Sunday, December 03, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LETTER TO THE EDITOR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This is an open letter to the editor of The Montreal Gazette Newspaper,and as well, to reporter Marian Scott. It is being transmitted via my web site for two reasons. Firstly, by doing it this way, it is guaranteed to be published. Secondly, it is guaranteed to be published in it's entirety without having it's strength diminished through editing. As well, I am also making available here the letter to the editor and reporter that was transmitted to me from Lani (Baker) Mitchell with reference to the same story.

I am writing with specific reference to your story of November 18 of the Wilbert Coffin affair, written by staff reporter, Marian Scott. Without doubt, this story is a true example of journalistic freedom of speech gone wild. Indeed, if such freedom exists for a professional publication to routinely toss out trash such as this to an uninformed public, then that same freedom must exist for me to speak out against it.

I will go on record here and state, not a person exists in Canada that has done more exhaustive investigation and research than what I have done on this case. I therefore, take great exception to many of your comments in this story, particularly those associated with William (Bill) Baker of Gaspe'. Frankly, in my view, your comments about this man are cruel, and are made without foundation.

It is not necessary here that I repeat what was contained in the article. Lani (Baker) Mitchell has done a fine job of that. I will tell you this though and I ask that you pay careful attention. In my research, I conducted a special, separate, and independent study of Bill Baker and his association with Wilbert Coffin. I can tell you this , there was nothing that turned up anything of the nature of what you suggest. I will further state, that what Lani (Baker) Mitchell states with reference to Bill Baker, it concurs absolutely with my findings as well.

You make reference to "Other Theories." Webster defines theory as "an organized body of ideas as to the truth of something, usually derived from the study of a number of facts relating to it." From that, I presume Ms. Scott that you are in possession of that organized body of ideas complimented by the facts relating to your reference of Bill Baker's involvement. I am challenging you. I am calling your hand. It is time to turn your cards over. What are your facts?

On occasion Ms. Scott you have phoned me, always on the pretence of telling me what a great job I am doing on the web site, but within a few moments into the call, you are asking in a round about way if I can give you this person or that person's phone number or e-mail address. I would never do that of course, but you do try. On occasion, you have asked me about this and that scenario pertaining to my investigation and the case. My answer is always the same, check the web site and you will find it out when the rest of Canada finds out.

I did tell you one thing though Marian. I explained that I have a couple of revelations coming up at the conclusion of this story. I further explained that when this time arrives, I would keep you in mind for a real scoop on this story. That day is not far off Marian, and I can personally guarantee, you would be most interested. Perhaps, it will happen in the next couple of weeks, definitely, within the month. I have to tell you Marian, things have changed dramatically. Offering you the scoop on the story is not going to happen. That is, until such time as you write and publich a full retraction and apology to the Baker family for the grief and embarassment that your story caused.

The following is the letter written by Lani (Baker) Mitchell to the Montreal Gazette. I was not aware that Lani (Baker) Mitchell had sent this letter, nor is she aware that I have sent mine.

I have just received a copy of your November 18th article on the Coffin case written by Marion Scott, and would like to point out that Ms. Scott is providing coverage to her readers, not through valuable research that one would expect from a leading paper, but through rehashing of old gossip and innuendo found in books known to be full of errors.

In her comments " Gaps in Case Against Coffin", Ms. Scott has decided, once more, to provide your readers with titillating hurtful information on my Uncle Bill Baker of Gaspé.

" Some have speculated that Coffin took the rap for his friend, Billy Baker, a rollicking alcoholic, who was the son of a local hotel keeper."

Our family takes great offense to this! Bill Baker was NOT a rollicking alcoholic. Where on earth did Ms. Scott gather this destructive information? Bill Baker was NOT the son of a local hotel owner! Bill Baker was THE hotel owner.

Ms. Scott goes on to suggest that Bill Baker died by means of suicide. This is UNTRUE. Bill Baker died of a heart attack , and he WAS NOT age 42 when he died, but aged 46. He did not die two weeks after Coffin's hanging. At least get basic information right!

