Lake Erie Homicide Case: One Year Later
On June 11, 2017, what started out as a distress call for a woman falling overboard, set off a massive search of Lake Erie, for 51-year-old Karen Leclair.
But after two days, the search transformed into a homicide investigation.
On June 13, 2017, Pennsylvania State Police charged Christopher Leclair, 48, with criminal homicide in connection to his wife's disappearance.
After reviewing surveillance video from the couple's fishing vessel the Doris M, investigators determined that Christopher and Karen had gone onto Lake Erie on June 10, 2017.
Hours later, Christopher Leclair returned to the dock, alone, police said.
Mr. Leclair then when back out onto Lake Erie the day after, and reported Karen missing, police said.
"That was our main focus from the very beginning, to hopefully recover that person from the waters." said Sgt. Brook Tolbert of the PA Fish & Boat Commission.
For three weeks, the whereabouts of Karen's body remained a mystery.
On June 23, 2017, investigators thought they caught a break, when a leg was found along the shoreline of Elk Creek.
The leg turned out to be the remains of a person killed in a plane crash near Cleveland, in December of 2016.
On July 4, 2017, the search came to an end after Karen's body was discovered in Lake Erie, about six miles off of the shore of Dunkirk, New York.
After conducting an autopsy, investigators say Mr. Leclair shot his wife in the head, tied her body to an anchor, then threw her into the lake.
Police have also charged Christopher's father Ernest Leclair, 75, with tampering with evidence.
Prosecutors say Ernest tried to hide the murder weapon in his son's home.
"If he wanted the gun to disappear, he would have made it disappear," said Ernest Leclair's lawyer Gene Placidi. "Common sense tells you that."
As for the Doris M, it's currently being held inside of the Erie Port Authority's boat storage area, after it was moved from its former slip, near Dobbins Landing.
Meanwhile, despite asking for a change of venue due to extensive news coverage, Christopher Leclair is scheduled to face trial in Erie in October.