CEIC: Before Charbonneau, remember the Malouf Commission?

While we wait for the Charbonneau Construction Inquiry to reconvene, I thought it might be a good idea to visit the Ghosts of Quebec Public Inquiries Past.

First, Quebec has seen no shortage of public inquiries, or calls for public inquiries. Some are well known and form part of our recent collective memory;  the Poitras Commision’s inquiry into the Surete du Quebec,  the Oka Mohawk crisis, the Laval overpass collapse.

The Royal Trust Co. now “Whiskey Dix”

But who remembers Premier Godbout’s 1943 call for an inquiry into hospital nurseries? Or what about the call for a securities inquiry when The Royal Trust Company (became RBC) moved assets from Montreal to Kingston on the eve of a general election? A move critics claimed was designed to enhance economic fears of a destablized and independent Quebec (The Quebec St. John Baptiste Society called it  “as reprehensible and with graver consequences than any terrorist action”.) Remember the Fredy Villanueva affair? Of course you do. But what about the Wagner report into police’s use of excessive force during the 1964 Queen’s visit to Quebec City? Remember the Otto Lang inquiry into fully bilingual air traffic control? I didn’t think so.


Jerome Choquette in the 70s

This one caught my attention. In 1970 Roy Fournier, then chairman of the Liberal justice committee, called for a major inquiry into underworld activities in Quebec, a notion that then Premier Robert Bourassa suggested “might be a good idea”. Fournier claimed the criminal underworld had become so powerful in Quebec that only a major public inquiry could really address the problem. Then justice minister Jerome Choquette concurred saying that up 30% of Montreal nightclubs were controlled by the Mafia.The previous premier Daniel Johnson warned that,

“the underworld has invaded an alarming number of legitimate businesses in Quebec and urged immediate government action to curb underworld operations”.

Ahh, what’s past is prologue!

Alright, I’ll stop being cheeky and get to what’s really on my mind. Yes, my point is that Duchesneau, Amato, Tenti, etc… are all singing a song of the past, but the real elephant in the room is the Malouf Commission’s Public Inquiry into Jean Drapeau’s 1976 Montreal Olympics, and did we learn anything from that?

Albert Malouf

Let me set the stage, and stop me when any of this starts sounding familiar. It’s 1977 and Quebec is waking up to the fact that they didn’t get what they paid  for. Mayor Drapeau’s second act to Expo 67 was supposed to cost tax payers $120M, but the price tag for the Olympics reached $1.6B (that’s right, “The Big Oh”… debt finally retired in 2006). The Parti Quebecois are fresh off their first provincial win and Rene Levesque (himself  having just dodged a public inquiry for the fatal hit-and-run of Edgar Trotier) launches an inquiry into the Games, appointing Justice Albert Malouf to head a three-man commission. Among the findings:

1. All construction contracts over $1M had to have special government approval. This safeguard was circumvented by contractors who simply asked for multiple contract increases under $1M.

2. The project was completely controlled by one man, French architect Rober Taillibert.

3. The company that won the contract for parking with a bid of $3.7M filed multiple contract increases and ended up getting paid $9.7M. And the contract was not executed until 6 months after the Games were completed.

4. The chief contractors, Formes du Quebec-Stationnement Viau, Les Formes du Quebec Construction, Sabrice Ltd, Dube and Dube, Bombardier, Roski Ltd, Stratinor, all ended up earning profits disproportionate with the services rendered.

5. Roski Ltd., a subsidiary of Bombardier, won a contract for providing seats for the Games even though its bid did not meet the specifications set by the City of Montreal. 

The whole mess is best summed up by Ian MacDonald who in a 1978 column wrote,

“When it comes to commissions of inquiry Quebec is truly not a province like the others.

Government-appointed commissions in Ottawa and elsewhere often conform to the Canadian dictum of solving a problem by making it go away, Quebec inquiries typically assume a spectacular life of their own.”  

MacDonald goes on to confirm what we already know; Public Inquiries are spectacularly staged acts of political theater. They cost a lot, and usually wind up scapegoating the wrong people, and sidestep solving real problems. 

