Just two weeks before the bodies of Louise Caissie and her seven-year-old daughter were discovered in a Rothesay apartment, Caissie failed to attend a custody hearing in Saint John, family court documents reveal.
Caissie's estranged husband, Marcel Laflamme, a lawyer who used to practise in New Brunswick and now lives in Kamloops, B.C., was seeking unsupervised access to their daughter, Solange.
The trial was scheduled to last four days in Court of Queen's Bench, starting Dec. 16.
"Mrs. Caissie never showed up," Laflamme's Bathurst-based lawyer, Martin Siscoe, confirmed.
The bodies of Caissie, 43, and Solange were discovered in an apartment at 11 Sierra Ave. on Monday around 10 a.m.
The Kennebecasis Regional Police Force said Thursday its investigation determined the little girl's death was the result of a homicide and the mother's death was the result of a self-inflicted injury.
Homicide is an umbrella term that includes first-degree murder, second-degree murder, as well as the lesser offence of manslaughter, which is committed without intent.
"I have no insight at all," said Siscoe. "I can't understand and I don't think anybody can understand why somebody would take the life of their child."
Neighbours told CBC News they had noticed a foul odour in the hallway for several days before the bodies were discovered.
No red flags
Caissie's mental health was never at issue in the court proceedings, he said. There were no red flags. "None."
Siscoe said the judge called Caissie on Dec. 16 from the courtroom, "which is unheard of."
Usually a sheriff or the clerk will call, he said, but the judge called and left a voicemail message for Caissie, who was a lawyer and representing herself in the proceedings.
By 1:30 p.m., when Caissie still hadn't arrived, the trial proceeded without her, he said.
Caissie, who had full custody of Solange since the couple separated around 2014-15, maintained full custody.
Laflamme, 63, never challenged that, said Siscoe, who has known him for years.
But Justice Chantal Daigle granted Laflamme unsupervised access to Solange during specific times, including summer months, Christmas vacation and every second March break.
In the second year, she would have been allowed to travel outside New Brunswick.
Laflamme, who had been looking forward to seeing his daughter more often, was making arrangements Friday to collect her ashes, said Siscoe.
"Mr. Laflamme is in a difficult situation at this present time, and I've spoken to him and right at this moment he's just asking that his privacy be respected," he said.
"Let him do what he has to do to get through this situation."
Caissie's former lawyer, Rita Godin, declined to comment, citing confidentiality.
Although no charges are expected in the case, police continue to investigate and are seeking information from the public.
Autopsies have been completed, but the causes of death have not been released.
The exact times of death have not yet been determined.
Caissie and Laflamme married in Massena, N.Y., in 2012, court documents show.
They lived together in Quebec and Ontario before moving to New Brunswick.