Man arrested after body of long-missing girl found

Montreal police arrest a man in his 40s after the body of Jolène Riendeau was found earlier this week, 12 years after she went missing at age 10.

Jolène Riendeau was 10 when last seen outside Montreal convenience store

Jolene Riendeau disappeared Aug. 12, 1999, after going to the corner store to buy a bag of chips. Her remains were found 12 years later.

After a dozen years of hoping and wishing their daughter might come home, all Jolène Riendeau's grieving family wants now is justice and to put their little girl to rest.

They hope to get both of those things in short order.

Montreal police announced Friday that a man had been arrested in the high-profile disappearance and slaying of the 10-year-old girl who vanished in 1999.

No charges were immediately laid against the individual, picked up just two days after investigators informed Riendeau's family that they'd found her remains.

The family is hopeful it might get the remains from authorities and have a funeral sometime next week.

Their plans to say goodbye have begun in earnest.

A church has been chosen in the Pointe-Saint-Charles borough where she grew up, but from where the family departed long ago to escape the pain.

Difficult week for family

A spokeswoman for the family said Riendeau's parents and siblings are waiting for charges to be laid before speaking to journalists.

"Right now they're really just focusing on giving their daughter a proper burial, paying tribute to their daughter," said Pina Arcamone, executive director of the Missing Children's Network.

She and the organization are acting as the family's representatives and Arcamone has been at their side throughout. The family is heavily involved in the organization.

"It has been a very difficult week for them," said the missing children's advocate.

Jolène's story became well known throughout the province as police and her family spent years looking for her.

Residents of her neighbourhood were terrified by the disappearance.

Posters of the missing girl were splashed across southwest Montreal.

Knowing someone might be charged could help provide closure to the family.

"There's a sense of relief to know the investigation is progressing, that it's moving forward and we're getting closer to finding who committed this heinous crime against their daughter," Arcamone said.

"At the same time, there's a lot of sadness because they'll never get to see their daughter again — no matter what happens from this moment onwards."

Riendeau was last seen on April 12, 1999, eating a bag of chips outside a convenience store, not far from her home.

Neighbours gripped by mystery

Police detectives followed up on 1,500 tips, but there were never any breaks in the case. That was until news this week that her remains had been found.

The discovery triggered a homicide investigation. Police have said little about the suspect, described simply as a man in 40s, who was under interrogation by homicide detectives.

"This morning, our investigators arrested a suspect . . . on the island of Montreal," said Sgt. Ian Lafrenière of the city police.

"He's been questioned all day long by investigators and we'll wait to see whether or not he's accused."

Police have remained tight-lipped with the details. It was not immediately known when or where the remains were located or where the suspect was arrested.

They will only say the suspect is someone known to police and has a previous criminal record.

"When a person is detained like in a case like this, he has to be before a court within 24 hours," Lafrenière said late Friday.

That could mean a video arraignment on Saturday or in person by Monday.

Only under very few exceptions can someone be held for longer than the 24-hour period, Lafrenière said.