“Lâche les policiers” – The strange death of Hélène Hurtubise / WKT3 #16

Helene Hurtubise’s Grand Prix being pulled from the Saint Lawrence River at Quai Baillargeon

In November 1998 a Montreal woman accused an RCMP Constable of sexually abusing her 2-year-old son.

The accusation was investigated, but in 1999 Quebec Court Judge Luc Trudel found insufficient evidence against 39-year-old officer Gerald “Gerry” Theriault to warrant a trial. The judge didn’t believe the mother’s allegations because she had lied several times under oath.

Constable Theriault walked out of the court smiling but lamented, “This lasted 20 months. All that stress that was put on my family.”

After Theriault was charged with molesting and sexually assaulting the child, the RCMP suspended him with pay. Theriault said he would try to get reinstated, but was not optimistic about his prospects:

“My career is finished. You know the RCMP. They don’t like publicity in the newspapers.”

Despite his protests, Gerald Theriault was not being completely honest about his disciplinary history with the RCMP.

This was not the first time Constable Theriault had been in the newspapers. This was not the first time Constable Theriault had been less than forthcoming about his actions.

This is Who Killed Theresa.


Montreal Gazette, November 11, 1994

Search on for missing woman who disappeared near Seaway

The Surete du Quebec is seeking the public’s help in finding an 18-year-old Ste. Catherine woman who has been missing for five days.

Hélène Hurtubise was last seen early Sunday morning by a friend, an RCMP constable.

The constable told investigators he spoke with Hurtubise about 2 a.m. at Highway 132 and 30, near the South Shore community where she lives.

“She called him and asked him to meet her to talk, ” said Surete du Quebec spokesman Mathias Tellier. “After they spoke she drove off and no one has seen her since.”

Police divers will resume dragging the Ste. Lawrence Seaway today near Ste. Catherine, he said.

Hurtubise is 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs about 135 pounds and has long brown hair. She was wearing a marine-blue sweater, jeans and black suede shoes.

She was driving a black 1992 Pontiac Grand Prix. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 598-4043.

Helene Hurtubise


Montreal Gazette, May 5, 1995

Corpse found in submerged car

Police have relaunched their investigation into the November disappearance of a Sainte-Catherine woman after her car – and a body in it – were pulled out of the St. Lawrence River yesterday.

The black 1992 Pontiac Grand Prix, discovered about 1:15 p.m. by divers, was registered to Helene Hurtubise.

The female body found in the submerged vehicle was badly decomposed, making it impossible to identify as Hurtubise without an autopsy.

The 18-year-old was last seen on Highway 132 in the early morning of November 5th by an RCMP patrol officer she had befriended, Surete du Quebec Constable Mathias Tellier said.

The Mountie told police the woman had phoned him and that they had met and talked for a couple of hours.

The vehicle with the corpse still inside, was transported to the provincial Medic-Legal Institute in Montreal, where an autopsy and forensic tests will be conducted.

Tellier said the discovery was made by commercial divers carrying out the annual spring cleaning of the seaway system.

The operation generally turns up several stolen vehicles that are ditched by joyriders.

Helene Hurtubise

Montreal Gazette, November 29, 1995

Cop describes seduction scene

Gerald (Gerry) Theriault testified at the public inquest into Hurtubise’s death that he spent about one hour with her in the early hours of November 6, 1994.

Theriault said he was patrolling his territory around 3 o’clock that morning when he stopped to investigate whether Hurtubise was having problems with her vehicle, which was parked at the corner of Highways 30 and 132 near Kahnawake.

He explained that he knew it was her car because it had been stopped about an hour earlier by one of his patrolmen and that the black Pontiac Grand Prix and its driver were known for breaking traffic laws in order to get the attention of male officers.

Theriault said the two remained in their respective vehicles and chatted to one another through the windows.

After she spoke about another officer she had met, her family, school and job, he said she began discussing her fantasies, which included wanting to be dominated by and wanting to dominate a cop, making love in a cruiser and while handcuffed.

“I tried changing the subject and she kept coming back to her sex life,” he said under questioning by inquest prosecutor Gilles Arsenault. “I warned her that some cops might take advantage of it and she responded that that was exactly what she wanted.”

He said the 18-year-old at one point got out of her car and approached the cruiser, complimenting Theriault on his voice and eyes.

