A 2019 coroner’s report on the death of a 27-year-old Inuit woman determined “This is a violent death”, not suicide as initially ruled by the Montreal Police, the SPVM.
Siasi Tullaugak was found hanging from the small balcony of a Chomedey Street apartment on August 29, 2017. Within 24 hours, another Inuit woman, Sharon Baron’s body was found hanged in a closet inside her apartment in Dorval. In both cases the Montreal police considered the deaths of the two Inuit women as suicides. People who knew the two women said they suspected foul play, but when they tried to communicate this to the police their information was brushed aside.
In the case of Baron, the Quebec coroner eventually ruled her death a suicide. In a March 2018 report, Dr. Louis Normandin wrote that Sharon Baron hung herself with a computer power cable, concluding that she died of compression asphyxiation of the neck structures following the hanging, finally determining, “It is a suicide.”
Tullaugak’s coroner’s report was filed over 14 months later, even though both victims died within 24 hours of each other. In May 2019 coroner Karine Spenard wrote, “Siasi Ikidluak Tullaugak died of suffocation by hanging”, then concluded “This is a violent death.” The report goes on to say that it is not the role of the coroner to pronounce the civil or criminal person responsible in such matters, and, as this is “still an open file at the SPVM”, the analysis of the event remains open.
In 2017, the Montreal police’s Aboriginal liaison officer, Carlo De Angelis insisted police had thoroughly investigated the cases, “… investigators have done the legwork on this. They’ve looked at all the information that was gathered.”
Both Tullaugak and Baron were known to frequent the Cabot Square district on the edge of Montreal’s west end. The park is well known for drugs and sex trafficking. On March 26, 2019, another Inuit woman, Donna Pare was reported missing. Pare was known to frequent Place Emilie Gamelin, another area known for drugs and prostitution. She has not been seen since December 2018.
The SPVM’s media relations division declined to comment on the matter, instructing that all questions be put to the police force through an access to information request.
It’s December 12, 1977 around 11 p.m. and my 13-year-old sorry ass is standing at the southwest corner of Sainte Catherine and Atwater waiting for my dad to pick me up after an Aerosmith concert – blue jeans, jean jacket, and tan work boots, we called them workie joes. It’s a well-worn ritual. My sister shuffled the pavement impatiently waiting after ELO and Heart shows. Now your father will pick you up at 11 p.m. sharp, so you be there at the corner, don’t keep him waiting. If the encore ended early you might grab the cheapest thing on the menu at the new McDonald’s, kitty-cornered from The Montreal Forum. You sit in the dining area with all the other kids waiting for parents, the air thick with cigarette smoke, trying to make a Christmas ornament out of one of the tin ashtrays. If he’s late, you might drop a dime in the pay phone on that corner – Where is he? Well, he left 15 minutes ago! One thing’s certain, he was going to make you wait, he wasn’t going to drive around Cabot Square four or five times. A stranger asks you for a cigarette, but you know that’s not what he’s really ask for. You offer him one then quickly move on to another part of the corner. Finally you recognize dad’s head silhouetted above the steering wheel. You trudge through the slush into the car. Right on Atwater, then the Ville-Marie Expressway to Decarie, Decarie to the 401, take the Sources Boulevard exit and you’re back in the safe arms of the suburbs.
Forty years later a crisis would unfold in this neighborhood, though the problems had been simmering since the early 1980s.
One of the first to report of the ongoing crisis in downtown Montreal was the Montreal Gazette’s Christopher Curtis. On August 29, 2017, the body of Siasi Tullaugak was found hanging from the small balcony of a Chomedey Street apartment. Within 24 hours, Sharon Baron’s body was found hanged in a closet inside her apartment in Dorval. In both cases the Montreal police considered the deaths of the two Inuit women as suicides. People who knew the two women said they suspected foul play, but when they tried to communicate this to the police their information was brushed aside:
“This was just hours after they found (Tullaugak) and the cops wouldn’t even write down what we were saying… It felt like they just didn’t take it seriously.”
Anonymous witness, “Women’s deaths spark fear, mistrust for Inuit community”, Christopher Curtis, The Gazette, September 8, 2017
Two sources said they were with Siasi Tullaugak in the early morning hours before she died in the lobby of an apartment building on Rue St. Marc, a couple of blocks from the square. Around 4 a.m., they say they observed the 27-year-old leave the building with a man in his 30s. “I smoke crack cocaine and I drink but that night I was sober….And I’m telling you she left with that man.” The Montreal police’s Aboriginal liaison officer insisted that, “… investigators have done the legwork on this. They’ve looked at all the information that was gathered.”
Siasi and Sharon both came to the city of Montreal from Quebec northern regions, spending years drifting in and out of any number of the city’s roughly 40 homeless shelters. In 2017 David Chapman was running the Open Door shelter, then still located south of Cabot Square. Chapman was well acquainted with both women:
“These were women who came to Montreal in search of a better life., having seen more than a person should see in their youth… What they found when they got here was people looking to take advantage of them…. one definite problem is that, particularly young Inuit women, they don’t have confidence in the police.”
David Chapman, “Women’s deaths spark fear, mistrust for Inuit community”, Christopher Curtis, The Gazette, September 8, 2017
Tullaugak was from Puvirnituq, a small fishing village on the eastern shores of the Hudson Bay. According to her niece she could be annoying and loving at the same time. “She was feisty, she would tease you and she wouldn’t take any flak from anyone. But there was a tender side to her. She looked after the elderly women on the street, she shared her food and drinks and she could be very nurturing.” 28-year-old Sharon Baron came to Montreal from an Inuit village near the tip of Ungava Bay. According to John Tessier, an outreach worker with Open Door, “(Baron) was more cool and collected. Real quiet. She was sort of the opposite of Tullaugak in many ways but she had a swagger about her.”
How does someone like Sharon or Siasi end up on the streets? One possible scenario I’ve heard goes like this. Perhaps you’ve come to Montreal accompanying an elderly relative for surgery. None of the clinics in northern Quebec offer specialized medical treatment, so you must visit one of the major hospitals in Montreal. The government will provide for the patient’s care and lodging, but not for you. So for the duration of the medical treatment – which may last several weeks – you’re left to your own devices. You’ve heard of the Cabot Square area, others have come before you and done the same thing. So you take the 3 kilometer walk along Ste. Catherine from the bus station up the street from Parc Emilie Gamelin. The area is flashy compared to your village, it’s got clubs and condos and coffee shops. You stop in a bar and order a coke. A man approaches you and offers to buy your drinks. Later that night when you’ve nowhere to go, he offers you a place up the street for your lodging. For a while the drinks and lodging ( and later drugs) are free. But then one day he starts demanding that you pay the rent. When you say you can’t afford it without a job, he offers you one, working for him in his sex trade. Before long you’re addicted to crack, and doling out sex in exchange for a fix, and receiving regular beatings for failure to pay your rent.
By mid September 2017, Vice News reported that it had obtained information from a police report where Siasi Tullaugak called 911 just hours before her death about a man who was trying to force her into a downtown alley. Later that evening she talked to police officers about the event. In addition, nine sources came forward to say that the man was a known pimp from the area who targeted Inuit homeless women attempting to coerce them into sex trade work. Further, before learning of the police report, The Gazette interviewed the man. The alleged pimp stated he had been drinking with Tullaugak at a bar at Towers street and Ste. Catherine in the early morning hours the night that she died. Around 3 a.m. they moved a block east to the St. Marc apartment – a building locals by now had identified as one they commonly referred to as “the crack hotel” – where he last saw Tullaugak leave the building around 4 a.m. with an unidentified man. Other witnesses from that night say they saw Tullaugak get into a silver sedan after leaving the building.
“Around 5:30 a.m., I went to lay down but something told me to get up, I heard a really deep scream coming from Chomedy St…. About two minutes later, police started flying down the road. I guess that’s when they found the body.”
3 a.m. man / pimp – “Tullaugak’s death raises suspicions”, Christopher Curtis, The Gazette, September 13, 2017
The day after Curtis published his story, police announced they had reopened the investigation into the death of Siasi Tullaugak. But it took investigators over two weeks to interview staff and clients of the Open Door. The shelter was a focal point of Siasi’s existence, she’d eated her meals there and used the computer terminals to communicate with family back home in northern Quebec. Jessica Quijano project director of Iskweu, a Justice Canada program designed to address the high levels of violence against Indigenous women in Montreal assessed the situation as follows:
“Historically, with missing and murdered Indigenous women, people know who the suspect is, but don’t believe police will follow up on the information they provide.”
Jessica Quijano – “Constant Danger and Fear”, Christopher Curtis, The Gazette, December 19, 2017
Two key witnesses in the matter eventually left the city out of fear for their safety. Locals believed police weren’t thorough enough in their initial investigation because Tullaugak was homeless, Inuk and an addict.
“The porch had the wrought-iron railings that are typical of Montreal. It was raised, like a low balcony, leaving enough space underneath to accommodate the entrance to a basement apartment. Curved steps led up one side, and on the opposite side, the top railing was screwed to a homemade wooden planter full of flowers.
Tullaugak’s body hung from the side of the porch that held the planter, the police reportedly told the homeowners. That was part of why it didn’t make sense when police deemed her death to be a suicide.”
“Branded: How Inuit women in Montreal end up on the street – or dead.”, Selena Ross, National Observer, October 16, 2017
Tullaugak was short, barely five feet tall, she was often mistaken for a high school student. Her feet would have barely been off the ground, possibly as low as a foot above the sidewalk. Her family insisted that she was not suicidal (though this is sometimes true; as difficult as it is to hear, it was possibly the case that Sharon Baron took her own life. More on that later). Within days, police told the media that Tullaugak hung herself from the balcony of her apartment. Tullaugak was homeless she lived on the streets, often under balconies such as the one on Rue Chomedey. The actual owners of the Chomedey property came to the more obvious conclusion, “She didn’t die here. She was dead when she arrived here. Somebody hanged her here.” Within two days police closed the case. That’s not even enough time for a coroner’s determination. How did the coroner believe Siasi died?
Though Sharon Baron may have committed suicide, the trajectory that brought her to that end is not an unfamiliar story of what happens to Indigenous women who come in contact with the hard edges of Cabot Square. The following is from the reporting of Selena Ross.
Baron had been living with her boyfriend, Meeko Griffin for 5 years in their Dorval apartment. Meeko was a former pilot for Air Inuit. One summer, he proposed spending July and August at his family’s camp in Kuujjuarapik, along the coast of Hudson Bay. While visiting northern Quebec, Baron’s mother was attacked by a polar bear and had to be flown to Montreal for treatment. Baron would visit her mother regularly while she was convalescing in a facility that happened to be across the street from Cabot Square. One evening around 1 a.m. she was waiting for the night bus to take her back to Dorval at the corner of Sainte Catherine and Atwater, when a man approached her, started chatting, then offered her some crack.
“It’s definitely someone I didn’t know,” said Meeko Griffin. “And I did get the feeling it was someone she didn’t know either.” Sharon wasn’t in the habit of taking hard drugs, but, “… in this case Sharon tried crack.” Sharon then went missing for about a week. Meeko eventually found her in the Cabot Square area and took her home. Meeko says after that she was no longer the same. She became loud and argumentative. She’d often return to the downtown area. When she’d return home she’d have bruises on her body, often crack pipe burns. This is when Meeko realized that Sharon had become addicted to drugs and was doing sex work. Within six months she’d moved out of the Dorval apartment and was living on the streets.
In 2016 Sharon Baron returned to Dorval, trying to get clean. She had a new boyfriend, Matthew Smith, and they lived together in a one-bedroom apartment. The night she died, Sharon and Matthew were high on vodka and crack cocaine. Matthew passed out, so Sharon went to a neighborhood bar. Staff said she appeared her normal self. Smith woke up in a hospital bed, with police telling him he had called 911 reporting suicidal feelings. When police arrived at the Dorval apartment, they found Baron hanging in their closet. There was no suicide note. Smith stated that he didn’t know she had wandered into the closet because he had, “completely blacked out”. He said he had no doubt that Baron committed suicide, though exactly what the coroner determined was not known at the time Selena Ross filed her story.
The rumors that spread among the denizens of Cabot Square range from a serial killer – possibly a pimp / drug dealer who disguises the deaths of his sex workers as suicides – to, at the very least, a pimp / drug dealer exploiting Inuit women and driving them to these unfortunate outcomes.
The man who heard the screaming from Rue Chomedey at 5;30 a.m. – allegedly Siasi’s own pimp – was asked if he could remember any similar cases from the area. He recalled the case of 33-year-old Nunavik homeless woman named Nunia Grey. Grey was found November 3, 2011 hanging in the bathroom of a crack house on Atwater Street. There was no suicide note. The body was in such an advanced state of decomposition that the death was again quickly ruled a suicide. Like Sharon Baron, Grey had come to Montreal to accompany a relative during a medical procedure.
According to John Tessier, the outreach worker with the Open Door shelter, Grey had been part of the same group that Tullaugak would later join, with the same pimp. Tessier elaborated, “He’s been in this area for 20 years and he’s been doing the same thing for 20 years – basically corralling young Inuit to do whatever it is they do to help them get high.” This pimp would regularly brand his ‘property’. His trademark burn was “two lines from a crack pipe,” often on a victim’s arm, as a kind of tattooing. The man’s court records included at least two charges for assault with a weapon and one for conspiracy to commit murder. However. in developing a profile, it’s important not to become too attached to any one individual. People from the area described two to three men who work the Cabot Square neighborhood singling out Inuit women. None of them were Inuk.
