London, Ontario in the 70s, so it is not unprecedented:  
That the murders in the Montreal / Sherbrooke area stopped around 1981 may be attributed to many things:
1. Offender moves away
2. Offender gets arrested for some other crime, is in prison for an extended period.
But there is another element. Around 1981 the Quebec police stopped being so generous in sharing information. Up until 1981 there was a fairly fluid relationship between the police and the media in Quebec (The offices of Allo Police were across the street from the Surete du Qubec’s Montreal headquarters on Parthenais). The crime scene photographers were quasi-journalist / civilian police staff. As a result, a lot of information about victims and crimes was accessible, and still is accessible. After 1981, the policy with Quebec police must have changed. You can see it in the crime archives at Rouge Media  / Allo Police: the files from the 70s are filled with all kinds of things, from photos to police reports. When you research the the files from the late 80s? All of that is gone. There are only newspaper clippings. There are none, or very little source documents.
What I am suggesting is that maybe there were other murders, we just never heard of them because the Quebec police closed its doors.
So I will get to the question you are ultimately asking: could one serial killer be responsible from the 70s up until now: from Prior to Allore to Cabay to Cedrika Provencher, and all of the others along the way?
Highly improbable when you look at the length of the timeline 40 years? An offender in their 70s today. Improbable, but possible.
More probable? We are talking about several offenders with overlapping timelines. This is just an example: 
  • Offender 1: Prior, Houle, Leakey (75 to 81).  
  • Offender 2: Camirand, Allore, Bazinet – goes to jail then – Cabay? (77 – 94) Maybe.
  • Offender 3: Nicole Gaudreault – moves from Montreal to Sherbrooke, gets a good job, has a stable life, dormant for decades, then a crisis happens, he re-emerges – Cedrika? (79 – 2007) Maybe.
I see no issue with entertaining such possibilities. There are all kinds of examples that can back up such behavior. 
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You asked, how did I access police information. Well, one source I mentioned above, the archives of Allo Police, now located at Section Rouge Media in Longueuil. The other source is the Grand Bibliotheque on de Maisonneuve in Montreal. You can make a records request (give them the victim name, date and location of disappearance, date and location of discovery) if they have it, it will cost you a few dollars for the service.  
I have already put a request in for you for Melanie Cabay. If I receive anything I will pass the information on to you, with my complements. 
Thank you for reaching out to me, and I wish you every success.
Regards,
John Allore
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Cold cases leave families in the dark – The Gazette August 21, 2016

Jesse Feith – Montreal Gazette

After coming home from a night out, Nicole Monast could always spot a sliver of light coming from under her younger sister’s bedroom door.

Hélène, two years younger, would wait up to make sure she got home safely.

They’d share a coffee and chat into the early hours of the morning — about boys, school and what they wanted out of life.

For Hélène in the summer of 1977, there was nothing she wanted more than to turn 18 that September.

She dreamed of studying to become a veterinarian, but spent the summer packing beans at a cannery, working bingo nights at the local arena and babysitting as much as she could. She’d tell Nicole of how she craved the freedom and new adventures she figured would come with adulthood.

In the weeks leading to her birthday, she had already started scribbling the number 18 beside her name on the back of the pocket-sized, 25-cent photos she would take at the mall. 

When the day finally came, she celebrated in the afternoon with her parents and siblings at the family’s South Shore home in Chambly. 

They shared cake, gave presents and caught up: Nicole had married only a month earlier and moved out of the house they’d always shared. Planning a corn roast with her husband that night, she wanted to invite Hélène. 

But Hélène had plans with her friends,  and they went their separate ways. Hélène told Nicole to stay safe, something she had recently started telling her more and more. Nicole told her to enjoy her birthday.

The next morning, Hélène was found between trees in a park bordering the Chambly Canal, half-naked and severely beaten. A neighbour noticed her lifeless body from an upstairs window. Her blue jeans, shirt and shoes were found nearby, as were cigarettes and a pack of chewing gum. She had been strangled and it’s believed she was sexually assaulted. 

