Blind, Deaf and Muzzled
Rolland Giguère = Jean-Claude + Regis Lachance
In December 2021, the Surete du Quebec asked me to go back to podcasting and writing about Theresa’s case, with the goal of stirring up interest in the hopes that someone might come forward with information on the Lachance brothers, and the third man in the 1978 Lennoxville event, the driver of the automobile. As well, the SQ didn’t know the back story of Regis Lachance – the Fecteau murder, followed by the double murders of Grimard and Bergeron, the Laplante trial and Aloha Motel fire, and how Regis Lachance was the star witness, and a police informant. They asked that I spell this out in detail, so they could better understand the facts surrounding the alleged Lennoxville confession. There’s some kind of irony here that the police – again – were asking me to do their investigation. When I reflect on it I’ve accomplished more in a day than they’ve produced in over a year (it was June 2021 when they did their on-camera interview with Alex). I can either complain about it, or smile and do the work.
About a month ago I received the following Facebook message from someone following the series:
“Allo, can you give me a call? It’s about Régis Lachance”
Getting cold-contacted like this is always an anxious affair. I checked their Facebook profile, a lot of guns, a lot of bikes (They once owned a Harley Davidson and a Triumph Bonneville…). Once I got beyond my fear that they wanted to beat me up, I called them. But it was nothing scary, Noel (we’ll call them, Noel) wanted to help. And what they chiefly wanted to tell me was that the thought Régis Lachance was responsible for the murder of Rolland Giguère, the fried chicken entrepreneur murdered on Halloween night, 1969, Sherbrooke’s oldest unsolved homicide.
This is what I was told. Jean-Claude Lachance – who died in 2018 – was a younger brother of Regis Lachance. Jean-Claude had been a contract man working in the Sherbrooke underworld, though not exclusively. Jean-Claude committed several arsons on behalf of the police, including the burning of a hotel in downtown Sherbrooke. Jean-Claude “owned” a lot of buildings in Sherbrooke, including the Claude Submarine restaurant on Belvedere, in partnership with Regis (see map). The police in Sherbrooke were intimidated by Jean-Claude, often becoming friends with him, which seemed easier than arresting him. Jean-Claude allegedly kept a bar / speakeasy in the basement of his house, and police were often invited to drink there. Up until 1979, when it “accidentally” burned down, Jean-Claude Lachance lived in a house at at 2151 Queen Blvd / Route 143 which was about 1/2 mile from where the Lennoxville Hells Angels bunker would end up. It’s unknown if this was the house with the speakeasy, but that would explain a lot (see map).
Jean-Claude had the same M.O. as his older brother, Régis, of burning down Sherbrooke to make money. Like Gerald Lachance, he was more than likely groomed by Regis in criminal behavior (Regis was Gerald’s godfather). Jean-Claude was an arsonist, igniting business and summer cottages. He robbed banks, stole safes and employee payrolls. He is alleged to have committed several murders, possibly responsible for as many as seven contract killings. In fact this was the chief reason Noel did not think Jean-Claude was involved in my sister’s murder; because he only did crimes for cash. Jean-Claude Lachance was so involved in criminal activity in the Sherbrooke area, that he practically had his lawyer, Jean-Pierre Rancourt on permanent retainer, and would often badger and intimidate the young attorney into making his cases a priority.
Jean-Claude and Regis Lachance had always worked for the Charland family, and had several business dealings with them, including owning apartment blocks with the Charlands. Yvon Charland allegedly ordered several contract killings through the Lachance’s, some of which they refused, one of which was in Florida. And finally, it was well known in the area that the young Jean Charland had murdered a woman.
The Murder of Rolland Giguère
The murder of Rolland Giguere must be the worst kept secret in Sherbrooke. Practically the whole town – including the police – probably knows who shot Giguere on the evening of October 31, 1969, but no one has the moral courage to stand up and do anything about it. If you think I don’t know how a conspiracy of silence works, I come from Saint John, New Brunswick, home of the Richard Oland murder. It goes like this, “well I’d like to help but I do business with his brother”, or “I know a few things, but of course that police officer was my cousin…”, and so on. Well I have an answer to those excuses. The victims? They were also somebody’s daughter, or cousin or sister. They deserve justice, not a wall of silence.
