There’s a photo of Surete du Quebec agent, Jacques Filion staring into a garbage bag of clothing at my sister’s dump site the morning she was found, April 13, 1979. Roch Gaudreault is with him, pretending to gaze into the plastic bag. Wish You Were Here has the agent misidentified as Jacques Lessard, but it’s Filion, the guy from Fecteau’s case. Filion was the agent who recovered Carole’s clothing.
There’s a second photo from that morning – Good Friday, April 13, 1979 – the two agents standing next to a tree where Theresa’s body lay, pretending to have a conversation. The photos are staged; the detectives aren’t really doing anything, they’re not really investigating.
It was never determined who’s clothing was in that bag. It wasn’t Theresa’s. Was it Fecteau’s? Not the clothes she was wearing, Filion found those. But what if it was clothing left with her young boyfriend, Marc Charland? What if, around the time that agent Real Chateauneuf found that bullet-riddled birch log under the basement stairs at the Charland’s, around January, 1979, his big brother, Jean noticed the clothing in Marc’s room and told his little brother, “Hey, you gotta get rid of that stuff, you’re under 18, you don’t want the cops thinking you had anything to do with her shooting.”
So Jean Charland gathered all Fecteau’s stuff, put in a garbage bag and ditched it, but just for a laugh, just to screw around with police, he tossed it at the site where he knew later that spring when the snow melted, they were going to find another dead girl. Some joke, right? Because Jean Charland knew the police weren’t going to mess with him, a made man. So when Jacques Filion looked into that garbage bag, Good Friday, April 13, 1979, and he saw that clothing, did he know at that moment, on the eve of Fernand Laplante’s trial for two murders he did not commit, that the Surete du Quebec was missing the big picture? That they had a serious problem on their hands with sexual murder?
People will hold us to blame
The first to be murdered, Carole Fecteau would be the last to have her day in court. Once again, police decided to put Fernand Laplante on trial, and no one else. Once again, Laplante was assisted by defense attorney, Jean-Pierre Rancourt, who won a motion to move the process to Cowansville, about 100 kilometers west of Sherbrooke, due to excessive publicity during Laplante’s first trial. The Crown was represented again by Claude Melancon, and both attorneys agreed to include several admissions from the Grimard and Bergeron murder trials in an effort to avoid redundancy and speed the judicial process – this was going to be a swift hatchet-job.
Fecteau’s affair opened on Monday, November 19, 1979. Jacques Mongeau testified how he and a friend had gone fishing in a stream near East Hereford on June 24, 1978, and discovered the nude body of a young woman who was “white, not breathing and appeared to have worms coming out of her skin.” A provincial public works employee then took the stand to say on June 26 he found a wallet, “at the side of a gravel road”, running toward East Hereford. Before taking the wallet to police, the man blazed a tree with an axe to mark the location where the wallet was found.
A forensic expert told the court that Fecteau died from two bullets shot from a handgun, the first having entered at the nape of the neck at a distance of about six feet, while the second entered her thorax, penetrating the left lung and heart, which could have been fired from point blank range. There were no traces of alcohol in Fecteau’s body, and for some reason, Fecteau was not tested for drugs. This expert stated Fecteau had not been sexually active 24 hours prior to her death.
SQ photographer Guimond Desbiens testified how he took photographs at the scene near East Hereford, and said he was struck by the tattoos on her body, but could not recall noticing any names. The SQ’s Michel Poulin said he took aerial photographs of the scene in January and October of 1979, as well as some of the Wellington Street area of Sherbrooke on November 15.
It was SQ agent Jacques Fillion who eventually ended up with the wallet, and he testified that her clothing; jeans, underwear and sweater, were recovered the same day as her torn poncho at two different points on the same road. At this point, Rancourt asked if Fillion was aware that Marc and Jean Charland lived in the Lennoxville area at the time of the crime, Fillion confirmed that he was aware.
