Saturday, May 05, 2007

Most situations in life are made up of good and bad. In other words, the batter is a mixture of good and evil forces. It is when those evil forces are the result of human manipulation that a very volatile and explosive mixture indeed emerges. Left dormant, those same evil forces etch a permanent veil. Fortunately, through a process of sifting and sorting through the elements, the cream slowly finds it's way to the top, and a whole new conclusion takes shape.
The Wilbert Coffin drama is a prime example. For the past year I have hammered away at the mixture that I personally believe was master minded by a very corrupt and crooked regime. Left untouched, the conclusion that was railroaded down the throats of Canadians some fifty-three years ago would forever be etched into history.
I have been advised time and time again in the past year by a variety of people to leave this thing alone. Folks who read this site will recall that it is not uncommon to see comments posted by those expressing negative criticism from many areas of the country. Without doubt, it is those comments that offer me the greatest inspiration to forge onward. To bow out now would be nothing short of endorsement of the warped regime that created the problem in the first place.
When I embarked upon this journey more than a year ago, I knew there would be pitfalls. I also knew that nothing would happen if I was not prepared to take some heat. I only have to glance at the inscription on my graduation ring from high school to put things into perspective. That inscription reads "Non Palma Sine Labore." Simple translation from Latin into English and it reads "No Success Without Labour."
Lani Mitchell and myself chase this thing almost daily. We have developed contacts from coast to coast. Every bit of information that comes in is checked in the most minute detail. Nothing is taken for granted. True, we receive much information that has no direct bearing on the case, but that is alright because it comes from well meaning individuals who share a desire to see proper and decent closure. As I have told you countless times, our focus has been pointed in the direction of what we class as information that has either not been previously reported, or information that needs to be enhanced. We have no interest in creating hype or sensationalism. As boring as it sometimes is, we are committed to discovering the truth. That approach will never be compromised.
During the past week we have been blessed by information that directly affects the investigation of the Wilbert Coffin case. Some of this information we knew a little about, and some of it, we knew nothing about. Some folks would be aware of some of it from years ago, however, I am confident that most who probably read this site would be totally unaware of it's existence. This package was put together in 1961, which takes it back to an era before many of us were born.
Through one of our contacts we received a series of interviews that were professionally produced. They were shot in black and white on 16mm film, so that gives you some idea of their vintage. They were produced by The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for one of their documentries on the case. The CBC did a great job of helping folks understand the gravity of this case in this production. I convey my gratitude for that and I am sure most others would agree. Compared to fancy video tape of today, the picture quality is not the best cosmetically, however, the audio quality is excellent. Certainly, these interviews provide a whole new perspective on the case compared to what we may have read and heard over the years.
Obviously, it is not possible to show you the actual interview footage on this web page. I will however, be describing and discussing the interviews. You will note from my descriptions of some of the actual conversations that the level of material ranges from slightly humourous, to disturbing, shocking, and somewhat chilling. Prior to the study of each individual interview, I think you will agree the following names present a fair representation of some of the major players in the case. Agreeably, most of the names are from the defense. It should be noted that others from the prosecution declined the invitation to take part.
In no particular order, the following constitutes the list of those interviewed. From the defense team, lawyers Raymond Maher, Francois de B Gravel, and Arthur Maloney QC provided extensive interviews with their opinions and interpretations. Police officer Lewis Sinnett provided information that many will find shocking. John Beliveau and Jacques Hebert who wrote and investigated the case extensively will offer some very good insight as to how the case materialized, and what went wrong with it. The Reverend Sam Pollard who was the padre at Bordeaux Jail in Montreal provides extensive information detailing the six months that he was associated with Wilbert Coffin prior to the execution. I found that interview to be particularly touching, as I am sure you will agree when I provide you with the details.
From the tone of her voice, it is understandable the bitterness that Marion Petrie exhibits in her interview. The one person who would complete her family circle is now being wrenched from her in a particularly barbaric fashion, and she is powerless to do anything about it. Her comments will reflect the hurt and anguish that she is suffering.
The interview circle would not be complete without hearing from family members in Wilbert Coffin's family. I shall be detailing to you the contents of an interview with an aging grandmotherly type lady, with tears in her eyes and much sadness in her heart. This lady's name is Jessie Coffin, who is the mother of Wilbert Coffin. As you will see, it is Jessie Coffin who was left to pick up the pieces and move forward subsequent to a very traumatic event, which would oversee that which was necessary after the execution.
I will pick up the story now beginning with the interview with lawyer Raymond Maher. I have taken the opportunity to view this interview on six different occasions. Raymond Maher was put on the spot in several instances by the interviewer. Very carefully, I viewed his body language. In my view, his eyes were puffy and he exhibited those characteristics normally associated with alcohol consumption. His answers did not appear to me to be "matter of fact." He appeared driven in his desire to convince others of his "professional" approach to the case.
