Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online: Continued from part three. . .

It is time now to briefly leave the main storyline, and introduce to you, the reader, the main players who will shape the course of events regarding Wilbert Coffin. It is also the point in the overall story whereby certain readers may become mad or agitated with me with respect to my comments associated with a variety of high profile persons. I am prepared to take the heat, because, if exposing manipulation, deceit, illegal activities, and corruptness in general, steps on a few toes, then so be it. I am a firm believer that if one has something of substance to say, then they should say it. I do not believe in pussy footing around an issue.

There is an old adage that says, if you are going to sweep the stairs, then you start on the top step and sweep downward, step by step. The top step is precisely where I shall begin.

Maurice Duplessis had been premier of Quebec for many years. He ruled with an iron fist. He realized very early on, that in order to control, it was necessary to have the right people heading up the various portfolios of government. He picked the person with care for the top spots. He picked himself. He was afterall, the premier, the finance minister, the attorney general, and his close friend and confidente was the solicitor general. In charge of all these top offices of the government, woe unto anyone who dared to speak out against his wishes. It was important to Maurice Duplessis to be in the lime light, and if the United States administration yelled jump, his immediate response would be, how high? He was, and always would be, as long as he was there, foremost and number one. In my view, a designation of "the worlds littlest dictator" would be in order. Truly, a legend in his own mind.

In order that Duplessis appease the American administration, and at the same time display the appearance of skill and expertise, it would be necessary to bring the murder investigation of the three American citizens to quick conclusion. If a few people got scraped from the bottom of his boots in the process, that would be ok. At least the American government, and the Federation of Pennsylvania Sportsmen would be pleased, as Washington and Pennsylvania were already rattling their diplomatic sabres through John Foster Dulles and their American Consul in Quebec City. Duplessis was in damage control mode in the fast lane.

Duplessis, then hand picked his team of officers and justice officials to take over the case. Though in reality, they represented little more than puppets on a string, they, nonetheless, commanded a towering presence on the Gaspe' peninsula, because they were supposedly the eletest of the elete. They were the best everyone was told, and really, who would question their credentials, because afterall, they were sent by the premier of the province from Quebec City. The following make up the dream team appointed by Duplessis.

Captain Alphonse Matte was hand picked by Duplessis to seize control of the murder investigation that was currently being handled by Sgt. Henri Doyon, who had been stationed in the Gaspe' region for many years, and knew the area and most of the citizens. Captain Matte was not noted to be a gentleman. His tactics will bear that out later in the story. His methods would exceed what is generally accepted as tolerable in modern police circles. By some accounts, he could be termed as ruthless in pursuit of his quarry. Captain Matte did not have a positive record of support from his fellow workers over the years.

Captain Raoul Sirois was another import from Quebec City to assist and work closely with Captain Matte. He was from the Gaspe' region originally,and was fully bilingual. Prior to being sent to Gaspe' by Duplessis he was attached to the traffic division of the Quebec Provincial Police. In contrast to Matte, he was rather friendly, jovial, and outward. He and his cohorts like to dress with their sun glasses to give the appearance of an American TV series show. As an investigator though, Captain Raoul Sirois was a stupid and inept man. He was forced to admit at the trial that while in the woods searching for the bodies of the two murdered boys, he came upon the carcass of a bear. What does Rambo do then? He takes out his own pistol and shoots the already dead bear, when in fact the bear should have been autopsyed to determine if it had been shot, and by whom, as it was in close proximity to the murder scene. By shooting into the bear, he tarnished what possibly could have been key evidence. Both Raoul Sirois and Alphonse Matte were known to brag about their planned hanging of Wilbert Coffin. Later in the investigation, both, were nothing short of ruthless in their questioning of Marion Petrie Coffin, even to the point of locking her in a jail cell.

Sgt. Jean-Charles VanHoutte was also sent to Gaspe' to be part of the team by the premier. He was sent to replace Sgt. Henri Doyon, the former detachment commander. By this time Sgt. Doyon had been relieved of his duties, as he had dared to speak out, and was critical of the regime. For this he would pay a heavy price. Duplessis and the boys would transfer him to a detachment north of Quebec City. With one year left to go until retirement, Duplessis found a way to fire him, thereby destroying any thoughts of a pension for many many years of service. As with all who were onside with Duplessis, Sgt. VanHoutte fared very well. He would be promoted to captain, and in 1964 was appointed to head the investigation of police wrongdoing in the Wilbert Coffin case. In reality, he was investigating himself, as well as his boss, Alphonse Matte, and Raoul Sirois.

