EXCERPT FROM THE BROSSARD REPORT, PART VI, VOLUME 2,
THE THOMPSON INCIDENT
(A literal translation by Clément Fortin)
The order-in-council has given the Commission the mandate to investigate the “credibility of the statements made by Francis Thompson to the Miami police, in November 1958”.
In order to report with full knowledge of the facts, the Commission has inquired into all aspects of this funny incident and it has heard, on this sole subject, 36 witnesses and collected 66 exhibits.
The study of this question suggests the following division:
I Francis Gabriel Thompson’s personality;
II The Miami events;
III Notary J. Conrad Moreau’s trip;
IV Thompson’s alibi;
V Thompson’s credibility;
In support of the retraction of his confession, Thompson affirmed that, at the time of the murder of the American hunters, around the 12th of June, he lived and worked in Toronto.
The Commission took time to verify the exactness of this affirmation, but it is not easy eleven years after the event to bring a precise answer to this question, more especially because of the kind of living Thompson had and the people he associated with do not allow making an exact search.
More particularly, because of the destruction of files or apartment buildings, verifications gave no positive results at the Salvation Army, The Unemployment Insurance Commission, the Sunny Brook Hospital, Child’s Restaurant, Accurate Distributing Co. and Sparking Laundry.
However, the investigation before the Commission has first confirmed Thompson’s version stating that, under the name of Frank Gilbert, he had worked at the Pickfair Restaurant, in Toronto, from the 8th of March to the 1rst of April 1953. It is important to note that he had then made the acquaintance of William Charles Craddock who had worked at the same place from the 19th o March to the 12th of April.
A few weeks later, according to Thompson, the two pals were working for the same employer : Mercury Distributing Co., 77 Ossington, Torono, under the supervision of Arnold Murphy, who was lame in one leg. Thompson added that he had shared a room with Craddock in the beginning of summer, on Jarvis Street, at a French speaking couple’s place who had a baby of around one year old. He also remembered another fellow worker whose nickname was Smittie.
All these facts were corroborated, with reasonable certainty, by the witnesses concerned. Only Arnold Murphy could not recognize affirmatively Thompson when he saw him, but he recognized a photograph of Thompson, taken at that time, and confirmed the exactness of several facts that Thompson recalled to him. Murphy had known him under the name of Gilbert.
William Charles Craddock and Walter Valentine Smith (Smittie) have also recognized Thompson. Smith had never seen his name, but Craddock, who had shared a room with him for a few weeks, knew him under the name of Frank Gilbert. Moreover, Craddock recalled that the couple where they roomed did not speak English – he himself did not speak French – and had a baby.
At last, Mr. Albert Montpetit, who had lived in this Jarvis Street apartment from 1951 to 1953, went back around the middle of April 1953 and recalls that the apartment was then occupied by a young French speaking couple who had a baby of around one year old.
The proof, even though it is not absolutely perfect, revealed in a way that it is not seriously contestable that at the end of May and beginning of July 1953, Thompson lived and worked in Toronto.
Would he have however, during this period, left Toronto to go to Gaspé and participate in the murder of the American hunters, and come back to Toronto to continue his work for Mercury Distributing Co.?
No one can, today, affirm that it was not impossible; but it is highly unlikely, for, inter alia, the following reasons :
a) Thompson affirms to not having left Toronto from February to December 1953 ; Cradock, who roomed with Thompson, affirms that he has worked regularly with him in the night and does not believe that he might have left Toronto, at the time, for more that maybe a weekend;
b) Nothing indicates that, from Toronto, Thompson might have heard of the coming of two hunters from Pennsylvania to Gaspé;
c) The trip from Toronto to Gaspé and return represents a distance of some two thousand miles that would have caused Thompson an extended absence from Toronto;
d) He could not afford this trip unless he hitchhiked which hardly conciliates with an organized enterprise for a fixed date in the Gaspé peninsula.
e) We could hardly explain Thompson’s return to Toronto after this crime.
It is true though, that in his second book, page 166, Mr. Jacques Hébert refers to a certain Régis Quirion who, having met the two Americans in a jeep at the beginning of the summer of 1953, would have given Mr. Hébert « new precisions », and particularly :
« One of the two strangely looked like the Thompson’s photo (see chapter 16) that I saw in the newspaper at the time of the famous Thompson affair. I had taken the time to go to the post office to see a newspaper wherein this photo would be. “
The Commission called to the witness stand Mr. Régis Quirion. He declared that he had been interviewed, several years ago, by Mr. Henri Doyon, accompanied by another man not identified. Mr. Doyon shown him a picture published in a newspaper and told him that it was Thompson’s picture.
On this subject, Quirion’s testimony before the Commission took a strange form. On the one hand, indeed, he answered that the picture shown him by Doyon looked like one of the men he had seen in the American jeep. In the same breath, however, he also testified “never having seen that man”, and he added, to answer questions from the Commission legal adviser:
« Q. Had you seen that picture, before Mr. Doyon showed you?
Q. You did not see it in the newspapers of the time?
Q. When that picture was publised in newspapers, you had not gone to the post office, to see for yourself if you recognized that man?
A. I did not receive newspapers; I could not have seen him.
Q. You were not receiving newspapers, but you had gone on a special journey to see that?
A. No. »
Moreover, when shown three series of pictures where various Thompson’s pictures, including the one taken on the 3rd of July, Régis Quirion did not recognize any; even after having been told by the legal counsel to the Commission that the photograph of Thompson (taken in July 1952) was there, he persisted in his categorical denial:
« Q. I give you a chance and I say to you that Thompson is there.
A. No, I do not recognize him on that.
Q. Take your time.
A. The man that I saw does not appear on that. »
Furthermore, if we consider that, for reasons that we have exposed elsewhere, this witness is questionable, the Commission would not accept his testimony to invalidate the proof that we just summarized
On the whole, the Commission concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that at the time of the murder of the American hunters, Thompson was in Toronto. (TO BE CONTINUED)