The murder of his sister 40 years ago has sent John Allore on a relentless mission to probe unsolved murders
BY KRISTIAN GRAVENOR – POLICE ADVOCATES JOURNAL OF CANADA
Durham, North Carolina is known for its sprawling tobacco fields
and shady walnut trees, but the town also bears the unusual
claim of being home to one of the best-known analysts of
For almost two decades, accountant John Allore has tirelessly probed
unsolved murders in his ultimate quest to uncover the fate of his sister
Theresa, found dead in the province’s Eastern Townships region in 1979.
Allore generates an incessant stream of podcasts, tweets, Facebook
updates and blog posts – and soon a book from a major publisher –
while fully understanding that his sister’s mysterious death will likely
never be solved.
But the light Allore shines on Quebec’s murder investigations from the past
have exposed an often-shocking pattern of carelessness and indifference.
And although a stern critic of Quebec investigation squads, Allore
remains in regular touch with Quebec provincial police officers, who
dutifully remain cordial and civil in their dealings. Yet the relationship
remains fraught with frustration for Allore, who grew up in Pierrefonds,
a city located in the western fringes of the island of Montreal.
“The relationship will always be — must always be — one-sided,” says
Allore. “Information goes into that big black box and it can never come
out. I can share things with them but they can’t share things with me. But
there’s no choice, they’re the only ones who can solve the investigation.”
Becoming a first-time father in 2001 provided Allore with a sudden and
intense compulsion to examine the mysterious circumstances surrounding
his older sister’s demise.
Theresa Alllore, 19, disappeared outside her dorm room in Compton,
Quebec, several kilometres from her school at Champlain College in
Compton in the Eastern Townships in early November 1978.
A dorm shortage forced many students like Theresa Allore to commute on
a shuttle bus. Missing that bus meant taking a costly taxi or hitchhiking,
something Theresa was known to do.
The street outside the dorms was dark and many students feared
walking home, according to reports from the school paper. As well, a
chronic lack of supervision added much mayhem to the student dorms.
“There are no restrictions, no curfews and especially no parents. They
go wild,” read one school article from the period.
Theresa Allore was found dead clad only in a bra and panties in woods
about one kilometre away from the dorms on April 13, 1979.
Five months in the snow made it difficult to determine a cause of death.
Theresa Allore had not been sexually assaulted, her clothes were not torn
and there was no sign of a struggle, according to police, who suggested
that her death might have been caused by a drug overdose.
John, then only 14, recalls how his family was shattered by the ordeal
that was worsened when police and school administrators speculated
on possible lesbian orgies and LSD parties, none of which jibed with
their knowledge of Theresa.
The Allores hired a private investi-
gator who concluded that the death
was either by a sexual predator or
she was dumped off by students
after a drug overdose.
Police came to no conclusions and little was done to solve the mystery.
Once fired up with the mission of
solving his sister’s tragic death,
Allore traveled to Sherbrooke in
2003 to consult the Sûreté du
Québec’s homicide file but was
disappointed to learn that much
of the information was kept out
of his hands, including a list of
possible suspects, which could
not be shown due to Canada’s
DNA evidence and other possible
clues, police ruefully confessed,
had been tossed out five years
after his sister’s death, due to lack
Police acknowledged that they
were not actively trying to solve the
mystery due to time constraints.
One criminal investigation expert familiar with the case considers the
SQ’s approach a casebook example in a botched investigation.
“The way her body was found showed that the obvious conclusion
was homicide but police didn’t handle it that way,” says Kim
Rossmo, a longtime police investigator-turned criminology professor
“John took years to come to the conclusion that something wasn’t right and he has had success getting government to acknowledge it a homicide but finding the killer will be difficult,” says Rossmo.
“There’s a high probability that it will never be solved, so he should
not set himself up for feelings of failure when he’s got an impossible
Allore’s initially-humble initiative led him to question whether Theresa’s death might have been the work of a serial killer who might have gotten away with many more such killings.