In the matter of Nunia Grey, is Tullaugak’s pimp basically laying out a confession, a road map for his own actions? Here you get the feeling that this pimp is deliberately taunting reporters like Selena Ross, because he knows there’s no evidence, and he knows the Montreal police really won’t make the effort to pursue justice. I exchanged messages with Ross about the interview:
“I didn’t trust pretty much anything I heard from the pimp. I presented it at face value. And I don’t have much new to say about those particular cases, four years later, but there have been some related violent episodes downtown since then, which was really depressing to hear since it seems not much is changing.” – Selena Ross
The police will quickly rush to a verdict of suicide because that’s the easiest outcome to manage. Maybe it is suicide. Maybe these woman, displaced from their homes, reach a point of despair; they miss their families, they miss their culture. So they do what they’ve heard others have done in the past and take their own lives. Or maybe it’s someone taking advantage of this cultural phenomenon and masking murder as suicide. As Jessica Quijano of the Native Women’s Shelter offered about Tullaugak’s death, “I don’t think it was anything like some serial killer with an elaborate plan… I think it’s just really easy.”
Time passes. People stop talking about Sharon and Siasi. Their names get added to rolls of ‘murdered and missing’. They’re called out at annual vigils at Cabot Square. Cabot Square is of course named after John Cabot. The Italian explorer – it’s actually Giovanni Caboto – is said to have been the first European to discover North America. There’s a statue of Cabot at the centre of the square that hasn’t been toppled yet. I guess it’s designed so that people to congregate at the old navigator’s feet. ‘Give us your tired, poor, huddled masses’, or something like that. And they did.
Last year Christopher Curtis left The Montreal Gazette. In his words, “…to do the projects that I wanted to do and not really work on traffic reports and bullshit.” He now works on projects like richochet and his own, The Rover that focus on stories no longer covered by Canadian investigative journalism, specific Indigenous issues being one of them. Yes, the CBC and Globe and Mail will certainly blanket their news feeds with residential schools stories, but who’s going to cover Val d’Or?
I spoke with Christopher about the events from 2017 around Cabot Square. He said the pimp who is a suspect in the Siasi Tullaugak case currently might be in prison for sexual assault. He’s well known in the area as being a “scary dude”. Known as “O.D.”, he once tried to spar with Chris, but Chris is bigger than him: “Motherfucker, I will kill you.”
Sun Youth will offer a reward of up to $2000 for any information that would allow us to find Mrs. Donna Paré.
Anyone with information about this disappearance can communicate it by calling 911, going to their neighbourhood station or sending it anonymously and confidentially to Info-Crime Montréal at 514 393-1133 or online.”
The McDonald’s they are referring to is the one south of Place Emilie Gamelin, and I am well familiar with the area. BAnQ, Montreal’s major library is located north of the parc, so I spend a lot of my time when I’m in Montreal in that area doing research. In fact, that sound you hear at the beginning of the Francine Da Sylva podcast, that’s the sound of metal rigging hitting the side of a flag banner pole outside that McDonald’s. I had supper two times in that McDonald’s over a long weekend. I didn’t go to The Gilded Truffle, I went where the cops and people hang out for two Quarter Pounders with cheese, thank you very much. When I left at dusk, I tried to snap a picture of a girl and her pimp and the guy nearly took my head off. As Christopher Curtis told me, “If [Paré] was hanging around Emilie Gamelin, that’s heroin…. if she went missing, you have to assume she’s dead.” Then futher:
“I remember just being shocked at how quickly that went away. And by that point I was losing a lot of that free time that I used to have in the newsroom to look into these kind of things, so I didn’t follow up as much as I could have or would have wanted to. I’m kind of still kicking myself about that. “
Emmanuel “Pacman” Stark
It’s hard to know exactly what happened to women like Donna Paré. People are fearful, unwilling to talk. They don’t want to disappear. We have some knowledge of victims like Siasi and Nunia, we know even less about the men who abuse them. For some perspective, consider the case of 49-year-old Emmanuel “Pacman” Stark, a Montreal pimp found guilty in March 2021 of orchestrating the gang-rape of a young woman.
Stark first met the young CEGEP student at a Pierrefonds fast-food restaurant in 1995. He moved into her apartment and insisted she work as a stripper for him, forcing her to clubs like Caesars Palace in downtown Montreal and demanding she get on stage. Caesars Palace is a 10 minute straight-shot down Sainte Catherine street from Cabot Square. One day, between seven and nine men showed up at their Laval apartment. The student was gang-raped while Stark collected money from them saying, “all this wasn’t for free.” The student ended up sex trafficking for him, with all of the money going to Stark. When she refused, he would beat her. The woman only escaped when one time Stark beat her so badly she ended up in the Sacre-Coeur Hospital. She evenutally was able to leave his terrifying influence by fleeing from Canada.
At trial, the judge was considering whether to sentence Stark as a dangerous or long-term offender. In 2018, he had been convicted of human trafficking, with 13 charges extending from offences committed between 2016 and 2017 in and around Place Emilie Gamelin. In these cases, Stark preyed on two area crack addicts, and made them work for him as prostitutes, again without sharing any of the money he received. At the time, both women were residents of Montreal homeless shelters. “He had the machete and the crack, so you do what he tells you,” one of the women testified. During the trial it was disclosed that Stark had a lengthy criminal record and was described as being a member of a Montreal street gang.
The Coroner Reports
As I mentioned earlier, it would be nice if someone went back and found out what the coroner had to say about these cases. Well, someone did. Me.
Sharon Baron’s coroner’s report provides the following circumstances of death. On the evening of August 29, 2017, Baron and her partner, Matthew Smith consumed “alcohol and street drugs (crack)”. They arrived together at their Dorval apartment at 11:10 p.m.. Smith was so intoxicated he could not remember what happened next. The apartment entrance surveillance camera captured Baron leaving the building at 12:44 a.m. on August 30, 2017. She may have had a bottle under her arm. She returned at 2 a.m., then left again around 4 a.m. Her return was not captured on camera. At 7:32 a.m., SPVM officers received a call from a man who said he was suicidal. He told dispatch he has a knife in his hand (this turns out to be Matthew Smith). After police and paramedics arrived and managed to get Smith under control, police searched the home and discovered Sharon Baron semi-seated, curled up on the floor of the wardrobe of the bedroom. In trying to extricate her from the closet, police found that she has been hanged. After unhooking her from the closet, paramedics attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and an ambulance was called around 7:38 a.m. During this time Sharon Baron showed no rigidity and her skin was still warm. Paramedics continued to try to resuscitate her as she was transferred to the emergency room of the Lachine Hospital, but they were unsuccessful. Sharon Baron was pronounced dead at 8:41 a.m, August 30, 2017.
Sharon was hung with a computer power cable. The toxicological analysis showed evidence of cocaine in her system and a blood alcohol level of 216 mg; a high level that can trigger anger and depression, memory loss, and severe physical disability.
The coroner’s analysis elaborated further on the circumstances that led up to Baron’s death. Sharon Baron had lived with Matthew Smith for approximately two years. Both had, “alcohol and cocaine use disorders.” According to a police report, Baron was frequently absent from home, engaged in excessive consumption of drugs, and often only returned to Dorval when she was financially strapped for money. There were often physical conflicts, police were called to intervene in December 2016 and July 2017. According to police reports, Baron proposed a suicide pact several times to her partner. No suicide note was found in the apartment the night she died. The coroner concluded that Sharon Baron died of compression asphyxiation of the neck structures following the hanging, finally determining, “It is a suicide.” Note here that in the 2012 case of Nunia Grey, the coroner also determined a probable cause of death by “asphyxiation by hanging” with a conclusion of “suicide”.
Siasi Tullaugak’s coroner report is interesting when viewed in the context of the above conclusions. At 5:53 a.m., August 29, 2017, a SPVM patrol car was intercepted by a passer-by who told officers there was a body hanging from a building. Police then found Tullaugak hanging from the balcony of the Chomedey street apartment building. She was identified by her ID papers which were found in her clothing. Police were unable to resuscitate her, and Tullaugak was pronounced dead at 6:50 a.m. at the Montreal General Hospital. Hanging was determined as the cause of death, but the instrument used to hang her wasn’t identified. Toxicological analysis was performed, but the results were not disclosed. The coroner determined that “Siasi Ikidluak Tullaugak died of suffocation by hanging”, then concluded “This is a violent death.” The report goes on to say that it is not the role of the coroner to pronounce the civil or criminal person responsible in such matters, and, as this is “still an open file at the SPVM”, the analysis of the event remains open.
“Violent death” is in stark contrast to the definite conclusions of “suicide” in the cases of Baron and Grey. It also directly contradicts the police’s determination of suicide in the initial days after the discovery of Tullaugak’s body in early September, 2017. Here, I should point out that Sharon Baron’s coroner report was submitted in March 2018. Siasi Tullaugak’s report took over a year further to complete, the corner submitted the report in May of 2019. It’s not unusual for a coroner to take some time to file a report, though it is odd that Siasi’s report took an additional 14 months, when both victims were pronounced dead essentially within 24 hours of each other.
When I contacted the Montreal police to give an update on the Siasi Tullaugak investigation I was told, “Unfortunately, I can’t give you any information concerning this case.” When I pressed, I was told to file an access to information request. I did, and I will be reporting out on the SPVM’s response in future postings.
“I think one of the main challenges is to rebuild trust between Indigenous nations and police officers, and who better than a police officer, who understands that problem, to solve it?”
Premier Francois Legault
Nakuset of Montreal’s Native Women’s Shelter said she was ‘shocked’ at the news of the Lafreniere appointment, “I almost thought it was a joke.”
About the Montreal police force, the SPVM, Christopher Curtis had this to say:
“They have a low clearance rate, they’re fucking lazy, they’re super racist, they all live in the fucking suburbs. They’re really rough. When I was covering something I got knocked once by a cop… just out of nowhere he cold-cocked me in the face. I was covering a protest, I clearly was identified as a journalist, I had a camera. I guess I didn’t move fast enough and he just fucking smacked me. And he didn’t knock me down so he smashed me again. He had like his shield and his baton, he was a real fucking jerk. But I would wanna smack my face too though…”
Putting Ian Lafrenière in charge of Indigenous affairs isn’t just a case of placing a wolf in the fold, it’s leaving the wolf with keys at the entrance of the whole fucking farm.
Turning back to where we started, it’s 1977 and I’m standing across from Cabot Square. Was that a ‘there but for the grace of god’ moment? Not even close. A whole lot of advantage put me on the same street corner Sharon Baron would face decades later. I had a dad with a car, and a home to go to. That home had a phone to call. When I entered McDonald’s, no one would try to escort me off the premises. I could afford a concert ticket. When I say, ya, but I paid for that ticket with money from my paper route. How’d I get the paper route? Why’d The Gazette hire me to deliver their papers? In the summer of 1983, I was back at Cabot Square, sitting on the grass with friends, waiting for The Forum doors to open so we could see the David Bowie concert. No one harassed us, the police didn’t try to esport us from the park.
When I get sick, I can go to the doctor. Where I currently live there are at least a half-dozen modern medical facilities – many of them, like Duke, the envy of the nation – within driving distance. I don’t have to to take a bus or plane to get there. I don’t get attacked by bears. What can you do? Everyone says I’m sorry, but no one wants to change anything.
Real Chartrand was given a second chance. Then a third, then a fourth… a fifth, a sixth, a seventh. The career criminal was granted more opportunities to reform than most Quebec offenders. Over and over, judges who sat looking down on Chartrand saw the potential in him and opted for leniency.
Chartrand’s first breach of trust came before Judge J Redmond Roche. The 18-year-old was sent to jail for his participation in a 1960 armed robbery in the suburban Laval town of St. Dorothee that netted $11, a fur coat, a car, and a watch. He spent 5 1/2 months in jail awaiting trail, but because of his good behavior, and no previous record (and we can imagine, his age), Chartrand convinced the court he had been rehabilitated. Judge Roche agreed to parole Chartrand and he immediately committed new infractions. On October 12, 1961 Judge Roche pronounced the verdict:
“You failed to take advantage of the chance given you and my sentence is five years starting today.”
“Man Lost Chance, 5 Years”, The Gazette, October 13, 1961
In July 1966 Real Chartrand fooled the Quebec justice system again. Chartrand was on temporary leave from the St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary undergoing some minor surgery at a local Montreal hospital. Somehow he had obtained a starter’s pistol and while taking a bathroom break, he ordered a young prison guard to strip off his uniform. Fleeing the hospital, Chartrand ran smack into another guard, a 63-year-old seasoned veteran who tried to apprehend him. Chartrand shot the man in the chest with the starter’s pistol, striking the cigarette package in his left shirt pocket ( the guard was not seriously injured). Real Chartrand was on the loose for four hours before Montreal police caught up with him in an East End rooming house. The warden of St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary immediately ordered a full inquiry into how Chartrand managed to escape.
The Fifth Chance
In 1971 Montreal’s Philippe-Pinel Institute for the Criminally Insane in co-operation with Canada’s National Parole Service took what they called, “a calculated risk.” In 1969 Chartrand had been transferred from the St. Vincent de Paul prison ( today known as the Laval Penitentiary) to the more lenient confines of the East End psychiatric facility ( for more on the Pinel Institute click here). By this time he was serving a 15-year sentence for some other infraction ( so he must have been given a fourth chance) which ran concurrently with the 14-year term handed down in 1966 for the hospital escape. The Pinel doctors prescribed what they called “a program of progressive rehabilitation.” Chartrand was awarded a series of day passes, initially escorted, but gradually for unescorted day trips, returning each evening to his guarded cell. Through the summer of 1971 the program was progressing as intended; Chartrand worked each day as a salesman at a furniture store and returned to Pinel before dark. The program was kept secret from the public because, in the words of Dr. Lionel Belliveau, medical superintendent of the Pinel Institute, “we don’t want the public to get upset.” Note here that around this time Chartrand applied for prison parole but, for reasons unknown, he was turned down.
