Murders of Norah and Romy Carpentier | SQ admits it could have acted faster

(Quebec) The Sûreté du Québec admits that it could have alerted the population more quickly in the summer of 2020 when Norah and Romy Carpentier disappeared, as the coroner pointed out in her report released Wednesday.

Gabriel Beland

Gabriel Beland

“With hindsight, with the knowledge we have of the file, we are also of the opinion that we could have issued a press release or a wanted notice a little more quickly,” concedes in an interview the director of communications of the Sûreté du Québec. from Quebec (SQ), Patrice Cardinal.

Coroner Sophie Régnière notes that the police have lost nine hours of precious time before publicizing the disappearance of Norah and Romy Carpentier. An error that could have been fatal, according to the coroner.

“We would have maximized the chances of finding them,” Me Sophie Régnière. The 11 and 6 year old girls were finally killed by their father in a wooded area of ​​Saint-Apollinaire, on the south shore of Quebec.

The police initially believed, recalls the coroner, to be dealing with a hit-and-run after finding Martin Carpentier’s wrecked car on Highway 20 on July 8 at 9:24 p.m.

But as of 6 a.m. the next day, several clues pointed to a kidnapping. The father’s wife told investigators, for example, that she had received messages from him that were like saying goodbye.

“Little girls in danger”

However, it will take long hours before the AMBER alert is broadcast. It was triggered at 1:20 p.m., but only aired at 3:00 p.m. The original message exceeded the 300 character limit. The delay can be explained in part because it had to be rephrased.

“At 6 am, we are no longer looking for people lost in the woods, we are looking for little girls in danger. It is not the same. The media emergency is there at 6 am, ”said Me Régnière.

“Do whatever you want, call it AMBER alert, disappearance notice, do anything, but do it.” Around 6 am, that’s where it had to be done, ”she added.

As of 6 a.m. on July 9, the 6 and 11-year-old girls were still alive, according to the coroner’s inquest. They would have died in the afternoon. Their father hit them on the head with a branch. He then took his own life.

An alert in the morning could therefore have changed the outcome of the tragedy, even if it is impossible to say with certainty.

“We would have maximized the chances of finding them. But the reaction that Carpentier could have had with the intensification of the research, one cannot foresee it, she says. But we could have maximized our chances. ”

The SQ explains that these events have led it to review its way of issuing AMBER alerts.

“In recent years, about two AMBER alerts have been triggered in Quebec annually. In the past year, we have already started six, ”illustrates Patrice Cardinal.

“The new appreciation of the criteria leads us to trigger more quickly. These are the lessons we learned after the events of Norah and Romy Carpentier. ”

Does the SQ intend to apologize to the girls’ mother, Amélie Lemieux?

“We sympathize a lot with Norah and Romy’s mother. Most of us are fathers. I am, Mr. Cardinal said. There are lessons to be learned from events. We did it. It must be done in full transparency. We understand his dismay and we sympathize. ”

The College will remind physicians

The work of Mr. Carpentier’s family doctor also interested the coroner. Reached by the police, he refused to give any details about his patient’s condition. However, in notes dated June 2020, a month before the events, the doctor was worried that the man was struggling with depression.

This crucial information could have helped the police to better assess the dangerousness of the man, underlines the coroner.

“Among lawyers, in our code of ethics, we have the obligation to transmit information when the safety or the life of others is in danger,” notes Me Régnière. I know it’s like that for doctors too. ”

In an email to Press, the College of Physicians has indicated that it will better inform its members of this issue.

“The College will remind physicians that they are released from professional secrecy to prevent an act of violence, suicide or when there is a serious risk of death or serious injury and a sense of urgency,” said the door -speak, Leslie Labranche.

The Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis and the CHUL had also refused to tell the police if the father and his daughters had been admitted to the emergency room, claiming the confidentiality of the information, deplores the coroner. She asks Quebec to send a directive “on the sharing of information in an emergency context”.

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