Police: Wife’s body ID’d; shot in head, strapped with anchor

Karen Leclair

(AP) — A body found along the New York shoreline of Lake Erie with a gunshot wound to the head and an anchor attached to the torso was identified on Wednesday as that of a Pennsylvania woman whose husband reported her missing and then was charged with killing her.

Karen Leclair’s body had been bound with nylon fishing rope, the type used to secure anchors, and an anchor was tied to the upper torso, said Lt. Wayne Kline, of the Pennsylvania state police. The body was found in the lake by a fisherman on Tuesday a few miles from Dunkirk, New York, which is about 50 miles northeast of Erie, Pennsylvania, along the lake’s southern shoreline.

Karen Leclair’s husband, commercial fisherman Christopher Leclair, already had been charged with criminal homicide in her death. Her father-in-law, Earnest Leclair, was charged with tampering with or fabricating physical evidence after it was learned on Wednesday that he had tried to hide the revolver that was used to shoot her, police said.

Christopher Leclair, 48, had reported Karen Leclair, 51, missing on June 11. He told police and the Coast Guard that day that she had a queasy stomach and was sitting on a bucket on the edge of a boat when she apparently fell overboard while he wasn’t looking.

Authorities in Erie County, Pennsylvania, charged him with criminal homicide because dock surveillance cameras in Erie show the couple left together on June 10, the day before he reported her missing, and he returned alone. The cameras also show him getting on the boat alone on June 11 and returning alone, a criminal complaint says.

Karen Leclair’s body was taken to the Chautauqua County, New York, coroner for an autopsy, which determined she had a gunshot wound to the head. Dental records were used to identify Leclair, who was from Albion, Pennsylvania.

Defense attorney Bruce Sandmeyer said last week Christopher Leclair “maintains his innocence” though he declined to address the discrepancy between his client’s police statement and the dock surveillance video.

Police on Wednesday accused Christopher Leclair of soliciting his dad to dispose of the revolver, which they called “the murder weapon.” They said the dad moved the revolver from one hiding spot and hid it under a bed at Christopher and Karen Leclair’s home, where investigators found it.

“He tried to get rid of the weapon,” Kline said.

The dad was arraigned Wednesday but didn’t enter a plea. He was jailed and couldn’t be reached for comment, and he hadn’t retained a lawyer.

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