Abducted boy found safe after mother slain
Search spanned two provinces, father arrested
MONTREAL• Nearly 24 hours after he was reported abducted from his home in the Montreal suburb of StEustache, Que., triggering one of the longest Amber Alerts in Canadian history and a search that spanned two provinces, six- year- old Louka Fredette was found safe Friday evening in rural Ontario.
His father, Ugo Fredette, was arrested by Ontario Provincial Police after officers laid down a nail strip to disable the car he had stolen, on Highway 41 in Griffith, Ont ., a hamlet in a heavily wooded area about 115 kilometres west of Ottawa, and 315 km from Montreal.
“We had an end t hat everyone hoped for,” Sûreté du Québec spokeswoman Martine Asselin told reporters moments after the child was found.
“Young Louka was found safe and sound by the ( Ontario Provincial Police).
“( Ugo Fredette) was arrested. It’s great news for everyone.
“The work of media, police and citizens, we thank you all very much.”
Carolle Dionne, spokeswoman for Ontario’s provincial police, said officers on the ground aided by a helicopter were able to stop the vehicle.
Dionne confirmed Louka was in the car but couldn’t say where his father was arrested or if he resisted. Media reports stated police tasered Ugo Fredette to apprehend him.
“The OPP will continue the investigation and we are working in conjunction with the ( Quebec provincial police).”
The operation continues, however. The Sûreté du Québec said it is now asking the public’s help to find 71- year- old Yvan Lacasse, who was driving the car Fredette stole in order to f l ee to Ontario, possibly from Lachute, near Montreal.
Police did not release details about Lacasse earlier for fear of prompting a hostage situation.
Ugo Fredette is suspected of killing Louka’s mother, Véronique Barbe, Thursday afternoon in St- Eustache, then abducting their son, Louka, and fleeing. Neighbours and family members said the two had separated recently and argued frequently.
Police found Barbe’s body at her home, then discovered Louka was missing, triggering the Amber Alert at 7:25 p.m. Thursday.
A white Ford pickup believed to be have been used in the abduction of the boy had been found abandoned near a service station in Lachute.
Police combed a wooded area of Lachute on Friday morning for clues to the whereabouts of Louka.
Police technicians and a mobile l ab were investigating the crime scene at Barbe’s house in St- Eustache.
Ugo Fredette’s Facebook page said he was in a relationship with Barbe. Her page shows pictures of her with four children, including Louka, and with Fredette. Reports said only Louka was Fredette’s child.
A sign in f ront of the house advertised a home daycare in the quiet neighbourhood. Some neighbours who knew her said things didn’t seem to be going too well at the daycare during the summer. They said some parents had removed their children from the homebased daycare because of arguments be t ween t he couple.
A neighbour s aid t he couple would have loud arguments and t he man would often just leave. The neighbours aid that although the couple had been separated, Fredette would go to the house often to cut the grass and take out the garbage.
Alexandre Marceau says he’s shocked at what happened just next door.
“I just hope Louka is safe,” he said before the boy was found.
He described Louka as a boy who was always full of energy and always smiling. He said he would see Barbe every morning as he left for work as she was bringing her kids to the bus stop for school.
Another area resident, who would only give his first name, André, said he met the man a few years ago and knew he was working on a documentary about the Cédrika Provencher case. He said he appeared to be a happy and loving father.
Provench er was nine years old when she disappeared from her home in Trois- Rivières, Que., 10 years ago. Her remains were found in a wooded area in December 2015.
Her grandfather, Henri Provencher, who runs the Cédrika Provencher Foundation, posted an appeal on Facebook earlier, urging Fredette to turn over his son to police.
“I appeal to your father’s heart, do not commit the irremediable,” Provencher said. “Thank you for acting as a responsible father Ugo. Think of your child.”
Louka Fredette was found safe in rural Ontario.