There was a serial killer operating not only in the Eastern Townships in the 1970s, but also in the Montreal region. Call him The Bootlace Killer. Louise Camirand, Helen Monast, Denise Bazinet and Theresa Allore were all most likely strangled by a thin ligature. Camirand with her bootlace, Monast and Bazinet most likely with their shoe laces, and my sister, Theresa Allore with her scarf (she was wearing Chinese slippers with no laces when she disappeared). Because some of these cases extend into the Montreal region, they call into question many other murder investigations from that era that remain unsolved, most notably the unsolved murder of Sharron Prior.
Let me begin by stating that I do not like unifying theories, especially those involving serial killers. But given the explosion in information exchanged due to the Internet in the last 10-years, the communication between the Victims’ families in these cases and the vast amount of cyber-sleuthing, and the fact that within these 10 years Quebec law enforcement has not solved any of these cases; the matter now requires some innovation, imagination and – above all else – simple curiosity. It is time for a fresh approach.
The original investigation
Louise Camirand: Bootlace clearly visable around neck.
When the theory of a serial predator roaming the Eastern Townships was first put forward ten years ago we were only talking about 3 cases; Theresa Allore, Manon Dube and Louise Camirand (for a quick refresher on those cases, check out the Wikipedia site here). What made this theory so compelling was the timing and geographic immediacy of all the crimes. As Geographic Profiler, Kim Rossmo summarized:
“Three murders of low-risk young women in a 19-month period, in such a tight geographic cluster, is highly suspicious, and not likely to be a chance occurrence.”
However, there were differences in some of the circumstances. Dube was a child found fully clothed and the exact cause of her death has never been determined. Allore was most likely strangled, presumably by her scarf . Louise Camirand was the least elusive case; she was clearly strangled by her boot lace, and her boots were never recovered.
The case of Denise Bazinet, to my understanding, has been forgotten. Trawl the internet and you will find one reference to it: The Quebec journaliste, Jacques Guay apparently covered the case in 1977. The case has been sitting in the archives of Allo Police for 35 years where I recently discovered it.
Denise Bizanet: marks of strangulation clearly visable.
Like many of the victims, 23-year-old Denise Bazinet was a low risk female. She worked as a cashier at Saint Hubert barbeque. On the night of her disappearance she was last seen at a local restaurant. She disappeared from Montreal in the Fall of 1977. Her semi-nude body was found on October 24th, 1977 at the side of autoroute 35 near the Chambly Saint-Luc exit, east of La Prairie. Bazinet had been sexually assaulted and strangled. She was wearing her jewelry; a watch, earrings, a ring on her finger. Some of her clothing was found strewn along the shoulder of the road, but some items were missing. She was wearing her right shoe – sport shoes with thick laces – but her left shoe was off and discarded along the road. The crime scene photo of Bazinet clearly shows the thin line along her neck where the mark of strangulation was made, presumably by something thin like her shoe lace. The crime scene is just under 10 miles from Chambly, Quebec where just 6 weeks earlier Helene Monast was found strangled.
Crime scene of Helene Monast
September 11, 1977. Again, a low risk female. She was out with friends the night she disappeared, last seen at a local restaurant, Chez Marius. She was found across the street in a public park along the Chambly canal. Clothing was discarded along side of the body… personal items; a pack of Export A cigarettes, a box of Chiclets. Some articles of clothing were missing, notably her shoes. Investigators asked her family at the time of the discovery whether Helene wore shoes with laces. When Helene’s sister saw the body she noticed a thin line along her neck from stragulation.
Louise Camirand, Denise Bazinet, Helene Monast, and Theresa Allore. Low risk females. All found in wooded or rural settings. Articles of clothing missing. In the case of Camirand, Monast and Allore shoes are missing. Articles of clothing scattered next to the bodies. Jewelry left on most of the victims. All strangled, presumably by thin ligatures like a shoe lace or a scarf.
Crime scene of Denise Bizanet
The addition of Bazinet and Monast to the original 3 cases of Camirand, Dube and Allore extends the geographic radius beyond the Eastern Townships of Quebec to the Montreal region. I believe it a worthy exercise to consider other unsolved homicides from the same era in the same region with similar victimologies. It has been close to 40 years and Quebec police have not been able to advance the resolution of any of these cases, it’s time for some fresh eyes.
24 year old Jocelyne Houle disappeared from the Old Munich bar in downtown Montreal (corner of St. Denis and Dorchester / Rene Levesque) in April 1977, one month after Louis Camirand’s disappearance in Sherbrooke. Her body was found along the side of a rural road in Saint Calixte, North of Laval. She was sexually assaulted and beaten. Articles of clothing were scattered. Her shoes were removed. It is not known how she died, but her autopsy report should be examined to see if the coroner determined she was strangled.