It’s like a community players production of Oedipus Rex: Who will solve Sherbrooke’s oldest murder? Who is responsible?! You are, Sherbrooke. You killed Rolland Giguere with your silence and complicity; that’s your pestilence, you own it. It’s bitterly amusing to see Rene-Charles Quirion waxing detective, while featuring some of the probable culprit’s other murders in a news sidebar:
Douglas Patrick, one of the three partners in the Pat’s Fried Chicken enterprise (recall that there were three of them, Patrick, Giguere and Yvan Charland) ordered a contract for the murder of Rolland Giguere through Yvon Charland. Charland then paid Regis and Jean-Claude Lachance $10,000 to murder their business partner. If this is correct, then Madame Giguere’s words ring true that her husband was murdered by “someone who knew him well”, and that “the murderers had been protected by certain individuals to the detriment of the investigators.”
I guess the hit could have potentially cost $10,500, for recall that it was Douglas Patrick who first offered a reward of $500 for information leading the arrest of the culprit, something he knew would never come to pass in Sherbrooke where everything was paid for and compromised. Also remember that Rolland Giguere stayed alive for another week in Sherbrooke’s Hôtel-Dieu Hospital. Apparently, Regis Lachance visited Giguere in the hospital, and reminded him that he still had a wife and six children, and to keep his mouth shut or harm would come to them as well.
As was the case with the Lennoxville girl murder where Gerald blamed Regis for the actual killing, there is disagreement on who actually pulled the trigger in the Giguere shooting: Jean-Claude said it was Regis, and Regis blamed Jean-Claude. The only reason the Giguere case was ‘re-opened’ in 2004 was due to friction between the Lachance brothers. Regis had threatened Jean-Claude about some of his other criminal activity, so Jean-Claude in turn narced on him, and called the Sherbrooke police telling them that it was Regis who killed Rolland Giguere in 1969, and Jean-Claude would know because he was the one driving the getaway car. At this point, the police questioned Douglas Patrick, who was dying of an illness – so we get another deathbed confession. To relieve his conscience, Patrick confessed to police that 35 years earlier, he had ordered the contract on his former business partner.
Allegedly the Sherbrooke Police have a deposition signed by Regis stating that Jean-Claude shot Rolland Giguere. Also, the police knew that the weapon used to murder Giguere had for years been hidden in Regis’ sister’s house, Laurianne Lachance. Here things get interesting. In 1975, Regis and Jean-Claude were arrested for assaulting Laurianne, who they pushed through a glass door. “We don’t see that every day in a family,” commented the presiding judge. Jean-Pierre Rancourt represented the Crown in that case, and was working as a prosecuting attorney at that time.
During the reinvestigation in the early 2000s, detective Michel L’Italien was in charge of the Giguere file. The reason the cold case never advanced was that allegedly Jean-Claude had made sure that he and L’Italien had become “friends”. Jean-Claude was briefly questioned, then released immediately. Both brothers were also allegedly friends with Normand Plourde, the SQ fire investigator who met with Regis at the police headquarters prior to the Aloha Motel arson. When I tried contacting L’Italien, the Sherbrooke Police informed me he had retired and was now teaching police procedure at Sherbrooke University. When I reached out to them, it appeared L’Italien had retired from there as well. So I called him up and left him a message that I wanted to discuss the Rolland Giguere case. Michel L’Italien didn’t return my calls.
Just how hard did the police try to solve a cold case like Rolland’s. Not very. Why? Because they never bothered to truly engage the Sherbrooke community and actually try to talk to people for fear that any investigation would point back at them. And even if they did, they wouldn’t have gotten very far. Because no one trusts the police, the people of Sherbrooke have had a long history of being mislead and disappointed by local law enforcement. They consider their police force corrupt.
Criminal Investigative Failures
What makes this story so compelling is its separation from Alex’s story. The two accounts are clean, and independent of each other, yet they both identify Regis Lachance as a murderer. Noel did not know about my sister’s murder, they were unaware Regis had worked as a police informant, and they had never heard of Luc Gregoire.
Regis and Jean-Claude were allegedly involved in the Charles Marion kidnapping. Much of the food used to feed the hostage was fried chicken supplied by Pat’s / Colonel Sanders, Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Charles Marion’s eighty-two days in captivity – the longest kidnapping in Canadian history – played out in the late summer and fall of 1977, but the trial of his alleged captors began one month prior to Theresa’s disappearance, and occupied the Sherbrooke courts all through the fall of 1978, with the final guilty verdict of Claude Valence not coming until January 1979. At its peak close to 500 police officers were actively involved in the case. Theresa’s disappearance often competed for the press headlines along side the Marion trial, as well as with the coroner’s inquiry for Raymond Grimard, Manon Bergeron and Carole Fecteau.
