THE WILBERT COFFIN CASE
"THE END OF THE ROAD"
To add to the complexity of the murder scenes themselves, the theory that Wilbert Coffin was the last person to have seen and talked to the victims added a whole new dimension of suspense. It is true that Wilbert Coffin swore that the Lindsey party was in company with two male individuals driving a Jeep when he returned young Richard from town on June 09, 1953. The only ones who ever disputed this element of the story was the police, and I have evidence in the form of statements from those same officers acknowledging that these people did in fact exist. The problem being, was the fact that the police decided to hide this evidence, because without it, a jury would be much easier to manipulate.
It is important to note there was most definitely evidence pointing to the fact of others as well seeing and talking with the Lindsey party in the woods before they were killed. I have documented evidence proving that a Mr. Patterson, a Mr. Eagle, and others assisted in the removal of the Lindsey vehicle which was stuck in a brook. This particular Mr. Eagle was the son of Mr. Jack Eagle of Gaspe' who was involved as well with Wilbert Coffin and the mining claims. Very clearly, this places the Eagle family in a position to know of Eugene Lindsey's interest in the staking of claims and the mining business and the workings thereof. It also placed them in a position to know that Eugene Lindsey was in the habit of carrying large amounts of cash. I am not making accusations here, but I am pointing out what is known when all the elements of the case are studied.
To continue reviewing what has been documented and established with reference to Wilbert Coffin, it is important to once again reflect upon his last movements. After depositing Richard Lindsey with his father's hunting party upon returning from acquiring the new fuel pump, he states that he checked back in a couple of days, found the truck abandoned, did some drinking, and headed for his mothers house in Gaspe'. After socializing with family and friends, he would head out into the night for Montreal.
Prior to heading out on his journey to Montreal, there was a very important question created that has never been addressed. The question is simple. “Who did Wilbert Coffin socialize with that evening who would be in a position to gain as a result of hearing Wilbert Coffin tell the tale of the Lindsey party broken down in the forest?” In order to answer that question, we must establish the names of those at the party.
The names of several emerge. Among them, Wilbert's sisters Rhoda and Edith, Rhoda's husband Felix Stanley, Vincent Patterson, and Jack Eagle. Patterson's only interest appeared to be to acquire payment for assisting in the staking of claims, which apparently was a debt owed by Wilbert's brother, Donald. As the sisters had no interest in the outside activities, their interests would be purely social. The same cannot be said of Vincent Patterson and Jack Eagle.
Jack Eagle was associated with Wilbert Coffin, Angus MacDonald, and Bill Baker in the staking and establishing of mining claims. Jack Eagle was vocal about this fact. He was the one who bragged that he liked the outside perimeter whether there was mineralization or not, as that placed the stake holder in a position to control traffic into the inner core. That fact alone could mean big dollars should a strike be made in the centre. Jack Eagle's bootlegging business provided him the venue to always know what was happening in the forest, as to who was there, and what their interests were.
Vincent Patterson did not always display honourable intentions. He proved that by his own actions. In society, no-one likes a stool pigeon, especially one who stoops to accept monetary gain as a result of selling out their friends. Vincent Patterson apparently learned this the hard way. His methods earned him a right upper cut to the jaw by Bill Baker. Patterson had been hired by Captain Alphonse Matte to come back from Toronto on a special mission. That mission being the purchasing of information from anyone willing to talk about a third party.
A few chapters back I alluded to three individuals who would would play a major role in this whole affair. Their names were Angus MacDonald, Curly Richardson, and a “Mr. Soucy”. You will recall that these three gentlemen spent the night together at Wilbert Coffin's camp on the night of June 10 after Wilbert Coffin had returned from the forest with MacDonald. You will further recall that Wilbert Coffin had proceeded to his mother's house as was standard practice, and that he had dropped MacDonald off at his car which was parked at Frances Annett's house.
It is important to know the location of Wilbert Coffin's camp. It was located about twelve miles from Gaspe' near the forestry gate. It is also important to understand that Angus MacDonald, even though he lacked directional skills, was well aware of the close proximity of this camp to the forestry gate and Gaspe'.
