(Introduction to show begins)
TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host): Tonight, we have John Allore. Welcome John.
JOHN ALLORE: Thank you, Todd.
TODD: And you have a sister who was murdered.
TODD: In Québec, in 1978.
TODD: And you’re our boy in North Carolina.
JOHN: I am.
TODD: Okay now, normally we do interviews a little differently with this show, in fact we’ve had a really nice compliment of this show earlier, and you know I don’t mean to sell it short but this is just a really simple, grassroots effort to try to get people and their stories out, in just an untamed fashion. Usually in the media you’re really cased in, in just a few seconds and then it’s trimmed down from that and we like to give you an opportunity just to speak out.
JOHN: That’s what I like about the program is that you let us jaw on about the issues that are dear to us.
TODD: Well, I just want to have a talk with you. I’ve had years, you know, I’ve been doing this for 18 years. I’ve had so many interesting telephone conversations and I’ve thought, “Wow, I wish I’d tape-recorded that” and then, you know, and I wish I had thought of it earlier because I’ve lost so many things that I can’t recapture now that. I decided “no more”. I want to try to capture it and just give you an opportunity, like you said, to just jaw on about things. Compton, Québec, now what happened? Tell me about your sister…the who, what, when, where, why and how of this case.
JOHN: Sure. In many ways, I’ll try to give you an abbreviated version, because in many ways, it’s the same stories or the same story that so many people have suffered that have been on your program. But, my older sister, I at the time was 13, and she was away studying, in Canada they called it a CEGEP.
JOHN: CEGEP is kind of a prep school, it’s 2 years prior to actually going to college; so it’s traditionally when you are 16 and 17, sometimes into 18 years old. So she went to this college in rural Québec about an hour-and-a-half drive from Montréal. At the time, we grew up in Montréal. So she was a student there, doing very, very well in school, actually studying criminology, and she disappeared one night. One Friday night at about 6 o’clock in the evening, she was last seen in the dining hall. Friends that she talked to had indicated that her intent was to come back to the campus dorm, which was actually 10 miles away, even further into rural Québec, in the middle of nowhere…her intention was to come home that night and study. She had a paper to write, and the last time she was seen by a group of individuals was about 6 o’clock, I think, on the campus dining hall, and she was missing for all of the winter. This was November. She went missing November 3rd, 1978. She was missing all of that winter into 1979 and on April 13th, Friday the 13th, 1979, her body was found about a kilometer from the main residence dorm, face down in her underwear and that’s how she was found, and that’s kind of how my journey began.
TODD: At any point in time, was she a Jane Doe or did they instantly just recognize her?
JOHN: She was briefly a Jane Doe, not very long, you know there weren’t any other missing girls at that time so, I think…you know, Theresa was quite petite and I think they immediately knew who she was, it didn’t take long. Although I do know that was a Friday and that Saturday we were called to the morgue in Montréal and my father had to identify the body. He couldn’t identify her because she had sat in water for so long.
JOHN: I remember him coming out of the room and saying to my mother, “Theresa had a scar above her eye, didn’t she?” and, I mean, that’s all he could recognize; he couldn’t recognize anything else.
TODD: I know these conversations are painful. We’ve had to almost stop from time to time, this conversation, but people have actually had to build themselves up to have the ability to talk about this type of thing, to navigate, and certainly you have. I’ve seen a lot of your work online.
TODD: You’re definitely working on this really intensely almost 30 years.
JOHN: Yeah, it’s a strange thing you know, when it was all said and done, you know, this is the part I think that your listeners will be familiar with.
JOHN: When it was all said and done, the community and local agencies were quick to judge the victim. When she disappeared, they were quick to suggest that she was a runaway.
