Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online. . . . . . Continuance Of The Wilbert Coffin Story

At times it is necessary to back up in order to come forward. That is where I am at now with the Wilbert Coffin story. Certain things have taken place that has made it necessary to change direction somewhat. This particular posting would have taken place down the road a bit, however, to avoid an acceleration of erroneous information, now was the time to jump in and clarify a few more things. It is the barrage of this erroneous information over the past half century that has wreaked havoc with this case resulting with the destruction and the destroying of families. I am determined to not let that happen this time.

The first question that I pose is simply this. Who was this Eugene Hunter Lindsey of Pennsylvania? Sure, most of us are aware that he was the senior hunter in the party of three Pennsylvania hunters who were murdered in the remote Quebec woods in 1953, but aside from that fact, do we really know very much about him? It has been touted that robbery was the motive for his death, at least that is the motive that the crown insisted upon, even though no one has ever been charged with his murder. This theory was always weak at best, and assurdly would never have stood up to scrutiny had other pertinent evidence been factored in.

It is important to understand that Richard Lindsey and Fred Claar were never the intended targets in these crimes. There was one intended target, and that target was Eugene Hunter Lindsey. The two younger men were simply in the wrong place at the right time to have their lives snuffed out at the hands of the assissin of Eugene Lindsey.

In order for a murder investigation to have meaning, it is prudent to establish a motive. In this case, once a motive is established for the killing of Eugene Lindsey, the motive for the killing of Richard Lindsey and Fred Claar becomes self explanatory. If this train of thought had prevailed in 1953, a conviction could very easily have evolved for Eugene Lindsey's murder. I can prove that conviction would not have carried the name of Wilbert Coffin. I make that statement based on the fact, that had Eugene Lindsey been properly investigated in 1953, Wilbert Coffin would never have been charged with the murder of Richard Lindsey. To reiterate, I ask the question, do we really know very much about this man called Lindsey?

I can honestly say that I do know quite a bit about him. I had heard many rumours over the past while, however, I place no creedence in rumours. I did what I normally do in this sort of situation, I conducted my own research, independent of the rumour mill. It is important to know more about Eugene Lindsey with reference to this case, than just the fact that he was a bear hunter from Pennsylvania murdered in the wilds of the rural Gaspe' Peninsula.

Eugene Hunter Lindsey was born in Frankstown, Pennsylvania on May 16, 1906, the son of Jonathan and Verna (Hunter) Lindsey. One of five children born to this family, Eugene Lindsey grew up in the area of Pennsylvania where he was born. He attended Altoona High School and graduated in the class of 1923, and would live some of his subsequent years in Altoona. Eugene Lindsey later met and married Mary Sell from nearby Woodbury, Pennsylvania. Three children would be born to them, daughters Eleanor, and Donna, and a son, Richard.

After marriage Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Lindsey would settle in the community of Brookes Mills, near the community of Hollidaysburg in the state of Pennsylvania. Shortly after high school graduation, Eugene would acquire full time employment with Altoona Works, a subsiduary of the railway service, where he would remain until his death.

During the early years Eugene Lindsey was an avid outdoor person, with a keen interest in hunting. He became a member of the Pennsylvania Federation Of Sportsmens Clubs who were a powerful voice in recreational shooting. During these years, Eugene Lindsey and his wife were members of the nearby Leamersville Church Of The Brethren. The church membership afforded Eugene Lindsey the place in local society normally reserved for those with outstanding qualities. In Eugene Lindsey's case, it was the Sunday Eugene Lindsey, versus the rest of the week Eugene Lindsey. A pattern of conflicting characteristics is about to emerge.

In his early years Eugene would practise frugality. He loved money and the associated power that accompanied it. On a small scale Eugene Lindsey discovered ways to turn a quick dollar. The secret though was to turn that quick dollar for a healthy profit.

The company that employed him was one of the largest employers in the state. Each employee would get a pay cheque each week. Many of these employees were single, and as well, there were many employees who did not have bank accounts or cheque cashing privleges. As a result of a gradual buildup of capital in the form of ready cash, Eugene Lindsey was in a position to offer a private money service. He would cash the employee's cheques on pay day for a five percent cashing fee. It was not unusual for Eugene Lindsey to have on his person several thousand dollars on any given pay day. Though the company frowned upon the practise, he soon found a way to work around the restrictions placed on him by head office, and thus, was able to carry on business as usual.

With the love of money and greed slowly taking over his life, Eugene Lindsey decided to expand his business to include the business of loaning money at high rates of interest to fellow workers. Though on the surface Eugene would appear to be that nice church fellow, it was that darker seedier side that bore Eugene Lindsey's true colours. On more than one occasion, a fellow worker may have to be "reminded" to get his repayment schedule back in order. Eugene of course, would never personally do the reminding. A few dollars in a local tavern could usually find someone who was proficient in the art of "persuasion." Afterall, it was important that Eugene maintain that church goer image. Behind the scenes however, a trail of hatred was building, because down deep, who really likes a loan shark?