His research grew to a point where he can now recite the chapter and
verse of dozens of women killed throughout Quebec over several
decades. One police official recently expressed surprise to learn that
Allore also has a full-time day job.
From a home office jammed with boxes full of newspaper clippings
and coroners’ files, Allore has painstakingly researched and recorded
over 60 podcasts that mostly focus on the minutiae of women killed
in Quebec In the 1970s.
Each episode features timepiece
music as well as painfully vivid
details of victims pointlessly
massacred as well as the justice
system that all-too-often proved
inadequate to deal with the
Allore’s Who Killed Theresa?
podcast is fueled by information
harvested from old crime press
articles, corners’ reports sent
down from the BANQ library
archives and frequently recount
stories of such villains as
Levis, Quebec-based child-killing
pedophile Guy Field, an inveterate
offender with an IQ of 58. Fields
was known to eat his own
feces and routinely molest any
vulnerable person in his presence,
but in spite of the ample warning
signs, authorities set Fields free
only to have him murder a child
near Quebec City in 1977.
Allore’s meticulous accounts of
such heartbreaking and infuriating
tales have attracted a worldwide
listenership, from London to
New York, to Australia, but
Allore remains unhappy that his
productions haven’t resonated more in Quebec where attention is
“It’s creating an awareness but it’s not meeting the audience it needs
to solve murders,” he says.
In one recent podcast Allore recounts the shocking handling of Diane
Thibault’s murder near Montreal’s Red Light district in 1975.
Thibault was found dead with a burning stick in her vagina near Red Light, a hideous modus operandi that was similar with another unsolved murder from the time, that of Debbie Buck.
So Allore ordered the coroner’s report on Thibault that was far more
costly and extensive than others. He had no idea that the file would
reveal a labyrinth of botched justice.
Following a tip from an acquaintance, police arrested Edmond Turcotte.
Turcotte had a motive and provided details of his misdeed in a confession
he made to a group of Montreal police investigators.
But a judge later set Turcotte free because he considered the suspect’s
IQ to be too low to make a valid confession. The judge also cited possible
irregularities in police questioning by a team that included officer
Jacques Duchesneau, who later rose to head the Montreal police force.
Allore’s podcast episode on the case led Montreal’s La Presse newspaper
to probe the shocking case further. The suspect Turcotte, alas, could not
be located and it remains unclear whether he’s still alive.
From the earliest moments of his quest Allore has forged ties with others who have lost family members, starting with Pierre Boisvenu, whose daughter Julie was murdered after disappearing from Sherbrooke in 2002. The two pushed for more victims’ rights but Boisvenu put his efforts aside after being named to the Canadian Senate.
With such new allies in tow Allore was able to pressure the province
to create a cold case squad to probe what has now risen to over
700 unsolved murders – two thirds of which are difficult-to-solve
underworld slayings — dating back from the 1960s. In In January, 2018,
the cold case squad expanded from four full-time investigators to 30.
The initiative, though noble, has solved only three old murders, all
within the early years of the squad and Allore is impatient for results.
“They’ve done nothing in the last decade. They have to be held
accountable. They haven’t moved the needle,” says Allore.
One tool that police investigators are misusing, Allore argues, is the
hold-back. Police routinely withhold or even release slightly incorrect
details of a crime in order to weed out false confessions or other
False convictions based on those confessions can prove to be a massive
headache and a costly embarrassment for justice systems, as evidenced
in the case of Simon Marshall, a mentally handicapped man who was
imprisoned for five years and recently compensated $2.3 million
following a confession mishap in Quebec City.
Allore argues that there needs to be a statute of limitations on
holdbacks, after 25 years, for example, even though it can taint
“I admit it’s problematic but you live with the trade offs.”
But perhaps the greatest challenge is the issue of lost or discarded
evidence, which has caused many investigations to become virtually
impossible to solve.
Other homicides have proven the use of saving all evidence indefinitely.
For example San Francisco police preserved DNA from 1969, which
recently helped identify a murder victim as Reet Jurvetson, a
Montrealer killed near the ranch that housed the Charles Manson cult.
