CF closes book on officer’s suicide, but troubling questions persist

The Canadian Forces quietly closed the book earlier this year on the case of Maj. Michelle Mendes and officially ruled the rising military star’s death a suicide.

Major Michelle Mendes

Major Michelle Mendes

OTTAWA — The Canadian Forces quietly closed the book earlier this year on the case of Maj. Michelle Mendes and officially ruled the rising military star’s death a suicide.

But a number of troubling questions remain unanswered in the wake of the military police investigation, most notably what prompted the 30-year-old intelligence officer to take her own life just days after arriving at Kandahar airfield in April 2009.

The report, obtained by The Canadian Press through access to information, was prepared by the provost marshal’s office and dated March 1, 2010.

It ruled out foul play and concluded her death was the result of a self-inflicted gunshot.

Maj. Paule Poulin said the military deliberately chose not to announce the investigation was completed — or the conclusion — out of respect for the woman’s family.

She added that military police presented facts, based upon witness statements, but did not render any opinions on the young intelligence officer’s motivation.

The heavily censored report chronicled witness accounts of Mendes’ final days as she prepared to take over as the senior Canadian officer at the Kandahar Intelligence Fusion Centre, which is mandated to supply combat forces with battlefield intelligence on the Taliban.