Examiner confirms remains are LaFontaine

by Howard Apple­gate
    Per­son­al­ly trav­el­ing to Wilbur Coun­ty for the announce­ment, Cen­tral Ore­gon Foren­sics Laboratory’s Chief Med­ical Exam­in­er, Dr. Ali­cia Azu­ra, con­firmed that the bones found in a wash north of Ger­maine, were those of Charles Sevi­gny LaFontaine, a New Orleans jazz musi­cian and WWII vet­er­an who lived in Ger­maine briefly in the post war years.
    Speak­ing at a news con­fer­ence in the Wilbur Coun­ty cour­t­house, Azu­ra said, “The evi­dence is con­clu­sive. The remains are those of a young African-Amer­i­can male, close­ly relat­ed to our sam­ple doner.”
    The donor, Rita Budreau, tem­porar­i­ly liv­ing in Ger­maine as a refugee from Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na, is the niece of Charles LaFontaine. Although a young child when LaFontaine dis­ap­peared, Ms. Budreau remem­bers the fam­i­ly sto­ries and her mother’s deep sense of loss.
    â€œMama cried all of the time over Charles,” said Budreau. “She knew he’d been killed. He nev­er would have just gone off and nev­er wrote or noth­ing to any­one again. We were family.”
    Budreau has car­ried a let­ter with her all of these years from her Uncle Charley. The let­ter, dat­ed 1949 and post­marked Ger­maine, Ore­gon tells of meet­ing a young woman, a fel­low musi­cian. It also men­tions LaFontaine’s fear of their rela­tion­ship being dis­cov­ered.
    In 1949, Faith Chasti­ty Apple­gate, a dis­tant rel­a­tive of this reporter, gave birth to Rochelle LaFontaine.
    â€œCharles just up and dis­ap­peared a cou­ple of days after Rochelle was born,” said Faith Apple­gate, “I hadn’t seen him in weeks, and I just thought at the time that he moved on.”
    But Faith has nev­er been total­ly con­vinced that Charles left. At least not alive. Now her fears have been con­firmed.
    â€œI’m sad­dened, of course,” said Apple­gate, “and angry. But there’s been too much tragedy in my life to let it get under my skin.”
    Apple­gate was refer­ring to the death of her and LaFontaine’s daugh­ter Rochelle, who died in a auto­mo­bile col­li­sion in 1966. Rochelle was preg­nant at the time, and the inci­dent sent rip­ples through the town of Ger­maine. Fac­ing a men­tal break­down, Faith Chasti­ty moved to Eugene, where she has lived for the past forty years.
    Now, at the age of sev­en­ty-five, Faith has returned to Ger­maine. “I knew when I saw it in the Reg­is­ter-Guard it was Charley that they found. I knew it was time to come back and help put this sto­ry to an end.”

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