How far would you go to get rid of your spouse? Taking it straight to level 10, Alanna tells us about Joseph-Albert Guay.
Guay was born in September 1918 and married Rita Guay (nee Morel). They lived in Quebec City, Canada. He worked in the jewellery and watch inductries. Some report that Guay was quite spoiled as a child and always wanted to get his own way. This continued into adulthood.
Whilst married to Rita, he became infatuated with a “19” year old waitress called Marie-Ange Robitaille and an affair commenced. But Marie-Ange wasn’t 19 years old; she lied to Guay as she was actually 17 years old. She subsequently told her parents about Guay – and the lies kept flowing. She told them that he was in fact a bachelor called Roger Anders. This name came from a singer that Guay envied. Marie-Ange knew full well that Guay had a wife, and a child. Guay gave Marie-Ange a ring which he probably had just floating around from working in the jewellery business.
Not content with just having an affair, Guay set Marie-Ange up in an apartment and paid the rent. Rita, Guay’s wife, subsequently found out about this arrangement and Marie-Ange ended her relationship with Guay.
Guay apparently then decides that Rita has to go. It could have been that he was furious with not getting his way in relation to the relationship with Marie-Ange or he had his eyes set on a life insurance policy. She had a life insurance policy for $5,000 Cad (roughly $55,000 CAD) in today’s money. Also, a large portion of Quebec at this time was staunchly Catholic so divorce wasn’t really on the table as an option.
He considered poisoning Rita. But then decided that the way forward for him would be an airplane bombing. He believed it would be harder for the authorities to link this to him.
He arranged for a clockmaker, Généreux Ruest, to make a bomb using batteries, dynamite and an alarm clock. Ruest arranged for his sister, Marguerite, to purchase the dynamite from a hardware store. Selling explosives to civilians was normal in Canada at this time but purchases were recorded in a log book although this wasn’t strongly regulated. Marguerite was also the one to post the bomb to a pick up location, which Rita would eventually pass through.
The plan was this. Rita, who was 29 years old at the time, would board a plane from Montreal to Baie-Comeau with a stop over in Quebec City. At Quebec City, she would depart the plane, pick up two suitcases which Guay told her contained rings and watches (and the bomb -unknowingly, of course), reboard the plane and commence her journey. Guay planned for the bomb to detonate over the Saint Lawrence River as he believed it would be harder from authorities to retrieve evidence from the water.
On the day of the flight, Guay purchased a further life insurance policy for Rita for $10,000CAD (roughly £109,000 CAD in 2018).
Everything was going to plan. Rita departed Montreal and landed in Quebec City. She picked up the suitcases. She reboarded the plane. There was a slight delay in takeoff of around five minutes. The bomb detonated. Over land.
Sadly, the explosion caused by the bomb and the plane’s subsequent crash landing killed everyone on board – 19 passengers and 4 crew.
Guay tried to cash in on the life insurance policies three days later.
However, Guay was arrested two weeks after the crash which leads this case not to be the first instance of a passenger plane being sabotaged but the first to be solved. It received huge amounts of press locally and abroad.
He was tried in February 1950 and found guilty. He was sentenced to death by hanging and this took place in January 1951. His last words were “Au moins, je meurs célèbre” or “At least I die famous”.
After the bombing, dynamite purchaser Marguerite attempted suicided but failed. Guay implicated both Ruest and Marguerite, after receiving his guilty verdict, into the plot and as a result, they were both arrested and sent to trial.
They both proclaimed their innocence. Ruest claimed he understood the bomb was for clearing tree stumps on some land that Guay used. Marguerite claimed that Guay had told her the the package (containing the bomb) actually contained a statue.
They were both convicted and both sentenced to death. Ruest was hung in July 1952 and Marguerite was hung in January 1953, the thirteenth and last woman to be hung in Canada.
Some believe that Guay implicated both Ruest and Marguerite to buy him some time as he believed he would be asked to be a witness in both trials. He did successfully do in Ruest’s trial but was hung before Marguerite’s trial commenced.
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Guay
The New Yorker – https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1953/11/14/it-has-no-name