Nearly 40 years later, her family still doesn’t know what happened. 

And they’re not alone. Nicole recently added her voice to those of the families of seven other women killed in Quebec between 1975 and 1981. All cases that have gone unsolved, in which evidence has been lost or destroyed, and aging family members have been left feeling ignored or forgotten.

They’re asking for answers from the government and police, and they’re demanding changes to protocols they feel have left them in the dark for decades.

They want to make sure it never happens again. Because, they say, it’s one thing to have a loved one killed, but it’s another to have to spend a lifetime not knowing who’s responsible. 

****

Nicole Monast still takes the time to visit the grave of her sister, Hélène, who was killed in 1977. “I ask for strength, for help,” Nicole Monast says. “To help me keep looking, to send me signs. Anything.”
Nicole Monast still takes the time to visit the grave of her sister, Hélène, who was killed in 1977. “I ask for strength, for help,” Nicole Monast says. “To help me keep looking, to send me signs. Anything.” ALLEN MCINNIS / MONTREAL GAZETTE

It’s the lingering questions that bother Nicole the most. They nag, then go away, then show up out of nowhere and turn good days into bad ones.

“It’s been 38 years,” she says over a cup of coffee. “But you still constantly go over all these theories in your mind.”

Was Hélène killed at random or was it something planned? Was it someone who saw her that night, or someone who had targeted her for a while? Did she witness something she shouldn’t have? And why had she started telling Nicole to be safe all the time? 

That night, Hélène’s brother dropped her off at a local restaurant around 9 p.m. to meet up with a friend. He crossed paths with her later at another restaurant, Chez Marius — a popular casse-croute where young men revved their engines outside, trying to impress those inside.

Hélène was supposed to spend the night and next day at a house where her aunt was babysitting. She asked her brother for a quick ride home to pick up her jacket and a book before heading back out with her friend. 

Shortly after 11 p.m., Hélène wished her friend goodnight and walked a poorly lit street back to where she was staying.

Her aunt called the next morning to say that Hélène never came in. 

Her father, Roland, contacted the local police station to know if there had been any car accidents during the night.

“We thought it could be that,” Nicole says. “Because Chambly was a quiet place. It wasn’t a place where people were killed. And she led such a calm, normal life.”

Come afternoon, Roland was identifying his youngest daughter at the morgue. Because of the violence, he was only shown her face from the eyes up.

The killing shocked the family and town alike. Newspaper reports from the time describe dozens of anxious citizens lining the street near the crime scene to try to learn more about what happened. Theories, based more in rumour than fact, swirled and were forgotten.  

“The entire population of this peaceful town is in turmoil,” said one report, “trying by all means to find the despicable individual responsible.”

Hélène Monast had just turned 18 when she was murdered in 1977. (Allen McInnis / MONTREAL GAZETTE)
Hélène Monast had just turned 18 when she was murdered in 1977.  ALLEN MCINNIS /MONTREAL GAZETTE

They described Hélène as a young girl without any problems, who came from “an honest family with an excellent reputation among everyone in Chambly.”

Nicole’s brother called to tell her about Hélène that night. All she remembers is her body shaking so badly that she couldn’t hold the phone. Her husband tried to comfort her with a coffee she couldn’t drink. She had nightmares for months on end and became terrified of being alone. 

Her youngest brother, 11 at the time, “had never lost anyone,” Nicole says. He didn’t know what death was, and the family tried to shelter him from it.

Her mother, Lise, was distraught but tried to keep it together for her children. She hoped for the rest of her life that she would find out what happened.

She knew her chances were getting slimmer with each passing year, Nicole says, but at the same time, she thought improvements in forensic technology could lead to a breakthrough of sorts, that maybe time was actually on her side. 

When she died three years ago from liver complications, still without answers, she encouraged Nicole to keep looking. 

“He always had the biggest smile on his face, but from that point on he became … His smile just never came back.”