Having built up a considerable cash reserve from his cheque cashing and loan enterprize, Eugene Lindsey constantly sought other ways to turn a dollar. In their various outlets, his place of employment employed over eight thousand workers. Many of these workers needed transportation to and from the work place. Eugene devised a scheme whereby he could supply that transportation, and do it legally. He bought several older buses, and applied to the Pennsylvania Carrier Permission for a license to transport workers. He was granted a permit to service select routes within Blair County. The business was lucrative. He built up his fleet to a high of eighteen. Greed was setting in now at an accelerated rate. It was this greed that would land Eugene Lindsey in hot water with the state.

Not satisfied with the assigned routes from the state government, Eugene decided to expand his territory. He simply muscled in on other routes, and would pick up and deliver passengers in contravention of his permits. As a result, the state took action and he would be fined heavily for his deeds on many occasions, resulting in a show cause action. It was necessary that Mr. Lindsey show cause as to why his license should not be suspended permanently. It was at this point that Eugene Lindsey made the decision to sell his interest in the transportation industry. He sold his interest, not for cash, but on a payment schedule.

A check of state police records suggests that Eugene Lindsey was not an unknown to the organization. In addition to being cited numerous times for license infractions, Mr. Lindsey had among other things, a charge and conviction for hit and run, and as well, a warrant had been issued for his arrest. Eugene Lindsey was not an angel.

It is documented that Eugene Lindsey like to party. He liked good Canadian whiskey, and he liked the ladies as well. Away from his home, it was not unlike Eugene to flash a roll of cash. It gave him that false sense of security and prominence within his peer circle. Eugene was riding high and it felt good.

If Eugene Lindsey was trying to make an impression, he pulled out all the stops. Afterall, in a tavern, some guy sitting over in the corner by himself with a wad of cash, drinking the best whiskey in the house, and smoking the best cigars was bound to be the centre of attention. This was what made him tick. It enabled him to emerge from that quiet, sober, Sunday church boy image and be his true self. It is documented that on one such evening, Eugene would spot someone who owed him money. Eugene was above asking the guy directly, however, a ten dollar bill soon found someone down on their luck who was willing to inflict a severe physical beating on the man while Eugene sat and watched.

In spite of the free spending Eugene Lindsey that he portrayed himself to be, there is no question, Eugene Lindsey was a cheapskate. He looked after, and spoke well of those closest to him, providing they had something to offer in return. Clarence Claar was a good example. They were lifelong friends, hunted together, socialized, and Clarence's son Fred and Eugene's son Richard were best friends. By comparison, Eugene was much wealthier than Clarence. When it came to hunting equipment, Eugene was too cheap to buy his own. It was easier to feast on what Clarence had to offer. He would borrow Clarence's rifles, hunting knives, binoculars, and whatever else was available.

Outside his immediate hometown area of Pennsylvania, Eugene Lindsey was known as a braggart. He displayed little regard for those he had hunted and socialized with over the years. His list of hunting partners was dwindling. He was known to go on a hunting journey with friends and upon arriving at the area for the hunt, Eugene would simply take off by himself. He would overshoot his limit of game, rather than aid one of his hunting partners. Very simply, Eugene Lindsey was motivated by greed.

In the early fifties it became popular for those who could afford it, to travel outside the United States to go on hunting expeditions. A popular spot in those days was the vast frontier of eastern Canada, specifically the Gaspe' peninsula. In those days, Gaspe' was virtually an unspoiled natural wilderness, teeming with fish and game animals. Eugene Lindsey was one of those people who could afford the jaunt, and between 1950 and 1953 he made many trips to the area. While on the subject of trips to Gaspe', and at the same time alluding to the fact that Eugene Lindsey was a cheapskate, one has to consider his mode of travel.

In his final year of 1953, Eugene Lindsey was still driving a 1947 Ford half ton pickup truck that had seen better days. For his final trip, the truck was in a state of disrepair before leaving Pennsylvania. It broke down in New York state when it over heated and the radiator blew. The fuel pump was giving problems, and the tires were bald as Eugene was too cheap to replace them. Consider this for a moment. Either one is incredibly stupid, or one is incredibly cheap to start out on a 3,000 mile round trip from Pennsylvania to the tip of the Gaspe' peninsula with such a vehicle. As if that is not enough, after reaching Gaspe' the plan is to take this truck 70 miles into the bush over trails and little used logging roads, with the bald tires and too cheap to buy a set of chains. Possibly a combination of being cheap and stupid is appropriate here.

Unfortunately Eugene Lindsey did not come across well with many of the folks of the Gaspe' communities. Many would find him overbearing, demanding, and egotistical. Eugene would arrive back home in Pennsylvania from a trip to the Gaspe' and laugh and make comments about his hosts while in Canada. This behaviour is documented in statements made by his peers at home. While in Gaspe' Eugene Lindsey was known countless times to flash a pocket full of money. Perhaps this was done to display superiority, or perhaps to make a statement saying, I have it, and you don't. Whatever the reason, Eugene Lindsey was not a favourite in Gaspe'.

Back home, Eugene Lindsey could often be seen drinking his favourite brand of Canadian liquor. He would brag about this fact, as if to say, this is from my own private supply. What he wasn't saying was the fact that in the Gaspe' area, he was friends with a certain fellow by the name of Mr. Farley, a fellow American who made his home near Gaspe' town.

