Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Marc Lépine's Gendercide: The Montreal Massacre

Who was Lépine?

Lépine's mother had seen him a few days before the December 6 incident and told reporters that she had detected nothing unusual in his behavior, although she certainly knew about his anger against women. Since his teen years, he had been sullen and angry. Yet it was her comments from a 1976 divorce proceeding, recorded in the Toronto Star on December 9, which revealed what Lépine had experienced growing up.

Born Gamil Gharbi to an Algerian father and French-Canadian mother, the boy had a rough childhood. His mother had divorced his father over the issue of abuse, which had extended to the children. Beaten by his father, Rachid Liass Gharbi, for such minor problems as singing too loudly or failing to greet him in the morning, Lépine had learned to fear him.

Barbara Daigneault
Barbara Daigneault

"He was a brutal man," Monique Lépine told the court, "who did not seem to have any control over his emotions... It was always a physical gesture, a violent gesture, and always right in the face." Monique's sister confirmed these details to the judge, although Gharbi protested that they were not true. Nevertheless, the judge awarded custody to Monique. Still, young Gamil was not free of the man until he was 7 years old, and the exposure for that long to Gharbi's temper and beliefs had a strong influence. The boy so hated him that when he was 13, he changed his name to Marc Lépine.

Yet try as he might to distance himself, Lépine nevertheless adopted his father's views about women as servile and second-class (despite the fact that his mother was getting university degrees). They were not men's equals. Psychologically speaking, he was not built for a world in which women were getting educated, acquiring opportunities and becoming strong and independent. Rather than appreciate his mother's attempt to improve things for her children and herself, he saw only betrayal. In his mind, women had a specific place in society and they should stay there.

As he grew older, he believed that independent women were pushing him out of his own rightful opportunities. Someone, he believed, had to teach them a lesson and he decided that it would be him.

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