At around 7 a.m. last Friday, the remains of the charred carcass lay at the bottom of a scrubby ditch in Galion, a mountain village in southern Dominica. Inside, two bodies, those of victims who did not survive the flames. The intensity of the fire was such that the remains cannot be identified. But according to local media, it didn't take long for investigators to track down the occupants of the burned-out vehicle.
Just a few kilometers south of the discovery sites, to Coulibri Ridge, a luxury hotel residence, nestled in the vegetation with a breathtaking view of the Caribbean Sea. Its two owners are a Quebec couple, Daniel Langlois, 66, and Dominique Marchand. They were the ones the authorities found in the wreckage of Galion's car.
For the past ten years, Daniel Langlois and Dominique Marchand have been farming an 80-hectare plot of land in the south of the Caribbean island. The aim is to build an eco-friendly luxury hotel that is self-sufficient in water and electricity. But the project was slow to come to life due to the passage of Hurricane Maria which ravaged the West Indies in 2017 and the Covid pandemic. But Quebecers' dream eventually came out of the ground and it was finally in 2022 that the Coulibri Ridge Resort and its bungalows with their breathtaking sea view were able to open their doors. For this project, Daniel Langlois even received the honours of the island since he obtained an award at the beginning of November for his commitment to sustainable development in Dominica. So much for the local settlement of the victims.
Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings...
But it was above all internationally and in the world of cinema and 3D images that Daniel Langlois made a name for himself in the 1980s. With his company Softimage, the Quebecer conquered production studios promising revolutionary technology. "His initial idea was to take computer science and put it at the service of creation. He stuck to it throughout his career in the audiovisual industry," film critic Michel Coulombe told Le Devoir.
Bingo! Langlois' animations were a success in Hollywood. His work will be seen in Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Ice Age, The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix. Until the sale of his company in 1994 to Microsoft for 200 million dollars, which he invested in a foundation dedicated to creation in art.
In the 1980s, Daniel Langlois grasped the full potential of 3D animation software. His legacy, however, goes far beyond the world of cinema.
A look back at his life through @audreyneva at the #TJ18h pic.twitter.com/RrMXVx4T2s
— Radio-Canada Info (@RadioCanadaInfo) December 3, 2023
Pascale Saint-Onge lamented: "Daniel Langlois, a visionary of digital technologies and cinema, has left us. His company Softimage has created 3D images for films like Star Wars, which have left their mark on generations. His legacy reflects his innovative spirit. My thoughts are with his loved ones."
Daniel Langlois and his wife had not been heard from for a few days before their burned car was discovered. "Four persons of interest are in police custody. One local, and three foreigners," National Security Minister Rayburn Blackmore said Monday. "This type of crime and the brutality of this crime is something we cannot ignore, and we cannot tolerate that those who committed it are not brought to justice," he continued.
Deleted for a neighborhood conflict?
Among the suspects were an American couple from New Jersey. Jonathan and Victoria Lehrer are the neighbouring owners of Coulibri Ridge. Since 2011, their property, called Bois Cotlette, has had a chocolate and coffee production plant. But the arrival of Daniel Langlois and Dominique Marchand seems to have displeased the Americans, who have since been in a dispute with the Quebec couple over a right of way on their land, reports the Journal de Montréal.
Unable to stand the incessant traffic on this unique road that leads to the luxury residence of Quebecers, Jonathan Lehrer is said to have multiplied over the years demonstrations of hostility: rocks and a trench dug to prevent traffic, a brush fire to intimidate Coulibri Ridge employees who were showing their anger after being prevented from going to work...
On social media, users also reported being chased down the road by Jonathan Lehrer or yelled at by Victoria Lehrer, when they had shown up at the property without an appointment. "Don't go there. The place is a farm and the ruins of an old sugar cane plantation that dates back to the days of slavery. He now belongs to a white American family. We went there without knowing anything. But it only scratched the surface of a dirty and horrific reality, a Google visitor reported a year ago. There was no one on site or at the front desk so we got out of the car to walk down a road and in less than two minutes a white guy in a quad bike came aggressively asking us to leave as this road was private. »
In 2018, the neighbourhood dispute went to court, according to the Journal de Montréal, which consulted the court documents. While Daniel Langlois had encouraged the construction of a new public road to put an end to the disagreement, the court had preferred to recommend mediation sessions between the neighbours.
But the conflict does not seem to have taken the path to resolution. According to local media, a "hitman" lodged several bullets in the victims before setting fire to their vehicle. In police custody, he was the one who put the authorities on the trail of the Lehrer couple. The investigation is ongoing. But already the father of the American in question is expressing doubts. "Jonathan is a successful businessman, not a murderer," Lehrer told the Journal de Montréal from Florida. We're very close, he's not a violent man at all. I can't believe it. »