10 years ago, a citizen angry and killed the DG of his village

News 14 January, 2018
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    Robert Godbout was accused of premeditated murder, two days after the crime, at the courthouse in Victoriaville.

    Claudia Berthiaume

    Sunday, 14 January 2018 01:00

    Sunday, 14 January 2018 01:00

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    Ten years after the brutal murder of the ceo of a small locality in the Centre-du-Québec, their loved ones, still fail to conceive that it has lost the life to a banal question of zoning, which prevented the assassin of building a zoo.

    Photo courtesy

    The decedent, Renee Vaudreuil.

    “People are not forced to kill each other over stupid things, especially that our mother didn’t like the chicane “, drop Emily and Anne-Marie Groleau, two of the four children of the victim, aged 14 to 20 years old at the time.

    10 years ago today, their mother, Renee Vaudreuil, was murdered by Robert Gobdout at the municipal office of Saint-Rémi-de-Tingwick, near Victoriaville.

    Photo Claudia Berthiaume

    Emilia (left) and Anne-Marie Groleau pose in front of a photo of their mother, Renee Vaudreuil.

    Death extremely violent and sudden of the director-general 42-year-old has marked in red ink, the small town of 471 souls.

    Several relatives of the victim have agreed to entrust the Newspaper to educate people so that such a tragedy never happens again.

    Photo Claudia Berthiaume

    The former mayor Jacques Fréchette poses in front of the place where was the former municipal office of Saint-Rémi-de-Tingwick.

    “I can’t conceive that a dispute of zoning can lead to the death of someone, that someone can come here for a piece of paper,” growls the mayor at the time, Jacques Fréchette.

    “It has prevented a mother raising her four children and know your grandchildren, and all of that because it was a job that she loved,” says Chantal Ramsay, the great friend of the deceased, who is also director-general of the neighbouring municipality.

    700 animals

    Robert Godbout had acquired the former school of the village in order to install a zoo. There were piled some 700 animals.

    The catch is that the project called “Godzoo” was contrary to the regulations of the municipality of Saint-Rémi-de-Tingwick, who has sent several notices of violation to the owner.

    For nearly four years, Robert Godbout, and the municipal administration have given battle before the courts.

    “Godbout came to the municipal office and he could déblatérer for an hour. Renee was tired, but she tried to contain it, politely. It was caught between the Board and him, ” notes the ex-mayor Fréchette.

    On the morning of January 14, 2008, the Court of appeal gave reason to the municipality, urging Robert Godbout to dispose of its animals within a period of 60 days.

    “My mother was so proud to have won, so happy to turn the page on this story. It is a huge weight lifted from his shoulders “, illustrates Anne-Marie Groleau, who was barely 18 years old at the time.


    Renee Vaudreuil has called the mayor Fréchette to 11 o’clock to announce to him the good news. Three hours later, the director-general was murdered.

    “Let’s say that the news has not been good for a long time. I’ve never told anyone, but I felt guilty for not telling her to close the municipal office and go home, ” says the former mayor.

    “I have long wondered why I did not come to join, but maybe if I had, I would have died too,” he continues.

    In the early afternoon, Robert Godbout broke at the municipal office located in a small building located behind the church, with a calibre weapon .410.

    According to what has been narrated at the trial of the man at the age of 51 years, the murderer was shot two times in the direction of the DG, up to the chest and head. He then smashed in the skull with a blunt object, which could be the butt of the rifle.


    Finally, the killer had doused the victim’s body with petrol before setting fire to it, destroying in the same breath a good part of the evidence and the municipal office.

    Traces of charcoal have been discovered in the respiratory system of Renee Vaudreuil, letting them believe she was still alive, dying, when the fire began.

    “We came back from school and this got us busted in the face,” recalled his daughter Emily, who was 16 at the time.

    Robert Godbout was arrested at his home the next day by the police of the Sûreté du Québec. “We never thought we’d that he could take it physically,” says the ex-mayor Fréchette.

    Robert Godbout was sentenced to life in prison for premeditated murder in December 2009, but the court proceedings were protracted until the summer of 2012. The assassin, who has always denied the facts, he carried his cause to the supreme Court, infuriating relatives of Renee Vaudreuil.

    Fear in the village

    During this time, the citizens of the small town, feared for his release. Some were moved by fear of having to deal with Robert Godbout again, said several people at the Newspaper.

    Photo Claudia Berthiaume

    Chantale Ramsay was the great friend of Mrs. Vaudreuil and the DG of the neighboring municipality.

    “For those who remained, it was hell to wait, hoping that someone would finally pay for his crime,” said Mrs. Ramsay.

    “We were scared that he was in the way and that our mother died for nothing. We ripped our mother, we will never be able to forgive him, ” say the girls of the victim.

    It took years for the municipality to get back to the drama, without, however, forget it. “In the beginning, people were one among them. It was as if a great darkness had fallen on Saint-Rémi “, illustrates the current director-general of the place, Chantal Cantin.

    Ten years later, the people of Saint-Rémi-de-Tingwick not to speak of Robert Godbout. “His name is a bit of a taboo. This is not a topic of conversation “, said Ms. Cantin.


    Described as a woman of cheerful, welcoming and dedicated to his community, the memory of Renee Vaudreuil, himself, remains. The elect of the last decade has set the goal that we will never forget.

    A commemorative plaque was installed in his memory in the new municipal office. The old fire station now bears his name.

    The mentality of the people, and especially directors-general, has changed since the death of Renee Vaudreuil.

    “Before, maybe we tolerate most things, but now, the violence, it is zero tolerance,” says Chantal Cantin.

    “It is necessary that citizens understand that we are paid to do enforce the laws, but we do not have decision-making power,” continues his colleague Chantal Ramsay, director-general of the neighbouring municipality.

    More security

    The tragic death of the wife of 42 years has also led to a wave of changes in the municipal world.

    The building that houses now the municipal office of Saint-Rémi-de-Tingwick account three issues — instead of only one in the former — and a panic button connected to a central emergency.

    Photo Claudia Berthiaume

    Now, a glass panel separates the employees of the citizens.

    The employees are separated from the citizens by a window, on which is affixed a poster demanding the respect during communications. The post office has been moved to the inside of the building so that the DG will never be the only one there. The premises are protected by a camera.

    Other municipalities have also secured their facilities after the drama.

    Measures that put a balm on the wounds of the children of Renee Vaudreuil.

    “We are glad that, despite this challenge, there are positive changes. The others who are doing the same work are now more secure and more taken seriously “, concluded Emily, and Anne-Marie Groleau.

    Changes in the municipal world

    Plan of action to combat bullying

    The Sûreté du Québec has adopted the FOLD-Elected, a plan of action to combat intimidation designed to persuade the elected officials and municipal managers to denounce the violence.

    Policy zero tolerance to violence

    The Association des directeurs municipaux du Québec (ADMQ) has adopted a policy to educate its members to not to tolerate any violence on the part of citizens. Training sessions were provided during a provincial tour.

    Price Renee-Vaudreuil

    The ADMQ has named an award in honor of Renee Vaudreuil. It is a recognition given to a DG that has had a tremendous contribution in his community.