A Halifax man accused of killing his mother and attempting to bury her body in the backyard of their Willow Street home was in court Wednesday morning.
At the same time, police investigators were combing through the backyard of the building at 6312- 6316 Willow, a west-end residence owned by the Halifax Peninsula Housing Co-operative.
Ryan Richard Lamontagne, 26, is charged with second-degree murder and interfering with the remains of Linda Lamontagne, 65.
In Halifax provincial court, Judge Amy Sakalauskas remanded him to the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth for a five-day assessment of his mental fitness.
The assessment was requested by defence lawyer Brad Sarson, who said he was unable to communicate with his client.
Lamontagne will return to court next Tuesday.
Halifax Regional Police responded to a call of suspicious circumstances at the Willow Street address at about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“Officers located Linda Lamontagne deceased in the backyard of the residence,” police said in a news release Wednesday. “Ryan Lamontagne, who was also in the backyard, was taken into custody without incident.”
The Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service conducted an autopsy and ruled the death a homicide later Tuesday. Police allege the killing occurred Tuesday.
On Wednesday morning, Halifax police, with the assistance of Halifax Regional Search and Rescue, were searching for evidence in the front and back of the Willow Street residence, while two other adjacent Willow Street homes, two Dublin Street houses and a pathway leading from Dublin to Chebucto Road were all cordoned off.
Laughter and shouting emanating from the Oxford School playground at the end of Willow provided a sharp contrast to the weighty police task.
Evan Jones, who co-owns a house on the other side of Willow,, said he hadn’t heard anything about the death until Tuesday morning when his roommate texted him about the police presence.
Jones said he hadn’t met any of the people that lived in the co-op housing units but that there seemed to be a lot of turnover there.
“This is a little bit out of the ordinary to say the least,” Jones said.
But in an eerie parallel, a mother and son were found dead in May 2008 in the Willow Street house next door to the 6312-6316 address. Police later confirmed that the deaths were a murder-suicide.
The bodies of Roberta Grace Jollimore, 75, and her son, 52-year-old Gregory Ross Jollimore, were found dead in a burgundy–sided, two–storey house at 6308 Willow St.
A neighbour at that time told The Chronicle Herald that the mother and son were very private people and described Roberta Jollimore as beautiful, kind and eccentric.
The neighbour said Roberta Jollimore was a wonderful friend and neighbour, a fairy grandmother type to children on the block. The neighbour said the mother and son had always lived together and that the son was very patient and kind.
"They loved each other very much,” the neighbour said of the Jollimores.
On Wednesday, an unidentified resident in the Willow Street neighbourhood said he had often seen people going in and out of the building at 6312-6316 Willow.
“Nobody here feels frightened,” he said. “People are concerned about the energy … you know about the previous murder-suicide in 2008.
“It’s really spooky. People are really concerned. It’s a sad thing.”
Apparently unaware of the 2008 deaths, Jones said the recent death is “disconcerting, especially now that they are raking the yard up -- I don’t know what they are looking for.”
Const John MacLeod, a Halifax Police spokesman, said police and search and rescue crew members were searching the exteriors of the cordoned-off addresses for any evidence that might be available.
He said it’s not unusual for the police to solicit help from search and rescue crews.
A police officer at the scene said they wanted to get much of their backyard investigation completed before the pending rainstorm, which started dumping rain on the area in the early afternoon.
MacLeod said he couldn’t offer any information about how Linda Lamontagne died or about the indignity to the body charge.
“We certainly can’t get into the specifics,” he said. “Those are the evidentiary pieces that will go before the courts.”
Ryan Lamontagne was arraigned before a justice of the peace Tuesday and spent the night at the Central Nova Correctional Facility in Dartmouth.