That Case Is Not Here - December 2021 Newsletter
We were lost and found
For close to a decade I’ve been trying to match a Jane Doe with a missing person. Last month that match was confirmed. In 2013, I wrote a piece called Quebec 1977: Who Was The Bootlace Killer?. ‘The Bootlace Killer’ was something I made up, like the Golden State Killer, to drum up interest in a series of unsolved murders. The moniker was grounded in reality, most of the victims had been strangled, one with the lace from her own boot.
One of the cases I called ‘Unidentified Victim Number 1’. She was a murder victim between the age of 18 and 25 who was discovered in a wooded area in Longueuil, just off the island of Montreal on April 2, 1977. Police had published her death image in the papers hoping for an identification, but no one claimed her. Around this time I managed to have a phone conversation with the head of the cold case bureau for the Surete du Quebec about the case. He told me he doubted the Jane Doe was a murder victim. In his opinion, she probably died of a drug overdose, and someone dumped her in Longueuil.
A few years after the Bootlace Killer piece, the Montreal police placed a notice on their website about an historical missing persons case. Evelyne Levasseur-Pulice had been reported missing in January of 1977. She was never seen or heard from again. There was something in the timing of the two events, and the hairstyle of Levasseur-Pulice that made me think this might be the same person.
Here you get your first lesson in police jurisdictional bureaucracy. The Jane Doe case was under the Longueuil police’s authority. Levasseur-Pulice belonged to the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM). The two forces were notoriously uncooperative with each other. Even worse, I had no experience with them, nor any direct cause to interact as any kind of an advocate. What I did have - owing to the misfortune of the unsolved murder of my sister, Theresa - was a long standing association with the Surete du Quebec, the highest law enforcement authority in the province. So four years ago, I went back to that head of the cold case bureau and gave him my information that Montreal’s Levasseur-Pulice may be the Longueuil Jane Doe.
The SQ never responded to my email. In my mind I knew it would practically take a legislative fiat to get the three police agencies to cooperate, so I assumed they simply ignored it.
Last month, a relative of Levasseur-Pulice contacted me:
“That woman was my aunt…. We just found out she was found in the same wooded area on April 2,1977 as your article states…. [The police ] reopened case and are looking for the MURDERER (my emphasis) and have a suspect.”
Two years ago the police tested the family’s DNA against the Jane Doe. In a world where Quebec police routinely destroy case evidence for even well known victims, it is a miracle that samples were somehow kept from a 44-year-old case of an unidentified victim. It took two years of working through bureaucratic channels before the results were known. Police are snail-pace slow in processing DNA when the technology exists for same-day, rapid testing - more on that some other time. Last month a positive identification was made: Longueuil Jane Doe was Evelyne Levasseur-Pulice, who went missing New Year’s Day, January 1, 1977 while going to a Montreal bar or club.
Take me to your special island
It’s been a month of traveling. Prior to the Omicron lockdown, I managed to spend time in Montreal, the Eastern Townships, then finally Saint John, New Brunswick with my mother. We had a good time, and I’m going to leave you with something over which we had a good laugh: the family eggnog story.
My parents used to entertain over the holidays, mostly my father’s business colleagues he worked with in Saint John engineering and construction. My mom used to make this eggnog. The recipe called for 13 ounces of brandy and 26 ounces of rum. My recollection was that she doubled that, 26 ounces of brandy and a 40 of Captain Morgan’s dark rum. As you would imagine, this eggnog was always a big hit. She remembered a guy my father worked with, Paul Lechasseur - this larger-than-life, French Canadian Jack Pine of a man - completely bypassing the punch cups and filling a beer stein with the stuff.
The way my mother orchestrated it, she had two make the base first which consisted of 66 ounces of alcohol and a little light cream. She’d let that sit overnight, then the day of the party she’d add 12 egg whites and 3 cups ( 3 cups!) of whipping cream.
One Christmas she made the base, then my parents set off for some overnight trip, with the intention of completing the recipe the following Saturday afternoon. So that Friday night it was me, my brother, and my best friend, Stephen… and 66 ounces of grog and light cream. And I never drank Captain Morgan’s dark rum again.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, how ever you celebrate, spend time with your friends and family,
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