RIVIERE-OUELLE, Que. - Residents in a small Quebec town were reeling on Monday as they tried to come to terms with the violent death of a provincial cabinet minister's political aide.

Francis Proulx, 29, was charged Monday with first-degree murder in the death of Nancy Michaud.

Michaud, whose body was found in an abandoned house in Riviere-Ouelle, was an aide to Natural Resources Minister Claude Bechard and was extremely popular in the area northeast of Quebec City.

Marielle Gamache, who knows Proulx's grandmother very well, said the death will have a major impact on the community.

"It will stay in our memories for a long time," Gamache said in an interview.

"We see things happen elsewhere, but we never think that something similar could happen here."

Dominique Gagnon, a next-door neighbour of Michaud's who works with her husband, Daniel Casgrain, was devastated.

"It's very sad," Gagnon said. "We will never forget this."

Police say Proulx may face other charges, including kidnapping, confinement and robbery, when he appears in court Tuesday in Riviere-du-Loup.

Police say there was a violent struggle when Michaud was abducted from her home early Friday morning while her two young boys slept.

The boys are aged 18 months and six years old.

Acting on a tip, police found Michaud's body Sunday in the basement of the abandoned house a few kilometres from her home.

Quebec provincial police spokesman Claude Ross said two teenagers led police to the home after finding suspicious activity nearby.

Police don't believe anyone had lived in the house in almost 20 years.

Ross said an autopsy is scheduled to be performed on the body in the coming days.

Riviere-Ouelle Mayor Roger Richard said Michaud grew up in the tight-knit community and was a longtime volunteer whose murder will leave a large void in the town.

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