Police: Woman found dead is missing boy’s mother
Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, September 14, 2017 8:32PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 15, 2017 12:23PM EDT
Quebec provincial police admit they have “no clue” where a missing six-year-old boy, who is the subject of an Amber Alert, and his father are as they continued their search on Friday.
Louka Fredette went missing at around 5:35 p.m. Thursday, according to police. The young boy is believed to be with his father Ugo Fredette.
Police told CTV Montreal’s Rob Lurie that they received a tip from a “credible witness” that Fredette may have been spotted in Maniwaki, Que., located about 140 kilometres north of Gatineau, between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Friday morning without the child.
Authorities are concerned for the safety of the boy after the body of his mother, Veronique Barbe, was found inside a home on Antoine-Seguin Boulevard in Sainte-Eustache, Que., northwest of Montreal, on Thursday.
The 41-year-old woman was the mother of four children, three of whom were born before her marriage to Fredette.
Police told CTV Montreal they believe Fredette, 41, may have been driving a white Ford F150 or F250 pickup truck with the word “Axon” in red on the side.
A truck matching that description was discovered at 2 a.m. at a rest stop in Lachute, about 40 kilometres northwest of Saint-Eustache, Lt. Jason Allard told reporters on Friday. There was no sign of Louka or his father.
Unsure if Fredette and Louka were able to obtain another vehicle, Allard said police have been combing the surrounding woods and fields in case they were still in the area.
“You have to understand that we have no clue, at this point, where they are, what direction they’re going, if they’ve taken another vehicle and have left towards Ontario or towards Montreal,” Allard explained. “We are asking the population to continue to look out for them.”
A K9 unit, divers and a helicopter have all been deployed in the search for the father and son, police said. Officers dispatched a boat with a diving team to the Riviere du Nord, which is located just metres from where the truck was found, on Friday.
In the event of an Amber Alert, Allard said that all law enforcement authorities, including U.S. border patrol, are advised.
On Thursday evening, police released a surveillance image of a boy and a man inside a Walmart in Sainte-Eustache who they believed to be Louka and Fredette. Police later said the pair in the photo were not Louka and Fredette.
A man who lives near Barbe’s and Fredette’s family home in Saint-Eustache told CTV Montreal that he witnessed a white pickup truck matching the description given by police racing through the neighbourhood on Thursday afternoon.
“I was astonished,” neighbour Luis Quinteros said. “I saw the guy speeding around my house and I went out. I saw the suspect. I tried to tell him to slow down because there’s a park and there were kids outside. At the time, I didn’t know he was a suspect.”
Neighbours said the home was also used to run a daycare. Allard refused to provide any more details on Barbe’s death and said their primary focus is on finding Louka at this point.
Fredette worked as a filmmaker on a number of productions, including a documentary about the abduction of Cedrika Provencher, a nine-year-old girl who disappeared from Trois-Rivieres in 2007.
Cedrika’s grandfather, Henri Provencher, knew Fredette from his work on the film and wrote a public appeal to him on Facebook to be a responsible father and bring Louka back safely.
“Hand your child to the police without further delay, so that he may be safe,” Provencher wrote. “Think of your child.”
Police are asking anyone with information to call 911 immediately. Fredette is described as tall with a heavy build, short brown hair and blue eyes.
Amber Alerts are issued when there is concern for a child’s safety.
With files from CTV Montreal and The Canadian Press