Monday, August 13, 2007

In the last chapter I outlined to you some individuals who would play a major part in this story. Again I stress, these names were not arrived at as a result of an educated guess. These names were arrived at after months of research and elimination of information by myself and Lani Mitchell. The knowledge of the involvement of these individuals was largely the result of pouring through police interviews and other certified data of the months leading up to the trial of Wilbert Coffin.
Though in many cases the police had the information that I am going to present, they were apparently reluctant to commence an investigation that would lead into another direction. At this point of time the circumstantial case against Wilbert Coffin was gaining momentum, so why change direction? Their approach was simple. Maurice Duplessis wanted someone to hang to shut up the American government, and true to form, someone would hang. That someone would be Wilbert Coffin.
Angus MacDonald and Wilbert Coffin would first meet while working in the mining industry in Murdochville, Quebec in the year preceeding the murders in the Gaspe' region. MacDonald, like so many before him had found his way to the Gaspe' coast through the mining industry in Bathurst, New Brunswick. Prior to Bathurst, MacDonald had worked the mining scene in Nova Scoria, his home province.
Though his knowledge of the workings of an actual producing mine was evident, his expertise in the discovery of minerals was limited. Repeatedly, we see that Angus MacDonald was not an outdoorsman. He got lost frequently, and as a result, would very quickly become a liability in a team atmosphere. He did not possess the necessary skills required to be a successful prospector.
Angus MacDonald joined into a loose partnership with Wilbert Coffin and Bill Baker. Bill Baker would supply transporation in the form of a pickup truck, Angus MacDonald would supply some equipment and some operating capital for food and other supplies. Wilbert Coffin would supply some equipment, but most of all, Wilbert would be relied upon to find the minerals and point everyone in that direction.
It was a partnership that was doomed for failure. Very soon, Wilbert Coffin sensed Angus MacDonald's weakness in the woods. The other member of the triangle, Bill Baker, did not totally trust Angus MacDonald and he expressed this to Wilbert Coffin. There were times when MacDonald did not know when to keep his mouth shut. Bill Baker was the type of personality that if one wanted to depend on his support, then one had to be prepared to express their support for Bill Baker. This is a normal arrangement in most partnerships to this day.
Little is known of Angus MacDonald's social life, or if indeed he even had one. I do know that Angus MacDonald was very frugal with his money. His total livelihood was garnered from his travels in the mining game, so other than grub stakes to foster his dreams, he remained out of the limelight.
Some time back I had the opportunity to personally speak with Keith Baker. Keith is the son of Bill Baker and he remembers Angus MacDonald. As he related to me, other than MacDonalds involvement in the mining game, he knew little of Angus MacDonald. I found it necessary to ask these questions, chiefly because in order to create a meaningful profile on anyone, it is necessary to know as much as possible of the individual.
Curly Richardson was another import to the area. It is apparent that Richardson spent very little time in any particular area. It is known that he and Angus MacDonald were acquainted from the Bathurst region, and at Murdochville. Richardson became employed with The Noranda Company at Murdochville.
It can be argued that MacDonald felt some remorse for Richardson, as he and Richardson shared friendship whenever Richardson's travels took him to the Gaspe' region. Though Wilbert Coffin was perhaps aware of Richardson's existence, there is nothing to suggest a business or social atmosphere between the two. It would have been nothing more than a very casual approach to each other.
No story of backwoods folklore would be complete without a specific character to round out the cast. The Wilbert Coffin story had such a character. His name was Mr. Soucie. Mr. Soucie was a Francophone. He was known to be a ne'er do too well type. He wasn't smart, he wasn't stupid, he just took each situation the way it was presented. Bluntly speaking, Mr. Soucie was a thief. As with many others, Soucie would find his way to the Gaspe' region by way of Bathurst.
The cast of characters is now complete to finalize the Wilbert Coffin story. In their own unique way, each player will play out a well defined role. In some cases the role played will be unknown to the individual player. If this sounds strange, it is. When all is said and done though, you will understand the significance and how it was all done.
The date is now June 08, 1953. The curtain rises on this date because this is the day that the Wilbert Coffin story has it's beginning. Many would argue that the next five days would represent the bleakest of events carving out and shaping the history of Quebec. In the aftermath, three human beings, in the most brutal and barbaric fashion would be left dead on the forest floor.
In this chapter, I am going to outline for you the reader, various scenarios depicting the events leading up to, and including the murders themselves. You will see how each player fits into his role, and the relative ease in which these murders were carried out.
As a result of deep study of this affair, I am satisfied that the following paragraphs is an orderly and accurate reflection of the events concerning this particular week in the Gaspe woods. You will note in many areas that I shall be making reference to police reports, interviews, and written statements concerning various elements of the story, but in doing so, enhancing credibility of the overall picture.
I shall not be re-writing and re-hashing many of the dispatches that have been written over the years regarding this case. It would simply serve no purpose to do that. These accounts have not provided a conclusion to this case for over fifty years, so to assume that suddenly the answers would jump to the forefront based on reiteration of the impossible only adds to the depth of the labyrinth.
From the reports of the Quebec Provincial Police, specifically the notes of Sgt. J C VanHoutte, we learn that Wilbert Coffin and Angus MacDonald head into the forest and go through the forestry gate near Gaspe'. The story has now begun.
The permit and gate process in the region was a means of controll especially in fire season. It was a process that could work well as long as everyone played by the rules. This fact however was only a dream. As is usually the case, rules and regulations merely serve to keep the already honest in line, and do little to encourage universal conformity. This was the case in the Gaspe' forest region as you will soon see.
The permit process was a fairly simple procedure. The process provided for a single person access permit for a pre-determined length of stay. Permits for groups of people were not allowed. It was permissable for more than one individual in a specific vehicle to obtain entry privileges, but it was mandatory that each person have their own numbered permit.
It was this permit process that made it possible for a nosey person such as myself to be able to put certain things together in this affair that would assist in creating the timing that made it possible for us to crack the case. I am now confident that we have accomplished that.
