Thursday, January 25, 2007

THE WILBERT COFFIN STORY
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Some months back at the commencement of the writing of this story, you will recall that I described in detail the public inquest that was held in Gaspe' with respect to the charging of Wilbert Coffin with murder. That was the inquest where the inquest jury had delivered a verdict that the three American hunters had been killed by a person or persons unknown, however the crown prosecutor, Mr. Noel Dorion, would not accept this verdict and insisted that a new verdict be reached naming Wilbert Coffin as the one who should be held responsible, based on the fact that he was the last known person to have seen these people alive, even though Mr. Coffin insisted through his own admissions that there were others with the victims when he last saw them.
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At this inquest, the coroner, Doctor Lionel Rioux, whom I consider to have displayed a flagrant showing of ineptness for a professional person, allowed Noel Dorion to walk all over him. Prosecutor Dorion not only got his way by demanding a new finding of culpability against Wilbert Coffin, but he also persuaded Coroner Rioux to not allow Wilbert Coffin to testify on his own behalf.
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You may recall in my writings of that event, I suggested this was the beginning of the end for Wilbert Coffin. Upon delivery of the guilty verdict at his trial for murder, I stand by my earlier suggestion.
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The subject of that inquest has always troubled me. Lets look at the facts. You have a panel of six very prominent persons from the community, headed up by an equally prominent citizen, Doctor Lionel Rioux who doubled as coroner. This panel of citizens acting as jurors consisted of Lloyd Annett, Lewis Miller, George Kruse, Gabriel Bernard, Owen Patterson, and Wharrell Annett. It was that coroners job to stand on his feet and do the job that he was paid to do. He did not do that. He was a puppet on a string. He allowed himself to be controlled by the crooked practises of none other than Maurice Duplessis at the top.
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In my view, by allowing himself to be corrupted by Duplessis and his merry men, Doctor Rioux made it very difficult for his panel of jurors to do their job effectively. They had afterall, done what was required of them. They had reached a decision, even though it was a decision that the government did not like. It was Coroner Rioux who submitted to the wishes of the crown and allowed the verdict to be changed, when in reality, he had the power to tell the government prosecutor to shut up and get out of the way.
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From the onset of this project I had a keen desire to seek out someone who may still be alive who took part in these proceedings. You may recall that a number of times I reached out on this website for assistance. I was told time and time again that, other than Coroner Rioux, all who took part in these proceedings were now deceased.
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If you look at my motto on the heading of the page you are now reading, you will see my statement. It says, "Accept nothing in life at face value, ask questions." I was not ready to give up. I finally received an e-mail from a lady in Ontario, asking me why I did not contact Gabriel Bernard. I e-mailed her back and informed her that I had been advised that Mr. Bernard was deceased. Again this lady e-mailed me and informed me of an e-mail address and a telephone number. On this same day, I received an e-mail from a prominent citizen from the Gaspe' area informing me of an e-mail address and telephone number for a Gabriel Bernard. The information from this gentleman paralleled exactly the information from the lady from Ontario.
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This took place several weeks ago. I tried the telephone number many times, always the same, no answer. Those pesky time zones that divide Canada from coast to coast do not always make life easy as well.
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During those weeks I became more determined than ever to speak with this Mr. Gabriel Bernard. One thing that I did know about the Gabriel Bernard from the inquest jury was the fact that he, along with Wharrell Annett, were the two jurors who were the hold out's when the provincial prosecutors wanted the verdict changed. In my mind I was thinking of the teriffic pressure that they would have been under. I was also thinking that it would be fantastic to speak with this gentleman, who would be able to put a face on, and shed some light on this situation from over fifty years ago.
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On this past Friday, January 26, 2007 I was working on my posting for the story. Like so many times previous, I dialed Mr. Bernard's telephone number. This time it was different. I heard an elderly gentleman say Hello. Immediately I responded by asking for Mr. Gabriel Bernard. He replied and said, this is Gabriel Bernard. I stated that the Gabriel Bernard that I was looking for was formerly from the Gaspe' area of Quebec. He immediately responded and informed me that he was from the Gaspe' region. I asked by chance if he was one of the jurors from the inquest jury of Wilbert Coffin. He was. The search was over.
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I spoke with Mr. Bernard twice on this date. He was able to fill me in with details of what actually happened on that day at the public inquest of August 27, 1953. He explained as to how prosecutor Noel Dorion did in fact insist on a finding of responsibility on the part of Wilbert Coffin, and that involved changing the verdict from the first finding. Mr. Bernard further explained that both he and Wharrell Annett did not accept the methods used at the inquest. They were adamant that Wilbert Coffin should have been allowed to testify at the inquest to explain his position and movements. Mr. Bernard explained that if Wilbert Coffin was guilty of anything, it would have been no more than minor theft by the evidence produced. Most importantly, Gabriel Bernard explained to me that absolutely nothing was produced in the form of evidence that would implicate Wilbert Coffin in a charge of murder.
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Gabriel Bernard is still convinced to this day that Wilbert Coffin was not responsible for the death of Richard Lindsey and the other hunters. He also feels that this case may be far from over. I share that feeling as well.
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Mr. Bernard will be reading the posting today. I informed him that I was writing him into the story for today's posting and he assured me that was alright. I want to take this opportunity to personally thank Gabriel Bernard for availing himself to me and being willing to go public with some very important facts regarding this matter. As most of you know by now, this is the sort of material that we thrive on. If I can't back up the story with documentation, or with an interview, it does not make it onto the site.
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The posting that would have appeared today has been set back by about two days, however, I think you will agree that the emergence of Mr. Bernard into the story makes it all worthwhile. Whenever one can put a face and conversation into a news story, suddenly, it becomes all the more real, as it depicts real people and real events.
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Thanks for reading, and I will be back in two days with the wrap up of the appeal process of Wilbert Coffin, and as well, I shall be talking about his brief "escape" from Quebec jail. I will then tell you all about Wilbert's last day prior to the execution, what he did, who he talked to, and information from his lawyer.
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Lew Stoddard
January 28, 2007

