Mother of two murdered girls tells Quebec coroner’s inquest ‘My grief knows no pause’

A coroner's report concluded that Martin Carpentier killed his daughters Romy, 6, left, and Norah, 11, right, with a blunt object.  (Submitted by Amber Alerte Québec - photo credit)

A coroner’s report concluded that Martin Carpentier killed his daughters Romy, 6, left, and Norah, 11, right, with a blunt object. (Submitted by Amber Alerte Québec – photo credit)

WARNING: This article contains disturbing details.

Amélie Lemieux stood in front of a crowded courtroom in Quebec City and recounted the events surrounding the death of her two daughters in July 2020.

Breaking down and clutching a handkerchief to her face, she told the courtroom: “My grief knows no rest,” as she shared memories of the last time she saw her girls, Norah and Romy Carpentier, ages 11 and 6 seen one hot July day.

Submitted by family to Radio-Canada

Submitted by family to Radio-Canada

“I always thought I’d be the last to do something like this,” said Lemieux.

The girls went missing on July 8, 2020 after an accident on Highway 20 in Saint-Apollinaire, Que.

Their disappearance sparked one of the longest amber alerts in provincial history before their bodies were found in a nearby wooded area three days later.

A little over a week later, police found the body of her father, Martin Carpentier. According to a coroner’s report, he probably killed the girls with a blunt object on July 9 before taking his own life.

The Quebec Minister of Public Safety asked the coroner’s office to open a public inquiry into the sisters’ deaths after an investigation by Radio-Canada found the search for the missing girls had failed.

At the start of the first investigative session – which is expected to last at least a month – coroner Luc Malouin offered his condolences and expressed his commitment to uncovering the circumstances of the girls’ deaths and making recommendations to prevent similar tragedies.

It is necessary to understand the girls’ lives before the accident and the rescue efforts in the days after their disappearance.

Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio Canada

Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio Canada

The girl’s mother tells how she met Carpentier online

Lemieux testified for most of the morning, answering questions about her relationship with Carpentier. She described how they first met online in 2008 when she was already pregnant with Norah, her first daughter.

“We hit it off quickly,” Lemieux said, adding Carpentier understood her plan was to raise her daughter on her own. Despite this, they decided to move in together and later married in 2010.

That same year, Carpentier legally adopted Norah.

From the start, Lemieux said, they had communication problems in their relationship, but Carpentier was a “great father.” Although not that close to Romy, he was very involved with his adopted child, Lemieux’s firstborn Norah.

She said that in 2013, after Romy’s birth, their relationship deteriorated while she was on maternity leave, not earning full salary, and money worries were paramount.

Marie-Pier Bouchard/Radio Canada

Marie-Pier Bouchard/Radio Canada

They started couples therapy not too long after, she said, but even so, they drifted apart — almost like “roommates” — and the relationship became even more strained when Lemieux returned to work.

She says the relationship reached a breaking point in 2015 and she told Carpentier she wanted to leave despite his objections.

As of early 2020, the couple were still married but had separated and shared custody of the children.

“Martin became dangerous when he killed my children”

On the day of the accident, Lemieux recalled the interaction she had with Carpentier when he came to pick up the girls: he thanked her new partner for “taking care of my wife.”

She says she found the remark “strange” and also noted how skinny Carpentier had become.

Later that evening, Lemieux says she was in bed asleep when the police called about the girls’ disappearance.

“[They asked] ‘Woman. Carpentier, are your children with you? And I told them, ‘No, they’re with their father,'” said Lemieux, who said she was informed of the accident at the time and said all three were missing.

“I got hysterical, I couldn’t control myself, I just wanted to know where my kids are.”

In the hours that followed, Lemieux said she was only “trying to survive” when questioned by police and tried to tell them the urgency of finding Carpentier.

Rachel Watts/CBC

Rachel Watts/CBC

“Martin [Carpentier] is afraid. Find him, because he doesn’t come from the forest. I knew it was a [gut] feeling,” said Lemieux.

When asked if Carpentier had ever been violent before, Lemieux replied, “Martin became dangerous when he killed my children.”

“Not the Martin I knew”

Carpentier is not the type to hurt people, said Kevin Lemieux, a friend and colleague of his.

Lemieux had known Carpentier for about four years, and just before July 2020 he noticed that Carpentier seemed more tired and perhaps depressed and having trouble making decisions at work.

A constant thread was his fear of losing custody of his children.

Carpentier’s partner at the time of the incident, whose name is protected by a publication ban, echoed this observation.

During an emotional testimony that afternoon, she shared how she told police about Carpentier’s fear of losing his children – a fear she says noticeably increased in July.

She says she last saw Carpentier and the girls on July 6 and that when she thinks back to that day she can “read from his face that he was busy” – but that he was never one to talk much about his feelings .

Nothing out of the ordinary had happened before the evening of the accident, she said. Before breaking up a few days earlier, she says the four were set to grab ice cream on July 8.

“It wasn’t the Martin I knew who left the scene of the accident with his two girls,” his girlfriend told the coroner.

Ivanoh Demers/Radio Canada

Ivanoh Demers/Radio Canada

Difficult memories to relive

Recalling the days immediately after the girls’ disappearance, Amélie Lemieux says she drove with her friend the next day and showed the girls’ photos to people in the area, she even stopped at gas stations and gave their daughters’ names called.

Overcome with grief as he recalled the events, Lemieux began to sob and collapsed in a chair near the stands.

Before the morning session was adjourned, she shared her reaction upon learning of her daughters’ deaths.

She said she started screaming.

“I fell [down] and it was all dark,” said Lemieux. “When I heard horrible things like that on TV and radio … I always thought, ‘Oh, I’m so lucky because you have a good father.'”

Gilles Mailhot, an investigator with the Montreal Police Department, also testified Monday, presenting cellphone logs showing data from the night Carpentier disappeared.

Further witnesses are expected in the following days, including the girls’ grandmother.

In addition to testifying, Lemieux is also allowed to question witnesses through her lawyers.


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