No suspects leading up to Leblanc funeral

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/08/30/no-suspects-leading-up-to-leblanc-funeral

Despite having no suspects, Gatineau’s police chief is confident his squad will find Valerie Leblanc’s killer.

“There is a lot of work that has been done since day one,” chief Mario Harel said during a press conference at Gatineau city hall Tuesday.

“We are investigating each lead.”

Police set up a command post at the college Tuesday, hoping to score more leads, and Harel is asking the public to keep the tips coming in.

No arrests have been made after Leblanc, 18, was found beaten and burned in the woods behind the CEGEP de l’Outaouais campus Aug. 23.

The Gatineau squad is partnering with Quebec provincial police and Ottawa police as they tackle the city’s first homicide of the year.

The news of no arrest provides little comfort for Huguette Leblanc, Valerie’s grandmother, as she prepares for the Aug. 31 funeral.

“We have lots of crying to do,” she said, explaining the family hasn’t had a chance to properly grieve.

“When you lose somebody, you’re in sorrow. You live that, you know, the pain.”

Leblanc told the Sun she’s thankful journalists have been “respectful” when contacting her family.

When the phone rings and a reporter is at the other end, “each time it’s like a knife that goes through the heart,” she said, crying.

“We need you too, for information.”

News of Valerie’s murder has spread as far as Europe.

“We have a lot of comfort from people all around the world,” she said.

A blow to the head killed Leblanc but cops say her body was tampered with afterward.

That interference has compromised the investigation, leading to a separate case where charges of causing an indignity to a human body and obstructing the work of a police officer are pending against four people.

Right now, “we are focusing on the murder investigation,” said Harel, also reiterating his “sincere condolences” to the Leblanc family.

Last week, there were reports Leblanc’s slaying may be linked to three attempted abductions of young women in June but that notion was dismissed by cops Monday.

Harel said he’s certain his experienced team will catch a break.

Anyone with information can get in touch with police via a Facebook page called “Service de police de la Ville de Gatineau,” or the hotline (819) 243-2346 ext. 6677.

Leblanc’s funeral is at Cathédrale Saint-Joseph in Hull at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

@ottawasunkroche

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