42 comments:

Sandy Trecartin said...

Excellent posting to your story. Mr. bernard coming into the story does a lot to add to the flavor of the story. It seems all the much more real. Keep up the good work Lew.

Sandy Trecartin
Halifax, Nova Scotia

T Maguire said...

This is great stuff Mr. Stoddard. Not only does it give new meaning to the sensitivity of the story, it makes one realize, this could have been me or my neighbor or my cousin or whoever. I wish and pray for this to be corrected.

T Maguire
Cobourg, Ontario

Brenda H said...

This is so horrendous, and to think that we allowed this to happen right here in Canada. Hey Canada it is time that we smartened up and made this right.

Brenda H
Sarnia, Ontario

C Kenny said...

I don't care where something like this would happen, it would be a terrible thing. I would have said it could never happen in My Canada, but it did and does and will. I feel so embarassed.

C Kenny
Oshawa, Ontario

S Meadows said...

Mr. Stoddard,

I hope someone sues your butt off from the names that you refer to people, and the accusations that you level against people..

In this particular chapter alone, I can count at least four instances of you letting your mouth be your guide. Why do you think that you have a right to do this anyway?

S Meadows
Toronto, Ontario

Georgette Fromme said...

This should be a convincing factor to everyone that a crooked process really was put into place to secure a suspect.

This crooked process was put into place by the ones we are taught to trust the most, our police and members of our judiciary. What a crock of you know what!

Georgette Fromme
Montreal, Canada

Rejan H said...

If this mess is an example of what we could expect if Quebec was a sovereign nation, then I want no part of it. I think it would be an open invitation for every special interest group in the province to tailor their own crooked agendas. No thank you from where I sit.

Rejan H
Quebec

D Miller said...

I have said it before and I repeat myself. You Sir, are doing an incredible job of writing and investigating this story. You are bold, and you speak directly. That is good. It is too late to be a nice guy on this. We need positive verbal action to get this thing overturned and we need it now. You are truly the one I believe that is capable of making that happen. My thoughts are with you and the Coffin family.

D Miller
St. Boniface, Man

Walter W said...

No amount of explaining could ever convince me that The government was correct in the taking over of that inquest.

My hat is off to the gentleman Mr. Bernard, who fought and held out for fair play. I believe there was another as well. I cannot believe that the other four could sit there like a bunch of Dodo birds and watch this happen without a fight.

I think it was very nice of Mr. Gabriel Bernard to talk with you after all these years. It certainly breathes new life into an otherwise echo of the same stuff over and over.

Walter W
Peachland, B C

Cameron D said...