Before leaving this section, it is important that we dwell upon for a few moments another member of the Quebec Provincial Police. Though definitely not a member of the Duplessis team, this officer was very much a part of the initial investigation. His name was Sgt. Henri Doyon, and this officer, as mentioned earlier, was a long time police commander in the Gaspe region. This was Sgt. Doyon's area. He knew the people and their way of life, and as well, most importantly to this case, he knew the woods. It has been said many times that had he been allowed to continue with the original investigation, he would have been able to bring the case to a proper conclusion. There was no way that he could mesh with Captain Alphonse Matte and his high handed methods, so he was simply eliminated from the investigation. With a major murder investigation and an inquest brewing, Captain matte chose to use the services of Sgt. Doyon to personally set up tables and chairs at the parish hall in preparation for the inquest hearing. Simply put, there was no possible way that Captain matte was going to place anyone in a position whereby it could be argued that they were instrumental in solving a case. Clearly, Captain Alphonse Matte had to rule supreme. When all was said and done, in his mind there could only be one hero, and that would be him.

Lew Stoddard
Posted to site May 29. 2006

The next posting will include the wrap up of the investigation, the inquests, and the appointment of the court officers, both defense and prosecution. If you think there was government interference in the section that you just read pertaining to police selection, then it is imperative that you ponder the next posting. The declaration that justice must be perceived to be fair is about to encounter stormy waters.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online : Continued from part two. . .

It was only fitting that Wilbert would come upon the three stranded American hunters on the morning of June 10, 1853. He was, afterall, noted for being in the right spot to assist someone in a jam. Today would be no different. Wilbert managed to get their truck turned around and off the road, so as to not impede traffic.

After introductions,the elder Eugene Lindsey, served up some eggs as breakfast for Wilbert. Mr. Lindsey then inquired of Wilbert if it would be possible for him to drive his son, Richard Lindsey, into town to secure a new fuel pump for the truck, as it was felt this was the problem. Wilbert readily agreed, and the pair took off in Wilbert's vehicle for the long ride to town.

Some weeks later, Wilbert would report that when they arrived back from town, Eugene Lindsey, and Fred Claar were in the company of two other American hunters who were driving a jeep as a vehicle. Wilbert states that at this time, Eugene Lindsey gave him forty American dollars for the good deed, and the younger Richard Lindsey had given him a small novelty type knife. Wilbert then declared that he was continuing on his way to do some prospecting, however, he promised to check in with them in a couple of days before he left the area.

Wilbert would further declare that upon arriving at the scene of the broken down truck on June 12, 1953, the truck was still parked by the roadside, and there was no sign of the hunters. Wilbert stated that he waited around for a couple of hours, and by this time, he was figuring that the three hunters had teamed up with the other two that he had seen days earlier, and the decision was made by him to leave the area.

Wilbert returned to town and took care of some unfinished business, including the paying of some bills, socializing with friends and family, and later the same night would embark upon a journey to Montreal to visit Marion and his young son. He would also tie this trip with a visit to Val D'or to approach investors with respect to one of his mining claims.

Wilbert Coffin would return to Gaspe' on July 20, 1953. He returned to a much different town than what he had left a month earlier. The town was on edge, rumours were flying. A party of American bear hunters had gone missing in the area, and the remains of one of them had been found. It had been learned that the last person known to have had contact with any of these hunters was Wilbert Coffin. Upon arriving at his parents house, Wilbert soon realized the police were anxious to talk to him as soon as possible, hoping he could perhaps shed some light on the situation. Immediately, Wilbert headed for the police detachment office to seek Sgt. Henri Doyon, the head of police operations for the area.

Wilbert cooperated with Sgt. Doyon, and explained that, yes, in fact he had driven Richard Lindsey to town on June 10, 1953 to secure a new fuel pump, and that they had arrived back in the late afternoon, and discovered two new people driving a jeep visiting the elder Mr. Lindsey and Fred Claar. This duo was referred to by Mr. Lindsey, as people from where he lived in Pennsylvania. Wilbert Coffin also would admit to Sgt. Doyon that prior to leaving the area to return to town, he took from the abandoned vehicle, some personal items belonging to the American hunters. These items included a pair of binoculars, a valise containing a pair of jeans, a portable camp stove, and the uninstalled new fuel pump. Wilbert was adamant however, that the small novelty knife was freely given to him by Richard Lindsey.

