Bennett timeline update
Details in police's case reveal chilling, devious planning by victim's uncle
July 5, 2008
By Daniel Barlow Vermont Press Bureau
Jacques could face death
A community mourns Brooke Bennett
Arraignment scheduled for 2 p.m.
MONTPELIER – When Brooke Bennett's face became known across Vermont last week, it was as a missing 12-year-old girl from Braintree and the focus of the state's first Amber Alert.
Speculation was that she had run off with someone from the Internet. But soon police began conducting what appeared to be a recovery operation and a missing girl case unfolded to reveal allegations of repeated sexual assaults against children.
The following timeline of the case begins with the earliest known e-mails made public by police between Michael Jacques, Bennett's uncle who is now accused of kidnapping her, and a juvenile female that he had allegedly groomed for sex and used as an accomplice in Bennett's disappearance.
The timeline concludes with the discovery of Bennett's body Wednesday and police charging her uncle with her abduction.
Information presented in the timeline is compiled from police reports, police statements, court documents and various news reports on the case over the last 10 days. Many of the claims contained in the timeline are still alleged acts and have not been proven in court.
Michael Jacques, posing as a man known as "E" and using an e-mail address referencing a Chevy Truck, sends an e-mail to a juvenile female, whom police say Jacques has been sexually abusing for several years. "E" claims to be hunting wild zebra in Africa and expresses strong romantic love for the juvenile female.
12:28 p.m.: The girl responds, stating, "i love you and that will never change."
Jacques, now posing as a man named Rauel Domingo and using a different e-mail address, e-mails the juvenile girl inquiring about her recent sexual history. She responds later that day, detailing a sexual encounter with a juvenile male. Police say the two e-mail accounts for "E" and Domingo were only accessed at Jacques' home and work.
Jacques, posing as Domingo, e-mails the juvenile girl and asks her to "come up with a plan that make it so that Nobody knows where she is." He suggests kidnapping Bennett before June 7 or waiting until June 16.
The girl e-mails back suggesting a ruse where Bennett is lured to a location by a "hot guy." She writes that she wants to see Bennett "suffer."
Jacques orders $1,033.45 in sex toys from a Web site. The delivery address is his home in Randolph.
2:20 p.m.: Jacques, posing as "E", e-mails the juvenile female and mentions the possibility that Bennett's kidnapping might be delayed from Monday until Wednesday or Thursday. He encourages her to convince Bennett to attend the "party" they are planning.
5:50 p.m.: "E" sends the girl another message, saying they have run into some "unexpected problems" and doesn't want to risk Breckenridge - the name for a real or imagined child sex ring - "being in danger." He again encourages her to convince Bennett to come to the "party" and also inquires about a recent sexual encounter the girl had with a juvenile male.
5:56 p.m.: Jacques, posing as Domingo, e-mails the female juvenile, asking her if she would assist in the "take-down" of Bennett the following week. "Just remember the reasons why it must be done and remember that it will go PERFECTLY if everyone does what they are suppose to do," he wrote.
11:34 p.m.: The second juvenile female responds to the message from Domingo, writing that she will help with "the tie down."
1:34 p.m.: Jacques, posing as "E", e-mails the juvenile girl and asks her to collect some of her boyfriend's semen to plant as evidence in Bennett's disappearance. "Text me when it's done and simply say 'it's done,'" he wrote. "Very important, thanks."
11:40 p.m.: Jacques logs onto Bennett's MySpace profile and posts a message making it appear that she has run away to meet a boyfriend. He edits the entry again at 11:52 p.m.
According to police, Bennett spent the night at Jacques' home.
9:20 a.m.: Bennett is dropped off at the Cumberland Farms in Randolph by Jacques and another unnamed female juvenile. Footage from the security camera shows Jacques and Bennett inside the store, although they go in separate directions when they leave.
9:45 a.m.: Bennett is seen by a witness at the Randolph Village Laundromat.
9 p.m.: Bennett's grandmother reports her missing to the Vermont State Police.
9:26 p.m.: Jacques makes the first of four phone calls that evening to Raymond Gagnon, a close friend and Bennett's former stepfather, who is now living in Texas. Jacques supplies Gagnon with Bennett's MySpace username and password. Gagnon logs onto her profile twice later, police say, and changed her password to the account.