I do hope Sir that you are accurate in what you say. You do not appear to have a lot of faith in authority. That is so sad, and it sends a wrong message to the young people of the country.

Cameron D
Surrey, B C

Greta M said...

One can be sure of one thing out of all this. If the government turns on you, they will get you. It is unfortunate and so very unfair.

Greta M
Cabano, Quebec

J Prosser said...

When I read of Mr. Bernards contribution to your investigation it makes me want to cry. This was very definitely the start of a corrupt and illegal scheme to nail an innocent person for a crime, a very serious one at that.

The worst part is, they were able to successfully carry it out. To me that is murder and nothing but murder and they escaped the wrath of justice that should have put them all away right from the top down.

Thank you to Mr. bernard for sharing with us and thank you Mr. Stoddard for making these things known by way of your website.

J Prosser
Fredericton, New Brunswick

Shorty the old long haul driver said...

Keep hammering Lew. Haven't checked in for awhile. You are still banging heads I see. Keep it up my friend.

Back from my holiday now. Time to fire up the big rig and hit the highway again. Talk to you again soon.

Shorty the old long haul driver
Out here on the cold prairie

Cory A said...

I am not sure how I would be reacting if this was my family member who was falsely executed. I know for one thing, I would have lost my patience long ago. Nail these brutes now.

Trust me, there are some left who think like these ones. Weed them out. There is no place in a fair and just society for this crap.

Cory A
Burnaby, B C

Brian M said...

The government knows they did wrong on this. Why the Hell can't they just admit it.

If you do something wrong to the government they expect you to come clean so why not they as well.

Don't give in Sir. Keep the heat on but turn it up if you can.

Brian M
New Westminster, B C

Rene D said...

I have taken the time to study this guy called Maurice Duplessis.

He was nothing but a dictator with a band of henchmen. That was the only way that he could rule. The death of an innocent man meant absolutely nothing.

Rene D
Quebec

Marilese K said...

In todays world why is it necessary to get so caught up in things that wqe would ever resort to the tactics that were used in this case.

If the government does not acknowledge the abuse of power here and take immediate steps to correct it, then they are just as guilty as their counterparts who came before.

Good luck to the Coffinnfamily in all this mess.

Marilese K
Riviere du Loup

C J M said...

This whole thing is much much more than an accident. It was a planned calculated hit on someone who could not fight back. Duplessis knew that, his men around him knew that, and lots of others in authority knew it as well. He should have been brought up on charges of murder or manslaughter.

C J M
Sherbrooke, Quebec

G Ducharme said...

I don't care who you were. If you lived during this regime in the 40's and 50's in Quebec and said nothing, then hey, share the blame.

Does this mean that everyone taught their kids that this stuff was ok becaues it originated with those at the top who were our trusted government officials?

G Ducharme
Bathurst, N B

S Theberge said...

I get so upset the more that I hear about this thing, and I have heard plenty since I started reading this site, and I was already mad. This is absolutely a rape of our whole justice system. I commend you Sir for the work that you have done to expose this mess.

S Theberge
Moncton, N B

R Dion said...

If you keep at this I am confident that you will bring it down. Just the fact that you show people how corrupt the Quebec system has been in the past is an important step in itself. This needs to be told.

Sovereignty. . . Hogwash! By our past record in the province we couldn't be trusted to wash an outdoor toilet, because the toilet was already cleaner than those who would have been doing the washing.

Get this thing cleared up and do it now. No more delays. Full speed on this to mr. Stoddard and the Coffin family.

R Dion
Trois Rivieres, Quebec

Christa H said...

This thing didn't even reach the trial stage and one doesn't have to be very smart to spot so many areas of grave injustice against the accused. This is an embarassment to all of Canada. I thiught we were models for the world. Sure thing!

Christa H
Woodstock, N B

Anonymous said...

Thank you to Mr. Bernard for your contribution to this story. It added a whole ne human dimension to it. Lew Stoddard, thank you for your help and support.

Coffin family member
Ontario

Simon M said...

I love reading other peoples comments on here. Much better than a newspaper. People have their say, and are able to share it with others. That is what I think that true democracy is about. Thanks for providing the venue and good luck to all.

Simon M
Montreal, Quebec

David H said...

That lawyer for the defense quite frankly makes me want to puke. How could he do that? I am sure that was planned. No one could be that stupid by nature. That required refinement and he did a wonderful job of that.