It is one thing to say that Theresa Allore’s case received short justice because law enforcement was preoccupied with these other important matters. But we now know that isn’t the whole story. When we add that one of their police informants, Regis Lachance, was the star witness for the Surete du Quebec’s case against Fernand Laplante, that this police informant was involved in an arson entrapment the week following Theresa’s disappearance, and that Lachance was also allegedly involved in the Marion case; in this light, it is not just a matter that police were too busy to solve Theresa’s case, but rather that they couldn’t afford to look too deeply into local murders because they suspected that the person they were harboring from justice may have committed the crimes. If this sounds far fetched, you only have to look at Boston – a city not dissimilar to Sherbrooke – and the case of Whitey Bulger, who for decades avoided prosecution, because he was working as an informant for the FBI.
When the situation is framed in this light, other investigative questions begin to make sense. The first forensic use of DNA was in the early 1980s, so it makes sense that Quebec police would choose this moment in time to destroy all of Theresa’s physical evidence ( her underwear, etc… ) and the evidence from several other murders. Police might do this if they knew this new technology could eventually be used to trace offenders who were informants – I suspect there were many like Lachance – back to them.
In the mid-2000s, the Surete du Quebec made a big deal of moving the case files of Theresa Allore, Louise Camirand and Manon Dubé out of Sherbrooke to their central headquarters in Montreal. At the time, this looked like progress, and to some I am sure it was. But others were no doubt relieved that they no longer had the responsibility, challenges and headaches of cases that hit a little too close to home. A negative product of this action was that by centralizing all files in one cold case unit, all of the specific, local knowledge of the cases was lost. Investigators were back at the drawing board, and had to investigate the murders from scratch; good for eliminating institutional bias and assumptions, but bad for any chance of a quick resolution.
It’s taken me six months to get current investigators up to speed. And this is not the first time in the last 18 years – since the origin of the SQ’s cold case unit – that I’ve had to go back and explain the case to detectives. In fact, it’s happened again. Just this week I was informed that Theresa’s liaison has been reassigned, so now I am back to square one. Some suspect that this handing off of cold case detectives is a calculated strategy used by police to discourage victims’ families. Is it then surprising that the unit has managed to only solve 10 cases out of nearly 800 in almost two decades? It must be of some embarrassment to them, the SQ recently overhauled their cold case website and have since taken down any information about their ten resolved cases.
Tired of waiting for you
We talked last time about the near impossibility of lifting fingerprints from Theresa’s corps. The thing is, I don’t have to because I have something better: forensic fingerprints. Theresa’s red wallet is still in my possession. In the early 2000s, the SQ lifted male DNA from that wallet. It’s been tested and does not come from my genetic imprint, so the sample is not from myself or my brother or father handling it. Today’s SQ were very eager to test the DNA against the Lachance family, but cautioned that with red tape and bureaucratic congestion, it could take up to two years. Never one to wait, I had the wallet tested myself.
In January, 2022, I obtained a cheek swab from a Lachance family member (it did not come from Alex or Noel), and we had the sample Fedexed to a private lab in the States. The rapid DNA test took two hours (two hours, not two years!). The results were inconclusive, but that’s from an old wallet sample. The SQ has a newer sample taken twenty years ago. More important, I now possess a DNA profile of Regis Lachance – and Gerald and Jean-Claude – through his family. This genetic file has been sent to the Surete du Quebec. The logical thing to do would be to test the sample against Canada’s National DNA Data Bank (NDDB), whether the SQ has the follow-through to actually do this is anyone’s guess, but it’s in their hands.
Blind, Deaf and Muzzled
Regis Lachance more than likely murdered over the course of a decade, probably longer, and the police no doubt knew it, and are therefore complicit in those murders. This is the legacy of what private detective Robert Buellac called taking investigative shortcuts. You come down hard on clubs for drug trafficking, but not all clubs like Bob’s Disco, because you are protecting the owner’s son. You arrest a possible murderer for the assassinations of two people in lower Lennoxville, but not the right murderer – no matter, for police that was close enough. You punish for arson, but not all arson, because some police have an arson side-hustle going on. You drink and socialize with criminals. Then decades later you wake up and wonder why you still have all these unsolved murders to account for. That’s what you get when you choose the brotherhood over the people you were sworn to protect.
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