Cedrika Provencher: Court affidavits reveal dedicated pursuit of one suspect
Published Friday, July 13, 2018 1:28PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 13, 2018 6:54PM EDT
Court documents released this week are shedding a new light on the disappearance and murder of nine-year-old Cedrika Provencher.
Cedrika disappeared near her home in Trois-Rivieres in 2007. Years later, her remains were found in the woods by a passing hunter.
More recently, court papers show police have focused on one suspect all along: Trois-Rivieres man Jonathan Bettez.
Bettez was subject to some “extraordinary” investigatory measures by police, according to the court documents.
He became a suspect shortly after Provencher’s disappearance after it was noted he owned a red Acura similar to the one seen by eyewitnesses at the time of the child’s disappearance.
There were other owners of such a car, except Bettez was the only one without an alibi.
He refused three times to take a polygraph test. Immediately after this, the Surete du Quebec kept a keen eye on Bettez.
He was followed and monitored by the Surete du Quebec for nearly a decade, the documents revealed.
The SQ, in fact, built a monumental trap around Bettez. They used undercover agents to contact the suspect, informing him that he won a luxurious golf trip to Mont-Tremblant – all expenses paid.
There were other winners – but they were all undercover officers gathering to try and befriend Bettez.
One of them eventually succeeded, and tried to get Bettez to make incriminating statements in conversation.
The undercover cop is quoted as saying in the documents that they saw a bikini-clad girl who was between 10 or 12 while they were playing golf in Mont-Tremblant.
Bettez reportedly asked the officer, "Did you see the bikini?" before adding, "She's a bit young."
The documents say the undercover cop gave Bettez $15,000 to help him become a professional poker player and asked him in exchange to do unnamed favours.
However, Bettez eventually became suspicious and distanced himself.
A similar scenario was used after Provencher’s remains were found, to see how he would react. Hidden cameras and microphones were installed almost everywhere he went – including his home, workplace, and even within his social circle.
When the search warrants were finally authorized, investigators discovered child pornography on his computer, which led to his arrest.
Bettez hasn’t been formally charged in connection with Provencher’s suspected murder, because police need a minimum of evidence to obtain and execute a search warrant.
In this case, the threshold of evidence is much lower than would be required by a prosecutor to charge Bettez with a crime. Police said prosecutors may see coincidences – suspicious behaviour, for example – but nothing strong enough to file charges. This is why Bettez is only accused of possession of child pornography.
Police are still continuing their search for more evidence in this case.
Legal expert Andrew Barbacki explained why the information collected by police isn't enough to lead to murder charges.
“To obtain a search warrant there has to be reasonable grounds to believe that evidence of a criminal offence will be found at the place to be searched, but for an arrest warrant, there has to be reasonable grounds to believe that a person to be arrested is a person who committed a criminal offfence,” he said.
Bettez remains free on bail while he awaits his trial on the unrelated charges of possession of child pornography.
With files from The Canadian Press