Quebec couple’s deaths in Florida being treated as double homicide

A Quebec couple was found dead inside their mobile home in Pompano Beach, Fla., on Friday evening and local authorities are treating the case as a double homicide.

Marc Gagné, 80, and Rita Fortin, 78, were from Saint-Côme-Linière, Que., about 100 kilometres southeast of Quebec City.

Neighbours, worried about the couple’s absence after a few days, went to their mobile home to check in and found the door unlocked. Once inside, they discovered the lifeless bodies and contacted emergency services.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. Keyla Concepcion, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, told CBC on Sunday there is no new information to report.

Police are not saying if there are any suspects.

Monique Fortin, Rita’s sister, told Radio-Canada she last spoke with her by phone on Tuesday and that “she was in a good mood.” She said things were fine as far as she could tell.

Neighbour last saw Gagné on Tuesday

Robert Forest, originally from Burlington, Ont., lives next door to the couple’s Florida home. He said the last time he saw Gagné was on Tuesday, when he was outside his home raking leaves.

“We chatted and laughed,” said Forest

He was a friend of the couple, he added, despite the language barrier. “They didn’t speak much English and I don’t speak a lot of French, but we’ve been neighbours for 21 years,” he said.

On Wednesday, another couple from the neighbourhood, also friends with the deceased, stopped by and told Forest they were looking for Gagné and Fortin. They said they had been trying to phone Gagné, but weren’t getting an answer.

“It was a Wednesday afternoon. They stopped by here to see, and I said, ‘no, we hadn’t seen anybody,'” he said.

“And I knew they had some friends in, probably on Sunday, because they were laughing and having fun in the back. I haven’t seen them, except for Marc on Tuesday, after that.”

‘There was lots of blood’

Neighbours thought the couple may have gone to visit relatives nearby. But by Friday, they decided it was time to check on them. They found the screen door open and main entrance unlocked. A friend of the couple decided to go in while her husband and Forest waited outside.

“She yelled and came running out and said, ‘I think there’s somebody on the floor,'” he recounted.

Forest then went in and said he found Gagné on the floor, just partly out of his bedroom, and Fortin was down the hall.

“There was lots of blood,” he said, his voice shaking during the phone interview. “It’s just so, so sad that it could happen to them.”

Police have been on the scene ever since, he said.

Quiet mobile-home park

Gagné and Fortin have lived in the neighbourhood for about four decades, Forest estimated.

He said he has no idea what would have been the motivation behind the homicides.

“We did not hear anything and that bothers me. We are right next door.”

The couple’s daughter died in February, he said, and they were trying to sell the mobile home.

The Golf View Estates mobile home park is usually quiet, said Forest, and there are many English- and French-speaking Canadians living in the community.

“It’s just such a surprise,”  he said.

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact the Broward County Sheriff’s Office at 954-321-4262.

Pompano Beach is a community of more than 110,000 located just north of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. It is a popular destination for Canadian retirees looking to escape the cold.

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