A father who was the subject of an intense 10-day manhunt had killed his two young daughters with a blunt object and taken his own life before an Amber Alert was ever triggered for them, Quebec provincial police said Wednesday.
Chief Insp. Guy Lapointe said the tragic string of events began on July 8 when Martin Carpentier took his daughters Norah and Romy for ice cream. It ended with all three dead less than 12 hours later.
The “tipping point,” the police spokesman said, was a car crash, which is not believed to have been deliberate but seemingly caused Carpentier’s behaviour to veer from normal to erratic.
Police did not elaborate on a motive or what could have led to such a radical and swift change in Carpentier’s behaviour.
“The reality is that the suspect is deceased, so there are things we’ll never really know,” Lapointe told a news conference in Montreal.
But investigators are confident, he added, that by the morning of July 9, “all those sad events had already been played, and all three were already dead.”
He said that since the criminal investigation is complete, it’s now up to the provincial coroner to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths.
The trio’s disappearance led to a search that only ended Monday night when Carpentier’s body was found.
The intense police search southwest of Quebec City lasted 10 days before being scaled back last weekend. It included two visits to the wooded property where Carpentier’s body was eventually discovered.
Carpentier was last seen crossing the highway with his daughters after abandoning the damaged vehicle, leaving behind his cell phone and a melting ice cream.
Norah, 11, and Romy, 6, were injured in the car crash, but they died from blunt force trauma inflicted by their father, investigators concluded.
The girls’ bodies were found July 11 in a wooded area in St-Apollinaire, Que., two days after the Amber Alert had been triggered.
Police said the Amber Alert wasn’t issued until the day after the crash because there was no immediate indication Carpentier would have abducted his daughters.
“There was worry, but you have to understand they were implicated in a car crash, so it was a worry in regards to their status or health following the car crash,” Lapointe told reporters in Montreal. ”It wasn’t a worry that the father would do anything to the daughters, and that’s exactly what we were getting from the family.”
Police said the crash was not deliberate, and there were signs Carpentier tried to regain control of the vehicle. But the accident was the moment when things began to change, Lapointe said.
“Every behaviour that was noted … prior to that moment, is behaviour that is normal, that fits what we would expect from that individual,” he said. “Except that from that point on, following the crash, it’s everything else that doesn’t add up to what we would call normal behaviour.”
Investigators believe Carpentier made his way to a trailer within the search perimeter, where he took items including a shovel and a lighter. While the girls were believed to be alive at that point, only Carpentier’s DNA was found inside.
The girls’ bodies were found about 750 metres from the trailer, and Carpentier’s body was found about 5.5 kilometres from the crash site.
Lapointe said that while the outcome of the investigation is unsatisfactory, police are confident they did everything they could to find the girls based on the information available to them.
He said police had visited the property where Carpentier was found on July 10 and 17, but it was outside the area being searched on foot and with dogs. At the time of the visits, the property owner had not noticed anything missing, although a ladder was later found in the area where the body was found.
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
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