Body of Fisherman’s Missing Wife He Claimed Fell Overboard Is Found Strapped to Anchor, with Gunshot to Head
The body of Karen Leclair, whose husband reported her missing last month, was found floating in Lake Erie bound and with a gunshot wound to the head
A body found floating on the Lake Erie shoreline has been identified as the missing wife of a fisherman who has been charged with her murder, with police revealing that her body was tied to an anchor with a gunshot wound to the head, PEOPLE confirms.
On June 11, Christopher Leclair, of Albion, Pennsylvania, 48, reported his 51-year-old wife Karen Leclair missing, saying she’d fallen overboard while the couple was on his commercial fishing boat on Lake Erie, according to Pennsylvania State Police. He had already been charged with her murder.
On Tuesday, a fisherman found her body floating in the water six miles off the shoreline of Dunkirk, on the New York side of Lake Erie, which is about 50 miles northeast of Erie, Pennsylvania, where Leclair docks their boat, Lt. Wayne Kline, of Pennsylvania State Police tells PEOPLE.
Karen Leclair’s ankles were bound and tied with nylon fishing rope, which is used to secure anchors, and an anchor was tied around her chest, Kline says.
“The medical examiner identified the body through dental records,” he says.
In the wake of the news that Karen Leclair’s body has been found, her family is trying to protect her assets, says Kline, confirming a report by GoErie.com.
“Based on our investigation, he was attempting to have his father liquidate their marital assets to pay for his legal defense,” Kline says.
On June 13, Pennsylvania State Police arrested Christopher Leclair and charged him with criminal homicide, according to the arrest affidavit obtained by PEOPLE.
Pennsylvania State Police filed charges against him after seeing surveillance footage that allegedly contradicted what he had told them, according to court records obtained by PEOPLE.
Surveillance video at the marina showed the couple leaving their boat slip around 12:43 p.m. on June 10, the day before she disappeared, according to court documents.
The video shows 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.
In an interview with police, Christopher Leclair also allegedly admitted to having an affair with another woman, according to court records.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click hereto get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
During questioning, the other woman told police Christopher Leclair spent the night at her house June 10 and the two discussed moving in together, according to Erie News Now.
Christopher Leclair is being held in the Erie County Prison with no bond set because he is charged with homicide, according to court records.
He has not yet entered a plea. He is scheduled to return to court on July 31.
His attorney, Bruce Sandmeyer, did not immediately return PEOPLE’s calls for comment, but said last week that his client “maintains his innocence,” ABC News reports.
On Wednesday, Christopher Leclair’s father, Ernest Leclair, was arrested and charged with tampering with or fabricating physical evidence after authorities discovered that he had allegedly tried to hide the revolver that was used to shoot her, says Kline.
Authorities had learned that Christopher Leclair had allegedly “solicited” his 74-year-old father “to move or destroy a gun we now believe was used in the commission of a homicide,” says Kline.
His father allegedly moved the revolver from one hiding spot and hid it under a bed at Christopher and Karen Leclair’s home, where investigators found it, says Kline.
Ernest Leclair was arraigned Wednesday but didn’t enter a plea. He remains in jail on a $25,000 bond. It is unclear whether his father has retained an attorney.
PEOPLE’s calls for comment to the Erie District Attorney were not immediately returned.