MONTREAL — Two men are facing first-degree murder charges in the slaying of a 19-year-old Quebec woman whose death may be linked to the discovery of two more bodies, provincial police said Friday.
Rene Kegle, 38, and Francis Martel, 31 — both from Quebec's Mauricie region — appeared in court in Trois-Rivieres late Friday in connection with the killing of junior-college student Ophelie Martin-Cyr.
In addition to the two first-degree murder charges, Kegle is charged with attempted murder of a 21-year-old woman who escaped from a moving car early Wednesday.
Police say the 21-year-old was a friend of Martin-Cyr, and she was the one who first alerted authorities to Martin-Cyr's disappearance.
A farmer found Martin-Cyr's body a few hours later in a field in Yamachiche, about halfway between Montreal and Quebec City.
The body bore marks of violence and the death was later determined to be a homicide.
In a dramatic twist, provincial police spokeswoman Eloise Cossette said Friday that investigators now believe the case is connected to the discovery the same day of a burnt-out SUV 35 kilometres away. The vehicle was later found to contain two charred bodies.
"There are certain elements that allow us to believe that it could be linked, this vehicle, to the murder in Yamachiche," Cossette said in a phone interview.
Cossette said it's impossible to determine the age or sex of the badly burned victims, and she did not elaborate on how the two events might be connected.
She said the investigation is ongoing.
While police were giving few details about the murder, a close friend of the victim said she and some other friends had become worried about some of the people in Martin-Cyr's extended circle.
Shannie Gelinas remembers Martin-Cyr as a kind and open-hearted person who always wanted to help her friends.
She worries her friend's generous spirit led to her death.
"She had some friends who weren't on the straight and narrow, and I think it was (her desire) to help others that resulted in her not saving herself," she said in a phone interview.
Gelinas has also met the suspect Martel, whom she described as "cold" and "withdrawn."
She says she's devastated by the loss of her friend. She remembers her as a fun-loving person who was very close to her father.
"Even everyday things were fun with her," she said. "Watching a movie was funny, going for a ride was fun."
Martin-Cyr was studying to become a paralegal in order to give herself a better future, Gelinas said.
"They took away the chance of a kid — because at 19 we're still kids," she said. "They took away her chance to blossom, to grow ... to have a future, when their own was already broken."
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press