Mr. Farley was carrying on an illegal liquor importing business. Mr. Farley had a depot on the beach, closed off from the highway by a high fence. The property was complete with docking facilities for boats bringing in contraband liquor and tobacco products from the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, located off the south coast of Newfoundland. This venture interested Eugene Lindsey in a big way. Firstly, it was a lucrative business, and secondly, it would serve to satisfy the personal lust for good cigars and good booze. The most important part of all to Eugene was the fact that on each trip to the Gaspe' he would be able to smuggle a small quantity back to Pnnsylvania with him and turn a tidy profit on it, and at the same time, combine it with a hunting trip. Truly, the best of both worlds.

Eugene Lindsey would make the trip to Gaspe' many times during those times. Sometimes by himself, and sometimes with others, but always under the guise of a hunting trip. Eugene Lindsey made friends and he made enemies. This fact would go with the territory, when you consider a loanshark trying to break into a high scale bootlegging operation such as this. The combination of loanshark, international bootlegger, and down to earth American hunter just didn't cut it. One can speculate that a quietier more serene type person may have been able to wear all these hats. Not so in this case. We are talking about Eugene Lindsey. Eugene Lindsey had to boast, and he had to appear to be the king pin. Again, when at home in his native Pennsylvania, documentation shows that Eugene had to brag.

Eugene openly bragged about his time spent in Gaspe'. Eugene liked to play poker. Documentation shows that Eugene welched on gambling debts incurred in Gaspe'. According to Eugene's wife Mary, her husband withdrew some six hundred and fifty dollars from their bank account prior to making his final journey. Presumably, that money would have gone toward paying off gambling debts in Gaspe'.

It is documented that Eugene Lindsey bragged about physically beating up a guide in the Gaspe' district. Eugene Lindsey would also brag about having an affair with the wife of a man who was employed as a guide in the Gaspe' area. It has been later learned that Eugene Lindsey made advances to a lady who worked for Mr. Farley in his liquor importing business. It has been reported that the lady's husband, a Mr. Jean Cabot was not impressed.

Eugene was later heard to laugh about his second to the last trip that he made to the area. According to Eugene, someone in Gaspe' had warned him that if he ever set foot in Gaspe again, it would be to his peril. . . . . .

Lew Stoddard
Posted November 28, 2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

Stoddard Online


By now you are no doubt aware of certain articles appearing in some of the eastern publications regarding the Wilbert Coffin case. As we all know, this case has been around for in excess of fifty long years. As a result, anytime that information not previously known about by the public can very easily be absorbed by a hungry society as the long awaited turning point that is almost guaranteed to break the case. This is where the public should tread with caution.

Judging from some of the comments on my web site, and through numerous e-mails on this latest revelation, there will be a cross section of the public who will be quick to say that I am just trying to steal someone else's thunder. If that is your approach, that is ok. My position on this remains the same, I am not ready to start doing cartwheels just yet. This case is not over. I wish it was, but it simply isn't.

You will have read of the possible involvement of a Mr. Jean Philippe Cabot in this case, naming him as a possible perpetrator of this crime. That is not new information. That story has been around for at least thirty years. You will have read in some of the recent articles that Mr. Cabot's son, Gabriel, has stated that he was a witness to his father commiting this crime. You may be hearing of that for the first time only now with the recent newspaper accounts. Again, this is not new. That part of the story is decades old as well. It was not publicly reported on previously because of one underlying reason, and one reason alone. That reason being , there would have been possible slander implications, simply because there was no sworn affadavit to back up the claim. Suddenly, the story emerges now in the press. It is ok here to say, Why now? The quick answer to that is because Mr. Gabriel Cabot passed into eternity in May of 2006, thus removing the slander barrier that existed.

On a personal note, I commenced investigating and writing the story of Wilbert Coffin in April of 2006. Within one week of research, Mr. Cabot's name was brought to my attention through many rumours. I did a fair amount of researching Mr. Cabot. Information came from many sources. It had to be sifted very carefully, as obviously much of it was based strictly on what someone had heard, and that person had heard it from someone else, and so on down the line. In other words, lots of stories, but not a lot that I could nail down as concrete. I did learn though, as many others did, Mr. Cabot Sr. was not a nice person. Obviously, I never had the opportunity to interview Mr. Cabot, so again, even the stuff that is accepted as fact, I know of no sworn document to support these allegations.

I know that it takes courage and stamina for a family member to come forward in cases such as this. I commend the family for that, but again, the information brought forward in this latest report seems to stem from Gabriel Cabot who has passed on, with no sworn statement that I am aware of. In the absence of sworn testimony, just how much creedence will be placed on all this by the government review board, I am not sure, and indeed, I do not speculate.

In the event there are some of you who will suggest that I did not know previously of the Cabot allegations, well, let me suggest that I can back up my claim. As I have stated many times in my writings, I publish nothing as fact that I cannot back up with a personal interview, or a document to nail it down. In this case, I have such a document, signed in the hand writing of the author. As a matter of fact, I have at least two of them. Because of this fact, I will suggest to you, that the basis for much of the current stories that you are reading in the newspapers was garnered from this same individual, and not from sudden new research carried out by the publications. I know that because the same information appears in some of the newspaper accounts that is in the signed documents that I am in possession of, and I have possessed these since early spring. Let me be clear, I am not saying this as a means to question the validity of the content in the documents that I possess, I am merely suggesting that I know the roots of the story.