JOHN: And that she had personal problems, all these kinds of things. When the body was found, they were quick to judge again. The local police said, “Well she was a drug addict.” “She was probably high on drugs.” “She got in with bad sorts, she hung out with bad sorts,” and so be it. My parents, I think through shame and guilt, bought it hook, line and sinker and, you know I was, as I said, very young at the time, and so not in a position to influence opinion, so I went along with it too. So we lived with that idea for a good 20 years until, you know I don’t know what precisely triggered it. We could speculate a lot of things. I was living in North Carolina at the time, I’d been living outside of Canada for a good 10 years and you know by this time I had daughters of my own. So that’s certainly one trigger and what really got me, I was beginning to think, “Well when my daughters come of age, what am I going to tell them about the story of their aunt?” Am I going to tell them that the lesson…what’s the lesson, is the lesson, ‘don’t do drugs’? What is it? What is it? What is it? I couldn’t even come up with an answer because I didn’t really know myself. If you asked my family about it you got half-answers, you got a reluctance and so that began with me just kind of going, you know… my brother calls it the pebble in the shoe. My older brother, you know you get this pebble in your shoe and you really want to get it out so it began by just kind of going “Okay let’s take a look at this, let’s suppose you could find the crime file, what would it tell you?” And I was like “Well, this is a long time ago” but I eventually phoned up the police and asked to see the file. They immediately denied there was a file, and then when there was a file they said, “You can see it,” and then they said, “You can see some of it.” This whole game playing went on for a good year, but I managed to get some leverage through. I knew a really good crime journalist in Canada, who happened to have been one of my first girlfriends so she knew the story very, very well which was helpful. She grew up with it, with me as an adolescent telling her about it. She had met my mother and father, so she knew the social dynamic of it and she wrote a series of articles in the national newspaper that were just blistering attacks, not only on the school, but also the police, the local law enforcement agencies and then that began to open doors. Of course, we’re forgetting the big thing, you know the big thing that I let out of the bag was, “Hey, guess what? She wasn’t a drug addict, she was murdered!” And that was the thing that was covered up.
TODD: You said that you were led to believe that. How old were you at the time?
JOHN: I was 13.
TODD: Wow. So you were led to believe, by the police, that she had died of a drug overdose. Did they have any type of evidence to say this is why we think she died of a drug overdose or just because she was found facedown?
JOHN: Their evidence was because she moved within the drug culture and what that meant was, because the school had such a drug culture. She didn’t move in it, actually Theresa was 19 when she died.
JOHN: She had sowed her wild oats. She had actually dropped out of school and had a taste of that. I mean like it was the 70s. I won’t paint Theresa as an angel or anything; I know that she experimented. She was a risk taker and experimented with all kind of things but she was not a…I know at the time she was at that school; she had only been there for 6 weeks and I have a copy of her first report card, it’s all straight A’s. Not only did they call her a drug addict, she was a drug runner, she was running drugs, in their mind, from Montreal to this school. Well, you know, it doesn’t take… you know again, had the evidence pointed to this, I would be the first to say, “Yes, this is what happened,” because all I wanted is the truth.
TODD: Well, there’s no shame in the truth.
JOHN: No actually, there’s nothing but freedom in the truth, but you know that she could build up a network and a drug connection in 6 weeks and keep the grades, it just didn’t make any sense. And their main evidence for why it wasn’t a sexual assault, you know, she was found in her bra and panties, was the lead investigator told my father, at the time, that the underwear was untouched, meaning there was no rips, tears, whatever, no sign of struggle and in his limited capacity to understand all the possibilities of a sexual assault, he said he thought because there’s no struggle, there’s no sign of sexual assault. Well, you and I and everyone knows that sexual assault, rape can take many, many forms, you know it does not have to be what you see on TV, some kind of a struggle in a car or whatever, you know, if somebody’s holding a gun to your head or some way forcing you into something, you may complacently take off your clothing and do whatever the person says, so this was pretty ridiculous, in my mind, to even suggest this, given the way that she was found.
TODD: Well, you know, very often, somebody, like you said, with a limited knowledge, in a small town; I live in Livingston, Tennessee, it doesn’t happen very often here, it’s very, very low crime rate, and you know, somebody that’s not real experienced to make a judgment, can make a judgment call and then later on it becomes law I mean, this is it.
TODD: What was stated in this report is exactly what happened, and then we’re faced with going back and looking at some of these cold cases and we’re having to go on the facts, the facts that were stated by somebody who didn’t know what they were doing.
TODD: So I think that’s kind of where you are at with your…
JOHN: Yeah, and you go back and come to find that a lot of these people, I mean I’ve gotten to know many of the officers in the area, I know everybody…I mean I know them then, and I know them now and you know to be fair, the amount of training that they got is ridiculous.
TODD: Oh absolutely.
JOHN: It takes, you know a 3-week course in crime at the university and they come out, accredited and certified and plus what you’re saying, they’re not equipped to deal with a murder investigation, they’re running down students in a college, it’s not part of their game plan.
TODD: Well can you compare law enforcement in 1978 versus now in that area?
JOHN: (Sighs) It’s not much better.
TODD: I hear they don’t pay very well often. I have a best friend that’s a deputy sheriff, or he was a deputy sheriff, and you know their pay scale was really low.