In my view, Mr. Maher was stretching the truth to the outer limits on several occasions as to his reasoning for certain decisions that he made during the course of Wilbert Coffin's trial. He states emphatically that he had a total of eighty-two witnesses that he was prepared to call for the defense. Clearly and simply, I do not believe him. I am not convinced that he had one witness lined up, in spite of his claim to have nearly seven dozen of them. The claim that Mr. Maher makes in the interview was simply that he chose to not call any witnesses because the prosecution had not won their case. Pressed on the issue, Mr. Maher states that given the same set of circumstances, his decision to call no witnesses would be the same.
Lawyer Maher states in his interview that he was convinced of Wilbert Coffin's innocence. He goes on to say that he investigated the case for two years. At no time does he detail this investigation, as to what he did or who he talked with, and again I seriously question that particular statement.
In my view, Raymond Maher's statements pertaining to appeals and the possibility of getting Wilbert Coffin's sentence commuted to life in prison through getting the federal government involved was at best, cruel and unusual. At this particular point of time, Raymond Maher turns on his client, Wilbert Coffin. I found Mr. Maher's statements here to be disgusting. I believe that Maher emerges as the hunter here and Wilbert Coffin is his quarry.
You will recall that earlier on in the story, Wilbert Coffin had decided to voluntarily make a deposition while he was in the Bordeaux Jail awaiting execution. This sworm statement by Wilbert Coffin was his way of proclaiming to the court and government his evidence, and his rebuttal to claims made by the prosecution and certain witnesses. This sworn deposition by Mr. Coffin was casual, candid, and more importantly, the information was expressed from the heart and volunteerarily rendered. Mr. Maher goes on to say that in his view, this deposition could be construed as an admission of guilt. He further states that he had it reviewed by different agencies including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and they concured with his belief. Again, I do not believe Raymond Maher when he makes this statement.
Upon careful study of the complete interview, it is my belief that Mr. Maher is doing nothing more than attempting to justify to the public and other officials his judgment in calling no witnesses and refusing to let his client, Wilbert Coffin testify at trial. To remind any of you who have followed this case since I commenced writing the story, it was Maher's refusal to let Wilbert Coffin testify that Mr. Coffin felt compelled to swear the deposition in the first place. To sum up, I am not of the opinion that Raymond Maher served Wilbert Coffin well.
Raymond Maher laid the blame for the charging and convicting of Wilbert Coffin on the government and the fact that the American administration were putting pressure on. That is a great statement, but the question is, why did Raymond Maher not allude to this fact during the trial? It made little sense for him to dwell on it five years after Wilbert Coffin was executed. This same Raymond Maher had the nerve to state in his interview that if the victims had been Canadian, most probably Wilbert Coffin would have been acquitted. Was this fact brought up to the jury during the trial or in summation? No, of course it was not. Maher merely strutted around and kept his mouth shut.
Police officer Lewis Sinnett of the Quebec Provincial Police, though a witness for the crown, perhaps offers some of the most telling information in defense of Wilbert Coffin. Officer Sinnett has known Wilbert Coffin for a long period of time. He speaks well as to Wilbert Coffin's character, and states that Wilbert would never do anything of the magnitude of which he is charged. Mr. Sinnett begins his interview with information which contains some humourous overtones, however, before he finishes he provides a shocking revelation that should have been brought up at trial. It was not his fault that it was not brought up, the fault should lie squarely at the feet of his superiors.
Officer Sinnett begins by relating information about he and Wilbert Coffin going into the woods to aid in the search for the bodies of the missing hunters. He explains that they stop at Camp 26. It is past noon and they are hungry, so lunch is prepared. After lunch, Officer Sinnett becomes tired and decides he wants to have a nap. He stretched out on a long table in the old camp and asked Wilbert to call him in an hour. Wilbert is late calling him and awakens him at two-thirty. They get up and carry on their way with the search. Two weeks later reality sets in when they become aware that a victims remains were found just across the road from the camp. Wilbert stated to Officer Sinnett that if we had only walked across the road, we would have found the remains. Officer Sinnett's response was, "yes, and I wonder how they died?" Wilbert responded by saying that he was not the one who caused their death.
The chilling aspect of this interview is the fact that Officer Sinnett relates as to how he had come into contact with a vehicle and it's occupants in the forest. The date was June 11, 1953. Officer Sinnett pulls over the vehicle, and the driver is wearing a T Shirt that was covered with blood. Officer Sinnett questions this. He is informed that they had shot a moose. The season was not open at that time of year on moose. Officer Sinnett informed them of that, but he did not charge them or question them further as he was in a rush on his way to a mine strike taking place at Saint Anne de Monts. Officer Sinnett did not see the moose, and he does not say that he saw the butchered remains of a moose.
This information should be very seriously considered. Experienced hunters will tell you, that it would be a very rare instance for a hunter to encounter a lot of blood on personal clothing from the dressing of a game animal. It simply is not the way that it is done. As a matter of fact, most folks who butcher and dress game meat experience very little mess. The same would not be necessairly true if, such as may be the case here, one individual stabbed another in a physical close contact situation such as I described in a former posting suggesting that the victims were not shot to death, but stabbed by a tapered object. To lend support to this theory, we must remember there was no murder weapon, no spent cartridge cases, and no fragmented bullets in or near the human remains.
