SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- Montreal police have literally broken ground in a homicide investigation that dates back 36 years as they cracked asphalt Friday morning in the parking lot of a municipal recreational centre in the Saint Laurent borough in the hopes of finding the remains of an 18-month-old toddler.
Police have used modern scanning equipment twice in recent months to look at what lays underneath the parking lot and found “two anomalies” that could be a metal bread box.
In August 1978, 18-month-old Yohanna Cyr disappeared from an apartment building nearby. Her mother, Lilianne Cyr, was later told things by her then-boyfriend that led her to believe he had something to do with Yohanna’s disappearance.
“It’s been a few years now that I feel (Yohanna) is here,” said Cyr as she stood outside in the cold November morning. “It will be a relief if they find her.”
Cyr said she was told by police that if they find human remains it could take months for them to confirm it.
Cyr said she met her former boyfriend at a bar and they had dated for a while. He offered to look after Yohanna on the day she disappeared. Cyr said she believes the man, an American, tried to tell her that Yohanna drowned in a bath tub and that he buried her but she didn’t understand much English at the time and didn’t fully understand what he said.
She recalls that her baby daughter had a black eye shortly before she disappeared but, at the time, she attributed it to a possible fall.
“It was the biggest mistake of my life,” Cyr said of her relationship with the man. “I fell in love with him and it was a mistake.”
She said that after Yohanna disappeared she stayed with him for about a year and moved with him to Boston. She said it was there, in Boston, that the man — who she hasn’t spoken with since 1979 — confessed to her that Yohanna drowned in a bath tub and that he buried her because he didn’t want to report it to the police.
Eight years ago, a witness came forward to the Missing Children’s Network. Cyr said the witness had reporting seeing a man carrying a bread box out of the apartment building at the time of her daughter’s disappearance but the witness quickly denied her statements, likely out of fear of Cyr’s then-boyfriend. The man had been headed in the direction of a wooded area where the municipal recreational centre and adjacent parking lot were built decades later.
“We received a tip from a woman who lived in the same building as Liliane Cyr in 1978 and she recalled that the night Yohanna went missing she saw a man carrying what looked like a bread box toward this area,” said Pina Arcamone, head of the Missing Children’s Network, as she watched people dig in one of the two spots in the parking lot. ”I think this shows that information can come about even years later.”
The information was credible enough to prompt police to have the parking lot scanned with special geo-physic equipment. Metal objects, big enough to be a bread box, were located about one metre deep. On Friday, the police began digging in two spots.
I fell in love with him and it was a mistake
“Sometimes people see things and they don’t think it’s important because they figure someone else already did (tell police),” Arcamone said. But then (years later) they’ll see the mother or father of a missing child (in the media) and they will come forward. It has brought us to where we are today.”
“We’re going to find something metallic for sure and we’ll find out what the anomalies (are) today,” said Det.-Sgt. Marie-Julie Durand, a Montreal police investigator with the West Operations Centre who has been on the case for three years.
Durand said that two years ago, investigators met with the man in question, and he refused to co-operate. He lives in New Hampshire.
Cyr smiled as the sun broke through grey, gloomy clouds and noted that the same thing had happened on the days the police scanned the area in months past.
She said her hopes were very high that Friday might make bring an end to the question that has been hanging over her for decades.