Cleared: Virginia police say Lachute’s former fire chief did nothing wrong
Pierre Morand at the scene of a fire in 2011.
By Justin Giovannetti, CTV Montreal
Published Thursday, November 29, 2012 8:36PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 30, 2012 9:46PM EST
MONTREAL—The Virginia police have cleared Pierre Morand in a bizarre case where they believed that Lachute’s former fire chief may have kidnapped a child.
The fire chief retired a week ago and was on his way to his home in Florida with his wife when the couple checked into a hotel in Hillsville, Virginia.
On Thursday, a housekeeper at the Quality Inn Hotel in Hillsville found a note, apparently written by a child called Jasmine Hines. In the note, the child claimed to be “missing and the cops are looking for me.” After finding the note, police near Roanoke, Virginia aided by the FBI began searching for Morand.
On Thursday, the Carroll County Sheriff’s office confirmed with CTV Montreal that surveillance footage showed what appeared to be a young girl or small woman entering the hotel a day earlier with Morand. The clerk had understood that the man was travelling alone.
Jocelyne Robert, the assistant director general of Lachute, was shocked when she heard of the case. On Friday morning she finally reached Morand and was able to verify that the small woman in the footage was Morand’s wife.
A search of international databases by authorities in Virginia found no record of a missing child with the name of Jasmine Hines. According to the sheriff’s office, Morand was travelling in a white van with two bicycles on it. They called Canadian authorities to confirm his identity.
According to Robert, Morand was unaware that anyone was looking for him when she contacted him on Friday. The former fire chief went to speak with authorities in Florida. According to Capt. Jason Hawks from the Hillsville Police Department, the FBI confirmed on Friday afternoon that the note was a fake.
Hopefully Morand's saga will provide good table conversation over the holidays.