Friday, February 12, 2010
Unknown - January 9, 1953)
Marguerite Pitre had the misfortune of meeting Joseph Albert Guay through her brother, Generoux Ruest, who was an employee of the notorious Mr. Guay.
Joseph Albert Guay was born in Quebec in 1917. As the youngest of 5 children, he was the center of attention. In his youth, he sold watches and jewellery and worked solely on commission. Being the spoiled youngest child of his family, he was used to having his way, so he evolved into a very tenacious successful salesman.
In 1939, at the start of World War II, he got a job at Canadian Arsenals Limited at St. Malo, Quebec. While working there, he met and married Rita Morel. It was a very happy marriage at first, full of love and brimming with joy. Then, Rita gave birth to their first child. The honeymoon was over, for Joseph did not like playing second fiddle to an infant.
He worked at the Canadian Arsenals until the arsenal closed in 1945. That's when he returned to what he knew best and he started a small jewelry and watch repair shop in Quebec City. But business was slow and Joseph struggled to scrape out a living. His debts piled up. His eye began to wander the more his marriage failed.
Then, he met Marie-Ange Robitaille, a very beautiful young waitress. They began dating. She knew him only as Roger Angers. When her father learned of her illicit affair, he kicked her out of the house. Joseph came to her rescue. He proposed to her, ring and all, and with Marguerite's help, set his lover up in a small cozy apartment, even though he was not free to marry. In those days, Quebec was very Catholic and a divorce was out of the question.
Unfortunately, Rita discovered the arrangement and confronted the pair. Marie-Ange immediately left Joseph.
Joseph was furious at Rita. In his ire, he began to plot her death. At first, he considered poison. But then a brilliant idea came to mind. As a jewelery and watch repairman, he had travelled frequently by airplane to deliver or receive merchandise. The easiest way to get rid of his wife, once and for all, was to get her on a plane and then bomb it in mid flight.
Marguerite's brother, Genereux, designed, built, and packaged a timed bomb for Joseph. Joseph convinced Marguerite to deliver the package to Canadian Pacific Airlines where it would be flown to Baie-Comeau, on the same flight as Rita.
On the morning of September 9, 1949, Joseph took Rita to the airport in Quebec City. It was common to purchase flight insurance at the time, so Joseph took out a $10,000 policy on her life.
41 minutes after the flight took to the skies, the plane exploded over Sault-aux-Cochons, a town located at the confluence of little St. Francis River and the St. Lawrence. All 23 persons on board, including Rita, died in the explosion.
Joseph was overjoyed. He was finally free of his wife and had a cool $10,000 in his pocket. Marguerite, however, was horrified at what she had done. She attempted suicide 10 days after the bombing. While in hospital, she confessed to her part in the crime which led to all three being arrested.
Guay was arrested two weeks after the crash. He was tried in 1950. Pitre testified against Guay in his trial, describing how she bought dynamite at his instruction and delivered a “mystery parcel” to the air freight on the doomed plane. Guay lost his trial and was sentenced to hang. After his conviction, he issued a statement, claiming that Ruest and Pitre had knowingly abetted his plans. He executed on January 12, 1951, at the age of 33. His last words were “Au moins, je meurs célèbre.” (At least I die famous).
It was Ruest’s turn to face trial. He too was convicted and sentenced to hang. On the day of his execution on July 25, 1952, he was suffering from osseous turberculosis and had to be brought to the gallows in a wheelchair.
Pitre was the last to face her trial. She described how Guay had made her do it. Pitre insisted, though, that her own involvement was unintentional, and that she thought the box held a statue even though it was her own brother who had fashioned the explosives into a time bomb. She lost and was also sentenced to hang. Thirty-five minutes past midnight on January 9, 1953, Marguerite Pitre became the 13th and last woman executed in Canada. She faced her sentence in Montreal’s Bourdeaux gaol.
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