Who killed Leo Lamontagne?
It’s a mystery Winnipeg police have been wrestling with for the past 63 years, but thanks to a new “Unsolved Manitoba Mysteries” campaign from the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police and Winnipeg Crime Stoppers, it’s back in the public eye.
The cold case began in September 1957, when Lamontagne, 19, was killed while working the night shift at a St. Boniface gas station, with robbery being the apparent motive.
Det. Sgt. Tom Mackay, the police co-ordinator for Winnipeg Crime Stoppers, told 680 CJOB that there’s still a chance the murder can be solved if the right information is still out there.
“During that time, I’m sure they investigated every lead that they had, however they were unsuccessful with coming up with a suspect,” Mackay said.
“They did, however, manage to release a description of the person they thought might be responsible or even involved with the crime.”
That description, police hope, will trigger some memories that will help solve the case, despite the likelihood that the alleged killer — described as being in his 30s at the time — has also died in the years since.
“What we’d be looking for in a situation like this — considering how much time has passed — is that maybe someone is holding a bit of information that they wanted to take to the grave, but maybe an attack of conscience has motivated them to come forward and talk about what they do know,” said Mackay.
“Even with that amount of time, it’s still incumbent on us to do everything we can. We owe it to the community, we owe it to the victim’s family — it’s just what we’re here to do. ”
The details of the case, as it’s remembered today, are as follows: Lamontagne was working overnight at The Hub Service Station, then located at Provencher Boulevard and Tache Street.
Around 2:30 a.m., two young men drove up to the station for gas, and a man — not Lamontagne — told them the pumps were closed and that they were busy washing cars inside. Then he watched the youths drive away from inside the office.
About two hours later, a beat cop stopped in at the station and found Lamontagne unconscious, with a large pool of blood nearby. He was taken to St. Boniface Hospital, where he died four days later.
Police found a bloody iron bar and evidence that Lamontagne had been attacked from behind with three blows to the back of the head.
Investigators at the time believed the unknown man who sent the car away at 2:30 was responsible for the crime.
He was described as a man in his 30s, about five feet eight inches tall and well-built with light brown hair. At the time, he was wearing a beige or khaki shirt and matching pants. To this day, he’s never been identified.
A light blue 1946 or ’47 Dodge or Plymouth sedan, spotted by a passing taxi driver, may have belonged to the killer or killers.
Just over $16 in gas was stolen, as well as $72 in cash from the till.
“Even factoring in the times, where the dollar was even worth more back then… still not worth the taking of another’s life,” said Mackay.
Anyone with information about the cold case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477), or 1-800-222-8477 outside of Winnipeg.
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