JOHN: Yes, I once said that, and I got called to task for it in Canada, somebody said to me “Hey, these guys are making between $40,000 to $60,000 a year, that should be enough.”
TODD: Well, they’re not here.
JOHN: They’re making how much? And I was like huh? Yeah maybe it is but you know, crime then and now, I can touch on that. This journalist, Patricia Pearson and I, when we first were looking into Theresa’s death, what lead us to believe in murder was a lot of circumstantial events we discovered that at that time. There were 2 other young women who went missing and whose bodies were found in the region within a 16-month period, so there were these 3 cases and what we wanted to know, the first question we wanted to know was, “Are they all unsolved?” So we learned that they were, which was very, very shocking and then what we wanted to do was map where these girls lived, where they worked, where they were last seen and where they were found and for us, that just seemed like logic and you know, we had Mapquest and I had a map on my wall with tacks and things like that and so we started to see a pattern and Patricia Pearson was good friends with a geographic profiler, Kim Rossmo, who worked on the Pickton case (Episode 7) and the Washington sniper cases, so through luck, we had this connection. So we took what we had, and here we are, we’re 2 bumpkins, we take this information to Kim and we say, “Can you do the geographic profile on it?” Kim comes back and he says, “What’s the point, you’ve already done it! This is geographic profiling.” So, armed with that, we were very enthused, we were very enthused that the local authorities would rally round our case to see the good work we had done, and pushed for, you know, typically what they don’t have are resources and money to get the job done, so what we naively really thought was that they would work with us and say “Hey, we need more resources to do this.” What we were shocked to find, was what really happened is number one, we attacked them in the press so that was a strike against us, so then they went and said, “We will analyze this information and see if there is anything in it.” Well, they took a month and came back and said, “There’s no connection between these murders, there’s nothing here; John Allore is wrong, why don’t you just go away.” And you know you’re left kind of scratching your head but what I later found out was, at that time, Québec didn’t even have a behavioral scientist, behavioral profiler on their force, it wasn’t until a month later that an investigator that I had been working with, named Eric Latour, was promoted to Canada’s first behavioral profiler. It wasn’t until a year later that Eric Latour began to train with people like Kim Rossmo. Well, of course, I’ve already worked with Kim, so it became this really awkward situation where you wake up and you go, “Holy crap, I know more than they do!” but you can never say that.
TODD: Oh, no.
JOHN: You know, they’re professionals and there’s a lot of pride at stake, and but, it was a real eye-opener to do that, to see that, and to also learn that they had never heard of geographic profiling. Okay fine, we all watch these crime shows now and it’s a big deal, but it’s not just a technological innovation, it’s a fundamental crime tool that somebody should be using regardless of a computer.
TODD: Absolutely. Do you feel that your early pressure actually created their desire to put this professional on their staff?
JOHN: I do. I do because they’re coming to an election in Québec right now, in a month and I know the leader, his name is Jean, Jean Charest, but at the time that we wrote the articles, Jean Charest was a member of the opposition and we befriended him, again to create political advantage and when Jean Charest came into power, he told me, he’s one of the few people in political power, and I try to contact many of these people, you try to get people to lobby for your cause. Jean Charest is one of the few that actually who phoned me, who I actually had a conversation with, who actually told me, if it wasn’t for our work, then we wouldn’t have got done what we did get done, which has been quite a lot, so that makes you feel good.
TODD: (quoting John) “So investigators finally admitted that they believe that the investigative work conducted by myself and the reporter Patricia Pearson, had been accurate.” Now that was a milestone for you, I know I’ve been there and done that.
TODD: So at first, go away…
TODD: …well everything changes from that point forward.
JOHN: Yeah, it gets a little easier, but then, you know, one of the things that…when they capitulated, they invited…the Québec police invited my brother and I to Montréal to see the entire file, you know and it was this big ‘mea culpa’ and “What can we do for you?” and “We’re going to dedicate ourselves to this,” and “We’re sorry,” and all of this, which was very nice at the time, but someone warned me at the time, he said, “You know they’re going to lull you to sleep.”
TODD: I’ve seen it, you know, I’ve seen it.
JOHN: Institutions, they have nothing but time on their hands. A police force is a government, it lasts forever and we don’t so they have all the time in the world, and of course that’s exactly what happened. It doesn’t take a couple of years before one guy gets re-assigned somewhere else, you get a new guy and the new guy doesn’t know you, you’ve got to retrain them, you’ve got to get to know each other, you know you go through the whole song and dance routine.