I am not the only person to view and read these documents. I have shared the content and allowed some members of the Coffin family to view them as well. I will tell you that one of these documents was written to Jean Gabriel Cabot and is dated July 31, 2004. The other document, hand written is to a gentleman in the Gaspe region. That document is dated October, 1999. The document to Mr. Cabot was written in an attempt to coerce him to talk and swear information. In my view, at best it would serve to scare off someone allegedly having gone through what Mr. cabot is purported to have experienced. I believe the tone of this document is atrocious, and I believe that the author was not qualified to do such an interrogation. In contrast to this document, the other addressed to an individual in the Gaspe' region, asks among other things, did the recipient recall if Philippe Cabot's vehicle had bald tires or not? Under normal everyday conditions that may be a good question, however, in this case, the vehicle in question was owned in 1953, and this was now 1999.

I was going to post these documents, and I do not rule out the possibility that I may still do so. I chose not to at the present time in order to avoid embarassment to the author, particularly in the document to Mr. Cabot, because as I stated I do not like the tone of the wording, and quite frankly, I find it disturbing and chilling. I sought and obtained a legal opinion yesterday with respect to publishing these papers. I was assured that I was well within the confines of the law to publish them, as their origins are authenticated, and given to me by the person who prepared and signed them.

In one weekend publication one statement jumps out at me. Gabriel Cabot is reportedly saying that he witnessed his father beating Eugene Lindsey, and then finish him off by running over him with the truck and crushing him. Obviously, the reporter did not see, or did not have available the autopsy report on Mr. Lindsey. I do have those reports on all three individuals. There is absolutely nothing in the autopsy report of Mr. Lindsey to suggest he was crushed by a moving truck. There is no mention of broken bones reported. It does mention though that the head and a large part of the thorax was missing. The autopsy reports on the boys do not state they were shot. It states there were circular perforations in the clothing, but not identifying them as a result of gunshots. The gunshot theory was factored in later.

There are many questions to answer, and again I repeat, in my view until such time as a sworn affadavit surfaces from Gabriel Cabot, it is going to be a tough sell. It is wrong to anticipate the decision that may come from the government inquiry just yet.

With respect to my own personal involvement in this case, my plans and goals have not changed. From day one, my objective has been, still is, and always will be to end this story with the exoneration of Wilbert Coffin. In my view, the main focus right now should be to prove that Wilbert Coffin was executed by a flawed process, and the reasons why it happened. In other words, I am in it for the long haul. I stand by what I have reported on this case.

I have not faltered with respect to my theory that these men were not shot, but stabbed. I am not saying that Mr. Cabot did not play a role, but when you read my accounting, you will see an altogether different picture than that being presented in the media. I received a telephone call yesterday from a major print media outlet in Toronto. I was asked by the reporter if I might make a statement for him about my views on the outcome of the case. I told him, sure I would be happy to. I told him to keep reading the web page, and he would get the statement at exactly the same time as the rest of Canada gets it. My first responsibility is to my readers, and to the families of Wilbert Coffin and others touched by this horrendous saga.

Now to get back to the business of solving this affair. On Friday, I shall be posting the commencement of the trial, how it was set up, the players involved, and the presentation of the crown's case leading to Wilbert Coffin's conviction. At the conclusion of the trial, this is where you will all learn the exact reason that Wilbert Coffin was allowed to finally hang and the documented sequence of events that provided the mechanism for the execution.

Lew Stoddard
Posted to site November 21, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online . . . . . . . SPECIAL NOTICE
As readers of this site, I wish to inform you there will be a special posting here tomorrow, November 21, concerning the recent account pertaining to the Wilbert Coffin case.
At this point in time, I would urge you to not make assumptions on this case based solely on what you have read in the past few days. This case has a long way to go, a very long way to go. I wish it was that easy. It is not.
If we are not careful, very careful, we shall find ourselves back beyond where we started, with a bigger question mark looming than what we have had for the past fifty years.
Lew Stoddard
Posted to site November 20, 2006

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online The Baker Family Of Gaspe'. . . . Part Two

I asked keith Baker some pertinent questions with reference to his Dad, Bill Baker. Keith pointed out to me that he would be pleased to answer whatever queries that I had. I explained to Keith that my objective was to get to the bottom and come forward with facts, and that I had no plans to write about things which were not true, and not supported by documentation or personal interviews.

Keith informed me that to the disbelief of many, Bill baker was a strong Liberal supporter in his political beliefs. It has been reported many times over the years that Bill Baker was a staunch supporter of The Union Nationale Party of Maurice Duplessis. He may have given that appearance on occasion, however, as you read this report you will learn the reasons why it may have appeared as such.
In reality, according to Keith, "his Dad would have had three strikes against him in the eyes of The Union Nationale Government, as in addition to being a Liberal, Bill Baker had an excellent command of the French language, but he insisted on conducting himself and his affairs in English, and he was born a Roman catholic, only to reject their directives and become a protestant." These three reasons would be adequate to bring down the wrath of Maurice Duplessis. It is a known proven fact, that during the dark days of the reign of terror of Premier Maurice Duplessis, anyone who was not Roman Catholic, not francophone, and to top it off, not Union Nationale in their political leanings, was not worthy of recognition. Bill Baker was such a person. A bit later on, you will read some examples of what this would mean, if you were not in favor of the government during those years.