“No, he didn’t always want to be a policeman. When he was a kid he wanted to be a priest.”
Paul-Emile Labelle – “Dead policeman was Capt. Labelle’s son”, Chris Allan, The Gazette, October 14, 1971
Gabriel Labelle was on patrol with his partner, constable Gilbert Martin when the call came across on their squad car radio: “The dispatcher had given us the number of the wanted car, IX-4645. We saw it at a stop sign and gave chase.” The two Ste. Therese police officers – a tiny Laurentian foothill town about 20 miles north of Montreal – were new to the 22-man police force, Gabriel Labelle had served for under two years. Their suspect abandoned the stolen vehicle at the corner of rue Blainville and Avenue des Erables and a foot chase began through the small suburban streets:
“When the guy ran, Gaby chased him and fired three shots in the air. I couldn’t see what was happening for the the trees.”
Labelle and Martin were soon joined by their colleague, constable Jean-Claude Quesel. Vaulting a hedge between two gardens, Quesel then tripped over his fallen comrade. When he turned over the body, Quesel realized that the 24-year-old officer was dead, shot through the heart by a submachine gun.
The gunman managed to elude capture and took refuge in a nearby home, taking a mother and her 13-year-old daughter hostage. For the next nine hours, residents of this tiny community heard the drama play out over local radio stations as police, and what were described as “radio station personalities” negotiated the release of the hostages. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, October 12, 1971, exactly 10 years from the date of his sentence from Judge J Redmond Roche, 28-year-old Real Chartrand was arrested by police for the hostage taking, a suspected bank robbery, and as a material witness in the shooting of constable Gabriel Labelle. Terrebonne district coroner Jean-Louis Taillon called for an immediate full inquiry into the release of prison inmates prior to parole.
Here Everyone Knows Each Other
The Ste. Therese police force was headed by Gabriel Labelle’s father, Captain Paul-Emile Labelle. Gathering in the town hall, which also served as the police headquarters overlooking a small town square known as “The Fountain”, officers mourned the loss of their captain’s only son:
“And Gaby was always working hard, pushing. He was young and he wanted to show his father he was a good policeman…. [In Ste. Therese] it’s not like Montreal. Here everyone knows each other. It’s like losing one of your own kids. One of the family.”
Sergeant Roger L’Esperance – “Dead policeman was Capt. Labelle’s son”, Chris Allan, The Gazette, October 14, 1971
During the coroner hearing to establish if the case could proceed to trial, Chartrand seemed bemused, more interested in flirting with a girlfriend in the courtroom than the proceedings. Witnesses lined up and identified Chartrand as the man who held up the Provincial bank in Ste. Augustin, about 15 minutes west of Ste. Therese in the Mirabel region. Poorly disguised in a trench coat and ill-fitting wig, Chartand fled with $1,268 in cash to Ste Therese where the shooting of constable Labelle occurred. During the hostage standoff, two lawyers and French radio commentator, Evelyn Letecheur negotiated for the release of the 13-year-old girl and her mother. One of the lawyers managed to get Chartrand to hand over a Commando Mark III submachine gun and two magazines. Ballistics confirmed that a bullet taken from constable Labelle’s body came from the weapon. Dr. Jean Hould testified Constable Labelle was shot once in the wrist and once through the heart, and estimated the shots were fired about six feet from the victim.
“Society must be protected, and if certain experts continue to favor the liberties of certain individuals instead of the freedom of the people the fences we’re slowly removing from the jails will slowly be returned.”
Coroner Jean-Louis Taillon – ” Probe demanded of release system”, Eddie Collister, The Gazette, October 28, 1971
“He was an uncured patient”
If you think this is just the story of an offender getting too many chances from a soft justice system, you’d be wrong, we’re going to make a turn.
Real Chartrand’s trial for capital murder began over a year later in November, 1972. Much of the testimony was a replay of the witnesses offered at the coroner hearing, the playbook only changed when the defense brought Dr. Gilles Lefebvre to the stand, a former Pinel Institute psychiatrist. Lefebvre had not been Chartrand’s assigned psychiatrist. He was dismissed from the institute in January 1972, three months after the October 12th shooting incident, after a closed-door inquiry with institution management.
Dr. Lefebvre met Real Chartrand in the normal course of his daily duties at Pinel. In a breach of patient and physician interactions, the 38-year-old psychiatrist told the 28-year-old Chartrand about “certain personal problems” he was having. Specifically Lefebvre said he had “received threats and was fearful of the underworld.” He went on to testify that “he was being blackmailed in connection with his past sexual life and that he had enlisted Chartrand’s help.”
Lefebvre and Chartrand quickly developed a close relationship. The doctor bought Chartrand clothing and a car, bestowing on the young patient gifts in excess of $3,000. Over the course of the year proceeding the October 12 shooting, Chartrand had been granted over 200 leave passes, all reportedly without incident. On Saturday, October 9, 1971 Lefebvre took Chartand to dinner at a fancy St. Hubert street restaurant, in the heart of Montreal’s vibrant Plateau neighborhood. Leaving the restaurant, the two friends made a stop at a drug store where Dr. Lefebvre purchased a sleeping pill prescription for Chartrand, even though the use of outside medications was strictly prohibited by Pinel Institute policy. The final witness that day was Chartrand’s actual consulting psychiatrist, Dr. Andre Mauffette who testified that, “the relationship between Chartrand and [Dr. Lefebvre] at the institution nullified any good the treatment might have done to rehabilitate Chartrand.”
Dr. Mauffette returned to the witness stand the following day, November 15, 1972 to give further light to the “questionable relationship” between Chartrand and Dr. Gilles Lefebvre. Dr. Mauffette told of a conversation he had had with Chartrand 45 days after the shooting, when Chartrand had been returned to custody:
“Chartrand told me to give his regards to everyone at Pinel but Dr. Lefebvre…. this individual made advances toward me. I felt like I was caught in an impossible situation”
Real Chartrand – “Doctor’s advances affected Chartrand, expert tells court”, James Duff, The Gazette, November 16, 1972
Dr. Mauffette continued that the anxiety created by this inappropriate relationship would have been a contributing factor to Chartrand’s state of being before the shooting, “To me, this means that this state of anxiety was a very important consideration on the days preceding the crime and on Oct. 12 itself.” When he was admitted to Pinel in 1969 Chartrand was assessed as of above average intelligence, “always aware of the nature and quality of his acts.” But he was suffering from “suicidal depressive states and auditory and visual hallucinations.” Chartrand had been put on a program to slowly wean him off prescription medications. Giving Chartrand a bottle of Doriden sleeping pills would have exacerbated his depressive state.
“I refuse clemency”
On November 20, 1972 a 12-man jury found Real Chartrand guilty of the capital murder of Ste. Therese police constable Gabriel Labelle. The jury asked for clemency. When Superior Court Judge Guy Mathieu asked Chartrand if he had anything to say he responded in a clear and steady voice, “I refuse clemency.” For the first time since the sentencing of the Santa Claus murderers – possibly for the last time in a Quebec court – Judge Mathieu read the following sentence:
“You will be driven from here to a secure place where you will be kept until the 28th day of April, 1973, and hanged by the neck until you are dead – and may God have mercy on your soul.”
Superior Court Judge Guy Mathieu – “Police killer gets death sentence”, The Gazette, November 21, 1972
In September 1973 Chartrand lost his appeal before Quebec’s Superior Court who ruled he had not proven he was legally insane at the time of the crime. Chartrand appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. By 1975 there were eight men on Canada’s death row waiting for appeals or for the Trudeau government to definitively abolish the death penalty:
On June 26, 1975 the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously dismissed Chartrand’s appeal, with the eight judges unconvinced that Chartrand was not mentally responsible for the murder. Chartrand’s hanging was then scheduled for October 1975, but the execution was stayed until 1976 while Canadian Parliament continued to debate the question of capital punishment. With the execution date again looming, Bill C-84 passed by a narrow margin abolishing the death penalty at the eleventh hour, on July 14, 1976. Chartrand hanging had been scheduled for the following day, July 15th. The Trudeau cabinet commuted the sentence to life in prison without parole for 25 years. Real Chartrand got his sixth chance.
“He’s very conscious that he’s carrying the fate of others on his shoulders.”
Ten years later, Real Chartrand was again before the courts, this time asking for his seventh chance. In March 1987 Chartrand faced a Sainte Jerome Superior Court jury, this time in a precedent setting case seeking the right to a parole hearing after serving 15 years of a 25-year prison sentence. In the Ste. Jerome trial, Chartrand took the witness stand for the first time. He told a grim tale of his childhood. His father was an alcoholic who beat his mother. Chartrand grew up in poverty in Montreal’s Villeray – Parc Extension district. At times his family lived in a garages, once an abandoned dog kennel. He and his brother would routinely pick pockets and rob grocery stores to provide for his 5 younger brothers and sisters. He developed an early resentment against authority figures. At the age of eight he was caught shooting out the windows of a police chief’s house.
A member of the Church Council for Justice and Corrections, Marie Beemans described Chartrand as, “one of the gentlest people I’ve ever met.” Parole officials testified that Chartrand had been completely rehabilitated. Asked whether she thought Chartrand would ever kill again, psychiatrist Lousie Grignon replied, “The chances are one in a million.” Parole board member, Claude Fillion told the jury he would welcome the convicted police killer into his home “as if he were my own brother.”
In early April, Real Chartrand won the right to seek parole. The court’s verdict was ground breaking, today the effect of Chartrand’s appeal is commonly referred to as two thirds sentencing, where an offender can apply for parole after serving two thirds of their prison sentence. By July 1987, the National Parole Board began granting Real Chartrand unescorted leaves from prison. Even Paul-Emile Labelle the father of the victim, Gabrielle Labelle and former police captain for Ste. Therese agreed it was the right thing to do:
“If he’s (Chartrand) OK today, then I don’t see why he shouldn’t be given a chance to live a normal life.”
Paul-Emile Labelle – “My son’s killer deserves chance dad says after jail leave granted”, Eloise Morin, The Gazette, July 10, 1987
Others weren’t so sure:
“With the rejection of the death penalty, there is a growing worry among police officers…. Mr. Chartrand has been given a chance few criminals have ever had… I just hope that in the future we don’t discover that society erred in giving him this chance.”
Jean-Guy Roch, President of the Quebec Police Federation – “Municipal police officers worry killers may get early parole, leader says”, Eloise Morin, The Gazette, July 11, 1987
In 1989 Real Chartrand was granted unconditional parole and walked out of prison a free man. Interviewed by radio commentator Claude Poirier, the now 45-year-old former offender offered, “I want to live a peaceful, productive life – working and paying my taxes.” By April 1989, Chartrand was living in a Montreal halfway house, and was interviewing for a job with a communications firm where he hoped to work as an electronics technician.
From the reporting of Eloise Morin
One of the items to come forward in Chartrand’s 1987 appeal for parole was the 1972 closed-door inquiry report produced by the Pinel Institute in the wake of Chartrand’s multiple unescorted absences from the psychiatric facility. Authored by Montreal lawyer Jacques Clement, the Clement report recommended that Dr. Sleep / Dr. Gilles Lefebvre be fired from Pinel and never again employed as an administrator at the institute or any other hospital in Quebec where dangerously mentally ill patients are treated. Upon reading the report, the Quebec Corporation of Physicians and Surgeons revoked Lefebvre’s license for two months.
The section in the Clement report concerning the Chartrand affaire had never been made public. Following his dismissal and the Chartrand murder trial, Lefebvre spent seven years in exile in Morocco. In his two years at Pinel, Lefebvre was initially Chartrand’s attending psychiatrist, but his case was handed over to Dr. Andre Mauffette in 1970 when Lefebvre was appointed assistant superintendent of Pinel. Lefebvre continued to telephone Chartrand and visit him in his cell, despite requests from Mauffette asking him to stop. It was in January of 1971 when Lefebvre approached Chartrand with his “certain personal problems”, saying Carol Lavoie, a known criminal who was living with Lefebvre in his Outremont home, demanded $300 or he would disclose that the doctor was a homosexual. At this point Chartrand called upon a criminal associate to terminate the blackmail efforts, and Lefebvre paid $1,200 for the associate’s services, though it was never made clear how the money was earned.
The Clement report detailed how Lefebvre took Chartrand on trips to the Laurentian mountains, to Vermont, and once for a ride in a small airplane. The report upped the amount of money given to Chartrand disclosed at the murder trial from $3,000 in gifts to approximately $5,000 in cash. This in addition to the $2,400 used to purchase a Pontiac GTO for Chartrand. A notary also testified for Clement that Lefebvre had authorized him to draft a letter to Chartrand indicated that on his release from Pinel he would receive $2,000 in several monthly payments. Again, it must be stressed that none of this had been disclosed to any of his colleagues at the institute prior to the events of October 12, 1971. At no time did Lefebvre disclose any details of his relationship with Chartrand to medical staff.
At the dinner at the St. Hubert restaurant on Saturday, October 9, 1971, Lefebvre showed Chartrand a gold ring and asked him to put it on, symbolizing their homosexual marriage. When Chartrand refused, Lefebvre became angry, then disclosed that Chartrand’s request for parole had been denied and he would be soon leaving Pinel and returning to prison. After dinner Chartrand became extremely agitated at the thought of returning to jail, and it was at this point that doctor and ‘patient’ stopped at the drug store to pick up the prescription Doriden sleeping pills. Again, these would have heightened Chartrand’s state of agitation and depression. At the time Doriden was recognized as a highly potent and hypnotic drug. By 1986 it was taken off the market, and hadn’t been prescribed by most psychiatric hospitals for 10 to 20 years. One psychiatrist referred to it as “one of the most awful drugs ever used to treat the mentally ill.”
