MONTREAL — The Quebec provincial police's four-year-old expanded cold case squad logged its first victory on Thursday after a man was formally charged in a 22-year-old murder and a separate, violent sexual assault.
Marc-André Grenon is facing charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault in connection with two separate cases against female students dating back 2000.
Grenon appeared by videoconference in Chicoutimi, Que., about 215 kilometres north of Quebec City, to be charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault in connection with the murder of Guylaine Potvin, a 19-year-old junior college student found dead in her apartment in Jonquière, Que.
Crown prosecutor Pierre-Alexandre Bernard said Grenon, of Granby, Que., east of Montreal, was also charged with the attempted murder and sexual assault of another woman who was violently assaulted and left for dead in Quebec City just months later. A publication ban protects the identity of the victim, who survived the assault.
Quebec provincial police confirmed Thursday that Grenon's arrest is the first since the force's cold case squad was beefed up in 2018.
The provincial police force announced that year that it was increasing its cold case squad from five officers to nearly 30 in order to tackle hundreds of murders and suspected murders dating back to the 1960s, but as of this summer they had yet to solve a single one.
On Wednesday, Potvin's case summary on the cold case website was updated to add the word "resolved."
Family members of unsolved murder victims told The Canadian Press this summer that they felt the police weren't taking a proactive approach to their cases, and questioned whether investigators were fully making use of advances in DNA technology that have worked to solve cold cases in the United States and elsewhere.
In a statement on Wednesday, provincial police praised the work of investigators in the cold case division and the forensic science laboratory and "the innovative methods used today in forensic biology" that allowed for an arrest. They did not provide details, however, on which techniques were used.
Potvin, 19, was found dead on April 28, 2000, in her apartment in Jonquière, now a borough of Saguenay, Que., north of Quebec City. She lived with two female roommates, also students, who were not home when the killing took place inside their Panet Street residence.
Police say their investigation into Potvin's murder turned up similarities with the Quebec City case in July of the same year, in which a female student, living alone, was assaulted.
More than two decades later, Quebec provincial police arrested Grenon on Wednesday.
Bernard said he will remain detained until his case returns to court Nov. 21.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2022.
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press