Could Norah and Romy have been saved?

It is a tragedy that paralyzed Quebec in July 2020. Martin Carpentier disappeared with his two daughters, Norah and Romy. Three days after the disappearance, the girls are found dead in a wood, in Saint-Apollinaire.

Posted at 5:00 a.m.

Their father killed himself after killing them.

And to add to the tragedy, the mother of the little ones, Amélie Lemieux, had read a message shortly after the tragedy surrounded by her loved ones, in front of the media, after having gathered at the Parc des Chutes-de-la-Chaudière: “You are all my life. »

Impossible to watch this scene without having a lump in the throat. The suffering of this mother was there, in front of us, raw.

The Sûreté du Québec had searched the area for three days. In the media, we had seen the police raking the wooded areas, the SQ helicopter flying over the region.

The SQ had concluded that in the woods, the drama had played out quickly and that it could not have done anything to avoid it.

There were, however, enigmatic facts in this affair, gray areas. The SQ did not quickly raise the AMBER alert. The investigation begins with the discovery of Martin Carpentier’s damaged car on the A20.

Where are the occupants of the car, for example?

The first agents do not know it, do not immediately suspect that this accident – and the occupants not found – could hide something sinister.

When Coroner Sophie Régnière’s report is filed in November 2021, the girls’ mother, Amélie Lemieux, will blame the SQ1will speak of “inaction” of the police: 18 hours had passed between the discovery of the accident on the 20 and the murder of the two girls.

Mme Lemieux was particularly against the decision of the SQ not to alert the public more quickly, by means of the AMBER alert.

Coroner Régnière, quite rightly, underlined in her report2 that the SQ could and should have triggered the AMBER alert more quickly. She will also point out that the SQ should have collaborated better with wildlife officers. And that the police came up against the silence of the hospital staff who, on the pretext of the confidentiality of personal files, refused to collaborate on Martin Carpentier.

In an interview with Radio-Canada at the filing of its report3, the coroner Régnière will also say that this investigation was like no other, for her. The coroner remained on his appetite, despite a thorough investigation.

I quote her: “I feel like I haven’t done my job, even though I did, but I’ve come to the end of the journey. »

Case closed ?


Because the journalist who did this interview with the coroner, Marie-Pier Bouchard, conducted her own investigation into this affair, which she had followed from the start. Active and retired police officers told him that, yes, there were gray areas in the SQ’s hunt to find the girls in July 2020.

And Marie-Pier Bouchard broadcast the results of her investigation on the show Investigationtwo weeks ago4 : gray areas were not in communications problems or about the exact time of the triggering of the AMBER alert.

The errors of the police investigation are rather in the deployment of the personnel of the unit specialized in “ground research” of the Sûreté du Québec. There is such a thing as police officers specializing in ground search for missing persons.

It’s not just about hunting through the forest to find missing people, with the support of a helicopter equipped with thermal cameras. It’s a specialization in itself, “terrestrial research”, it requires particular expertise.

First gray area: the SQ dismantled its unit of 70 police officers in 2019, to redeploy them to highway posts. And when people disappear, who will we call on? To patrollers who do not necessarily have expertise in land search.

The journalist collected the secrets of Alain Croteau, one of the coordinators of the SQ’s ground search unit, until March 2021. Looking for people in the forest is a specialized job, he says in the report.Investigation : “Me, I’m told: ‘When you have a search operation, you’ll take personnel from right and left in the posts’… It’s not the same way it works. »

Even before the disappearance of the girls, the SQ had therefore lost expertise with the dissolution of this terrestrial research unit.

Noteworthy: worried police officers had even alerted the office of the Minister of Public Security, Geneviève Guilbault, about this loss of expertise.

Second gray area: the investigation itself, in these days of July 2020, in the woods. Missed clues (sandal prints), highly questionable decisions on the areas to prioritize, the very use of the helicopter which would be almost useless in a similar case – 5% efficiency –, and the lack of police force…

The SQ did not want to grant an interview to journalist Marie-Pier Bouchard, claiming to want to wait for the broadcast of the report.

And once the report was broadcast, the SQ issued a press release internally, a press release which essentially said this: we did everything we could and should do, according to the rules of the art…

It is permissible to have serious doubts as to the certainties of the SQ on the quality of its work in the Carpentier affair, let’s say.

Coroner Régnière, she has doubts. After missing out on the facts revealed by Radio-Canada, she asked an investigator from the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal to investigate further. A very rare procedure.

You must not be in bad faith, after watching the report of the show Investigationto suspect that the Sûreté du Québec made significant errors, in July 2020.

Are these suspicions justified?

The facts revealed by the journalist confirm one thing: it is not up to the SQ to make its own diagnosis in this case.

The SQ, in its communications, seems above all concerned with its image. However, the image of the SQ, when two little girls are dead, we don’t care at all. What matters is having the facts, the context and the actual diagnosis. To make corrections, if it turns out that the SQ must make some.

Norah and Romy’s mother, Amélie Lemieux, is demanding a public inquiry. His questioning is fundamental: could Norah and Romy have been saved by a more efficient SQ, in July 2020?

It’s a legitimate question.

It would be the least of things that the government of François Legault helps Amélie Lemieux to have answers, through a public inquiry.

Unless the government, like the SQ, is more concerned about the management of its image in this affair.

source site-63