Dad of Fisherman Accused of Killing Wife Allegedly Confessed to Hiding Murder Weapon: Police

The father of the Pennsylvania fisherman accused of fatally shooting his wife in June and telling authorities she fell overboard on Lake Erie allegedly admitted helping his son hide the murder weapon, police tell PEOPLE.

On June 11, Christopher Leclair, 48, of Albion, Pennsylvania, made a distress call to the U.S. Coast Guard, saying this his wife, Karen Leclair, 51, had fallen overboard. 

But two days later, he was arrested and charged with criminal homicide.

During police questioning, he admitted to having an affair with another woman for the past six to eight months, according to the affidavit of probable cause obtained by PEOPLE.

He also told authorities he was in “bad financial trouble and by his own admission can barely afford his own home,” the affidavit states.

He has been held without bond in Erie County Prison since June 13. 

Last Wednesday, new details in the case emerged when Christopher’s father, Ernest Leclair, 74, of St. Petersburg, Florida, was arrested and charged with tampering with or fabricating physical evidence after authorities discovered he had allegedly tried to hide the revolver that was used to shoot his daughter-in-law, Lt. Wayne Kline of the Pennsylvania State Police tells PEOPLE.

Christopher had allegedly “solicited” his father “to move or destroy a gun we now believe was used in the commission of a homicide,” says Kline.

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When questioned, Ernest allegedly “confessed to investigators,” Kline says.

According to Kline, Ernest had visited Christopher at the Erie County Prison on July 4, the day Karen Leclair’s body was found floating in Lake Erie. Kline alleges Christopher asked his father if he had hidden the purported murder weapon, and Ernest replied that he had.

Police believe Ernest moved the gun from a hiding spot underneath ceiling tiles in the basement to a bedroom, says Kline.

Ernest Leclair was arraigned Wednesday but didn’t enter a plea. He was released from Erie County Prison on Thursday after posting bond. He could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.

In the meantime, Karen’s family has filed a motion in court to freeze the couple’s marital assets.

Christopher had asked his father to travel from St. Petersburg, where he lives, to Erie County to liquidate his assets to pay for a lawyer, says Kline.

Karen’s brother, Frank Case, believes the value of the Leclairs’ property such as a fork lift, a pay loader and other equipment from their commercial fishing business could be worth as much as $1 million, according to the motion.

Christopher hasn’t yet entered a plea. He is scheduled to return to court on July 31.

His attorney did not immediately return PEOPLE’s calls for comment.

from PEOPLE.com http://people.com/crime/dad-fisherman-accused-lake-erie-murdering-wife-allegedly-confesses/

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