Chartrand then spent the remainder of that Canadian Thanksgiving weekend – a time normally reserved for celebrations with family and friends – alone, taking pills and becoming more agitated. It was after that Thanksgiving Monday, on Tuesday, October 12th that Chartrand committed the bank holdup in St. Augustin, then drove to Ste. Therese where he shot constable Lasalle, all while away on a day pass approved by Dr. Gilles Lefebvre.
At the 1972 trial, Lefebvre described Chartrand as a “psychopath”. But in 1975 the Trudeau cabinet requested a new diagnosis of Real Chartrand. The assessment was conducted by Jean Baptiste Boulanger, a psychiatrist from the Universite de Montreal, and Roger Boutin, assistant director of psychiatry at the Ottawa General Hospital. Boulanger denied that Chartrand was a psychopath, arguing that the pills coupled with anxiety pushed him over the edge into a psychotic state. Before he shot the officer, Chartrand would have lost complete contact with reality. Dr. Boutin agreed:
“If one had wanted to ‘brainwash’ Real Chartrand and bring him to the point where only acute psychosis or uncontrollable violence were possible, than one could hardly imagine a more efficient process than the one employed by Dr. Gilles Lefebvre.”
“Fired after scandal in ’72, psychiatrist attacked by patients’ group”, Eloise Morin, The Gazette, June 2, 1987
Quebec Social Affairs Minister Claude Castonguay twice refused to make the Clement report public, arguing it could prejudice Chartrand’s murder trial, even with Chartrand arguing that the report contained elements that could save his life. In their closing remarks to the cabinet report, Boulanger and Boutin offered this scathing assessment:
“… in the midst of deafening publicity, a repeat offender, who, after having held up a bank, had killed a policeman who was chasing him; the offender turned out to be none other than the Pinel Institute’s model inmate. And because of him, the ‘Pinel Affair’ was clumsily covered up and followed by the firing of its assistant superintendent. Finally came the public trial where the psychiatrist appeared to be more of a psychopath than his patient.”
Jean Baptiste Boulanger
“It can be said that a terrible injustice was committed toward Real Chartrand by the fact that at the very place where he should have received appropriate treatment… he also found someone who led him to ruin, blindly or otherwise, but as surely as if he had a gun held at his back.”
For a time, Real Chartrand became a frequent speaker advocating for the rights of the formerly incarcerated, arguing for the rehabilitation of criminals rather than constant punishment. “Instead of forced labor, there should be forced studying. Nobody would hold it against the system for having learned something”, he said.
By the time of his parole request, Chartrand claimed to have read 3,000 books in prison. Prior to the Ste. Therese shooting he had participated in three armed robberies. My mind goes back to the morning of Tuesday, October 12th, 1971, the day after Thanksgiving – what was going through the mind of Real Chartrand? Maybe he knew he could no longer accept money and gifts from Dr. Lefebvre. Maybe he was truly fearful he would soon be leaving the relative comfort of the Pinel psych ward and returned to St. Vincent de Paul. Maybe he didn’t want to take any more chances with the justice system so he made the decision to take control of his fate. The bank in St. Augustin was a logical choice, a sleepy cottage-country town, he had spent time in neighboring Blainville. Maybe Chartrand thought $1,300 and his GTO was enough to take him away from his troubles. For a time.
More than 50 years after her death, the murder of Teresa Martin has still not been solved.
On the night of September 13, 1969, Teresa Martin, a 14-year-old teenager, was found dead leaning against a wall in the parking lot of a Montreal-North business. More than 50 years later, her family lament the “passivity” of the Sûreté du Québec’s unsolved crimes division, which often admits relying on appeals from the public before questioning key witnesses again.
A black hole
It was a little over 10 ° C and a light breeze was blowing around 3:30 a.m. when Pierre Cyr returned to his apartment at 6775, boulevard Henri-Bourassa, in Montreal-North.
Before getting in, Mr. Cyr saw a teenage girl sitting on the ground, leaning against the outside wall in the parking lot of the taverne du Vieux Cyprès.
The teenager was still. Mr. Cyr noticed her bare feet.
He walked over and tried to talk to her. The teenager did not react. In a panic, Mr. Cyr alerted the Montreal North police. They called an ambulance, which transported the girl to Sacré-Coeur Hospital, where a doctor pronounced her dead.
A few hours later, on the morning of Saturday, September 13, 1969, a worried father contacted the Montreal-North police to report his daughter’s disappearance.
The day before, he said, Teresa Martin, 14, had gone to see a movie at the Galeries d’Anjou cinema with two friends, and had never come home. Her friends confirmed that she got on the 41 bus at around 11 p.m.
When questioned by the police, the bus driver said he dropped the teenager off at the corner of Gouin and Rolland boulevards, near Rivière des Prairies, about two blocks from the Martin family’s apartment. . This was the last time she was seen alive.
The police quickly made the connection between the corpse found during the night and the disappearance of the teenager. Teresa Martin’s father went to identify his daughter at the morgue at the Sûreté du Québec headquarters on rue Parthenais.
Isabel Marcotte, Teresa Martin’s younger sister, remembers the day her sister disappeared as if it were yesterday.
“We had just moved into a new apartment on Léger Boulevard,” she said in an interview. Me and my sister, we slept in the same room. The next day, I remember there were lots of people at home, detectives, journalists… It just kept on going. “
Her family was never the same after Teresa’s death.
The worst part is watching your parents suffer. When you’re young, it breaks your heart, and there’s nothing you can do… I seem to miss my sister more now than in those years. I do not know how to explain it.
Isabel Marcotte, sister of Teresa Martin
A shy good student who was finishing her classical course at Regina Assumpta College, Teresa Martin was the daughter of a school principal and a private investigator. She had few friends and spent her weekends horseback riding on a Laval ranch, says her sister.
“She was a shy girl,” she says.
In his report, the medical examiner concluded that the teenager died of “asphyxiation from probable obstruction of the external airways.” She was not raped. Neither alcohol nor drugs were in his blood.
Shortly before or after his death, he also noted, his murderer (s) used a blade to engrave the words “F. V. Frenchy I love you” on his stomach.
This “tattoo” left the police very perplexed, wrote the journalist Michel Auger in La Presse in 1969.
Is he a sinister maniac who wanted to sign his crime or a clever assassin who wanted to lead the police on a false trail? At this time, the answer is not known.
Michel Auger, in La Presse in 1969
Ms. Marcotte notes that the place Teresa had to walk to get home after getting off the bus was not lit in 1969. “In those years there were no houses. They were fields. At night it was a black hole. “
More than 30 people were questioned by investigators after Teresa Martin’s death, wrote the publication Hello Police in October 1969.
“At this stage of the investigation, the police are most optimistic about the imminent arrest of the perpetrator of this appalling crime,” the publication noted.
But no arrests were made.
The following year, authorities continued to question several teenage girls in Montreal North. One of them, Johanne H., a 14-year-old student, will tell them about unpunished crimes committed by a group of bikers.
Brutes, as she calls them, invited to settle in Montreal North and paid to do so by the Montreal police and the Quebec government.
United Motorcyclists of Quebec
At the end of the 1960s, the City of Montreal had a problem: groups of bikers at war with each other intimidated citizens and caused repeated complaints to the municipal police.
In 1969, John Dalzell, a 24-year-old police officer assigned to the youth section of the Montreal police force, instigated one of the first community policing projects in Montreal: to gain acceptance for the city’s 300 or so bikers.
With the support of the Government of Quebec and the Director of the Montreal Police, Jean-Paul Gilbert, John Dalzell founded the Motocyclistes unis du Québec (MUQ).
Bringing together bikers from various clubs such as the Popeyes, Death Riders, Dead Men, and Gorillas, the association aimed to “promote the sport of motorcycles and develop a spirit of understanding between different groups” of bikers.
At the launch of the MUQs, director Gilbert noted that many young Quebecers were attracted to “biker fashion” and wore leather coats in their club colors.
“It is necessary to find ways not to suppress this lifestyle, but to make it more acceptable,” he said, according to an article published at the time by The Gazette (now the Montreal Gazette ).
One of the ways to make it more acceptable was to provide a place for bikers to congregate and ride. To get there, the Montreal police reached an agreement with the British Petroleum company (now BP) to reserve a vacant lot for them on Boulevard Henri-Bourassa, in Montreal-North.
The provincial government, through its youth department, provided $ 3,600 to start the association [$ 26,000 in today’s dollars].
The head of one of the clubs, who is not named in The Gazette article, noted that motorcycle enthusiasts were poorly understood by the public.
“Our main problem is that uninformed people think we are bullies and good-for-nothing,” he said. We should not all suffer just because a small group of hotheads cause terror. We have a lot of control over our club and all we want to do is motorcycle racing. “
Yet, far from the media gaze and press conferences with elected officials, the reality of biker groups was very different.
In an interview conducted on May 21, 1970 in the investigation into the murder of Teresa Martin, teenager Johanne H. spoke to authorities about the bikers newly landed in Montreal North.
Aged 14, she explained to the coroner Me Laurin Lapointe, whose role it was to lay the criminal charges at the time, that she and several friends were spending time with “guys from the MUQ” at parties. and in a small restaurant near his high school.
Several of the MUQ guys “have been in jail” for some time, she said. Among those she dated, she cited the names Borosco, Gazou, Scorpion, Shifter, El Rebel, Jean-Guy, Mick, Pepilo, Flo, Rocky, Zipper and Crazy Horse.
The teenager also identified several bikers by their full names. La Presse wrote to people of the same name on social media, several of whom are riding motorcycles in their profile photos, but received no response from them.
MUQ members often behaved like “bullies,” the teenager told the coroner.
“They often threaten,” said the teenager.
[They threaten] who?
The teenager recounted how MUQ members threatened to “splash” teenage girls.
“What do you mean by splashs? Asked the coroner.
“He forces her to stuff things like that […]. They often say: “If you don’t, you’re going to have this” “, according to the minutes of the interview archived at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ).
The teenager, who attended Henri-Bourassa High School, added that she herself suffered a “splash”. She said she hasn’t seen bikers for a few months.
Later in the interview, she added that several bikers had “knives” on them, and they used them to “write on the skin.”
The teenager also explained that she heard friends say that “MUQ guys” killed Teresa Martin – whom she did not know and had never met.
The coroner tried to get the teenager who gave him this information to say, but she said she could not remember it. “Everyone was talking about it,” she said.
“We cannot contact everyone” Years ago, investigators from the Sûreté du Québec’s unsolved crimes division contacted Isabel Marcotte, Teresa Martin’s sister.
They wanted her permission to post her sister’s photo in the unsolved crimes section of the SQ website. Glad to see that the authorities were still interested in the matter after all these years, she immediately nodded.
“I was excited when they called me. I told myself they were working on the file. “
The Teresa Martin murder case number on the SQ website is 068-700225-001. The file contains one of the few photos of Teresa: her sister does not have one.
A few years later, in 2019, the Sûreté du Québec announced with great fanfare that it wanted to reduce the number of busy full-time investigators in the unsolved crimes division from 5 to 30.
More than 700 files, many of which date back to the 1960s, were in the boxes of the police force. The idea was to get more staff to deal with these issues.
Especially since time could sometimes play in the favor of investigators, Lieutenant Martine Asselin explained to The Canadian Press in 2019.
“Twenty years, thirty years later, some people have died, we may have moved, our family situation may have changed, and then we are ready to talk about it today,” she said.
John Allore, author and host who has been studying unsolved murders in Quebec for years, is currently researching a book that will discuss, among other things, the murder of Teresa Martin.
On April 26, he was able to speak by phone with Sergeant Sylvain Benjamin of the Unsolved Crimes Division.
In a recording of this interview, Sergeant Benjamin explains that Sûreté du Québec investigators review the files to see if a detail was missed, and see if it is possible to have objects tested in the laboratory.
Then, with the family’s consent, they post a photo of the victim on their website.
“That way, if anyone knows anything, they’ll call us,” said Sergeant Benjamin.
Asked if this approach was proactive enough, Sergeant Benjamin replied: “We have 700 files, we cannot interview everyone again …”
In an interview with La Presse, Benoit Richard, information officer for the Sûreté du Québec, notes that the SQ wants to make the unsolved crimes section of its website “a reference”, and wants the public to be able to consult it. regularly “.
Mr. Richard notes that re-interviewing witnesses in a case is “not necessarily” the way investigators work.
But that doesn’t mean we won’t. I need to have something to allow me to go ask questions again, or call someone. We have to revive people with new things.
Benoit Richard, Sûreté du Québec information officer
Internally, files are reviewed “on a regular basis” by investigators, he says.
Since 2004, 11 murder cases have been resolved by the Unsolved Crimes Division and the Disappearances Division of the Sûreté du Québec.
For a police force that prides itself on putting a lot of resources and energy into the issue, this is a “completely unacceptable” record, laments John Allore.
“I know unsolved crimes are difficult to solve and time is not on the side of investigators. But Quebec has an advantage that other countries do not. People tend to stay put. Many witnesses have lived in the same place for 50 years. If the investigators really wanted to get things done, they would go talk to them. “
“Put a phone number”
After being initially excited when the SQ posted her sister’s photo on its website, Isabel Marcotte lost her enthusiasm when she realized that things weren’t going to go any further.
“Their strategy is to put in a phone number and hope someone calls them. It’s very passive, ”she said.
Few details are also communicated to families, she laments. For example, Teresa Martin’s family were never made aware of the hypothesis that bikers may have been linked to her death.
