The murder of Karen Leclair by her husband, Christopher “Chris” Leclair, is spotlighted in the latest episode of Dark Waters: Murder In The Deep on Investigation Discovery.
On June 11, 2017, Chris made a distress call to the U.S. Coast Guard, claiming that his wife of 25 years had fallen from their fishing vessel named Doris-M and into Lake Erie in Pennsylvania.
Rescue officials searched the waters for the 51-year-old but to no avail. It wasn’t until three weeks later, on July 4, 2017, that a boater discovered Karen’s body six miles off the coast of Dunkirk, New York, with an anchor weighing down her body.
She had been tied up and shot in the head.
An investigation revealed that Chris shot and killed his wife with a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, which was later found in their home, before tying her ankles and attaching an anchor to her chest and throwing her body overboard.
Surveillance footage from the dock showed Chris boarding their boat on June 10, 2017, with his wife and returning alone. The following day, he went back into the water and made a distress call, falsely claiming his wife had gone missing.
Chris was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and a slew of other criminal charges, including abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence, and false reports.
Not long after Chris’ arrest, his father, Ernest Leclair, 74, of St. Petersburg, Florida, was arrested on charges of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.
Police learned that Chris contacted his father after the murder and asked him to move the gun that he used to kill Karen.
Chris denied having anything to do with Karen’s murder. He claimed that she killed herself after learning he was having an affair with a woman named Tracy Butle. Afterward, he said he dumped her body in Lake Erie because he didn’t want anyone to know what she had done.
During the trial, prosecutors stated that Chris killed his wife because he wanted to be with his girlfriend. It was a murder that he had been planning for nearly a decade, according to witnesses.
A jury deliberated for an hour and a half before returning with a guilty verdict. Erie County President Judge John J. Trucilla sentenced Chris to life in prison with no possibilty of parole.
He was also ordered to pay $705,974 in restitution to the U.S. Coast Guard for having them search for his wife after he falsely claimed she went missing.
Chris is currently in the process of appealing his murder conviction.
Dark Waters: Murder In The Deep — What Lies Beneath, airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.