The badly beaten and burned body of Valerie Leblanc, 18, was discovered in the woods behind a school in Hull in western Quebec.

Police in Gatineau are investigating after her body was found Tuesday near the Cégep de l'Outaouais in Hull. They confirmed the identity of the victim as Leblanc, a student at the school whose family had reported her missing.

Two students found the body around 4 p.m. Tuesday near the bike path behind the school's Campus Gabrielle-Roy.

Josianne Tardif was having a cigarette on the path with her friends when they came upon the body.


A vigil was held Wednesday night for Valerie Leblanc, 18, where family and friends remembered the Cegep student. ((Submitted Photo))

"She was lying down on her front, her legs were broken," said Tardif, "at the time we didn't believe it was real."

The pair originally thought the body was a mannequin, until they moved closer and decided to call police.

"We kind of smelled the dead body burning, that's when we realized what you saw. It was really excruciating," she said.

Leblanc's body was transported to Montreal, where an autopsy is to take place. Gatineau police said the death is considered suspicious.

Body found in same spot last year

The location where the body was found is near the spot where in March 2010 a woman was found badly burned in what police later called an attempted suicide.

The similarity of the incidents led some at the school and family members of Leblanc to speculate they were connected.

But police said Wednesday last year's incident is still considered an attempted suicide, while this one is not a suicide.

The area, a popular spot for Gatineau teenagers, was also where Tardif planned to go this weekend.

"We were supposed to go camping in these woods. But really, now I don't want to go because I don't feel safe," she said.

Investigators remained on the scene Wednesday evening.