Friends and family of Yvon Lacasse, the 71-year-old man who went missing last week while an Amber Alert was in place for a six-year-old Quebec boy, are taking solace after his body was finally located Wednesday.
"It feels very sad ... but it is still a great relief to know that he is finally found even if it is not the ending that we wanted," said Yves St-Denis, Lacasse's second cousin and a Quebec MNA.
- Body found near Arundel, Que., ends search for Yvon Lacasse
- Suspect in Quebec Amber Alert accused of 2nd-degree murder
Late Thursday, police investigators formally identified the body found Wednesday night as that of Lacasse. However, they are still awaiting the results of an autopsy from the Quebec coroner.
'There is no explanation of what happened and there will never be, so we need to put energy on the love that we have as a family and we will survive.' - Diane Richer, Yvon Lacasse's niece
After a week of searching, the body was found in a wooded area along Chemin de la Rouge, a gravel road that runs parallel to the Rouge River in Arundel, 20 kilometres south of Mont-Tremblant.
Police believe Ugo Fredette, 41, arrested in connection with an Amber Alert for a missing six-year-old Quebec boy, abandoned his own pickup truck and stole Lacasse's Honda CR-V in Lachute, south of Arundel, as he tried to evade authorities last Thursday.
The boy was found safe when Fredette was stopped the following day by police in Ontario.
Diane Richer, Lacasse's niece, said she is grateful for the outpouring of support from the public, and that the focus now is on grieving.
"I'm sure Yvon Lacasse will be in the hearts of a lot of people for a long time," she said in an interview with Radio-Canada.
She didn't want to mention Fredette by name, saying the family would try to "let that portion of the story go."
"There is no explanation of what happened and there will never be, so we need to put energy on the love that we have as a family and we will survive," she said.
Lacasse remembered as a 'gentleman'
Lacasse was a resident of Gore, Que., a tiny township in Quebec's Laurentians region.
Gore residents were among several hundred volunteers who helped with the search effort in the days after Lacasse went missing.
"It's a small town, we all know each other," Mayor Scott Pearce said.
"It's tough when you lose someone to cancer or a heart attack because you know everybody in a small town like this, but on a case like this it's even more devastating. It's unnecessary and he was someone who didn't deserve anything like that."
Pearce said Lacasse was a friendly man who never missed a community breakfast.
"He'd help his neighbours shovel the snow during storms. He was just one of those people who is always willing to help," he said.
Fredette still in hospital
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.
He remains in an Ottawa hospital where he was said to be emerging from a coma Thursday. He has been in a coma for the past four days, ever since he failed to awaken after being anesthetized to undergo tests.
He is expected to be handed over to Quebec provincial police once he can be discharged from hospital.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Martin Castonguay has rescheduled a hearing until next Wednesday, and has asked for a detailed medical report on the accused's mental and physical health.
No charges have yet been laid in the death of Lacasse.
Witness still sought
Police are still looking for a man they are calling "an important witness" in the case.
He was seen with Fredette at a hotel in Rouyn-Noranda where the Quebec man and boy stayed on Sept. 14, the night police issued the Amber Alert for the boy.
He is in his 40s with dark hair, a beard and blue eyes. He is 5-6" tall and weighs about 220 pounds.
Anyone with information related to the case is asked to contact 911 or 1-800-659-4264.