|Coutroom sketch of Camille Cleroux. (Laurie Foster-MacLeod)
OTTAWA — In the mind of the diner dishwasher, the three women had become inconvenient.
So serial killer Camille Cleroux made sure they would never inconvenience him again.
Lise Roy, his wife, had discovered his lust for young flesh.
Jean Rock, his common-law partner, made him mad one too many times.
And Paula Leclair, his neighbour, had to die because he liked the view from her apartment.
And on Tuesday in an Ottawa court room, three life sentences for murder.
Cleroux, 58, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the May 20, 2010, death of Leclair, and to second-degree murder in the 2003 killing of Rock, and the 1990 death of Roy.
Judge Lynn Ratushny sentenced him to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 25 years on all counts.
"With a mind that has functioned in the way yours has and does, there is no better place for you than to be in custody," Ratushny said.
"We are all comforted, to some extent, that you are incarcerated and will likely remain incarcerated for the rest of your life."
There will be no comfort for these women. But we can tell their stories.
* * *
On July 4, 1987, Lise Roy married her murderer.
She was stunning.
A young, dark-haired bride in a flowing white dress, a posy of blooms in her left hand as Cleroux snaked an arm around her waist for a photo.
He had short hair and a black moustache, and a light grey suit with ruffles down his shirt.
They lived at 1535 Heatherington Rd., unit 153 in Ottawa.
But what happiness there was did not last long.
For Cleroux was a man with disturbing appetites, whose sexual urges ran to young children. It was his secret, but Roy discovered it.
And so she had to die.
Sometime in April of 1990, she confronted Cleroux.
He picked up a rock and bashed her to death.
She was 27.
Come night fall, he buried her body in their backyard.
In the morning, neighbours saw a brand-new vegetable garden.
Tomatoes grew in the dirt, roots reaching down to her bones, wrapped in butcher's paper.
Meanwhile Cleroux had gone to the police. His wife had beaten him, he sobbed to detectives -- beaten him and run away to Montreal.
Police issued a warrant for her arrest, which remained outstanding almost to this day.
Some of Roy's remains were recovered from the garden plot, but not all. Her skull is still missing. Police searched Heatherington Park, where a neighbour had seen Cleroux lugging heavy bags, but the park has changed since 1990. It has been partly built over.
* * *
Jean Rock met her killer in June 1992.
She was young and troubled, prone to seizures and blow ups with her family.
Her relationship with Cleroux was stormy, fraught with break-ups and make-ups.
She'd always come back to Ottawa, and to her lover Cleroux, the dishwasher at Mello's.
One day, he snapped.
Walking through the woods near Fairlea Cres. on a fall day in 2003, he picked up a rock and bashed her head in, burying her where she fell in a shallow grave.
She was 32.
Cleroux formed a plan to cover his crime.
He knew someone with handwriting that resembled Rock's. For $10 a letter, the forger wrote to Rock's family, pretending to be the dead woman. Cleroux told her what to write and then hand-delivered them to her family.
The letters said Rock didn't want direct contact with her family.
But he did not stop there.
Cleroux invented a fictional life for Rock, a fantasy wherein she found love and a family in a trucker named Pierre.
"My dear Dad," an April 2004 letter to father John Rock began.
It announced the birth of her son.
"I named the baby John. The baby is well, he weighs 7 lbs. and he is going to be tall like the Rock side."
"Black hair and brown eyes and Indian skin dark like you daddy."
In court, John Rock could not contain himself.
"An animal, an animal," he gasped. "I'm gonna kill him!"
The letters, about three a year, continued from 2004 to 2010.
But they were not the only indignity foisted upon the raven-haired woman.
Construction crews neared her unmarked grave and Cleroux got scared. He dug up her remains in 2004 and buried them in nearby Fairlea Park.
Animals uncovered the bones, so in the summer of 2006 he put her remains in a purple mesh bag, put the bag in a shopping cart and wheeled it to Bronson Ave. where it crosses the Rideau Canal and hurled the bag in.
Crews discovered the bones in the fall after the canal was drained.
DNA tests were inconclusive. Rock had never been declared missing.
* * *
Paula Leclair, 64, had a view to kill for.
She and Cleroux were neighbours in a Heatherington highrise. She lived in #907. He was in #802.
But her unit was better suited to his stuff, Cleroux thought. And the view looked over the Fairlea woods.
Cleroux had already dug her grave when Leclair went for a walk with him on May 20, 2010.
He pulled out a 6-inch knife he'd swiped from Mello's and drove her towards the grave, stabbing her in the back.
He picked up a rock and caved in her skull.
Hours later he was in her apartment and then carrying her stuff to a dumpster in the back.
But Leclair had a son who loved her.
And Andre Leclair grew worried when she hadn't called him so, on May 29, he went to visit her.
He found the apartment full of Cleroux's belongings, just as Cleroux walked over from the elevator.
Cleroux kept cool and told Andre Leclair that his mother had given him the flat. He even asked for Andre's key.
Andre Leclair went to the police.
Cleroux again tried to put them off the scent, employing his forger to write more letters in which "Leclair" said that she had left the apartment to him and that she wanted no more contact with her family.
But before his interview with Det. John Monette was over, Cleroux had confessed to murdering Leclair in cold blood.
He was at last behind bars.
June 26, 2012: Serial killer Camille Cleroux pleads guilty to one count of first-degree murder and two of second degree murder in the deaths of two ex-wives and his neighbour.
April 20, 2012: Police confirm they’ve found more human remains connected to Cleroux in a forested section of Fairlea Woods.
March 20, 2012: Cleroux’s preliminary hearing ends and he agrees to stand trial on three counts of first-degree murder.
Nov. 16, 2011: Cops start digging for human remains in Heatherington Park in Ottawa. Police say their investigation into the human remains found at 1535 Heatherington Ave. led them to the second site.
Nov. 4, 2011: Police investigators conclude their dig at 1535 Heatherington Ave. The human remains are shipped to Toronto for analysis.
Nov. 4, 2011: Preliminary hearing for accused serial killer Camille Cleroux adjourned after human remains found at his former home.
Oct. 31, 2011: Workers find human remains in the backyard at 1535 Heatherington Ave. A neighbour tells QMI Agency accused serial killer Camille Cleroux once lived at the property. Police begin digging.
June 25, 2010: Camille Cleroux charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Jean Rock in 2001 and Lise Roy in 1990.
June 2010: After hearing of first-degree murder charges against Cleroux, former neighbour Robert Fling approaches cops about hearing screams from Cleroux’s Heatherington Ave. house 20 years earlier. He admits he wasn’t “100% sure.”
June 3, 2010: Camille Cleroux, 56, charged with first-degree murder in the death of Paula Leclair. He had moved into her apartment and told Leclair’s son that she had given Cleroux the apartment after winning the lottery and moving to Florida.
May 2010: Paula Leclair, 64, goes missing. Her body is found days later in a nearby wooded area.
2001: Jean Rock, 32, believed to be Cleroux’s common-law wife, disappears.
1990: Lise Roy, 27, was married to Cleroux when she disappeared.