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“She is still here, with us,” testifies the father of Charlie Lacroix, who wants to see the criminal investigations into the fire succeed who mowed down his daughter.

One year after the fire in Old Montreal, answers demanded | Fire in Old Montreal

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Charlie Lacroix was 18 when she lost life in the fire that occurred in Old Montreal.

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The family of Charlie Lacroix, one of the seven people killed by the arson that occurred in Old Montreal a year ago, meets today to pay tribute to this young woman.

We want to remember our most beautiful memories. It will be emotional, but I don't want it to be sad. Charlie would not have wanted to see us cry, testifies Louis-Philippe Lacroix, the father of the young woman whose face embodied the human drama of the deadliest arson in nearly 50 years in Montreal.

The room in which he welcomes us will serve in a few hours as a place of contemplation for the Lacroix family and their loved ones. No speech is planned, but there will be a snack and a video montage of his daughter's fondest memories.

It's 18 years of life that we look back on. There is no one moment in particular. At the stage we are at, it is the whole of his life that we remember, adds the bereaved father, who speaks for the first time in front of the camera of a media.

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This photo of Louis-Philippe Lacroix with her daughter Charlie, then aged two, in 2007, illustrates one of the moments which will be celebrated with family, relatives and friends to pay tribute to the young woman.

Fire in Old Montreal

Consult the complete file

Fire in Old Montreal

Consult the complete file


It must be said that the date of March 16 is fraught with significance, because it puts a end to a roller coaster year, both mentally for him and his wife and emotionally.

She was an extremely intelligent girl. She was an artist at heart. She was 18, he added, his voice tight.

She had a very developed artistic side. She painted, made canvases, and mandalas. We hung all of his paintings in our condo. She is still here, with us. Even his urn is in the room.

A quote from Louis-Philippe Lacroix, father of Charlie, killed in the fire in Old Montreal

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The life of the Lacroix family was turned upside down on March 16, 2023 during the deadly fire in Old Montreal.

The main source of inspiration for Louis-Philippe Lacroix and his wife, Marie-Ève, is their son, Derek, now 11 years old. He too had to learn to live without his big sister.

When you have another child, you can't collapse, Louis-Philippe simply asserts. It was almost as hard to tell him [the tragedy] as it was to learn of Charlie's death. Children are resilient. They have a force to advance which is probably greater than ours.

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Charlie Lacroix and his little brother Derek during of a moment of complicity.

The morning of March 16, 2023 marked them forever. The many failed attempts to call Charlie's cell phone led them to a realization that no parent wants to experience.

We fell into a mode of searching, of panic […]. We contacted the police, firefighters, paramedics, hospitals. [There are then] lots of things going through your head, recalls M. Lacroix.

Douze months have passed since the tragedy.

The father of one of the seven victims filed a $22 million class-action lawsuit on behalf of the victims' relatives and survivors against the owner of the burned building, Emile Benamor. For his part, the latter also filed a civil action for 7.5 million against the City of Montreal.

Beyond the civil appeals that have been filed, it is the aspect of the SPVM's criminal investigation, which is slow to conclude, which disturbs Louis-Philippe Lacroix.

This is the reason why I am here before you. This is because we find that the [criminal] investigations are really very long, and that things are not progressing very quickly, underlines Mr. Lacroix, who wants an outcome so that those responsible for the death of his daughter will answer for their actions before the courts.

Accepting that nothing is happening at the criminal level, at the level of rental rules, at the level of compliance with fire standards, is to accept that this fire was normal. And I don't accept that.

A quote from Louis-Philippe Lacroix, father of Charlie, killed in the fire in Old Montreal

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The SPVM criminal investigation is still ongoing after a year. No charges or arrests have been made.

The last year has instead been the scene of a media battle between two daily newspapers over the underbelly of the SPVM police investigation, outcomes that Louis-Philippe Lacroix describes as being worthy of a teleroman, where there was talk of a major boondoggle in the homicide investigation, then completely contradicted by a competing media.

The length of the process means that we all end up asking ourselves certain questions about what is true and what is not true. […] Police blunder, no police blunder, we no longer know what to believe. There are so many changes in situations that it becomes difficult to know where to turn, laments the bereaved father.

The name of the main suspect, Denis Bégin, was even made public by the media. Twice described as a psychopath by the Parole Board of Canada, he was able to obtain his transfer in 2016 to a minimum security institution.

In February 2019, he was able to escape. His run lasted four years until the SPVM's criminal investigation into the fire.

I would never have suspected that someone, a killer, would have deliberately set fire there. At first I thought maybe it was a glitch of some sort. Finally, we learned that it was a prison escapee who set the fire, underlines Mr. Lacroix, referring to information which had circulated in the media and which had not been publicly confirmed by the police.

Mr. Lacroix still does not understand how a criminal classified as psychopathic could have been authorized by the Parole Board of Canada in a minimum security prison.

Remember that no accusation weighs against Denis Bégin, or anyone else in this case and that criminal investigations are continuing.

I always have confidence in the SPVM and the investigations department. I really believe that they will find a way to elucidate all this, he wants to clarify, he who has had several contacts with them in the last year.

The SPVM would like to express its sympathies. Our hearts are with all the families as this date, this tragedy, approaches, because they will relive very hard memories. So we want to say that we are with them wholeheartedly. As for the investigation, it is still active. We're right in it. We haven't given up since day 1, with the same enthusiasm, with the same energy, declared Inspector David Shane, director of communications for the SPVM.

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The seven victims who perished in the arson that occurred in Old Montreal.

During this interview, this high-ranking officer, who is also the spokesperson for the director of the SPVM, Fady Dagher, also wanted to reassure the families of the victims about the rumors of confusion and discord among investigators in the case of the arson in Old Montreal.

The answer is very clear: no. There were no problems. In fact, everything was done according to the rules of the art. In all humility, our investigators and our civilian staff assigned to this investigation are among the best in Canada, underlined Mr. Shane.

The SPVM asks families to be patient and to trust the investigators.

Unfortunately, it will still take some time. We cannot give a timetable. We must give time to investigators, with partners, possibly with prosecutors, to complete the case in accordance with all the rules of law, said the inspector.

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We won't have two chances to submit a file. If we come to the conclusion that we have enough [evidence] to submit it to the DPCP, we won't get two chances.

A quote from David Shane, inspector and director of communications at the SPVMOpen in full screen mode

Inspector David Shane, Director of communications from the SPVM, reassures families about the rigor observed by the police in the criminal investigation which is in full swing in an attempt to lead to criminal charges. He discusses this matter here in the company of a spokesperson, agent Jeanne Drouin.

As for owner of the burned building, Emile Benamor, he expressed through his lawyer that he did not wish to comment on the case given the ongoing legal proceedings. However, he wanted to offer his condolences to the families of the deceased.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116