In the Case of the Malouf Commission, the recommendations came on the eve of the Montreal municipal election. It found fault with Mayor Jean Drapeau, and largely excused everyone else, including the Liberal provincial government in power at the time of the Games, much to the dismay of Rene Levesque  (some civil servants got spanked)…


 In the next year, while we watch as witness after witness is dragged before the Charbonneau Commission, as the PLQ, CAQ, PQ jockey for position, as we wait for the recommendations from this Kabuki dumb-show, we might want to look to the past and not set our hopes too high.


CEIC Charbonneau Commission: Day 4 – Mike Amato

Mike Amato, a detective with the York Regional Police in Ontario takes the stand today in the 4th day of Charbonneau hearings this week. Amato is scheduled to appear at 9;30 AM. He apparently is an expert in biker gang activity.

Watch the hearings here.

Follow on Twitter: Monique Muise (Gazette) @monique_muise ,  Stephane Giroux (CTV) @SGirouxCTV,  AD Humphreys (Mafia expert)  @AD_Humphrey


CEIC Charbonneau Commission Day 3: ValentinaTenti Short Session

Day 2 of Valentina Tenti’s testimony was a short one. The commission recessed before noon, and Mike Amato, the detective from York Regional Police won’t take the stand until tomorrow.

Some highlights:

– Tenti could not cite an ethnic connection to Mafia corruption.

– She could not cite a correlation between gender and the mafia (though in some instances wives would front legitimate businesses for Mafia husbands)

– Tenti stated that in Sicily the Mafia is starting to branch out from public works and into the health care system and solid waste management.

– Tenti said that entrepreneurs that tried to co-exist along side the Mafia, apart from collusion would eventually have their businesses burned to the ground.

– Corruption is going to exist wherever there is a lack of checks and balances. It’s not the Mafia that’s the problem, it’s the system that is the problem.

– Tenti: “The conclusions of the Commission should not be based on opinions, but upon accurate information.”


The Commission uploaded a new document today. Quebec Construction Industry Annual Statistics 2011 is now available on their website.


CEIC: la reprise des travaux

Pas grand-chose aujourd’hui dans la voie de l’action. Président France Charbonneau à mettre la table en déclarant l’enquête (# CEIC) examinerait liens avec le crime organisé et les gangs de motards, mais jusqu’à présent, très peu de détails dans la nature de «qui fait quoi». Un grand nombre d’informations détaillées sur l’histoire de l’industrie de la construction par Louis Delagrave, une industrie de 5 milliards de dollars, celui de tous les dollars $ 5 au Québec se dirige vers la construction. C’est beaucoup de tarte, si “checks and balances” ne sont pas en place, c’est beaucoup de possibilités. Nous verrons dans les jours à venir nous où cela mène.

Comme une note côté, je suis étonné de la quantité de la transparence et de l’accès à l’information dans cette enquête. Je suis assis ici en Caroline du Nord, et je peux regarder en direct des flux télévisée des séances. Le streaming est fantastique. Le gouvernement du Québec fait tout document produit par les témoins sont disponibles en ligne le jour même avec ajouts (voir ici).

La dernière enquête publique au Québec que je me souvienne de cette ampleur était d’enquête publique de la Commission Poitras à la Sûreté du Québec en 1996 (L’Affaire Matticks) . Je n’étais pas là pour ça, mais ce n’était rien de tout cela, vous avez essentiellement dû compter sur les médias, ou d’attendre le rapport publié à obtenir des informations. Comme un citoyen moyen, je dis, Well Done! Nous sommes des contribuables, nous ne devrions pas être à la merci de quiconque quand il s’agit d’accéder à des informations sur les choses que nous payons pour.


