For those of you coming in fresh to this website / podcast this is what we have so far. Twelve chapters, the stories are all interrelated, in some cases the stories are connected. The narrative all focuses on a region in southeastern Quebec known as The Eastern Townships that I call, Quebexico. It’s a label given to Quebec by cops not from the province, it’s meant to imply a sort of dark exoticism. There are also insulting undertones, implying the area is akin to a third-world backwater:
- Quebexico #1
- Folie à deux #2
- CECO #3
- The Bikers of Sherbrooke #4
- The Dirty Reich – #5
- Father Jean Salvail The Biker Priest of Sherbrooke, Quebec #6
- The Night of the Long Knives #7
- Theresa Allore – Case update #8
- The aborted abduction of Manon Dubé #9
- Corporeal – Louise Camirand update #10
- Kentucky Fried MURDER! #11
- Entracte #12
In the early episodes we learned that the Townships were once an idyllic place, but that changed with the arrival of biker gangs and organized crime in the late 1960s. The bikers fooled the local establishment into thinking they were just a bunch of country bumpkins who wanted to be left alone. They gained the support of police and the clergy, and even persuaded local politicians to provide them with government funding before everyone realized that once you lead the wooden horse through the gates of the city, it can’t be led outside again. In 1968, the city of Sherbrooke – the Townships’ anchor municipality – recorded only one murder. By 1974 there was open gang warfare and murder in the downtown streets of Sherbrooke.
What quickly followed was stranger homicide and sexual murders. And so we did a profile on the three cold cases from the late 1970s: Louise Camirand, Manon Dube and Theresa Allore. And along the way we talked about a different kind of murder, the assassination of 18-year-old, Carole Fecteau. I’ve been circumspect about Fecteau, but we’re going to get right into it beginning in April. It’s a fascinating case because it appears to be a hybrid between the gang related activity of the early ’70s and the sexual murders and assaults that began to appear in the later part of the decade, bridging the two worlds of this story.
I was recently talking with police about the evolution of sexual murder. They were explaining how the early, open violence against women, like the 1973 gang rape by 11 members of the Gitans, appeared to stop by the late 1970s (not entirely, we will pick this up later). When offenders discovered that taking women back to ‘clubhouses’ and subjecting them to mass sexual assault and humiliation just wasn’t going to be tolerated, they adapted their behavior. So began the era of killing victims to silence them, the stripping of identity such as purses and wallets, and the disposal of bodies in a remote locations.
Landing the plane
This is also a writing lab for me, a way to work out discoveries and ideas. You could really take any chapter and place it in a different order. If you like chronology, Kentucky Fried MURDER! should really come much earlier in the telling. I’m very much of the Faulkner school of writing; just get something down, you can worry later that it’s crap.
And what’s Quebexico – the story of a bunch of Montreal bikers salvaging a military plane that crashed into a lake – doing there in the first place? I don’t know. One reader got really mad at me about it, “it has nothing to do with anything!” I guess I really liked the story because it was told to me by a local guy over a cup of coffee. I also liked this idea of trying to land a plane before you even know where the story is going, before you’ve even learned to fly the plane. I was also giving a nod to Solomon Gursky Was Here, Mordecai Richler’s novel about the Bronfman family, bootlegging, smuggling, and a fatal plane crash. Here’s a portion of the opening paragraph:
“One Morning – during the record cold spell of 1951 – a big menacing black bird, the likes of which had never been seen before, soared over the crude mill town of Magog, hard by the Vermont border, swooping low again and again. Luther Hollis brought down the bird with his Springfield. Then the men saw a team of twelve yapping dogs emerging out of the wind and swirling snows of the frozen Lake Memphremagog.”Mordecai Richler, Solomon Gursky Was Here, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1990
Switch out the dogs for the boy, Real Bernais and his snowmobile, and there you have the opening of Quebexico. I should say now that the same guy who told me that story, gave me the one about the chicken amigos, and the murder of Rolland Giguere. And like the Quebexico story, I barely believed it when he told me. Three guys that start franchising Kentucky Fried Chicken in the Townships sounded like a tall-tale. But like that salvaged biker plane, when I went to fact check it, it was all just as he told it to me. Small towns really shouldn’t keep their secrets – such rich and wild stories.
