Quebec police officers have completed their report into the bizarre death of Chantale Lavigne — who was “cooked to death” at a personal development seminar — and investigators are expected to meet with the Quebec prosecutor assigned to the case as early as next week.
It will be up to the prosecutor “to decide whether any charges will be filed, and, if so, what they would be,” Rene Verret, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said Thursday.
The manner in which Lavigne died was “very unusual,” Verret noted.
An autopsy report on Lavigne’s body has yet to be completed, the Quebec coroner’s office said. But Radio-Canada quoted coroner Gilles Sainton as saying the 35-year-old mother of two from St. Albert, Que., “was cooked to death.”
Lavigne died in hospital after she and eight others in a personal-development seminar called Dying in Consciousness were covered with mud, wrapped in plastic, put under blankets and immobilized with their heads in cardboard boxes for about nine hours, under instructions to hyperventilate.
Lavigne was removed, unconscious and with a body temperature of 40.5 C, from the Ferme Reine de la Paix in the Drummondville, Que., area after a 911 call that Radio-Canada said had been made by Gabrielle Frechette, a self-styled therapist who was the seminar’s operator.
A 49-year-old woman taken to hospital at the same time survived.
Radio-Canada quoted Sainton as saying that Lavigne died of hyperthermia, when the body produces or is subjected to more heat than it is able to dissipate. The normal human body temperature is 37 C.
Sainton “has not completed his report,” Deslauriers said. “Generally, it takes about nine months before a coroner’s report is ready.”
Results of the uncompleted autopsy report are required as “part of the proof that the coroner will use to complete his report,” Deslauriers said.
“There are an enormous amount of complaints about the length of time it takes to receive autopsy reports,” she added, noting that some autopsy reports take two years to be completed. “There are many families waiting for coroner’s reports.”
According to Radio-Canada, Frechette has been running self-improvement courses for about two decades, and claims to be channelling Melchisedech, a Biblical figure.
Frechette told Radio-Canada, which was slated to air the show at 9 p.m. Thursday, that about 2,000 people have taken her courses.
Lavigne apparently completed 85 sessions and paid more than $18,900. …