This article was originally published on erienewsnow.com on July 5, 2017
Pennsylvania State Police have charged the father of the murder suspect who reported his wife missing in Lake Erie in connection to the crime.
Ernest Leclair, 74, of St. Petersburg, Florida, is charged with a misdemeanor count of tampering with physical evidence.
He was arrested and arraigned by District Judge Mark Krahe around 6:15 p.m. Wednesday.
His son, Christopher Leclair, remains in the Erie County Prison without bond on a charge of homicide.
Christopher Leclair reported his wife Karen missing off Presque Isle June 11.
State police confirmed to Erie News Now the body found in the waters of Lake Erie off Dunkirk, New York Tuesday was clothed in a Hawaiian print swim suit. That is the description Christopher Leclair gave the U.S. Coast Guard when rescuers were called out to search for Karen Leclair.
He claimed his wife was ill and fell off their commercial fishing boat, the Doris M, somewhere off the Presque Isle Light House.
As the investigation progressed, State Police determined Leclair’s timeline was false. They search port authority security camera video that showed the couple departing on their fishing boat the day before – June 10 – and Mr. Leclair returning to port alone. That information and other evidence led to the homicide charge.
Erie News Now found State Police investigators serving a search warrant on the Doris M late Wednesday afternoon before Ernest Leclair was charged.
An autopsy on the body found Tuesday was conducted at the Erie County Medical Examiner’s office in Buffalo. New York forensic examiners are involved because the body was found in waters off New York state. Pennsylvania authorities are waiting to confirm whether the body is that of Karen Leclair.
State Police investigators from Pennsylvania and Assistant Erie County, Pennsylvania District Attorney Beth Hirz attended the autopsy.
Lt. Wayne Kline, Crime Unit Commander for Pennsylvania State Police Troop E told Erie News Now, in addition to dental records, they provided dental films to the medical examiner to confirm what they already believe – the body is in fact Karen Leclair.
In a previous search, investigators also secured DNA from personal items belonging to Mrs. Leclair in case they would be required for further identification.
Erie News Now was first to report two weeks ago that a scuba diving team from western New York assisted in a search of the waters in a pattern off New York shores. State police told us that search was based on information from the GPS on the Doris M, which provided insight on the boats travels and where to look for Mrs. Leclair’s body.