One important thing that Officer Sinnett does declare and I consider this important. Before we are too quick to judge Officer Sinnett, we must remember that at this point Officer Sinnett was not aware that murder had taken place in the woods as it had not been announced yet, and further, the hunters had not been reported missing. In fairness to Officer Sinnett, he was responding to the mine call for which he had been dispatched. He was in a hurry, and probably for very good reason because strikes amongst mine workers were known to be rough.
Officer Sinnett goes on to explain that in his mind there is a very good chance that he may have been talking to the killers of the hunters. This information was never raised at trial because the police officer explained that his superiors, Captain Matte and crew, informed him that when it comes to testifying at the trial, to only answer specifically what he is asked, and not expand the boundaries.
Officer Sinnett went on to explain the scene at the court house in Perce'. He informs the interviewer of the fact that in the police office set up there, a photograph of Wilbert Coffin was displayed. In the front of the photo, someone had drawn a noose. Officer Sinnett states that he personally saw this display, but did not know who the artist was. Raymond Maher stated emphatically that he did not recall seeing it, though one can reasonably speculate there may have been much that Raymond Maher did not recall from the court house.
Officer Sinnett admitted that he was very troubled by the conviction of Wilbert Coffin, but he was advised that he was powerless to do anything about it. He wanted to personally place a telephone call to the minister of justice in Ottawa. He was informed by his superiors to leave it, as by then they said many others would have called him and there would be nothing that the minister could do.
Lawyer Arthur Maloney was an outsider through much of the Wilbert Coffin saga. It can be argued that he could have assumed a more active role. In his interview, he states that it was his belief that an innocent man most probably went to the gallows when Wilbert Coffin was executed. That is a touching statement. Lawyer Maloney as well went on to declare that over the past few months of Wilbert Coffin's life he had the opportunity to question and examine him at great depth. At no time did Wilbert Coffin give him reason to think that he was guilty of the crime. His answers were always forthright and direct. Mr. Maloney, when asked about Wilbert's deposition, remarked that he did not consider the statement to be an admission of guilt or a reason to not commute his capital sentence.
When asked by the interviewer as to what went wrong, and if there was an error made, why and how did it happen? Mr. Maloney remarked that the jury system is the safest system for a defendant, and further pointed out that the system does not provide for the necessity for one hundred percent proof but is stated as "beyond a reasonable doubt." Given the gravity of that statement, Mr. Maloney went on to say that in this particular case where the evidence was entirely circumstantial, there was more room for possible error.
Having paid special attention to Mr. Maloney from his earliest entry into this case, I am not satisfied that he did the best job possible for his client. Instantly thoughts come to mind of the application to the Supreme Court as to whether Marion Petrie could be compelled to testify as a hostile witness. The judgment in that decision was wrapped up by the judge stating that Lawyer Maloney did not present arguments.
The lawyer throughout the whole ordeal who would be closest to Wilbert Coffin would be Francois Gravel. In his interview, lawyer Gravel comes across as being strong willed and somewhat determined. He appears aggressive and moody. He commences the interview pointing out that new evidence had surfaced and it could be instrumental in the clearing of Wilbert Coffin's name. He states that he now has written evidence that will show that Richard Lindsey was alive on June 16, 1953 which would be at least three days after he was supposedly killed. As Gravel stated, it was also three days after the crown had stated that Wilbert Coffin was in Montreal, hundreds of miles from the Gaspe' peninsula. Mr. Gravel stated that the new evidence would be presented in the package with other evidence to the government. When pressed on the origin of this evidence, Mr. Gravel was vague, and openly stated that he would say no more about it at that point.
Mr. Gravel was asked by the interviewer why the case went so wrong. Instantly, Mr. Gravel is vague once again, however, he does make a point of saying that he does not blame the prosecution. At the same time, he does not accept any responsibility for weakness on the part of the defense. He was not asked, nor did he volunteer information as to why Wilbert Coffin was denied the chance to speak at his trial.
Upon being asked if he had this new information in his possession, he confirmed that he had. It is important to note that this information was never used, so one must assume, that if in fact it existed, it may still be available. I have received information as to where it may be at this late date. I am not at liberty to express that at this time, however, steps are being taken to track it's existence, and the findings will be made available to AIDWYC and the CCRG. It is a long shot, but it is an avenue that must be explored.
Mr. Gravel closed off his interview with a reference to his last meeting with Wilbert Coffin in the afternoon prior to the execution. He stated that he discussed last minute affairs with Wilbert and asked if him if he wished that he come back again that evening, to which Wilbert thanked him for all his support and said good-bye for the last time. He then informed Wilbert that the padre, Reverend Sam Pollard was on his way and he suggested that he mught want to spend some time with the Reverend, to which Wilbert agreed.
