Category Archives: English

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:

Tags:

Sharron Prior, Debbie Fisher, Norma O’Brien and the “Chateauguay Full Moon Killer”

IMG_0476

I’m preparing some posts on Sharron Prior, Debbie Fisher, Norma O’Brien and the “Chateauguay Full Moon Killer”.

It’s proving more difficult than I initially thought. 

First, you have to go back and read everything. For those of you who missed it. I sit on a mountain of original caseload information. Everything from photos, to original news articles, to autopsy and police reports.

It was not my intent to hide this information. I came upon it about 2 1/2 years ago doing research in Quebec. I shared it with associates I trusted hoping they would spread the word. They never did. So now that I have some time I find myself going back and reviewing it. I want to put it out there. Let others see the information and put the pieces together.

It’s very exhausting. I read the Sharon Prior autopsy again this evening and it almost put me on my knees. 

But I’m finding things. 

Added to this is the fact that Prior and “Manique Pleine Lune” have been very adequately covered by the Prior family and my friend Kristian Gravenor over at Coolopolis. I don’t want to muddy waters by getting facts wrong, or by being plain redundant. It’s simply harder to write a piece where the facts are already well grounded. 

I’m no super sleuth. My oeuvre is a very narrow corridor between 1970 and 1980, with a concentration on 77-78. But when you disaggregate data to that degree maybe you can reveal / demonstrate something. I’m pretty good at spotting patterns, but someone else needs to come to conclusions on those patterns.

Anyway, I should have something up over the weekend. I’m sitting on some information about Prior / O’Brian / Fisher /Chateauguay that has never been disclosed before. No, it has nothing to do with who the Chateauguay Killer was, there’s a publication ban on that. And anyway, anyone with a search engine knows EXACTLY who he was….

So I’ll write something about what I know.   I think I can give it a unique spin. I’m also going to touch on the dangers of Confirmation Bias, something that is always lurking when dealing with human interpretation 

Tags:

Theresa Allore Investigation

T-051A follower has brought forward some questions I feel would be beneficial to share with everyone:

Q1: Do you have the feeling that the Quebec police or other police have lied to you ? Or
do you believe that police have always said the truth about that matter?

A1:  I have the feeling that the Quebec Police have their reasons for keeping the truth from me, and their reasons can be separated into three categories:

1. In the most positive sense, they have an interest in solving the case; and sharing too much information with me could potentially damage any ability to solve it.

2. In a negative sense, they may have reasons  for withholding information that could potentially embarrass them.

3. In the EXTREME NEGATIVE sense,  the police may be withholding information that could potentially compromise them, or even implicate them in the case: It has long been suggested that possibly the police were involved in Theresa’s death; either through their association with criminals, or perhaps because some of them were criminals themselves. The evidence here is anecdotal (hearsay), there is no documented evidence of this.

Q2: Is it true that someone has suggested to exhume her body….and why?

A2: The idea of exhuming my sister’s body has been suggested on several occasions. The reasons are to examine whether there might  still be trace DNA evidence that can only be examined by today’s standards. My family is ok with it, we have given our approval anytime any agency should wish to conduct it. One SQ officer wanted to do the exhumation examination, but he couldn’t get the SQ to pay for it. Alternatively we tried to raise money for a private laboratory to do an examination of the remains, but we could never get enough money together to do it, and no one would do it for free.

Tags:

Myths Of The Criminal Justice System

Excerpt from Radley Balko’s excellent series on criminal justice myths. This one hits home. So who precisely does watch the watchmen?  Don’t look to law enforcement for ethical guideance:

Myth 5: Due to their position, law enforcement officials are held to a higher standard of conduct than regular citizens.

A strong argument can be made that they’re actually held to a lower standard. Unlike any other profession in America, prosecutors and judges are protected by the doctrine of absolute immunity, which completely shields them from civil liability for the decisions they make in the course of their jobs. The courts have ruled that prosecutors can’t be sued even if they intentionally manipulate or manufacture evidence that results in the conviction of an innocent person.

Police officers and most other government officials are protected by qualified immunity, which holds that even if they violate a citizen’s rights, they can only be held liable if a reasonable person would have known their actions were illegal. And unlike private sector workers, most government employees — including police officers — are not expected to have specialized knowledge of the laws governing their professions.

Many states have also passed a “police officer’s bill of rights,” a special set of protections for officers accused of serious misconduct, including acts that could result in criminal charges. In many jurisdictions, police officers get a “cooling off period” after a shooting or allegation of excessive force. During this period, which can range from 48 hours to 10 days, the officers under investigation cannot be asked any questions about the incident. In most states, police officers also can’t be questioned about misconduct without a union representative or attorney present. If any part of the police bill of rights protocol isn’t followed, even officers who commit egregious misconduct can find themselves back on the force, often with back pay.

