OTTAWA — As investigators continue to dig for human remains in the backyard of the former home of accused serial killer Camille Cleroux, questions remain about why police didn't recover them before now.
A man who said he was friends with Cleroux more than 20 years ago said he led police a month ago to the spot where human remains were discovered Monday by a construction crew.
Robert Fling said he contacted cops shortly after Cleroux was charged with the murders of three women in June 2010 because of their long-lost friendship.
Two of the bodies have never been found.
Fling was a teen who Cleroux befriended because they lived within a few doors of each other when Cleroux's wife, 27-year-old Lise Roy, disappeared in 1990.
"At first, they thought maybe I knew what had happened to her or even had some involvement because I was friends with him," he said. "I actually phoned them. I heard the news and I called the homicide detectives and told them what I knew."
It was about a month ago, he said, when he took a homicide detective to Cleroux's former back yard. He pointed out a few "points of interest" while they were there. One of those points was a tomato garden in the yard, where the remains of a body was uncovered Monday by a construction crew.
He said Cleroux planted the tomatoes right after his wife went missing.
"He told me that she attacked him in the middle of the night and that he had charged her with assault," Fling said. "That was the last we ever saw of her."
On Tuesday, Fling was at Cleroux's preliminary hearing when he heard about the discovery.
"When the detectives pulled me aside and told me that someone was digging up the tomato plants and that a body was found there, I was shocked. I had been there with them a month ago."
He could only speculate as to why police didn't dig up the garden themselves already.
Contacted Tuesday night, Chief Vern White couldn't confirm one of his detectives had been in the backyard with Fling.
On Wednesday, spokesman Const. Marc Soucy said police would neither confirm nor deny the grave site visit. At the same time, cops took great effort to expand the police line to make it increasingly difficult for onlookers to see the crime scene.
Cleroux, who once lived in the house, is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Paula Leclair, 64, who was found dead last spring, as well as Roy and Jean Rock, 32, who disappeared in 2003.
Soucy said the dig would be a "slow, archeological" operation.
Physical anthropologist Janet Young said the most difficult part will be matching an identity to the bones.