LAVAL, Que. — Police continue to search for a convicted murderer who escaped from custody at a minimum security federal facility north of Montreal last week.

Quebec provincial police, who are investigating the disappearance, believe Denis Begin was likely headed to Gatineau or the surrounding Outaouais region in western Quebec.

Correctional Service Canada said Begin, 58, was reported missing during a head count at 12:15 p.m. on Friday at the Federal Training Centre in Laval, Que.

He was sentenced to life after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in 2003 in the killing of 19-year-old Ricardo Gizzi on Halloween night, 1993.

Wearing a hockey mask, Begin walked into a bar and shot Gizzi, who had also been wearing a hockey mask as part of a costume. According to reports at the time, patrons initially thought it was a Halloween joke when Begin walked into the bar wearing a balaclava and hockey mask.

He was initially found guilty of first-degree murder by a jury in 1997, but that conviction was overturned and a new trial was ordered after he successfully argued that a statement he gave to police after his arrest was not “voluntary.” The appellate court judgment outlined that he had confessed while agreeing to become an informant for Quebec’s anti-biker unit.

Begin testified at a 1998 trial that he had a long history with gangs and had information that could help solve many crimes, including the 1995 bombing that killed 11-year-old Daniel Desrochers, according to a Montreal Gazette report at the time.

The child was killed while playing near his home when a car bomb meant for a gang member exploded. The death came at the height of Quebec’s biker gang wars and is considered a turning point in the bloody battle between rival gangs. No one has been charged for the killing.

Begin is five-foot-seven, weighs 180 pounds and has a surgical scar on his left arm.

The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press