TODD: It’s amazing, you know with reporters and with law enforcement.
TODD: And I thought, “Wow, I’ve been there longer than they have,” and you find that you’re passing information on to them.
JOHN: Exactly, exactly! And then, you know, and it’s always this dance because you’ve got to show mutual respect, but I insist, I insist on mutual respect, I no longer, you know, I have certain ground rules for people who want to work with me and a lot of people don’t, you just say well screw you, we’ll do our own investigation, which is then not very good. I’ll give you an example of that, I’m on my third investigator on Theresa’s case, Theresa has now a full, not a full-time, part-time, they don’t have a cold case bureau yet, that’s something I’m lobbying for, but Theresa now has a part-time investigator, it’s his case, Benoit. One of the first things I asked of Benoit was really simple. I said Benoit, “You know, I’ve been doing this for 5 years, I’m tired, I’m tired of phoning you and asking, ‘What’s up, what’s going on, what are the up-dates?’ Can you call me, on a monthly basis, just give me a call and say, ‘Nothing to report,’ or ‘These are the developments.’” I said, “I don’t even care if it’s 6 months of ‘nothing to report’ just call me.” He said, “No, I can’t do that.” “Well why not?” “Because, I’m always available to you, you can always call me,” and it’s like “Benoit, look, I’m speaking to you as a crime victim. It takes a lot for me to just get in a mental frame and make the call.” He said, “But why, it’s just a phone call?” “Benoit, it’s not just a phone call, okay? I’ve got to drop John with 3 kids and a wife and a job and become this other person for the length of the call and it can ruin my day.” You know, they just don’t get it.
TODD: No, they don’t.
JOHN: You know I never got that, and I know your listeners know exactly what I am talking about, and I would have thought by now with this amount…I would have gained a little street credit with the police. I didn’t get it. Didn’t get it.
TODD: It would take a long time often to do that, you know, like you said, I’ve picked up the telephone before and dialed most of the digits and then just stopped and thought, “No, I can’t be that me right now.” because…
TODD: …I’m being Daddy, you know there are so many things you’re having to do in your real life and it’s hard to actually…okay now I’ve got to put on this coat of somebody else…
JOHN: There you go!
TODD: …and be just another person.
JOHN: It’s hard.
TODD: Even just doing this, you know?
TODD: It’s so merged into my life, I’m sitting at my home computer at my home with all of my trash all around my desk here, all of my artifacts and you still have to sit here and then you just become somebody else when you get up…I’ll get up and go outside and play with my little boy.
JOHN: Right, right. You have to.
TODD: Yeah, you have to, you have to, you learn and it’ll get easier. I know you went through it for a long time but you’re able to turn that light on and off; my wife says I’m like Jekyll and Hyde.
JOHN: Yeah, I believe it.
TODD: You know at this point that you have to become somebody else, and I see that you’re doing that.
JOHN: Yeah, there are days that are easier than others. I mean, I’ll never forget the first time I called the Québec police; I mean that took probably a year of preparation, I kid you not. I knew there was going to be this war of language problems so I had to learn French because my French was okay but it wasn’t that good and just getting it out of my mouth, you know, “My sister died and I’d like to see her crime file,” I mean now I think nothing of it, now I can talk about it, autopsy results, bodies, whatever, but the first time you do it, it’s a really alien thing.
TODD: Well when you’re someone that’s never done this before, I’ve had people that asked me, “How do you ask for an autopsy report? How do you get that out?”
JOHN: Right, right, right.
TODD: It isn’t easy.
TODD: But you know I’ve seen these same people come back again later and they’re talking about DNA, mitochondrial DNA and they suddenly have become pretty educated beyond any college course that they could ever have taken.
JOHN: And isn’t it something that these people have to do it on their own, that they have to, I mean, there’s this do-it-yourself crime thing, I mean, yes, it’s very empowering, but it shouldn’t be this way.
TODD: No, it really shouldn’t. No, you shouldn’t have to, it shouldn’t be this way and there’s a right way and wrong way do it and I’ve done both ways, believe me and I’m more or less telling people, don’t rush in so quickly now as I might have just a couple years ago. Even listening to the people and doing this show, I’m less likely to tell somebody to pick up their club and go and make them…there are ways to manipulate.
