Woman’s body found in NY may be slain Pennsylvania woman is that of Karen Leclair
The 51-year-old woman from Albion, Pennsylvania, was reported missing June 11 by her husband, commercial fisherman Christopher Leclair, 48
Erie County, prosecutors, charged Leclair with criminal homicide
Dock surveillance cameras show Christopher and Karen Leclair leaving together on June 10, the day before he reported her missing
The cameras also show him returning without Karen
The cameras also show Christopher got on the boat alone June 11 and returned alone
The couple had been married twenty six years
Christopher Leclair acknowledged he’s been having an affair with a 44-year-old woman from their hometown of Albion
His girlfriend’s account contradicts suspect’s narrative and timelines
Christopher Leclair, police believe he killed his wife and threw her body overboard. He has been criminally charged with murder
Police and a prosecutor from Pennsylvania will attend the autopsy of a woman found along the New York shoreline of Lake Erie to determine whether the body is that of a suspected homicide victim, whose husband is custody for her disappearance.
Authorities want to know if the body to be autopsied Wednesday by the Chautauqua County, New York, coroner is that of 51-year-old Karen Leclair. The body was found in the lake by a fisherman Tuesday afternoon about 2 miles from near Dunkirk, New York, said Lt. Wayne Kline, of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Dunkirk is about 50 miles northeast of Erie, Pennsylvania, along the lake’s southern shoreline.
Christopher Leclair is jailed on a charge of criminal homicide in the presumed death of his wife of nearly 26 years, Karen, whose body has not been found.
Karen Leclair from Albion, Pennsylvania, was reported missing June 11 by her husband, 48-year-old commercial fisherman Christopher Leclair, told police and the Coast Guard that day that Karen Leclair had a queasy stomach and was sitting on a bucket on the edge of the boat when she apparently fell overboard while he wasn’t looking.
Karen Leclair has not been seen since an ill-fated boating trip with her husband on June 11
Authorities in Erie County, Pennsylvania, charged Leclair with criminal homicide because dock surveillance cameras in Erie show Leclair and his wife left together on June 10, the day before he reported her missing, and that he returned alone. The cameras also show Christopher got on the boat alone June 11 and returned alone, according to a criminal complaint.
The Coast Guard spent more than $600,000 on a 30-hour search that covered about 1,400 square miles in search of the body, to no avail, before officially declaring Karen dead. Investigators still believe the fisherman dumped his wife’s body in the lake, with “the possibility he weighted it down with nets,” state police Lt. Wayne Kline
Christopher Leclair acknowledged he’s been having an affair with a 44-year-old woman from the couple’s hometown of Albion, Pennsylvania, for several months. That woman, on probation for illegally possessing prescription painkillers last year, told police that Leclair spent the night with her June 10 into 11.
He statement directly contradicts the suspects own statement that the last time he saw and had sex with the woman was Friday, June 9, and that he spent the next night with his wife before their ill-fated voyage June 11, the affidavits said.
Christopher Leclair went out on his boat with his wife on June 11 and came back alone. She has been seen since
Leclair’s girlfriend also told police he mentioned a $30,000 life insurance policy on his wife when Leclair had pizza with the woman and her children at a restaurant about two months ago. On the morning of June 11, Leclair spoke to his girlfriend about moving into his house before he left for his boat that day, she told police.
Police have since seized three cellphones belonging to the Leclairs and the girlfriend, as well as a tablet computer and the GPS from his fishing boat.
Kline wouldn’t detail what’s been found except that GPS records suggest the boat was stationary for 30 to 40 minutes the afternoon police believe Karen Leclair really disappeared into the lake.
Although authorities have charged Leclair with killing his wife, they haven’t said specifically how they believe that occurred.
Defense attorney Bruce Sandmeyer told The Associated Press last week that Leclair “maintains his innocence” though he declined to address the discrepancy between his client’s police statement and the dock surveillance video.
“At this time, until there’s some sort of official result, there’s no change,” Sandmeyer said when asked to comment Wednesday on the pending autopsy.
Erie District Attorney Jack Daneri didn’t immediately return a call for comment Wednesday but has told the Erie Times-News that a prosecutor from his office also will attend the autopsy in Buffalo.
Leclair claims his wife fell over the side of the boat while he was not looking
Kline said Pennsylvania forensic investigators will attend the autopsy and police are hoping to be able to determine whether the body found is that of Karen Leclair later Wednesday.
Leclair faces a preliminary hearing July 31 at which prosecutors must show they have enough evidence for the case to go to trial.
Erie County DA Jack Daneri, said it’s possible to prosecute a homicide case without a body, though it’s unusual.
“If you don’t have a body, you’re going to have to have a strong circumstantial case,” he said.
Prosecutors and Kline believe they do, including inconsistent statements from Christopher Leclair.