Coolopolis: Montreal’s Finest Blog

I wish this was a piece about my first New York or LA apartment, those places were cool. But this is about my first Montreal apartment; the story here is pathetic and honest.
I grew up in the West Island. I has an older brother and sister. My first exposure to living on your own was through them, and some of the shit-holes they inhabited. My sister moved out at age 18 and lived in a place on St. Charles boulevard near the Trans Canada. This would have been around 1977; she had dropped out of school and was working at some ski factory near Point Claire (she would later return to school, attending CEGEP at Champlain College… that experience killed her, but that’s another story).
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Theresa in the St Charles apartment
Shortly after this, around 1980 my brother was attending McGill and lived in this place, I think it was around Metcalf and de Maisonneuve (near where Ben’s was). Anyway, you would remember it because it actually crossed over de Maisonneuve, and he lived in this hovel above the road. I might have the location wrong, but some of you will remember it. Anyway, I remember going up there and staying with my brother. I definitely stayed there the night we saw The Police together at the Sports Center at U of Montreal. 
My First Montreal Apartment
1982. I was in Montreal for the Summer doing an internship at some computer company before going of to school at the University of Toronto. I lived at the corner of Aylmer and Avenue des Pins, in a place affectionately called “The Wedge”. It’s still there, a white, 12-story building across from Molson Stadium. I lived there with my father, who had rented the place because he was travelling back and forth on business from Saint John, New Brunswick (I’m still not convinced that my mother hadn’t turfed him out, and this was some sort of punishment before they reconciled). Anyway, on weekends I would get the place to myself, but this was my first experience alone in Montreal (I was 18) so I really didn’t know what to do with it. I remember getting a six-pack and sitting on the roof of the “The Wedge” watching this concert at Molson Stadium (The Police, English Beat, The Go-Gos?).  I would wander down to Phantasmagoria and buy records. One time I saw King Crimson at La Ronde. I saw Steel Pulse in an area of town that I don’t even remember.
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The Wedge
It should have been a great Summer, but the whole experience was lonely and pathetic. I’d take the bus in the morning to some industrial complex in Lachine. Sit in a cubicle all day and get ignored (they weren’t going to give an 18-year-old intern NOTHING to do). Take the bus back to The Wedge, wander around downtown, do it all over again. The apartment was on like the 8th floor, it was really Spartan; my dad was re-living his Jesuit days at Loyola… I think we had 2 spoons, 2 knives, 2 forks, a can opener and a toaster oven. Nothing on the walls. 
That was my first, and only experience living on my own in Montreal. I had received a partial scholarship to McGill, and by the time the Summer was over, I changed my mind and opted for U of T. 
I since moved to the States and have lived here in North Carolina for the past 10 years, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love Montreal, because I LOVE MONTREAL. I was back in July with my three daughters. We did Mount Royal and La Ronde. We saw Beaver Lake before they drained it. I loved looking through the carnage that was Expo, now resembling a set from Planet of the Apes. I love that Wednesdays are still Classic Car nights at the Orange Julep. I love that the Kraft sign is still there. And if I have it my way, one of my daughters will attend McGill in the next five years. 

Normand Guérin doit être transféré en maison de transition à deux coins de rue d’une de ses victimes

Voici un suivi de la Commission des libérations conditionnelles du Canada “brillante” décision de libérer Normand Guérin a en maison de transition à deux coins de rue d’une de ses victimes…

Complice Guérin en 1979 dans le meurtre de Chantal Dupont et Maurice Marcil était Gilles Pimparé (je l’ai écrit plus sur ces meurtres ici). Gilles Pimparé est toujours en prison. Les deux derniers registres décision que j’ai de la Commission des libérations conditionnelles sont de Novembre 2010 et Juin 2011. Pimparé, qui est maintenant 57, a une longue histoire de violence. En plus des meurtres de Dupont et Marcil, qui étaient de 14 et 15 ans au moment, Pimparé avait été criminellement actif depuis 13 ans. Son évaluation psychiatrique en 2010 a révélé que Pimparé était encore sexuellement déviant et un toxicomane. Il avait un niveau de risque élevé de récidive sexuelle et violente. Le profil a décrit comme un psychopathe. Pimparé a été trouvé avec photos pornographiques dans sa cellule, la plupart avec une jeune femme nue posant devant le pont Jacques-Cartier (le pont où il s’est engagé et Guérin de 1979 meurtres). La Commission des libérations conditionnelles a conclu que Pimparé était réticent / à l’abri de changer son comportement, et la libération conditionnelle a été refusée.

