Ab­ducted boy found safe af­ter mother slain

Search spanned two prov­inces, fa­ther ar­rested

National Post (Latest Edition) - - CANADA - Rene Breum­mer

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.”

SURETÈ DU QUÈBEC

Louka Fre­dette was found safe in ru­ral On­tario.

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