06/23/2011 05:42 EDT | Updated 08/23/2011 05:12 EDT

Eric Daudelin Charged In Montreal Murder Of Joleil Campeau 16 Years Later Thanks To DNA Evidence


THE CANADIAN PRESS -- LAVAL, Que. - A Montreal man has been charged in a 16-year-old murder case thanks to new DNA evidence turned up by police.

Eric Daudelin, 37, appeared in court Thursday on charges of first-degree murder, sexual assault and unlawful confinement.

His alleged victim, Joleil Campeau, was nine years old when she disappeared in 1995. Her body turned up days later in a creek near her Laval home.

Police said the suspect lived in Laval at the time of Campeau's disappearance and has a prior criminal record.

Daudelin had been questioned by police at the time of the grisly discovery, but he was released at the time due to a lack of evidence.

"When the body of Joleil Campeau was found ... the technology wasn't advanced enough at the time to allow us to gather scientific evidence or to uncover a clear DNA match," said Laval police spokeswoman Nathalie Lorrain.

Joleil's father, Pierre Campeau, thanked police for making an arrest. He admitted that he was as surprised as anyone when they showed up at his door.

"I had lost hope," Campeau told reporters at Laval's courthouse. "I hadn't had any news, I was never contacted."

He described his reaction when he heard the news: "It was like a bomb. It was hard (to hear)."

Campeau attended the brief arraignment to catch a glimpse of the man accused of killing his daughter.

"I would like to be alone with him for 10 minutes," he said.

Laval police worked on the case with Quebec provincial police. Daudelin returns to court on Sept. 14.

Campeau said he hopes that, after all these years, he might finally find some closure. The father of two other girls said it has been hard living with his daughter's death.

"Joleil looked more like me," he said, choking back tears. He explained that the youngster's name was drawn from the French expression, "joie du soleil," or "ray of sunshine."