Nicole’s father, Roland, might have taken it the hardest.

He was always known as the “cool dad” in town, Nicole says — friends would visit and end up spending as much time with him as they would with the kids. 

He ran a popular snack bar — equipped with jukeboxes, pool tables and table football — that served hotdogs and fries. He made a living as a dynamite expert, but collected and resold scrap metal on the side. In the winter, he sold Christmas trees to the community — the family would joke about always ending up with the worst tree, because he was eager to sell the best to customers. 

He was only 46 when Hélène was killed, but never managed to return to work.

He spent his days carrying out his own searches instead, walking around Chambly or eavesdropping in restaurants and bars. He urged police to drag the entire canal next to where she was found for any possible clues. He couldn’t sleep. He’d keep binders full of information and punch the walls in anger after long days spent not finding anything. His marriage fell apart within five years, and he continued to search.

“It traumatized Mr. Monast,” says Hélène’s childhood friend, Pierrette Morin.

“He always had the biggest smile on his face, but from that point on he became … His smile just never came back.”

Hélène had been Morin’s first friend, meeting each other before they were old enough to ride bikes up and down the street their families shared.

She remembers how tense the funeral was. Instead of mourning, everyone was still trying to figure out what happened. 

“They thought maybe whoever did it would come by the funeral home and we wouldn’t even know it, there were so many people,” Morin said.

Someone left a bouquet of flowers but didn’t sign the card that was attached; everyone was suspicious.

Last September, to mark 38 years since the killing, provincial police opened a command post in the town, hoping to entice anyone with information to finally come forward.

Leading up to it, Morin helped Nicole plaster posters with Hélène’s picture at dépanneurs, grocery stores and parks, trying to jog people’s memory. 

She says she had some of the posters on her car seat recently when she parked to do groceries in Chambly.

People walking by noticed them.

“Oh, I remember her,” they said. “What ever happened with that?” 

****

There are two other unsolved killings, linked closely by time and place, that Monast can’t help but bring up when she talks about her sister.

Ten days after Hélène was killed, two young men walking by a bushy area next to a train station in Montreal found a 34-year-old woman’s body below a tree, her clothes removed and piled nearby. Katherine Hawkes had been beaten, sexually assaulted and left to die.

“It’s very rare cases are solved after so much time has passed. But if any case is solvable, it’s Katherine’s case,” Hawkes’s cousin, Nancy Hawker, says.

“It’s just not normal how someone who did that could go unpunished.”

The night Hawkes was killed, a man called Montreal police twice from a pay phone to tell them he had attacked a woman and left the body where she was found. Despite the calls, Hawkes was only found the next day when the two men alerted police.

“There’s so much evidence,” Hawker says. “You have a recording. Besides the guy walking into the station and saying I did it, what more do you want?”

A month later, 23-year-old Denise Bazinet’s body was found in a ditch by Highway 35, near the St-Luc exit, less than 15 minutes away from Chambly.

“Police started an investigation and quickly stopped, and we never heard about it again,” says Bazinet’s brother, Georges.

“My mother had 10 other young children to keep raising. We were poor. We never spoke about it because my mother didn’t want to. We had no money for a lawyer or whatever to help look into it,” he said.

“It’s just not normal how someone who did that could go unpunished.”

Police have told Monast through the years that there’s no link between the cases.

“But given the circumstances,” she says, “you can’t help but think about it sometimes.”

Hoping something would give, in April, Monast joined seven other Quebec families — including the Bazinets — who also lost relatives in unsolved crimes in asking for a public inquiry into the police methods used during their investigations.

It was one of the first times in 40 years that she met with families going through similar situations. She says it helped. 

“In the eyes of people who haven’t lived through what we have, it can seem ridiculous,” she says.

“They’ll say: ‘Come on, get over it, move forward, it’s been so long.’ They’ll discourage you, and it makes you feel like everything you’ve done will never lead to anything.”

So it was nice to know she wasn’t alone, she says. 

