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Curtis Dagenais

Curtis DagenaisWhile he was the subject of a nation-wide manhunt, and before he surrendered himself to the police in Spiritwood, Curtis Dagenais was the target of widespread media character assassination, largely driven by the RCMP (see article on why RCMP believe the public has no right to know about how they do their jobs). The local media, once again, slavishly took RCMP media releases as fully truthful and factual during the days leading up to the funerals for the two slain officers.

It seemed unseemly then -- and perhaps some would say that it still is today -- to ask where the third police officer has been transferred to, and, more importantly, why were these inexperienced officers engaged in a high speed chase in the first place?

The arrest of Curtis Dagenais' father seems to have been a further police action to intimidate and shut up someone who could give another side to this story, the immediate episodes of which arose from a family dispure. In the meantime Athur Dagenais ex-wife Elsie and daughter Grace have been given full freedom to spin their own version.

According to the letter Curtis wrote while he was on the run, and reading between the lines, it would appear that these two had previously conspired to have the father falsely charged with sexual offences. (letter in right column.)

Betty Ann Adam has recently been investigating this story and writing good reports.


Rocky relationship with police

SPIRITWOOD, SK - With two RCMP cruisers in hot pursuit, Curtis Dagenais tearfully called his dad on his cellphone from his old truck and told him he didn't think he could outrun them, court heard yesterday.

A short time later, the chase ended in a gun battle that left two officers with serious gunshot wounds while 41-year-old Dagenais, clad in a T-shirt and cut-off shorts, fled into the bush with a long-barrelled weapon.

The information came out yesterday in court in North Battleford, Sask., where Arthur Dagenais, the 69-year-old father of the fugitive, appeared on a charge of obstructing justice.

The search for Curtis Dagenais entered its fifth day yesterday in the bush and pasture land south of Mildred, just east of Spiritwood.

Crown prosecutor Jim Taylor told court that Arthur Dagenais defied a police order to stay away from the restricted search area, which is near his home.

Court also heard that police found two firearms and $27,000 in cash hidden in a combine on the elder Dagenais's farm, and that he has a history of hatred against police.

That has led to an additional charge laid against Dagenais of possession of an unregistered .22-calibre rifle.

"This is one small part of the overall investigation, but you begin to understand the complexities and the challenges that our officers face both in the investigation into the shooting and the attempted murder charge and also the challenges in attempting to locate Mr. Dagenais," RCMP spokesman Sgt. Brian Jones said later.

The senior Dagenais sobbed in court as his lawyer, Lori Gollan, described his and Curtis's rocky relationship with police.

The Crown is opposing bail, saying they're concerned Dagenais may try to help his son evade capture.

Taylor said the $27,000 and firearms were locked in an old combine in a culvert. Gollan said Dagenais does not use banks, but uses the combine as his safety deposit box instead.

Dagenais remains in custody and the case was put over until Friday.

Meanwhile, police tactical members, dressed in green camouflage gear, continued to search the 208-square-kilometre area around the crime scene as a search helicopter thundered overhead.

Jones said police were working through more than 100 tips on Dagenais's whereabouts. Dagenais is a suspect in the shootings of constables Robin Cameron and Marc Bourdages after a high-speed chase near Spiritwood, 140 kilometres west of Prince Albert.

Cameron, 29, and Bourdages, 26, remained in serious condition in hospital in Saskatoon .

A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for Dagenais. He has been charged with attempted murder of the third Mountie involved in the chase.

The drama began Friday night at the home of Elsie Dagenais, Arthur's ex-wife. They were divorced after 47 years of marriage.

Curtis's uncle, Herb Jaster, said Curtis Dagenais had just learned Elsie was to get half the family farm in a property settlement and had gone to her house to confront her and his sister. Curtis had been hoping to inherit it all, said Jaster.

The argument spilled out into the street, police were called and Dagenais took off in his truck. Cameron and Bourdages were in the lead car and the third officer was in the second. The chase lasted for 12 kilometres and ended at Mildred with gunfire. The third officer returned fire but wasn't hurt.


Court hears Curtis Dagenais made frantic cell call prior to Sask RCMP shootings

SPIRITWOOD, SK. (CP) - With two RCMP cruisers in hot pursuit, Curtis Dagenais tearfully called his dad on his cellphone from his old truck and told him he didn't think he could outrun them, court heard Wednesday.