At this point the focus of the story will be the detailing of events, including inquests, the arrest, and actual trial of Wilbert Coffin. As one will appreciate later in the story, the investigation process, and supporting documentation is a tangled web of deceit, manipulation, and interference by the provincial government of Quebec. At the conclusion of the story, I shall outline and detail many examples, all the way down from the then premier of Quebec, the late Maurice Duplessis, to the most junior police officer. You will see examples of a planned course of action to nail Wilbert Coffin. You will also see examples of stupidity, and ineptness, by both the police and Wilbert Coffin's lead defense lawyer. This will be the part where you, the reader, will determine in your own mind, whether or not justice was done.

Prior to getting into the story, it is relevant here to introduce you to a man living in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. His name is Alton Price.
Alton spent many years studying this case in the greatest of detail. He visited the area on more than one occasion, he travelled all the routes in question, and he interviewed all the key players that were still alive, and willing to talk. Alton was determined to get to the bottom of the affair, and expose to the public a true chronicle of events. This was only possible with a grass roots approach.
As a conclusion to all his research material, Alton Price wrote a book titled "To Build A Noose." I have read other publications on this matter, however, without doubt, Alton's book is more complete and absolute.
When Alton heard of my planned project to write this story on my web site, he not only wished me well, but he presented me with an autographed copy of his book and extended an invitation for me to use any passages and information that I deemed necessary. For this, I shall be forever grateful. Without doubt, Alton's offer enhances my own research in a big way.

Lew Stoddard
Posted to site May 20, 2006

Next posting is planned for May 23, 2006

Friday, May 05, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online: Continued from part one. . .

Wilbert Coffin had spent the major part of his life in and around the Gaspe' region of Quebec. He knew everyone and everyone knew him. Coming from a family of eleven, Wilbert learned at a very early age the necessity of people pulling together, especially in a small town.

One of Wilberts surviving sisters, Marie Stewart of Gaspe', in her own words stated to me, "my brother was always concerned about the other person, and would do what he could to assist, and thus, Wilbert was always the first there, when someone needed a hand." It was only fitting that Wilbert appear on the scene and be able to help the party of American hunters. It was simply his style and his place to be.

Wilbert's helping hand was not limited to his local community however. When the Second World War erupted in Europe, and Canada put out the call for manpower, Wilbert was there to answer the call. Wilbert would spend most of the war years in Europe, defending the honor, and the rights and freedoms of fellow Canadians.

Upon returning to Canada after the war, the subsequent years were spent adjusting to civilian life once again. With the post war economy being in a state of disarray, jobs were not plentiful. Wilbert did what many locals did. He busied himself in fishing, and in forestry work. Wilbert had a keen fondness for mining and minerals, and thus, developed an interest in prospecting. As a result, he staked claims on behalf of others, as well as himself.

In quietier periods during the winter months, Wilbert did odd jobs around the community. He worked for sometime as a cook in the local hotel, a profession that he learned in the army during the war. In leisure time, Wilbert enjoyed the company of his fellow cronies, bending the elbow to a few pints at the local tavern, while swapping war and prospecting stories, and any other tale associated with the community. As his brother in law Leigh Stewart recently related to me, "Wilbert was just a normal every day guy like everyone else, and you always knew when he was around."

As with other local people trying to make a better life, Wilbert sometimes travelled outside his normal boundaries. He spent some time in Quebec City, Val D'or, and Montreal. It was on one of these trips that Wilbert would meet the love of his life, Marion Petrie. Sometime later, a son, James would be born to Marion and Wilbert. Marion, would live for a time in Gaspe', and then later return to Montreal where she had been employed previously. Wilbert would make trips to Montreal so they could spend some time together as a family.

It was apparent that big city lifestyle was not for Wilbert, as the lure of the small Gaspe' community always prevailed. He was happiest doing what he did best, being outdoor and roaming the hills and forests for minerals. It was not unusual for Wilbert to spend one night or two weeks, camped out in pursuit of his dreams.

It was just another of these sojourns into the forest that Wilbert would come upon three American bear hunters, stranded with a broken down vehicle. The date was June 10, 1953. Little did Wilbert know, this would be his last adventure into the wilderness. Wilbert Coffin's journey into Hell on earth was about to begin.

Lew Stoddard
Posted to site May 07, 2006

The upcoming posting on May 10, 2006 will outline the case that was built around Wilbert Coffin, and the resulting trial, controlled by the government of Quebec.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online

Times were tough in the 1950's across Canada. The nation was on a rebound from the effects of the Second World War which concluded less than a decade earlier. Smaller, lesser known communities felt the pinch more so than the larger urban centres, although, what the smaller communities lacked in wealth, was compensated by their ability to stand firm during crisis.

