Man’s demeanour after woman went missing ‘triggered’ RCMP officer, Cornwall murder trial told

Brandon Smeltzer is on trial on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Emilie Maheu on Oct. 11, 2018.

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CORNWALL — The man accused of the first-degree murder of an Alexandria woman was calm and talkative in the days after her disappearance, witnesses in a murder trial said Thursday.

Brandon Smeltzer, 27, appeared again before Judge Laurie Lacelle on trial on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Emilie Maheu on Oct. 11, 2018.

Maheu’s body was found two days later by a farmer near her hometown, and by then Smeltzer had travelled back to Halifax, where he previously lived with Maheu and their daughter, Elizabeth.

While in Halifax, Smeltzer received several calls and messages asking where Maheu was and what he had done to her. One of these calls was from RCMP Const. Jeff Rideout, who was asked by the Ontario Provincial Police to assist with the missing-person investigation.

“Just the general reaction I got at the time just took me by surprise,” Rideout said Thursday.

Rideout said Smeltzer “made an utterance like, ‘It looks bad,’ or ‘I know how it looks.’”


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In eight years of service, Rideout said, he had never been more concerned about an opening statement to him.

“Brandon, when he said that, it kind of triggered me and I pulled over to immediately start taking notes,” Rideout said.

Smeltzer began talking, with Rideout only having to acknowledge he was listening. Smeltzer told Rideout he was the last person to see Maheu, and Maheu had around $17,000 in credit-card and personal debts.

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Smeltzer told Rideout that Maheu’s boyfriend had a family member who was the vice-president of the “Crips,” Rideout said, and Smeltzer suggested she might have gone to other people for money. Rideout later searched Smeltzer’s home, garage and property, but found no trace of Maheu.

In two separate recorded interviews shown Wednesday and Thursday in court, Smeltzer maintained an explanation he gave to Maheu’s boyfriend: that he could not have been involved.

“That’s not good news,” Smeltzer said after he was told Maheu’s body had been found.

“If there was something I had to do with Emilie, why would I go and sit at her building, in her parking lot, and everyone walks past me?” Smeltzer said in the video from Oct. 13, 2018, explaining he had gone to her work to drive her to the bank.

“When I was sleeping at her house, nobody knew I was there except her and Pat,” he said, referencing his sudden, unannounced visit from Halifax one night before Maheu was reported missing.

Maheu had worked as a receptionist in a physiotherapy clinic in Alexandria for about four months before her death. Richard Quesnel was a massage therapist at the clinic, and he described her as a bubbly, interactive young woman.


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“She was also a considerate person,” he said. “What you saw with Emilie was what you got.”

Quesnel testified that Maheu had appeared scared and stressed in the weeks before her death and had told him both that her bank accounts were frozen because of debt and that Smeltzer was not supporting her.

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“She’s determined, she’ll get it and she’ll do it with a smile, but that smile was not there,” Quesnel said.

Smeltzer also told Maheu that he had been diagnosed with cancer, his girlfriend was potentially pregnant and he still loved Maheu, all within the same conversation, Quesnel said. He said he saw Maheu the morning of her disappearance, and she seemed distracted.

After his visit to the OPP station on Oct. 13, Smeltzer went to the Flying J truck stop in Lancaster. Two employees testified Thursday on their conversations with him.

“He was the one that brought up the person in the field happened to be his baby’s mother,” said Theresa Lapierre, who worked as a cashier.

Lapierre said Smeltzer began telling him about the death of Maheu after she asked how he was.

“He basically stayed on level,” said Lapierre, who listened as Smeltzer told her about the police impounding his car and searching his home, as well as his prostate cancer. He told Lapierre he could not have been involved because he would die within two months and did not want to leave his daughter as an orphan.

Lapierre’s supervisor, after seeing Smeltzer show Lapierre a photo of Elizabeth, began listening as well. Video showed April Fitzgerald working at the counter beside Lapierre as Smeltzer talked to her.

“There were no tears, there was no fear, no anger. He just stayed very calm and open,” Fitzgerald testified. “I felt maybe this was a way of him processing these events.”

Fitzgerald said Smeltzer kept the conversation going, offering up details with little or no prompting.

“We weren’t probing … You kind of smile and nod, and say, ‘OK, I’m sorry,’” Fitzgerald said.

Smeltzer told Lapierre and Fitzgerald he had nothing to hide and had offered up his keys to the OPP when the police asked to see his car.

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The trial continues Friday.

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