17 year old Johanne Dorion was last seen by a bus driver along 9th avenue in Fabreville, Laval on July 30th, 1977, six weeks before the Monast murder. She was found shortly thereafter five blocks away in a wooded area along the banks of Riviere des Mille Iles. The body was badly decomposed, but she had been stabbed. Note that both Houle and Dorion were nursing students, and Camirand worked at a dental office.
34 year old Hawkes was found in a wooded area next to the Val Royal CN train station on September 20th, 1977, 9 days after the Monast murder, and a month before the Bazinet murder. She was sexually assaulted, beaten and stabbed. Her clothing was stacked about 12 feet from the body. Personal items were missing, including her purse.
Eight possibly related cases. Now let’s pause for a moment. Little of what I have proposed so far is original. I lifted it. In a November 6th, 1977 article on the Denise Bazinet murder, Allo Police implied that six of the cases might be related: Bazinet, Camirand, Houle, Dorion, Monast and Hawkes. But what Allo Police was suggesting was that given the timing – 6 murders in 8 months – the accelerated pace might imply a connection. I am suggesting this, but a further element. Time and place are certainly important; but the victimology is similar: low risk women, rural wooded sites, clothing scattered or missing, strangulation in most cases. And something Allo Police could not have known in the Fall of 1977; there would be / could be more cases, most notably Theresa Allore and Manon Dube. One further disclosure. The Camirand / Dube / Allore connection? That too was not an original idea. Allo Police suggested it by referencing each of the cases in their articles, each time a new body was discovered.
Can we go further?
Having gone this far, why stop there if there are other cold cases that fit the victimology? As I have said, the Quebec police don’t have any new ideas, so let’s consider the following:
15 year old Claudette Poirier disappeared from Drummondville July 27, 1977. Later her bicycle was recovered from the side of a rural road in the area. Nearly 10 years later her bones were recovered in a local camp ground. We don’t know how she died.
17 year old Chantal Tremblay disappeared from Rosemere on July 29, 1977. Her body was recovered 8 months later in Terrebonne. She was murdered, but we don’t know how she died. Her autopsy report should be examined to see if the coroner determined she was strangled.
A murder victim between the ages of 18 and 25 was discovered along chemin de lac in Longeueil on April 2nd, 1977. And given the time and place of this discovery, this then leads back to the consideration of the murder of…
Crime scene of Sharron Prior
Of all these cases, Sharon Prior’s is the most widely known. Given the geography, timing and victimology her case should be considered in these matters. It’s been nearly 40 years, and the Longeueil Police have advanced nothing.
The unidentified victim from 1977 and Sharron Prior were both discovered along Chemin de Lac in Longeueil. Prior went missing from Montreal, and – like Bazinet, Tremblay and Houle – her body was found off the island in the “suburbs”. Prior was found in a wooded area. Her clothing was scattered around the crime scene. There are obstacles with making a connection; Prior is a 1975 case (does that go back too far?). She was savagely beaten; her chest was collapsed, a tooth was driven through her lip. Was she strangled? We don’t know.
But maybe Sharron Prior fought harder. Maybe she resisted her assault more than the others. If you look at the crime scene photos of Camirand, Monast and Prior, it is the same victimology; you think you are looking at the same crime scene.
Is there anything else?
Certainly. The question is, how far forward and backward are you willing to go? What else should be considered? Here are my best / worst ideas:
14 year old Pare disappears from her school in Drummondville in February, 1971. Her body is found in April 1971 in a wooded area near Victoriaville. She had been strangled.
The 12 year old goes missing from Point Saint Charles in Montreal blocks from where Sharron Prior disappeared in March 1981. Her body is discovered soon after in Dorval; raped, stabbed once, and strangled, possibly with a cord or lace. There was always criticism that Manon Dube didn’t fit the profile because she was too young (10 years old). I think the rape and murder of Leakey puts to rest any doubts about who a predator may prey upon.
The following cases are disappearances. They just vanished. We don’t know if they were runaways, or what happened to them:
Johanne Danserault: 16, disappeared from Fabreville, June 1977
Sylvie Doucet: 13, disappeared East Montreal, June 1977
Elizabeth Bodzy: 14, disappeared Laval, July 1977
The police need to look into these cases to determine if they ran away from home, if they were murdered or if they simply “vanished”.
Here is a GIF animation showing locations of disappearances, followed by where bodies were discovered. Worth a thousand words. In the 1970s, someone was moving bodies out of Sherbrooke, and off the island of Montreal:
To see more maps click on this link.
With the exception of Helene Monast, none of these cases are included in the Surete du Quebec’s cold case file for special examination. Quebec law enforcement (SQ, SPVM,Longeueil, RCMP, Laval) all need to work together to consider the evidence in these cases. These cases need to be re-examined as a group of potentially linked sex murders. At the very least, physical evidence from the cases (if any of it still exists) should be re-examined using modern DNA testing, and all the evidence should be cross-referenced to look for potential patterns and links.
(All photos are the property/used courtesy of Allo Police/Section Rouge Média Inc.)