As the second anniversary of the unsolved attempted murder of a woman in Baie d’Urfé approaches, police have added new elements to the investigation that they still consider a high priority.
On Thursday, Montreal police released a composite sketch of one of three men who took part in the Oct. 18, 2010, botched robbery of an SAQ outlet in a Morgan Rd. strip mall that left Hélène Leduc a quadriplegic after being shot in the neck at point-blank range.
The release of the sketch coincides with a doubling of the reward offered by Sun Youth, to $20,000, for information “leading to the arrest and conviction” of those responsible.
And, on her 60th birthday, Leduc agreed to an interview that aired Thursday on the Avis de Recherche TV station and which can be viewed on YouTube.
Lying in a hospital bed in the health facility she now calls home, Leduc told how her life changed completely in a single second.
The last words she heard before being shot: “Turn around, get on your knees, we will not hurt you.”
She told interviewer Jessica Leblanc that she hoped to meet her assailants “face-to-face, eye-to-eye.”
“I would tell them, ‘I wish you only one thing: that one day you find yourselves exactly like I am now, nothing more, nothing less.”
Commander Dominique Verret of the Montreal police West Operation Centre said that the composite sketch is “contemporary with the event.”
“It was drawn in the weeks that followed the event. We always had it on hand but we didn’t feel it would be an opportune time to release it then. We waited for a strategic moment to put it out — and this is it.
“(The reward offer) is now $20,000 but this isn’t an auction. People shouldn’t wait to see if it goes up higher. It’s important that people know, if they have any information, call us.”
Maria-José Raposo, Sun Youth’s assistant director for crime prevention, said the $20,000 offer represents the largest reward the organization currently has available.
It will expire on April 25, 2013
Three men were arrested as part of the investigation in December, but were released without being charged. On Thursday, Verret said the men have not been ruled out as suspects and could be re-arrested if the police find evidence that corroborates what his investigators already have on hand.
“The investigation has progressed since the arrests. For me, this investigation is a priority. All the effort possible from my investigative bureau will be placed on this investigation,” he said, adding the suspects are believed to be involved in prostitution and drug trafficking in the West Island.
During the botched robbery in 2010, two English-speaking men walked into the store and headed for the back where they found Leduc, who was alone at the time. A customer found Leduc, unconscious and bleeding, 20 minutes later and called 911.
The fact that nothing was stolen initially left investigators perplexed as to a possible motive. But on Thursday, Verret said investigators are convinced the men intended to rob the SAQ outlet and their plans changed when Leduc was shot.
During the robbery, the man depicted in the composite sketch was wearing an orange jacket, dark jeans, a grey hoodie with lettering on the chest, dark gloves and black-and-white running shoes.
The other would-be robber had a light beard and was wearing glasses, a black-and-white camouflage jacket with the word Mecca printed on the back, light-coloured jeans, dark gloves and white running shoes.
Verret said investigators have yet to locate a burgundy-coloured Dodge Caravan — a model produced between 2001 and 2004 — that is was at the scene of the robbery. The Caravan is believed to be linked to a man who was inside the store just before the robbery took place.
Verret said the man was originally described as a potential witness but now he is considered a third suspect.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Montreal police Info Crime line at 514-393-1133. Information can be provided anonymously.
Lynn Moore of The Gazette contributed to this report.