The families are represented by former justice minister turned lawyer Marc Bellemare, and besides calling for a public inquiry into the policing methods used, they agreed on five other requests.

They all, in some way, feel something went wrong during the investigations. 

Since many of the women came from underprivileged families, some feel the killings were never properly investigated or considered priorities. Others have since had police departments confirm evidence has been lost or destroyed. All have felt left in the dark by investigators throughout the years.

The families — of victims Sharron Prior, Louise Camirand, Joanne Dorion, Lison Blais, Theresa Allore, Roxanne Luce, Bazinet and Monast — are requesting the following: 

  • That all murder cases in Quebec be handled by the Sûreté du Québec;
  • That a protocol be put in place to conserve samples and exhibits from cases in one centralized location overseen by the Sûreté du Québec;
  • That police investigators receive better training in dealing with families;
  • That families be systematically informed about the cases;
  • And that after 25 years, if no one has been charged for the crime, families be allowed to have access to the investigation file with their lawyers.

“The killings date from a long time ago and the families have the impression that they’re completely abandoned,” Bellemare says in an interview. “They have no information. No follow-up from the police. And when you say that evidence has been destroyed, it raises a lot of concerns.

“The more time that goes by, the more they want answers. But in fact, the more time goes by, the less answers they get.”

Other than last year’s command post, the last time Monast was contacted by police about the case was in 2009, she says.

An officer showed up at her front door with photos of jewelry. They asked her is she recognized it as her sister’s. She couldn’t say. It had been 32 years at that point. She’s recently been told police are conducting polygraph tests on people who were initially interviewed following the crime, and analyzing photos from Hélène’s funeral. 

According to Sûreté du Québec spokesperson Martine Asselin, the provincial police’s cold case unit has 10 full-time investigators. In 2010, the police department established a structure that allows the unit to call on 250 investigators from the SQ’s major crimes unit when needed.

“The (cold case) unit’s mandate is to re-take cases and look at them from a different angle — to see if all the steps were followed and validate that each step was well done,” Asselin explained. That can include re-examining old notes on the case, going over remaining evidence and returning to talk to witnesses again. A fresh set of eyes alone can sometimes go a long way, Asselin said. 

“There’s always someone somewhere who knows something.”

There are a number of factors that lead to a file being transferred to the cold case unit, but in general, Asselin said, the unit takes over cases around five years after the initial investigation started.

The Sûreté du Québec considers it has roughly 800 unsolved homicides, dating back to the 1960s.

Asselin said the small unit has to juggle staying in touch with families and doing investigative work.

“There’s not one family that reacts the same way,” she said, “Some families would rather talk to the investigators each year, others will tell us to only ever call them if we have something new to tell them.”

It’s crucial families don’t give up hope, she said, adding that cases do get solved decades later. 

“There are a lot of elements that could lead to someone wanting to talk who never wanted to 30 years ago,” she said. “Maybe their situation has changed and they want to free themselves of what they know before dying.

“There’s always someone somewhere who knows something.”

Nicole agrees. It’s almost impossible that there isn’t someone out there who knows what happened to her sister, she says.

Maybe someone had one drink too many at a bar and started talking, she’s thought. Maybe a confession has been heard somewhere, or someone has bragged about it in prison. She has a hard time believing that someone could live with themselves for so long without ever telling anyone.

She’s also deeply aware that knowing could bring closure as easily as it could bring pain.

“You fear it could hurt,” she says, “It could be someone who we knew. I’m also scared it could go to the justice system and they could get a sentence that isn’t severe enough, because it’s been so long.

“Is it better to know, or not to? That’s impossible to answer,” she says. There’s also the chance, Nicole concedes, that given how long ago it was, whoever is responsible has since died.

“But I can’t mourn without knowing what happened,” she says. 