In most places these extra rights only pertain to internal, administrative investigations, not criminal investigations — but the internal investigations usually take place first. That means bad cops can use those protections to gain advantages not afforded to those who don’t happen to work in law enforcement.

Unlike other professions, police officers and other public officials also can’t be fired from their jobs or disciplined for invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Categories:

Pickton inquiry hears from serial killer profiler

Kim Rossmo was one of the first officers to warn that a serial killer could be responsible for the disappearance of women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Kim Rossmo was one of the first officers to warn that a serial killer could be responsible for the disappearance of women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. (The Magazine of Simon Fraser University)

A renowned criminologist who warned the Vancouver Police Department that a serial killer might be at work while women went missing in the Downtown Eastside is scheduled to testify Tuesday at the missing women inquiry.

Kim Rossmo, a geographic profiler who was on the force at the time, was part of a working group formed as public pressure mounted for police to solve cases of missing sex workers.

Rossmo is credited as being among the first officers to warn about the possibility of a serial killer.

In 1998, he and another officer were preparing to issue a news release that said, in part: “The objective of this group is to determine if a serial murderer is preying upon people in the Downtown Eastside and, if so, what murders and disappearances are linked together.”

It would have marked the first time Vancouver police had publicly acknowledged the possibility of a serial killer, but just two weeks before the news release was scheduled to be issued, it was scrapped by the head of the force’s major crimes section and the working group was disbanded.

Systemic failures

In a brief address prior to the opening of the inquiry Tuesday, commissioner Wally Oppal compared the Pickton investigation to other serial killer cases including Clifford Olson, Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgway, known as Green River Killer.

Even though the cases spawned their own investigations and inquiries, Oppal said the same problems keep cropping up — issues of leadership, morale and resources within the policing community.

Oppal said he has to ask himself what he can do differently if previous reports failed to affect change.

Oppal said his final report will examine the systemic failures in the policing environment, including the relationship between police and the victims, and the failures in the organization itself.

Report due in June

Pickton wasn’t arrested until February 2002, five years after his name first surfaced as a suspect in the disappearance of sex workers in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, when officers showed up at his Port Coquitlam farm with a search warrant related to illegal firearms and stumbled upon the belongings and remains of missing women.

Pickton was convicted in 2007 of six counts of second-degree murder, but the remains or DNA of 33 women were found on his farm. He claimed to have killed a total of 49 women. He is currently serving a life sentence.

Rossmo, now a professor at Texas State University, invented a technique of tracking crimes that is used around the world. He was the first Canadian police officer to get a PhD in criminology.

The missing women inquiry, headed by Oppal, is examining why Vancouver police and the RCMP failed to catch Pickton in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and why prosecutors declined to pursue an attempted murder charge against him after an attack on a sex worker in 1997.

A final report is due by June 30, 2012.

Theresa Allore Scholarship to be awarded June 10th, 2011

Yes, I guess this is cause for celebration. I find the whole thing bitter-sweet. So we are awarding a scholarship on June 10th to a deserving student in the amount of $200 (hey, it’ll pay for some books!). It will be awarded at their graduating awards ceremony. I have been invited to attend (to have a seat at the “head- table”)… I am debating attendance.

On the one hand, I feel it is a landmark and I should be there; on the other, this maybe should be treated as no-big-deal… I’m a little tired of turning these affairs into press events that call attention to the case, that invite further intrusion into my life, that ultimately traumatize me to a point I am now long past.

And the third hand… Pierre Boisvenu has stated he will be there to support the whole affair: that is an honor I don’t quickly turn down. Pierre is one of my closest soul-mates… any opportunity to reconnect with him is time well spent.

So I sit and consider.

And a forth hand… here’s what’s also in the balance. I had a wonderful day with my daughters. We walked the dog (twice), discovered a box turtle. Swung on the rope over the creek, trampolined, and are set for grilling burgers and dogs for dinner. I have three lovely daughters, I don’t want to upset the wonder of our relationship.

Thus is my dilemma. (btw: happy mother’s day to all)

Police tight-lipped about suspect’s arrest

A man arrested as a suspect in the death of 10-year-old Jolène Riendeau was being questioned by investigators Friday evening, several hours after his arrest in one of the most high-profile cases to be handled by Montreal police.

The question of whether the man, described only as a Montrealer in his 40s, will be charged Saturday with causing the girl’s death or walk away a free man remained unanswered Friday.

