Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Is it a sin to be cynical?

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1528t.jpg It appears the general public is having a difficult time buying the bizarre story of Monica Gagnon.In case you missed reading it HERE, the 38-year-old Winnipeg mother of two ended up 2,500 kilometres from home this week after she claims to have been randomly kidnapped at gunpoint from a city 7-Eleven.Gagnon's story is right out of a Hollywood thriller.A mysterious stranger stares her down at a bar.She goes for a late-night drink to her local convenience store two days later.A car pulls up and four shadowy figures emerge.She recognizes one of them as the creep from the club.They jump in her car, put a gun to her and threaten her life if she doesn't start moving.She makes a dramatic escape more than 30-hours later and speeds to the nearest police station.I can two things with absolute certainty about this story, which appeared exclusively in the pages of the Free Press Thursday.1. It is getting all kinds of national attention, with calls coming in to me from all the major Canadian networks looking for additional details.2. The general public likely doesn't believe this really happened.You can't dispute the fact that somehow, Gagnon ended up vanishing from Winnipeg and turning up in Macon, Georgia. Or that her concerned husband had reported her missing.But it's the rest of the story that people are struggling with, as evident by the kinds of phone calls and emails I've received today. Heck, even Gagnon's own friends and family are stunned by what she claims happened. So, too, are the police.There are so many questions that need to be answered, including what was the motive for this and how did they get across the border?I've already heard comparisons being drawn to Dar Heatherington, the Alberta alderwoman who disappeared several years ago and turned up days later in the U.S. with an abduction story that proved to be false.Or the now infamous "Runaway Bride", who vanished just before her wedding and falsely claimed to have been kidnapped.I hate the fact that I am often cynical when I hear stories such as Gagnon's, but it's hard not to be when we've all been burned in the past.It's painfully obvious that SOMETHING happened to Gagnon. But the exact circumstances and details remain shrouded in mystery.Gagnon's good friend, Carrie Sarna, told me this week there is "no way" she would make up such a tale. And both her and Gagnon's husband insist the woman has a good life, that there was nothing to run away from.I want to believe. I really do. And I will feel bad for ever doubting Gagnon's claim if this does turn out to be 100 per cent legit.But until we know more, I'm going to reserve judgment.Stay tuned...

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About Mike McIntyre

Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.

Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.

Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.

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