Authorities in Sherbrooke, Que., held a press conference Thursday after a gruesome discovery last week shocked the community.
A woman’s burnt remains were mistaken for a mannequin last Friday and disposed of in a dumpster at the Sherbrooke police station.
The director of the police service, Danny McConnell, said the events of July 23 began with a 911 call just after 10 a.m. for a small brush fire behind a factory on Cabana Street.
As firefighters arrived on the scene, witnesses reported that someone had come to burn a “silicone mannequin,” McConnell said.
By 10:15 a.m. firefighters called on police for assistance.
“They mentioned that a fire residue resembling a burnt mannequin was located near the woods,” McConnell said.
After conferring with each other, it was agreed the mannequin should be disposed of in an outdoor dumpster located at the police station, which is inaccessible to the public.
“At 10:45 a.m. firefighters arrived in the parking of the SPS and put the supposed mannequin in the container,” McConnell recounted.
Four hours later, a man called in to signal the disappearance of his partner prompting a police investigation into the missing woman.
A vehicle was located on Cabana Street near the site of the fire thanks to a cell signal from the woman’s phone.
McConnell said an officer who responded to the fire noted there might be a link to the mannequin fire. In a bid to shed light on the matter, a decision was made to recover the “supposed mannequin.”
After examining the remains, officers confirmed it was indeed the body of the missing woman.
An investigation is underway to determine the circumstances leading to the woman’s death.
Stéphane Simoneau, director of the Sherbrooke fire department, expressed his condolences to the family of the dead woman, including her partner and children.
He said the discovery has left first responders reeling.
“I am pretty stunned with the news and I could say my whole team, the entire force, the first responders in the intervention are in shock,” he said adding the mental wellbeing of the team is a top priority as the process all sorts of emotions.
A makeshift memorial has begun to appear near the site where the woman’s burnt remains were first discovered.