Keith tells us that in the very early days of the 1950's, his Dad, working with Gaspe' local Jack Eagle, and a fellow named Mr. McDonald worked together and prospected and staked claims near St. Anne De Monts whoich was close to Mount Albert. As a result, Noranda Mines became interested and took out an option on the properties. Taking it a step further, Noranda did the necessary geophysical work and discovered mineralization on the claims. Further tests however, would determine that the minerals were not of a sufficient quantity to establish a mine.

Keith would later work for Noranda on these properties, and also at a property west of Bathurst, New Brunswic
k. As a result of this venture, Bill Baker and Jack Eagle were hooked on the idea of prospecting and the mysteries and excitement that accompanied it. At about this same time, along came a mutual friend and acquaintance who also had prospecting for minerals on his mind. This friend and acquaintance had ore samples from the head waters of the St. John River area in Gaspe'. His name was Wilbert Coffin, and he wanted to stake claims in the area.

Instantly, a loose partnership was formed, bringing onboard as well, Mr. McDonald. Later in the story, we will learn that even though Mr. McDonald had knowledge of mining and prospecting, he lacked skills associated with successful forest and terrain navigation.
There are elements that are necessary for the success of any venture. Firstly there is the necessity of knowledge of the workings of the venture. This partnership had that, especially considering that Wilbert Coffin had been combing these hills and mountains for a long time, and when combined with Mr. McDonald's knowledge of the workings of the mining business, would go a long way toward the success of the operation.

Two of the key elements for the success of any operation is equipment and the availability of resources and funds. Firstly, they had the equipment, from the combination of Mr. McDonald, and that which was owned by Wilbert Coffin. Mr. McDonald had some money so he was in a position to advance some venture capital. It had the makings of a small, but successful operation. Keith Baker informs me that with his Dad being caught up with interest in the venture, willingly supplied the services of his new pickup truck for transportation of equipment and travel. Without doubt, the services of the truck were monumental, especially in the terrain to which they were heading.

From my research, I have determined that the day to day hotel business in Gaspe' would keep Bill Baker close to home. This way he was able to be a partner in the mining venture and run his own business simultaneously.
Keith Baker informs me that his Dad had been involved in an accident as a youth that would leave him with permanent neck injuries. As a result of fusing of vertebrae Bill Baker was unable to turn his head, making it necessary to turn his body for the simple task of being able to see activity at his side. As a result of this procedure, Marnie had explained to me earlier that their Dad was plagued with back problems and constant pain.

In his own words, Keith explains the death of their Dad as a very trumatic experience for all the family. He describes the death scene in detail in much the same way
that sister Marnie described it earlier on. He describes the extent that his Mum tried to help him, and frantically going to the opposite end of the hotel to the bar for help, with the end result being there was nothing that could be done for Dad, in spite of the best efforts put forth.

Keith goes on to explain local family doctor, Dr. Guy Fortier gave his findings as a heart attack, which occured in the bathroom, and as Marnie stated earlier, in falling their Dad struck his head and neck on the edge of the porcelain toilet, which quite probably fractured his neck. That fact had been conveyed to her later on by her Mum in consultation with Dr. Fortier. An autopsy was deemed to be unnecessary, as Dr. Fortier was satisfied as to the cause of death.

June Baker simply did not insist on an autopsy just to appease those spreading rumours. She was satisified that the death was natural, and not by his own hand.
A chilling aspect to the above scenario is the fact that local coroner Lionel Rioux was away on a holiday. With absolutely nothing to base his decision on, Dr. Rioux would state that the death could appear suspicious. That statement that would accelerate the wheels of the rumour mill. Years later Doctor Lionel Rioux would state that perhaps Dr. Guy Fortier acted a bit too hastily. That is a broad and bold statement to come from the doctor.

On the subject of acting too hastily, Dr. Lionel Rioux had a very short memory. It was this same Dr. Rioux, who as coroner with his band of merry men consisting of Owen Patterson, Gabriel Bernard, Wharrel Annet, Lloyd Kruse, Lloyd Annet, and Lewis Miller allowed The Quebec Provincial Police and a provincial prosecutor to fraudelently seize control of a public inquest, that set the stage for Wilbert Coiffin to be hanged in the first place. In this writers view, there simply was no justification for that action, and for Dr. Lionel Rioux to be making a statement such as is quoted, that Dr. Fortier perhaps acted too hastily, this without doubt is a classic example stupidity.

Keith Baker tells me that Dr. Fortier felt the best course of action for his Mum in response to many of the underhanded remarks floating around was possibly to ignore them without dignifying them with a response. Keith has always felt that with that approach, many of those making remarks and asking questions would eventually go to Dr. Fortier and enquire for the professional version. On record, I cannot find where any ever did.

Keith Baker also told me that at the time of the trial, Wilbert Coffin's lawyer, Raymond Maher would make statements about the trial at the Ash Inn. This lawyer would of course be very familiar with the local wa
tering hole, because he was a drunk, we all know that. Keith told me that Mr. Maher made the statement to Bill Baker at the Ash Inn that Wilbert Coffin would not be found guilty as there was not enough evidence. He further stated there would be a further trial, but it would be at the expense of the prosecution.