The writer John Belliveau had followed the Coffin case from the beginning. Mr. Belliveau never faltered in his belief that Wilbert Coffin was innocent. He did not openly criticize the authorities for the investigation, however, he was critical of the fact that they did not broaden their horizons to include suspects other than Wilbert Coffin. He suggests that had that been done, a suspect other than Wilbert Coffin would have probably been charged. Mr. Belliveau stated through investigation, he and others were able to come up with information and evidence and said the authorities in this case could have done the same thing, but they chose not to. They were on a one way steady course on orders from Quebec, those orders being to charge and convict a suspect, and bring the case to conclusion.
Jacques Hebert was another staunch supporter of Wilbert Coffin. He was steadfast in his belief of Wilbert's innocence. In the interview, he expresses disgust when talking about the picture of Wilbert Coffin with a noose drawn on it. One can easily read his feelings during this interview. He was of the opinion that more investigation with an open mind should have prevailed. Wilbert Coffin was an easy target. Hebert's book, "Coffin Was Innocent" is highly critical of the government and their handling of the Wilbert Coffin case.
A local Gaspe' taxi driver provided a local character analysis of Wilbert Coffin and his family. In his interview he states that he knew Wilbert Coffin, his siblings, and his mother and father. He goes on to say that it was his belief that Wilbert Coffin would never commit such a crime, knowing them as he did.
In a democratic society offering freedom of religion and expression there exists in all walks of life a need for support that provides a pillar of strength, not only representing the oppressed, but for those who are left behind. Society proves that it takes a special kind of individual to fill that role. Indeed, it is not a position that one can just step into and carry on.
Very carefully, I viewed the interview with the Reverend Sam Pollard. As mentioned above, it was the Reverend Pollard who was the padre at Bordeaux Jail in Montreal during Wilbert Coffin's tenure at the institution. Here was a gentleman who put his heart and soul into his position at the prison. Listening to him speak freely, one quickly becomes drawn to the soothing voice that he provided. On the gloomiest of days, his visit would be a ray of sunshine.
Reverend Pollard spoke of the strength of Wilbert Coffin. He cared about his family who would be left behind. He requested special prayers for his family on his last day. Throughout his complete ordeal at Bordeaux Jail, Reverend Pollard states that Wilbert Coffin maintained his innocence until the end. He held no grudge against anyone, including his captors. The Reverend goes on to state that one of his biggest let downs was the news that he and the love of his life, Marion Petrie, would not be permitted to marry. Reverend Pollard stated that he had obtained all the necessary documents on their behalf in the hope that permission would be granted near the end, but that did not happen. Reverend Pollard sums up his interview stating that Wilbert Coffin walked bravely to the gallows, and to use his words, Wilbert did it without dope. His final words on Wilbert Coffin were that Wilbert was ready to meet his maker.
As I mentioned earlier, one could detect a feeling of bitterness in the voice of Marion Petrie in her short interview. She was truly upset because she was losing someone who was very dear and special to her. She was powerless to do anything about what was happening. It was very upsetting to her that she and Wilbert would not be allowed to marry. Marion was not optimistic that the authorities would ever overturn Wilbert's conviction. Marion talks of a particular visit that she made to Wilbert while he was housed at the Quebec City Jail. It was during this visit that Marion would ask Wilbert outright if he had commited this crime. Wilbert was quick to respond with "No he did not."
There is an old adage that states, "who knows us better than our mother" Again, the interview that I am about to describe to you, I viewed several times. The subject of the interview features an aging grandmotherly type lady named Jessie Coffin. Jessie is Wilbert Coffin's Mum. I have to declare, even an old gnarled, weather beaten scribe such as myself has a tough time with this one without tears.
Jessie is sincere in her motherly ways. There is pain and sadness in her heart, and a tear in her eyes. Jessie speaks of Wilbert's last days spent at the family farm prior to his arrest. She points out the fact that Wilbert was like he always was, helping with the chores, and if there was nothing to do, he would be reading. She asks the question, if one had committed such a dreadful crime as was suggested, would they be that calm and normal acting and eating properly. She thought not. She answered in the same way to her own question asking if one committed such a crime, would they be sleeping peacefully and normal? Jessie speaks of Wilbert's last words, and when she last saw him alive. It was the Thursday, the day before his execution, that she and her other son Donnie had been in to see him. She goes on to say that on the Saturday, she and others were on their way accompaning Wilbert back to Gaspe'.
I hope that you have found this posting to be informative. For myself and what I am attempting to accomplish, these interviews have been a real tower of strength. I know there will be some of you who quite possibly have seen them over the years. Personally, I had not. If you have, it was not my intention to bore you. I can tell you this though, I have personally viewed each one of them at least six times during this past week, and each time I managed to pick something up that I missed the time before.
This has been a particularly long posting. I apologize for that. It was difficult to break it into segments, thus, making it necessary to combine into one post. As I stated earlier, there are a couple of things that I did not discuss in detail due to sensitivity of the material and it's possible impact on acquiring further evidence from years ago.
As usual, I ask for your comments. That is the way that we are able to gauge our strength. I also solicit your information if you have something to share. The work is far from over, and I need your help. You can reach me by way of the comment board or you can e-mail me.
Lew Stoddard
Posted to site May 09, 2007