“Bikers, I’ve never heard of that. My parents are deceased, but I don’t believe they too have heard of it. Teresa had never been in the biker scene and was not at all drawn to the world of motorcycling. “
Ms. Marcotte is also uncertain whether the “completely disgusting” statements and crimes detailed by young Johanne H. in her coroner’s statement in 1970 were the subject of an inquest at the time, or more recently. What she does know is that no investigator questioned her or any other related person.
Bus. Morgue. Wallet. Missing Clothing. Journal de Montreal. Don Bosco.
Pattern Recognition is a term I borrowed from computer science. It’s used in sequence / spatial analysis and machine learning, with origins in cognitive behavior. There are some pretty large sign posts I recognize in the Teresa Martin case. Both Martin and my sister were last seen by persons on a bus. Our fathers made the identification of the bodies at the morgue in the Surete du Quebec’s Montreal headquarters on rue Parthenais. In both cases the victims’ clothing was never recovered. Later, their wallets were found but not at the victim dump sites. Both Teresa Martin and Theresa Allore were discredited as drug users by the tabloid, Le Journal de Montreal, despite no scientific evidence of drugs or alcohol in their systems at the time of death. Finally, years later, both myself and Teresa Martin’s sister made pilgrimages to the SQ HQ in Sherbrooke, located on Don Bosco ( Martin’s family later moved to the Eastern Townships), both of us, I suppose, displaying a dogged unwillingness – perhaps a naivety – to let things go.
A person dies, but the indignities they continue to suffer – particularly murder victims – seem endless. A girl goes missing, and the police ask, have you a photograph, something we can use to help search for your loved one? So the family frantically provides the last picture taken. It’s never a particularly good photo; they never really had that hair style, she didn’t really look that crazed, that’s not her blouse, remember? she borrowed that. Still, you give it to the police, and from then on, forever and for always, that becomes the public face of your private suffering.
I have some regrets about all the photos I’ve shared of my sister, Theresa. Initially I released them to say, There she is, she existed. She was dynamic, she had many appearances. Not just that smiling, frizzy haired girl in the green top with spaghetti straps. Now there are too many photos in too many places. You can’t control how those images become used by others for well intentioned, but ultimately not so nice purposes. Having said that, I like the photo Theresa Martin’s family chose to display on the Surete du Quebec’ cold case website. Teresa with a kitten in Caravaggio grey, black and brown. It looks like Teresa, or rather, it looks like how I imagine Teresa looked. Those eyes staring right back at you, asking you – daring you – to make a move, do something.
‘The evening of September 12, 1969, 14-year-old Teresa Martin disappears while coming back from the Galeries D’Anjou cinema by bus, accompanied by two friends. At the intersection of boulevard Saint-Michel and boulevard Henri-Bourassa, Teresa left her friends to take a transfer. Around 3 a.m., her body was found in a sitting position in the parking lot of the Vieux Cyprès tavern, on boulevard Henri-Bourassa. The young victim had been carefully placed there by the suspect(s)’ – This is the official notice from her investigating force, the Surete du Quebec.
Last week, La Presse published a lengthy article on the Teresa Martin case. Qui a tué Teresa Martin? is a work of investigative journalism, covering many of the details we’ve laid out in this podcast – the coroner’s interrogation of Johanne H, the establishment of the Quebec motorcycle association, La MUQ by the police and Quebec government, the conclusion that La MUQ enabled the rise of biker gangs in the province – and included an interview with Martin’s sister, Isabel. That’s not some coincidence, nor is it La Presse trolling my website and taking credit for my work, that kind of effort takes a dogged persistence.
About the time of the fourth episode on La MUQ, I approached La Presse asking them to do a French version of what I’d been reporting. This kind of pitch doesn’t always work, you have to have something unique to show them. It’s happened in the past with a few stories of covered, La Presse picked up the Diane Thibault case and the piece on Roderick Nicholson as a probable suspect in the murders of Diane Dery and Mario Corbeil. In the matter of Teresa Martin, I had the coroner report, the MUQ information, and the connection with Martin’s sister. I will note that I asked Isabel twice if she’d like to come on this podcast and discuss the matter from her perspective, and I believe she – rather wisely – declined that offer. But passing up the opportunity for a 2000 word column in one of Quebec’s largest French newspapers – far more than the standard ‘shock and awe’ 500 word jobs you typically see these days – was too important an opportunity to turn down for someone who still believes – 52 years later – that there is hope that the case may be solved.
My job was to broker the relationship between La Presse and Isabel, and after that, what they discussed and how the story was shaped was none of my business. Very often these things don’t go well, you go away feeling very exploited by the media. And you can say, ‘but John, they took your story, they took credit for it?!’ And I say, don’t be so naive, there are always trade offs. La Presse knows it’s my investigative work, we discussed that. There are tradeoffs and exceptions to everything. The bottom line is this was too important a case to have kept in isolation. When you find the right voice that can elevate and daylight a matter, especially in the language of the province, you have to respond to that opportunity.
But now there is a crossroad. As sure as the rising sun, the Quebec media will now be calling at the door to do more stories. At a minimum, Journal de Montreal will come knocking for some blurbs for a 55 anniversary article (it will be 200 words). Attraction Media, and Point Virgule, and any number of production companies will want to take the words and turn it into visual documentary. In the case of JdM, I would do what I did when they approached me two years ago for my sister’s 40 anniversary. There’s a line, and 40 years ago they crossed it, so I literally told them to Fuck Off.
In the case of television? My first question back them would be, how much are you going to pay me? And when they say, “but you would dare asked to be paid for such a thing?” I would say, but you’re getting paid for such a thing! And I would ask for three salaries; for your story, for your research, and for appearing on camera, because you are also the talent. Because my advice would be not to participate in these programs, but if you’re going to do it, you should at least be compensated for your work like everyone else working in the true crime circus industry.
These people do not practice investigative reporting, they are entertainers. Sur les traces d’un tueur en série is not interested in solving murders, they are in the business of perpetuating fear – dressing up like extras from District 13 does not make you an investigator. Claude Poirier has survived for over 50 years because he plays all sides, he is a paid mercenary. In half a century he has not contributed to the resolution of a single unsolved murder. Claude Poirier has one central interest: Claude Poirier. Claude Poirier is an entertainer – and he knows this.
So you will have a choice as to what to do when these people come calling. My advice is that if you decide to work with them, you should at least get paid for it. After that, what they do with your story is out of your hands. You cannot control it. And what you do with their money, is none of our business.
After the publication of the La Presse article one of he SQ officers quoted in that story was reprimanded. Sylvain called and informed me that his supervisor will no longer allow him to discuss other cases with me. For those matters, I now have to go through police public affairs, just like any other schlep journalist. I told him I was disappointed, that such a reaction was silly and short-sighted. Rather than closing ranks – again – they should be opening up and becoming even more transparent with the public. It’s the public who’s interests they serve, no? We’re paying for it. But the Surete du Quebec have always had a higher priority, a greater interest. Themselves. They are there to ensure the survival of the agency, public safety is a secondary priority. Since at least the days of Duplessis Army, it has always been this way.
Over 20 years later, when I discovered the fact that my sister’s wallet had been found – not with the body, but 10 miles away from the dump site on the outskirts of Sherbrooke – I had a choice. This was holdback evidence, I imagine police did not like my writing about it on this website. But it had been 20 years. The cold case was frozen over. Much more important to discuss the wallet, and the fact that the lead investigator’s theory as to how it got there was that “wild dogs” had carried it in their mouths for 10 miles, then efficiently deposited along a public roadway.
In the summer of 2006 we had a recovery team visit the site where Louise Camirand’s body had been found in 1977 near Magog, Quebec. Since this was also the area where hunter’s reported seeing clothing matching the description of those worn by Theresa Allore when she was last seen, we thought this might be a productive search target. The Surete du Quebec declined our offer to participate in the search dismissing it as “a school project”. Over the years that site has produced several personal objects belonging to women, deteriorated to the point of having been from the era of the 1970s including jewelry, women’s shoes, a woman’s blouse, and a purse matching the description of one missing from a 1978 Montreal victim, Lison Blais. The Surete du Quebec has never expressed any interest in examining this evidence.
Last weekend, 15 years from the date of that search for evidence, the situation was almost identically repeated. A team of divers from Stéphane Luce’s grassroots non-profit, Meurtres et Disparitions Irrésolus du Quebec, searched a body of water near Wemotaci in an attempt to find the body of James Ambroise, who has been missing since October 15, 2017. They used a GoFundMe campaign to defray the costs of boats and oxygen tanks, exploring the waters of Lake Bréhard and the Saint-Maurice River as well as places where the Sûreté du Québec and local police could not, or would not go during previous searches. The team recovered a plastic bag of bones, more than likely animal bones. Among the dozens of volunteers on sight last weekend, the Surete du Quebec was nowhere to be found.
At some point, you are no longer investigating a murder or disappearance, but the very quality of the investigation in the hands of those who have taken an oath to protect you. The police are no longer protecting the public, they’re protecting themselves. Half their efforts must be mop up jobs for some politician who compromised themselves with a call girl, or drugs, or some shakedown (If you don’t believe me look up l’affaire Gregoire form the early 1980s, and I don’t mean that Gregoire: Gilles Gregoire. Look it up). The Surete du Quebec has more in common with the Stasi or FSB, or more to the point, the DGSE, than any modern police force. 17 years after its creation, their cold case website has become a monument to failure.
There have been points along the way in this story where I’ve had to resist the urge to misinterpret certain facts. There’s another photo of Teresa. She’s standing on the balcony of a duplex apartment in a fur hat and coat. I wondered if this was one of her girlfriends’ places, perhaps where members of La MUQ hung out, Was the fur coat a gift, stolen in some biker robbery job? No, Theresa’s family moved to Montreal North about 6 months before her death, this was their prior home. The fur coat and hat were her mother’s, and she was trying them on and playing for the camera. I asked if Teresa ever went to Belmont Park. The amusement park was midway between our home growing up and Teresa’s, it was a popular destination for kids in the summer, perhaps we had all been there together at one time. No, Teresa never went to Parc Belmont. Those shoes she was thought to have been wearing that where never found. In the police reproduction they looked very fashionable, like an ad for flats I once saw from Bloomingdale’s or somewhere. Yes, they were part of her school uniform. Oh! Was she wearing her school uniform the night she died? No, she was wearing grey slacks and a green sweater.
That duplex where she lived before moving to Montreal North, at 10627 Rue d’Iberville. That’s one block away from Parc des Hirondelles – the park where in May 1969 Pierre “Butch” Boucher was stabbed 58 times by three members of the Devil’s Disciples motocycle club. Teresa Martin may not have followed trouble, but trouble seemed to have followed her.
Teresa Martin was a shy girl who had the misfortune of moving to a rough neighborhood. She didn’t do drugs, she didn’t hang out with bikers. One evening she took a late night bus from the movies and got off at Gouin Boulevard. Gouin is a very long boulevard, my sister Theresa used to sling pizza dough at Chez Luna, about 40 kilometers west on Gouin. The night of September 12, 1969 I believe Teresa Martin had a chance encounter with some very bad men and met with a most unfortunate outcome. The best answer is that Theresa’s murder was part of a biker ritual that never made it to the main event, she panicked and died within the process of that ritual. At least more than one person knows what happened. Isabel should know what happened, if only Quebec police would do their job.
For a more in depth conversation, listen to the episode podcast.
GERALD ASSELIN – LE PETIT JOURNAL, 24 DECEMBRE 1972
“Où sont les Maigret, Vidocq, Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes de nos services policiers?
C’est ce que nous demandions il y a deux semaines en déplorant le grand nombre de meurtres d’enfants non résolus dans notre province et le peu d’intérêt apparent des enquêteurs envers les criminels sadiques.
Notre enquête nous a incité à étudier le dossier de la criminalité pour les 15 dernières années. Les résultats, devons-nous avouer, sont peu reluisants.
On peut, en comparant certaines années, constater un relâchement très important de l’efficacité policière au Québec dans le domaine des homicides.
De 1953 à 1967 inclusivement, soit durant une période de 15 ans, on a enregistré un total de $33 meurtres au Québec. De ce nombre, on ne décèle que 78 causes non résolues, soit moins de 15 pour cent des meurtres demeurés impunis.
Par contre, durant les quatre dernières années, alors que la peine de mort n’était plus en vigueur, on a dû constater que le nombre des homicides montait en flèche, à une vitesse quatre fois supérieure à la hausse de la population.
De 1968 à 1971 inclusivement, on a en effet signalé 399 meurtres. Par contre, on doit aussi constater que de ce nombre 121 causes n’ont pas encore ere solutionnees, soit plus de 30 pour cent de tous les meurtres des derniéres années. A la lumière de ces statistiques primaires, on pourait donc conclure hâtivement que l’efficacité des enquêteurs à diminué de 50 pour cent car ils laissent maintenant 30 cent des meurtres en liberté, contre 15 pour cent seulement dans les années antérieures à 1968.
C’est toutefois en classant les crimes par catégories qu’on peut le mieux évaluer la valeur des enquêteurs de nos escouades des homicides.
Durant iles quatre derniéres années, on signale que 186 des 399 meurtres commis au Québec sont des drames familiaux ou des bagarres. Ces homicides comprennent les infanticides, les batailles fatales entre amis et, en fait, tous les homicides commis au sein d’une famille ou d’un groupe donné, ou encore devant témoins.
Ces 182 meurtres ont tous ete resolus a la satisfaction des policiers, très souvent après une journée seulement, ou même quelques heures d’enquête. En fait, ces homicides ne réclamaient aucune enquête particulière et ne requéraient que des secrétaires pour prendre les dépositions et, quelques fois, reléguer les criminels devant les psychiatres.