Like any other candidate
The next day, The Sherbrooke Record reported this curiosity:
“The majority of yesterday’s testimony in the case of Fernand Laplante, charged with first degree murder in the death of Carole Fecteau at East Hereford on June 20, 1978, was devoted to the testimony and cross examination of a young male. The press notably only represented by The Record were forbidden to mention his name, address, age, occupation, as well as the Christian name of his brother. Justice Jean Louis Peloquin also imposed other restrictions concerning his testimony.”“Judge sets press rules”, John McCaghey, Sherbrooke Record, November 22, 1979, page 3
The absence of the Townships major French newspaper, La Tribune was so noticeable, it was called out by the Townships sister, English publication The Record. In fact, La Tribune was missing for the first six days of the trial. The “young male” the courts were trying to “protect” was rather obviously Carole Fecteau’s boyfriend, Marc Charland, and the Christian name of his brother was Jean. However, having not been present, La Tribune never heard the court’s publication ban, and so proceed to expose the name “Charland” all through their subsequent reporting:
Under the court’s protection, Marc Charland’s testimony was essentially a mini-version of Jean Charland’s story in the Grimard and Bergeron trial: he blamed Fernand Laplante for the murder of Carole Fecteau. Marc Charland claimed that Laplante once told him Fecteau “was a bitch and had to die”. Then on June 20, 1978, the night of Fecteau’s disappearance, according to Charland, Laplante again confided that Fecteau “was dead, that her case was settled and that he had put her in a creek.” Apparently Fernand Laplante couldn’t stop talking about Fecteau because on June 21, 34-year-old Laplante again confided to this boy under the age of 18 that Fecteau “had bullets in her head and heart because she sent two guys to jail.” Under cross-examination, Marc Charland toned down his statement and said he may have misinterpreted Laplante’s remarks. Marc Charland’s testimony was the chief evidence used by the Crown to prosecute Laplante.
The Crown brought back Fecteau’s roommate, Helen Larochelle, and under cross examination, Jean Pierre Rancourt got her to admit that shortly before Carole’s disappearance on or around June 20, 1978, their apartment was visited by “two brothers who must remain anonymous”, but who we know now were Marc and Jean Charland. Fecteau last talked on the phone twice to Johanne Tanguay, before departing the apartment around 8:00 p.m., and heading for Wellington Street.
Mario Vallieres also repeated testimony that he had been convicted of an arson charge “with the brother of the anonymous witness” (Once again, Jean Charland – he had been named by Vallieres for this incident only six months earlier). It gets juicier, apparently Charland had lived in the apartment they burned down on in June 4, I guess he no longer wanted to pay rent.
What Mario Vallieres then provided was a window into the underworld of the Wellington area in the late 1970s. He said that he was active in the drug trade in Sherbrooke, selling to both Jean Charland and Raymond “Ti Loup” Grimard. According to Vallieres, Grimard sold drugs to girls like Carole Fecteau. He said the main areas where drugs were pushed in downtown Sherbrooke included the Moulin Rouge, La Petit Bouffe, Sinclair’s Pool Room, the bar at Les Marches du Palais, the Queen’s Hotel, and an amusement establishment (slots, pinball).
Vallieres then said he had seen Jean Charland with a 32-calibre handgun, capable of firing eight shots. He could not discern whether it was an automatic or a semi automatic. He placed the time he had seen the gun as being a week after the arson on Wellington St., which he said was set on the night of Festivals des Cantons, in early June 1978. On the stand, Vallieres refused to name others who sold drugs in the area, “Some of them worked for me and I don’t want to identify them.” Vallieres noted that he never made a drug transaction with Fernand Laplante as he was not, to his knowledge, part of the crime milieu in the King and Wellington area.
