Police helicopters, dogs and divers searching for 6-year-old at centre of Amber Alert
Quebec provincial police are searching the area near a rest stop in Lachute after a truck belonging to a man believed to be travelling with a six-year-old boy at the centre of a Amber Alert was found there.
Louka Fredette went missing around 5:35 p.m. ET Thursday, police say.
An Amber Alert was issued for the boy after his mother, 41-year-old Véronique Barbe, was found dead at a house on Antoine-Séguin Boulevard in Saint-Eustache, northwest of Montreal.
‘Every second counts at this point and we’re asking people to be vigilant.’ – SQ Lt. Jason Allard
The Amber Alert is still in effect. Police aren’t releasing any details of Barbe’s death, saying the focus for now is on finding Louka.
“We’ll be able to give more information on the investigation as it proceeds, but at this point we want to find him, we’re looking for him and we’re asking the population to concentrate on finding the missing child,” said Lt. Jason Allard.
Police believe the boy is with his father, Ugo Fredette, 41. Allard said police are concerned for the boy’s safety and consider his father to be dangerous.
The vehicle police say Fredette was driving, a white Ford pickup truck, was found empty at a rest stop along Route 329 in Lachute around 2:10 a.m. ET Friday.
Police say a citizen in the area spotted the vehicle and called 911.
There was no sign of the boy or his father in the truck, which had a trailer attached to it. Allard said they may be using another vehicle to get around.
Provincial police are working with other police departments in Quebec in the search for Louka. They say they are working under the assumption that the boy and his father could be anywhere in Quebec or Ontario.
Police have not released a detailed description of the boy or his father, only saying that Ugo Fredette is 5-10″ tall.
Police are at two scenes Friday morning; in Lachute, near the rest stop, and in Saint-Eustache, where the woman was found dead.
A team of police divers and the canine unit are at the scene in Lachute. A small river, the Rivière du Nord, runs through the area.
“We always hope that we find the child safely. That’s where time counts, so every second counts at this point and we’re asking people to be vigilant,” Allard said.
Appeal for safe return
Police had originally issued a photo around 7 p.m. Thursday showing a man and young boy, pulled from surveillance video at a Walmart in Saint-Eustache.
They were identified as Ugo and Louka Fredette, but on Friday, the SQ said they no longer believe they are the pair in the photo.
Speaking in Quebec City, Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said anyone with information on their whereabouts should contact the authorities.
“When it comes to a child and a possible abduction, we spare no expense. All the police forces contribute, the SQ is leading the operation, but we spare no expense,” he said.
Louka’s aunt, Annie Ricard, said the family is in shock and hope police find the boy quickly.
She said Fredette had a habit of taking the boy camping in the United States, but they could be anywhere.
“They could be hiding in the woods… He could be telling the boy they’re going to have fun, to go camping,” she told Radio-Canada.
According to Radio-Canada, Fredette was the producer on a documentary about Cédrika Provencher, a nine-year-old girl from Trois-Rivières, Que., who vanished near her home in 2007. Her remains were found by hunters close to Highway 40 in Saint-Maurice in 2015.
The girl’s family stopped the film from being released.
In a Facebook post Thursday night, Cédrika’s grandfather, Henri Provencher, implored Fredette to release his son unharmed.
“Knowing you, I’m appealing to your father’s heart, do not do anything irremediable,” he wrote.
“Hand your son over to police without delay.”
To date, all 12 Amber Alerts issued in Quebec have resulted in the safe return of the child.