So let’s talk about false memory.
Last year I was contacted by a woman who was convinced her brothers murdered my sister. Her evidence was this:
In late October, 1978, a week before Theresa disappeared, she said she witnessed her brothers and my sister talking together at Mount Orford, Quebec. The location itself was very compelling because Theresa had been in fact at Mount Orford the week before she died.
But when I questioned her further, the story began to crumble. My sister was hiking at Mount Orford. This woman’s account was more like a ski expedition. Everyone was skiing in the snow. Contact was made. They said, “Theresa, hello!”… She acknowledged the greeting.
Very compelling. There’s just one problem. There was no snow on Mount Orford in late October 1978. I cannot recall a year where there was ever snow on Mount Orford in late October, 1978.
I believe the woman believes she was telling her version of the truth. No question. This is a false memory, and it happens all the time.
A reporter asked me recently how often I get people claiming they know who killed Theresa. I think they were shocked when I said, about every two months for the past 13 years. And they all sincerely believe they have the piece that will solve the puzzle.
I don’t post every lead I get on this site because I believe it fool-hardy to send everyone on a wild goose-chase. When I get a good lead, and post it, you can best believe it has been vetted, and I have confidence that it deserves to be shared with the public.
So publishing yesterday that there may be a possible connection between Louise Camirand and Lison Blais and a purse was not done haphazardly. This is something that needs to be considered in a measured fashion.
So back to false memory. Last Saturday I took my youngest daughter to the high school dance. She was wearing a red and white striped strapless dress, tapered at the waist and cut at the knee, of that I am certain. I cannot be certain of the direction of the stripes. Maybe horizontal, maybe diagonal, but I think diagonal because that is a more attractive dress (but this is not based on my memory, this is based on an assumption).
So this was five days ago. And a fairly important event. I had taken all my other daughters to similar dances, this was the first time I took my youngest: I would expect to remember that.
Jump to the next day. Ask me what my daughters wore on that Sunday. I haven’t the slightest clue. It was a routine Sunday, I remember muted colours, maybe greys and blues, perhaps jeans?
It has always frustrated me the degree of uncertainty with my sister’s case. Was she seen on a staircase at the residence at Compton, or not? Did the hunters find blue corduroys (like the ones she was last seen wearing) or blue jeans?
King’s Hall staircase
But think of it. You are asking people to recall an event that IN RETROSPECT is very significant, but at the time was very routine and mundane.
And this brings us to the purse. My daughters have all kinds of purses, I could not describe any of them. Is it important that the composite drawing does not exactly match the photo of the purse recovered from the Camirand site?
The two purses has the same basic shape. They are both black. They have a similar strap. Does the recovered purse have vertical lines like the composite? No. Does it matter? No. Might we be looking at the back of the purse which has a different shape than the front, and which was never photographed in the recovered purse? Yes.
Composite purse / Blais
When is a purse not a purse?
When it is a composite. A drawing made by a police artist, derived from the memory of someone who remembered the purse.
Is this matter easily resolved? Yes. We know the Blais family, we will take the photo to them and ask them, “Is this Lison’s purse?”. And they will answer, Yes, or No, or I Don’t Know, it’s been too long. And EVEN if they say NO, they might be wrong. It’s been close to 40 years = false memory.
Here’s what is certain. It is someone’s purse. And it is NOT Louise Camirand’s. The only thing missing from her belongings were her boots and underpants and “identification” (not a purse). Here’s another thing, it’s not Catherine Hawkes’ purse who was murdered under similar circumstances in Montreal at that time, and also had a purse go missing. Here is Catherine’s purse:
This is a completely different purse. We would never confuse it with the Camirand and Blais purses.
And here is yet another thing. A lot of these cases had missing items from the crime scenes, but particularly wallets and purses. Here’s a run down:
Allore – 1978 – missing wallet
Bazinet – 1977 – missing wallet
Blais – 1978 – missing purse
Camirand – 1977 – missing identification
Hawkes – 1977 – missing purse
Is it unusual for wallets and purses to be missing? No. It is quite understandable to separate a crime scene from the means of discovery of the victim, such as identification. This tells us that the perpetrator does not want anyone to easily discover who they murdered.
But here’s what I do know. This very fact tells me that these cases and a case like the murder of Roxanne Luce are not connected. Why? Because Roxanne was found on her bed in her home. Everybody knew who the victims was, or had a pretty good idea from the moment of discovery. There was no attempt to hide who was murdered
And still all of this misses the larger point. This should have been looked into decades ago by Quebec law enforcement. I am in no rush to get the purse back and process it. I am in no rush to talk to the Blais family. That point is long past. We are past the point of resolving these crimes. It’s not the perpetrators who are under investigation at this point, it is the police, and there absolutely lack of effort to solve these crimes.
Demand a public inquiry for Quebec Police to do their job.