Again, as was the case with the Grimard / Bergeron trial, most of the evidence, appeared to be pointing to Jean Charland and his brother Marc, not Laplante. Jean Charland had a handgun. Though police found ammunition at Laplante’s apartment, they were never able to recover a weapon linking him to Fecteau’s murder. Laplante was not part of the Wellington milieu, Jean Charland had lived within blocks of Fecteau’s apartment, and he was one of Fecteau’s drug suppliers. Jean and Marc Charland were two of the last persons seen with Fecteau at her apartment on Sanborn. Marc Charland was Fecteau’s boyfriend, whereas Laplante appeared to have no motive for killing her, unless it was a contract hit. Finally, Fernand Laplante does not strike me as a guy with a blabber-mouth, though there was a lot of testimony of witnesses putting words in his mouth (Regis Lachance, and the “Grimard and his bitch” remark). But Laplante served 40 years in prison and never talked. Jean Charland on the other hand…
Daniel “Le Chat” Bussières testified that he learned of Carole Fecteau’s death from Jean Charland while the two were playing a game of snooker at the Sinclair Pool Hall:
“We left the poolroom and moved about 500 feet to the Moulin Rouge. I saw Fernand Laplante sitting at the bar and my companion (Charland) and I went to… sit at a table near the stage.”“Laplante ‘Surprised’ At Death”, John McCaghey, The Sherbrooke Record, November 29, 1979, page 3
At this point, Jean Charland bragged about Fecteau again, telling both of them, “she’s well off and she’ll be frozen there all winter.” Bussières said, “I asked what happened as I had seen her with Raymond “Ti Loup” Grimard the night prior and his answer was “Wait and see; you’ll find out.””
Several days later, Bussières met up with Jean Charland, and this time Charland told him to shut up, “I did. because you can get into trouble with the mob if you talk.” Bussières told the court, “The last time I saw (Fecteau) alive was when she was with Ti-Loup Grimard on June 20, 1978.” Bussières then repeated the mob rule on silence in crimes which might implicate others. But Jean Charland couldn’t stop talking, finally suggesting that Carole Fecteau had been slain by the Grimard gang as a result of a foul up in a drug deal: “He told me she had a good go before she was killed and l presume she was raped.”
“Justice is well done”
In his closing arguments, Jean-Pierre Rancourt asked the jury to acquit Fernand Laplante on the grounds that it was improbable that his client murdered Carole Fecteau. He mentioned that on the evening of June 20, 1978, her roommate, Hélène Larochelle observed Fecteau leaving their apartment around 8:00 p.m. for a mysterious meeting on Wellington Street. Fecteau was later seen by “Le Chat” Bussières in the Cadillac of “Ti-Loup” Grimard in the Wellington area. Rancourt noted that that same evening Fernand Laplante was not in Sherbrooke, he was in Lennoxville, doing some welding work for a garage owner. Rancourt told the jury that “no one would be crazy enough to tell a boy that he had killed his girlfriend”, as Marc Charland claimed Laplante had done. In fact the first person to mention Fecteau’s murder was Marc’s brother, Jean, when he told Bussières “she’s well off and she’ll be frozen there all winter”, the day after the murder on June 21. Rancourt expressed his opinion that Fecteau was the victim of a drug deal in which she was involved, and to which his client was a stranger. He concluded by saying that the jury did not have to find out who killed Fecteau, but to decide whether or not it was Laplante.
On December 5, 1979, Fernand Laplante was acquitted of the murder of Carol Fecteau. Laplante burst into tears and said, “Justice is well done”. He would return to prison for a three-year sentence of the armed robbery in Montreal, and his life sentence for the first-degree murders of Raymond Grimard and Manon Bergeron. Well done indeed.
“Une cause que j’ai encore sur le coeur”
It may not have been the jury’s job to determine who killed Carole Fecteau, but it was someone’s – I’ll go out on a limb here and boldly suggest it was the police’s job. Crown attorney Claude Melancon made a show of wanting to re-try Laplante, but that too fizzled. Fecteau’s murder was left permanently unresolved.
