The mother of Norah and Romy Carpentier in search of answers, two years after their death at the hands of Martin Carpentier

The mother of sisters Norah and Romy Carpentier still admits being unable to explain the tragedy that turned her life upside down and shook Quebec in July 2020. [Martin Carpentier], he was a good father, ”said Amélie Lemieux on the first day of the public hearings set up to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the tragedy. “I felt lucky to be with someone good. »

The inquest, chaired by Deputy Chief Coroner Me Luc Malouin, aims to understand how Martin Carpentier, described as a loving and caring father, but also obsessed with the fear of losing custody of his children, was able to flee the scene of a car accident on the evening of July 8, 2020 , to put an end to the days of his two daughters and take his own life in a dense wooded area of ​​Saint-Apollinaire.

The mother of the two missing girls, Amélie Lemieux, spoke on the first day of the hearings. Her testimony began by describing her seemingly uneventful romance with Martin Carpentier, similar to many relationships that were first happy and then slowly eroded by lack of communication and financial anguish. It ended with the tragic story of a mother, who left to shout the names of her children at the edge of a forest the day after their disappearance.

Amélie Lemieux and Martin Carpentier met in 2008, when she was expecting the birth of her eldest, Norah. From the start, Martin Carpentier acts like a loving man who is very committed to pregnancy. She and he married in January 2010; the same year, he officially becomes the adoptive father of Norah whom he loves, since birth, as his own daughter.

The first difficulties appear in 2013 in the couple, during a construction strike which compromises the livelihood of Martin Carpentier. He and Amélie Lemieux are expecting the birth of Romy at the same time. Financial stress creeps into family life. The first misunderstandings too.

“Martin was very withdrawn, described Mme The best. I had difficulty communicating with him, especially on money matters. He also had behaviors that I did not understand. »

In the months preceding Romy’s birth, for example, Martin Carpentier became more distant. “He cared less about the belly than when I was pregnant with Norah, explained Amélie Lemieux. When I asked him why, he replied: “I can’t lose that one”. I can’t say beyond doubt that he was afraid of losing Norah, but I think it was a fear. »

The separation

The couple separated in 2015. On this occasion, Martin Carpentier, for the first time in seven years together, insulted the mother of his children. The latter said that other episodes of aggression had previously dotted the life of the couple. On one occasion, for example, he hit a table to the point of breaking the glass. At another, he had angrily emptied the shed, without explaining why. “He had aggressive behavior, but never towards me or towards the children, assured the mother of the two missing children. He was a good father to our daughters. »

The separation, after a stormy period of adaptation, finally leads to common ground. Each parent has custody of the children every other week. Amélie Lemieux and Martin Carpentier exchange to manage the daily, share the expenses related to the little girls, always with cordiality, according to the mother. “The relationship, she assures, was not conflictual”.

The pandemic strikes in 2020 and closes all construction sites. Once again, Martin Carpentier finds himself in financial uncertainty and wants to make arrangements to negotiate his mortgage loan. “I told him that he could stop paying me support, that I was not close to $280,” said Amélie Lemieux.

Despite this arrangement, the father fears losing custody of Norah. “He had lost a lot of weight,” recalls Amélie Lemieux. “I told him to take care of himself, that he had lost weight. It was on the occasion of Father’s Day. She had seen Martin Carpentier when presenting her with a card, made with his daughters, and a gift — an apron with the inscription: “Not all superheroes wear a cape.”

The fateful day

The mother’s testimony took a dramatic turn when the interrogation approached the fateful day of July 8, 2020. Amélie Lemieux recounted the last day lived with her daughters, devoted to enjoying the summer in her parents’ swimming pool. Martin Carpentier took custody of the two sisters at the end of the day. A few hours later, he was buying ice cream for his children, taking Highway 20 westbound, making a U-turn at Saint-Janvier-de-Joly, then swerving at 9:20 p.m. near Saint-Apollinaire …before passing out in the forest.

It was at 9:40 p.m. that Amélie Lemieux said she learned of the disappearance of her daughters. “I became hysterical, I was no longer able to control myself… I just wanted to know where my children were. »

The same evening, she goes to the scene of the accident. Frantic calls to relatives, incomprehension, panic fear… In the fog surrounding this evening when her life changed dramatically, Amélie Lemieux remembers saying to the police: “Martin, he will not come out of the woods. He’s scared, he wants to be found. Go find it. »

“What did you do in the hours that followed?” “Asked the public inquiry prosecutor, Mr.e Dave Kimpton. “I tried to survive,” said Amélie Lemieux. She also asked for the triggering of an alert, the use of helicopters. “I didn’t understand why it was taking so long. »

The mother said that she had gone to look for her little girls herself on July 9 at dawn. She took the road to Saint-Apollinaire, stopping at a rest stop to ask a trucker to broadcast the description of the two children in his credit card, before ending up at the corner of the road to Bois-de-l’Ail and rang Bois-Joly, to shout the names of his children at the edge of the forest. “I was so close to them, she burst into a painful sob. I didn’t even know that…”

By the time she was trying to find her children, the police had still not issued an Amber Alert. It was around 3 p.m., nearly 20 hours after the accident, that it was finally launched.

The police will find the two small remains on July 11. The hung body of their father, him, on the 20th. “My daughters found themselves in the wrong place, at the wrong time, sobbed Amélie Lemieux. With the person who loved them the most in the world. »

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