Elaine Gaudet said...

Mr. Stoddard,

I have never heard about all those interviews that you are speaking of, but I would sure like to see them. I am going to send you an e-mail to see if there may be a way. They would be touching I am sure. I cannot begin to believe the amount of work that you have put into all this.

You must be a blessing to the Coffin family to keep this story in the front lines like this.

Elaine Gaudet
Fredericton, N B

Rob M said...

That interview that you speak about with the police officer speaking about the bloody shirt. hat causes one to really sit back and think.

Rob M
Burlington, Ontario

B Morrow said...

Just when I think that I have heard everything about this story, todays posting jumps out at me. Great stuff that you talk about. No I am not aware of the interviews. I am only 45, so they are older than me. Interesting stuff Sir. Keep at it, the squeaking wheel is the one that gets greased.

B Morrow
Toronto, Ontario

H janis said...

I agree totally with your reasoning with respect to the bloody shirt and the dressing of meat.

I do recall your posting of sometime back where you suggest a possible murder weapon. That does tie in very tightly with what you are saying here. This is so interesting. I know this is very serious stuff, but truthfully, it would be impossible to buy a better murder mystery.

You write the story well Mr. Stoddard. You keep it very interesting and real.

H janis

B Yeomans said...

Great stuff Lew Stoddard. getting more interesting each day.

Barbara Yeomans
Owen Sound

Cecile Cote said...

I must say Sir that you have taken this far beyond where anyone has gone with it in the past. You have done everything except pick people up and drop them off along the road some 54 years ago. If this thing ever solves, you will be the one who does it.

You tend to get a bit rough around the edges in the way that you talk about some people, but what can I say, you get results.

Cecile Cote
Rimouski, Quebec

simon holmes said...

mr stoddard---i like how you tell this storey.i know about this affaire because i live in the gaspe all my life. my dad he know about it as he worked in murdochville when this take place.

Simon holmes in Cabano

Sandra Locke said...

I feel real sorry for people such as Mrs Coffin the Mom and also Marion Petrie Coffin. It is true, Mom's know their kids better than anyone. This thing upset so many people.

Sandra Locke
Winnipeg, man

M McEwen said...

Amazing that you appear to be doing more work on this than the investigators did 54 years ago. Too bad you were not around then.

M McEwen
Sherbrooke, Quebec

Dave McElroy said...

I have had the opportunity of reading your posting today. The old CBC interviews certainly add depth to the case. A lot of the stuff that you describe from the interviews I was not aware of, but it sure causes one to think.

