Listing Of Unsolved Murders & Missing People In Canada > Quebec Unsolved Murders & Missing People

Manon Dubé, 10 - murdered - Sherbrooke, Que - January 27, 1978



In the early evening of Friday, January 27, 1978, 10-year-old Manon Dubé was playing with her friends. They decided to go sledding on the snow banks behind the parking lot of the local Caisse Populaire Bank. This was close to Manon’s home, only three blocks from where her mother was waiting for her in their first-floor apartment on rue Bienville in the southeast end of Sherbrooke, Quebec. Around 7:30 p.m., as it got dark, the children decided to head home. From the Caisse Populaire on the corner of Belvedere and Union, the young girls crossed the street and proceeded to walk east on rue Union, passing in front of St. Joseph’s Elementary School. At the corner of Union and Craig, one block from Manon’s home, they stopped. Manon’s younger sister, Chantel, decided it is too cold to walk and ran ahead. This corner is the last place Manon was seen alive. She never arrived home; she simply disappeared.

When Manon Dubé was reported missing by her mother, police acted swiftly. They immediately published a bulletin with her picture. Police dispatched a 16-officer search team and combed a nearby wooded area with two tracking dogs. An additional 13-officer party conducted a house-to-house search along rue Bienville. They failed to find anyone who saw the missing girl. Manon’s sister, Chantel, told police someone in a dark Buick had been following her and her cousin during the last week. Other parents mentioned that strangers have approached their children on the street in recent months.

Less than a week into the disappearance, investigators got what appeared to be a break. Manon’s mother received a telephone call demanding $25,000 for the safe return of her daughter. Mrs. Dubé told police that on three separate occasions since Manon went missing, her telephone rang, but when she answered it, the person on the other end hung up. Mrs. Dubé was a recent widow who, upon the death of her husband, received approximately $20,000 from his insurance. Perhaps someone was aware of this money and kidnapped Manon in order to collect it.

The following day police announced the ransom call was most likely a hoax. The Dubé’s telephone number was broadcast on a local radio station. Someone probably called up Mrs. Dubé as a sick joke. Hope turned to despair. Mrs. Dubé prepared for the worst: “I can’t help but think she has been abducted, attacked, or raped. I pray to God this hasn’t happened.” The police widened their search parameters and began to look in the surrounding Eastern Townships countryside. More than 1,500 people on snowmobiles volunteered to search the area farmlands. Clairvoyants from the region were consulted in hopes of locating Manon. Finally, on the evening of Friday, March 24, two young boys found Manon’s partially frozen body face down in a brook near Ayer’s Cliff, 30 miles south of her Sherbrooke home.

Body found
Investigators from both the Sherbrooke Municipal Police and the Sûreté du Québec’s Coaticook Detachment, including Corporal Roch Gaudreault who had worked on the cases of Theresa Allore and Louise Camirand, arrived on the scene shortly after dark. Dubé’s body was locked in two inches of ice and had to be carefully removed with a hatchet. On first view, there were no signs of violence or molestation. She was found, as she was last seen, wearing her snowsuit and boots. The only thing missing was one red mitten. There was a small gash on her forehead but this was initially thought to have been caused by the effects of the frozen ice. Because of the condition of the body, investigators speculated that Manon was moved to this location shortly after her disappearance.

An autopsy was performed, but the pathologist was unable to determine the exact cause of death. Some investigators speculated that perhaps Manon was the victim of a hit-and-run accident and the cut on her head was caused by an automobile fender. Still others wondered if she had simply frozen to death. Most agreed that sexual molestation—although possible—was unlikely. She was found with her clothes on; the assumption was made that if she had been raped, she would have been found without her clothes.

Cold case opened
For 23 years the case remained dormant. Then, in 2001, the sister of Manon, Chantel Dubé, asked Sherbrooke police to look at the case one more time. They agreed and a new investigation was launched, subjecting the 23-year-old case to the scrutiny of a modern forensic techniques. Many members of the original investigation team were still alive and willing to assist. Unfortunately—and inexplicably—most of the evidence from the case had been destroyed. The team had a modern crime lab at their disposal, but they had nothing to analyze. All that remained were some particles taken from the gash on Manon’s head. It turned out that whatever caused the cut was metallic, either a car bumper or a blunt instrument.

The sample was tested, but the results were inconclusive, and the source could not be determined. With little new evidence, the investigation team shifted their focus from “how Manon died” to “why Manon died.” The possibility that a relative accidentally killed the girl was considered. It turned out that the brook where Manon was found is on land that was owned by the Dubé family. The property is a small lot, and in 197, had a one-story cottage situated about 100 feet from the brook. Detectives speculated that maybe Manon was accidentally hit by someone she knew, and that the grieving relative panicked and brought her body to the brook. Another theory was that she was, in fact, kidnapped. A relative who was aware of the insurance money abducted Manon in hopes of collecting a ransom. Somewhere along the way the kidnapping went wrong and the young girl died.

In all of their conjecturing, investigators from both 1978 and 2001 never seriously considered the possibility that Manon Dubé had been abducted for the purposes of sexual molestation. In 1978, the French tabloid crime paper, Allo Police ran the headline: “Manon 10 ans, a-t-elle ete Victime d’un Maniaque?” In 2001, their by-line read: “Victime D’un Pedophile?” Despite its sensationalist reputation, both then and now, Allo Police was being more than salacious. The paper offered a serious theory worthy of consideration given the circumstances under which the young girl disappeared, and how and where her body was found.

The official police position, however, was that this was the least probable motive. Patrick Vuillemin, a member of the new investigative team looking into Dubé’s death, stated he seriously doubted Manon had been the victim of a sexual predator; there were no overt signs of a struggle he believed to be associated with sexual violence. Shortly thereafter, Vuillemin, faced with mounting pressures and responsibilities, was forced to close the 2001 investigation into Dube’s death. The final determination was, again, inconclusive.


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