Even though little has been said of Mr. Soucy in the past, he nonetheless, commands the most attention here. As I stated prior, he was an import to the area. From my research, I have determined that Mr. Soucy was well known from the maritimes, especially from the northern New Brunswick area, up the north east coast and into Quebec via the gaspe' peninsula. Mr. Soucy was a suspect in various break-ins of transient tourist cabins along the coast. Pure and simple, Mr. Soucy was a thief.
In the town of Bathurst, New Brunswick, there existed a branch of an American company doing diamond drilling to obtain core sampling of various minerals. In those days, copper was the mineral that everyone dreamed of. The name of this company was Connors Drilling, with a head office located in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The name of the general manager of the local operation in the Bathurst area was a Mr. Theodore Arnold, also from the Pittsburg area.
It is documented that in the first part of June, 1953, Connors Drilling was to send a party of men away from the Bathurst area to sample drill and stake claims in a particular area. One of these workers was Mr. Soucy. This new area was near the village of Juniper, new Brunswick. The operation would entail the movement of equipment and man power from Bathurst to complete the assignment. Theodore Arnold, the general manager, provided a Jeep to assist in the transfer of equipment.
This is where the documentation gets interesting. This Jeep vanished for several days, as did two of the workers. There were reports that the Jeep had crossed the international border at Grand Falls/Van Buren on at least two occasions. Instantly, one wonders why the Jeep would cross the USA border on the west side of the province when it was reported to have travelled south on the east side of the province from Bathurst, to Newcastle, south on Highway 8, then turning westward to-ward Napadogan, and then on to Juniper some twenty miles distant. Something did not appear correct here, and I was determined to discover why.
A quick telephone call to Mr. Robert Fleming of Fredericton confirmed my suspicions. Mr. Fleming's family owned the firm of Fleming and Gibson, a local lumber and saw mill operation in Juniper for many years. Mr. Fleming pointed out to me that the reason the Jeep would have been in the Grand Falls / Van Buren area was because there was no road between Juniper and Napadogan in 1953. The road did not exist until 1959. This may appear insignificant, however, by knowing the true picture, it enabled me to tie the threads together to form the path from Juniper, continuing westward to the main north/south highway, that could lead to Bathurst and on to Gaspe'. It would also pass through Grand Falls, with Van Buren, Maine, less than a half mile away across the Saint John River.
With the loss of the Jeep and man power, a great hardship was placed on the drilling crew in New Brunswick. They were staying in the village of Juniper, and the drill site was on the North Ridge road, some eight miles distant. It was necessary to hire two replacement workers to fill the gap created. As I have said many times, this saga contains many twists and turns, and it was only in the past few months that I have learned that one of the replacement workers hired by this company was none other than my late brother, Ronald, who would also accompany the crew back to Bathurst. A sad reminder of the Wilbert Coffin tale still exists south of Wiley Brook, west of the North Ridge road in New Brunswick. Like a cairn that was unplanned, drilling core is piled in a heap like cordwood, untouched since it was placed there fifty-four years ago.
I do know that Mr. Soucy had travelled to Gaspe' during this period. I have obtained copies of police interviews with Angus MacDonald confirming this on two occasions. His boss, Mr. Arnold, also confirmed that he was in possession of a large quantity of American currency. Soucy had requested that Mr. Arnold exchange this United States currency for appropriate Canadian funds. His request was denied, and Soucy and two others from the company crew left town in much haste. One of those who accompanied him was his foreman, whose mother stated that they were planning to go to Vancouver, with a stop in Montreal. It is this stop that we will read more about a bit further on in the story.
We do not know for certain how many days and nights the trio comprising MacDonald, Richardson, and Mr. Soucy stayed in Wilbert Coffin's camp. According to documentation that I have obtained, I suspect that it was for approximately three days. During this time, Angus MacDonald had ample time to learn much about the Americans in the forest. He knew exactly where they had broken down, and where they had left the truck, simply because Wilbert Coffin had related this in the presence of Jack Eagle on the night that Wilbert had left for Montreal.