She evenutally asked to sit inside the marked car.

“I thought maybe I could gain her confidence by letting her in.”

The senior officer said Hurtubise never stopped repeating “test me, test me,” so at one point he asked to see her breasts.

He said she complied then put her hand on his crotch.

“She told me there was no danger in having an affair because she would keep quiet and could give me a ‘good ride’.” Theriault recalled. “I told her I wasn’t interested, that I had a child and a partner.”

It was then he suggested she go home, but not before inviting her to join him and other RCMP and Surete du Quebec officers at a nearby doughnut shop next morning at 2 a.m.

Theriault said she left and he returned to the police station.

The coroner’s inquest which was held in Longueuil – Longueuil – continued. Constable Theriault’s testifies that the lease for the home where he lived with his former common-law wife, Nathalie Avril had been signed in the Summer of 1994, long before the disappearance of Helene Hurtubise. But Avril then takes the stand and discloses that Gerald Theriault forced her to sign a back-dated lease because he believed that would prevent police from searching their home in the matter of Hurtubise’s disappearance.

Theriault made her sign it in early December 1994, approximately one month after Hurtubise vanished:

“I didn’t read it before signing because I was under pressure. He told me it was so there wouldn’t be a (police) search of the house and looking through our personal things because of the disappearance of the Hurtubise woman”.

It wasn’t until April of 1995 less than a month before Hurtubise’s badly decomposed body was pulled from the Ste. Lawrence River, that Avril noticed the lease was dated July 1994. By this time the couple had separated, with Avril leaving Theriaut in December 1994.

In addition two police officers offered testimony that conflicted with Theriault’s version of events. Constable Andre Fluet states that he met with Therieault at a Tim Horton’s doughnut shop at around 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 7th, 1994, and that Theriault confided he had had an hour long encounter with Hurtubise the previous day. Recall that in Theriault’s version of events, he had invited Hurtubise to this meeting, so this might have been some half-assed attempt at an alibi.

Fluet also testified that Theriaut initially stated that the November 6th encounter with Hurtubise had been his first with the 18-year-old:

“He later said he had been to her house (before Nov. 6) to answer a call about a prowler”

Constable Denis Boivin added that Theriault appeared nervous at the doughnot shop. Both officers said Theriault spoke of Hurtubise disclosing her sexual fantasies – How she wanted to dominated and be dominated by a police officer, to make love in the back of a police cruiser while handcuffed.

Under cross examination Theriault admitted he used poor judgement in asking Hurtubise to show him her breasts. He also said he never disclosed the “sexual nature” of the encounter to investigators when Hurtubise was originally reported missing because he “didn’t see the relevance”.

Other RCMP officers from Theriault’s detachment testified that they too had encountered Hurtubise, and that she also shared sexual fantasies with them. In fact the patrol officers had been warned by their superiors at briefings before their shifts not to approach Hurtubise and her black Pontiac Grand Prix alone. Hurtubise had earned a reputation among Mounties and members of the South Shore Surete du Quebec for purposely committing traffic violations to get the attention of male officers.


Diver found car, dead teen in 10 minutes – after 14 tries by SQ

Mike King, Montreal Gazette – December 1, 1995

A commercial diver did in 10 minutes what provincial police divers were unable to achieve in 14 attempts – locate Helene Hurtubise’s body and car in the St. Lawrence River.

“After about 10 minutes in the water, I found the Grand Prix,” Rejean Chagnon told coroner Anne-Marie David about his May 4 find in about 10.5 meters of water…

Evidence presented to David on Monday showed that Surete du Quebec divers unsuccessfully searched the same area around Baillargeon pier in Sainte Catherine on 14 different occasions during the seven months Hurtubise was missing….

Chagnon and diving partner Pascal Dufresne, conducting an inspection along the South Shore pier as part of a federal contract made the grim discovery of the 18-year-old woman’s badly decomposed body floating inside her car. One of the legs was sticking out of the driver’s side window…

Asked… whether it appeared the window had been broken, Chagnon reported that it seemed both windows in the two-door vehicle had been lowered.

Quai Baillargeon / from the Coroner report on Helene Hurtubise

Conveniently, two fellow RCMP constables now come forward and describe an almost identical encounter with Hurtubise as the one described by Constable Theriault in the early morning of November 6th.