JOHN: She’s in Québec chasing down every single lead, I mean unbelievable, she must be in Sherbrooke, the area this happened in, every second weekend chasing down things, so that’s been a relief because for me, I need to just step back. You know that when you do this, you open yourselves up to isolation and I was becoming more and more isolated from my family, from the people that love me and you name it, and I really needed to take a step back and put what is my priority first, which is family, job and the third thing now is, I’m back in school studying justice administration, so those are the 3 priorities for me right now and the case is secondary. I can tell you what’s going on, but it’s really…my priority right now is to get a better education in this stuff to help other people because that I find truly rewarding…very, very rewarding.
TODD: So this has really saved your life and I’ve seen another guy do this. He was a 10-year-old boy when his sister was murdered and then he grew up to work in law enforcement and ultimately he and I exhumed his sister’s grave…
TODD: …to take a second look at that and you know, that altered his life, positively and negatively.
TODD: At times I think there’s more negative than positive.
JOHN: Right. I think that’s true, I mean, you know I worry about…you know I keep a blog out there that I write on which is partly, I would call it ethnography; what I mean by that is, it’s a chronicle of being a victim, warts and all, and I try consciously, you know there’s some things I don’t write about because I think it would be unhealthy but when I am able I try very consciously to put out there, the struggles that I am going through, you know, in a public forum because I know there are other people out there in the same situation and I want them to know that it’s okay.
TODD: Well, you know it’s good to get it out.
JOHN: Yeah, and it’s good to get it out and write about it.
TODD: Because that bitterness, if you hold it inside, and I think that’s what happened, you know this friend of mine, didn’t have the same opportunity that you did. He started years back working on his sister’s case and he… this bitterness would just stay stuck inside, and then it affected him, he’s very bitter at times and you know I don’t know if he’ll ever be okay.
TODD: I don’t think he will be; I’m sure he won’t be okay.
JOHN: I think for me also, I’ve been really fortunate that some very great changes have happened in Québec. You know, on the individual level, on the personal level, I’ve got like this private detective, that’s great, I mean, what a gift. On the second level, and you put it on your website and I appreciate it, the website for AFPAD, which is a local grassroots organization for murdered and missing people in Québec and that was started by a man named Pierre Boisvenu, whose daughter was murdered in 2002, about the same time that I was investigating and Pierre and I became really good friends very, very quickly and we immediately sort of saw what social changes needed to be made for victims in Québec, and Pierre ran with it and he’s done phenomenal work at unifying victims in that province and getting real change to happen. I mean he’s got real political weight behind him. I was mentioning this election; they wanted him to run for the opposition and he wisely turned it down, because he said, “My work is here with these people.” You know, just trying to get the simple things, more money, better response time, a health care for victims, you know, mental health care, just getting people to respond to them on the phone. But he’s trying to take those things and formalize them and make them systematic, which is wonderful. I mean, when you see that, and know that you know the man at the head of it, it allows you to relax a little bit more and kind of feel like, well, this has not been for nothing.
TODD: Well, it becomes so much more than, “What happened to my sister?” It becomes, “I don’t ever want to see this happen to anybody else again.”
JOHN: It has to become that. It has to become that, otherwise, you know what, I’m not interested in that. I get calls from reporters and they’ll say, “We’d like to talk about the serial killers,” and I’m like, “It’s been done!”
TODD: Uh huh.
JOHN: You know you want to talk to me about public policy, write an article about that, but I don’t want to talk so much about that anymore. I’ll say, “But I know this other case, it’s really interesting, could you shed a little light there?” Sometimes you have to barter, you know, sometimes you’ve go to say, “Okay, I’ll talk to them a bit, but could you also mention this case?” And I’m in that position now where, you know, fortunately I don’t care right now if people give me press or not.
TODD: Yeah, you get past that point.
JOHN: Yeah, yeah, I don’t care, so either you like the other case I give you and we do it or we don’t do it, I don’t care.
TODD: Well I had a lot of calls originally and that’s how actually I’ve become media director for Doe Network, was I was the person getting a lot of calls but particularly for talk of the Tent Girl Case and it gave me an opportunity to say, “Well, okay, I’ll do this even though I’ve done it 15,000 times,” but you know there’s this Jane Doe that reminds me of that case and it’s over here in this state.
TODD: And you’ve got to be able to borrow and pick them.
TODD: You kind of have to break away and get things are going on its own, you know.
