A man has been charged with first-degree murder in a case dating back four decades, a rare feat that provincial police said cannot make up for the tremendous loss a family experienced.
Genetic material helped lead officers to the alleged killer of Micheline St. Amour, a 20-year-old woman who was stabbed to death in the North Bay, Ont., area in July 1980, while her two-year-old child was in a nearby room, police told a news conference on Wednesday.
And while Chief Supt. Carson Pardy said St. Amour's family will likely never find "closure," he hopes the arrest of 62-year-old Roger Deschenes brings a sense of resolution.
"The survivors learn to live with a loss in their lives. The losses in this case have been enormous," he said. "One loss was to a child, a common law spouse, siblings, extended family, friends, and the community. Another loss is the potential for great memories, the loss of what might have been."
Police said a publication ban limits what they can share about the case, including details about the accused's relationship with St. Amour and the evidence that led to his arrest.
But they noted that St. Amour was found in her bedroom in her East Ferris Township home, dead of multiple stab wounds.
Her two-year-old child was found in a nearby bedroom, unharmed.
They said in a release that numerous appeals to witnesses over the decades and advancements in DNA technology were instrumental in their investigation.
Det. Insp. Kurtis Fredericks said their efforts bore fruit in the last two years.
"Any historic homicide investigation offers challenges, both in the investigation and prosecution," Fredericks told the news conference. "However, we feel that we are in a position where we're confident with the charges that have been made, and confident that it will be a successful prosecution."
Fredericks said it's not often that police are able to make an arrest in a homicide this old, but that it's the sort of accomplishment police strive for.
"It's a good feeling. It's what you want as a criminal investigator at any level, is to be able to help victims of crime and provide that resolution to them," he said.
Police made the arrest last week, and said that Deschenes has already had his first court appearance. He remains in custody pending a bail hearing.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.
Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press