10:36 p.m.: Jacques again logs onto Bennett's MySpace profile and edits the fake entry he posted there the night before.
When questioned by police that evening, Jacques says he dropped Bennett off at Cumberland Farms and that she was to be picked up by a friend and driven to a nearby hospital to visit with a sick friend or relative. After dropping her off, Jacques said he bought a coffee at Dunkin Donuts. That story is backed up by the other juvenile female with Jacques.
1 a.m.: Jacques leaves a message for a state police detective inquiring about the state of the investigation.
Sometime during the day, Jacques tells state police that he found one of Bennett's sneakers on the side of a road in Brookfield. Police later find blood, semen and torn girl's underwear nearby - evidence they now believe Jacques planted.
5:25 p.m.: An Amber Alert - the state's first - is issued by state police for Bennett. The FBI becomes involved in the case.
The second juvenile female, whom Jacques is accused of sexually assaulting over a period of five years, tells police she lied to them about going to Dunkin Donuts with Jacques after dropping Bennett off.
Forensic analysis begins on Jacques' laptop computer. Police first discover the "Chevy Truck" e-mail alias that he used in communication with the second juvenile female. Jacques tells police that the hard drive for his desktop computer is missing because it malfunctioned and he brought it to a Best Buy in Lebanon, N.H. to be repaired or replaced.
10:30 a.m.: Police announce the discovery of Bennett's sneakers at a press conference in Burlington. They ask anyone who saw her that morning in Randolph on June 25 to come forward.
Police dive teams search the area of Sunset Lake near the Floating Bridge in Brookfield. Police say they are focusing on a person that Bennett may have been communicating with via MySpace, but stopped short of calling it abduction.
After a police inquiry, representatives of Best Buy say there is no record of Jacques dropping off a computer hard drive.
Forensic examination of Jacques' laptop reveals the series of e-mails between Jacques and the second female juvenile.
2:20 p.m.: After being confronted with the e-mails retrieved from Jacques' computer, the juvenile female admits to helping Jacques get Bennett back to his house on June 25 after dropping her off at Cumberland Farms. She also tells police about the so-called Breckenridge program, her introduction to the program when she was 9 years old and that Jacques is her "trainer."
She also tells police that she and Bennett watched television for a short time that day at Jacques' house. When Jacques asked Bennett to go upstairs with him, the juvenile female left the house with her boyfriend. She did not see Bennett again.
4:15 p.m.: Jacques is arrested for aggravated sexual assault.
3 a.m.: Gagnon calls his landlord in Texas and asks him to dispose of a safe in his apartment. The landlord later told police he put it in a nearby dumpster, but the safe is not located.
1 p.m.: Police announce that the investigation into Bennett's disappearance had shifted to Jacques' property along East Bethel Road in Randolph. K-9 units, search and rescue teams and an aerial unit assist in the unsuccessful search of his property.
Jacques pleads innocent to the aggravated sexual assault charge in court and is held on $250,000 bail.
4 p.m.: Police identify Jacques as a "person of interest" in Bennett's disappearance during a press conference. Evidence collected from Jacques' computer contributed to the change in direction of the investigation, according to police.
State police and the FBI interview Gagnon, who admits to accessing Bennett's MySpace profile and possessing a "vast amount" of child pornography, all stored in a safe at his home in Texas. This pornography includes photographs of the second juvenile girl and the girl's juvenile boyfriend and he states that he and Jacques had a sexual encounter with her during the summer of 2007 in South Royalton.
Police arrest Gagnon and charge him with obstruction of justice.
During a search along Crocker Road in Randolph, police find an area where the "ground was recently disturbed." The area is secured and a search begins.
Court papers related to Gagnon's arrest are unsealed, revealing that the second juvenile female told police that she and Jacques picked up Bennett after first dropping her off on June 25.
4:45 p.m.: Police find Bennett's body in a shallow grave off of Crocker Road, a short distance from Jacques' home. Police say her death is "clearly suspicious" and that foul play is suspected.
5:32 p.m.: The U.S. Department of Justice announces that Jacques has been charged with kidnapping Bennett.
7 p.m.: More than 300 people attend a ceremony in Randolph to mourn the loss of Bennett.
10 a.m.: Prosecutors hold a press conference in Burlington, announcing that they do not believe any other children are at risk of sexual abuse in the case. An autopsy on Bennett's body is conducted to determine a cause of death