“Laplante had repeated to me that he was innocent in (the Grimard and Bergeron) case. He had not made such assertions for the murder of Carole Fecteau.”“Me Jean-Pierre Rancourt: Les Confessions d’un Criminaliste”, Bernard Tetrault, Stanke, 2015, Page 60
Why did Fernand Laplante marry Claire Dussault in July 1978? It was a question of spousal privilege, so that Dussault could not testify against her husband. This was an old trick. Laplante had been a criminal partner with Gaston “Moustache” Brochu, a Gitan, the two belonged to a crew that specialized in B&Es, they were responsible for hundreds of robberies in Sherbrooke and the Townships. When the law caught up with Brochu, he tried to marry Christiane Boivin before any criminal processes.
Now recall that Fernand Laplante also knew Regis Lachance – like Brochu, they also may have been criminal partners, and they spoke about “business” in the summer of 1978 while Regis was standing on the balcony of his apartment on Rue LaRocque. Regis also married one of his wife’s in a hasty fashion. Regis wed Denise Corbin on October 27, 1978, a Friday – which is curious, why not wait until Saturday when the whole family can make a party of the occasion? – but no, Regis was married on Friday, October 27, 1978, exactly one week before Theresa Allore’s disappearance, and two weeks prior to the Aloha Motel fire. So this marriage trick, appears to have been something handed down from con to con.
Note that when Coroner Jean-Pierre Rivard issued his verdict on October 16, 1978 holding Fernand Laplante criminally responsible for the violent death of Carole Fecteau, he named Claire Dussault equally complicit in the murder:
In fact, Dussault was set to also stand trial for Fecteau’s murder, but that process fizzled. As well, Dussault was called to testify at Fecteau’s murder trial, but she was a no-show.
In the summer of 1978, the Surete du Quebec placed a legal wiretap on Laplante’s phone in his apartment on Belvedere. At the trial, the prosecution had filed into evidence a transcript of two intercepted telephone conversations by the police at Laplante’s home. In the first, Laplante talked about his recent marriage, and about how it could help,“on many sides”. In the second, the phone conversation referenced someone called “little cousin 32″ who was “dead. finished, finished, finished”.
“Little Cousin” is a familiar term, it can mean many things. But it’s worth mentioning that Carole Fecteau was the little cousin of Denise Côté, the wife of Gerald Lachance. And Gerald was the brother to Regis Lachance.
The East Hereford Double Event
On Friday afternoon, September 2, 1977, the start of Labor Day weekend, someone shot 37-year-old Monique Marchand, a butcher store clerk and mother of three, while she was working the counter of her store in East Hereford. The lone bandit robbed the Fernand Marchand Abattoir, grabbing only a handful of cash from the till, and got away in a waiting red and black Camaro with American license plates, later found abandoned on a secondary road. The market was located 2 1/2 miles south of East Hereford, along the road to the Beecher Falls, Vermont border crossing. Madame Marchand was alone in the storefront when the incident occurred, but her father in-law, Johnny Marchand, was in the back room. He said he heard a shot and when he approached the front, saw a man standing near the cash, with the gun pointed at his daughter-in-law. Madame Marchand was about to launch a meat clever at the man, at which point he shot her in the head.
What’s curious about this mom-and-pop store robbery in nowheresville, QC, is that the investigation was headed up by none other than Roch Gaudreault from the Sherbrooke SQ, nearly 60 kilometers away. One wonders why someone like Jacques Filion didn’t take charge from the much closer Coaticook detachment. Gaudreault’s first action was to set up road blocks, which tells you that almost immediately, the police didn’t think they were looking for a local.
By Monday, police had arrested Michel Belley, and when the story broke in the Montreal Gazette that the notorious criminal – Belley had committed a string of thefts from Quebec to Toronto to Kansas City – had been apprehended, Sherbrooke’s Sûreté du Québec called it, “pure fantasy, Michel Belley is absolutely not detained for this purpose. These journalists harm the investigation much more than they can help it by making such declarations.”
