SALABERRY-DE-VALLEYFIELD, Que. — A Quebec man whose wife vanished nearly four years ago is now charged with first-degree murder in her death.
An emotionless Paul Laplante appeared briefly before a judge at a courthouse near Montreal where he was formally accused Wednesday of killing his spouse, Diane Gregoire.
The charges come 47 months after he reported Gregoire missing.
Laplante, 54, has been ordered to remain in custody and is forbidden from talking to three people — including the couple’s two children.
He did not enter a plea during the appearance but his lawyer indicated following his arrest that Laplante intends to fight the charge.
Family and curious onlookers gathered for the arraignment of Laplante, who is a former mayor in another small town.
It was Laplante who initially reported Gregoire missing in January 2008 from the parking lot of a suburban shopping mall.
Gregoire’s skeletal remains were finally found last month, in a densely wooded area off a highway in Coteau-du-Lac, not far from the Ontario border.
Laplante was arrested Tuesday by Quebec provincial police.
Police say Laplante was the last person who reported seeing her in the parking lot in St. Bruno, south of Montreal. Laplante told police in 2008 he left Gregoire in the car and went inside to have breakfast.
He said she never joined him in the shopping centre as agreed. The 51-year-old woman was never seen again.
In the months that followed, volunteers searched different areas for signs of the missing woman. Posters of the woman were circulated widely across the province.