Man Accused of Killing Wife After Claiming She Fell Overboard in Lake Erie
Christopher Leclair was allegedly having an affair
A Pennsylvania man who told authorities his wife had vanished after falling overboard into Lake Erie has now been charged with her murder, PEOPLE confirms.
On June 13, Pennsylvania State Police arrested Christopher Leclair, 48, of Erie, and charged him with criminal homicide, according to court records obtained by PEOPLE.
Two days before, Leclair made a distress call reporting that his wife, Karen Leclair, 51, went missing, according to the arrest affidavit obtained by the Erie Times-News. Leclair allegedly told the U.S. Coast Guard his wife fell into Lake Erie while they were three miles off the Pennsylvania coast on their commercial fishing boat.
After looking for the woman for 30 hours, the Coast Guard called off the search, Erie News Now reports.
Pennsylvania State Police filed charges against her husband after seeing surveillance footage that allegedly contradicted what he had told them, according to Erie News Now.
Surveillance video from the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority showed Christopher and Karen Leclair leaving their boat slip around 12:43 p.m. on June 10, the day before she disappeared, according to YourErie.com.
But authorities allegedly caught him in a lie when surveillance video showed him returning to the dock later that day without her – and then heading out on the boat alone on Sunday afternoon about an hour and forty minutes before he reported her missing, according to information in the criminal complaint obtained by the Times-News.
During a police interview, Christopher Leclair allegedly admitted to having an affair with another woman, according to State Police, YourErie.com reports. According to the report, he allegedly deleted all text messages between himself and the other woman.
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During questioning, the other woman told police Leclair spent the night at her house June 10 and the two discussed moving in together, according to Erie News Now.
Investigators have not found Karen Leclair’s body. They seized a GPS system from the fishing boat to help in the search, the Times-News reports.
“It’s a waiting game,” Trooper Cindy Owens, public information officer for state police Troop E in Lawrence Park Township told the paper. “They’re going to make the grid and try to narrow that area down. Once they narrow that area down, then they can send people in to search the water.”
Leclair is being held in the Erie County Prison with no bond set because he is charged with homicide, according to court records.
His preliminary hearing has been tentatively scheduled for June 26. He has not entered a plea and it is unclear whether he has retained an attorney.
PEOPLE’s Calls for comment to the Erie District Attorney and the Pennsylvania State Police were not immediately returned.