I do hope that you and the Coffin family will be successfull in your efforts to get this case overturned. It must be very difficult on the Coffin family. Good luck to all of you. I only wish i had information to share with you on this.

Dave McElroy
Vancouver, B C

The Brandons said...

The information pertaining to sightings in the forest are so interesting, and adds such a new dimension. Good luck to all of you, especially to Mrs. Marie Coffin Stewart.

Mr. and Mrs. L Brandon
Calgary, Alberta

D Meyers said...

As you have stressed in past postings, I am certain that it is a must that the government accept supressed evidence and information for this case to turn around. But if it was purposely held back the first time around, it is still deserving of being made public.

David Meyers

G Brodeur said...

I am a former resident of Quebec, having lived there in the sixties. My father was certainly aware of the elements of this case as he was from the Matapedia area, working on the boats on the coast. He was always certain of the innocence of Mr. Coffin. Best of luck to all of you.

G Brodeur
Abbotsford, B C

M Levesque said...

No amount of passed time can ever make something like this acceptable. Someone has to be found accountable. Your last posting certainly suggests there are many questions to be answered.

Mary Levesque
Fort McMurray

Joyce said...

Why has it taken all this time? I should think that in all these years it would have corrected if it were truly as some, including yourself portray.

Bristol, N B

D Hawthorne said...

There are some similarities here between the Truscott case and some of the others. It appears that the authorities have a lot of trouble nailing down heavy weight cases and in many cases prepared to do crooked things to accomplish a goal. That is not right.

D Hawthorne
New Westminster, B C

Anonymous said...

It is said that people drink to drown their sorrows. Perhaps in Raymond Maher's case he drank to drown the guilt....guilt that may have stemmed from similar performances in prior cases.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Stoddard here you go again,you cant accomplish what you want so now you jump on everyone else.I mean the legal team for w Coffin.because things dont come out the way you want it is like you now blame the lawyers.Just because somebody gets in a jam dont be so quick to condeem the people trying to help.

annonyomos in Hull

Waiting In Gaspe said...

I am convinced that the big secret about this affair still remains on the Gaspe coast. For what reason. . . I do not know. . . I do know this though. . . I feel that you are getting very close to a major break through. . . I have always felt that you would be the one who would do it. . . I guess it is your dedication and refusal to let go.

Good Luck
Waiting in Gaspe

Selina and Brian said...

Hi Lew,

First time commenter to your site, although we read it each week as we are former Gaspe residents and learned about it from the GoGaspe web page.

My hubby's Dad is very familiar with this event as he knew members of the Coffin family.

You have covered so much territory in your coverage of this affair. Just your research notes alone must make for interesting reading.

You do deserve to be the one who unlocks this affair with all your efforts. Good luck to you and I too only wish that I could offer some information that would assist you but rest assured, hubby and i are rootin for you!

Selina and Brian Foster
Calgary, Alberta

Sam N in Whitehorse said...

Good luck to all the Coffin family. I know this is a long road but I think miracles will open up through this site in the end. The last posting makes it look very realistic now. Don't abandon the ship yet.

Sam N
Whitehorse, Yukon

G Longden said...

I am curious as to why the residents of the Gaspe coast would literally keep quiet about an event that was obviously so tainted. This appears to have gone on for many years. Why is that?

G Longden

james coffin said...

to anonymous in Hull i read what lew writes each posting he has been very good at recieving information about the case if this had been you i'm sure you would be more than happy to have someone like him on your side lew is only stating the facts about the case if you ever get yourself in trouble one day and a team of pro lawyers come forward like my dad had come to his aid to help you you won't have to worry about being put to death they no longer do that in canada the law was changed after they saw the big mistake they made back in 1956 with the death of my dad you too would be in shock when your lawyers stand up and say we have no defence we rest what would you have done from the comment you left i see you are a coward stand up leave your name so we can watch for you in the newspapers so we can see if you get a fare trial lew keep up the good work don't let cowards like that get you down

E Greer said...

I totally agree with J Coffin. I dont blame you Mr. Stoddard for putting on the pressure. As far as I am concerned, turn the heat up if that is what it takes to expose the crookery and corruptness that goes on.

I just pray that time will still be on your side here and that you will "NAB" the SOB's who were really guilty here. I guess with the passage of time, they have taken the easy road out of town, but it is not too late to expose their names as well as those who made up the corrupt system.

E. Greer
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Kathleen McDougall said...

If the legal defense team were as incompetent as you suggest, and I do believe that you are correct, then why did the judge not step in and ask why? Is that not part of a judge's duty, to ensure that defendants are getting a fair process? I believe that it should be.