JOHN: There’s a case here in North Carolina, a woman named Deborah Key (http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/1830dfnc.html) has been missing for 7 years and it’s the negative of Theresa’s case. For Theresa, we have a body but we don’t have a suspect. Deborah Key, we have no body but we have a suspect and the ultimate irony is, what touched this off is, I moved into the house of the suspect. I no longer live in that house, but that was one of the first things when my wife and I, that was the first house we bought, and we moved into this house and about a month later a knock came on the door and it was the local police and they said that the former owner is a lead suspect in a missing person’s case, and “We’d like to search the property for a body,” and I was, you know, given my history, I was blown away. But to make a long story short on that, I’ve gotten to know the players in Deborah Key’s case quite well and one of the guys came to me in an email last week asking for advice based on what I’ve done, because they suspect her body is in a landfill and they want to search the landfill. But the police see it as a useless gesture and so they asked me, “How do you first persuade them to do it and if you don’t do it, how do you shed light on it through the media?” And I’m happy to give that advice. I know exactly the game plan for how to do this, and unfortunately Debbie’s is a case that has fallen off the radar and it needs to be in the media spotlight so it can be solved. You know it can be solved; it just needs resources. You know, the local police here, the Carrboro police force is too small but the SBI, State Bureau of Investigation, you can rally them, they have the resources, and they just need the political persuasion to do so.
TODD: And you are helping out with that too?
JOHN: Yes, exactly.
TODD: Well, I have to ask you about…I’ve not read this far into your page, your parents?
JOHN: Sure, sure.
TODD: What’s happened with those guys? Are they still alive?
JOHN: Yeah, my parents are still alive, married. They live in St. John, New Brunswick, which is the province adjacent to Maine, so it’s a Maritime province. We moved there right around the time that Theresa disappeared. We moved from Montréal to St. John and I grew up in St. John and I talk to my parents every weekend. You know the nicest thing is that they’ve been so good about this, you know when I finally made up my mind about what I was going to do, the amount of help that they’ve provided. I’d phone them every weekend, you know, I’d have some nagging question that would bring all of this back for them and they were so patient with it and I think it helps them too.
TODD: Uh huh.
JOHN: I think my Dad is glad to see kind of an end of it. You know, we talk more about hockey now but they were really patient and that all kind of culminated, I guess, two years ago on national Canadian show called ‘W5’ (http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1110566894714_13), which is like a ‘20/20’ or a ‘60 Minutes’ in Canada. They did an hour on Theresa and one of the things they did, that has never been done, is they actually got an interview out of my parents together in their living room, and this had never…my parents had never publicly spoken about this; they’re a different generation, you know, they don’t believe in airing your laundry, they just have a different ethic but they’re very supportive as long as they don’t have to be in the limelight.
TODD: Well, it’s hard for them I’m sure, because they went through something very traumatic.
JOHN: Yeah, but they decided to go on camera and it was wonderful to see ultimately the strength in both of them. I knew they were strong people, I didn’t know they were that strong, you know? It just gave me a new dimension of understanding of the whole experience and now I keep them up to date every once in a while, you know if there’s something that I feel they should know, I’ll tell them. I don’t keep them on the case, I don’t. At their stage in life, they need to be thinking about vacations in Paris and things like that, they don’t need to be in the case, so to speak, you know chasing every lead and update and that, but if something I feel would interest them comes up or whatever, then I’ll bring that up, but other than that we talk about the grandkids.
TODD: But, do you feel that you’ve become closer to them because of this? Do they feel that you’re the brother that’s trying to take care of his sister, because that’s what you’re doing?
JOHN: Yeah, although I’ve been very careful not to make that a wedge between my brother and I.
TODD: Uh huh.
JOHN: As much as I have been the public face of this and spearheaded it, you know, we had discussions early on about what role he wanted to play and he decided early on, I think wisely, you know he lives in Quebec, so you don’t do you business where you eat (laughter); let’s just say that.
TODD: Oh yes, good point.
JOHN: So we thought it would be a very, very good strategy for a one/two punch, if I was more aggressive and he would be more laid back on things and so we sort of came at the case from that angle. And André, my brother’s name is André, has been just great, he hasn’t been as upfront as me, you see, he’s been kind of in the background with it but we’re very careful. We’ve always been careful to couch in the language that this is a team effort, it’s all four of us, I mean, people can say, you know, I’m the brother who’s taking care of my sister, and I thank them for that, and if it appears that way, I’m certainly putting that effort into it and I certainly think that it’s a compliment but behind closed doors, it’s a team effort between the four of us.
TODD: So if you don’t see those guys as often, it’s not because of a lack of interest or a lack of strength, it’s just a strategy that you’ve chosen?
