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'She called him uncle': family friend charged with first-degree murder in killing of 13-year-old Quebec girl
SAINT-JEROME, QUE. -- A 51-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder in the violent death of 13-year-old Oceane Boyer, who was found slain Wednesday in the Laurentians, north of Montreal.
Francois Senecal was formally arraigned Friday morning in Quebec court in Saint-Jerome. A judge ordered him not to contact members of the victim's family.
A handcuffed Senecal stared at the ground as he appeared in front of a packed courtroom, where loved ones of the victim wiped away tears.
Oceane's mother said on Facebook that Senecal was a friend of the family.
Senecal's daughter, Alexandra, spoke to the media outside the courtroom. Her face contorted by tears and her voice at times heavy with emotion, she described how her father had reacted when Oceane was reported missing on Wednesday. "He cried in my arms," she said. "I went to see him to give support, and he cried in my arms and said, 'it can't be.' ... I would have never thought. ..."
Oceane and Senecal were close. She adored him, Alexandra said, referring to him as "uncle," even though they weren't related.
Alexandra is pregnant and has two young children of her own, ages 1 and 4. "It could have been my daughter," she sighed, wiping her eyes with her sweater. "It could have been me." At other times, she used the past tense to describe her relationship with him. "I loved him," she said. "He was my father."
Since her father's arrest, some have taken to social media to criticize her. "I responded to one young woman who I didn't even know ... 'You should be ashamed. I'm not linked to him. I'm my own person. My name isn't Francois Senecal,'" Alexandra said.
A passerby found the mutilated body of Oceane in Lachute, Que., on Wednesday morning near Horrem Rd. and Berlin St. in Brownsburg-Chatham, about 90 km north of Montreal. Boyer was quickly transported to the hospital, where her death was confirmed.
The murder has devastated the small community where Oceane lived. "She loved everybody," a mother said of Oceane after leaving flowers near where her body was found. "She helped everyone and she was really kind."
The Commission scolaire de la Riviere-du-Nord (CSRDN) announced that a support team would be deployed Friday to the École polyvalente Lavigne in Lachute, in the Laurentians where Oceane was a student.
The school board's communications advisor Nadyne Brochu said that assistance to students and staff would be offered as long as necessary so that the community can get through the difficult ordeal.
The École polyvalente Lavigne and the CSRDN remain in contact with the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), the City of Lachute and the Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISSS) for assistance.
Also, Lachute's youth centre, the Univers jeunesse Argenteuil, has been offering psychological support to teens since Thursday afternoon. The young victim attended the centre.
- The Canadian Press contributed to this report