En Juin 2011 Pimparé fait appel de la décision 2010 en raison de certaines erreurs de droit, mais le conseil a rejeté son appel et confirmé la décision 2010.

Pimparé est à côté pour examen en Octobre 2012. La Commission des libérations conditionnelles prendra sa décision en Novembre 2012.


Normand Guérin released to half-way house two blocks away from one of his victims

Here’s a follow up on the Parole Board of Canada’s BRILLIANT decision to release Normand Guérin into a half-way house two blocks away from one of his victims….

Guérin’s accomplice in the 1979 murders of  Chantal Dupont and Maurice Marcil was Gilles Pimparé (I’ve written more about these murders here). Gilles Pimparé is still in prison. The last two decision registries I have from the Parole Board are from November 2010 and June 2011. Pimparé, who is now 57, had a long history of violence. In addition to the murders of Dupont and Marcil who were 14 and 15 at the time, Pimparé had been criminally active since age 13. His psychiatric evaluation in 2010 revealed that Pimparé was still sexually deviant, and a drug abuser. He had a high risk level to re-offend sexually and violently. The profile described him as a psychopath. Pimparé was found with pornographic  photos in his cell, many with a nude young woman posing in front of the Jacques Cartier bridge (the bridge where he and Guérin committed the 1979 murders). The parole board concluded that Pimparé was reluctant / immune to changing his behavior, and parole was denied.

In June 2011 Pimparé appealed the 2010 decision on the grounds of some legal errors, but the board dismissed his appeal and upheld the 2010 decision.

Pimparé is next up for review this October, 2012. The Parole Board will make its decision in November, 2012.


Sûreté du Québec: vous obtenez ce que vous payez?

Les chefs des syndicats de police du Québec expriment leurs inquiétudes au sujet du coût élevé de la consolidation de police, de plus en plus de petits corps de police municipaux se roulé sous l’égide de la Sûreté du Québec.

Il devrait y avoir problème. La question n’est pas seulement le problème de la double imposition (des villes comme Montréal qui n’ont pas été consolidées paient deux fois, tant pour la SQ et le SPVM), mais aussi le fait que, une fois consolidée, les municipalités peuvent pas revenir en arrière si les citoyens découvrent qu’ils ont été fournis de meilleurs services antérieurs à la consolidation.

La période de consolidation SQ a commencé en masse en arrière dans les années 70 sous un gouvernement PQ alors nouvellement élu. Je me souviens très bien que l’un des problèmes clefs avec l’enquête sur assassiner ma sœur était à la cause de la consolidation. Les forces de police dans les petites Compton et Lennoxville ont été balayés par la SQ. Les deux villes ont été l’autorité de police prociding dans la zone où Thérèse a disparu (Lennoxville) et où son corps a été retrouvé (Compton). Le nouvellement nommé Sûreté du Québec avait seulement assumé le contrôle d’un certain nombre d’années à l’époque, et la force, en venant à bout de son nouveau pouvoir, ont bâclé de nombreuses procédures au cours de l’enquête.

Ceci est typique quand donnerai autorité sur une force homogénéisé, au lieu de ses habitants qui connaissent la région et peuvent répondre aux besoins spécifiques d’une communauté. Je prendrais le SPVM au cours de la SQ toute la journée (et la police régionale de Peel sur la GRC, d’ailleurs). À la lumière des récents faux-pas à Saint John, au Nouveau-Brunswick au cours des enquêtes de  Richard Oland et l’ assassiner Bacchus Motorcycle Club , certains ont appelé à la dissolution de la main-Saint-Jean, ils diront que la GRC devrait prendre le contrôle. Les résultats seraient désastreux pour la communauté de Saint-Jean, et il vous suffit de regarder CETTE pour voir ce que vous obtenez lorsque vous demandez gouvernements parapluie de prendre le contrôle des problèmes locaux.