When my Montreal sister showed this article to her Gaspésian friends who knew Uncle Bill, they were horrified and said, "That is not the Bill Baker that I knew." I speak for my Baker family when I tell you that this article is very offensive to all nine of we children, nieces and nephews of Bill Baker.

It is time that a newspaper such as yours stopped reprinting old and suggestive material, and begin to show leadership in providing correct information, easily obtained by studying available documents and talking with the people who were actually involved in this case, rather than relying on those who have made a career of writing books based on misinformation.

Marion Scott might try reading closely where information is given only after careful factual support is found. As well, Ms. Scott might consider that she writes of someone who was loved and respected by many, not some Gaspésian buffoon who makes for a " good story."

Lani Baker Mitchell, speaking for the Baker family.

Lew Stoddard
Posted to site December 03, 2006


Garth W said...

Good Morning from Halifax. I don't blame you for being upset by the Gazette story. You covered the Baker family very extensively just a few weeks ago. Are they trying to reinvent the wheel up there in Montreal?

This stuff only serves to fill the air again with all the BS that has been there in this case for so long.

Garth W

Anonymous said...

Ms. Mitchell Baker,

Give em Hell! With you all the way on this. They may be big, but just proves they need for people to stand and be counted.

Clair Davidson

Georgette T said...

Hello Lew Stoddard,

You have done a lot of work on this and are to be commended. Pay no attention to this crap, I don't think most Canadians believe very much of what they read especially when you see the same stories over and over.

Georgette T
Trois Rivieres

J Hargreaves said...

Lew you come out swinging early on a Sunday morning. Caught me doing my Sunday morning crossword over coffee. Don't let them grind you down.

Your version of this is much more interesting. At least very definitely more factual. that lady Ms. Baker Mitchell and you have done lots on this. Much long and hard work I know.

I heard Mrs. Coffin on a radio show from Ottawa a few days ago. She is an amazing lady.

J Hargreaves
CFB Gagetown

D Williams said...

This big story that this same paper from Montreal did a few days ago seems to have fizzled out. You said last week that it would probably.

Crap like that must be heart breaking to the Coffin family if they build up their hopes.I wish them well out here in nanaimo.

D Williams
Nanaimo, B C

Sara McPhail said...

You have boldly taken this story far beyond all other attempts. You will solve this, I know you will wear them all down until only the guilty party is left. Good luck to the Coffin's.

Sara McPhail
Toronto, Ontario

Anonymous said...

Atta boy, Lew! Man I wish I had command of the written word like you do!

I wonder how long we'll have to wait for the apology from the reporter to the Baker family?

Great work, and keep at it!

Anonymous said...

I've been a long time supporter of Coffin's innocence, having heard my father telling me about the case and later reading Jacques Hebert's book. Happy to see that the Coffin family will one day soon have their 'uncle Bill' cleared.

I could not find Marian Scott's Nov. 18 article about Bill Baker on the Web and I'm a bit confused by finding instead this other lenghty article on the Cabot family, Overall, in other articles as well, the writer has seemed to be supportive of Coffin's innoncence.

Eddy Walsh

Gus Mitchell said...

Eddy al

The Montreal Gazette published a full extra on the Coffin Case on the date mentioned. The story concentrated on the theory that Jean-Phillipe Cabot may have been the real killer. However, there is a sidebar to the article titled "Gaps in the case against Coffin" and part of that artice is titled "Alternative Theories"
It is in this subsection that the theory that Bill Baker might have been involved is once again brought up. The initial article is reported on the web but I don't think the sidebar exists anywhere but in the paper.

You are correct in that the author Marian Scott, in her articles, does seem to believe in the innocence of Wilbert Coffin. The objection is that she also derives much of her findings from the book by Alton Price - which is known to contain much speculation and factual misinformation and that she continues to bring up alternate theories without presenting any new factual information. If the quest to get the name of Wilbert Coffin cleared is to be successful, the case has to be presented on fact, not rumour.