It is a known fact that Angus MacDonald spoke with a forked tongue. Again, in documentation that I have obtained in the form of police reports, MacDonald stated to Sgt. VanHoutte that he wanted to get his stuff back from Wilbert Coffin as he wasn't planning on staying in the area for much longer. He goes on sometime later and states that he is anxious to get his stuff back as he wants to continue prospecting. On another occasion, MacDonald states that he was under the assumption that Wilbert Coffin owned the truck that he was driving, when in fact, he always knew that it was Bill Baker's truck. His story is not believable when he states that it was Bill Baker who told him that Wilbert was in Montreal. In actual fact, Bill Baker did not trust Angus MacDonald, so it makes no sense to assume that he would report the facts to him.
It is highly doubtful that members of the Coffin family would have relayed information to Angus MacDonald as to Wilbert's whereabouts. It is apparent that someone did however. MacDonald states that he sent Wilbert Coffin a telegram, and Wilbert replied asking for money. This telegram was, according to MacDonald, sent to Wilbert at Marion Petrie's apartment. If this is true, then he acquired the information from someone. Outside the family circle, there would be one person who would have access to this information. His name was Jack Eagle, and he knew Angus MacDonald.
Without the use of Bill Baker's pickup truck, Angus MacDonald's mode of transportation was his car. This was no secret. It is mentioned many times in documentation. During this particular period of time, it is apparent that his friend Mr. Soucy arrived by Jeep from New Brunswick.
Angus MacDonald had a perfect alibi for wanting to go into the forest. In one statement that he had made, he stated that he had some more prospecting to do. Was the prospect of killing Eugene Lindsey on his mind, or was he really considering prospecting further for minerals? His reason for wanting Eugene Lindsey out of the way was two fold. Firstly, Eugene Lindsey had money. He could literally purchase any claim that he wished, and at the same time, legally muscle the outside perimeter area of the claims, and choke everyone out. This was exactly the same approach that Jack Eagle had suggested, however, there was a distinct difference. Eugene Lindsey had more money than Jack Eagle.
If a decision was made to seek out Eugene Lindsey in the forest, it may not be an easy task to bring him in line with everyone else's thinking. Eugene Lindsey liked to control, he was not known for sharing his business ventures. If talking failed, that would leave one option, because with Lindsey gone, the competition would be eliminated.
The question that begs an answer, is simply who would be willing and capable of carrying out the deed should the need arise? For the one who accepted the job, payment would be guaranteed. It was a known fact that Eugene Lindsey always carried lots of cash on his person.
Let us now go back to Mr. Soucy for a moment. He was a ne'er do too well, and always struggling to hustle a buck. Would he stoop so low? There is reason to speculate that he would, given the fact that lots of American cash would be starring him in the face. For someone who never had money, the lure was great, perhaps too great.
In film footage that I obtained, the late Constable Lewis Sinnett of the Quebec Provincial Police stated that he pulled over a “car” in the forest on June 11, 1953. Constable Sinnett is emphatic. He makes a point of stating it twice. He pulled over a “car”, not a truck or a Jeep. The two occupants of the car wore shirts covered in blood. When questioned, their story was that they had killed a moose. Constable Sinnett stated to them that moose were out of season, but because he was in a rush to get to Ste. Anne de Monts to avert a mine skirmish, he carried on. When questioned, he also stated that he did not charge these people or document them, as his priority was being sent to the mine. It was purely a judgment call. One must also consider that at this point of time the Lindseys had not been reported as missing, therefore, to criticize Cst. Sinnett for his actions here would be wrong. The shooting of a moose out of season was not high on the offence scale in the area. This was afterall, the Gaspe' peninsula.
Constable Sinnett did report the incident later on when it had been established that the Lindsey party was missing in the area. After their deaths had been confirmed, and Wilbert Coffin committed for trial, Captain Alphonse Matte instructed him to be evasive, answer only the questions asked, and to not give extra information. Sgt. Henri Doyon suggested that Cst. Sinnett open it wide and tell all. Captain Matte got his way. In the end, Constable Sinnett was convinced that he may have come across the killers.