David H
Edmundston, New Brunswick

Mike P said...

I received a phone call this morning from my cousin to remind me to read this site today with reference to your guest, Mr. Bernard. That was good that he provided a contribution to the story. It is good to get confirmation from someone who was there. Good luck to you Lew.

Mike P
Burlington, Ontario

D McLennan said...

D McLennanIt appears that it took an extremely long period of time between the time of the preliminasry hearing in Perce, Quebec, to the actual time of trial, nearly a year later. In the real world would that have not been an infringement on ones rights to a fair and speedy trial? It seems an inordinate amount of time? But then again, was there really anything in this whole affair that was done the way that it was supposed to be?

D McLennan
CFB Trenton, Ontario

Ardith J said...

Comment to D McLennan,

You are absolutely correct, there was not a whole lot of anything that happened during the whole Duplessis regime that was done the way that it was supposed to be.

There were three ways it would appear. There was the right way, there was the wrong way, and there was Duplessis's way.

Ardith J
North Bay, Ontario

Louis Mercier said...

If one takes a bit of time and reads a bit about the Duplessis era in Quebec they will very quickly see what a corrupt and illegal period of time that this really was.

There are dictatorships in this old world that are no worse than the way Quebec province was governed during this period.

It is absolutely beyond the realm of fair play for the citizens. They simply did not count, especially if they were not French, not Roman Catholic, and not a paying member of the Union Nationale party. This is scary stuff, not that long ago.

Poor Wilbert Coffin never stood a chance.

Louis Mercier
Trois Rivieres, Quebec

R Wiens said...

I am hopeful that tis case can be overturned. It should not matter whether Wilbert Coffin is still alive or not. The fact that he was very grossly wronged in the most barbaric way is reason enough for the government to at least acknowledge it.

R Wiens
Chilliwack, B C

C mcIndoe said...

I made a comment on here soon after you started reporting and writhing this story many months ago. You have turned over a lot of stones. I am of the opinion that you have unearthed many secrets that folks were not previously aware of. You are to be commended Mr. Stoddard.

Occasionally I notice someone coming on here and flapping away at the mouth in objection to what you are doing. That is just too bad. You keep up the good work Sir, and I applaud you all the way. That is the only way that we find out what is happening.

C McIndoe
Abbotsford, B C

Anonymous said...

Good monring,

I would like to take the opprotunity to thank you Mr. Stoddard as a member of the Coffin family this means alot. You are taking this to a whole new level and uncovering information that nobody has before including our own family. It is not for lack of want that the family has not carrie don an investigation of their own but simply the lack of resources and know how. I hope and pray that one day this will be resolved and that the family can live in peace. Aunt Marie perhaps not all the family is behind you 100% in all your efforts and fund raising and even just your hope but it is not intended negatively sometimes people live with things for so long that it hurts just a little bit too much to re open the wounds. You are an amazing person and I think that everyone in their own way is very proud of you. You are the voice of the family and you are treasured and respected all around. I think your brothers, sisters and parents both living and deceased would be and are very proud of you and also appreciative beyond words to Mr Stoddard for making this his personal crusade. With the help and dedication of all those participating publicly and in the background Thank you Thank you. Now moving on Mr. Stoddard have we have any news on the american front. Has anyone in the gov involved at the time there of people directly involved friends, family etc etc of the americans who were murdered been contacted or interviewed? We are looking at this all from a Quebec side but there must be opinions, information etc from the American side as well.

Joyce said...

Mr. Stoddard, I respect your motto to accept nothing at face value and to ask questions, but I do not care for some of your methods.

You very outwardly make accusations about officials who are not able to defend themselves. Is this right? I do not think that it is.

Your my way or the highway approach is I think cruel and unjust in itself. You do excell in cutting someone down with one liners, and yet you have the nerve to label others as dictators.

You may be an intelligent person, I am sure that you are, but you destroy your attributes with your fancy footwork with words.

I have written to you here several times in the past and do not mean to be a nuisance but you have to mend your ways.

Joyce
Bristol, New Brunswick

Tara S said...

They can say what they want however when we learn of the crap that went on there is no nice way of explaining it. Most of it I never dreamed had happened in modern Canadian history. Why the Hell should I not know about it?

And to this Joyce lady, stuff it down your throat! If you don't like reality, then pull the plug and go and read Mother Goose.