Nevertheless, at the conclusion of the holiday weekend, a breathtaking 72-hours after the Marchant shooting, Corporal Roch Gaudreault and Constable Noël Bolduc, from the SQ’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, along with Coroner Jean-Pierre Rivard, “let it be known that they were certain of having solved the East Hereford murder”, despite the fact that the only evidence against Belley was that he had once lived in Sherbrooke.
Belley was acquitted twice for the murder. The first occasion due to the “uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice.” In court it was revealed that Corporal Roch Gaudreault fabricated evidence in order to incriminate Belley. Specifically, Gaudreault wrote two ficticious statements and then forged Michel Belley’s signature on the documents. The documents would have implicated the accomplice in the murder, with the goal of then getting this accomplice to, in turn, blame Belley for the murder. Gaudreault’s partner, Noel Bolduc prepared the documents and then Gaudreault signed them.
So here we have the fabrication of evidence, and police collusion in a manner identical to what SQ agent Real Chateauneuf described in the Laplante trial (“It’s one of the tricks usually used.” ), and used to get Jean Charland to incriminate Fernand Laplante. So this was not a one-time indiscretion, it was a systemic practice of the Surete du Quebec. Police using what Bob Beullac called “short cuts”; but it’s no game, lives were at stake when police played fast and loose with the law.
On the second occasion, an expert determined it was physically impossible for Belley to have driven from East Hereford to where he was later spotted that evening in Montreal in the time allotted, “even a car racing champion would have been unable to overcome the distance.”, he said. By 1985, Belley simply gave up and pleaded guilty, I imagine choosing to serve his time rather than endure any more nonsense from the Quebec judicial process.
“She had a good go before she was killed”
Why does anyone go to East Hereford? For the same reason you take a boat across the international waters of Lake Memphremagog, it’s a border town, it’s a port-or-entry for cars and drugs and guns, or drugs and guns in cars, if you prefer – smuggling. Whoever robbed the butcher in 1977 – and it wasn’t Michel Belley – had more on their mind than the meaningless handful of cash they grabbed from the register. And that abandoned Camero? Well, the assailant didn’t just walk out of East Hereford, there was more than one person involved, and there were two cars.
We’ve mentioned that even attorney Rancourt suspected Laplante had a hand in Fecteau’s murder, and that Laplante was from Coaticook, just 25 kilometers west of East Hereford as the crow flies. Now for a time, Fernand Laplante had worked as a farm laborer on the land where Carole Fecteau’s body was discovered, Buck Creek. That never came out at trial, but it is believed that the reason the Crown wanted to call Claire Dussault to the stand was to testify that the evening of Fecteau’s murder Fernand Laplante was not welding at a Lennoxville garage, but was actually in the Coaticook area visiting family.
That makes Fernand Laplante probable as one of Fecteau’s assailants, but not all of them. As with Monique Marchand’s shooting, and the murders of Grimard and Bergeron – where Jean Pierre Rancourt suggested there were as many as four – there was more than one person involved in Carole Fecteau’s murder.
For what to make of Daniel “Le Chat” Bussieres testimony that Jean Charland said Fecteau “had a good go before she was killed”? For a gang rape you need a gang. And never mind the forensic “expert”, who testified that Fecteau had not been sexually active prior to her death. As Jean-Claude Bernheim had stated many times, “experts” lie about these things to support a police narrative. They lie, or they did not (they do not) understand the full arsenal of opportunities available to an offender over women when contemplating the nature of rape.
So, yes, someone in that party may have wanted Fecteau killed because she had a big mouth, or she screwed up a drug deal, but someone else – or other persons – in that party wanted something else, something in addition to having her killed. Because if it’s a simple contract killing, you don’t strip the body naked. If it’s just a murder-for-hire, you’d leave her like they left Manon Bergeron, clothed. You don’t toss evidence along a gravel road, like the clothing and a wallet, like they did with Theresa Allore. Someone – or others – in that group wasn’t just a contract killer. They were also a sexual murderer.