JOHN: Yeah, that’s correct. I mean geography separates us. When we do take vacations, we go up to Canada, I love Canada, I could never live there, it would drive me crazy. (Laughter) It would drive me nuts because there’d be too many triggers, I mean, it would be non-stop and that’s why I choose to live here, but the two weeks when I’m on vacation there, I absolutely want to be living there, it’s just not meant to be, you know, it’s not within my chemical makeup to…
TODD: Go back there?
JOHN: …to be able to bear that, yeah.
TODD: What about your children? You have children?
JOHN: I have children. I would love for them to go to McGill University in Montreal. In fact, my brother and I had a really devious plan. His daughter is 16 now and looking at going to CEGEP; remember how I said that CEGEP is like a prep to college?
TODD: Uh huh.
JOHN: We were thinking, very deviously, of sending his daughter to Champlain College, where Theresa went just, you know, I’m sorry, it’s the shit-disturber in us. (Laughter)
TODD: You just had to do it, huh?
JOHN: But, his wife fortunately had a cooler head and said, “Over my dead body.”
TODD: A lot of things go through a man’s head when you’re working on something like that.
JOHN: Absolutely! My fantasy life is very healthy, you know. At times, unhealthy. Well any fantasy life is healthy, when you act on fantasies, you can get yourself into trouble, I would think, but a lot does go through your head. I’m not quite sure where to go with that one, Todd, but… (More laughter)
TODD: Hey, I’m leaving it up to you.
JOHN: (Laughter) Okay.
TODD: Okay, if I have a tip, if one of our listeners has a tip on this case, who should I call? Should I call you? You know, often it’s a no-no to call family.
JOHN: No, no, why don’t you call me. I think that’s the smoothest, otherwise, chasing me, email me or call me at this number, that would be wonderful, if by chance something comes up, yeah sure, there’s still someone out there.
TODD: Uh huh.
JOHN: I would guess the profile would be someone anywhere between 50 and 70 years old. Could be somebody who’s currently, or has in the past been incarcerated. I would imagine a male, someone who possibly was involved in manual labor at that time, maybe a carpenter, home repair, something like that, possibly French, but more probably bilingual with more of a leaning on French, yeah.
TODD: We’re going to leave links to your sites, obviously, which we’ve already got into place, that you will have your own archive page, telephone numbers that you’ll supply exactly to us, to the specific law enforcement in the area, exactly who it needs to go to.
JOHN: Sure. Great.
TODD: So, all of that will be there and photographs?
TODD: I think we have to include photographs.
JOHN: Yes, yes.
TODD: I’m even wondering now, what are the opportunities today that technology…have you ever looked at the possibility that an autopsy could have been redone?
JOHN: Yes, absolutely, and in fact, you know my father was open to it. I asked my father, point blank, “Can we exhume the body?” and then I asked one of the detectives with the Sûreté du Québec, “Why don’t you do that?” and they said, “Well our feeling was that the technologies available wouldn’t show much.” I don’t know, I’m not a forensic scientist, I don’t know what that’s based on, but I can tell you that that’s what they said. Seems to me you would leave no stone unturned.
TODD: Well, I….
JOHN: If a family went to you and said you have my permission to exhume the body…
TODD: Well, I did it. We did it.
TODD: I mean we did and it was with little, just more rumor and innuendo that anything else, you know, we’ve had to do that but you have a very good, strong case there. Originally, what is the exact cause of death on her death certificate?
JOHN: It is ‘violent death of undetermined means’ but….
TODD: Which could be not necessarily homicide.
JOHN: Well, yes, you are correct, however, what led us to believe homicide was there was an initial coroner’s report on the scene of the crime…
TODD: Uh huh.
JOHN: …that was buried; it was never…it wasn’t found until 27 years later that said “The coroner noticed marks of strangulation on the neck.” Now that was not observed by the by the person who performed the autopsy, but often when you change climates, you go from outside cold to inside, these things have been known to disappear.
TODD: Uh huh.
JOHN: So that was on the initial report that ‘the coroner noticed marks of strangulation on the neck.’
TODD: So where do you go with that? How do you find out about that?
JOHN: Well, not only that, I would want, you know, I would want to look for trace evidence, semen, things like this on the body, you know if there is scratching, hair, anything, you know, I don’t know how well they cleaned up under the fingernails or anything like that but anything is possible. I know this, 100% not possible, if you don’t look.
