Ugo Fredette has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of his partner, Véronique Barbe, who was found slain in her Saint-Eustache, Que., home last Thursday, triggering an Amber Alert for a missing six-year-old boy.

The alert spanned hundreds of kilometres and lasted until Fredette was arrested and the boy was found safe in Dacre, Ont., about 60 km east of Bancroft. 

The second-degree murder charge was filed by Quebec prosecutors in Saint-Jérôme court Monday, while Fredette remains in an Ottawa hospital after attempting to commit suicide in custody. 

The boy has been transported back to Quebec, where he was placed in the care of provincial youth protection services.

veronique barbe amber alert saint eustache

Véronique Barbe was found dead in her Saint-Eustache home last Thursday. (Véronique Barbe/Facebook)

Barbe was a mother of four. One of her friends told Radio-Canada she had split with Fredette for a month in the spring, but the couple were together when Barbe was killed. Her cause of death has not been released by police.

Fredette is expected to be arraigned Wednesday if his condition permits transfer into Quebec provincial police custody.​

"His medical condition isn't clear at the moment, but we've learned he would be in a semi-comatose state," Pierre Gauthier, Fredette's lawyer, told Radio-Canada. 

Gauthier added he hadn't been able to speak with his client in the past 48 hours because of that, but did after Fredette was arrested Friday.

Family fears worst, hopes for best

Meanwhile, police are expanding their search this morning for 71-year-old Yvon Lacasse, the man whose SUV  Fredette was driving when he was arrested.

Police believe Fredette stole the Honda CR-V in Lachute, Que., Thursday, where Lacasse was last seen.

Investigators are once again urging residents to be on the lookout for Lacasse between Lachute and Rouyn-Noranda, a network of roads northwest of Montreal totalling nearly 600 kilometres.

The SQ used a helicopter to look for signs of Lacasse on Route 117, a remote stretch connecting Mont-Tremblant and Rouyn-Noranda, which police say Fredette took on his drive north.

Yvon Lacasse

Police are now looking for Yvon Lacasse, 71, who was last seen in his Honda CR-V that Fredette was driving at the time of his arrest. (Sûreté du Québec )

"We're going to go up to Rouyn-Noranda so we can eliminate that part and then focus on other sections [he could be in]," said SQ Sgt. Martine Asselin.

Investigators are still hoping Fredette will provide details about Lacasse's whereabouts — but the communication has been limited, Asselin said.

"Hopefully, Ugo Fredette will come to his senses and give out the information so that ... all the members of Yves Lacasse's family find answers," she said.

"To find him alive or not, they just want to find him."

Teams of volunteers spent the weekend looking for Lacasse in the Lachute area. 

Yves St-Denis, Lacasse's cousin and a Quebec MNA, said it has been an extremely difficult period for the family.

"Very sad, and at the same time happy to see all the volunteers helping," he told CBC Montreal's Daybreak on Monday.

"We made 23 teams of 10 or more people to search all the little roads, but found no evidence. We'll see what happens today." 

Lacasse is described as bald with brown eyes. He is 5-4" tall and weighs around 155 pounds.

sq helicopter yvon lacasse search amber alert

A Sûreté du Québec helicopter hovers above Highway 117 between Lachute and Rouyn-Noranda, where police are searching for missing 71-year-old Yvon Lacasse. (Karine Bastien/Radio-Canada)

Witness sought

The SQ have also released a sketch portrait of another man they're calling an important witness in the case.

He was seen with Fredette at a hotel in Rouyn-Noranda overnight Thursday, where the Quebec man and boy stayed.

He is in his 40s with dark hair, a beard and blue eyes. He is 5-6" tall and weighs 220 pounds.

"We don't know at which point that he started to be in the story," said the SQ's Asselin. "We really want to meet him. Maybe he would know where Mr. Lacasse would be and what Mr. Fredette had in his mind."

Anyone with information related to the case is asked to contact 911 or 1-800-659-4264.

witness amber alert rouyn noranda

Police are searching for witness they want to speak to in the Quebec Amber Alert case. (Sûreté du Québec)

With files from Stephen Smith and Radio-Canada