The Background for my new mystery, CULT
Here are three accounts of the sensational murder/suicides that took place in a Montreal suburb in 1994
There were five, not two deaths, including an infant. It all occurred on the same day as similar events in Switzerland took place on a much larger scale. Then in 1997, another occurred in the Montreal suburb of ST. Casimir. - RWB
Quebec Fire Kills 2; Linked to Cult in Switzerland
By CLYDE FARNSWORTH,
Oct. 6, 1994
MORIN HEIGHTS, Quebec, Oct. 5— A fire at a luxurious chalet complex took the lives today of a man and woman who are believed to be members of the Order of the Solar Temple, the sect associated with a mass killing and suicide at two sites in Switzerland, the police said.
Officials in this Laurentian mountain village, 50 miles northwest of Montreal, said the two chalets that burned here were connected by a walkway and that one was owned by the sect's founder, Luc Jouret.
Mr. Jouret left Quebec after pleading guilty in July 1993 to possession of illegal weapons and conspiracy. A judge decided that Mr. Jouret had acquired a gun in self-defense, put him on probation for a year and ordered him to donate $1,000 to the Red Cross.
The two victims in Canada wore red and gold medallions around their necks with the initials T. S., assumed to be the initials for Temple Solaire, or Solar Temple in English. The medals also bore a double-headed eagle and an inscription invoking the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The second chalet belonged to Joseph Di Mambro, 70, a member of the sect, a spokesman for the Quebec provincial police, Michel Brunet, said in Montreal.
Mr. Brunet said the two bodies were badly burned and had not been identified. But preliminary reports from the autopsy indicated that the male victim was about 40, the police said, and that the victims were alive when the fire started.
The police estimate that some 50 to 75 members of the sect live in Montreal, Quebec City, Sherbrooke and other towns in Quebec Province. Mr. Brunet said that the authorities had "checked to make sure the people were alive."
The fire seemed to have been started in a manner similar to those that killed 48 in Switzerland, the police spokesman said.
Electrical wires in the two chalets were linked to tanks of gasoline, Mr. Brunet said. The fire may have been triggered by a connection to a telephone, which would have emitted an electric charge when it rang.
The two cone-shaped chalets were built about four years ago on a quiet hillside behind the town center on a street called Chemin du Paysan.
People in Morin Heights, which is a ski resort in the winter and a getaway for wealthy Montrealers in the summer, were startled by the fire and deaths.
"I couldn't believe it," said Luc Labelle, 28, who was cleaning out a pickup truck in a driveway of his mother's home, across the street from the chalets. He said he had not met either of the two chalet owners and knew nothing about them.
But the sect has long been known to the Quebec police and to the province's biggest public utility, the electric power company Hydro Quebec. At least 15 employees of Hydro Quebec had links with the Solar Temple or an offshoot, the Academy for Research and Knowledge of Advanced Science, the utility said.
The utility management asked its auditor general to open an internal investigation last year after one employee and sect member, Jean-Pierre Vinet, was arrested and charged with conspiring to buy firearms equipped with silencers.
The police said they believed the sect required weapons to protect its members "against a soon-to-come apocalypse."
The investigation found that Mr. Jouret had used Hydro Quebec's offices for meetings in which he addressed from 10 to 50 employees on such topics as "The Meaning of Life, Self-Realization and Management and the Manager's Health."
Joseph A. Harriss
Mon, 01 Dec 1997 14:09 UTC
No one has been able to explain satisfactorily why more than 70 members of the predatory Order of the Solar Temple have been killed, or where millions of dollars have gone
The muscular man who landed at Montreal's Mirabel airport on Swissair Flight 138 from Zurich had little time to admire the glorious fall foliage in Canada's Laurentian hills. Joel Egger, a fanatical 34-year-old Swiss member of the secret Order of the Solar Temple, headed straight for a green chalet in nearby Morin Heights to rendezvous with Jerry and Colette Genoud, a Swiss couple who had moved to Quebec six weeks earlier, and Dominique Bellaton, mother of the Order's Cosmic Child, supposed to be a new Christ.
The next day, September 30, 1994, Nicky and Tony Dutoit arrived at the chalet with their infant son. Nicky, a cheerful British woman who used to make ceremonial capes for the Order, and Tony, a Swiss craftsman who served as general handyman, had left the cult three years before. But they still liked to see their old friend Bellaton.
Egger lured Tony to the basement. When Tony reached the dark bottom of the stairs, Egger grabbed a baseball bat and swung it viciously, crushing Tony's skull. Then Egger took a kitchen knife and cut Tony's throat from ear to ear. Again he plunged the knife into Tony--50 times in all.
Then he went upstairs where he and Jerry Genoud ritualistically stabbed Nicky to death, then killed the three-month-old baby, whom the cult's leaders had designated the Antichrist, gouging his chest 20 times. Before leaving for Zurich, Egger and Bellaton placed a wooden stake on the infant's multilated body.
