Fifteen years ago this month, on a deserted back road near St. Antoine, New Brunswick, seventeen year-old Marcel Cormier and his fourteen year-old girlfriend, Marcia LeBlanc, were parked in Cormier’s car. It was late. It was cold. I always imagine the two of them wrapped around each other on that November night, young and in love in the way you can only be the first time.
Those were the last moments the two teens would spend together. The next day Marcel Cormier’s body was found in the car. He’d been shot. Marcia LeBlanc was missing.
RCMP interviewed a lot of people in the days after the crime, including Roger LeBlanc (no relation to Marcia), who they knew had spent time at an after hours bar not far from the crime scene. A day after being questioned by the authorities, Roger LeBlanc disappeared At first police thought he’d gotten lost while out hunting. Very quickly they discovered Roger LeBlanc had vanished into the woods by choice. RCMP and Search & Rescue volunteers went over the area for any sign of Roger LeBlanc or Marcia LeBlanc. Some of Roger LeBlanc’s belongings were found in a nearby river, but there was no sign of him.
The rumours began almost as soon as LeBlanc went missing. He was long gone—in Ontario or farther west one story went. Others insisted Roger LeBlanc knew the area around St. Antoine like the back of his hand, that he was hiding, living in a part of the woods so dense no one would ever find him. And of course there were whispers that he was dead.
Despite the rumours, no one knew if Roger LeBlanc knew anything about the murders. Could he be a killer? Was he a witness? Had he just been in the wrong place at the wrong time? Maybe he knew nothing.
And where was Marcia LeBlanc? Her father refused to believe she was dead, refused to stop looking for his child, refused to give up hope as the days turned into weeks and then months. He searched the woods and back roads and it was impossible not to hurt for him, or hope—even just a tiny bit—with him. And impossible not to grieve for him when Marcia LeBlanc’s remains were finally found.
Why? That was what everyone wanted to know. Why would someone—Roger LeBlanc or anyone else—murder a couple of teenagers? Did they see something? Did they stumble on another crime? A drug deal? An assault? Why?
There were no answers in the Marcel Cormier-Marcia LeBlanc murders. The case is still listed on the Unsolved Crimes section of the RCMP’s website.
Why? Why do people do what they do? What drives someone to kill another person? What drives someone else to try to catch the killer?
A number of years ago science fiction author Nancy Kress was a columnist for Writer’s Digest magazine. She talked about the need for writers to answer the question “Why?” in one of her columns. In the real world, she explained (I’m paraphrasing) people do things for silly reasons, stupid reasons or for no reasons at all. But in a fictional world your characters better have reasons for the things they do and those reasons better be good ones.
In the fictional world the whys have to be answered. When I think about Marcel Cormier and Marcia LeBlanc I wish the whys had to be answered in the real world as well.