Kathleen McDougall

S Stewart said...

Is there any way of tracking who was in that woods area the day that the police officer talked to the two people who said they shot a moose? To me, this is a very valuable piece of evidence and it certainly puts a whole new twist and thoughts on the whole affair. You are to be commended Lew for your relentless dedication and sheer determination to have worked on this thing for that long. You are definitely a good guy to have on one's side.

S Stewart

Barb Summers said...

Your last posting was informative, direct, and very touching. You brought tears to my eyes. You said it well. I wish I could help you Sir. I cannot as I have nothing to offer except my full support. I commented on your site this past summer, never dreaming that almost a year later, you are as dedicated to this as you were then.

Barb Summers

Shorty the old long haul driver said...

Hey Lew just me again on the prairie. great stuff as usual but it gets better all the time. you will crack this thing, stick to it old boy. remember you have to come to Alberta and go for a trip with me in one of my trucks this summer. would love to meet you and you always have a place to stay with old shorty and the family.

Shorty the long haul driver
Out here in Alberta

Christine McLean said...

If these lawyers were so incompetent then why were they allowed to practise law? I just cannot accept that they were as bad as you say. Lawyers have to be quite proficient and professional and you do have to be an honourable person to be a lawyer. Just look around and you will see a great number of them become our politicians so that speaks a lot to their character and knowledge.

Christine McLean

C Mayhew said...

There are for sure a lot of unanswered questions floating around about this case. Obviously there are people who are still alive who know the answers. For your fellow human beings, it is time to loosen up a bit.

Good luck to you Lew Stoddard and all the Coffin family. I had hardly even heard of this case prior to reading of it sometime back on this web site.

C Mayhew

Dave Leblanc said...

My father, a former resident of the Murdochville area of Quebec worked in the bush area where these crimes took place.

He has told me many times that the gates going into the forset were only as good as the drivers were honest. In other words lots of people entered the woods without a permit, overlooked by the officials.

Dave Leblanc
Saint John, N B

Patrice M said...

Mr Stoddard,

I started reading your site earlier last year. You appear to pick at this thing in many different directions all at the same time. I don't want to seem critical but really is that any way to tell a story?It seems that it would make more sense to tell it event by event without drifting off in every direction. Just my thoughts anyway.

Patrice Mersereau
Riviere du Loup

M Greene said...

A message to P Mersereau,

How the Hell could the man possibly write the story in any kind of sequence. have you no idea of how long 54 years is. Some have died, some have clammed up, and some are staying hidden.

it is a free country my dear lady, grab your quill and your parchment and show the world how a "pro" would do it. I mean if you are going to mouth off and tell somebody of how something shouldn't be done, you should first be prepared to show everyone how it should be done. Just my thoughts anyway.

M Greene
Windsor, Ontario

Bill Sanderson said...

I went back and studied your posting referring to the autopsy reports and your suggestion as to weapon type. You make very much sense. It is becoming clearer all the time. You are a good detective, this thing is going to snap and break open for you. I hope Canada is listening to you, and more importantly, I hope the politicians and the judiciary are paying attention.

W M (Bill) Sanderson
Kingston, Ontario

Jennie McDonnagh said...

First things first Happy Mothers Day to all the Mom's out there. i want to say that I am glad to be able to read about this event because I knew absolutely nothing about it the a few months ago I was thinking, here is something that happened in modern times, it forms part of our history, it is probably a big black mark and we should take the time to learn about it. Based opn that sir I really do hopw you can solve it and my wishes go to the Coffin family in Quebec.

Jennie McDonnagh

W Winters said...

Message to Marie Coffin and family

Happy Mothers day Marie Coffin (Stewart) Our hearts are with you each and every day. So many Canadians want this thing to get fixed for you. I know it can never restore your brother but i believe that he deserves to have his name cleared.

W Winters

Reg Messier said...

Something that really amazes me about this whole affair is the fact that it seems like vehicles could very easily sneak in and out of controlled zones. This is very evident when I read deeper and deeper into this thing and that fact alone should have spoken well for Wilbert Coffin where they were relying so heavily on circumstantional evidence. Why did lawyers such as this Gravel guy not bring this up even if Maher could not be depended upon.

Reg Messier

T Antworth said...

Unfortunately I have lost most of the faith that I had built up over the years for our police. There is so much corruption and cover-up that seems to go on. Look at the recent allegations of our national police force, combined with the problems over the years with provincial forces, it seems like they are all equally corrupt.