Dans 182 cas sur 399, on peut donc accorder aux policiers une efficacité à 100 pour cent. Ils ont capturé tous les meurtriers d’enfants, quand les coupables étaient ics parents. Quand les coupables sont des sadiques, il en va tout autrement.
Sur les 217 autres homicides, il reste donc 121 causes non résolues: donc, plus de 55 pour cent.
Sur les 21 homicides non résolus, on retrouve le chiffre astronomique de 66 règlements de comptes en quatre ans seulement, soit tout prés de 50 pour cent des crimes non résolus.
En fait, durant ces quatre annees, on n’a resolu et condamne que sept personnes en relation avec des reglements de comptes au sein de la pègre. Les enquêteurs, dans ce type d’homicide, ne sont donc efficaces qu’à environ 10 pour cent, ce qui est très loin de la moyenne générale d’efficacité qui est de près de 60 pour cent.
Nos enquêteurs se retrouvent tou ois avec un dossier légèrement supérieur lorsqu’i s’agit de meurtres crapuleux.
Depuis quatre ans, on signale que 37 meurtres crapuleux, commis au cours de vols à main armée, de cambriolages, d’attentats sur la personne ou lors d’assauts pour voler, n’ont pas été résolus. Mais, en quatre ans, on signale environ 80 meurtres de ce genre. La moyenne des causes solutionnées est donc légèrement supérieure à 50 pour cent, surtout que cinq de ces meurtres ont été perpétrés sur des policiers et ont tous été résolus.
Par ailleurs, durant ces quatre années terribles de nos dossiers criminels, on s’aperçoit que les sadiques qui ont tué 15 jeune filles ou enfants pour satisfaire des instincts pervers sont toujours au large. Seulement meurtres de ce type ont été résolus durant cette période, soit moins de 30 pour cent.
Enfin, il reste deux homicides que l’on ne peut cataloguer parce que trop mystérieux.
Il faut donc en conclure que les meurtriers qui peuvent le plus facilement échapper aux enquêteurs- policiers sont les tueurs de a pégre et les sadiques.
Nous faisons remarquer a nos lecteurs que nous avons évité volontairement de tenir compte des homicides commis au cours de la présente année, afin de donner une chance a nos enquéteurs de se pencher plus longuement sur les dossiers.
Il ne reste donc qu’une question à se poser: nos policiers sont-ils moins bons qu’auparavant?
Non! Au contraire. Nos policiers actuels sont aussi intelligents et bien entraînés que leurs prédécesseurs. Le probléme réside dans leur petit nombre et les modifications à notre code criminel qui font de ce livre le “protecteur du criminel plutot que du citoyen”.
Les escouades des homicides, qu’elles soient de Montréal ou de la Sûreté du Québec, n’ont augmenté leurs effectifs que de 15 pour cent environ depuis cinq ans. Le nombre des meurtres, par ailleurs, a triplé depuis quatre ans. Tirons-en donc les conclusions qui s’imposent!
Point n’est besoin de dire que les policiers ne prisent guère l’attitude de la Couronne, ou du ministère de la Justice, qui, depuis trois ans, multiplie les “cadeaux aux criminels” afin d’épargner de l’argent.
En 1970, le ministère de la Justice a en effet accepté uñe première. Un meurtrier, qui n’aurait pu être condamné sans une longue enquéte et d’onéreuses procédures judiciaires, obtenait la permission de plaider coupable à une accusation d’homicide involontaire. On évitait ainsi un procès devant jury et une enquête qui aurait pu s’avérer aride.
C’était la première fois au Québec qu’on invitait ainsi un meurtrier à n’expier son crime que de quelques années de prison.
Cette cause-type semble avoir plu aux procureurs de la Couronne puisqu’en 1971, au moins 17 meurtriers ont ainsi évité le procès et des peines d’emprisonnement à vie, en plaidant coupable à des accusations d’homicides involontaires.
Cette année, ce nombre dépassera probablement 20 causés.
“Pourquoi enquéterions- nous durant des semaines et des mois sur certaines causes, sachant que la Justice permettra au meurtrier d’être libéré sous cautionnement, de plaider coupable à une accusation moindre et de ne passer que trois ans en prison pour un homicide souvent horrible? C’est notre système judiciaire qui est pourri: un système qui permet aux politiciens de voter des lois protégeant les criminels plutôt que la société, sous la pression d’une population trop sensible et ignorante des dangers qui l’entourent,” nous a affirmé un enquêteur désabusé.
Une conclusion à tirer: nos enquêteurs ne sont pas incompétents, c’est la Justice qui est… injuste.”
GERARD ASSELIN, LE PETIT JOURNAL – 10 DECEMBRE, 1972
“Une société peut- elle se permettre de ne pas tenter, par tous les moyens à sa disposition, de faire payer leurs crimes aux tueurs d’enfants? C’est ce que l’on peut se demander devant le piètre dossier policier au Québec dans ce domaine.
On sait pertinemment dans la population, que les enquêteurs, qu’ils soient de la Sûreté du Québec ou de cel- le de Montréal, se préoccupent très peu des assassinats impliquant des règlements de comptes au sein de la pêgre. En fait, les policiers font, dans de tels cas, une petite enquête de routine, ouvrent un dossier… et le laissent dans cet état jusqu’à ce qu’on l’oublie ou que ie coupable se livre: ce qui est très rare. C’est pour- quoi plus de 95% des règlements de comptes ne sont jamais officiellement résolus!
De quelles catégories de meurtriers nos enquêteurs s’occupent-ils alors? C’est ce que l’on peut se demander en constatant que les tueurs d’enfants, au Québec. demeurent impunis dans la majorité des cas.
Nos dossiers nous démontrent en effet que depuis un peu plus de deux ans, les assassins qui ont mis fin à la vie d’enfants s’en sont tirés à très bon compte. lis sont presque tous au large.
Précisons d’abord que nous n’insérons pas dans les tueurs d’enfants les parents ayant pratiqué l’infanticide par dépression nerveuse ou crise de folie. En 1971, on a dénombré 13 meurtres du genre ayant fait 16 victimes. En 1970, il y eut 13 victimes. Dans tous les cas, les parents se sont livrés à la police ou se sont suicidés. Alors, les policiers n’eurent pas à faire enquête.
LES PLUS ODIEUX
Par contre, durant les quelque deux dernières années, les meurtres les plus crapuleux et les plus odieux ont eu des enfants pour victimes et, pourtant, les responsables courent encore dans la presque totalité des cas.
Citons quelques cas de meurtres non éclaircis:
En septembre 1971, on retrouvait dans un boisé de Hull, le corps du petit Gilles Leblanc. Agé de 10 ans, l’enfant avait été poignardé à trois reprises et son crâne fut fracassé avec une pierre par un ou plusieurs inconnus qui l’avaient plus tôt enleve pour une rançon de $3,000. Son meurtrier court toujours.
Toujours à Hull, à la mi- septembre 1972, on retrouvait le corps nu de la petite Lucie Dore, âgée de 13 ans. dans un autre boisé. Son meurtrier court toujours.
En février 1971, à Drummondville, disparaissait à 14 ans, Alice Paré, une jolie fillette dont le corps ne fut retrouvé que trois mois plus tard dans un bois. Son meurtrier court toujours.
En septembre 1969, à Montréal-Nord, on retrouvait en bordure d’une petite route le corps affreusement mutilé de Teresa Martin, âgée de 14 ans. Son meurtrier court toujours.
En juillet 1970, à Saint- Lin, un citoyen était horrifié en découvrant le corps de Danièle Thomas, âgée de 17 ans, tuée par un sadique “en chaleur”. Son meurtrier court toujours.
Enfin, le cas le plus pathétique: en juin dernier, Chantal De Mongaillard, âgée de 4 ans, de Saint- Hubert, disparaissait mystérieusement. On sait qu’elle est morte. Mais, son meurtrier court toujours.
Avant d’analyser ces enquêtes, penchons-nous sur les cas qui ont été solutionnés.
De juin 1969 au début de 1970, quatre jeunes Montréalaises – Norma Vaillancourt, Shirley Audette, Marielle Archambault et Jean Way – étaient étranglées, violées et mutilées. Leur meurtrier, Bill, fut appréhendé à Winnipeg a la suite d’un autre assassinat semblable, il y a huit mois, et a avoué son crime et les quatre précédents. A Montréal. nos enquêteurs ont vite crié “nous avons retrouvé Bill”, alors même qu’ils publiaient depuis des mois une photo qui n’avait rien à voir avec le vrai meurtrier. Par ailleurs, ils ont avoué avoir interrogé ce dernier à la suite de la mort de la jeune Audette, et l’avoir laissé libre, a titre de non-suspect…
Par contre, les meurtriers de jeunes filies sont encore nombreux en liberté. Citons les meurtres d’Aline Travers et de Suzanne Mercier en juin 1969, à Saint-Romuald, ceux de Suzanne Gilbert et Denise Picard à Saint-Simon (dont le meurtrier prèsumé à pu mourir naturellement et en paix), de Lynda Blanchette de Saint-Lazare, ceux de Louise Pinsonneault et Jean Eagle de Caughnawaga, de Claudia Beauvais a Verdun, et combien d’autres. Mais, passons outre.
Pour faire oublier ces assassinats, les policiers nous citeront quelques cas résolus. Entre autres, les meurtres de Chantal Côté et de Carole Marchand, de Cap-de-la-Madeleine, tuées en juillet ‘71. Un des meurtriers, Michel Joly, avait laissé ses empreintes sur son automobile tombée en panne près la tragédie. Enquête facile et rapide.
UNE SEULE CAUSE
A notre connaissance, un seul meurtrier d’enfant a été appréhendé et condamné à l’issue d’une enquête ardue. Il s’agit du fossoyeur qui, en 1960, tuait Denise Therrien, à Shawinigan. Il ne fut capturé que cinq ans après son crime, et après avoir fait disparaitre une deuxième victime: sa concubine,
Il y eut bien, au début des années 1950, le meurtrier du petit Gilles Trudeau, qui avait tué et dépecé l’enfant, sur la montagne, qui fut appréhendé et pendu. Mais le meurtrier avait avoué son crime à un ami pour “quelques verres d’al- cool”.
Mais, qu’en est-il des meurtriers des deux ou trois dernières années? Presque impossible de le savoir.
Partout où nous avons appelé, on nous a dit “que l’enquête se poursuivait”.
A Montréal-Nord, un adjoint à la Sûreté nous a affirmé, après nous avoir fait répèter le nom à “deux reprises” que le dossier Teresa Martin était ouvert.
A Hull, on a déclaré à haute voix que les dossiers de Gilles Leblanc et Lucie Doré étaient ouverts.
A Drummondville, c’est sans ambage qu’on nous a laissé entendre que le meurtrier de Alice Paré serait capturé et que le dossier était ouvert.
A Saint-Hubert, désespère pas de faire avouer le meurtrier de Chantal De Mongaillard, dont le dossier est ouvert.
Et la SQ ne laissera jamais courir les assassins de Danièle Thomas, d’Aline Travers, de Suzanne Mercier et de tant d’autres, dont les dossiers sont ouverts. Ces déclarations devraient donc apaiser les craintes de la population… a moins que l’on explique ce qu’est un dossier ouvert.
Dossier ouvert est tout simplement le terme qu’utitisent nos corps policiers pour qualifier une cause de meurtre que l’on n’a pu solutionner dans les jours suivants le crime. Après les interrogatoires de rigueur, en effet, si on n’a pas découvert le meurtrier et si ce dernier n’a pas été dénoncé par un délateur, les policiers placent déclarations et piéces à conviction dans une chemise et la classent.
Les enquêteurs sont alors divertis vers une autre cause. Ils ne reprendront I’enquête que si une nouvelle information inattendue vient s’ajouter au dossier. Sans quoi, les ou le meurtrier n’ont qu’à se fermer la gueule et à recommencer.
NB: — La semaine prochaine, nous ferons une analyse des meurtres réellement solutionnés par enquétes au Québec. Les forces policières affirment que les deux tiers des assassins sont Mais, lorsqu’il y à vraiment enquête, ce pourcentage est-il toujours aussi élevé? Nos policiers sont-ils vraiment de bons enquêteurs? C’est ce que l’on verra!
“Les meurtres aussi sadiques que ceux signalés à Cap-de-la-Madeleine, en fin de semaine dernière, sont d’autant plus répugnants que, de tous les types de crimes commis au Québec, ce sont ceux qui demeurent le plus souvent impunis.
En fait. ce genre de crime est trés rarement resolu. Il comporte des difficultés sans nombre pour les emquéteurs qui ne doivent leur succes qu’à un témoignage direct ou à une faute irréparable du ou des meurtriers en cause.
Depuis deux ans, on à signalé au moins dix cas de Jeunes auto-stoppeuses du Québec qui ont êté assaillies, le plus souvent violées et finalement assassinées. Les sadiques qui les avaient assaillies faisaient ainsi disparaitre la seule preuve vatable: le témoignage de la victime.
Le seul de ces dix cas qui ait été vengé depuis deux ans est celui de Nicole Demers de Drummondville qui en compagnie de Marie-Claire Bouchard, héla un camion sur la Transcanadienne. Sous la menace d’un couteau, les deux jeunes filles furent soumises aux instincts bestiaux de leur assaillant puis poignardées et jetées dans un bois près de Québec. Heureusement. la jeune Bouchard survécut à ses blessures et identifia l’assaillant qui fut récemment condamné.
