Am­ber Alert chase ends near Dacre

Miss­ing six-year-old boy found alive, po­lice ar­rest his fa­ther af­ter stop­ping car with nail strip

The Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE - RENÉ BRUEM­MER

Nearly 24 hours af­ter he was re­ported ab­ducted from his home in St-Eus­tache, trig­ger­ing one of the long­est Am­ber Alerts in Cana­dian his­tory and a search that spanned two provinces, 6-year-old Louka Fre­dette was found safe late Fri­day af­ter­noon in On­tario.

His fa­ther, Ugo Fre­dette, was ar­rested by On­tario Pro­vin­cial Po­lice af­ter of­fi­cers laid down a nail strip to dis­able the car he was driv­ing, on High­way 132 near Grif­fith, Ont., about 80 kilo­me­tres south of Pem­broke. Me­dia reports stated po­lice Tasered Ugo Fre­dette to ap­pre­hend him.

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 flee to On­tario, pos­si­bly from Lachute.

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, north of Mon­treal, 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, Que.

Po­lice combed a wooded area of Lachute on Fri­day morn­ing for clues to the where­abouts of Louka.

Po­lice tech­ni­cians and a mo­bile lab 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 front 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 home-based day­care be­cause of ar­gu­ments be­tween the cou­ple.

A neigh­bour said the cou­ple would have loud ar­gu­ments and the man would of­ten just leave. The neigh­bour said 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.

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.

Fre­dette worked on a doc­u­men­tary about Cedrika Provencher, who was nine years old when she dis­ap­peared from her home in Trois-Rivieres 10 years ago. Her re­mains were found in a wooded area in De­cem­ber 2015.

Her grand­fa­ther, Henri Provencher, who runs the Cedrika 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.”

Lt. Ja­son Al­lard told re­porters at a press brief­ing ear­lier Fri­day “we’re us­ing every means we can (lo­cally) to find them. That in­cludes he­li­copters, that in­cludes track­ing dogs and even divers.”

Reports said a cell­phone be­lieved to be­long to Fre­dette was found in Mon­treal.

In Val D’Or, Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Martin Coi­teux said ev­ery­thing was be­ing done by po­lice to find the child.

DAVE DUT­TON / POST­MEDIA NETWORK

Scene of an Am­ber Alert ar­rest on High­way 132, just west of Dacre, Ont.

DAVE DUT­TON / POST­MEDIA NETWORK

The sus­pect ve­hi­cle was cor­nered on the front yard of a ru­ral home on the north side of High­way 132.

Louka Fre­dette / Ugo Fre­dette

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