|Died||January 17, 2021 (aged 66–67)|
Pacific Institution & Regional Reception Centre, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment|
Span of crimes
|June 2, 2010|
Camille Joseph Cléroux (1954 – 17 January 2021) was a Canadian serial killer who murdered two wives and a female neighbour between 1990 and 2010 in Ottawa. After his arrest for killing Paula Leclair, the deaths of his wives were investigated, with him eventually admitting to killing both. For his crimes, Cléroux was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Cléroux married 27-year-old Lise Roy, a divorcée with a young daughter, on 4 July 1987, and the pair would have a son later on. Their marriage was reportedly happy, but in April 1990, Roy found out that Cléroux had been molesting her 10-year-old daughter. The two engaged in a heated argument in the backyard of their home, during which Cléroux picked up a rock and bashed Roy's brains in. After he killed her, he dismembered the body, wrapped up the remains in butcher's paper and put them in garbage bags, which he hauled to a nearby park. He was seen doing this by a neighbour, but as Cléroux was considered an eccentric, the neighbour thought nothing of it. Cléroux buried some of the remains, but later changed his mind, dragging the rest back to the family residence and burying them in the backyard. In order to make himself an alibi, Cléroux went to the police station, complaining that his wife had assaulted him and fled by bus to Montreal. An arrest warrant was issued for Roy, but she was never seen alive again, with the only clues to her purported whereabouts being Cléroux himself claiming to have sighted her on several occasions. The day after the murder, neighbours noticed that Cléroux had a brand new vegetable garden, unaware that he was growing tomatoes over his wife's burial site. At some point after the fact, Cléroux served prison time for sexually assaulting a child.
Cléroux and Jean Rock, a troubled young woman who suffered from seizures and had frequent spats with her family, met in June 1992, while Cléroux was working as a dishwasher at Mello's, a famous diner in Ottawa. The couple's relationship was described as stormy, with the two breaking up several times because of Cléroux's physically and emotionally abusive behaviour. After finally making up her mind to leave him for good in the fall of 2003, Cléroux took her out on a walk through the woods in Fairlea Park, where he bashed her head in with a rock and buried her in a shallow grave. In order to cover his tracks, Cléroux devised a plan: he would pay $10 to a female acquaintance, who had similar handwriting to Rock, to write letters in her name to her family. In those letters, written and sent two to three times a year between 2004 and 2010, the forger claimed that Rock had left Cléroux behind and was now living with a trucker named Pierre. Over the course of the years, the forger made up a whole imaginary life for the deceased Rock on Cléroux's instructions, claiming that she had given birth to a daughter and two sons, and even included photos of the purported children. Thanks to this deceit, she was never declared missing.
In 2004, fearing that a construction crew was going to discover the shallow grave, Cléroux dug up Rock's remains and then reburied them in another part of the park. He would repeat the action again in 2006, when he noticed that animals had tried to take the bones. Cléroux put them in an onion mesh bag and pushed a shopping cart all the way to Albion Road on Bronson Avenue, where the Rideau Canal crossed. After weighting the bag with some stones, he threw it into the water. In October of that year, the remains were discovered when the canal was drained, but they remained unidentified until 2012.
By 2010, Cléroux was living at a high-rise building in Heatherington, where he was neighbours with 64-year-old Paula Leclair. Cléroux was envious that the elderly woman's apartment had a much nicer view and was more spacious, and when she refused to let him move in, he decided to acquire it by force. On May 20, 2010, he asked Leclair to accompany him on a walk to the Fairlea Woods, luring her to a shallow grave near the old train yards he had prepared beforehand. After they reached the spot, he pulled out a knife taken from his workplace and stabbed Paula in the back, before picking up a rock and caving in her skull. After burying the body and taking her keys, Cléroux returned to the apartment, where he started packing up Leclair's belongings, which he later threw in a dumpster. When questioned about her whereabouts, he claimed that Paula had recently won the lottery and was on vacation to Walt Disney World in Florida, and after returning to Canada, she would move in with her son at his new apartment in Gatineau.
Trial and imprisonment
On May 29th, Paula Leclair's son, André, who hadn't heard from her in a while, decided to drop by at her apartment to check on his mother. He opened the door using a spare key, but to his shock, he found that the place was full with another person's belongings. At that moment, Cléroux walked out from an elevator, coolly explaining to André that his mother had given him the place, and asked the young man to give the spare key back. Unconvinced by his explanation, André went to the police and informed them of the suspicious transaction. While the authorities were investigating, Cléroux attempted to put them off his trail, telling his forger to write a letter claiming to be Leclair, explaining that she had given the apartment to her neighbour willingly and to stop pestering him. In an attempt to convince them of the ownership, Cléroux met with Det. John Monette of the Ottawa Police Department to explain the situation. At the end of their two-hour interview, however, he admitted to killing Paula Leclair in cold blood.
Cléroux was charged with the murder, and while investigating his past, authorities discovered that both of his wives had vanished in a suspicious manner. When pressed on the issue, Cléroux admitted that he had killed both of them. His old home was excavated on October 31, 2011, with some of Lise Roy's remains found under the tomato garden, and others at Fairlea Park, but her skull was never recovered, presumed to be buried somewhere under the renovated Heatherington Park. Shortly after, the remains found in the Rideau Canal were positively identified as Rock's. At trial, Cléroux sat expressionless while the details of his horrid crimes were described in court. At one point, Jean Rock's father, John, suffered a stroke and had to be escorted out of the courtroom, muttering under his breath that he was going to kill that monster that took away his daughter and two other women. Cléroux pleaded guilty to all three murders, and was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a chance of parole after 25 years. During sentencing, Justice Lynn Ratushny said that he deserved nothing else than to be in custody for the rest of his life, with the families of the victims now being able to rest easy, knowing that their daughters' killer would never be released.
- "Ottawa serial killer gets life sentence for 3 murders". CBC. June 26, 2012.
- News, Postmedia (June 26, 2012). "Ottawa man who bludgeoned ex-wives with rocks killed neighbour so he could get her apartment". National Post.
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- Philippe Orfali (June 26, 2012). "Camille Cléroux confesses guilt" (in French). Ledroit.com.
- Andrew Seymour (June 27, 2012). "Cléroux gets life in prison for killing three women". Ottawa Citizen.
- Tony Spears (June 26, 2012). "Cleroux guilty of 3 murders". Ottawa Sun.
- The Province (January 20, 2021). "Serial killer Camille Cleroux dies in Abbotsford prison".