Body found near Arundel, Que., ends police search for missing man in Amber Alert case
Yvon Lacasse's vehicle was being driven by accused murderer Ugo Fredette
Quebec provincial police have found a body near the town of Arundel, 20 kilometres south of Mont-Tremblant, where they have been searching for 71-year-old Yvon Lacasse, who was last seen on Thursday, Sept. 14.
Sûreté du Québec Sgt. Marc Tessier told CBC News that "every indication" suggests the body is that of Lacasse, but police must wait for the coroner to confirm the identity.
The body was found around 5:30 p.m. ET by an SQ officer searching a wooded area along Chemin de la Rouge, a gravel road that runs parallel to the Rouge River in Arundel.
Following tips from the public, the SQ concentrated its search efforts along Chemin de la Rouge and Highway 327, a secondary road that connects Lachute and Mont-Tremblant in the Laurentians.
Police officers searched the area on foot and with the help of a helicopter.
The SQ believes that Ugo Fredette, 41, who was arrested after an Amber Alert was issued last Thursday for a missing six-year-old Quebec boy, abandoned his own pickup truck and stole Lacasse's Honda CR-V in Lachute, 40 kilometres northwest of Saint-Eustache.
The boy was found safe when Fredette was stopped the following day by police in Dacre, Ont., about 60 km east of Bancroft.
Fredette has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of his partner, Véronique Barbe, 41, of Saint-Eustache, but has yet to appear in court due to injuries he sustained during a suicide attempt behind bars.
Police had previously said Lacasse could have been dropped off by Fredette anywhere along the route he took from Lachute, driving through Rouyn-Noranda and Maniwaki before entering Ontario.
Stolen vehicle caught on video
Carole Brandt, Arundel's administrative assistant, told CBC News that provincial police first showed up in town on Sunday in their search for Lacasse.
Police viewed security camera footage that showed Lacasse's stolen Honda CR-V in the town at 7:09 p.m. Thursday, according to Brandt, who also saw the footage.
While investigators have maintained a presence in town all week, Brandt said the search seemed to ramp up Wednesday morning.
"We had to tell people what was going on because they were quite concerned," she said.
"And actually today, they're going door to door telling people to check their properties, their barns and their sheds for possible clues."
Fredette to undergo medical evaluation
Fredette is still in an Ottawa hospital, according to Ontario Provincial Police.
He was charged in absentia Monday in the slaying of his partner, the mother of four children. The cause of the woman's death has not been released.
Fredette was scheduled to appear in a Saint-Jérôme court today but Superior Court Justice Martin Castonguay rescheduled the hearing until next Wednesday, and has asked for a detailed medical report on the accused's mental and physical health.
He has been in a coma for the past three days, ever since he failed to awaken after being anesthetized to undergo tests.
"They had to put him asleep because he was too agitated. And when all the medical tests were completed, they tried to wake him up but without any success," said Fredette's lawyer, Pierre Gauthier.
The coma, he said, was not deliberately induced.
Gauthier said Tuesday Fredette had begun moving his hands and feet. On Wednesday, the Crown prosecutor in Fredette's case told the court the accused had opened his eyes.
Still seeking person of interest
Police are also still looking for a "person of interest" who they say was seen with Fredette in Rouyn-Noranda Thursday overnight.
They have circulated a computer-generated image of the man.
Anyone with information is asked to contact 911 or 1-800-659-4264.
With files from Ainslie MacLellan, Radio-Canada and The Canadian Press