ST-APOLLINAIRE, Que. — The mayor of a small Quebec town where an exhaustive provincial police manhunt for the missing father of two deceased sisters came to an end Saturday night says he’s confident authorities have done all they could to find him.
After 10 days of searching for Martin Carpentier, 44, provincial police announced they were suspending their ground search in the St-Apollinaire area and surrounding towns.
Police said they were changing their approach to the investigation but remain determined to find Carpentier.
Bernard Ouellet, the mayor of St-Apollinaire, southwest of Quebec City, said there’s been a lot of stress and worry among residents in the area where sisters Norah and Romy Carpentier, aged 11 and 6, were found dead on July 11, triggering the manhunt for Carpentier.
“The news of the end of the search brought me some relief, it will be less stressful for the population,” Ouellet said Sunday. “It takes away some of my worry, some of my stress, it’s definitely less than it was one week ago.”
Ouellet said he’s satisfied that Quebec provincial police have done everything they can to find Carpentier, who has been missing in the area since a car crash on the evening of July 8. An Amber Alert was triggered the following day.
Police searched hundreds of buildings
Since finding Carpentier’s damaged car, police said they’ve investigated 1,000 tips and searched more than 700 buildings.
“We are on the lookout for new information allowing us to redeploy our staff in other sectors,” police said in a statement, adding other investigative techniques are also be employed, without elaborating.
At first, the imposing police presence and the crush of journalists descending on the quiet town of 5,000 was a bit concerning as roadblocks, police vehicles and media trucks became part of the landscape.
“But we saw all the great work that was done by police, they looked everywhere, you have to think there’s little chance he’s still around,” Ouellet said. “That’s why today I can say I’m quite relieved.”
While the entire province was devastated about the fate of the missing sisters, Ouellet said it hit hard in the town where they were found.
Autopsies have been performed on the girls, but police have said they won’t reveal the cause of death until Carpentier is found and won’t say more until then.
Their funeral is scheduled for Monday afternoon in their hometown of Levis, south of Quebec City.
Ouellet said he was confident things would get back to normal in time.
The search had mainly focused on a vast, densely forested area with numerous cabins, shacks and chalets about 35 kilometres southwest of Quebec City.
The search intensified late this week after police alleged on Thursday that Carpentier had stolen items from a trailer inside the search zone in an attempt to survive in the woods.
Police searched the difficult terrain using foot patrols, canine teams, ATVs and Wildlife Department officers.
Ouellet said some people might be leery about returning to their properties in the search area, noting he accompanied a friend on Saturday who didn’t want to go alone.
With hunting season is set to begin in a few months, people would be heading back into the forest eventually, Ouellet said.
In any case, residents are likely to keep their eyes peeled given the recent events.
“We all have our eyes open, if we see something abnormal, we’ll call police,” said Manon Drolet, the co-owner of a local campground.
Drolet said she hasn’t had any cancellations stemming from the manhunt and praised police, who have visited with seasonal campers on her land as part of their search.
She didn’t want to speculate Sunday on what may have happened to Carpentier.
“We’re surrounded by forest, they (the police) looked a bit everywhere but the suspect could have moved around at night, changed spots,” Drolet said.
“If he’s resourceful in the forest, there’s plenty of space to move, that’s for sure.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 19, 2020.
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