The 1975 murder of Sharron Prior is discussed, and the significance of Highway 112 which is the route between Sherbrooke and Montreal:
Route 112 from Pointe-Saint-Charles to Chambly:
Sharron Prior crime scene:
Here’s our interview with Kristian Gravenor, author of the soon to be released MONTREAL: 375 TALES.
This is Episode 6 of the Who Killed Theresa? podcast:
Here are links to some things we discussed including Coolopolis, Montreal Biker Gangs (including legendary figure Michael French), the Reet Jurvetson case, Sharon Prior, Norma O’brien / Debbie Fisher and the Chateauguay Full Moon Killer murders, the Montreal tabloid Allo Police:
Maurice “The Rocket” Richard:
A show about the criminal investigative failure of the death of Theresa Allore from the Eastern Townships of Quebec. In this episode we focus on the murders of Manon Dube and Louise Camirand:
Yes, that’s right, I’ve started a podcast. Episode 1 is now up and running.
Still working out some kinks, but have a listen:
The Montreal Police have destroyed all physical evidence in the unsolved murder of Katherine Hawkes.
A relative of Katherine’s recently contacted the Montreal police to receive an update on the “investigation”. The SPVM confirmed that the case is still an active investigation. When asked about the physical evidence the investigator responded,
“… there is no usable evidence at this point.”
Interpret “usable” as anything of Katherine’s that might have come into physical contact with her assailant, or anything left behind by the assailant, so:
It’s all gone. The police disposed of all of it.
And then there were five
This brings the confirmed number of cases from this era where evidence was destroyed to five (5), and adds the Montreal police to the growing list of police forces that engaged in this practice. The cases are:
Sharron Prior (Longeueil police)
Manon Dube (Surete du Quebec)
Theresa Allore (Surete du Quebec)
Roxanne Luce (Longeueil police)
Katherine Hawkes (Montreal police)
Recall that these three forces have the lowest homicide clearance rates in the country over a 30 year period, a measure that is not likely to improve if they continue to engage in this practice (we suspect there are many more cases where evidence was destroyed).
And how is this relevant to today? Just yesterday the case of a 44 year old St-Laurent man accused of the sexual assault and attempted murder of an 11 year old girl was almost tossed out of court because Montreal police made the catastrophic error of destroying the physical evidence during the trial:
“The trial was derailed, however, after it came to light a Montreal police sergeant had destroyed the skipping rope, the girl’s torn bra and about eight other pieces of evidence. The officer in question had confused the case with another in which the evidence had been ordered destroyed. “
When question a Montreal police spokesperson responded that ” procedures have been “reviewed and corrected” in an effort to prevent such an error from happening again.”
Excuse me, but over a 40 year period how many chances are the Quebec police going to receive to offset their systemic blunders?
Contrast this with news that broke yesterday of the identification of a 47 year old cold case in Los Angeles, California. Jane Doe #59 was stabbed 150 times in Laurel Canyon. It has long been suspected that Jane Doe #59 may have been a victim of the Mason Family Murders, but with no identification police were not able to advance the case. Recently Kristian Gravenor over at the blog Coolopolis was deftly able to put the pieces together and identified Jane Doe #59 as former Montrealer, Reet Jurvetson who left the city for LA in 1969. Police were then able to match DNA from Jane Doe #59 with DNA from Reet’s sister, and made a positive identification.
Of course this successful outcome was only possible because the LAPD kept Jane Doe #59’s DNA on file for 47 years. To our minds this only seems logical: if a case is not solved, you keep the evidence.
God only knows what seems logical to the Quebec police.
Here’s another thing. This wasn’t a case of a family hanging on for 47 years in the pursuit of justice. Reet’s parents are long deceased. They never even filed a missing persons report. The case was solved because the police – with the assistance of some very able websleuths – were determined to never give up on Jane Doe #59.
No one deserved the horrible fate of Reet Jurvetson. But if she had to die, it was fortunate that this Montrealer met her end in a place where law enforcement respect their duties and responsibilities.
If she had died in Montreal under the same circumstances Reet Jurvetson would never have been identified.
Here’s a brief timeline of events and an updated map on Katherine Hawkes (you can see the complete story on Hawkes here):
September 20, 1977
Here again is the audio of the call:
September 21, 1977
September 23, 1977
(Thanks to Kevin for upgrading my mapping skills.)