Little is known of the whereabouts or the movements of Angus MacDonald on the evening prior to entering the forest with Wilbert Coffin. It has been determined that Wilbert Coffin usually spent his free time at his mothers house if he was not in the forest or in the vicinity of home. It is also known that Angus MacDonald would spend many of his nights in the camp owned by Wilbert Coffin. This was because MacDonald had no place of his own. This system would work well as the camp was located just a few miles from Gaspe' through the forestry gate. It was also accessible by car which was his mode of travel.
Upon entering the forest on their prospecting junket on June 08, things did not go well for Wilbert Coffin and Angus MacDonald. Though they took out permits for four days of tenure in the forest district, they would in fact spend only one night. As it would eventually conclude, this would also be the last night that they would ever spend together for the rest of their lives.
The balance of this day would be spent attempting tp reach their intended area to prospect. Due to the condition of the roads, it would be necessary to park the truck and trek by foot. It would appear that Angus MacDonald was not the type to be able to find his way out of a room with the door left open. He was a liability. He was a problem. He had to go.
In addition to these obvious problems with MacDonald, it is obvious that Wilbert Coffin harboured further concerns. Perhaps it was something that Angus MacDonald had said to Wilbert that triggered these thoughts. Wilbert Coffin had worked long and hard for what he believed to be his road to success. He was not about to lose it in a temerarious fashion. We learn from his sworn deposition, and from statements made by Angus MacDonald to Sgt. J C VanHoutte of the Quebec Provincial Police that he suggested to MacDonald that after the first night in the forest they return to Gaspe' for the night to obtain maps, with the plan to re-enter the area on the following morning from another direction in order that they might avoid some of the muddy and slippery roads.
From what we will learn later from statements by Mr. Ross Baird, forest warden from Haldimand to J C Van Houtte of the Quebec Provincial Police, it is obvious as well that Mr. MacDonald was not satisfied with the arrangement with Wilbert Coffin and William Baker. MacDonald, according to Baird, would state that he had prospected some of the existing mining claims prior to the partnership being formed, and thus, had a greater financial interest than what would be portrayed.
This date, June 08, 1953 was the date that Eugene Lindsey, his son Richard Lindsey, and friend Fred Claar would all arrive together in Gaspe' from Pennsylvania to go bear hunting. Their trip as well did not go well due to road conditions. Their truck became mired in mud in the middle of a stream bed, forcing them to camp there for the night, waiting to get pulled out of the mud the next morning. Their rescuers suggested that they return to Gaspe' and re-enter the forest area near Murdochville, and take a cut off to their intended area avoiding the slippery roads. The date was now June 09, 1953. It is important to note here that on this date June 09, 1953, the Lindsey party was re-entering the forest gate, and Wilbert Coffin and Angus MacDonald were exiting the forest gate.
Upon exiting the gate and arriving in Gaspe', Wilbert Coffin would deliver Angus MacDonald to his car which he had left at the home of Francis Annett. MacDonald's plan was to spend the night at Wilbert Coffin's camp as was usual, and Wilbert Coffin would spend the night at his mother's house. Prior to going to his Mothers house, Wilbert Coffin had a meeting with Bill Baker.
Wilbert Coffin and Bill Baker would discuss the situation regarding Angus MacDonald. It would be with much reluctance that they would discuss anything of a sensitive nature in MacDonald's presence, especially the ore samples that Wilbert was in the process of acquiring from his claims area. It is fairly easy to understand the decision for Wilbert to carry on the next morning without picking up MacDonald as was previously arranged. The option was still there for him to pick up MacDonald, however, he did not.
Little did Wilbert Coffin know, there was a meeting of sorts taking place at his camp. He knew of course that Angus macDonald was at the camp but he did not know there were house guests. The house guests on this occasion were none other than Curly Richardson and "Mr. Soucie." Again, this is not a guess that these gentlemen were at the camp. We learned that from the police notes of Sgt. J C Van Houtte. The information was conveyed to Van Houtte by MacDonald himself when Van Houtte was putting a bit of heat on him during a questioning session. We have obtained these interview notes from our research over the past few months. Determining that these three gentlemen were together at this particular point in time should have been a major blow to the crown's case against Wilbert Coffin. It will be proven a bit later that the police with-held this evidence.
On tomorrows date, June 10, 1953 all the players will finally be in the forest at the same time. I am forced to cut the story here into two final parts. This is necessary in order that I adequately describe to you the correlation of events leading up to the actual murders of the Lindsey party.
I will be describing to you in depth as to how these murders were committed. I will tell you here, these people did not die from bullet wounds, and I shall explain why I am prepared to state that. Again, I do not state it from a wild guess. I shall be making that statement based on information contained in the autopsy reports enhanced by comments from the provincial forensic medical officer of the day.
Even though my evidence points to the fact that a firearm was not used, there was a firearm available. In the past year, a gentleman whom I shall not name at this point has made a full confession to me of the finding of a discarded handgun in the areas of these murders. I have reason to believe and I do believe that this firearm was originally planned to be part of the murder scene in this case.
I will also be talking to you about found money, American cash, lots of it. The police knew about it as well, and did absolutely nothing about it. The police knew about it in lots of time to save Wilbert Coffin, but it would have meant a whole new investigation, and after I explain this to you in the next posting you will see there was absolutely no way of pinning the American money on Wilbert Coffin so they totally ignored it.
As I mentioned to you previously, we have obtained a copy of film footage of several prominent people in this case. I am now prepared to talk to you in much greater depth with reference to one interview in particular. In that interview there is a particular statement that I believe to be particularly damaging to the crown's case. The crown was aware of this prior to trial, but again this information was held back.
Now that all the players are inside the forest, I am confident that you will agree with my suggestion as to who the real murderers were in this case. There was definitely enough evidence for a crown counsel to proceed with murder charges against these individuals, but through a crooked process, the government of Quebec, and the government of Canada found a way to say "no".
The next and final posting will be posted on Thursday, August 23, 2007. I promise to be more punctual. I was caught up in the middle of medical treatments during the past few weeks.
Lew Stoddard.
This manuscript is proteceted by copyright.
Reproduction in whole or in part, by whatever
means is not permitted without the express
written permission by the author Lew Stoddard.


