Episode 282: Aurore Gagnon is probably one of the most tragic figures in twentieth-century Canadian history. She was only ten years old when she died of exhaustion and blood poisoning in her hometown of Sainte-Philomène-de-Fortierville, Quebec, on February 12, 1920. An autopsy revealed at least 54 wounds on her body, presumably inflicted over time by her stepmother Marie-Anne Houde and her father, Télesphore Gagnon. Both were later convicted for their roles in the little girl’s death. Aurore Gagnon’s story has left a lasting impact on Quebec’s cultural memory, inspiring plays, films, and discussions about child abuse and children’s rights in the province.


Aurore! The Mystery of the Martyred Child


Fortierville, Quebec, Canada: Church of Saint Philomena of Fortierville


GAGNON, AURORE – Volume XIV (1911-1920) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Généalogie Aurore Gagnon

Centre d’interprétation de Fortierville | Église Ste-Philomène de Fortierville

Monument funéraire d’Aurore Gagnon – Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec

Marie-Aurore-Lucienne “Aurore” Gagnon (1909-1920)…

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Episode 281: On the night of Saturday, October 25th, 1857, in Beaver Lake, a part of Simond’s Parish in St John County, a heinous crime was committed unlike anything ever seen in New Brunswick up to that point. Sure, there had been murders and arsons, but those were often the result of heated arguments or drunken brawls. But this crime was different. It’s hard to believe that anyone in New Brunswick would coldly and calculatedly murder a man named Robert McKenzie, his wife, and his four helpless children, all for the sake of money, and then burn down their property to destroy the evidence. The perpetrators, three Irish Catholics, Hugh Breen and Patrick Slavin Sr. and Slavin’s teenage son, Patrick Jr., targeted the protestant Mackenzie family, robbing and murdering them. This crime, committed on that fateful Saturday night, was, to that point, unprecedented in New Brunswick. Some still feel the crime rivals the worst in the province’s history.


The Beaver Lake tragedy | Internet Archive

The Victorian Era Crime That Shocked New Brunswick: The Beaver Lake Tragedy

McKenzie Murders | Cases | Crime and Punishment | Projects | Faculty of Arts | UNB

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Episode 280: In the early morning hours of July 8, 2019, Vancouver Island RCMP launched a manhunt for two inmates who had escaped from William Head, a minimum security federal institution in Metchosin, south of Victoria. The two men, James Lee Busch and Zachary Armitage had walked away from William Head the day before. The fugitives were arrested on July 9 after an off-duty RCMP officer spotted them in Esquimalt. On July 12, RCMP found the body of 60-year-old Martin Keith Payne, who had not shown up for work, at his home on Brookview Drive, in the community of Metchosin.

Payne’s suspicious death initiated an 11-month investigation led by the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, involving several police agencies. On June 12, 2020, an RCMP news release reported that the escapees, Busch and Armitage, had been charged with first-degree murder concerning Martin Payne’s death.

This event sparked serious debate about the decision-making process that led to these two individuals, both with histories of violent crime, being housed in a minimum-security facility. How had they simply walked away from their incarceration to murder Martin Payne?


RCMP in British Columbia – Two men arrested and charged in the 2019 Martin Payne homicide investigation


The behind-the-scenes story of how ignored warnings at William Head allowed a killer to escape

William Head Rd · Metchosin, BC

Correctional Service on Twitter

The Province 09 Jul 2019, page A13

Archive.org | CAPTURED – Prisoners who escaped from William Head Institution now in police custody

Archive.org | Suspicious Death Investigation Continues in Metchosin

Archive.org | Persons of interest identified in the murder of Martin Payne

Victim died of multiple stab wounds and blunt force injuries, murder trial hears

Woman sentenced for role in murder | CBC News

Metchosin seeks permission to use emergency alerts for prison breaks

Globe and Mail | Inmate tells B.C. court he ‘felt like dying’ while in solitary confinement

Loved ones remember joyous Metchosin man as his killer is sentenced

Family of murdered Metchosin man speaks as killer sentenced to life in prison

Paul Bernardo transfer to a medium-security prison was ‘sound’: review – National

CSC staff ‘worried the circus would begin’ before Bernardo transfer: emails – National

‘My father could have been anyone’: Daughters of murder victim speak out

July marks 4 years since inmates escaped William Head prison, murdered Metchosin man

2019 BCPC 311 (CanLII) | R. v. Armitage | CanLII

2022 BCSC 1407 (CanLII) | R. v Armitage & Busch | CanLII

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Episode 279: In Quebec City, on October 21, 2004, Dario Gallese got an alarming phone call from his younger brother, Eustachio Gallese. In the call, Eustachio admitted to killing his girlfriend, Chantale Deschesnes, 32, and, following his brother’s advice, contacted the police to report the crime. Eustachio was arrested, charged, and convicted of the second-degree murder of Chantale. In late 2006, Eustachio was sentenced to life in prison without parole eligibility for 15 years. 

In 2019, Eustachio was placed into a halfway house on day parole. In September, in what would be a controversial decision, his case management team allowed Eustachio Gallese to visit sex workers to have his sexual needs met, as long as he was ‘transparent’ with his case management team about these visits. 

On the night of January 22, 2020, Eustachio Gallese walked into a Quebec City police station and admitted to having murdered another woman, a 22-year-old masseuse named Marylène Levesque, whom he’d become obsessed with. Marylène’s body was found in the Sainte-Foy (Sant-Fwa) hotel room where Gallese said she would be. She’d been stabbed 30 times.

A month later, Eustachio Gallese, then 51, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. After a public outcry inciting parliamentary debate, the Correctional Service of Canada and the Parole Board of Canada announced a joint investigation into Gallese’s release.


2004 CanLII 56627 (QC CS) | R. c. Gallese | CanLII

2009 QCCA 1071 (CanLII) | Gallese c. R. | CanLII

Meurtre de Marylène Lévesque: une vigile contre les féminicides

Meurtre à Sainte-Foy: «C’était prévisible», dénonce la fille de la victime

Debates (Hansard) No. 14 – February 4, 2020 (43-1) – House of Commons of Canada

Stigma and Criminalization of Sex Work Facilitated the Murder of Marylène Levesque

Correctional services missed signs leading up to Marylène Levesque murder, says report | CBC News

Warning signs were missed prior to murder of Marylène Lévesque: report | Watch News Videos Online

Internal investigation into the murder of Marylène Lévesque: Pierre Paul-Hus calls for the immediate reopening of the internal investigation | Pierre Paul-Hus

Joint National Board of Investigation: Correctional Service of Canada – Parole Board of Canada

Enforcing prostitution laws could have saved Marylène Lévesque | The Star

Marylène Lévesque – Investigation Report | PDF

Capitalism Is Killing My Fellow Sex Workers

How Canada’s sex work laws put lives at risk | CityNews

Quebec City man sentenced to life with no parole for 25 years for 1st-degree murder of sex worker | CBC News


Correctional Service Canada takes concrete actions in response to Board of Investigation results

Why Sex Work Should Be Decriminalized

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