Gatineau student's body may have been tampered with
The body of a student found burned and beaten outside her school may have been "manipulated" after death, prompting further investigation by police in Gatineau, Que.
The body of Valerie Leblanc, 18, was found Tuesday near a bike path in the woods behind the Gabrielle-Roy campus of the Cégep de l'Outaouais in the Hull sector of Gatineau.
Leblanc was at school Tuesday morning and disappeared in the afternoon. Two students said in the afternoon they smelled smoke and later found her body near a bike path behind the school.
They called police at about 4 p.m. ET.
Gatineau police spokesman Sgt. Jean-Paul Le May said Thursday a parallel investigation opened after preliminary evidence suggests people who first came upon the body may have "manipulated" it.
"Certain actions were taken by the people who discovered the body of Valerie Leblanc, so there is a second investigation to the one of murder," said Gatineau police spokesman Sgt. Jean-Paul Le May.
Le May said there are four suspects in the second investigation, which also includes allegations of obstructing the homicide investigation.
Le May did not provide details as to when this may have happened or what might have been done, but said the people involved in the second investigation are not believed to be involved in the death of Leblanc, which police said is the first homicide of the year in the city.
Leblanc's body was transported to Montreal, where an autopsy took place. The results are expected Friday morning.
On Thursday, additional special investigators and equipment were called in to assist in the probe.
Police have also set up a hotline for tips at 819-243-2346 ext. 6677 and said they will be at the scene until at least Friday.
Family holds vigil on Wednesday
On Wednesday evening, more than 100 people, including Leblanc's family, gathered at the campus to grieve and pay tribute to Leblanc.
Students at the school organized the impromptu vigil to honour their friend, a second-year student who wanted to become a police officer.
Leblanc's grandmother led a prayer circle, and asked that each of them keep her granddaughter in their hearts, saying she loved her friends.
Students said the death was both sad and shocking.
"I brought flowers for Valerie to keep her in my mind and never forget her," said friend Michael Reitano.
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 on Wednesday police said last year's incident is still considered an attempted suicide, while Leblanc's death is being treated as a homicide.