The spectacular murder was the work of Quebec’s most feared hit man, Yves (Apache) Trudeau. On the afternoon of Oct. 27, 1981, west-end Montreal gangland figure Patrick McGurnaghan, 44, was driving his Mercedes-Benz near a park in the affluent municipality of Westmount when a bomb under the car’s hood exploded, killing McGurnaghan and seriously injuring a male passenger. The murder contract, which narcotics trade kingpin Frank Peter Ryan tendered after McGurnaghan had cheated him in a drug deal, was one of 43 underworld slayings which Trudeau admits having committed in the province between September, 1970, and July, 1985. Indeed, the 39-year-old biker murdered so casually—with bombs, guns, bludgeons and even his bare hands—that his colleagues nicknamed him “The Mad Bumper.” And now the five-foot, six-inch, 135-lb. former member of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang has a new career.
In the custody of Quebec Police Force in a special section of Montreal’s
Parthenais detention centre—where he enjoys a private bathroom, color cable TV and steak dinners—Trudeau has been providing QPF detectives with evidence they hope will contribute to a devastating clampdown on the Quebec branch of the Hell’s Angels. In return, the Quebec justice department permitted Trudeau to plead guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter for all 43 murders, a sentence that could make Trudeau eligible for parole in seven years. As well, the government has agreed to deposit $10,000 annually over the next four years into a trust fund for Trudeau. Said Quebec Justice Minister Herbert Marx: “What we are dealing with here is a protected witness. We did not have any evidence to convict Trudeau on first-degree murder charges.”
A founding member of the Quebec Hell’s Angels, Trudeau decided to betray the gang after members of the Sorel and Lennoxville, Que., chapters allegedly massacred five members of his now defunct Laval branch in a single incident early last spring. The gang’s provincial leadership, in addition to being terrified of Trudeau, resented the party-loving Laval group’s independent behavior and profligate USß C0CaíneAs Well, Trudeau had attempted to collect $85,000 from the Sorel branch of the gang for the contract murder of Paul April, a Ryan associate who was killed with three others by a booby-trapped television set.
Trudeau managed to avoid the Lennoxville massacre because he If y had committed himself Q to a drug detoxification mz centre at the time. Later, as one of two surviv--ing Laval members reportedly targeted for elimination by other gang members, Trudeau felt his surest means of self-preservation would be as a police informer. And so far, no significant protest has been raised against the virtual amnesty
granted to the most prolific known murderer in Canadian history. Said Quebec Crown prosecutor Claude Parent: “Everyone has one big concern: to solve the Hell’s murders and eliminate them as a group.”
Before the internecine slaughter of most of the Laval chapter, police regarded the Hell’s Angels as one of Quebec’s most powerful organized-crime groups.
Among the gang’s criminal activities: narcotics trafficking, chemical drug manufacturing operations, prostitution and murder. Now, however, the gang is temporarily crippled, perhaps even permanently. Out of a membership of about 45 in the Sorel,
Lennoxville and Nova Scotia chapters, 19 are in jail on homicide charges, and murder warrants have been issued for another 13. Two other gang members— one of whom witnessed the Lennoxville massacre—have agreed to testify against their former colleagues. But whether or not their testimonies will help achieve convictions remains to be seen. Said Parent: “A lot depends on how credible these guys appear before
the jury. We also need material evidence to corroborate their testimonies. If we don’t, we are in trouble.” Trudeau will not be the first confessed hit man which Quebec prosecutors have used to testify against his former accomplices. Donald Lavoie, who in 1981 agreed to work with Mon-
treal Urban Community police in an effort to undermine the ruthless Dubois brothers gang, had committed 27 murders, many for the St-Henri district crime family. But while information and courtroom testimonies provided by Lavoie severely weakened the Dubois’ criminal organization, authorities hope the Trudeau arrangement will be even more effective. To date,
the former biker has identified 95 other men—34 of whom are dead—allegedly involved in Quebec underworld murders.
Trudeau also says he avenged the November, 1984, killing of west-end gang boss Ryan. Trudeau added that he blew up four known criminals—including Paul April—in a Montreal highrise apartment. His occasional assistant is Michel Blass, another Montreal hit man to recently appear in court as an informer. In February, Blass pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in connection with 12 murders, and he could also be free in seven years.
And as the number of underworld informers grows, Trudeau’s imprisonment appears increasingly comfortable. Every 15 days police escort the disarmed killer to a three-bedroom Montreal home on a visit to see his children and common-law wife—just one of several privileges that victims of his co-operation with police will have to forgo.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.