Maps and Legends
I like visualizing information using maps. The first map I used was an old Esso road map of southeastern Quebec. I had it on my wall at work and I would use stick pins to mark locations. This became the basis of the map first developed by Kim Rossmo in geographically profiling a series of data points for the cases of Louise Camirand, Manon Dube and Theresa Allore. Data are numbers, it’s all math.
What I’m going to talk about next is really best demonstrated interactively. I’ll try to show you using screen shots, but you might want to go over to my YouTube channel and check out the video I created explaining map use.
I keep a master digital map of geo-information. I don’t plot everything, just the items of significance. I will also note that I am no one’s mapping genius; there are better, more sophisticated ways of representing information using tools such as ArcGIS, this is what works for me.
The master map is simply a more detailed, and interactive version of the Rossmo map, but I’ve added information as it was discovered:
Since began fresh this year with a new perspective on Sherbrooke, and other events of relevance, I’ve added a new layer to the map. Here are some interesting things I’ve discovered while taking inventory. You may already have connected some of the ideas, but it’s always interesting to map them.
Here we see the location of Charles Restaurant / Chez Robert Disco:
For me it is interesting that it lies in between the Georgian Hotel and the Lion Pub. Theresa frequented the Lion, Louise Camirand was known to hang out at the Georgian. And right in the middle we have this establishment that we know was frequently the target of police raids. Also note that the corner of College and Queen (here marked 143, we often forget Queen was in fact route 143 (as King was route 112)) was the site of various sexual assaults in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Also note rue Speid, the site of Douglas Patrick’s original canteen.
This second map marks the close proximity in which Luc Gregoire and Carole Fecteau were living, and we know according to CECO that there was an Atomes clubhouse on Wellington, but the exact location is not known:
This third map is interesting. For a long time I’ve known that the Sherbrooke Hussars were located up on Belevedere. But what I didn’t know – and again, this was in the CECO report – was that the Gitans MC were just up the block from the Hussars at their house at 584 Rue de Montréal:
This is also interesting. I knew that Luc Gregoire had once robbed a gas station on route 143 (route 143 also become rue Wellington). When I went to plot it, it came out exactly at the La Tribune proposed getaway route from the Manon Dube case:
Finally, there is Luc Gregoire’s childhood home on rue Delorme in southwest Sherbrooke. We already discussed how Louise Camirand also grew up in this neighborhood, a few blocks from Luc Gregoire. What I did not know is the the 1968 murder of Rolland Giguere occurred in the same neighborhood, at his home on 1060 Rue Genest:
This is not to suggest a connection between these cases, Luc Gregoire would have been 8 years old in 1968, Louise Camirand would have been 11. To make such a suggestion is missing a larger more significant point. As children, Camirand and Gregoire no doubt knew the Giguere family, they may have played with their six children. They would have been aware of the 1968 murder, and they would have probably been traumatized by the event. No doubt, an entire generation from Sherbrooke were mentally impacted by this and other events of violence that took place in this era.
Where there is error, bring truth
I’ve left things twice now unresolved, with these cliffhangers about Jean Charland and Carole Fecteau. I’ve stated that Fecteau was an 18-year-old drug runner from the King and Wellington area, whose body was discovered naked, in a stream in East Hereford, Quebec in June 1978. Charland was a small-time hoodlum, a Gitan in and out of trouble with the law all his life who is chiefly remembered for his part in the July 1978 murders of Sherbrooke drug dealer Raymond Grimard and his 20-year-old mistress, Manon Bergeron. We’ve now reached the point where there is enough background information, and I can tell you the story of Jean Charland and Carole Fecteau.
From a broader perspective, I can tell you that some of this work is being done to guide police in their investigations. This is not rocket science. Regarding the 1968 murder of Rolland Giguere, we know that a suspect in his 60s was interviewed in the 2000s. And we have discussed in Folie a Deux how an older offender may have mentored a younger offender(s) in some of the cases from the ’70s. And there is a family with ties to two murders that span generations, the Charlands. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to realize that the Surete du Quebec might want to examine the file of Rolland Giguere; never mind that it crosses agency jurisdiction, the SQ and the Sherbrooke Police. Giguere is not your case, but there very well may be answers there to the cases you are trying to solve in this region. Get it?