Fellow Mounties Richard Lemay and Dany Beland say that Hurtubise also shared her sexual fantasies with them too. According to Lemay and Beland they had a “meeting” with Hurtubise in their police cruiser near a field in the early morning of Oct. 31, 1994. Hurtubise lifted her shirt and showed them her bra. According to the officers, she then climbed into the front of the cruiser and grabbed Lemay’s crotch. At was at this point that two officers said they kicked Hurtubise out of their patrol car, then proceeded to destroy the videotape from the cruiser-equipped camera.

Constable Gerard Theriault

Coroner Anne-Marie David’s inquest into L’Affaire Hurtubise ended in December 1995 and left more questions than it answered. Her summary, which came in a 73-page report filed in February 1996, shouldn’t be too surprising. Coroner David concluded there was not enough evidence to demonstrate a suicide, an accident or a murder.

“Helene wasn’t abducted, strangled, or drugged. The autopsy showed no traces of violence” wrote David. “Theriault had no motive to kill her, but neither did Hurbudise have reason to take her own life.” Although that isn’t quite true. The Pathologist, Claude Pothel stated he could not determine the cause of death because of the advanced state of decomposition. That’s not the same as saying, she wasn’t murdered.

In the report, Coroner David acknowledged that scratches / friction marks or points of depression on the rear bumper of Hurtubise’s Grand Prix were troubling, possibly being an indication that the Grand Prix had been pushed by another vehicle.

In her summary coroner David writes:

“The undersigned concludes, unless there are new facts to support another hypothesis, the implicit accident hypothesis, another vehicle that hit the Grand Prix, is ​​the only hypothesis it is possible to provide because it is the only hypothesis that is consistent with all the evidence.”

If someone ran Helene off the road at Quai Baillargeon one has to ask, why?

In 13 days of dives along the 1.3 kilometre-long Baillargeon pier Surete du Quebec divers managed to recover 40 vehicles, but not Helene’s Pontiac Grand Prix.

Surete investigators also reported that Constable Gerry Theriault had undergone a polygraph investigation in December 1994, but that he passed the test conclusively, thus proving his innocence.

Helene’s parents reaction to the report was understandably dismissive:

“What am I, green?”, stated Johanne Hurtubise. ( “Suis-je grassette?” ) “In my opinion, this does not make sense… We were kind of expecting this because there were too many lies and contradictions” during the inquest.

Johanne Hurtubise acknowledged that Helene had problems with her behavior, and that they had consulted psychologists, but she was not suicidal. Friends and family disclosed that Helene was known to sleep with cops. She had several names and phone numbers of police officers in her journal. One entry read, “Meeting with Mr. RCMP” and “Richard and company” on November 3rd.

“The police waged a public campaign to slander the reputation of an individual… Lâche les policiers (The police are cowards)” concluded Madame Hurtubise.

In reviewing the coroner’s report, I think there’s one key element of Corporal Theriault’s testimony that the media missed. During the end of their encounter, when Helene is back in her car, Theriault says that Helene says she was going to drive home, but she was going to get there by using “the sea route”:

“So, she tells me that she is going to go by the sea. By saying that to me, she has a big smile on her face. And I say, Why do you go by the Sea route? At that time, I did not know where she was exactly where she was [talking about]…. So she tells me, I always go by that, it’s okay, there are fewer traffic lights, not a lot of people”

I think this is a lie. In fact coroner David states at one point, “Constable Thériault’s testimony is full of lies.” As a patrol officer, Theriault would have known exactly where she was talking about. This is Theriault’s attempt to suggest that Hurtubise drove in the direction of Quai Baillargeon, then had an accident and drove off the pier. Or became depressed when Theriault didn’t follow her and intentionally drove the Grand Prix into the Saint Lawrence. What Theriault doesn’t realize is that by making this suggestion, by disclosing this conversation, he unwittingly, psychologically now places himself in the event space where Helene died.

Reviewing the geography of the incident reveals some very telling details. Just look at a map of the locations.

