Cédrika, 15 years later: the hope of seeing someone pay persists

Cédrika, 15 years later: the hope of someone paying persists

BET À DAY

The rollercoaster of emotions of the past 15 years does not make Cédrika's loved ones and the authorities lose hope of finding the person responsible for her tragic death.

“We need to know what happened because there is no end to the story,” insists his sister Mélissa Fortier-Provencher.

For 15 years now, little Cédrika's entourage has been living with countless questions in mind. What happened on the evening of July 31, 2007 while the little one was playing in her neighborhood of Trois-Rivières? 

“One day or another, the consequences of our decisions, of our actions, will come back to us,” continues to believe Henri Provencher, Cédrika's grandfather. 

Despite the passing years, stuffed animals are still on the fence overlooking the woods where the body of little Cédrika Provencher was found in December 2015.

The man wishes that someone could be accused in this case, not in a spirit of revenge, but above all to provide answers and soothe the pain that is eating away at his family. 

“I can't help thinking about what it did to my son Martin [Cédrika's father], to Karine [his mother], to Mélissa. You just want one thing in life and that's to see your kids and grandkids happy,” insists the 77-year-old man.

Pressure

Everyone who knew Cédrika wishes that one day or another, someone would talk, that the pressure would become too great.

“I wish the culprit pays one day, because taking the life of a child, there is no worse crime. For me, it's a crime against humanity as a whole”, insists Claude Lafrenière, a childhood friend of the little one. 

Cédrika, 15 years later: the hope of seeing someone pay persists

“I hope for this person that it's heavy to bear, because it's heavy for the family and those who knew her,” he adds.

Police have had a suspect in their sights for several years, the owner of a red Acura like the one described by witnesses as a suspicious vehicle driving through the neighborhood on the day of the abduction.

< p>However, Jonathan Bettez was arrested in another case, but was never charged in connection with the Cédrika case (see box).

“When there was all that, it gave me a bit of hope that there might be an end. But ultimately no. It's hard to accept that and let justice take its course,” sighs Mélissa Fortier-Provencher.

Investigation still ongoing

Called to comment on the file and to review the efforts put in place for 15 years, the management of the Sûreté du Québec refused the interview request of the Journal since the file is still open.

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“The investigation is still active even though 15 years have passed. We are always asking for the cooperation of the public, who can provide us with information at any time,” said spokesperson Ann Mathieu.

An outcome would, however, be a victory for all the police officers who worked on this file. . 

“If there were ever charges laid in this case, we would all say 'finally'. It would remove a certain frustration that we have in connection with this file, where we have never been able to find the last pieces of the puzzle“, underlines Michel Letarte, who was spokesperson for the Trois-Rivières police department at the time of the disappearance of the child.

“I know that the investigators would also like that succeed. This is the biggest investigation of their lives,” adds Ms. Fortier-Provencher. 

Media coverage that may complicate things

THREE-RIVERS | The media coverage of Cédrika Provencher's case in 2007 represented a turning point in the disappearance cases, but it also possibly caused complications in the investigation, believes a retired police officer.

Michel Letarte was a public relations officer for the Trois-Rivières police from 2000 until his retirement in 2017. On the evening of July 31, 2007, he was enjoying his swimming pool at home when the phone started ringing. < /p>

Reporters wanted information on the disappearance of a 9-year-old girl. It was the beginning of a spiral that will last for weeks, and continue.

“The continuous news channels LCN and RDI arrived around 1995, but for us it was the first time that we had a file like this. On rue Chapais [where the park where Cédrika played is located], you see the satellite trucks disembarking and you wonder what is going on. In the first hours, it's crazy how quickly it happened,” he recalls.

Coast to Coast

< p>And since the news comes during the holidays, when the news is rather calm, everyone gets in on it.

“It was coast to coast. In French, in English, CBC, CTV, non-stop. Friends from Western Canada were calling me to tell me that I couldn't stop being on TV at home,” says Mr. Letarte.

Michel Letarte, former spokesperson for the Trois -Rivières

He believes with hindsight that this interest in history may have harmed the work of the investigators to some extent.

He believes that the pressure created by this abundance of media may have pushed the person or persons responsible for the death of the little one “to move on to another stage”, knowing that they were in the crosshairs of the authorities. Especially when the question of the famous red Acura was discussed.

Skipping out of a denouement

“I wonder whether it there had not been all this media pressure there, if the person or persons could have acted differently in connection with certain things, ”believes Mr. Letarte, specifying that this feeling of disappointment to know the culprit is still at large is probably the same for all the police officers.

“We don't know what happened in the last hours of that little girl's life. This is what is hard for parents and what we would have liked to give them as answers, sighs Michel Letarte.

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