The Gaspe' Peninsula in rural Quebec was no exception. Aside from the larger urban areas of Montreal, Quebec City, and Trois Rivieres, other areas of the province were largely left to fend for themselves. Quebec City, demanded their tax revenues, but provided little for many areas outside the mainstream core.

The story you are about to read is nauseating. In no way, can it be portrayed as a nice story. In it's beginning, at best it can be described as shocking, the storyline throughout is cruel and disgusting, and the ending is ugly. If you feel weak and faint at heart, then perhaps you should not read this account. I feel compelled to present this story to you, chiefly, because it happened in Canada, and during a modern era of our history.

Part one of this saga, in abbreviated form, outlines the events leading up to the emergence of Wilbert Coffin, and the major players in this unbelievable tale of bush league justice. Subsequent parts to this story, will be in more comprehensive detail, and hopefully provide an understanding of the correlation of events. The follow up chapters will be made available on this site approximately two days apart. I have attempted to spare you, the reader, from many of the more graphic details with respect to the details of the discovery of the victims.

This story will outline one man's courageous battle with our so called justice system, as he and his community rally together in an effort to stave off his destiny as predetermined by others. From my own personal research for this story, I have concluded, those we are told to trust the most, in many cases, turn out to be those that we can trust the least. Specifically here, I am talking about the police and the judiciary, spearheaded by the Quebec premier of the day, the late Maurice Duplessis, who in my opinion, exhibited the characteristics of a premier turned dictator.

You may think the title that I have chosen for my story is unusual, however, later on you will learn it's relevance. The following is part one. . . .

I Commend My Soul To Thee

It was early June in 1953, and the small towns and villages of the Gaspe' Peninsula in Quebec's far eastern reaches were getting prepared for the summer activities. The commercial fishing fleet and the foresty workers were gearing up as they had done for many years. These two industries were the staples of the Gaspe' communities. The weather was warm, and with it, would bring the influx of affluent sport fishermen and hunters from the United States, who frequented the area on a regular basis.

Though not his first trip to the area, Eugene Lindsey from Altoona County in Pennsylvania would arrive on June 08, 1953. He would be accompanied this time by his teen age son Richard, and Richard's friend Fred Claar, for the annual spring bear hunt. This trip would prove to be the trio's last to the area. In July of that same year, the remains of all three were found deep in the woods of the Gaspe' Peninsula, brutally murdered by a person or persons unknown. They were discovered as a result of the concerns by family members back home in Pennsylvania, who contacted local police, who were finally able to make contact with the Gaspe' region, as there had been no contact for over a month, and the date for their planned return home had come and gone.

Initially, the Pennsylvania police had attempted to reach a local guide, Russell Patterson, who knew the area well. He was not at home, however, a Mr. Thomas Miller was staying at his house and the Pennsylvania authorities explained the circumstances and asked him to investigate as best he could.

As Mr. Miller had guided for Eugene Lindsey in the past he knew the area that he favoured for hunting. Immediately setting out for that camp area, he very soon came upon the abandoned truck that the Lindsey party had been driving. It was at the roadside in heavy bush. There was no sign of current activity, and Thomas Miller noted personal possessions and equipment inside the truck, as well as other items on the back. The date was July 08, 1953.

A massive search was convened as it was now evident that the American hunters were indeed missing. As a result of that search, signs of Eugene Lindsey's past presence was discovered in close proximity of a particular hunting camp. This discovery was made on July 15, 1953, and later on the same day, his partial skeletal remains were found near another hunting camp in the area, and was obvious that his body had been ravaged by forest animals.

From the condition of Eugene Lindsey's remains, it was impossible to determine an immediate cause of death. The authorities, now armed with the knowledge of a confirmed death, mounted an extensive search of the area, and on July 23, 1953, the remains of Richard Lindsey and his friend Fred Claar were discovered. Their skeletal remains were located some 200 feet apart, and considerable distance across a major river, from the remains of the elder Eugene Lindsey.

Prior to this date, the last sighting recalled by any of the townsfolk of Gaspe' of any member of this hunting party was on June 10, 1953, when it was observed by several, that Richard Lindsey was in town to purchase a new fuel pump for their hunting vehicle. On this venture, he was chauffeured by a local well known outsdoorsman. This person was Wilbert Coffin.

Lew Stoddard
Posted to site May 03, 2006

The next posting will detail the man, Wilbert Coffin, as to who he was, his personal life, his status in the community, and his aspirations, in his quest for a better life for he and his family.