This is the audio from an interview I did a couple of weeks ago in Montreal with Kate McGillivray of CBC Radio Montreal. The interview aired on Monday, April 18th, 2016. I would call it one of the best of the interviews on these matters, simply because Kate was a very skilled host, and took the time to slowly understand the story:
In this interview there is discussion of the original Who Killed Theresa? casse, the Denise Bazinet case as the glue between Montreal and the Eastern Townships, and Stephan Parent’s initiative to make a film focusing on seven of these cold-cases.
I am also linking an interview I did with Canadian journalist, Rob Tripp on his podcast, CanCrime. This was done about a month ago:
Finally, this is a brief five minute spot I did with Barry Morgan from CJAD that aired April 19, 2016:
The CBC’s Joanne Bayly did an unexpected follow-up story; it’s really good so I’m going to simply post the whole thing.
To recap: Yes, I was in Quebec a few weeks ago, apart from meeting with the SQ (more on that later), we had a meeting with several victim families. With the help of Stephan Parent and Marc Bellemare we came up with a a series of reforms to present to current Quebec Minister of Public Security, Martin Coiteux.
The families present / who met were: Sharron Prior, Johanne Dorion, Lison Blais, Denise Basinet, Helene Monaste, Roxanne Luce.
A note on the article: That the SQ can’t confirm their own measure of the number of homicides in 1977, 1978 speaks to the problem. The numbers are well documented in StatsCan’s 2005 report on crime, which delved specifically into homicide (I believe my numbers were off by 1):
The relatives of eight women who suffered violent deaths in the 1970s and early 1980s are calling on Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux to call a public inquiry into policing methods in the province.
- Who killed Theresa Allore? SQ reopens investigation into 1978 cold case
- Sûreté du Québec looks for clues in Nathalie Godbout cold case
- Quebec police reopen 1989 homicide cold case
For decades, those families have honoured the memory of their lost sisters and daughters, waiting for a call from police to confirm an arrest and, in some cases, becoming detectives themselves.
Now their hope has been renewed through the efforts of a Quebec filmmaker, Stéphan Parent, who is making a documentary about seven of those women, tentatively entitled Sept Femmes.
“We found [much] evidence was destroyed by police,” Parent said.
Parent, who began investigating the unsolved homicide of 16-year-old Sharron Prior, noticed a pattern in other cold cases from the same era: destroyed evidence, relatives whose calls went unanswered, police forces that failed to communicate with one another.
Parent contacted former Liberal justice minister Marc Bellemare to help the families build a case for an inquiry.
The missing girls and women
The late 1970s were not an easy time to be a teenage girl or young woman in Quebec. Month after month, another was reported missing – and then found dead.
- Pointe–Saint-Charles: March 1975. Sharron Prior, 16, was on her way to have pizza with friends at a restaurant five minutes from her home. Her body was found three days later in the snow in Longueuil. No one has ever been arrested.
- Chateauguay, two teenage girls are found killed: 12-year-old Norma O’Brien in July 1974 and 14-year-old Debbie Fisher in June 1975. A young man, a minor, confesses to the killings, though his name and the details are still cloaked in mystery.
- Sherbrooke, March 1977: 20-year-old Louise Camirand is found in the snow, 11 days after stopping at a convenience story to buy milk and cigarettes. Her killer is never found.
- Montreal, June 1978: 17-year-old Lison Blais is found dead just metres from the entrance of the home where she lived with her parents on Christophe-Colomb Street. She’d left a disco bar on St-Laurent Boulevard early that morning. She had been raped and struck on the head, and there were choking marks on her neck.
- Lennoxville, November 1978: 19-year-old Theresa Allore disappears from the campus of Champlain College, only to be found at the edge of the Coaticook River five months later. Police rule her death suspicious.
A serial killer?
“I think Quebec in that era was a very violent place,” said John Allore, one of the relatives who is asking for a public inquiry.
“People got away with a lot more. In today’s world, with cellphones and all this technology, cameras everywhere, it’s not as easy to get away with these kind of behaviours.”
His research shows there were 179 homicides in Quebec in 1977 and 177 the year before. In 2013, there were 68 homicides in the province.
The SQ won’t confirm the statistics, but it’s clear that in the 1970s, criminals were getting away with rape and even murder.
He said because police forces at the time worked in isolation, they failed to identify patterns.
If there was a serial killer on the loose in the greater Montreal area, as some relatives of the dead women believe, police didn’t figure that out – or didn’t share their suspicions with victims’ families.
Change in attitudes
Lt. Martine Asselin, the spokeswoman for the SQ’s cold case unit, acknowledges it was tougher then to solve cases.
“A lot of things have changed since those years: the evolution of the techniques and the evolution of the DNA and the way to treat the evidence has also changed,” she said.