La province de Québec devrait réfléchir à deux fois avant d’envisager la consolidation de plus ses forces municipales. À tout le moins, à la suite des prochaines élections, les candidats devraient être tenus d’exprimer leur position lors de la consolidation, tel que demandé par les représentants syndicaux de la police. Plus ici:

Les deux syndicats représentent l’ensemble des policiers de la province, à l’exception de ceux de la Sûreté du Québec (SQ).

 Le président de la Fraternité, Yves Francoeur, croit que la métropole ne reçoit pas sa juste part du gâteau, avec 24% de la population du Québec, mais avec 33% de la criminalité. 

«Depuis le début de l’année, les services policiers coûtent très cher à Montréal et ils ont reçu zéro de Québec jusqu’à maintenant», a-t-il décrié. «Quand Québec décrète une loi ou un projet de loi qui déplaît aux gens, c’est toujours à Montréal que sont les retombées.»

Yves Francoeur évalue que si Québec répartissait équitablement ses subventions aux forces policières, la ville de Montréal empocherait quelque 200 millions $ de plus annuellement.

 Cette répartition du financement a des effets concrets sur les services aux citoyens, avance M. Francoeur. Le SPVM est notamment un cancre sur le plan du taux de résolution des crimes majeurs. «Dans les 44 villes de plus de 100 000 habitants au Canada, Montréal est 40e», a dénoncé le président de la Fraternité des policiers et des policières de Montréal.

Selon la Fraternité et la FPMQ, les contribuables des grandes villes du Québec financent de façon exagérée les services que la SQ offre aux petites communautés et aux villes de tailles moyennes qui ont opté pour cette option. Québec offre des avantages financiers aux municipalités qui «sous-traitent» leur police à la Sûreté du Québec, dénoncent les deux syndicats de police.

«Avec des subventions payées par d’autres, le gouvernement jette de la poudre aux yeux en faisant miroiter aux maires des économies sur cinq ou dix ans», a dénoncé Denis Côté, président de la FPMQ. Depuis un an, Rivière-du-Loup, Sainte-Adèle et Saint-Georges ont décidé d’abolir leur police municipale.

«Les services offerts à la population changent, les services de prévention et les services de proximité ne sont plus au rendez-vous», a ajouté le policier. «Si rien ne change, seules les grandes villes auront une sûreté municipale.»


Surete du Quebec: you get what you pay for?

The heads of police unions in Quebec are expressing concerns about the high cost of police consolidations, as more and more small  municipal forces get rolled up under the umbrella of the Surete du Quebec.

There should be concern. At issue is not only the problem of double taxation (cities like Montreal that have not been consolidated are paying twice, both for the SQ and the SPVM), but also the fact that once consolidated, municipalities cannot go back if citizens find they were provided better services prior to consolidation.

The period of SQ consolidation began en masse back in 70s under a then newly elected PQ government. I can well remember that one of the cornerstone problems with the investigation into my sister’s murder was at the cause of consolidation. Small police forces in Compton and Lennoxville were swept up by the SQ. Both towns had been the prociding police authority in the area where Theresa went missing (Lennoxville) and where her body was found (Compton). The newly appointed Surete du Quebec had only assumed control for a number of years at that time, and the force, in coming to grips with its new authority, bungled many procedures during the investigation.

This is typical when give authority over to a homogenized force, instead of the locals who know the area and can respond to the specialized needs of a community. I would take the SPVM over the SQ any day (and the Peel Regional Police over the RCMP for that matter). In light of recent missteps in Saint John, New Brunswick over the investigations of the Richard Oland and the Bacchus Motorcycle Club murder , some have called for the dissolution of the Saint John force; they would argue that the Mounties should assume control. The results would be disastrous for the Saint John community, and you need only look at THIS to see what you  would get when you ask umbrella governments to take control of local problems.