Tara Simms
Halifax, N S

Lew Stoddard said...

A Very Special Message To Joyce

Joyce, without doubt, it is joy unspeakable whenever I get a letter from you.

You state that it is wrong for me to accuse and make statements against officials who were responsible for cruel happenings in the past on this case. Would it be better Joyce, if I lied and said it is ok, and I forgive them for their deeds, when in fact they did nothing to earn forgiveness? Would that make you feel better Joyce?

Lew Stoddard

Ps. . . . Hey Joyce, one final thought. You state that I say these things against officials who are now unable to defend themselves. You say this is not right. Play my little game of pretend here Joyce and pretend that no one is reading this. Tell me Joyce, why it was that Wilbert Coffin would have been able to defend himself but for some reason he was denied the chance. He was denied Joyce by that same corrupt bunch of thugs that I write about. If it was your relative who had been targeted, and treated the same way, and eventually hanged to die, would you be preaching the same tune as you now do Joyce? Drop me a note with the answer.

Marianne W said...

Joyce you are always so negative when you write here, but you know what? I have never written here before but when I read crap like you suggest lady, you stand my hair on end, and I just have to say stuff it. Mr. Stoddard, give em Hell.

Marianne W
Perth Andover, new Brunswick

Gus Mitchell, Vancouver said...

To Joyce in New Brunswick
Thanks for your post.Comments like you just made help to liven up the discussion. I happen not to agree with anything that you say, but you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

You said to Lew:
"You very outwardly make accusations about officials who are not able to defend themselves. Is this right? I do not think that it is."

Consider this
Adolph Hitler is no longer able to defend himself, nor is Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, and a host ( far too many ) of others like them. Do you really mean that if new information was to be uncovered about their "escapades" that it shouldn't be published because they are not able to defend themselves?

In no way am I equating Maurice Duplessie or any of the other officials in this case with the above. However, when one takes political office, their actions are always, and should / will always be open to public scrutiny.

My wife's family is continually mentioned when this case is brought up - even though the family member that is mentioned is no longer here to defend himself. She doesn't mind a bit.

What would you like to see done and how would you like to see the present case handled?

Anonymous said...

Hi Lew,
I was interested to see the names of those on the courners jury.
I knew several of them. Mr. W. Annett was a well respected bank Manager. Mr. L. Miller owned anfd operated a mens clothing ctore.
Mr. L. annett owned and operated a garage / service station, just to show that these men were some of the businesds leaders in the community.
Ivan J. C.

Martin C said...

Lew Stoddard,

I notice that you have a large following, but I do have to agree with others, that it appears that you get that at others expense. I speak specifically of those whom you put down on a constant basis.

You want everyone to think as you do, and do as you do. Well guess what guy? It AIN"T going to happen.

Why can you never see someones reasoning for doing this or that? It is as if you believe that it is always a conspiracy theory behind everything. You are a very one sided writer.

Martin C
Drummondville, Quebec

Ben G said...

It is very apparent that the whole process was flawed in this affair. How can one honestly be found guilty if the process of law is flawed and illegal in itself? Should that not be enough to throw it all out in the garbage?

Ben Granger
Calgary, Alberta

Anonymous said...

Just a quick comment to the negative posters of the site. Firstly I would like to say that yes everyone is entitled to their personal opinions but those suggesting Mr Stoddard is putting down others are doing the exact same thing by putting him down. The opinion that Mr Stoddard expresses are his own but based on facts and Truth. This is a blog spot and not a coutroom (although if he would have been the deffence attorney at the time perhaps we wouldn`t be in this mess now) he has done extensive research from what I can see and he shares the opinion of many many many Canadian citizens. If you read all the stories and all the books available to the public on this case most would conclude that it was a conspiracy and that things just do not measure up. Guilt or innocence aside the case was a disaster from the beginning and a 3 year old can see that somebody should never have been hung based on the information available at the time. I would also like you to put your son, daughter, aunt, uncle, mother or father in the boots of Mr coffin and see if your opinion would not run along side that of Mr Stoddard. Read your facts and information you may learn something. Surely we are not all going to share the same opinion if we did life would be a bore but I hope none of you serve on a jury anytime soon.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

Well said Annonymous - I could not imagine going through such a tragedy. To all you people who like to complain ......Why do you read this sight? If it upsets you so much, stay away! Save yourselves and all of us a whole lot of aggravation.