2 min

Family asks homos to avoid funeral

Suspects remain in custody

MURDERED. Sudbury's Denis Villeneuve was killed in October. Credit: Xtra files

Two men accused of the murder of a closeted gay Sudbury man made their second appearance in court this week.

Denis Villeneuve, a 34-year-old grocery clerk, was killed last October.

“When Denis was missing [his friends] came to me,” says one of the bartenders at Zig’s, the city’s only gay bar, and a friend of the deceased. “I had served him that same Sunday night – the night of the murder.”

When Villeneuve was reported missing by his brother on Oct 18, the police appealed to the public for help.

Andre Gervais and Carmen Bailey, also of Sudbury, were charged with possession of stolen property after police received a call placing Villeneuve’s vehicle, with personalized licence plates VNEUVE, on the street where the two men lived.

By Saturday, Villeneuve’s body was discovered in the trunk of a second car. The post-mortem examination performed in Toronto concluded that he had been strangled.

Although a regular at Zig’s, Villeneuve was not out to his family or at work.

Shortly after his body was recovered, a friend of the family approached the bartender, who asked that his name be withheld.

“He says, ‘Denis’s funeral is coming up. Is there any way you can put the word out not to have anyone come to the funeral who is gay?'”

The bartender adds that although he passed the message along to the Zig’s crowd, there is no way of knowing whether or not the request was respected.

“How can you identify someone who was gay?” he asks.

The friend was concerned that the shock of Villeneuve’s homosexuality was too much for the family to deal with after the horror of his death.

“They said the brother was concerned that the mother had a bad heart and didn’t want anything to happen,” he says. “I don’t know what they were expecting, a show?”

The bartender remembers Villeneuve as a “quiet man.”

“He never caused any problems at the bar ever,” he recalls. “He was kind and gentle.”

Villeneuve was reported to have been at the residence of the accused the night before his murder. Although police have concluded that the deceased knew the suspects, the exact nature of their relationship remains unclear.

However, they don’t currently suspect that the murder was an act of homophobia.

“As far as we know there is no relationship to his sexual orientation whatsoever,” states Sgt Loretta Ronchin of the Sudbury police.

Gervais and Bailey remain in custody and are charged with first-degree murder and break, enter and theft. A third person, Kim Laberge, is charged with obstruction of justice.