Sadiques en liberté
Les sadiques qui ont tue les neuf autres victimes sont toutefois tous au large. Combien sont ils? Nul ne le sait! On croit toutefois que certains de ces meurtres sadiques sont l’œuvre d’une mème personne.
La répugnante execution de Chantal Côté et de Carole Marchand. à Cap de la Madeleine rappelle étrangement un double meurtre survenu à Québec il y a deux ans. Aline Travers et Suzanne Mercier, deux jeunes Beauceronnes de 18 ans vivant à Quebec, étaient vues pour la dernière fois en faisant du pouce sur la Grande Allée à Québec. On retrouvait leurs corps dans un boisé de Saint Romuald quelques jours plus tard. Elles avaient été sexuellement assaillies mais portaient leurs vêtements lors de la macabre découverte. Elles avaient été exécutées toutes deux d’une balle dans la tete comme les martyres du Cap. Ces meurtres sont ils reliés?
Un autre attentat double fit une vicime et une blessée très grave il y a plus d’un an. Deux jeunes Américaines de la Californie visitant le Québec sur le pouce. Peggy Coleman, 17 ans, et Anne Jones, 18 ans, montaient bord d’une voiture à Saint Hubert. Un peu plus tard elles étaient éjectées de cette voiture en marche pres de l’Acadie. La jeune Coleman était tuee sur le coup et sa compagne grièvement blessée. Cette dernière avait perdu tout souvenir de l’aventure et fut longuement hospitalisée. Elle était de retour à Montreal récemment pour tenter d’identifier ses assaillants dans les filières de la police locale ou de la SQ. On n’a pas encore donné les résultats de ces recherches.
Deux autres meurtres de jeunes filles. et même un troisième, survenus dans le nord de la Métropole peuvent aussi être l’oeuvre d’une seule et même personne.
Le dernier en date est celui de la jeune Brigitte Parker, 21 ans, de la rue St Hubert a Montréal, dont le corps fut retrousé il y a un mois à Saint Lin.
La jeune fille fut prise à bord d’une soiture dans le nord de la Metropole pour être tuée d’un coup d’objet non identifié qui lui a fra cassé le crâne. Son corps à été retrouvé a quelques milles seulement de celut de Danièle Thomas, ägée de 22 ans, qui fut retrouvée nue et Ie dans un ruisseau près d’une ferme de cette region il y a un an. La jeune Danièle avait aussi eu le crâne défoncé et avait ête prise à bord d’une voiture dans ie nord de Montréal, probablement dans Ahuntsic.
Une troisième peut-être?
L’assaillant de ces deux jeunes filles, s’il est le même individu, pourrait aussi étre responsable de la mort de la petite Theresa Martin, âgée de 16 ans de Montréal Nord. C’est dans le mème secteur que les deux précédentes victimes, que Thèresa est montée à bord d’une voiture soit sur le boulevard Henri Bourassa. Elle ne fut pas assaillie sexuellement puisque son meurtrier semble l’avoir tuee prématurément. Souffrant d’un fort rhume de poitrine, elle fut asphyxiee probablement alors que le tueur lui appliquait la main sur le visage, couvrant bouche et nez pour l’empêcher de crier. Son corps fut depose sur un trottoir pres d’une taverne de Montréal Nord. Le sadique avait toutefois eu le temps d’inscrire au couteau sur son ventre les initiales “FL” et les mots “Frenchy I love You”.
Le cas de la petite Alice Pare.,14 ans, est encore plus enigmatique. Au debut de février, par une froide sonrée, elle quitta une amie en sortant de son école de musique pour se rendre à une cabine téléphonique et disparaitre. On devait retrouver son corps au printemps seulement recroque ville sous un arbre dans un boisé de Sainte Clothilde de Horton.
Enfin, l’affaire qui lit couler le plus d’encre fui certainement le double meurtre des petites Denise Picard, 16 ans, et Susanne Gilbert, 17 ans, assaillies. violees et etranglees à Saint Simon dans le Bas du Fleuve. Le mystere demeure toujours complet dans cette affaire malgre un proces retentissant.
A cette liste de dix victimes tuées sadiguement apres être montees de gre ou de force à bord de vortures, il faudrait peut être ajouter les quatre victimes du désor mais célèbre Etraneleur de Montreal, l’enigmatique Américain Bill qui est tou jours recherche. Ses victimes toutes âgées de moins de 25 ans, ont ête tuees dans leurs appartements vu il avait reussi à s‘introduire. Jean Way, Norma Vaillancourt, Murielle Archambault et Shirley Audet ont toutes ete tuees par etranglement avant d’être violées.
Combien de victimes dénombrera ton encore avant que ces trois, quatre où cinq assassins soient capturés et mis hors d’état de nuire?”
The article focused mainly on the 1971 murders of Marchand and Cote, two school friends who went missing on a blueberry picking excursion near their homes in Cap-de-la-Madelaine, about 75 miles northeast of Montreal. Their bodies were found in the woods near their home the following day, both had been shot in the back of the neck. A young witness said he observed two men driving a black Buick speeding away from the scene. 27-year-old Ludger Delarosbil would eventually receive a life sentence for the murders. His accomplice, Michel Joly “committed suicide” in a field near Montreal shortly after the murders. At trial Ludger, of course, said it was his dead partner who did all of the shooting. In the initial hours of the investigation the Cap-de-la-Madelaine police chief blamed parents for the chaotic situation admonishing, “I will remind parents of their responsibilities”, and I guess that had something to do with the old chestnut, ‘Remind your children not to talk to strangers‘. 13-year-old Carole Marchand and 12-year-old Chantal Cote were two girls picking blueberries in a cul-de-sac in their neighborhood. Delarosbil and Joly were repeat offenders, their folie à deux spawned while serving time together in the Bordeaux jail. No parent can protect children from that, that is the job of law enforcement.
In the matter of Theresa Martin, Le Petit Journal wondered if the case might be linked to two other then recent murders from the Montreal North area. Brigitte Parker went missing in May 1971 while leaving a residence in Ahuntsic. Her body was found, May 20th, 1971 near Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines. She had been killed by a blow to the back of the head. This was reminiscent of another recent murder. Daniele Thomas’ naked body had been found the prior year, raped and dumped by a stream near Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines. She had also been struck on the head, and was last seen near Ahuntsic. At the time of publication, July 1971, the “Sadique Meurtier”, Wayne Boden had not been apprehended, so Le Petit Journal added Jean Way, Norma Vaillancourt, Shirley Audette and Murielle Archambault to the mounting number of unsolved murders and wondered how many victims would be claimed before the, “three, four, or five murderers are captured and put out of harm’s way?”
But Le Petit Journal wasn’t done. In December 1972 they published an expose, “NOS POLICIERS INCOMPETENTS? – DES MEURTRES ODIEUX QUI NE SERONT JAMAIS RESOLUS” (Cliquez ici pour l’article original en français). Penned by Gerard Asselin, the piece is so good – and pretty much lost to history – that I am going to print the whole thing:
“Can a society afford not to try, by all means at its disposal, to make child killers pay for their crimes? This is what one wonders in the face of the poor police record in Quebec in this area.
We know very well that the investigators, whether they are from the Sûreté du Québec or that of Montreal, care very little about assassinations involving the settling of scores within the criminal world. In fact, the police are doing in such cases, a little routine investigation – they open a file, then leave it in this state until it is forgotten or the culprit turns up: which is very rare. This is why more than 95% of cases are never officially resolved.
What types of murderers do our investigators deal with then? This is what we ask ourselves when we see that the killers of children in Quebec go unpunished in the majority of cases. Our research shows us, in fact, that for a little over two years, the murderers who put an end to the lives of children have done very well. Let us first clarify that we do not include as child killers parents who have practiced infanticide through nervous breakdown or insanity. In 1971, there were 13 such murders resulting in 16 victims. In 1970, there were 13 victims. In all cases, the parents turned themselves over to the police or committed suicide. So the police did not have to investigate.
On the other hand, during the last two years or so, the most villainous and the most heinous murders have had children for victims and, yet, those responsible are still not apprehended in almost all unsolved murder cases. Here are some examples:
In September 1971, the body of Gilles Leblanc was found in a wooded area in Hull. The 10-year-old child had been stabbed three times and his skull was smashed with a stone by one or more strangers who had earlier kidnapped him for a ransom of $ 3,000. The murderer is still on the loose.
Also in Hull, in mid-September 1972, the naked body of 13-year-old Lucie Dore was found in another wooded area. The murderer is still on the loose.
In February 1971, in Drummondville 14-year-old Alice Paré disappeared, a pretty girl whose body was not found until three months later in the woods. The murderer is still on the loose.
In September 1969, in Montreal-North, the terribly mutilated body of 14-year-old Teresa Martin was found on the side of a small road. The murderer is still on the loose.
In July 1970, in Saint-Lin, a citizen was horrified when he discovered the body of Danièle Thomas, aged 17, killed by a crazy sadist. The murderer is still on the loose.
Finally, the most pathetic case: last June. Chantal De Montgaillard, 4 years old, from Saint-Hubert, mysteriously disappeared. We know she’s dead. But, her murderer is still on the loose.
Before analyzing these investigations, let us look at the cases that have been solved.
From June 1969 to the beginning of 1970, four young Montrealers, Norma Vaillancourt, Shirley Audette, Marielle Archambault and Jean Way were strangled, raped and mutilated. Their murderer, “Bill”, was apprehended in Winnipeg following another similar assassination eight months ago and confessed to this crime and the four others. In Montreal. our investigators quickly shouted “we have found Bill”, even though they had been posting for months a photo that had nothing to do with the real killer. Moreover, they confessed to having questioned “Bill” following the death of Shirley Audette, but they let him go free, as a non-suspect … On the other hand, the murderers of many other young people – many girls – are still free. The murders of Aline Travers and Suzanne Mercier in June 1969 in Saint-Romuald, those of Suzanne Gilbert and Denise Picard in Saint-Simon, of Lynda Blanchette in Saint-Lazare, those of Louise Pinsonneault and Jean Eagle in Caughnawaga, and of Claudia Beauvais in Verdun. And how many others?
But, let’s move on. To make people forget these assassinations, the police will give us a few resolved cases. Among others, the murders of Chantal Côté and Carole Marchand, of Cap-de-la-Madeleine, killed in July ‘71. One of the murderers, Michel Joly, had left his prints on his car after it broke down. A quick and easy investigation.
To our knowledge, only one child murderer has been apprehended and sentenced following an investigation. This is the gravedigger who in 1960, killed Denise Therrien in Shawinigan. He was not captured until five years after the crime, and only after having murdered a second victim: his roommate.
There was indeed, at the beginning of the 1950s, the murderer of Gilles Trudeau, who had killed and butchered a child. He was caught and hanged. But the murderer had confessed his crime to a friend in exchange for “a few drinks of alcohol”.
What about the murderers of the past two or three years? Almost impossible to know. Everywhere we called we were told “the investigation is continuing”. In Montreal-North, an assistant to the Sûreté du Quebec told us – after having made us repeat the name twice – that the Teresa Martin case was open.
In Hull they declared that the files of Gilles Leblanc and Lucie Doré were open. In Drummondville, we were clearly given to understand that the murderer of Alice Paré would be captured and that the case was open. In Saint-Hubert, do not despair of getting a confession on the murder of Chantal De Mongaillard, the file is open. And the SQ will never give up on the cases of Danièle Thomas, Aline Travers, Suzanne Mercier and so many others, whose files are open. These statements should therefore of course calm the fears of the people …
Unless we explain what an open case is. Open case is simply the term used by our police forces to describe a case of murder that could not be solved in the days following the crime. After the rigorous interrogations, in fact, if the murderer has not been discovered and if the latter has not been denounced by a detainee, the police officers place statements and exhibits in a folder and file it. Investigators are then diverted to another cause. They will only resume the investigation if unexpected new information is added to the file. Otherwise, they or the murderer just has to shut their mouths and start over.
Next week, we will do an analysis of the murders actually solved by investigations in Quebec. Police forces claim that two-thirds of the murders are. But when there is a real investigation, is this percentage still too high? Are our police officers really good investigators? This is what we will see!“
“NOS POLICIERS INCOMPETENTS? – DES MEURTRES ODIEUX QUI NE SERONT JAMAIS RESOLUS”, Le Petit Journal, December 10, 1972
Before moving on to the follow-up article, everything we have discussed so far about the Teresa Martin case is contained in this 1972 Petit Journal article. The paper notes how Quebec police took credit for the Boden cases even though they had the wrong guy and it was actually Western investigators who cracked the case. What happened with the Claudia Beauvais case, and all the incidents connected to the Douglas Memorial Psychiatric Institute in Verdun? What’s really disheartening are the promises made in 1972 about cases we’ve talked about here; Teresa Martin, Alice Pare, Chantal De Montgaillard. Police told family and reporters that they would not give up. If you Google any of those cases, over 50 years later – that’s right, most of these were never solved – you will see police making those same hollow promises. Then there is the question of the “open case”. Back in 2006, in the matter of my sister’s murder, “Chantal Mackels, an SQ spokeswoman, confirmed… the cold case is still an open file in the hands of the investigators.” Ya, it’s open like the box of old comic books in my attic are open – no one’s asking about them, I haven’t looked at them in over a decade, but they’re there should I ever want to catch up on Sad Sack and Turok – Son of Stone. An open case is a box where investigators file exhibits, as long as police shut their mouths no one is going to come asking after them.
“Where is the Maigret, Vidocq, Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes of our police services? This is what we asked two weeks ago, deploring the large number of unsolved child murders in our province. and the apparent lack of interest of investigators. Our investigation has prompted us to study the crime files for the past 15 years. The results, we must admit, are gloomy. By comparing certain years, we can see a very significant slackening of police efficiency in Quebec in the area of homicides.