The province of Quebec should think twice before considering any more consolidation of its municipal forces. At the very least, in the wake of the upcoming elections, candidates should be required to express their position on consolidation, as requested by police union representatives. More here:

Police give wish list to Quebec election candidates

MONTREAL – The heads of the Montreal Police Brotherhood and the Quebec federation of municipal police have given their wish list to candidates in the Sept. 4 election.

At the top, a promise not to eradicate any more of the province’s municipal police forces, in decline over the past 10 years as the Sûreté du Québec takes over, and a quest for more funding for Montreal, with the lion’s share of demonstrations and organized crime.

At a news conference Saturday morning, Police Brotherhood president Yves Francoeur said residents of larger cities like Montreal are paying twice for police services: once for their own municipal force, and through their income taxes to support the SQ in the rest of the province.

But Montreal itself, like other cities of more than 100,000 people, receives no funding for police services from the province, Francoeur said, despite making up one quarter of the population of Quebec — and accounting for one third of its crime.

“It’s in the big cities that crimes are generally committed, it’s in the big cities that there are demonstrations, it’s in the big cities that street gangs are a big problem,” Francoeur said, suggesting all municipalities should be subsidized to the same extent: to cover 47 per cent of the cost of policing.

In Montreal, the student demonstrations over the spring cost an estimated $15 million, Francoeur said.

By the beginning of July, some officers had racked up 700 hours of overtime.

Denis Côté, president of the Quebec federation of municipal police, decried the expansion of the SQ at the expense of a thousand municipal police officers, as more than 100 municipal forces have disappeared in the last decade.

The process by which the SQ can take over from a municipal police force, as they did in the last year in Rivière du Loup, Ste. Adèle and St. Georges de Beauce, is “undemocratic,” Côté said. While a mayor must consult the public, the city administration can decide to ignore the public’s views, and a decision cannot be reversed if the population is dissatisfied with the service it gets from the SQ.

Both Francoeur and Côté want electoral candidates to say what they will do to rectify the situation and to affirm they have no “hidden agenda” to put into place a single, national police force.

“The parties, both the Coalition Avenir Quebec and the Parti Québécois, are only talking about corruption, Yes, we have to talk about it… and find measures to eradicate it. But we’re saying position yourselves on other aspects (of public security),” Francoeur said.

“There are enough ex-police officers who are running for election to get a thought-out point of view on the issue from all the parties,” Côté said.

The CAQ’s star candidate, Jacques Duchesneau, was chief of the Montreal police from 1994 to 1998.


The Serial Killer Ate My Homework

Watching some of these investigative reporters attempt to solve crimes gets as boring as watching American league baseball. No-one wants to single and bunt their way to victory, it’s all about the DH bases loaded home run, let’s hang it all to a serial killer and solve five crimes at once.

Israel Keyes

Take the case of Nancy West writing in a recent New Hampshire Sunday News article about murder suspect Israel Keyes. Keyes is being held in Alaska for the alleged kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig from an Anchorage coffee shop. Keyes is also apparently  a person of interest in the slaying of Essex, Vermont couple, Bill and Lorraine Currier, who were randomly abducted and murdered in June 2011 (apparently Keyes has told investigators the bodies could be found in a Vermont landfill).  The article (and apparently an impatient public, and capitulating law enforcement agencies) then attempts to tie Keyes to the disappearance and murder of Celina Cass, whose body was retrieved from a local river over a year ago, less than a quarter of a mile from her home. The evidence? Cass disappeared the month after the Currier murders.

Never mind that where the Curriers live in Essex, Vermont is a good five-hour drive on rough roads to where Cass disappeared in New Hampshire. Never mind that the psychological profile of someone who robs and kills a couple in their 50s is vastly different from someone who murders an 11-year-old. Investigators also note that Keyes owned a cabin near the Canadian border in Constable, New York. Let me put that in perspective for you; that’s three states, and over 300 miles. It’s like saying a person from Cornwall, Ontario is a suspect in a Sherbrooke, Quebec murder simply because there once was a penitentiary in Cornwall.

It gets better. The article also notes that the cases of Maura Murray and Louise Chaput remain unsolved in New Hampshire. 