While Bill Baker was a drinker in his earlier youth, in later years he had soften his drinking substantially - due to health problems. I dare say that at one time or other every man of age( and some underage ) who lived in Gaspe at the time, could be declared an alchoholic ( or at least a very heavy drinker ) according to todays standards.To characterize him as a "rollicking alchoholic" and state other erroneous information as fact, is a little more than inflamatory and does nothing to help clear the name of Wilbert Coffin.

We will never know the true facts in this case as almost all of the primary characters have since died. Was Wilbert Coffin involved? Was Bill Baker Involved?
Personally I am pretty sure that the answer is NO. However, we will never really know.

I know that the Coffin family would like Wilbert Coffin to be declared innocent. I am sorry to say but I doubt that will happen. In order for that to happen a "true killer" would have to be proven and I just don't think that is possible. All we can do is gather information and speculate - and speculation is just unproven fact.
What is important is that Wilbert Coffin was convicted and executed on very circumstantial evidence and that research shows that the Quebec government was involved in suppressing evidence and determined to find a scape goat for the murders. If this case was brought to trial today and conducted they way it was at the time, he would most certainly not have been convicted.

Let's hope the quest is successful and that all concerned deal in fact, not rumour.

Gus Mitchell,

Terry M said...

I make a reference to Mr. Mitchell of Vancouver. You are apparently correct there seems to be two versions of stories from the Gazette. One in the paper version and one for the internet. Very interesting. I phoned my sister who is a Gazette reader in Drummondville and she was kind enough to send me the internet version.

I can understand why the Baker family would be upset as thought that stuff was dealt with. Looks like nothing has changed, the big media has been most responsible for spreading dirt on this sytory for 50 years. Too bad the media of our country has to sink lower and lower. People deserve a lot more than that.

Terry M
Red Deer, Alberta

A Neice from Gaspes' Homeland said...

Mr. Stoddard, Ms. Baker,

Your names Spell Strength and Respect. You may only be 2 people who spoke out to the Montreal Gazette and its reporter, Marian Scott, But you carry the strength, power and respect tens times over its corporate size.

Comment to: E Walsh,

You are correct in saying that the reporter seemed to show support for The Coffin's however, at the same time, (typical of a tabloid reporter), she giveth and taketh her support, Causing pain again to the innocent as only a heartless journalist who wants to sell stories quickly rather than work to find facts and get at the truth would do. I made a comment the other day: Beware: Read what is written, not what you want to see.


Carol M said...

The old saying is correct here. There are always two sides to every story, the story in the newspaper, and the story of how it actually happened.

Carol M
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Jared Townsend said...

If you lined up every reporter who actually goes out and digs for a story now days, guess what, every newspaper in the country would shut down! Hmmmmm, now that might not be such a bad idea. I mean afterall, what is better, a pint of facts, or a gallon of Bull_ _ _ _.

Jared Townsend
Edmonton, Alberta

Tired Of All The Bull Crap said...

How would Ms. Scott feel if this was her brother or loved one being written about in such a reckless fashion? Would she be pleased, comfortable, and have lots of respect for the publication?

If it would not be agreeable to her, then why does she just assume that it is ok to rain it down on some other family for over 50 years?

Sign me tired of all the Bull Crap
CFB Comox, B C

M Landry said...

I believe that Wilbert Coffin was innocent of this crime. Does the newspaper not want the record set straight.

I'll bet that if it can be proven, Marian Scott and all her co-staff will be there in the front lines saying I knew it would happen one day, and on the other hand if it could not be proven, the same group would be there saying we told you so. I guess that is their idea of what balanced reporting is all about. So very sad!

M Landry

Anonymous said...

I don't want to make the Coffin family to think we have forgotten you. We have not. God Bless you Marie for all your hard efforts and God Bless Lew on this site. Both of you are the guiding lights on this whole thing. I will never forget that.

Patty D
Brandon, Manitoba

Bob F said...

I seriously question as to whether most people take these newspapers to heart or not. Most of these things just provide a little humor and a way to dawdle ones way through the check out lines in the supermarket.

