BATHURST, N.B. — Police in Bathurst, N.B. say the search for a missing 14-year-old girl is now considered a criminal investigation.
Madison Roy-Boudreau hasn't been seen since May 11, and police had previously said her disappearance was suspicious.
Bathurst Police Chief Stephane Roy held a news conference Thursday to detail the search efforts so far but was guarded about what he could reveal, saying he did not want to compromise the investigation.
"We are conducting a criminal investigation into a missing person's report, and, as such, we are not at liberty to disclose pertinent information to what could eventually be for a criminal proceeding," Roy told reporters gathered in the city council chamber.
Roy said Madison was reported missing on the evening of May 11 by her father, who said the last time he had seen her was at about 7:30 that morning as she was heading off to school.
The next day, Roy said, police were able to confirm that Madison had got into a grey Ford Ranger pickup truck on the morning of May 11. He said police were able to locate the truck and immediately searched the residence and property where it was found.
On May 13, he said, officers arrested the driver of the truck and seized the vehicle. On the same day, tips led police to search several quarries off St. Anne Street in Bathurst.
As part of the timeline, Roy said 42-year-old Steven Laurette of nearby South Tetagouche, N.B., was brought before provincial court on May 14 and charged with failing to comply with the conditions of a court undertaking. Police objected to his release and he remains in custody, with his next court appearance scheduled for June 7.
Roy was asked whether Laurette was a "person of interest" in the investigation, whether he was the owner or driver of the Ford Ranger and whether he was an acquaintance of Madison's father, but he declined to provide additional details.
He also said he could not provide details about the charge Laurette is facing. "I can't specify because there was a publication ban on the case," he said.
An extensive search of a quarry off St. Anne Street was undertaken during the past week by police and search and rescue crews, but nothing was found.
The police chief said investigators want to hear from anyone with information or video such as dash cam footage from the morning of May 11.
"We want to remain optimistic," he said. "We want to find Madison safe, but we know with every passing day that goes by that we don't find her and we don't have news from her, we have to be prepared for the worst scenario."
Bathurst Police have faced repeated questions about why they did not issue an Amber Alert after Madison was reported missing. Roy said the case did not meet all the criteria for such alerts, issued in cases of child abductions, but he would not elaborate.
"I can't specify exactly which one, because that could compromise the integrity of the investigation, but I can tell you that they were not all met," he said.
Meanwhile a community walk has been organized June 5 to show support for Madison's family. Linda Roy, who is a friend of the family, said people will gather in the parking lot of Bathurst High School.
"I've organized the walk for Madison to show the family that our community is standing together strong, and we're all there for them," she said. "Our main goal is to bring Madison home safely to her family."
The walk begins at 1 p.m. and Roy said people are encouraged to make signs and posters. "We are a small town. Stuff like this doesn't happen in our town, and it has spooked everybody," she said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2021.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press