Two men are facing first-degree murder charges in the slaying of a 19-year-old Quebec woman whose death may be linked to the discovery of two more bodies, the Sûreté du Québec said Friday.
2 men charged with 1st degree murder after womans body found in field near Trois-Rivières
René Kègle, 38, and Francis Martel, 31 — both from Quebec’s Mauricie region — appeared in court in Trois-Rivières late Friday in connection with the killing of Ophélie Martin-Cyr.
Two men arrested in murder of 19-year-old Quebec woman
In addition to the two first-degree murder charges, Kègle is charged with attempted murder of a 21-year-old woman who escaped from a moving car early Wednesday.
Police say the 21-year-old was a friend of Martin-Cyr, and she was the one who first alerted authorities to Martin-Cyr’s disappearance.
A farmer found Martin-Cyr’s body a few hours later in a field in Yamachiche near Trois-Rivières, about halfway between Montreal and Quebec City.
In a dramatic twist, SQ spokeswoman Éloïse Cossette said Friday that investigators believe the case is connected to the discovery the same day of a burnt-out SUV 35 kilometres away. The vehicle was later found to contain two charred bodies.
“There are certain elements that allow us to believe that it could be linked, this vehicle, to the murder in Yamachiche,” Cossette said in a phone interview.
Cossette said it’s impossible to determine the age or sex of the badly burned victims, and she did not elaborate on how the two events might be connected.
While police were giving few details about the murder, a close friend of the victim said she and some other friends had become worried about some of the people in Martin-Cyr’s extended circle.
Shannie Gélinas remembers Martin-Cyr as a kind and open-hearted person who always wanted to help her friends.
Martin-Cyr was studying to become a paralegal in order to give herself a better future, Gélinas said.
“They took away the chance of a kid — because at 19 we’re still kids,” she said. “They took away her chance to blossom, to grow … to have a future, when their own was already broken.”
Two men have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Ophélie Martin-Cyr, whose body was found by a farmer in a field in Yamachiche, Que., west of Trois-Rivières Wednesday.
René Kègle, 38, and Francis Martel, 31, were arrested Thursday and appeared in the Trois-Rivières courthouse Friday afternoon. Kègle has been charged with the first-degree murder of Martin-Cyr and also faces a charge of attempted murder of an unnamed person by discharging a restricted firearm.
Martel has been charged with the first-degree murder of Martin-Cyr and being an accomplice after the fact.
Both men have existing criminal records. Kègle was found guilty of assault in 2017 and was sentenced to five months in jail, ultimately serving 15 months' probation. He was also convicted of assault in 2006.
Martel has a number of weapons and drug charges on his record dating back to 2005. Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to obstructing a police officer. He also pleaded guilty to breaking conditions in May 2018.
Quebec provincial police say they believe Martin-Cyr's death is also connected to the deaths of two people found in a torched car in Trois-Rivières the night before her body was found.
Martin-Cyr was last seen alive Tuesday night by a 21-year-old woman police described as her friend. Police say the friend called police after fleeing from a moving vehicle. It's unclear whether Martin-Cyr was in the car as well.
Martin-Cyr was reported missing Wednesday morning. Her body had signs of violence on it when it was discovered.
After Martin-Cyr went missing, the torched car containing the remains of two people was found in Sainte-Marthe-du-Cap, 35 kilometres east of the town where Martin-Cyr's body was found.
Martin-Cyr's roommate, Gabrielle Bouchard-Lamy, said she is devastated by her longtime friend's death.
"I keep telling myself, 'If only I'd gone to get her that night,'" Bouchard-Lamy told Radio-Canada.
Bouchard-Lamy said she and her roommate hung out with the same crowd, but she'd recently decided to stop seeing some of those people, concluding they were "toxic" and "unpredictable."
Martin-Cyr had recently gone back to school, studying to become a paralegal at Collège Ellis in Trois-Rivières.
"Her death is such a loss to the people who knew her," Bouchard-Lamy said. "She was always there to make you feel better. She was always smiling. She didn't deserve this."
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