There is no question, Bill Baker was deeply concerned for the dilemma that Wilbert Coffin was in. True, Bill Baker and Wilbert Coffin were friends but it went deeper. Simply put, Bill Baker knew that an innocent man was being manipulated towards the gallows.

Sometime back someone e-mailed me and asked me if I was aware of the fact that Wilbert Coffin and Bill Baker had argued on occasion about their business dealings? Of course they argued, they were partners. Show me any business partnership where the partners have not argued, and I can guarantee that you have a very weak association.
Previously in this posting, I alluded to the pressure that the government and Catholic Church could exert on businesses and individuals. Many folks probably are not aware of things such as this. Marnie gave me a very graphic example. Their family business was the hospitality business. They had lounges and restaurants. They legally served alcohol. In direct terms, if they did not financially support the Catholic Church, then pure and simple, their source of supply could quickly dry up. If they did not support the Union Nationale Party, their supply source could also dry up. Remember, in the eyes of Duplessis, you simply did not exist if you were not Catholic, and as well, a supporter of Union Nationale.

If you have doubts as to a provincial premier actually resorting to this sort of pressure and control, I would suggest that you take the time to research and see what happened when a group of Jehovah's Witnesses were legally practising their beliefs in Montreal during the Duplessis reign. He had them all thrown into jail. They had no money for bail. Out of the blue, a successful restaurant and lounge owner from Montreal responded to their plight and bailed each and every one of them from jail. Duplessis was swift and absolute. He instructed his minister responsible for liquor to immediately pull the liquor license of the restaurant owner. Fortunately, Duplessis had met his match. It required a trip to the Supreme Court for reinstatement and cost Duplessis substantially personally. I tell you this as an example of the type of axe that Duplessis was willing to swing in the direction of those who opposed him. Bill Baker was under that kind of pressure. He was not located in mainstream Quebec.

Over the years Bill and June Baker provided employment for many people in the Gaspe' region of Quebec. Some of them are still alive to this day. A few have
even taken the time to respond to my requests to come forward and relate knowledge of Bill nad June Baker. The following is a generous sampling that I am pleased to share with you.

I received an e-mail approximately two months ago from a lady named Catherine M. from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She told me that she worked in the summers for the Bakers in a restaurant at the hotel. She told me that they always encouraged her to stay in school. She told me that she did stay in school and when she graduated, as a gift, June and Bill Baker presented her with a beautiful silver pin. Catherine told me that she still has that pin to this day. She also went on to say that it was cruel and ugly for June Baker to have to endure the smear left unwarranted on the Baker family name.

Another noteworthy e-mail was received from a gentleman named Gaston M. who grew up in the Gaspe' area as a youngster. Gaston related to me that after one particularly deep snowfall on the peninsula, the town was virtually buried. Bill Baker personally recruited Gaston and five of his friends to shovel snow from around the hotel. Bill paid each one two dollars, a tidy sum for a school boy in 1951, to clear snow for a few hours. They were fed lunch, and when the work was complete, Bill Baker threw the first snowball to touch off the snowball fight.

As a young man, lifetime resident Fabien Sinnett was in the carpet business in Gaspe'. Fabien told me that Bill and June Baker were steady customers of his. He furt
her stated that they were a joy to do business with. They were polite, understanding, and above all, they paid their bills.

You will recall that I told you at the onset of this piece that if you were looking for intrigue, suspense, ghoolish tales and all those other things that you would be disappointed. You see, the lives of June and Bill Baker were not at all unlike most all of us. I have presented all this to you as a means of attempting to quell the cloudy atmosphere that has developed over the years with reference to this family, and has been a destructive force to younger generations.

I am hopeful that I have been successful in putting a human touch on their existence. I have researched this family over a long period of months, and have found nothing that sets them apart from most other young couples across Canada, raising a family and operating a small family business. Because of these facts, Bill and June Baker deserve my respect. They deserve yours
as well.

In the next posting in about three days, we shall be going into the court room at Perce. This will be an interesting part as you will quickly discover what bush league justice is all about.

Lew Stoddard
Posted to site November 12, 2006

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online Part One Of Two of "The Baker Family Of Gaspe". . . .

There are two types of reading material. That which is based on fact, and that which is based on rumour and outright primitive untruths , which in reality, is nothing short of being a pack of lies. It is the latter unfortunately, that creeps into a storyline and emits that sense of intrigue that seems to be a prerequisite for interest, into an otherwise boring chain of events. Such is the chain of events involving Bill Baker in the Wilbert Coffin case.

William Baker, and his brother John Baker, were prominent citizens in the town of Gaspe' during the chronology of the Coffin case in the 1950's. Though business partners in the hospitality business, the public's perception of the two brothers would vary greatly. On the surface, John would become known as the quietier astute one , contrasting to Bill's more outward approach to life. It was only fitting that these two unique personalities would co-own with their wives, the two main hospitality outlets in town, the Ash Inn and The Baker Hotel. To add to this unique mixture, brothers John and Bill, would marry sisters, June and Enid.