TODD: Yeah, you’re not going to find… and you know, and I found you know there’s still time with your case. With the Tent Girl, we were at the verge of losing identifying DNA, in fact, it took a couple tries to get the DNA.
TODD: So, you know, the longer you wait…
JOHN: …the harder it is.
TODD: Yeah, it’s going to be harder.
TODD: And you never know what you what you gather today, even though it might be, “Well that’s pointless data; we’ve got all this data”, but just a few years ago DNA wasn’t available but we had all these pieces of bone that we saved behind that DNA came out of it, when at one point in time, these were just useless bits of data.
TODD: You know you’ve got to build a time capsule both physically and mentally. You have to put together a time capsule, and I think that’s what you’re doing, like you said, you’ve profiled, you’ve pulled all this data together and I do believe that at some point in time, that’s going to serve a greater purpose.
JOHN: I think you’re right.
TODD: I’m just positive of that with your case.
TODD: So where do you go now? What do you do tomorrow when you work on this case? What’s your next step?
JOHN: Well, one of the things we have asked is for a ‘Cold Case Bureau’ to be opened in Québec. Currently they do not have 2 or 3 individuals dedicated to cleaning up the backlog of cases.
TODD: Uh huh.
JOHN: So that would be one other thing that would be very, very helpful. On Theresa’s case, I know of a few, you know as I said, there’s some things being worked on that I know about but I can’t talk about but I think the idea of exhuming the body is really good. I haven’t revisited that idea because it takes a while to revisit that idea.
TODD: Uh huh.
TODD: That’s the first thing that I want to do when I work on a case is let’s see what have we got.
JOHN: Yeah, but I think it would be something that I would want to bring up with this young criminologist again and say I don’t think she is aware that we have that opportunity and certainly if the police don’t want to do it, there are always private labs that will do it.
JOHN: You know, the thing would be coming up the money but that’s never stopped us before. We did a search for evidence in a wooded area last year that was a huge undertaking…it was a place that had never been looked for evidence and again, the police wouldn’t participate but we got huge amounts of resources, volunteers for that; I mean the number of people that showed up and professionals that showed up to help do a proper search was very moving. So I have no doubt that if exhuming the body was something that we wanted to do, the resources would come forward to make that happen.
TODD: They always do… they always find a way.
TODD: They always find a way. Well, I’ve really enjoyed talking to you.
JOHN: I’ve enjoyed it to you too, Todd, absolutely and I didn’t know you worked with the Doe Network, that’s terrific.
TODD: Well, yeah, I’ve been there a long time now. In fact I’ve worked with a lot of different organizations. There are ways to borrow from one to help one another, there are just so many ways and more and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this show. I thought, if I did this show, one hour a day, 24 hours in that day, seven days a week for the rest of my life I would still never be able to touch everybody…there’s no way.
JOHN: That’s a sad statement.
TODD: So, the more the better, I think. Even though, like I said, I downplayed this grassroots, simple effort, that there’s no money spin on this; it’s just a simple cause.
JOHN: The nice thing about it is, there’s no spin on it, I mean you do one a week thoroughly, and that’s the beauty of it. I really thank you for that.
TODD: Well, there are so many ways to approach things and I thought well, you know try another, and if it works then and it’s worked out a lot better than I thought it would. People are so willing to get on here and, like you said, air their dirty laundry and say what they feel like they need to say and you know that’s one of the complaints I’ve always heard from family members, “They wouldn’t let me talk.”
JOHN: That’s exactly right, that’s exactly right.
TODD: So hopefully, we’ll let people talk and maybe they can take this information and use it for whatever they like. There’s no copyright on the case, people can do what they want with it, they want to take it and spin it into a book, feed it to the media, whatever you want to do it, it’s there.
TODD: That’s the point, you know.
TODD: At least if someone’s got it in their hand to go with.
TODD: And often they don’t know how to start with media, so I’m hoping this will help people. You don’t need it but it isn’t going to hurt.
JOHN: (Laughter) No, it’s not going to hurt but you know, the more you hear about these things, I think, the more it helps everyone.
TODD: And the more friends you make.
JOHN: That’s right.
TODD: The better opportunities and…I enjoy the opportunity to call you a friend now and I will be talking to you again.
TODD: And I’d like to have you back again when you have an update, so don’t hesitate to email or call.
TODD: And I want to thank everyone that’s listened in tonight. Thank you and talk to you guys soon.
JOHN: Okay, thank you, Todd. I’ve enjoyed it.
TODD: All right. Bye-bye.
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