LEVIS, Que. — Hours after an emotional funeral for two Quebec sisters found dead following an Amber Alert earlier this month, provincial police announced they believed they'd found the body of their missing father.
Police said in a social media post late Monday that they found a body believed to be Martin Carpentier in the area of St-Apollinaire, Que., southwest of Quebec City, where they'd searched for 10 days before suspending the hunt Saturday.
They said the body was located at 7 p.m. local time, following information they had received from a citizen.
Police said it appears that Carpentier took his own life, but the force added it would only comment further in the coming days.
The discovery comes 12 days after Carpentier and his daughters were involved in a car crash on the evening of July 8 in St-Apollinaire, but nobody was inside the vehicle when responders reached the scene.
An Amber Alert was triggered the next day, but lifted on July 11 when the bodies of Norah, 11, and Romy, 6, were found in the woods in the same town.
Police have said autopsies have been conducted on the girls, but wouldn't reveal the cause of death until Carpentier was found.
Earlier Monday, Norah and Romy Carpentier were described by their mother, Amelie Lemieux, as pure and gentle souls at an emotional service.
"Thank you for choosing me to be your mother, a privilege that was priceless," Lemieux said, reading from a letter she wrote to her two little girls.
"Even if I didn't have enough time by your side, I will continue to cherish, one by one, each memory, photo, video and continue to hear your soft voices call me 'maman'," Lemieux said through tears.
"I love you madly."
The girls were remembered fondly — Romy, the clown who wanted to do it all and Norah, the ingenious artist who dreamed of being a video game designer. Each family member, beginning with Lemieux, put a rose in a vase near photos of the sisters — a symbolic gesture as both girls had "Rose" as a middle name.
The funeral in the girls' hometown of Levis, Que., was limited to family due to COVID-19 concerns, but hundreds gathered outside to watch the ceremony on giant screens. Afterwards, two doves were released into the afternoon sky.
Marie-Pierre Genois, a friend of Lemieux's since high school, stood in the intense noon sun, waiting to give condolences. "It's to support her," Genois said. "It's a terrible ordeal, so it's important for me to be here for her."
Judith Gagnon also knew Lemieux and the girls. She said they'd spent time together during the Christmas holiday. "There is no answer to all of this," Gagnon said outside the funeral complex. "It is a tragedy that we will have to live through for years, that we will have in our hearts."
Nearby, a man chimed in: "I hope that justice will be done."
The family posted a message on the funeral home's website thanking police, emergency responders and volunteers who searched for the sisters.
Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, a well-known victims' rights advocate in Quebec, said comforting the young girls' mother brought back the pain he felt when his daughter, Julie, was killed in 2002. He lost his other daughter, Isabelle, in a car crash in 2005.
Boisvenu said he came to the funeral to give the family hope.
"I just wanted to tell them yes, it's possible to rebuild themselves, it's possible to have dreams," Boisvenu said.
Gilles Lehouillier, mayor of Levis, said the city plans to install a plaque honouring the sisters in a park where locals had turned a gazebo into a makeshift memorial after their deaths.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2020.
— with files from Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal
Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press