Celia Cass

I’ll make this really easy for everyone. There is no evidence that Israel Keyes murdered Celina Cass (or Murray or Chaput). Cass was found a quarter of a mile from her house and was most likely murdered by a family member.

As I wrote about in my last post, through a long process of trial and error I have become a disciple of the least effort principle of Occam’s Razor. By all means keep your mind open for the unexpected, but also keep it simple, let the facts speak for themselves. The pressure and temptation to throw everything into some great unifying theory in criminal investigation is strong. I remember back in the Summer of 2005 I was working with NBC television to do a story for Dateline NBC on my sister’s murder. The producers were interested in exploring an angle between her case, and the then two new investigations into the twin disappearances of Briana Maitland and Maura Murray. The producers wanted myself and Geographic Profiler, Kim Rossmo to go on record and suggest that all the cases might be related, that their was a possibility that a serial killer had been operating across the American-Canadian border over a period of three decades. There was absolutely no evidence to support this theory. Rossmo explained that when establishing locus and territoriality in geographic profiling, the span of a serial predator quickly diminishes at a point of say, 30 miles. For someone to be operating in a playing field of several hundred miles is very rare, if not impossible. Some might cite Ted Bundy, but that was never really the case: Bundy travelled. In the case of the Green River Killings one of the major inhibitors to resolving that investigation was the temptation to tie too much together (to essentially make Gary Ridgeway and Robert Pickton one person). When we told the producers at NBC that there no evidence to support such a sensational theory they didn’t care. They wanted us to say it anyway.

Eventually we backed away from the Dateline story, and the producers were not interested in doing a show that stuck with the facts. I will admit that the temptation to give them what they wanted was there. Regardless if it was true, a Dateline story would have given my sister’s case International exposure. It could have led to information that could have solved the case. But the premise wasn’t true, it could have done more damage than good. And anyway, an American audience would do little to shed light on events of 3o-years-ago; what ultimately was needed was a program in the French language, produced for locals, by locals (which is ultimately was what we got).

In November 1999, 16-year-old Julie Surprenant disappeared from a Montreal bus-stop. Less than two years later, 14-year-old Julie Bureau went missing

Julie Surprenant’s father, Michel

from her home near Sherbrooke, Quebec. Then ten months later the body of 27-year-old Julie Boisvenu was found in a ditch near Sherbrooke. She had been raped, beaten and strangled to death. The press quickly tried to suggest that the cases were somehow linked. Their evidence? The girls were all named Julie. I’m not joking. I remember the La Presse headline, Les Trois Julies, and I myself got caught up in this hysteria. So what happened? Julie Surprenant was abducted and killed by serial offender Richard Bouillon who, on his prison death bed, confessed to a nurse that he killed her. Her body has never been found. Julie Bureau was a runaway who resurfaced three years later, apparently living under everyone’s noses in Sherbrooke.  Julie Boisvenu was murdered by Hugo Bernier, who is currently serving a life sentence. Bernier was a repeat offender, but not a hardened criminal like Bouillon.

This brings me full circle to the cases on Briana Maitland and Maura Murray. Both disappeared

Maura Murray

within a month of each other eight years ago. Both disappearances involved abandoned automobiles on lonely forested highways. Both were young, attractive women with their whole lives ahead of them. For years investigators, the media and the public have tried to link the cases. It took the first year and a half before investigators officially dismissed any connection, wasting valuable resources and time.

The cases are vastly different.

Murray appears to have been under numerous stressors that could have given her a reason to runaway. She may be living somewhere else, or she may have been in despair and perhaps died in the woods. Maitland’s disappearance seems to be linked to foul play. Friends and associates to this day are not talking. She may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Where Maitland’s investigation appears to have stalled, the Murray case has received fresh interest with the creation of a blog by investigative journalist James Renner  ( apparently to the dismay of the family unfortunately). Nevertheless, Renner appears clear-headed and dedicated to sticking to the facts of the case. I hope both cases soon find their resolutions.