In Ontario, the police looked very bad over the Truscott affair, even crown counsel there is looking bad right now. Is there no dignity and respect. We deserve a whole lot better than that. I hear the excuse all the time, well they are under a lot of stress. To that I politely say BS. No-one forced them to don a badge.

T. Antworth
Brandon, Manitoba

Bert Calder said...

I believe in this case as you do that lawyer Maher was largely responsible for Mr. Coffin going to the gallows. To rise in the middle of a murder trial and state "THE DEFENSE RESTS" is beyond stupidity.

Bert Calder

John Brady said...

I agree when I hear about all the corruption that is so rampant. It is absolutely unbelievable.

With reference to the Coffin case, Mr. Coffin was caught in a tight spot. I am sure his family funds were limited and that forces one to take what they can afford, in this case that would be like accepting "factory seconds."

I hope you can find out more on that Jeep story, the one in the ravine that went missing. Obviously that ties in with the rest of the story.

John Brady

B Cleary said...

Over the years I have heard so much about this lawyer Maher and how he did such a horrible job. You write in the same way about him Mr. Stoddard, but you take it beyond Maher. You appear quite critical of the other two defense lawyers as well, Mr. Maloney, and this Mr. Gravel.

I don't think you have the right to do that. To not win a case is one thing, but I do not believe that gives one the right to constantly expresss bias against all the lawyers involved. I am irritated when I see this.

B. Cleary
Winnipeg, Man

Dave Taggert said...

In todays world never would you ever see a premier of a province doubling up as the attorney general, unless of course you were in some sort of dictatorship, but then again, I guess they were that back in the 50's especially in Quebec.

I believe that because this type of thing was allowed to happen, that is why we end with problems such as we did with the Coffin affair.

Haven't commented on the site for awhile Lew but you are making good progress. Keep up the good work.

Dave Taggert
Kamloops, B C

T McCreadie said...

That is indeed an interesting addition to the the story of the Coffin affair. I am making a reference here to the statement of the police officer about the people he saw in a vehicle in the area and the description of those people. Hopefully this will help you clear up many misconceptions about this case.

T McCreadie
Fredericton, N B

Bradley Meares said...

I am curious as to the depth that the review group is currently in with respect to the investigation of Wilbert Coffin. I suppose the normal will apply here, they will take forever.

Bradley Meares

Bob Landry said...

I realize Maher the lawyer did not want Mr. Coffin to testify. Why was that really? Was he afraid that he would harm the case? Seems that it was harmed beyond repair anyway. At that point, anything would have obviously been helpful

Bob Landry
Shediac, N B

S. Brewster said...

I have followed with interest your on-going report that you post on a regular basis on this affair. Anyone who has an interest, or who has knowledge of the history of our country since confederation, I am sure would be somewhat aware of this case.

It does appear that many rules were breached pertaining to the application of fair law and order. This troubles me.

I do not understand why it should have to be such a tussle to have this trial declared a wrong doing, and if that being the case, declare it as such and free Wilbert Coffin's name.

It comes down to something very simple. If Wilbert Coffin was found to be guilty beyond any reasonable doubt and it can be proven, then it stands, as is. If, on the other hand, it cannot be proven that Wilbert Coffin was guilty beyond any reasonable doubt, and cannot be proven without resorting to deceit and manipulation, then the bottom line is simple, Wilbert Coffin must be declared "Acquitted."

S. Brewster

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Mr Stoddard is ok?

Lani Baker Mitchell said...

Lew is fine. We're working hard collecting further information related to this posting. Hopefully he will be able to share it with you very soon. Stay tuned!

Lew Stoddard said...

Message from Lew Stoddard

Thank you for the concern to all who have sent e-mails etc. I am fine and doing well, though we have been very involved with some fine points of our investigation of the Wilbert Coffin case as Lani Mitchell pointed out.

I can tell you this, we are presently seeking clarification on a couple of things that would really speed the process of turning this thing around. We are now confident that we know where the answers may lie, however, extraction is a time consuming process.

A couple of good folks have come forward with additional information. Without doubt, the successes thus far in this investigation would not have been possible otherwise.

Again, I say Thank You for your concerns, and as well, I encourage you to come forward if you can help. A simple e-mail in confidence is all it takes, and I will look after the details. You can always reach me at the following.

Lew Stoddard

Randy St. Pierre said...

I hope you are able to crack this case wide open. I have faith that you will. Your determination is in your favor. Don't give up on it.

Randy St. Pierre

Clément Fortin said...

I share an opposite view in my book L'affaire Coffin: une supercherie? (translation: The Coffin Affaire: a hoax?) I hope an English translation will be available soon. In the meantime, visit my blog: