Quebec police, with the help of Canadian soldiers, continued searching a heavily wooded area southwest of Quebec City on Sunday for a 44-year-old man whose two daughters were declared dead the day before.
Martin Carpentier, a Cub scout leader, has been on the run since Wednesday, when he was last seen with Norah, 11, and Romy, 6.
His car, badly damaged and abandoned, was found about an hour after that last sighting. An Amber Alert, the longest in Quebec’s history, ended when the bodies of the two girls were discovered in a forest near Saint-Apollinaire, Que.
They were taken to hospital and later declared dead.
Police are focusing their search inside a 10-kilometre-radius perimeter in the Saint-Agapit—Saint-Apollinaire area. A resident reported seeing Carpentier in the area on Saturday afternoon.
Sgt. Ann Mathieu, a Sûreté du Québec spokesperson, said detectives had found a number of objects in the woods that may help them track Carpentier down.
The search, she said, has been complicated by hot and humid weather and periods of heavy rain. “If it’s difficult for us, it’s difficult for [Carpentier] also,” she said.
The search was also hindered by people who turned up in about 100 cars on Saturday evening to join the search for the wanted man.
“It was really not helpful,” Mathieu said, noting that the noise made it harder for police to carry out their operation.
Though volunteers were used when the Amber Alert was still in effect, authorities say they are no longer needed. Mathieu asked the public to stop posting calls for help on social media.
She also said people who live around the search area should make sure their car doors are locked, to prevent Carpentier from using them to escape.
Along with the SQ, the search operation is being conducted by police in Lévis, Que., and members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Authorities are using drones, all-terrain vehicles and helicopters in their attempts to locate Carpentier.
Memorial site in girls’ hometown
A gazebo in Lévis, where the girls lived, has been turned into a makeshift memorial site.
Norah was a Cub scout and Romy was about to become a Beaver scout, said Dominique Moncalis, director of communications for the Association des Scouts du Canada.
Moncalis said their father had caused no problems in the past as a Cub scout leader.
A candlelight vigil was organized Saturday by two scout leaders in memory of the sisters. By Sunday evening, the gazebo was covered in pink Post-it notes, many with messages written in a children’s scrawl.
“Rest in peace, Norah and Romy. You were a really good friend to me,” says one note.
One young girl at the gazebo on Sunday told Radio-Canada that she had asked her parents to take her to the memorial site so she could leave a card.
“I wrote that I loved them and that I hope they’re well,” the girl said.
A lawyer representing the mother of the two girls said she had spent the past two days surrounded by relatives.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a tweet Saturday that he was “devastated by the news coming out of Quebec.” He called the incident an “incomprehensible tragedy for any parent” while offering his condolences to family and friends.
Quebec Premier François Legault tweeted his condolences as well, calling the girls’ deaths a national tragedy.