Allore suspects that Montreal police have misplaced evidence as recently as 1994, as he speculates that there is no other explanation
that police couldn’t crack what appears to be the perfectly solvable
murder of Melanie Cabay, 19, in the city’s Ahuntsic district.
Allore not only criticizes Quebec homicide sleuthing past and present but
even has a take on its future. One recent proposal has it that municipal
squads would pass their unsolved cases onto the larger and better-
equipped provincial police after a period of time to be determined.
“If they go through with that plan, agencies will simply run out the
clock, they’ll do nothing and toss it over the wall to the SQ. How nobody
has caught onto this is beyond me.”
If Allore seems a little intense, don’t blame grief, as he insists that his
reservoir of motivation does not stem from a refusal to accept the death
of his sister.
“Closure and grief are not what drives me,” he says. “It’s the incom-
petence and possible criminal negligence of the Sûreté de Québec.
They have left me angry and bitter due to the insensitivity towards
myself and other families.”
He is also moved by the thrill of hunting down killers, with little eurekas
“You become a little addicted to risk and adrenaline. Making those little
discoveries about cases and information lost and found again becomes
The effort, he notes, has come at a cost. After putting up with his
obsession for a couple of years Allore’s wife Elizabeth confronted
him to ask how long he planned to keep his quest going.
“When does it end?” she asked.
“I told her that if I put an end to this I will be letting Theresa die, just
like she died in 1978.”
“That was the trigger. I had clearly chosen. I didn’t choose advocacy
and investigation over my children but I chose it over my marriage.”
Within three years the couple had split.
Allore’s work ethic might be the result of a lofty academic pedigree
launched when he followed a girlfriend to attend Trinity College, one
of the seven colleges of the University of Toronto.
Allore’s graduating class included Malcolm Gladwell, Andrew Coyne and Nigel Wright. But Allore, who interviewed Gladwell on a recent podcast, remains humble about his role in the golden generation of the school. “I was just along for the ride and had no idea that I’d be alongside Canada’s establishment.”
He has since buttressed his education with a Masters in Criminal Justice
that has better equipped him with his endless research.
The course made Allore a big admirer of the FBI’s Uniform Statistics
on Crime, a resource that offers information on every unsolved murder
between 1974 and 2016. A similar StatsCan initiative missed its
chance at duplicating its efficacy, he rues, by failing to classify crimes
by race and gender.
Allore is not holding his breath for Quebec’s new justice minister to
suddenly take interest in his plea to launch a public inquiry into the
unsolved murders, with specific emphasis on how and why precious
evidence was discarded.
And he sees little cause for optimism in the efforts of Marc Bellemare,
a Quebec City lawyer who served briefly as Justice Minister in the Jean
Charest Liberal government before becoming a leader in the quest for
victims’ rights. “He’s always there when the cameras are rolling but he
hasn’t advanced a single initiative.”
Quebec’s justice establishment might have given Allore the cold
shoulder but he still has one card left up his sleeve. Early in 2018,
Allore, along with longtime National Post journalist – and close
friend — Patricia Pearson inked a deal to pen a book about his quest.
Allore’s inaugural authorial effort is finally forcing him to slow down
his content – and even remove items from his site — as his publishers
have asked him not to expose information that would otherwise seem
fresh for his book, due in late 2020.
Allore, however, seems unable to resist giving away the ending. “The
bad guy is the investigating force.”
“What I see is a complete lack of consistency and urgency to solve
these crimes in what would be an acceptable timeline.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: On January 19, Montreal Police Director Sylvain Caron
held a press conference to announce a major restructuring of resources
within his department, adding that a special team of investigators will
be created in conjunction with the provincial police to resolve some
800 unsolved murders. He credited John Allore and his tireless work
for pushing the department to create the new task force.
— Kristian Gravenor is a longtime Montreal journalist, historian
and author of Montreal 375 Tales of Eating, Drinking, Living and
Loving. He has written extensively on Canadian crime on his site