With the hospitality industry, whether it be on a small scale in a town such as Gaspe', or in a larger centre, it involves people mixing and mingling with others. It has to create that atmosphere that folks relate to, enjoy being involved with, and emit a reason to want to come back. This is where personality traits set the stage for success or failure.

In Bill Baker's case, it was important to Bill that he be accepted into his community. It was important that Bill Baker know his community and that his community know him. In the spring and summer months, the horizons of Bill Baker broadened with the influx of tourists, chiefly from the United States, and as well, from the rest of Canada. Gaspe', located in one of the more rugged areas of Canada, was as well, attractive to a generous sampling of European adventurers. With this healthy mix of visitors, it afforded Bill Baker the chance to showcase his offerings to the elite, as well as the everyday folk from around the world.

William Austin Baker (Bill Baker) was born and raised an Irish Catholic. Bill would meet a young lady by the name of Mary June Miller. After some time Bill and June wished to marry. This was the point in Bill's life that he would discover the control that could be exercised by the dogma associated with the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. This church body flatly refused them permission to marry. As a remedy to the situation, Bill and June were married in the Anglican church.

A few months back when I was conducting research for this story I decided that I would not go with all the so called "he told me, she told him, I heard it from my second cousin who was a next door neighbor" stories that were flooding the country about this man Baker, from Gaspe'. It was important yes, that I learn about Mr. Baker. It is no secret that Bill Baker was a close friend and business partner of Wilbert Coffin.

I do not pretend to portray Bill Baker as someone that he was not. It was, and still is my objective to present to you the Bill Baker that he really was. I have come to the conclusion that by following this course of action, many misconceptions about this man will be cleared up. Clearly, that has to be done. As I prepare this posting some fifty years after the death of Bill Baker, rumours are still flying, not only the old ones embellished, but new ones that I haven't heard about until now. That is evidenced by two new e-mails that I have received in the past two days since my announcement that I was publishing this piece.

Was Bill Baker a colorful character? Of course he was. He was Bill Baker. He had his own unique style and way of doing things. Was Bill Baker a drunk as many portray him? I guess to answer that question accurately, one has to look at his total life span. He died at a very early age, and in his later years he hardly drank at all. True, in his younger years he liked to party with the boys, and the bars in the hotels provided just the venue. Bill Baker liked the latest toys. He liked new cars and new trucks. He could afford them, so why not?

Through my web site, "Stoddard Online", I had been soliciting for people to come onboard who may be able to assist in my quest to learn about the Coffin affair. Lani Mitchell, the former Lani Baker, who was a daughter of John and Enid Baker was kind enough to post a comment on my site. Upon contacting Lani, I quickly discovered that her main interest was solving, and discovering the truth about the Wilbert Coffin case. Her words to me were that she wanted to do her part to bring closure, and help provide to Marie Stewart (Coffin) some support, and do her part in proving Wilbert Coffin's innocence.

Another interesting aspect of Lani's assistance was the fact that she was willing to help with no strings attached. Lani expressed to me that she wanted everything exposed possible. She explained further that in doing so, she was leaving herself wide open for criticism, as there were mountains of rumours floating around the country regarding the Baker family. Her exact words to me were that she was willing to help, no matter where the road may lead. Immediately, we embarked upon the journey.

I knew from the onset that it was important to reach conclusion on the Baker situation. I went public and requested folks with information to come forth. I explained that I did not want rumour mill information. Nothing short of personal or documented information would be considered. There already existed a library of the junk, and indeed, I was not interested in rewriting a mound of trash. I was determined that it would be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Too many lives had already been destroyed as a result of this mess, and I had no plans to rekindle the flame.

As a starting point I set up a meeting with Lani Mitchell in her home for the evening of July 11, 2006. To prepare for the meeting I had suggested to Lani that I would be asking her many questions that would be of a personal family nature, and perhaps she could make a few personal notes for the meeting. Lani readily agreed. One day before the meeting, Lani called me and asked if I would have objections to inviting her cousin Marnie to the meeting. Marnie is the daughter of Bill and June Baker. Of course, I would have no objections.

On the afternoon of the meeting Lani called again and said she was not sure if Marnie would be attending, but that she was hopeful that she would. You must understand here, this was very emotional for Marnie. It would be very very difficult for her. Marnie was very close to her Dad. This would be the very first time that she had ever spoken out regarding this matter, so one can quickly understand that she had fifty years bottled up inside her with reference to her Dad's death. It would be the sudden death of her Dad that sparked all the controversy over the possible involvement of Bill Baker in the Wilbert Coffin affair.

As Bill Baker died just a very short time after Wilbert Coffin's execution, instantly, the rumours started. As the stories got bolder over the years, it is now written that Bill Baker died two weeks to the day after the execution. This is not accurate, however, it fuels ghoulish and mind boggling tales that a certain segment of society dwells upon. I will be dealing with this in deeper detail in part two of the Bill Baker part of this story.

I wish to point out that what you are about to read next is a story from the heart. This story has never been told before. Marnie could never discuss it for the past half century. As well, it was not discussed in their home after her Dad died. There have been many accounts written over the years relating to Bill Baker's death. Most accounts have not been entirely truthful, and in fact, most of what has been written, have done little more than to destroy a family already embroiled in the destruction of a small community. One of the most disturbing tales that the family has had to endure is the constant bombardment of literary trash suggesting that Bill Baker committed suicide, or that he may have died from a heart attack, brought on by a self inflicted gunshot wound.