Jerry and Colette Genoud cleaned the chalet thoroughly, then hooked timers to an ignition system connected to containers of gasoline. The Genouds died when the chalet burned on October 4.
Reuters, April 26, 1999
By Patrick WhiteQUEBEC CITY -
Quebec police were stunned in March 1997 when five Solar Temple members committed suicide at their retreat in St. Casimir, a village west of Quebec City, the provincial capital. After three earlier mass suicides, police had thought Solar Temple had run its course.
Rebirth on a star
Members of the Solar Temple order believe that "death voyages" by ritualized suicide lead to rebirth on a star called "Sirius." They think the world will end in fire and that they must die by burning in order to reach the afterworld.
This recent review from the MILITARY WRITERS SOCIETY of AMERICA was a welcome addition to those already received.
Author: Richard Whitten Barnes
Reviewer: Joe Epley
Category: Historical Fiction
Enemies share similar perspectives of war, but with an interesting twist.
Vivid memories of the World War I trenches flooded Jurgen Stern as he glanced at drawings
found in an Ottawa hotel in 1968. Some of the scenes were from the battlefields where he fought
long ago. Stern traced the owner of the drawings to a former Canadian soldier, Brian MacLennan , now
like Stern, an old grandfather.
They fought against each other in the same battles, yet had not met. But one of the drawings
compelled Stern to track down MacLennan and solve a 50-year-old mystery that had caused the
German to hold on to a postcard size portrait sketched on the back of a map that he took from
Canadian soldier. The rendering was identical to one in MacLennan 's portfolio.
Enemies follows both men as teenagers who matured quickly in their first minutes of combat.
Through them, author Richard Whitten Barnes brings alive the fear, sounds, smells, and horrors of
trench warfare. The reader experiences the emotional and physical strains on the young soldiers as
they watch friends die and become maimed in horrific ways. They both pine for a special girl back
home as they try to sleep in water clogged craters. Through these up close and personal experiences,
which are written in a well-balanced narrative, the reader has a realistic view of the “War to end all
Wars” from the perspective of privates and junior NCOs.
Through all this is an intricately woven plot that comes to light as the two old veterans meet
for the first time and discuss the drawings. They quickly form a friendship that takes the story to a
surprising and heartwarming climax.
I recommend this fast-paced book.
I am happy to feature Robyn Echols who is one of the eight authors in a very interesting WW2 anthology of historical fiction in that era.
This book is available at:
Amazon USA | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon AU
Nook | iTunes | Kobo | !Indigo | Books2Read
Robyn Echols has been writing since she was in elementary school. By choice, she spent most of her evening hours in her "dungeon", as her mother called her downstairs bedroom, writing stories, coming upstairs to join her family in front of the television only when her favorite program, "Robin Hood", was playing.
She has spent hours learning and teaching family history research topics, and focuses on history from a genealogist's perspective of seeking out the details of everyday life in the past. Several of her family history articles have been published in genealogy magazines.
Robyn also gives family history presentations to local genealogical societies in the Central California area. In addition to her novels written under her own name, Robyn also writes under the pen name of ZINA ABBOTT.
Robyn lives with her husband near the Gateway to Yosemite in the Central Valley of California where she enjoys writing novels and quilting.
In 1917 the French were planning a major offensive near the northern town of Arras. To succeed, the high ground to their left around the town of Vimy would have to be secured or they would be in peril of being cut down by enfilade fire from German artillery. But there was a problem. The British had tried several times to take this strategic ridge and failed. The task was considered by some to be impossible.
Not to be dissuaded, Canadian Expeditionary Force accepted the task Their success would hinge on these innovations:
Although tunneling had been used by the British in previous campaigns, the Canadians dug tunnels from far back of the lines in order to transfer men and equipment to the trenches out of sight of the enemy.
The Creeping Barrage
Through meticulous training, the Canadian troops were taught to walk, not run, advancing behind a creeping line of artillery explosions calculated to keep the enemy in their bunkers until they were surrounded.
Intermediate objectives were given the troops. When one was gained, the troops would hold, letting fresh soldiers forge ahead to the next.
Individual Battle Maps
An unprecedented tactic was to give each soldier a map of the objectives and land marks in his sector. This was especially valuable when a leader was killed or wounded. The practice was a great success, and would be used in later campaigns
By the end of the first day, April 9, the majority of the ridge had been taken, satisfying most of the French concerns. To hold the Ridge, the Northern sector near the town of Givenchy would have to be taken. It finally fell on April 12.
The Canadian Corps suffered 10,602 casualties: 3,598 killed and 7,004 wounded; a terrible price to pay.
It was the first instance in which all four Canadian divisions, made up of troops drawn from all parts of the country, fought as a cohesive formation. This feat of national unity and achievement gives the battle justifiable importance for Canada.
