Canada

Man kills wife in plane bombing to avoid divorce

September 9, 1949
Cap Tourmente, Quebec, Canada
Joseph-Albert Guay places a time bomb in his wife’s suitcase which detonates during flight and kills all 23 on board

Guay had been involved in an affair with a 19-year-old waitress and wished to elope. As Quebec strictly Roman Catholic at the time, he knew a divorce would be difficult if not impossible, so he began plotting his wife’s murder.

Originally Albert planned to poison his wife Rita but decided an explosion would be harder to link back to him. The day of the explosion, Albert purchased a $10,000 CAD (worth roughly $107,700 CAD or $88,500 USD today) insurance policy on his wife’s life which he attempted to cash in 3 days after her murder.

Albert, who worked in the jewelry and watchmaking industry, had a clockmaker Généreux Ruest make the timing device for the bomb. Ruest’s sister, Marguerite Pitre, who had also arrange meetings between Albert and his mistress, purchased the dynamite.

The bomb was intended to detonate over the Saint Lawrence river, with the intention of leaving little salvageable forensic evidence. The bomb detonated 5 minutes earlier than planned, killing all 4 crew members and 19 passengers on board including 4 children.

Albert was arrested 2 weeks later, tried (pictured), convicted, and sentenced to death by hanging. He was executed by hanging January 12, 1951 at the age of 32. His last words were “Au moins, je meurs célèbre” (At least I die famous). Ruest and Pitre professed their innocence saying they had been misled by Guay, that they were unaware the tasks he assigned them would be used for anything malicious. The jury disagreed and both were sentenced to death. Ruest was executed on July 25, 1952. As he was suffering from tuberculosis he was taken to the gallows in a wheelchair. Pitre, who unsuccessfully attempted suicide in prison, became the last woman hanged in Canada on January 9, 1953.

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