A short time later, the chase ended in a gun battle that left two officers with serious gunshot wounds while 41-year-old Dagenais, clad in a T-shirt and cut-off shorts, fled into the bush with a long-barrelled weapon. The information came out Wednesday in provincial court in North Battleford, Sask., where Arthur Dagenais, the 69-year-old father of the fugitive, appeared on a charge of obstructing justice.

The search for Curtis Dagenais entered its fifth day Wednesday in the bush and pastureland south of Mildred, just east of Spiritwood.

Crown prosecutor Jim Taylor told court that Arthur Dagenais defied a police order to stay away from the restricted search area, which is near his home.

Court also heard that police found two firearms and $27,000 in cash hidden in a combine on the elder Dagenais's farm, and that he has a history of hatred against police.

That has led to an additional charge laid against Dagenais of possession of an unregistered .22-calibre rifle.

"This is one small part of the overall investigation, but you begin to understand the complexities and the challenges that our officers face both in the investigation into the shooting and the attempted murder charge and also the challenges in attempting to locate Mr. Dagenais," RCMP spokesman Sgt. Brian Jones said later in Spiritwood.

The senior Dagenais, dressed in street clothes, sobbed in court as his lawyer, Lori Gollan, described his and Curtis's rocky relationship with police.

The Crown is opposing bail, saying they're concerned Dagenais may try to help his son evade capture.

Taylor said the $27,000 and firearms were locked in an old combine in a culvert. Gollan said Dagenais does not use banks, instead using the combine as his safety deposit box.

Dagenais remains in custody and the case was put over until Friday.

He is divorced from his wife, Elsie. On Wednesday, a spokesman for Elsie's side of the family, Leigh Sinclair, said they were relieved to hear he was still in custody and that the judge was taking the Crown's concerns seriously.

The couple divorced after 47 years of marriage, which Elsie's family says included years of abusive behaviour.

"It's been over 50 years that this family has been in danger, or felt in danger. And so the RCMP of this community has always had Elsie's safety as their first priority," said Sinclair, a pastor with the Lutheran and United Church in Spiritwood.

She said Elsie Dagenais feels as though she's in the middle of a cruel waiting game.

"What she says to me is that the cruelest is not actually waiting for the search to end, but the cruelest is waiting for those police officers to recover."

Meanwhile, police tactical members, dressed in green camouflage gear, continued to search the 208-square-kilometre area around the crime scene as a search helicopter thundered overhead.

Jones said police were working through more than 100 tips on Dagenais's whereabouts.

But he also said that new information cast doubt on a possible sighting of Dagenais the day after the shootings.

On Tuesday, police reported that two witnesses said they saw a man who resembled Dagenais standing in a ditch beside a highway just southeast of the search area.

But after the sighting was made public, investigators talked to two people who know Dagenais and had also seen the man Saturday, Jones said.

"They felt the person that they saw was not Curtis Dagenais," he said.

He said the case highlights the challenge of the manhunt.

"You have different people seeing the same individual, forming different impressions, different conclusions."

Dagenais is a suspect in the shootings of constables Robin Cameron and Marc Bourdages after a high-speed chase near Spiritwood, 140 kilometres west of Prince Albert.

Cameron, 29, and Bourdages, 26, remained in serious condition in hospital in Saskatoon and little information on their care was being released.

A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for Dagenais. He has been charged with attempted murder of the third Mountie involved in the chase.

The drama began Friday night at Elsie Dagenais's home on Main Street in Spiritwood.

Curtis's uncle, Herb Jaster, said that Curtis Dagenais had just learned Elsie was to get half the family farm in a divorce property settlement and had gone to her house to confront her and his sister. Curtis had been hoping to inherit it all, said Jaster.

The argument spilled out into the street, police were called and Dagenais took off in his truck.

Cameron and Bourdages were in the lead car and the third officer was in the second. The chase lasted for 12 kilometres and ended at Mildred with gunfire. The third officer, who hasn't been identified, returned fire but wasn't hurt.

Police have not said where the wounded officers were hit, but their cruiser had bullet holes low on the windshield.