Over a period of 15 years, from 1953 to 1967, a total of 533 murders were recorded in Quebec. Of that number 78 cases remain unsolved, about 15 percent of murders go unpunished. During the last four years – with the death penalty no longer in force – we must have noticed that the number of homicides have skyrocketed. From 1968 to 1971, 399 murders were reported. Of this number, 121 remain unsolved, over 30 percent of all murders in recent years. In light of these statistics, one would therefore conclude that the effectiveness of investigators has decreased by 50 percent because they now leave 30 percent of murders inconclusive, compared to only 15 percent in the years before 1968.
However, it is by categorizing crimes that we can best assess the worth of investigators in our homicide squads. During the past four years, it has been reported that 186 of the 399 murders committed in Quebec were family tragedies or fights. These homicides include infanticides, fatal fights between friends, and homicides committed within a given family or group, or in the presence of witnesses.
182 of these cases were resolved to the complete satisfaction of the police, very often after only a day, or even a few hours of investigation. In fact, these homicides did not require any specific investigation and only required secretaries to take depositions and, sometimes, to relegate the criminals to psychiatrists. In 182 out of 399 cases, the police can therefore be given 100 percent effectiveness. They captured all the child murderers, when the culprits were parents. When the culprits are sadists, it is quite a different story. Of the 217 other homicides, there are 121 unresolved cases – more than 55 percent….
… So there is only one question left to ask: Are our police officers worse than before? No! On the contrary. Our current police officers are as intelligent and well trained as their predecessors. The problem lies in their small number and the modifications to our criminal code which makes this story, “protect the criminal over the citizen”.
The homicide squads, whether from Montreal or the Sûreté du Québec, have only increased their numbers by about 15 percent over the past five years. The number of murders, however, has tripled in the past four years. Let us therefore draw the necessary conclusions!
Needless to say that the police hardly take the attitude of the Crown, or of the Ministry of Justice, which, for three years, has been increasing the number of “gifts to criminals” in order to save money.
In 1970, the Department of Justice accepted a first. A murderer – who could not have been convicted without a lengthy investigation and costly legal process – was granted leave to plead guilty to a charge of manslaughter. This avoided a long, drawn out jury trial and investigation. It was the first time in Quebec that a murderer was thus invited to atone for his crime with only a few years in prison.
This test case seems to have pleased the prosecutors of the crown since in 1971, at least 17 murderers thus avoided trial and the life sentences by pleading guilty to manslaughter. This year, that number will likely exceed 20.
Said one disillusioned investigator, “Why would we investigate for weeks and months on certain cases, knowing that Justice will allow the murderer to be released on bail, to plead guilty to a lesser charge and to spend only three years in prison for an often horrific homicide? It is our judicial system that is rotten: a system that allows politicians to pass laws protecting criminals rather than society, under the pressure of a population that is too sensitive and ignorant of the dangers that surround it.”
One conclusion to be drawn: our investigators are not incompetent, it is Justice that is … unjust.“
Nos Policiers Sont-Ils De Bons Enqueteuers – Gerard Asselin, Le Petit Journal, December 24, 1972
Asselin! Really? You had them down on the mat, why’d you let ’em get back up? The writing at the end of the piece is so suspect – particularly given the beating police received in his first article – I can’t help wonder if editors made him write the last section to let investigators off the hook. Certainly it’s a systemic problem, the whole Quebec justice machine bares responsibility, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Read on…
Almost a decade and a half later little had changed. In March 1985, David Johnston of the Montreal Gazette published an article called, Why Murders Are Unsolved. The tagline was, “Burnout and appointments based on seniority make city’s homicide squad a spent force”. The piece profiled many unsolved murders including that of French-Canadian actress, Denise Morelle; the slaying of three sex trade workers, Francine-Michelle St. Hilaire, Alice Cormier, and Sharon Deslandes; the strangulation death of a middle-aged mother, Therese Guenette; and the sensational child murders of Maurice Viens and Wilton Lubin. With the exception of Denise Morelle, who was a high-profile Quebec actress, none of the other cases have ever been solved. What was true 36 years ago – what was true 49 years ago! – is true today.
The prior year, the Montreal police managed to solve 51 of 84 murders, while their counterparts in Toronto, working with a squad of similar size and resources, solved 56 of 58, provoking one Francophone newspaper – like Le Petit Journal had done 13 years earlier – to cheekily call for the immediate aid of Hercule Poirot.
Many detectives claimed burnout, and complained that they weren’t cut out for homicide work in the first place. The Montreal police force is one of the few in North America where promotions are all police union delegated, meaning appointments to the homicide unit are not based on merit, but seniority:
“Even if you like the guy or not, even if he’s no damn good, you have to take him.”
Emile Boire, former squad commander of the Montreal homicide unit – “Why Murders Are Unsolved”, David Johnston, The Gazette, March 9, 1985
It’s not for a lack of effort by some good cops who want to do the right thing. The homicide squad had tried to bring 10 promising young detectives into the unit, but they all ten were removed on account of union-seniority rules.
In this era the Montreal Police’s resolution rate – in fact, the clearance rate for most Quebec police forces – had been about 60 to 70 percent, well below other law enforcement agencies in Canada ( the problem is well documented in Statistics Canada’s 2005 report on homicide which you may find here). Through the years, Quebec police have addressed the issue with a shrug, blaming Montreal’s high proportion of underworld murders, which they claim are harder to solve, a point that is infinitely debatable – they can be solved, if police have the will to make the effort and do good, old-fashion police work (eg: knock on doors, re-interview witnesses, maybe even step on a few colleagues’ toes).
In fact the Gazette piece cites just that. Police need to do “pavement-beating – knocking on doors, visiting bars and poolrooms, in order to find witnesses. The kind of stuff old-style cops do on TV.”
“A couple of years ago some guy was tied to a chair and beaten (to death) with a table lamp. The first thing the detective did when he arrived was to untie him. What he should have done was cut the rope and send it for fingerprints. And he should have looked at the kind of knot on the rope; it may tell you what kind of work the guy does.”
Former Montreal detective – “Why Murders Are Unsolved”, David Johnston, The Gazette, March 9, 1985
As was the case in 1972 with the Petit Journal article, here police also blamed the justice system and the courts:
“It’s not murder investigations that burn bodies, It’s the court. It’s seeing a case fall through in court.” A former Montreal homicide detective described court pressures this way:
“The most important part is to obtain a confession first from the suspect. Because there are rarely eyewitnesses. If we get one, if we go to court with a confession, defence lawyers question in front of the judge and jury the means we used to obtain it. We’re accused of mistreating the person. That creates the element of doubt the defence needs.”
All members assigned to this unit are dedicated full time to unresolved cases
Last month a made an FOIA request to the Surete du Quebec about their Cold Case Unit. I was curious to know, since its creation in 2004 what it had been up to. In particular, I wanted to know if the unit was still staffed by 26 full-time officers. Here is the response:
“We have carried out the study of your request, received on May 10, 2021, aimed at obtaining various information relating to the Cold Case Unit of the Sûreté du Québec:
1- How many agents are currently assigned to the cold case unit: The Sûreté du Québec has 26 members assigned to unresolved cases. These work within the Disappearances and Unresolved Cases Unit.
2- Among these, are there any who are assigned part-time to other units (patrol , special squads, etc.): All members assigned to this unit are dedicated full time to unresolved cases.
3- Among those who are not full-time, how much time do they spend with responsibilities in unresolved cases (50%? 75% of their time?): Please refer to the answer to point 2.
4- Since 2004, have all the agents responsible for cold case files been 100% assigned to the unit cold case files: Since the creation of this unit in 2004, unresolved cases have taken up 100% of the work of the members who are assigned to these teams.
Commendable. But again, something here does not add up. 26 officers assigned full-time to cold cases since 2004, and only 11 cases solved out of over 600 unsolved murders in the province of Quebec under SQ jurisdiction, over 200 of those posted on their cold case website.
I mean, I get it. Cold cases are hard to solve. You get some low hanging fruit at the beginning, some easy victories. Time is against you. You can’t stop the clock, it’s ticking. But in many ways Quebec has an advantage over other areas in North America. People tend not to leave Quebec. It doesn’t change. It’s not like the rest of English speaking North America where there is opportunity everywhere. An Israel Keyes can travel from Alaska to Chicago to New York to Maine, then back again and go unnoticed. That’s not Quebec. A lot of people are right there where they’ve always been, if the detectives would simply get off their asses and talk to them.
Regarding Teresa Martin, there are a lot of people to talk to in the Montreal North area. For starters, the 14-year-old corner’s witness, Johanne H. There’s all the bikers, especially Yvon Robert, a Satan’s Choice member who lived within minutes of Martin’s home and her dump site. Then there’s Zipper, who witnessed Johanne H’s gang rape. It turns out his name is Normand LeClair, and he too lived in the area, at 8500 25e Avenue. Remember that May 1969 murder of Pierre “Butch” Boucher? That happened in the North End. Butch was stabbed 58 times by three Devil’s Disciples members at Parc des Hirondelles, which is just between Montreal North and Ahuntsic. And what about those other two Ahuntsic murders? Le Petit Journal wondered if those cases might be linked to Teresa Martin. Brigitte Parker went missing in May 1971 while leaving a residence in Ahuntsic. Her body was found, May 20th, 1971 near Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines. Daniele Thomas was also last seen in Ahuntsic. She was found raped beaten and dumped by a stream in 1970, also near Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines. Today the Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines area is known as cottage country for old bikers.
We’ve documented several waves of unsolved murders in Quebec on this podcast. There’s the cluster in the late seventies that includes my sister’s murder, those murders of women form the foundation of the book, Wish You Were Here. Then moving forward, La Presse documented a series of unsolved murders from the 1990s, the “Huit meurtres no resolus dans la region” cases. There’s the “Sadique Meurtier” cases we talked about from the later sixties, many of those cases pointing to the serial killer, Wayne Boden. And now these clusters from the early seventies. Several of these waves were preceded by some provincial crisis – the FLQ crisis, or extreme security measures for the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the emergence of the biker wars at the turn of the millennium – that monopolized the resources of Quebec law enforcement. Or police used those crisis’ as an excuse to shirk their responsibilities, relegating violent crimes against women to the bottom of their priority barrel.
Real Chartrand was given a second chance. Then a third, then a fourth… a fifth, a sixth, a seventh. The career criminal was granted more opportunities to reform than most Quebec offenders. Over and over, judges who sat looking down on Chartrand saw the potential in him and opted for leniency. Chartrand’s first breach of… […]
Here are the links to all 9 episodes on the 1969 unsolved Montreal murder of Teresa Martin: Pattern Recognition – Teresa Martin #1 / WKT5 F.L. FRENCHY I LOVE YOU – Teresa Martin #2 / WKT5 Le Sadique Meurtrier -Teresa Martin #3 / WKT5 La MUQ – Teresa Martin #4 / WKT5 Qu’est-ce que tu… […]
La Presse – Nicolas Bérubé, June 6, 2021 (Original article in French can be found here) More than 50 years after her death, the murder of Teresa Martin has still not been solved. On the night of September 13, 1969, Teresa Martin, a 14-year-old teenager, was found dead leaning against a wall in the parking… […]
PREVIOUS PODCAST: Why Murders Are Unsolved – Teresa Martin #8 / WKT5 CLICK HERE FOR A LINK TO ALL NINE CHAPTERS OF THE TERESA MARTIN SERIES Bus. Morgue. Wallet. Missing Clothing. Journal de Montreal. Don Bosco. Pattern Recognition is a term I borrowed from computer science. It’s used in sequence / spatial analysis and machine… […]
GERALD ASSELIN – LE PETIT JOURNAL, 24 DECEMBRE 1972 “Où sont les Maigret, Vidocq, Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes de nos services policiers? C’est ce que nous demandions il y a deux semaines en déplorant le grand nombre de meurtres d’enfants non résolus dans notre province et le peu d’intérêt apparent des enquêteurs envers les criminels… […]
GERARD ASSELIN, LE PETIT JOURNAL – 10 DECEMBRE, 1972 “Une société peut- elle se permettre de ne pas tenter, par tous les moyens à sa disposition, de faire payer leurs crimes aux tueurs d’enfants? C’est ce que l’on peut se demander devant le piètre dossier policier au Québec dans ce domaine. On sait pertinemment dans… […]
LE PETIT JOURNAL – 25 JUILLET 1971 “Les meurtres aussi sadiques que ceux signalés à Cap-de-la-Madeleine, en fin de semaine dernière, sont d’autant plus répugnants que, de tous les types de crimes commis au Québec, ce sont ceux qui demeurent le plus souvent impunis. En fait. ce genre de crime est trés rarement resolu. Il… […]
PREVIOUS PODCAST: “They are treated just like pigs” – Teresa Martin #7 / WKT5 “The Incompetents: Our Detectives And Police” Le Petit Journal was a lesser known Quebec weekly tabloid. Like Allo Police it featured garish fair in it’s 55 year run, which ended in 1978 – though it tried to stay clear of provincial… […]
This is an interview done in fellowship with friends, John and Sally, two former police detectives from the UK who host the podcast, True Crime Investigators. Here we talk about Who Killed Theresa, what motivates us, and true crime podcasting in general. You can also listen on other podcasting platforms which can be found here:… […]
PREVIOUS PODCAST: “You don’t have a name in your head?” – Teresa Martin #6 / WKT5 NEXT PODCAST: Why Murders Are Unsolved – Teresa Martin #8 / WKT5 In the initial episodes of this podcast of the 1969 unsolved murder of 14-year-old Teresa Martin, many of you wrote to me or commented that the prime… […]