The man was arrested in the morning and brought to the east-end headquarters of the Montreal police majorcrimes squad in the Place Versailles shopping mall. He was questioned as a suspect in Jolène’s death two days after police revealed they located the remains of the girl who went missing in Point St. Charles on April 12, 1999.

Also on Friday, Jolène’s parents, Dolores Soucy and René Riendeau, dealt with the certainty of their daughter’s death as they began to plan a fitting tribute to a girl whose unsolved disappearance stuck in the minds of many for a dozen years.

Pina Arcamone, head of Quebec’s Missing Children’s Network, said Friday that even though Jolène’s parents moved away from the Point long ago they plan to hold Jolène’s funeral in the neighbourhood where she was raised and last seen alive.

After she was reported missing in 1999, a friend of Jolène’s told police she saw her eating chips outside a convenience store on Charlevoix St., six blocks from her home. It was the last time she was seen alive.

“They are focused. They know the tribute they want to pay to their daughter. They want to make this a very special occassion for Jolène and the many people who supported them over the past 12 years,” Arcamone said.

“It is very important and they are taking pride in what they are doing for their daughter. Some parents go in different directions after a tragedy like this. But this is a family that has remained strong in the past 12 years.”

Arcamone said Jolène’s parents were informed the provincial coroner might release her remains on Monday. If that happens, a funeral in Point St. Charles will likely be held later in the week. Arcamone, who has been helping the family deal with their loss, said Jolène’s parents remained resilient despite what they were put through in the space of three days.

“This is a family that has been searching for the past 12 years. They’ve clung to the hope that their daughter was alive. And within the last 72 hours it has been overwhelming. Wednesday was very, very difficult for the family and on Thursday they were making the funeral arrangements. Then news came (Friday) morning of an arrest in the case. So it has been overwhelming,” she said. “Through it all, I have to say, they are keeping really strong. They are very courageous.”

The Gazette has learned the suspect is a 47-year-old man who was charged in 2001, in Montreal court, with sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl. A year later, he pleaded guilty to sexual assault, sexual touching and inviting a minor to touch him in a sexual manner. He was sentenced to a 20-month prison term and 3 years of probation. As part of the same case, he was convicted of assaulting an adult woman and received the same sentence.

In 2009, he was charged, in Montreal court, in two separate cases that are still pending. In one, he is charged with assaulting a woman in 2009. In the other, he is alleged to have threatened, forcibly confined and sexually assaulted a woman in 2007. He was granted a release, shortly after he was charged, by agreeing to follow a series of conditions.

The Montreal police tried to keep a lid on information getting out while the man was questioned Friday, a matter Sgt. Ian Lafrenière described as “crucial to the investigation.” Lafrenière said Jolène’s remains were found in Montreal but wouldn’t specify where or when.

“It is a jagged edge for us,” he said. “We don’t want to compromise a court appearance. That’s why we are keeping some information to ourselves. Honestly, I know I’m holding back a lot of information. In 12 years as a spokesperson I think it’s the first time that I’m doing it (to this degree). But in this case it is so important. We don’t want to miss this one. We’ve been investigating this for 12 years.”

Lafrenière said the man arrested Friday was not the person who led police to Jolène’s remains. “What we can say is that it is someone who is wellknown to the police. Earlier in the week, when we announced we had found the body and that the case was a homicide, we said we were on a serious trail. That trail led us to this man. We hope this leads to him being arraigned.”

Lafrenière said another reason why police are keeping a tight lid on information is that investigators must be able to differentiate between someone who knows intimate details about the homicide and someone who is merely repeating what they might have heard through the media.

In the Jolène case, he said, false tips caused the police to search the Lachine Canal twice and to use large construction equipment, a few years ago, to break up cement at an undisclosed location.

Riendeau’s remains found; father heartbroken

Rene Riendeau was too heartbroken to speak on Wednesday.

“Please, today, nothing to say,” a distraught Riendeau told reporters in French at his home in east end Montreal.

He and his wife had just found out their little girl is truly gone.

After 12 years, police announced the remains of Jolene Riendeau have been found – and that she was murdered.

“We do have a serious lead, we want to arrest the suspect, that’s the reason those informations were not even shared with the family,” said Sargeant Ian Lafreniere.

Police provided few details regarding where or when the remains were found.

In the little girl’s former Pointe St-Charles neighbourhood, there is sadness.

“I don’t know what to say,” said area resident Louise Brouilltte.

Jolene was last seen on April 12, 1999.

She left her home to buy a bag of chips at a nearby convenience store.