Avis St. Pierre said...

An excellent posting to this story. You obviously have done what you set out to do. I am glad for you. You keep after the government, they will try and weasel out of this.

Avis St. Pierre
Riviere du Loup

Marie Coffin Stewart said...

First of all, I want to thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes for my health. I’m doing great and am just waiting for a call to have my radiation treatment.

When I think of what my brother went through it is like a black, black nightmare. How could something like this happen? The Federal Government is supposedly the head of our country. Why did they let one wicked man and his henchmen do what they did?

All Canadians should keep pounding at the Government to right this terrible injustice. Do this by sending letters, phone calls and contacting the newspapers. As long as we as Canadians keep this ongoing, the Government will have to resolve this terrible crime against my brother Wilbert.

This was not just a crime against my brother but a crime against all of Canada and the sad thing is that these things are still going on to-day. People accused of a crime they did not commit and thrown into jail. How do we stop this? I don’t know. I only know that we should all do what we can to put a stop to this.

I realize that there are many people in prison that should be there for the terrible things they have done. But what about the ones that are innocent? We should all thank God for AIDWYC. They are a dedicated group who are doing their very best to help the innocent ones.

My thanks, to everyone who has supported me in fund raisers, with out your support I could not have raised the funds for AIDWYC that I have. My goal is $10,000.00 and to date I have raised $8143.93. Isn’t this great? You are really wonderful people.

My heartfelt thanks to Lew and Lani for their dedication to my brother’s case.

Thank You and God Bless,

Marie Coffin Stewart

Anonymous said...

