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Bridgewater mayor shocked by murder charge

Emotions running high as some feel betrayed by accused mom
by Lisa Brown

 BRIDGEWATER - Bridgewater's mayor says he was shocked to learn that Karissa Boudreau's mother had been charged with her murder.

 "I can't comprehend the whole idea of a mother being charged with the homicide of their child. Every mother I know certainly thinks more of their children than anything in the world and would put their life down for them, never mind murder them," Carroll Publicover says.

 "I found that really hard to accept."

 The mayor received word that investigators had charged Penny Boudreau with her daughter's murder about an hour before it was announced to the media on June 14.

 While the 33-year-old mother merely stands charged and has not been convicted of any crime, Mayor Publicover is aware that police believe they have a strong case.

 The Bridgewater Police Service and the RCMP jointly investigated the girl's killing for four months, from the day her body was found just outside town limits in Conquerall Bank on February 9. At times, more than 20 investigators were working on the case.

 There was immense public pressure to complete the investigation and lay charges, but police repeated again and again that they intended to take their time to ensure the integrity of the murder probe.

 "Certainly, the Crown feels and the police feel that they have sufficient evidence to lead to a conviction," the mayor says.

 Ms Boudreau's arrest has sparked a number of emotions for people in and around the town. For some, there's a sense of relief that the investigation has ended, that someone has been charged with the crime and that, as police said all along, parents don't need to worry for the safety of their children.

 For others, the emotions are more complicated.

 "The people who really were there for Penny and supported her emotionally and financially and otherwise feel a little bit betrayed, I think, and angry, and I can understand that emotion," Mayor Publicover says. "Then there are those who are simply like I am - just in a state of dismay and disbelief."

 More than 100 people turned up at the Bridgewater courthouse for Ms Boudreau's arraignment on June 16. They packed the courtroom and stood outside the building. Some jeered, called her names and shouted obscenities as she left in handcuffs with deputy sheriffs to return to the Burnside correctional centre.

 That type of behaviour is not typically seen in the town. The mayor attributes it to the high emotion associated with the case. People took 12-year-old Karissa into their hearts, searched and prayed for her after her mother reported her missing in late January. Many felt the pain expressed by her family.

 "I understand the emotions that went along with that behaviour. I don't condone it, but I think I understand it," Mayor Publicover says.

 While it's been suggested by some that Bridgewater has somehow grown up as a community or lost its innocence through the Boudreau homicide, the mayor disagrees.

 "I still see us as small-town Nova Scotia - a safe, secure, high-quality-of-life community where people reside because of all the things it has. It has a quiet style of life, it has all the amenities that families look for, it has a good school system, good community values, low crime rate, all those things that are very, very important," the mayor says.

 "I certainly believe we have a safe community. That was an isolated case."

 The last homicide in the town happened in 1992 when musician JosephLaurendeau, 41, was stabbed to death. Charles Zwicker was charged with murder, but later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

 Ms Boudreau is due back in Bridgewater provincial court June 24. She faces a single count of first-degree murder, which means police believe her daughter's killing was planned and deliberate.

posted on 06/24/08
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