I saw an interesting headline at the market yesterday in full view amongst their selection of reading. here was the headline on one paper, "Thirty Mile Long Preserved Body Of Snake Spotted On The Lunar Surface". You be the judge.

Bob F
Saint John, New Brunswick

Keith V said...

There is an old saying in the news business. "On a slow day, simply resurrect an old story, polish it up with a new coating of BS and republish it." I guess they still subscribe to that mentality today.

Keith V
Calgary, Alberta

Sadie McClure said...

Message to the Coffin family.

I am still of the opinion that this will all come out alright for you even with the negative attitude taken by the newspaper. I wish you well, and this web site sure makes it possible to feel part of all this for you.

Sadie McClure
Cornwall, Ontario

S K said...

I never read the newspapers anymore anyway, they appear to be all the same now. I have much more faith in visual newscasts, and even at that, I am always on guard. I like the way that you investigate BEFORE you open your mouth. Many others could take a lesson from your practises.

Victoria, B C

Sharon Findlay said...

I am anxious now to read about the court scene in your story on the Coffin affair. I am betting it will differ substantially from the paper accounts. You have worked hard Lew on this story.

Sharon Findlay
Toronto, Ontario

Nephew Rick said...

Hello everyone. The newspapers seem to screw up regularly because, I believe, they use their own archives as truthful renditions of an event, when in fact most of the time there are errors, so they keep making the same mistakes over, and over, and over.
I am so happy for the Baker family having Lew post his factual account of Mr. Bill Baker. I am sure there will be more good news coming. All our support Lani and family.
People have got to understand that the media of that time was under the influence of Dublessis as was everything else in Quebec. This man was a control freak and used all the power that a provincial government has to have things go his way or no way. Not all legal.
As stated before, the work to still be done is enormous and we ask for your support in finding those little pieces of information that will help exonerate Uncle Bill. If you know of anyone who worked in the Perce region, Quebec police, Federal and Provincial governments, etc. ,keep asking. You all have made such a difference in this case we cannot thank you enough.
Sincerely - Rick

Chantelle Dion said...

Good to see you striking back at the mountain of junk out there that has been accepted as fact for so many years. This is absolutely incredible that something could reach these proportions, and still be fueled by news outlets after all this time.

I guess what it says is that in reality, news reporters in general just sit back at the desk with coffee and a keyboard in front of them and go to town. If they happen to be disgorging and then re-swallowing something that happened years ago, they have a free rein, with no one left to keep them in check.

I do not blame Ms. Baker Mitchell for being upset. Why do they think they have a duty and a right to malign a family.

To the Coffin family, throughout all this, please be a little more patient. The truth will come out in spite of the negative media approach.

Chantelle Dion
Montreal, Quebec

Lucille M said...

Why should it be that one of the biggest obstacles to truth is the media itself, those that we trust to present a fair and unbiased true report on various happenings?

Lucille M

Jennifer and Blair said...

This is a personal message for Mrs. Marie Coffin Stewart. My husband and I think you are the greatest. You are so effective and yet so real. Many young people should take an example from you. You show so much determination, and yet your family has been through so much. May I take the opportunity to say a very "Happy and Merry Christmas" to you and your hubby. God bless you both.

Jennifer and Blair
Fredericton, New brunswick

Danielle T said...

I agree completely with Lucille M from Quebec. This is not fair, and also cruel.

Danielle T
Rimouski, Quebec

Millie and John said...

Taking the opportunity to say Good Luck to all the extended Coffin family. Our hearts are with you through all this.

Millie and John in St. Johns

Cameron said...

Mr. Stoddard I am impressed with your tenacity in your writings. Have followed you for a number of years. You believe in hitting the spike where it needs to be hit. You will solve this case, and the reason why is simple. Because of that word that I used above "TENACITY"

Sudbury, Ontario

Bob Richards said...

I am confident of one thing and have been for some time. This case will get solved, but we have to push and pull together. That means both big media and little media.

Bob Richards