I am for the moment intrigued by the fact that Mr. Soucie in not refered to by his first name. I suppose this will become clear with the next posting. Looking forward to read more.

E. Walsh, NS

Cameron McCurdy said...

It is obvious that this story is now gaining momentum. If the big media hasn't taken complete notice of this story over the years, then I suggest that now is the time. It is amazing what is out there for information when we apply some good old fashioned elbow grease.

Don't give up Sir, if there are any of them left that can be sent to jail, then "Make My Day"!

Cameron McCurdy

G Laroche said...

Great stuff that I am reading about this case. I do hope that the government will eventually become sensible about all this and do the right thing for the Coffin family.

G Laroche
Winnipeg, manitoba

A. Mason said...

To Lani Mitchell and Lew Stoddard, I thank you for all your hard work on this case. Lew Stoddard you have a great way with words, you make them dance. I am sure the Coffin family is proud of you both.

A. Mason
Montreal, Quebec

D Cantin said...

Just had a chance to look back in on your site. Had not read it for a few weeks. Congratulations on the progress that you have made. It makes me cringe when I read of all the crap that the police got away with in those days. That is incredible, and to think that an innocent man most probably was executed. Shame on our federal government of the day for allowing it to happen when they had the power to stop it.

D. Cantin

M McLure said...

This is good, but it is going to get better when the government finally says they were wrong in what they did. It is time for everyone to now get after their members of parliament. Make them listen and take your voice to the House Of Commons.

Mike McLure

Dave Rennie said...

So many twists to this story. I can see where it required a tremendous amount of work. Great stuff on you and your partners part, to get at the bottom of so much of it. Even better when one sees how it all comes together. You write it well Sir, you do it in such an articulate way.

Thank you for providing such an entertaining writing while researching a topic that was real, and one that touched many many people across canada.

Dave Rennie

I Cote said...

Obviously thre were many secrets on the Gaspe' coast. This story proves that. I was born in the Matapedia valley. So unbelievable that this could have happened almost just up the road from here.

I Cote
Bathurst, New Brunswick

Catherine Davis said...

A message to Marie Coffin Stewart. I am glad for you marie that this thing looks like it may be happening for you and your family. Lew stoddard has certainly kindled a spark since he started so vigoursly to pick at this whole affair. You look after your health. You work very hard and steady.

Catherine Davis
Summerside, PEI

Anonymous said...

I admire your dedication and perservence towards the Coffin affair. The Coffin family are so fortunate to have you working for their cause. Is it correct that these three men whom you have mentioned as guilty parties are now deceased??? What happens now? Do we yet again have to wait have Mr.Wilbert Coffin's name cleared??

Anonymous said...

It is so ovewhelming to see the events of this case unfolding. I am so looking forward to the day that this case is reopened by our government. It is time this wrong were made right. To Marie: I am praying for your restoration to perfect health once again. God Bless. To Lew may God restore your health also. Keep up the great work, Sir.

T Smythe said...

If it can be shown that the trial and conviction process in this case was brought about by deceitful means, I do not understand why is it necessary for the government to do a review to see if the defendant was wrongly convicted. The fact that the defendant was convicted under false pretenses by the government tells me there was a wrongful conviction.

It is time for Mr. Harper and Stockwell day to do what they said they would do and clean up the government, and I am not suggesting that we start by doing a review here that will last several years that we already know the answer to.

T Smythe
Victoria, B C

Emily H said...

I agree with T. Smythe in Victoria all the way. In other words, don't tell us what we already know, show leadership, show that you care.

Emily H

Cecile Lacombe said...

T Smythe in Victoria, you hit the nail right on the head. If the process was wrong, then the conviction was wrong, pure and simple.

Cecile Lacombe

Anonymous said...

So right you are… I believe there never was a case because the police and government had there man picked from day one... All they set out to do was making sure Mr. Coffin was convicted for this murder…didn’t have evidence and didn’t look for it….as long as they could make there self look good in the eyes of the Americans… Mr. Coffin was charged with only one murder… had there been trained police and good detective work, they would have figured out something was totally amiss here…if a person really sits and ponders over this case, it sounds so stupid, those three Americans were together… two were found close together.. And they could only charge Mr. Coffin with one murder, and didn’t even have valid evidence to prove it. What about the other two murders, were they not even interested as to who committed them, did they not find this a bit strange…. I can’t believe a judge would have even tried this case on hearsay, with no evidence, truly amazing…maybe he was as drunk as the lawyers… I watched as Mr. Harper stood and preached to all Canada, saying, I stand for accountability; we will clean up our government and be accountable…correct the wrongs done within the government….now he is playing deaf and dumb to this wrong…. was this just election talk to gain votes… make himself look good in the eyes of Canada….…and the deceit goes on and on…….…makes one wonder, doesn’t it?
As for the Canadian government, I would say, it is time to practice what you preach…..