Look at Quai Baillargeon where Helene’s car was pulled. Then look at the road that leads to that quai – the only road that makes the quai accessible, the Sea Route – it’s the service road right along the frontier of the Kahnawake reserve. Then consider Constable Theriault: an RCMP officer who would have been responsible for patrolling that frontier. He would have driven that road many, many times:

That geography tells me everything that I need to know about this case:


So I’ll give you a scenario. Theriault and Hurtubise have there encounter at the junction of routes 132 and 30 on the border of the Kahnawake Indian Reserve, this part is true of Therieault’s story. It’s a place where cops often stop to talk across cars driver-to-driver. Things play out somewhat according to Theriault’s acount. She flashes her breasts and grabs his crotch. Then they decide to take things a little further. But they can’t carry this out oat this location, it’s a busy highway. So they both come up with the quai along the Sea route; Helene knows it because it’s a shortcut to her home (not so many trafic lights). And Theriault knows it because he’s been patrolling that industrial area for his entire career with the RCMP detachment. In fact the coroner’s report tells us he had been patrolling that very area earlier in the evening, “Later, around 2 in the morning he started to patrol the roads and highways encircling the territory, which takes from 20 to 25 minutes at night. “ So how can Theriault testify later that he didn’t know where Helene was talking about by “the Sea route”?

They drive together to this location. During the day the quai is buzzing with activity, but in the dark of the morning? It’s nothing but rail cars, shipping containers, salt domes, lift cranes.

They fulfill Helene’s fantasy of rough sex. Handcuffs and dominance in the back of the patrol car. Things get out of hand. Domination leads to strangulation, then death. You didn’t mean to do it. No one wanted that outcome. But then what do you do? You’re a cop. You’ve got responsibilities. You’ve got a kid. You open the windows. Line up the Grand Prix with the edge of the quai. You take the patrol car and push the Grand Prix into the Saint Lawrence.

We may never truly know what happened on the early morning of November 6th, 1994. It’s always troubling when one force investigates another in these affairs. Yesterday’s SQ captain can become tomorrow’s SPVM chief. A cop with the Lennoxville police may end his career with the Surete du Quebec.

It’s interesting to note that all of these matters were playing out at the same time as several of the cases we’ve recently covered; Melanie Cabay, the biker war, Matticks, operation Carcajou. It was a time of a deep moral crisis within the ranks of Quebec police. As the Poitras Commission questioned, “Who is policing the police?”

In all of this, the Sainte Catherine’s police were strangely silent. Recall that for 5 months Helene Hurtubise was a missing Sainte Catherine’s person. The case should have been under their jurisdiction. Yet as early as December 1994 we have the provincial police, the Surete du Quebec administering the lie detector test to RCMP constable Theriault. And very quickly coming to a determination that he was innocent. Perhaps the Ste Catherine’s police was too small to have a professional polygrapher on staff. Perhaps not.

I do know this, I wouldn’t be driving around the South Shore in the early morning of November with all my windows rolled down. I think officers with the Delson detachment of the RCMP and the Surete du Quebec knew exactly where Helene’s black Pontiac Grand Prix was all through the winter of 1994-95. And they made damn sure it stayed there until it, and everything in it was thoroughly decomposed.


The real smoking gun in all of this was coroner Anne-Marie David. In her analysis David takes the police at their word, every awful, disreputable thing that they say about Helene Hurtubise, with no one standing by to step up for her. If L’Affaire Hurtubise has a fog of war quality to it, coroner David definitely had a hand in that. Her nebulous, inconclusive determination is typical of her 20-year career working for the coroner’s office in Quebec in the 1980s and 90s. If an inmate hung himself or was found drugged-to-death in his cell, corner Anne-Marie David, more often than not, concluded it was a suicide. If there was a police involved shooting, coroner David typically concluded that the officer was not at fault.

The most notorious example was the May 1995 shooting death of 23-year-old Martin Suazo. After allegedly robbing a store on Ste. Catherine’s street, Suazo was fatally shot while on his knees, about to be handcuffed, and surrounded by about a dozen Montreal police officers. David was highly criticized for her handling of the coroner’s inquest, refusing a public outcry for her to step down from the case. 2 1/2 years later coroner David concluded that Suazo died of an accidental gunshot.

Yves Manseau of the non-profit, Citizens Against Police Brutality charged that David’s report was biased in favor of police, and it ignored several points raised during the inquiry:

“It’s obvious that coroner David has a favourable bias in favour of the police force and police profession:”

Plus Ca fucking change.



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