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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