JEEPS! ... JEEPS! YELLOW?
In reading this excerpt of the Brossard report, you will find that Coffin gave, on five occasions, a description of the jeep he pretended having seen. He never mentioned that it was yellow.
VOL. 1 CHAPTER 5 (PART 5)
THE JEEP WHOSE PRESENCE IN THE GASPÉ PENINSULA OR IN THE VICINITY WOULD HAVE BEEN SEEN BY « EYE » WITNESSES AT THE TIME THE CRIMES WERE PERPETRATED.
A literal translation by Clément Fortin
It is from this angle that must be weighed and judged the testimonies of all those who, directly or indirectly, participated in these activities which have, today, with the passing of time, and in the light of the proof submitted to the Commission, the serious appearances of a proof setup subject to criticism, to say the least, and most particularly, be weighed the testimonies of Mtres Maher and Gravel and of Mr. Doyon which are of interest to us now.
Moreover, between the assertions made under oath by sergeant Doyon saying that he did not see jeep tracks in the vicinity of the abandoned pick-up truck and that he never said having seen one, assertions made a) at the trial – b) in an affidavit given to his superiors on September 1955 – c) in an affidavit sent to the Department of Justice on February 1956 and d) during the present enquiry, on the one hand, and on the other, Mtres Gravel’s and Maher’s assertions linked directly to the preparation of the file prepared for the Department of Justice, the undersigned has no hesitation to declare that he attaches more credibility to the former and more truthfulness.
Just as well, between the assertions made under oath by sergeant Doyon to the effect that he has not seen jeep tracks in the vicinity of the abandoned pick-up truck and who has never said having seen one, assertions made a) at the trial – b) in the affidavit given to his superiors in September 1955 – c) in an affidavit transmitted to the Department of Justice in February 1956 and d) during this present enquiry, on the one had, and, on the other, Mtre Gravel’s and Mtre Maher’s assertions that are linked directly to the preparation of the file intended for the Department of Justice, the undersigned has no hesitation to declare to you that he attaches more credibility to the former and more truthfulness in his testimonies than to the latter, on this particular point, just as he attaches little credibility and truthfulness, for reasons already given and others that will given, to the declarations in Coffin’s affidavit.
In addition, it is also necessary to retain the following assertions made before this Commission,
a) by Mr. Jules Fradette, one of the police officers investigation in Gaspé, that he has never seen jeep tracks in the vicinity of the pick-up truck, but that he has seen chain tracks only;
b) by sergeant Vanhoutte, who has questioned the gate-keepers controlling the comings and goings on the roads leading to the woods of Gaspésie and could not note the presence in the woods of Gaspésie, at the time of the murders, of American jeeps other than that of Doctor Burkett;
c) by captain Matte a) who took, as of the first day of his arrival in Gaspé, a photograph of the surroundings of the abandoned pick-up, photograph filed before this Commission, photograph which shows chain tracks, but does not show any jeep wheel tracks and b) that between the chain tracks “the surface has hardened like cement.”
d) by, finally, Mrs. Albert Coffin, the defendant’s mother, who declared that, when she informed him (his son), when he returned to Gaspé on July 20, that the police wished to see him because “He was the last man to have seen them” (the hunters), her son answered her “I was not the last man because when I left them (the hunters) there was a station-wagon there with two Americans in it » and who repeats on several occasions that her son did spoke to her of « a station-wagon with a home-made box, … not made in a factory… of plywood. »
From the foregoing, it appears clearly, in a dominating and unquestionable way, the proof that jeep tracks were not noted by Doyon or whoever near the place where the American hunters’ truck stopped definitively and where it was when Coffin returned with young Lindsey and that, consequently, the Percé jurors were not mislead on this point.
It is thus in the perspective of this more particular proof of the absence of jeep tracks that must be studied now the proof relating to the jeeps that some witnesses claimed to have seen in the woods of Gaspésie, at the time the murders were perpetrated and in the vicinity where they were.
III THE JEEP THAT COFFIN MIGHT HAVE SEEN
a) Description given by Coffin and reported to the court
Coffin had given the following description of the jeep which he claimed to have seen, to sergeant Doyon, such as the latter reported it in his testimony at the trial: “This jeep was in plywood, in veneer, of yellow colour”. Doyon does not report that Coffin mentioned to him their age (of the occupants) and he (Coffin) was satisfied to declare that he did not remember their names.
b) Coffin’s verbal declaration to Doyon on July 20th, in the evening (not reported to the trial, but appearing in Doyon’s report of July 28th.) The two occupants of the jeep would have been 5 ' 7 tall and from 30 to 35 years old.
c) Coffin’s declaration before the Coroner’s court on July 27th
as for the jeep: « The jeep was something like a panel, it looked like an old army jeep… The jeep was covered. I think it was made with wood, I am not sure but I think it was a jeep of a dark color”.
as for its occupants: “They look like nice men to me … They were between 35 and 40 years old …wearing overalls …I am not sure but I think they had some dark clothes on and they were wearing caps
d) Coffin’s sworn declaration of August 6th 1953
as to the jeep: « It was like a boxed-in jeep with a cover in the back, dark color … It had an American license on it.”
As to its occupants : “The two men were around 35 to 40 years of age, dressed like ordinary men, had kind of overalls or jeans on.”
e) Coffin’s affidavit of October 9th 1955
as to the jeep (article 23) : « The jeep which I saw occupied by the two Americans looked as though the plywood was installed not by a factory but rather by someone not thoroughly experienced in such matters and it seemed to me that it was stained with some kink of oil or varnish”.