Hélène Monast is buried along a row of lean trees in the back corner of a once more intimate cemetery in Chambly. (Allen McInnis / MONTREAL GAZETTE)
Hélène Monast is buried along a row of lean trees in the back corner of a once more intimate cemetery in Chambly.  ALLEN MCINNIS / MONTREAL GAZETTE

When she does try to mourn, she knows where to go.

Hélène is buried along a row of lean trees in the back corner of a once more intimate cemetery in Chambly, one that’s lost its seclusion as the town has developed over the last 40 years.

A short drive from where Hélène was killed, the dark granite slab bears only a single inscription, engraved below a white dove: Hélène Monast, 1959-1977. Below the text is a plastic-covered piece of paper Nicole comes and replaces every now and again to make sure it stays intact. 

Hélène Monast’s naked body was found on Sept. 11, 1977, it reads. None of the leads explored during the investigation have helped solve the crime yet. A $2,000 reward is in place for any information.

Nicole still visits the grave at least a few times a year, she says, not always sure why.

“I ask for strength, for help,” she says. “To help me keep looking, to send me signs. Anything.”

A month ago, Nicole found herself going through her mother’s jewelry box for the first time since she died. She was surprised by what she found: a small golden name-tag with Hélène’s name engraved on it, from her time working at the arena.

Her mother had kept it all these years.

“I know it can seem a little strange,” Nicole says as she unclasps it from her purse, where she keeps it now. “But it felt like a reminder to not give up.”

****

Despite the many setbacks and false hopes, Nicole admits she’ll never be able to leave what happened to her sister alone. 

Promising leads have fizzled out or been debunked. Petitions to politicians have gone unanswered. A request to the town for a small plaque to honour Hélène was denied. Her calls for better lighting along the street and park where Hélène was killed have been ignored.

Nicole’s brothers were more the type to try to move on, she says. To try to forget and look forward. She admits to days where she wishes she could, too.

Nicole Monast visits her father Roland, 85, at a seniors’ home in Chambly. He was 46 when his youngest daughter, Hélène, was killed on her 18th birthday in 1977 “It’s a big piece of me that I lost. And it doesn’t go away. Not at all," he says. (Allen McInnis / MONTREAL GAZETTE)
Nicole Monast visits her father Roland, 85, at a seniors’ home in Chambly. He was 46 when his youngest daughter, Hélène, was killed on her 18th birthday in 1977 “It’s a big piece of me that I lost. And it doesn’t go away. Not at all,” he says.  ALLEN MCINNIS / MONTREAL GAZETTE

But she can’t help but keep hoping for an ending. Her father, for all it’s taken from him, does the same.

Ronald Monast, 85, lives out his days in old age home in Chambly, a five-minute drive between where his daughter was killed and where she was buried.

Walking into the home’s communal room, Nicole finds him asleep, sitting upward on a couch near the room’s windows. A television blares against the wall, a few other seniors play cards or sip on tea. 

Nicole approaches him and wakes him with a gentle pat on the back. Confused at first, his eyes widen as he recognizes her.  A smile wrinkles across his face. They hug and she guides him toward his room. 

“A crazy person must have been going by there. That’s all it can be.”

Suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, his memory seems to be worsening each passing day, Nicole says. But she knows he still remembers what happened.

He’s not allowed to talk about it at the old age home —  it’s too negative for the other people living there, he’s been told. But he carries a photo of Hélène around in his pocket every day.

And sometimes, when he thinks no one is watching, Nicole catches him take it out, close his eyes and gently press it against his lips.

In his room, one of the last remaining photos of Hélène  — of her blowing out candles on a cake for her 17th birthday — hangs on the wall. Another photo of her sits beside his medicine and bandages on a dresser. A custom-made calendar shows his two daughters riding horses.

As they speak, Roland shows all the traits that made him so popular among teenagers all those years ago. Witty and quick, he makes Nicole laugh with jokes about his age and by singing French love songs. She’ll later say that it was a good day.

She sits him down by a window as he thinks back to what happened.

“She loved animals,” he says of Hélène. “Loved animals: dogs and cats.”

