NEWS

Joseph Pepin, Cara Duval, North Bay facility escapees, found in Quebec

02/05/2015 09:00 EST | Updated 04/07/2015 05:59 EDT
Two patients reported missing after they left a northern Ontario mental-health facility on a day pass two weeks ago were located in Trois-Pistoles, Que., by Quebec provincial police after they were hurt in a car crash.

Joseph Pepin and Cara Duval — who failed to return to the facility in North Bay, Ont.,​ after their pass expired — were injured in the head-on crash at about 3:45 p.m. ET Wednesday in Saint-Simon-de-Rimouski, Que.​

Pepin is seriously injured, but expected to survive and in a Rimouski hospital. Duval and the driver of the other vehicle were not seriously hurt.

Pepin and Duval did not return to the North Bay Regional Health Centre after they were given temporary leave Jan. 22, and police considered them potentially dangerous.

North Bay police said they were concerned about the well-being of Pepin and Duval and that, without ongoing monitoring and supervision, they could pose a significant threat to public safety.

Mary Lugli of North Bay police said Duval and Pepin were found not criminally responsible for their actions that landed them in the mental-health facility, and are part of a program to be reintegrated into the community, but still require monitoring and supervision. 

Several sightings after escape

After the two were reported missing, police in the Maritimes reported several sightings.

Duval and Pepin were in Hanwell, N.B., on Jan. 27, according to New Brunswick RCMP.

They were identified on video surveillance at an Irving gas station on Hanwell Road at about 2:30 p.m., Cpl. Chantal Farrah said in a statement.

Investigators in Nova Scotia said the two were seen Monday at two locations in Truro:

On Sunday, the two were spotted in Doaktown, N.B., trying to rent an apartment.

By Monday, they were seen in Truro, N.S.

Janice Tobin, of Eagle's Landing B&B in Truro, told CBC's Maritime Noon that Duval and Pepin tried to rent a room from her around 3 p.m. on Monday.

She said Duval came in and asked about rates, and whether the bed and breakfast accepted cash. She then said she was going to check with her "hubby," but the couple drove away.

On Tuesday, the pair were in Oxford, N.S., said RCMP Sgt. Al LeBlanc.

Ontario death connection?

Meanwhile, an Ontario woman says people in New Brunswick deserve to know the full story behind the two escaped mental-health patients.

Ann James contacted CBC News after hearing that police were not releasing any details about the backgrounds of Cara Duval and Joseph Pepin. She made the comments before learning the pair were located.

"We just would like them caught so that our family can go back to having a lot less stress," James said from her home near Toronto. 

James said her ex-husband Ron used to date Cara Duval. His frozen body was found last year in the attic of his garage behind his home on Manitoulin Island.

Police told her that there was not enough evidence to lay charges under the Criminal Code.

But James says she's never been comfortable with that explanation and the circumstances of his death have left her with a lot of questions. 

She said she was worried for the safety of people in New Brunswick.

"It's very scary. And the more time that they're at large, the more desperate they are going to become and the more at risk people are going to be," she said.

Attempted murder charges

CBC News in New Brunswick conducted a search for documents about Pepin, and found a newspaper article from the Sault Star, in Sault St. Marie, Ont.

The Jan. 22, 2005, article said a man named Joseph Pepin was facing two attempted murder charges after a fuel line to a residential furnace was disconnected, allowing natural gas to seep into a home. During that incident an elderly man was assaulted as he lay in bed about 5 a.m.

The 78-year-old was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 

The man's wife was in the home when it happened, but police said she wasn't attacked. Police did not comment on whether Pepin was related to the elderly couple.

CBC News was unable to determine what happened to the attempted murder charges.

But Ann James told CBC News that police told her that was the same Joseph Pepin who left the North Bay facility with Cara Duval.

James said she's relieved now that the two patients have been located and will get the care they need. She said she talked to CBC News because she felt the public should know some information about why police issue warnings.

Police follow a blanket policy that when it comes to mental-health cases that everything is protected because people are suffering from a mental illness.

Police can release details of a criminal conviction, as those are public record. But the public doesn't know if these two mental-health patients were ever convicted of anything.

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