Affectionately known as ‘the Miramichi’, the region within New Brunswick running up the Miramichi River in Canada is a friendly area with a real sense of community in the traditional sense. The residents of the neighbourhood of Chatham all know each other and the majority have been there all their lives. One such resident was Allan Legere, unfortunately not an individual who fitted in with the majority of friendly law-abiding citizens of the region. He was a man with a checkered history and a violent temperament. Legere was well-known to the police and feared across the criminal fraternities in the area due to his intimidating demeanour, quick temper and preference to resort to violence to get what he wanted.
In 1986 Allan Legere was the ringleader of two men, Todd Matchett and Scott Curtis, who broke into the grocery store of elderly couple John and Mary Glendenning just after they had closed up for the night and subjected them to a sickening and violent attack while demanding money from them. John Glendenning was killed and Mary had been severely beaten before they fled the scene. Mary Glendenning managed to call 911 and give a description of the men responsible. All three men were arrested and charged with murder and in January 1987 jailed for their crimes.
For the following two years, the region tried to recover from the loss of two well-known and loved residents and were reassured by the fact that the men responsible were behind bars. On 3 May 1989, that reassurance was shattered when Allan Legere escaped from custody on a visit to the hospital when he tricked a guard into letting him into a bathroom cubicle alone, slipped out of his handcuffs and leg irons and made a run for the door. After hijacking a car in the parking lot of the hospital, taking its female driver on a terrifying ride before letting her out of the car unharmed, Legere disappeared.
The Flam Murder
Within three weeks of his escape, a second horrific attack was carried out at a local grocery store bearing all the hallmarks of Allan Legere. Sisters-in-Law Annie and Nina Flam ran Flam’s Grocery and they lived on the premises with Nina in the upstairs apartment and Annie in the house attached to the side. On 29 May 1989, fire fighters received reports of a ferocious fire at the store. Arriving at the scene they battled the flames and discovered Nina Flam at the foot of her stairs badly beaten, burned and barely alive.
As they progressed through the building they entered Annie’s bedroom which had been completely destroyed by the fire. Annie had not escaped and her body was found on her bed covered in the debris that had fallen in from the roof above her. It was clear the fire had been set deliberately in order to cover up a crime and as fire officers contacted the police and specialist forensic teams, the knowledge that Allan Legere was out of prison with his whereabouts unknown was at the forefront of their minds.
Nina Flam had suffered serious injuries but she managed to tell police officers from her hospital bed what had happened that night. The sisters had locked up the store as usual and retired to their respective homes for the evening. Nina told police she heard footsteps coming up her stairs and as she got up to investigate, a man burst into her room. Nina was tied up, beaten and sexually assaulted before her assailant put her back into her bed, tucking the sheets tightly around her. He ransacked her room and set fire to it before leaving. Nina had managed to untie herself and free herself from the bed sheets before staggering through the flames and down the stairs before she collapsed. When forensic officers examined the body of Annie Flam they concluded she had been subjected to a similar attack.
Hairs and semen samples were taken from the scene and stored for analysis when a lab capable of carrying out the complex DNA typing comparisons and analysis needed could be found. In the meantime, police increased their efforts to find fugitive Allan Legere deeply concerned that he was responsible for the attack on the Flam sisters.
The Daughney Murders
By October 1989, Allan Legere had still not been located and residents across Chatham and the Miramichi were cautious and worried. On 13 October 1989, their worst fears were realised when another attack, equally as violent and again following the same pattern as before was carried out in the town of Newcastle. Donna and Linda Daughney were two sisters who lived alone together in an isolated part of the town. On that Friday evening, Linda had been out with a friend and walking back to her home when she was attacked in her driveway, hit across the back of her head before she made it into her house.
The following morning, familiar reports of a house fire came in to fire fighters. Both Donna and Linda Daughney were found inside their home in an upstairs bedroom. Both had been beaten, sexually assaulted and then badly burnt by the flames of the fire. The walls were spattered with blood with clear handprints suggesting a struggle as the two sisters fought for their lives. Again, forensic teams painstakingly gathered any evidence they could find including hair, blood and semen samples.
A new crime laboratory being built in Ottawa opened its doors and local police used the opportunity to send in all forensic samples they had collected from the crime scenes along with DNA samples from members of the community for comparison. They also submitted a hair sample collected from Allan Legere in connection with one of his previous crimes, in the hope that they would finally either be able to confirm or disprove the now widespread belief that he was the man responsible for these violent murders. In November 1989 the police got their DNA match. All DNA material collected from the crime scenes came back as a match to the DNA sample taken from Allan Legere.
The Murder of Father James Smith
While this information gave the police the evidence they needed to arrest and charge Legere with these crimes, they still had to find him. On 16 November 1989, Allan Legere carried out his final and most brutal attack. The church congregation of Father James Smith waited patiently for their Pastor that evening to start 7 pm Mass. When he did not arrive, two concerned parishioners went to the rectory next door to check on Father Smith but what they saw when they looked through his kitchen window is a sight which will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
The kitchen of the rectory was covered in blood, with furniture and belongings strewn around the floor. When the police arrived and gained entry they found Father James Smith on the floor of his office near his safe. The Pastor had been subjected to a prolonged physical attack with his body displaying numerous devastating injuries. Being so close to the safe of the office, police speculated it was possible the offender had tortured Father Smith in order to get the combination to open the safe. No fire had been set meaning a great deal of forensic evidence was available at the scene, including large footprints in blood all over the home.
Father Smith’s car had been taken and was found some hours later near a motel. In the car was a pair of boots which matched the footprint impressions left at the crime scene. One week after the murder of Father Smith, on 24 November 1989, Allan Legere flagged down a taxi and demanded to be taken to Miramichi city using a rifle pointed directly at the taxi driver to make his point. The taxi ran off the road in icy conditions and Legere simply flagged down another car, taking the taxi driver into the car as a hostage.
Needing gas, he allowed the car to stop at a gas station, taking the car keys with him as he filled the tank and went into the station to pay. The driver of the car and the taxi driver used that opportunity to escape with a spare set of car keys and drove off at high-speed, stopping as soon as they felt it was safe to phone the police. Allan Legere was arrested as he tried to hijack a truck and realising he was surrounded, surrendered his weapon and was arrested peacefully. Finally, the reign of terror Allan Legere had brought to the region, by now earning him the nickname ‘The Monster of Miramichi’ was brought to an end.
Allan Legere was returned to prison to serve his remaining time for his 1986 murder conviction while prosecutors prepared the case against him for the most recent spate of killings. The inside imprints of the boots found inside Father Smith’s car were checked against Legere’s bare feet, comparing pressure points to determine whether it could be confirmed that Allan Legere had worn these boots during the Pastor’s murder. The results were positive and alongside the DNA evidence, the case against Legere was strong.
In October 1991, Allan Legere went on trial charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the first case in Canada’s history where the evidence against a defendant was almost entirely based on forensic science and DNA analysis, still a very new field at the time. After just three hours of deliberation, the jury returned a guilty verdict on all four counts. Allan Legere was sentenced in early November 1991 to life in prison with no possibility of parole for at least 25 years and sent to the maximum security prison in Ste-Anne-Des-Plaines, Quebec.
In early 2015, Allan Legere was transferred to a maximum-security prison in Alberta to the concern of many residents who feared he would use the opportunity to stage, and succeed, in another escape. To date, Legere has remained securely locked up and the severity of his crimes and his escapes from custody it is hoped will mean the now 69-year-old Allan Legere will stay that way.