A witness saw the girl eating them outside the store.

Then, she went missing.

“I remember we printed over 800,000 posters of Jolene,” Pina Arcamone, director of the Missing Children’s Network.

What followed was one of the largest missing child searches in Quebec history.

Officers scoured the city, following up on more than 1,500 tips – including one that led them to the Lachine Canal.

In 2005, the level of the waterway was lowered to allow divers to search.

 

Just last year, age-enhanced photos of Jolene were released in an effort to trigger new clues.

Through it all, Jolene’s mother never gave up hope.

“I remember the contractions, I remember raising her for 10 and a half years, and she was taken away from me, and now I’m supposed to forget? It’s not going to happen,” Jolene’s mother, Delores Soucy, said in 2010.

If there’s someone who understands her pain, it’s Michel Surprenant.

His daughter Julie was also abducted in 1999, a few months after Jolene.

She’s still missing.

“It’s positive because it’s the end of the anguish, but it’s very emotional.,” Surprenant said on Wednesday.

Montreal police say they have a strong suspect on their radar and are confident an arrest will be made in the coming days.

This has been an interesting week

I’ll post in bullets:

  • Rob Tripp from CanCrime caught wind of the Victims of Homicide survey and wants to pitch a story about it to the national press.
  • I did a telephone interview today with a reporter with Avis de Recherche, an online video station about Canadien crime (ya… after 8 months my French was REALLY rusty… I am re-inspired by one of my daughters, Theresa who has announced that she will take French in middle-school). Story will be posted in the next 2 months.
  • Another interview request! Someone from Northern Mysteries, a documentary TV series about unsolved mysteries, wants to do a story on Theresa (what is in the water?). Though I did have to correct her on the assumption that Theresa is missing (No, no… found, and very much DEAD).
  • There is a general consensus that my voice has been very much missed (I’m touched! Thanks guys!). Nice to be back in the game.
  • I will post something on what I’ve been up to in the past 8 months; in time, I’m still processing.
  • I should have an announcement about the scholarship shortly.
  • On a side note: since the release of The King of Limbs I am on a total Radiohead jag, just can’t get enough.

“It never hurts to double check things”

That advice from Kim Rossmo on an aborted attempt to link my sister’s murder with Quebec serial killer William Patrick Fyfe.

William Fyfe


It went like this: I post a memorial to the death of Jim Clench, bassist for April Wine. A friend of Jimmy’s, who also knew Fyfe as a kid sends me an email: Did I ever stop to consider that Fyfe may have murdered Theresa Allore? I say, yes-yes… I investigated that, I ruled him out, but I can’t remember why, let me think on it a bit. I spend the next two days falling down a rabbit hole of suspicions and investigation.

Boy, the first 48 has been terrific…

Apparently Fyfe had been arrested in the Eastern Townships of Quebec as early as 1975-77 for driving a stolen vehicle. Also, despite news reports indicating that Fyfe committed his first murder in 1979, it is alleged that he actually committed murders as early as 1978, which would put him in the target area of Theresa’s murder.

So, a serial killer who operated in Montreal’s West Island (where my family grew up), who had cause to travel to the Eastern Townships (where my sister went to college and was found murdered), and who had committed murder as early as 1978 (when Theresa died).

Kim Rossmo


I immediately began trolling the Internet for clues. I contact Kim Rossmo, Canada’s preeminent crime profiler; Paul Cherry, crime writer for The Gazette; and Kristian Gravenor, Montreal cultural archivist, and keeper of all of the city’s sleazy secrets at the blog, Coolopolis. I indulged in a crime and skank full-court-press.

Paul Cherry’s The Biker Wars


Then I come to my senses. I call up Benoit, my contact with the Surete du Quebec. We haven’t talked in over a year:

“- Benny, how are you… I was worried you’d retired.

– I have 5 more years Mr. Allore, how can I help you?

– I feel foolish, but did we ever look at William Fyfe?

– Yes Mr. Allore, remember? We determined he was in jail at the time of Theresa’s murder.

– I’m sorry Benny, I’m sorry, I forgot, I’m sorry to have bothered you.

– Mr. Allore, I understand you can call me any time.

– Bon weekend Benny!”


And that’s how it goes. On the one hand, this is what happens when I go back to my normal life: I forget things. On the other hand – and I preface this by saying I received immediate response from Kim and Paul and Kristian – I am extremely fortunate to have good friends in my corner looking out for my interests.

Kristian Gravenor


In the old days it would have been impossible to have the police, the press, the crime experts, and the watchdogs all at my immediate disposal.

Sleep in peace, I’m goin back to the country,

JJA