Another misconception in these affairs was the scenario whereby Constable Lewis Sinnett accompanied Wilbert Coffin into the forest to aid in the search. This was done on two separate occasions. He has been criticized for taking a nap in one of the old camps. They did this because they were awaiting the arrival of Sgt. Henri Doyon, and they had been on the go since five o'clock in the morning.
Several persons have contacted me with reference to the broken down Lindsey truck and why was it never reported. You must realize, persons were admitted to this area on a pass system. It was a pass for the individuals, not for vehicles. Licence numbers were not recorded, therefore, until such time that the owner or his designate filed a report it would not be considered to be out of place if a vehicle was found parked in the forest.
I have as well obtained footage of lawyer Francois Gravel stating that he had documentation proving that Richard Lindsey was still alive on June 13, 1953. This is important and interesting because this date is three days after Wilbert Coffin had left the area and he would have been in Montreal by that date. Constable Lewis Sinnett goes on to say that he saw the dated note from Richard Lindsey as well. At the time that Cst. Sinnett saw the note, it was on the desk of Captain Alphonse Matte. It too, never made it to the courtroom.
As mentioned a short while back, Mr. Soucy and his coherts were heading out of the Bathurst area in a rush. They were heading first to Montreal. A report came from police in Montreal that a taxi driver had problems with some folks in his cab the night before. In the ensuing confrontation between the cab patrons, they had exited the cab into the night dropping their money in the cab as they departed. In excess of $700.00 in American funds was turned in to the police. Mr. Soucy was now broke again. It is important to note that all these things were reported to the police, but no action was ever taken. If action had been taken it would have required the police to build a new case, something they did not want to do.
To sum up this sordid tale, I have reason to believe, and I do believe that Angus MacDonald, Curly Richardson, and a Mr. Soucy all played an active role in the murder of Eugene Lindsey, Richard Lindsey, and Frederick Claar. In the case of Eugene Lindsey, I am of the opinion that Mr. Soucy may have been the dominant physical force behind the murder, but in the case of Richard Lindsey, and Frederick Claar, the crimes required the intervention of others.
I say these things because I contend that Richard Lindsey and Frederick Claar were both stabbed to death and not shot. This is based on the fact that the perforations in the clothing varied in diameter and were much too large to be ammunition that was available then or now. To reiterate, there was no spent cartridge cases or bullets or fragments left behind. There were no broken bones and there were no exit holes in the clothing.
There is a possibility that Eugene Lindsey may have been shot with a pistol. During the course of my investigation, a gentleman confessed that he found a handgun wrapped in discarded toweling, and as well, he may have found it in the river. He does admit however, that he did indeed find the gun. He told me that he had taken it home and someone from town came and picked it up. It has come to my attention in the past three months that a certain pistol was discarded in a particular place in the Gaspe' town region. Two different persons have named the same spot. I will not identify the spot here because I do not want to jeopardize the situation. I can tell you this though, if it was discarded in this particular place, it is easily retrievable.
Ladies and gentlemen, this pretty much concludes the Wilbert Coffin case research. True, I guess any murder case is never totally under wraps, however, unless something magical jumps up, Lani Mitchell and myself have now exhausted every lead that came our way. I thank God for Lani's emergence and dedication to assist me in bringing this matter as far as we have.
I am hoping that the FBI will be able to offer some support on the case. We are both prepared to co-operate in any way that we can to achieve that goal. In the days to come, the web site will contain information and writings on a whole host of topics. That was the way the site operated until April, 2006, and since that date, it has been exclusively the Wilbert Coffin story. I can tell you this though, we are not abandoning the case, not at all. I still plan to devote a posting on the case at least once a week, and we encourage anyone to come forward if there is something to report.
Thank you so much for being a great audience and a patient audience. The Best to everyone and “May God Bless You.”
This manuscript is protected by copyright. Reproduction in whole or in part, for whatever reason, is not permitted without the express written permission from the author, Lew Stoddard.