In march of 1918, after a ceasefire with the Russians on the eastern front, the German Army shifted several divisions to the west and made an all-out rush for Paris Amiens, and the English Channel.
Here is an excerpt from ENEMIES:
March 19, 1918
Near St. Quentin, France
The defeat at Passchendaele was devastating, not only for Jürgen’s regiment, but the whole of Germany’s northern divisions. The 238th Infantry Battalion suffered more than fifty percent casualties. They were rested in a village east of Rouelers for a week, then entrained for the one hundred-fifty mile trip south to St. Benoite, a small town near St. Quentin. There they trained with replacements whose numbers were yet insufficient to produce a full regimental complement. What would have added up to shattered morale was buoyed by the news of victory on the Russian front.
Second Platoon had a new leader, Heinrich Lutz, a newly commissioned 2d Lieutenant, or feldweblelleutnant. Jürgen did not envy this man, not much older than himself. The army was massing for something big, and Lutz would be thrown into the thick of it. That his own new role of gefreiter increased his peril hadn’t hit home.
The code word “Michael” was rumored to be the big offensive that would drive the German army through to the English Channel, Paris, and victory. The official name heard was Kaiserschlacht, the Emperor’s Battle. After years of stalemate and false hopes, the thought was exhilarating.
Tonight they were enjoying sausage for dinner. It was the first real meal they’d known since Rouelers. Tomorrow, they were told, they would march to the line. That meant the attack would probably be the following morning. Earlier in the day, Jürgen had seen more artillery being put in place than ever before. It seemed the predictions of something big happening were coming true.
They would be part of the 18th Army, whose main objective was the city of Amiens, the major transportation center for the Allies. Everything traveling north and south went through Amiens.
~ * ~
From St. Benoite it was only a 5km march to Grugies, a tiny crossroads that had been a village before having the bad luck to be located yards from the front lines of The Great War. There was not a single building standing. The weather had reversed itself from a promising spring day to an overcast, cold mist.
They arrived at the trenches around 6 PM, having had only a modest breakfast of oatmeal doled out by a humorless mess staff. Dinner would be making do with their own rations. One of the new replacements, tall with curly brown hair, had a fire started with scarce firewood he had somehow wangled. He was holding an open can over the small flame. Jürgen was impressed with this clever conscript from Bremen. His name was Feldenhauer. What caught Jürgen’s attention was the man’s quiet acceptance; making the best of any situation. The fire was an example.
“Mind if I share, Feldenhauer?”
“Of course, Gefreiter.”
“Jürgen is fine. I haven’t really earned the title.”
Feldenhauer smiled. “Rudi.”
Jürgen held his open can of pork over the flame. Soon the fat sizzled, making the usually unpalatable contents smell surprisingly good.
“Where’s your home, Rudi?”
“Really?” Jürgen enthused. “I’m from a Neuhaus, just south of Cuxhaven; so close to Bremen, but I’ve never had the chance to go there.”
“Why the interest in Bremen? Hamburg is just as close, and more interesting.”
“Why, the competitions, of course!”
Feldenhauer frowned, shook his head. “Competitions?”
“Your Shützenfest! One of the best in Germany. What an honor to win there!”
Feldenhauer made a wry smile. “I suppose,” he said, but let the subject drop.
They watched the flames and ate their warmed rations.
“You have a trade, Rudi?”
“I worked at the brewery!”
Jürgen could see a spark of enthusiasm in his answer. “The Braueri Beck?”
“None other. I’m there three years. I’ll make it my career if I live through this. How about you?”
The question bothered Jürgen. He’d asked it of himself many times, wondering if he was good at anything besides shooting at targets. “I’ve no idea. More schooling is what I need, if I could find a way to pay for it. That isn’t likely. I’ll probably wind up working on the Oste, or if I’m lucky, the Elbe ferry.”
Feldenhauer waited a bit before saying, “If I wanted something, I wouldn’t let anything stop me. You only have one life. You have the power to either grab it, or accept what the world hands you. Figure out a way to go to whatever school you want.”
Jürgen supposed he was right. Wise words, but hard to put into practice.
“Frightened about tomorrow, Rudi?”
“Apprehensive,” he replied. “Too green to be scared. You?” Jürgen searched for something clever to put Feldenhauer at ease, but failed. "We have hundreds of thousands of men from seventy-two divisions ready to attack an unsuspecting enemy…but yes…yes, Rudi. I’m scared."
Jürgen searched for something clever to put Feldenhauer at ease, but failed. “We have hundreds of thousands of men from seventy-two divisions ready to attack an unsuspecting enemy…but yes…yes, Rudi. I’m scared.”
Wishing a Happy Holiday season to all.
Here's a WW1 Christmas story
The Great War in Belgium, 1914: