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Surprenant inquest hears of deathbed confession

03/13/2012 10:18 EDT | Updated 05/13/2012 05:12 EDT

A coroner's inquest into the death of Quebec teenager Julie Surprenant has heard the details of a deathbed confession from a convicted sex offender.

Nurse Annick Prud'homme was one of two nurses from Cité de la Santé hospital in Laval to testify at an unusual inquest that got underway Tuesday at the Laval courthouse.

The Quebec coroner called the inquest despite the fact that Surprenant's body was never found after she disappeared not far from her suburban home 12 years ago.

The 16-year-old was last seen getting off a bus on Nov. 16, 1999, in Terrebonne, a bedroom community east of Laval.

Police resumed their search last year after a nurse told authorities the main suspect in the case, Richard Bouillon, confessed on his deathbed to killing the teen.

Prud'homme testified Tuesday Bouillon told her on three occasions that he had murdered Surprenant. She said he wanted to speak to crime reporter Claude Poirier about what happened, but Bouillon never did contact Poirier before his death in 2006.

Bouillon went into details about how he had stuffed the teenager's body into a sports bag with some bricks, Prud'homme testified. She said he told her had thrown it into the Milles Îles river across the way from a church in Terrebonne.

Prud'homme told the coroner she never mentioned what Bouillon told her, either to police or to a supervisor. She said she only contacted Poirier after the issue became public about a year ago.

Authorities searched the river and its banks but didn't find anything.

'Near confession' to fellow inmate also unreported

The inquest also heard from corrections officer Daniel L’Archevêque who worked in the prison where Bouillon served time for sexual assault in 2005, a year before his death.

L’Archevêque testified an inmate informed him that Bouillon came close to confessing to the killing, but – once again – that near confession was never reported.

The coroner could make recommendations to force workers to share such information with authorities.

Corrections Canada is looking for other inmates or prison employees who may have also heard Bouillion's confession.

Michel Surprenant, Julie's father, is expected to take the stand when the inquest resumes Wednesday.

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