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the above anonymous writer. Mr Harper should reopen this case with the support of every politicion in to-day's government.

Lani Baker mitchell said...

I note that 'anonymous' has posted the following (put in previous posting)
"Anonymous said...
It is now Sunday Aug 26
Where is the conclusion that was supposed to be posted Thurs?
26 August, 2007"

Two things often happen in our
' journey ' on this site. First of all, Lew is dealing with leukemia, an illness that doesn't seem to be sympathetic to his deadlines! Sometimes illness/chemo reactions get in the way...and secondly, we sometimes get phone calls ( which generally come late at night for some reason?)that bring new information that then needs to be researched further when it might affect the posting. That is what has happened interesting late night phone call from the Gaspé area...We're working on it and his posting will appear shortly. Your patience is much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

"Patients is a virtue" We have waited for over 50 years to get this corrected. I am sure we can all wait a little longer for Lew & Lani to get things right especially with Lew’s health.

Keep up the great work!

Thanks A Million
Gary Coffin

Anonymous said...

I would imagine that this case will continue to be swept under the carpet for as long as any Quebec official that was involved back in the day remains alive. No politician will tackle this case and it will continue on it's merry way for another 5 decades and still not be any further.

Vancouver via Gaspe

Anonymous said...

It is appropriate to congratulate the AIDWYC for a job well done in the Steve Truscott case. We can only hope that the Wilbert Coffin case (with the help of Lew Stoddard) will follow a similar course and that one day, the Coffin family will be rewarded for yars of perseverance, faith and dedicated work. Unfortunately Wilbert Coffin had to pay the price of his life.

E. Walsh, NS

Anonymous said...

Hey there Vancouver via Gaspe… Do you know something no one else knows, because you seem to be sure the coffin case will never get reviewed… or is it just as you say, you imagine… we all know some of the politicians sweep there dirty laundry under the carpet, as you put it, that’s for sure… all we can do is pray there are a few honest ones sitting there….but hey, there are a lot of good honest people in the gaspe, a lot who are still with us from when this terrible crime took place in our town. They had to sit back then and watch an innocent man hang… some of them spoke up 50 years ago, but never got heard… today is their chance to speak out, and I know they will… Canada is hoping Mr. Harper is a man of his word, and that he will have this case reviewed….he did say he would clean up the government, and correct wrongdoings done within the government… was anyone listening to his speeches…………I want to believe it was not just a babble of empty promises to get our votes, and that he is as honest as he portrayed himself to Canada…..thanks to Mr. Stoddard and his hard work and dedication to the coffin case, and also for letting Canada know about what happen in our town of Gaspe 50 years ago… Hey, I would think the Quebec police and government would like to correct this wrong, being they are the ones that are looked upon as untrained and stupid…...this would give them a chance to prove they are much more smarter then the ones from 50 years ago….prove that they can do their job, and do it well…..not to be mocked by a murderer who walked away free, while making a complete fool out of our Quebec police force and Quebec government……..

lani mitchell said...

Have to admit, I'm curious to know who 'Vancouver via Gaspé is :-) Do we have more Gaspé/Vancouver folk that I'm unaware of? ( I'm living in Vancouver.)
Just to let everyone know that Lew has been having problems posting his next chapter. He submitted it TWO days ago! It's been in the line up....waiting for them to post it. They're having a problem with one of their servers...We should see it very soon!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Canada is hoping Mr. Harper is a man of his word, and that he will have this case reviewed….he did say he would clean up the government, and correct wrongdoings done within the government… was anyone listening to his speeches…………I want to believe it was not just a babble of empty promises to get our votes, and that he is as honest as he portrayed himself to Canada….."

Yea I was listening,carefully, to Mr Harper and really disappointed to see that it only took him a few days to break his promises. And he has had many broken ones since.
He has turned out to be one of the least "democratic" secretive, controlling PM's that we have ever had.
If you still have faith that he is an honest person, it just shows that one can fool a lot of the people, a lot of the time.

David Kenny said...

I am pleased to see the progress that you have made while reviewing this case. Others have said it many times and I agree, it is time that the government did its part.

Why in Hell should they demand such a perfect process to overturn this case. Their process to bring it about in the first place and hang a person was sure less than perfect. They are talking with a forked tongue. Wipe the crocodile smiles off Stephen Harper and Stockwell Day and set your government into motion.

David Kenny