Hélène loved children too, he says. “She was like Santa Claus,” he says, always bringing them gifts when she babysat.

“She loved animals,” he repeats, struggling to get his thoughts straight. “It was terrible how much she loved animals.”

Nicole stands up and asks him if he needs anything, but he frowns and tells her he’s fine.

“It was quite a thing,” he mumbles. He’s still always wondering why it happened to Hélène, he says, almost to himself. 

“A crazy person must have been going by there. That’s all it can be.”

He takes a deep breath, exhales and looks back out the window. He’s lucky he has other children, he says, pointing toward Nicole while she looks away.

“It’s a big piece of me that I lost. And it doesn’t go away. Not at all.”

Anyone with information about Hélène Monast’s case is asked to call Échec au crime at 1-800-711-1800. Anyone with information leading to an arrest could be eligible for a $2,000 reward.

jfeith@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/jessefeith

Lost or destroyed evidence: “They don’t explain it. They don’t admit their wrongdoing. And they haven’t ever apologized.”

Stéphane Luce was 13 years old, trying to sleep through stomach aches at a dormitory when his mother, Roxanne, was beaten into a coma at home in 1981. The attacker used a wooden stick wrapped in a garbage bag, held together by five pieces of electrical tape.

She was found the next morning, and died three days later in a hospital.

Police found the weapon beside a shed behind the apartment. But they’ve since lost the bag, the electrical tape and a fingerprint that was found on the weapon, Luce says.

A hair found on the weapon, Luce says he was told, was destroyed in 1983 in an effort to make room at the police laboratory in Montreal.

Luce hadn’t worried about his mother’s case until the late 90s, assuming police were on top of it.

“I listened to what police told me and didn’t ask any questions,” he says.

But his mother being a freelance photographer, he wondered what had happened to all her negatives. So in 1997, he went to the police headquarters to ask if they had them.

“It’s as if it’s branded with a hot iron on my subconscious.”

He found out about the hair and the fingerprint — two pieces of evidence he said his family never knew existed. Then he found out they had been lost or destroyed just as quickly.

“They don’t explain it. They don’t admit their wrongdoing, and they haven’t ever apologized,” he says. 

Longueuil police wouldn’t confirm which pieces of evidence are missing in Luce’s case, but said that some evidence was lost or destroyed when it was handed over to other organizations for expertise.

Unlike many cold cases, police have long had a suspect in mind for the case, Luce says. But police have told him that the destroyed or lost exhibits aren’t needed for the investigation.

“So I tell them: ‘Well, if you don’t need them, then why hasn’t there been an arrest?’”

He can try all he wants not to think about what happened to his mother and who did it, he said, but it still creeps into his thoughts almost every day.

“It’s as if it’s branded with a hot iron on my subconscious.”

In April, he joined seven other families in asking for the public inquiry into the policing methods used in their cases.

“I have the proof that it happens and I don’t want it to happen anymore,” Luce said. “If I have to live with the fact that my mother’s killing will never be solved, I want to at least make sure that kind of error doesn’t happen again.”

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Francis Laforest: Poirier Enquete: Saison 1 / Épisode 03

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Poirier Enquete va continuer ce soir avec l’histoire de Francis Laforest:

Francis Laforest, copropriétaire du Bistro McTavish à Terrebonne, a 29 ans lorsqu’on l’agresse sur le boulevard Terrebonne. Deux individus cagoulés sortent d’une camionnette, le frappent avec un bâton de baseball, puis le laissent pour mort. Il décède peu après, à l’hôpital. Bien qu’aucun suspect n’ait été arrêté, on soupçonne des motards criminalisés qui voulaient gérer la vente de drogue au McTavish, mais les Laforest résistaient au chantage. Depuis le meurtre, deux des suspects ont disparu.

Le dossier fait partie du portefeuille cold-case de la Sûreté du Québec (SQ a compétence sur Terrebonne – clique ici)

Voici ici pour un extrait (non disponible aux Etats-Unis)