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Two charged with murder of Quebecer Daniel Langlois and partner in Dominica

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Two men have been charged in the death of Quebec-born film entrepreneur Daniel Langlois and his partner in the Caribbean nation of Dominica, the country's director of public prosecutions said Thursday.

Sherma Dalrymple told a news conference that Jonathan Lehrer and Robert Thomas Snider were charged Wednesday with the murders of Langlois and his partner, Dominique Marchand.

She said the two men appeared in court but have not yet entered a plea, adding that a preliminary inquiry is scheduled for March 15.

The bodies of Langlois, 66, and Marchand, 58, were found last Friday in a burned out car near the luxury resort they owned in Dominica, a small volcanic island located between Guadeloupe and Martinique.

Police spokesman Jeoffrey James told reporters at the news conference that officers made three arrests after they visited a property close to what investigators believe is "a secondary crime scene." A fourth person was later taken into custody.

It was not clear whether the other two people arrested will face charges, but James said the investigation is ongoing.

"We are devoted to having justice served in this matter," he said, adding that police understand the high level of public interest in the case, both locally and internationally.

Court documents show that Lehrer was in a dispute with Langlois dating back several years over the use of a public road that crossed his property and led to the Quebec couple's luxury ecotourism resort, which was under construction at the time.

Lehrer, a property owner and chocolate producer, allegedly blocked access to Morne Rouge Public Road in October 2018 by digging a trench and placing boulders on the roadway, according to court documents.

Langlois sued Lehrer, arguing for a permanent injunction to ensure the road be opened. A first injunction was granted in 2018.

In 2019, an Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court judge ruled the road had to be opened up to allow Langlois' employees and guests access to the resort.

Langlois was a well-known businessman and founder of Softimage, a company whose 3D technology was used to create special effects in blockbusters such as "Jurassic Park," "Titanic" and "Lord of the Rings." He later started a foundation in his name to support arts and technology, and was involved in charitable endeavours helping Dominica recover from, and build resilience to, national disasters.

In 2022, he and Marchand opened Coulibri Ridge, a luxury hotel in Dominica that describes itself as an "eco-retreat."

Local media reported that during Wednesday's arraignment of Lehrer and Snider, angry residents gathered outside the courthouse in Roseau, lauding Langlois' contributions and generosity toward the community and wondering what his loss would mean for their own futures.

On Thursday, friends of the couple and community members in Dominica gathered for a memorial sunset paddle and a candlelight vigil.

People on kayaks held up their paddles in unison while many more residents watched from the shore. Flowers were tossed into the water as part of the tribute, with a minute of silence held at sunset in an event that was livestreamed on social media.

Simon Walsh, a friend of the couple, described the event in a Facebook post as a "tribute" and a "positive moment" recognizing the couple's love for Dominica and for Soufriere, a village near the resort.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Dec. 7, 2023.

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