A Moncton man has been charged with first-degree murder after the body of a 24-year-old man missing since last week was found outside the city, in a wooded area off Paris Boulevard in Irishtown.
Justin Barrow, 42, made a brief appearance in Moncton provincial court Wednesday afternoon.
He's accused of killing Max Boudreau, 24, on or about Nov. 15.
Boudreau disappeared after leaving a strip club in Dieppe on Nov. 15 and was reported missing on Nov. 17. His body was found Tuesday.
"At this time, police believe the man's death to be suspicious, and are investigating the death as a homicide," New Brunswick RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Hans Ouellette said in a news release Wednesday.
No other details have been released.
An autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of death, Ouellette said.
First-degree murder is a homicide that is both planned and deliberate. It carries an automatic life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
Codiac Regional RCMP and Boudreau's family had sought the public's help locating him.
Lise Lamoureux announced her son's death on social media Wednesday morning.
"For those that knew Max very well, you would all agree that he was a special soul," she posted on Facebook.
Boudreau's cousin, musician Louise Vautour Goguen, shared the post and wrote, "I have no words."
The family was notified Tuesday night, according to Alyssa Legere Dignard, who identified herself to reporters outside the courthouse as Boudreau's best friend. They're taking it hard, she said, fighting back tears.
"It's been a little bit of a toll on everybody. We're trying to stay strong.
"We're trying to get some more news of what happened."
Legere Dignard says Boudreau was at the Chris Rock bar the evening of Nov 14 and was supposed to meet some friends downtown at the Furnace Room, but he ended up going to Angie's Show Palace strip club in Dieppe with some other friends instead.
After that, she says he got into a cab alone, but she doesn't know where he was going or where he got dropped off.
We used to have a lot of fun together. … I miss him a lot. - Alyssa Legere Dignard, victim's friend
"I just know we had a phone call [from him] at like 3 a.m., saying that his legs were a little bloody and we were a little bit worried about him. … And then, a couple hours later, he was missing."
She doesn't know Barrow, she said, and doesn't believe he's "the type of guy that Max would hang out with."
She doesn't know of any connection Boudeau had to Irishtown or why he would have been there, she added. "So that's another big question of ours."
Boudreau's family and friends initially thought he was kidnapped, or possibly had disappeared by choice, according to Legere Dignard, who quickly added this wasn't like him.
"He was always the type of person that would talk to everybody," she said. "He's always on everyone's side.
"Max was fun, joyful, always a bundle of energy, always cheering us on, never really upset.
"We used to have a lot of fun together. … I miss him a lot."
In court Wednesday, Judge Suzanne Bernard addressed the "packed house" before dealing with the accused, saying she understood the matter would raise "some emotions for a lot of people."
She urged them to "remain calm" and warned that anyone who interrupted the proceedings would be escorted out.
Barrow stood quietly in the prisoner's box as dozens of people looked on and when the judge asked if he understood the charge he faces, he replied, "Yeah."
Normally, all homicide trials in Canada are automatically heard by judge and jury, so Bernard said all she had the authority to do was set a date for a preliminary inquiry — a hearing to determine if there's enough evidence to proceed to trial in Court of King's Bench.
Duty counsel Vincent Dubuc requested a two-week adjournment to give Barrow time to either find a lawyer or apply for legal aid. His next court date is Dec. 12 at 11 a.m., when he's expected to attend by phone. He remains in custody.
Following the proceedings, Boudreau's family and friends hugged and cried in the courthouse hallway.
Boudreau's mother, in her Facebook post, thanked the RCMP and everyone who contributed to the efforts to locate him.
Originally, his last known location was on Albert Street in Moncton on the evening of Nov. 14.
On Tuesday, RCMP said Boudreau was last seen on Nov. 15 at about 3 a.m., leaving a bar on Champlain Street in Dieppe.
In Wednesday's news release, RCMP thanked members of the community, partner agencies and specialized policing services for their assistance during the search for Boudreau.
"Our thoughts are with the family and community at this time," Ouellette said.
Anyone with information that could help the investigation is asked to contact the RCMP at 1-888-506-7267 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).