Quebec 1977: Who was The Bootlace Killer?
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
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.
(Photo of Bazinet removed)
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.
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 strangulation.
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.
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 to death. Articles of clothing were scattered.
17 year old Johanne Dorion was last seen by a bus driver at boule Arthur-Sauve and Sainte Rose in Fabreville on July 30th, 1977, six weeks before the Monast murder. She was found shortly thereafter eight 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 was a nursing student, Camirand and Dorion worked at hospitals.
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 was from Rosemere, north of Laval. She was last seen by a bus driver on July 29, 1977 at the Henri Bourassa metro station. Her body was recovered 8 months later in Terrebonne. She was murdered, but we don’t know how she died.
A murder victim between the ages of 18 and 25 was discovered along chemin de lac in Longeueil on April 2nd, 1977. ( Note: in 2021 this Jane Doe was identified as Evelyne Levasseur Pulice). And given the time and place of this discovery, this then leads back to the consideration of the murder of…
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.
Update: On March 9, 2016 the Theresa Allore case was added to the Surete du Quebec’s website:
(All photos are the property/used courtesy of Allo Police/Section Rouge Média Inc.)
have they even considered comparing any dna if anything is left.
“have they even considered comparing any dna if anything is left.”: I will be addressing that issue shortly.
Once again, we have to commend you on your efforts, not only in Theresa’s case, but Sharron’s and Louise’s and Manon’s and all the other.
I know it has taken a toll you on over the years but if not for you, many of these cases would not even be on the Internet. By bringing them up as you do, there is always a chance that someone, somewhere will read about one of the unsolveds and remember something that closes one or more or these cold cases.
Hats off to you, bro.
John, I don’t know if you are familiar with the story of Robert Edward Brown of Athelstan. Brown was convicted of two murders that occurred in 1981 out west:
Both victims were young, one a teenager. One was working alone at a convenience store. The other was taken from the side of a road, where her car had broken down. One victim was fully clothed at the time of her death.
John, I cannot help but notice that the last murder on your list was in March 1981.
In April 1981, a girl was abducted from the small town of Standard, Alberta. She was found dead in a reservoir two months later. Her name was Kelly Cook. Interestingly, Kelly’s family had come from the Montreal area. The murder has not been solved. No COD has been given.
Robert Edward Brown, who is now deceased, had moved to Alberta at some point in 1981.
CFB Suffield is about two hours southeast of Standard, AB, FWIW.
Kelly’s brother is in the military now, also FWIW.
The Cook / REB info is very interesting. I have passed it along to a Calgary cold-case investigator I know. Thank you.
I’m reading through this post again and it almost seems like there was a Gary Ridgway type of monster patrolling the Sherbrooke to Montreal highway and area in the 70s and 80s, but instead of targeting prostitutes this guy just picked up whoever he was able to grab, be it a 10-year-old or 30-year-old female who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was nondescript enough to go under the radar and not draw attention to himself.
Stumbled onto your website…. as a cartographer, couldn`t help but notice that all the bodies were found near a body of water, too. Even the ones in Longueuil, were near the few bodies of water in the area, near a road called du Lac…. hard to believe it`s coincidence.
Well this is a good point, and one I have never really considered as the sample was originally so small (3), but you are right. Now that I look at it the following were found either adjacent to, or directly in water:
I don’t know if you knew this, but shortly after Katherine was killed, whoever it
was that killed her called the police (twice) to tell them where her body could be
found. She still wasn’t located for two days after that phone call. Do the police still have that recording? I know that approx 6 – 8 years ago when the case was reopened due to my getting in touch with the cold case dept in Montreal, the Hawkes family were interviewed on television, some local show I can’t remember the name. The recording of the man was played at that time. I hope it helps. The man that phoned was French.
Thank you Nancy, I was aware of this. The show was called, Zone Libre. I know because Theresa’s case was also feature on this broadcast (so was William Fyfe): http://ici.radio-canada.ca/actualite/zonelibre/03-05/coldcase.html Sadly, the audio is no longer available for this show. When I asked the Montreal Police last summer for a copy of it, they refused, which is odd: it was already out there in the public domain, and therefore no longer of any evidentiary value.
Finally getting around to reading WKT? again, and am struck by something. The photo of the unidentified girl found in Longueuil…she looks so well-kempt and it’s hard to imagine that no family members (not a parent or sibling or cousin, or even a friend) recognize her. At least with the ones we know, someone is keeping the case alive (even if it is you), but this poor girl has no one fighting for her. Sad.
It is very strange. I know she is a subject of interest for the Priors, so I imagine Longueuil police have seen it. I spoke with the SQ the day before yesterday: all they will tell me is that all of the information on this post was turned over to the cold-case unit. I do not know her height or weight, as you asked.
Hi John did these disappearances and murders stop around the 1981 era?
Yes they did.
Thank you just curious because there was a strong suspect by the name of Mike French and he was killed in 1982.
Mike French? Can you send me any details / links? I’ve never heard that name. thank you.
Sure here goes
Mike French murdered
One other thing John I can’t mention any names but spoke to a relative of Sharron Prior and he was a strong suspect in her case.
Here is another interesting link if you have not read this one…
I went out West from Sherbrooke from 1977 at seventeen and came back home in1982 and missed all of this…probably saving my life.
Murder began to rise in the 60s in Quebec. It reached its apex in these years (75 – 81), and has slowly dropped… allowing for the biker-wars factor in the 90s.
Good timing on your part. 🙂
John, do you know if Quebec had rural pay phones that operated by dialling a number, waiting for the person to answer and then depositing coins for the call? If so, were these still in use when these murders were committed?
This is relevant to the Kelly Cook murder in Alberta. Her killer reportedly did not know how to use a rural pay phone.
I also found her father listed at the time as a director of a Montreal company run by his brother. Her father’s address in Standard p, Alberta was on the corporate registry.
I do not know.