Normally, when you think of Canada, you think of snow, ice hockey, super nice people and mounties. But today, we’re going to talk about murder in Canada.
New Brunswick is a Canadian province just north of the United States, bordering the state of Maine. In northern New Brunswick, Miramichi is large city situated near the mouth of the Miramichi River. The location was popular with fishermen and known for the warm and welcoming community.
In 1948, Allan Joseph Legere was born to Louise Legere. A single mother of three already, she rented out a spare room to a man who became the father of her youngest, Allan. Their low-income household meant some comforts were discarded, including having their own bedrooms. This meant Allan had to share a bedroom with his sisters even into their teen years. He started watching them undress, which was some of his earliest deviant behavior.
In an unfortunate accident, Allan’s brother was hit by a truck and killed. In her grief, their mother told Allan she wish it had been him instead. She also would bring many man home, and Allan struggled to cope with the situation. At 16, he dropped out of school and moved out.
Legere knew he was poor, and this fueled an anger inside of him. The feelings of inferiority built into a rage toward the community and those who had more than him. He wanted power and control. He became a drifter and started to commit minor crimes and various thefts throughout Miramichi.
The descriptions from these crimes were unsettling even though he would only steal items of minimal value. The victims would wake up with him standing at the foot of the bed, just watching them. If they didn’t wake up, he would leave something behind on the bed as a sign that he had been there. One time, he even cut the underwear off a sleeping woman.
He targeted victims that were vulnerable and completely at his mercy like the elderly and sleeping to give himself a feeling of power and superiority.
As with many criminals, these petty crimes turned harsher and harsher. On June 21, 1986, Legere and two young men cut the power to a convenience store in Black River Ridge just after closing in order to rob it. The owners were a married couple, 66 year old John and 64 year old Marie Glendenning who lived in a house adjacent to the shop.
The robbers demanded all of their money, but even after being given access to the safe, Legere and his accomplices Todd Matchett and Scott Curtis brutally beat the couple. Mary, barely alive, woke up with her head in the toilet and a scarf tied tightly around her neck. She had also been brutally sexually assaulted. She was able to crawl to a telephone and call to help, but emergency services were not able to save her husband even though it only took minutes for them to arrive to the scene.
When police arrived, the scene was shocking and horrific. Blood was not just spattered everywhere, but also smeared on the walls and floors.
Eyewitnesses were vital to the investigation as reports were filed of three men with a safe and large sums of money. Police knew these three men as petty criminals, but now started to investigate them for murder. They knew that Legere had a reputation of violence and was even feared by other criminals. He was also much older than the other two and suspected to be the leader of the group.
The three were arrested, and Todd Matchett pled guilty. Scott Curtis and Allan Legere were both convicted at trial.
But, this story is far from over. On May 3, 1989, Legere was transferred to the hospital with an ear infection. He had been a model prisoner from the moment of his incarceration. He told the guard he needed toilet paper.
What they didn’t know is that he had a sharpened piece of metal hidden in a cigar and a collapsed TV antenna hidden in his rectum. He was able to unlock his cuffs and quickly escape the hospital.
Outside, he carjacked a woman named Peggy, promising to not hurt her. And surprisingly, after getting to a point he felt a safe distance, he did.
1989 now saw a quiet and peaceful area quickly change to a terrified city and Legere’s playground. On May 7, just 4 days after escaping, Max Ramsay was beaten, tied up and robbed of his wallet and car. This was the first in a string of robberies and sightings of Legere.
On May 28, 1989, Harry Preston drove by Annie Flam’s corner store at 3:50am and saw smoke coming from the door. He pounded on the door to see if anyone was inside. Two officers were also passing by at the time and quickly called the fire department.
Officer Pugh broke down the backdoor and found Annie Flam’s sister-in-law, Nina, at the foot of the stairs, partly clothes and barely conscious and badly burned. He wrapped her in his coat and called an ambulance.
Sadly, Annie did not share the same rescue. She died in her upstairs bedroom, tied to a chair. Both women had been severely beaten and sexually assaulted before Legere lit the house on fire to destroy the evidence.
The summer was filled with more sightings and petty crimes. Rewards were offered for information, but police just couldn’t catch Legere.
On October 14, 1989, a volunteer fire fighter Danny Sullivan saw smoke coming from the house of sisters Donna and Linda Daughney. He raced around the corner to the fire hall and called for help while gearing up. The two women were discovered inside but did not survive. Both were severely beaten and sexually assaulted. It came to light that Linda had previously turned down Allan Legere’s advances which may be why he targeted two healthy women in their 40s instead of his usual elderly or weak victims.
Both women died from blunt force trauma, and Linda’s beating was so brutal it broke her jaw. They were also unrecognizable from the violence. They were identified based on the differences in height and weight.
Legere had one final victim before his capture. From youth, he had a severe aversion to the Catholic church, even having a run-in with a local priest in the past. On the night of November 15, Legere broke into the rectory of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Chatham Head. Here, he brutalized 69 year old Father James Smith, the same man he had issues with previously at this church.
Father Smith had 13 broken ribs, a broken jaw, multiple stab wounds and his neck was cut open. After the murder, Legere stayed at the house for a hours. He ate, washed his boots, changed his clothes and even answered the phone once to say “Wrong number” before hanging up. That afternoon, he then hotwired the priest’s car and drove off.
When Father Smith did not show up for mass, a man who did odd jobs for the church went to check on the Father because he had a spare key to the rectory. He ran back yelling, “Call the police!”
Legere was apprehended on November 24, 1989. His trial occurred in 1991. This trial was the first in Canadian history to use DNA evidence to convict rather than exonerate someone. While in prison the first time, DNA samples were collected for his file, and there was blood and semen found at multiple crime scenes.
The case was an important test case for genetic fingerprinting, showing the validity of the science in the courtroom. The University of New Brunswick has a special digital collection all about the case due to both its infamy in the area and its scientific importance in criminal justice.
Legere was sentenced to life in prison on November 2, 1991. He is still serving his sentence at the Edmonton Institution, a maximum security federal prison in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada which is in the western half of Canada.
He did petition for parole in 2021. After blaming others for his crimes, he argued that he would just safely return to New Brunswick and everything would be fine. A parole officer and corrections manager both testified that he should not be released, one even stating Legere should never be released. In the board’s denial, one member told him, “Your offending is of the most serious nature; the victim harm is still felt to this day.”