Before I introduce you to the piece, one should consider one thing about all those writing these outlandish tales of Bill Baker's death. There was not one of them there to witness the event. There was not one of them there after the event, and not one of them ever interviewed the family. That is what I have done here, fifty years later. Here is Marnie's response in letter form to the questions that I asked of her. I am presenting it to you in it's exact form. The only adjustment that I have made to the letter is that I have covered her last name to protect her privacy.

Hi Lew,

As per our conversation on Tuesday evening, July 11th,2006, I will repeat in writing, the events that occurred on the evening of my father Bill Baker's death.

During the afternoon my father had been at the Doctor's office for a cortisone injection to help relieve his back pain caused by arthritis that developed over the years. He stated that he wasn't feeling well after he got home.

We had dinner together. Afterwards, I was to deliver Jay's birthday present to my Aunts house up behind the Ash Inn. While I was out, dad went to the bedroom to rest, still not feeling well. My mum joined him. Just before I arrived back ,( mum told me later) he was choking, so he got up to go to the bathroom to get a drink of water hoping it would clear his throat. She heard a glass crash in the sink and heard him fall.

Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, when he passed out and fell backwards, he hit his head on the edge of the porcelain toilet directly behind him. She said," that fall broke his neck." She said that she went screaming out into the bar at the other end of the hotel for help. She was panicking.

When I walked in the side door ( our living quarters) I could hear a commotion going on in the bedroom. I walked up to the open doorway like any curious 7 year old. There, lying on the floor, was my father. There were some men in the room trying to do CPR and mouth to mouth. (Although they were doing their best, this procedure would be useless if his neck was broken). I remember Charlie LeBlanc and I think,Timeau Biliveau (sp) and a couple of other men in the room. There was a sort of gurgling sound coming from my father's throat and my mother was hysterical. I didn't see any blood in the bedroom or bathroom. I think it was Charlie who realized that I was standing in the doorway watching all of this and shouted, "There's Marnie, get her out of here!"

My mother would never talk about it when I was growing up. Years later, before she died we did talk a little. She explained that my Dad had rheumatic fever in his teens and as a consequence damaged his heart. Cortisone was a new miracle drug on the market and Dad wanted to try this new medication in hopes of relieving his back pain.

When he died from his heart attack and they wanted to do an autopsy she had to try and protect our family doctor. She was afraid that the cortisone may have caused an adverse reaction, leading to the heart attack. The last thing she wanted to see was a well respected, honest doctor, who lived with integrity and was loved dearly by our family,implicated in any way or dragged through any interrogation possibly creating another miscarriage of justice. It may have been the cortisone or it may have been just a weak heart. Heart problems are predominant in the Baker family.

When Wilbert was accused of the murders, my dad would take me on visits with him in his car. He talked privately with certain persons, making sure I wasn't within earshot. These conversations seemed to be very serious. Sometimes I played with kids who lived at that particular house or played outside. I later realized he was trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. He was desperately trying to solve who did this. I think he was making some progress but the whole atmosphere changed when the Quebec people took over. There was one occasion in particular when we were being followed. One thing was for certain, that my father was trying to help Wilbert and would never knowingly have done anything to harm him.

After the trial, the name Duplessis was never mentioned around my mother.
In truth, I believe my father died of a broken heart.

Lew, Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions. As Trudeau said at Government House, "A tragic case".
It was a dark day in Canadian History, horrifically tragic for the Coffin Family and our family was never the same. Its still gut-wrenching to revisit it after all those years. My father was devastated and in turn our whole family.

What amazes me is how so many people in those times embraced rumours as gospel truth. Do not judge, lest ye be judged.
I feel heartbroken over Marie. The pain never goes away. I think it's the yearning for what could have been,compounded with the loss.
I thank God for the time I did have with my dad and the joy he brought into our lives.

Marnie ##########

I am sure that you are now beginning to see how wagging tongues wreaked havoc in the years following this case. It has caused hurt and emotional scars that have lasted for over fifty years. It is not difficult to understand why some family members would simply pack up and disappear to a place far away from the memories of Gaspe'.

In tomorrow's posting I shall be presenting to you my personal interviews with Keith Baker, who is a son of Bill Baker. Keith, very generously gave of his time while in Vancouver, to help me set the record straight with regards to his family, and in particular, his Dad. As well, I shall present comments to you from Lani Baker (Mitchell). I shall be talking about as well the Baker family as a group. I have been extended the invitation to view the portrait collection of family photos, and as well, the opportunity to view movie film reproduced on video tape which depicts family outings, not unlike the type most of us are accustomed to.

To complete the Bill Baker connection to the Wilbert Coffin case, you will also see the threads as to how the two, Bill Baker and Wilbert Coffin joined forces originally, and the reasons why.

In closing today, just a reminder
to purchase and wear a Poppy, in recognition of the memory of those gallant folks who made it possible that we enjoy the freedoms that we have today in Canada. November 11, should be a day that we shall never forget.

Lew Stoddard
Posted to site November o7, 2006