“The communications between the police forces is very present. We have a task force to manage serial killers or serial sexual assaults,” Asselin said.
The cold case unit has recently added more officers, and Asselin said the provincial police force is looking seriously at these unsolved crimes. As for the decrease in the number of homicides over the years, Asselin credits improved police techniques, including those aimed at crime prevention.
John Allore agrees there has been a change in attitudes.
“Certainly, in the 1970s, rape and sexual assault were not taken as seriously then as they are today,” Allore said. He said blaming the victim was the norm.
“A woman is found with a rope, a ligature around her neck, and police say it could have been suicide. A young girl is found abandoned in a field, and they say it could have been a hit and run.”
My sister is found in her bra and underwear in a stream, and they say it could have been a drug overdose.”
Inquiry demand focuses on 8 cases
The letter to the public security minister focuses on eight cases: Sharron Prior, Louise Camirand, Joanne Dorion, Hélène Monast, Denise Bazinet, Lison Blais, Theresa Allore and Roxanne Luce.
In it, the families ask for the following changes:
- That all murders and disappearances anywhere in the province be investigated solely by the Sûreté du Québec.
- That a protocol be established to make sure all evidence and information is held in a centralized place.
- That police officers be paid to undergo specialized training.
- That families of victims be kept systematically informed about the evolution of any investigation.
- That families of victims, accompanied by their lawyers, have access to the complete dossiers of the investigations, if the crime is still not solved after 25 years.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Security says officials are well aware of the difficult situation that relatives of missing or murdered people have to go through. The Ministry says it has received the letter asking for a public inquiry, and that demand is currently being analyzed.
Rappelons que Hawkes a été assassiné 20e Septembre 1977 a la gare Val Royal dans la région de Cartierville de Montréal. La nuit de l’assassiner son agresseur a appelé la police deux fois autour de 22h35 et a laissé les deux messages suivants:
«J’attaqué une femme au coin de Bois Franc et Henri Bourassa. Dans les sous bois de côté nord-ouest. Dépêchez vous-monsieur, j’ai peur pour sa vie…Merci.”
“Oui, bonjour, j’ai bien attaqué une femme sur le coin de Henri Bourassa et Grenet … Grenet … à Ville Saint-Laurent, dans les sous-bois, de côté nord-ouest. Avez-vous bien compris? Je pense que vous avez bien compris, Monsieur. C’est le coin de Grenet et Henri Bourassa… à Ville Saint Laurent, dans les sous-bois… de côté nord-ouest. “
Opérateur: “La femme est toujours là?”
Bois Franc est le nom de la gare. Dans le second message il téléphone revenir à clarifier / être plus précis: Il est nord-ouest de Henri-Bourassa et de la rue Grenet.
Maintenant, ce que je trouve intéressant dans la voix est la suivante: A cette époque, les titres de journaux criaient au sujet d’un «Maniaque sexuel» étant sur le lâche. Une des journaux, même averti que la police doit vérifier toutes les institutions mentales locales, car de toute évidence un patient «fou» avait échappé.
Écoutez la voix. Ceci est, une personne très détaillée mesurée. J’ai envoyé l’enregistrement de la Sûreté du Québec. Marc Lepine de leur bureau Cold-Case et je parlé hier soir (il l’a apporté en fait, pas moi). “La voix est un gars très organisé”, at-il dit.
Mais le point le plus important est dans la dernière phrase du premier appel: “,Dépêchez vous-monsieur, j’ai peur pour sa vie…”
Cela signifie que Katherine Hawkes était sans aucun doute en vie lorsque l’appel a été fait.
L’autopsie indique que Hawkes est mort d’une combinaison de ses blessures et l’exposition au froid. Le battement fait vulnérable, mais l’hypothermie a tuée, et qui aurait pu être évité si la police avait réagi avec diligence au lieu de laisser Katherine Hawkes exposés aux éléments pendant toute la nuit.
Il y avait une chance de sauver Katherine Hawkes. La police a attendu 20 heures avant de répondre, et Katherine Hawkes sont morts.
Cela est sans doute la raison pour laquelle la police de Montréal ont enlevé la bande à partir de leur site web.
Cette bande a été perdu pendant un certain nombre d’années. La police de Montréal (SPVM) initialement publié il demande publiquement les citoyens pour leur aide pour identifier la voix. Puis ils ont tiré à partir de leur website et il a disparu. Je suis en mesure d’obtenir à nouveau par le biais d’une source qui je ne nommerai pas. Mais je les remercie pour leur aide.