EXCERPT FROM THE BROSSARD REPORT, PART VII, VOLUME 2,
(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;
VI - Conclusions.
B) THE VINCENT PATTERSON CASE;
C) THE QUESTIONING OF WILBERT COFFIN, MARION PETRIE AND LEWIS SINNETT;
D) THE TWO PRISONERS WHO WERE PROMPTED TO TESTIFY AGAINST COFFIN
QUESTIONING MARION PETRIE
In the course of this enquiry, an attempt by Mr. Hébert to establish that Mrs. Marion Petrie was, herself, subjected to bad treatments during a long questioning that she had to undergo in the night of the 5th to the 6th August in Montréal, at the Court House, has failed. Let us recall that it is in the course of that questioning that captains Matte and Sirois succeeded in obtaining from Mrs. Petrie information that led them to the discovery of certain effects having belonged to the American hunters and were in Coffin’s possession when he arrived in Montreal at the apartment of Mrs. Petrie; the communication of this information and the production of those effects, at the trial, played without a doubt a very important role when compared to the statements Coffin had made to police officers on previous days. It was, I may add, immediately after having obtained this information and discovered these effects that captain Matte gave instructions to his Gaspé colleagues to submit Coffin to questioning on the 6th of August, which was followed by a statutory declaration that played such a great role in Coffin’s attorneys to not call to the stand witnesses in his favour. (READ COFFIN’S STATUTORY DECLARATION BY CLIKING ON THE ABOVE IMAGES.)
Surely, Mrs. Petrie was put on the carpet for several hours during that night but it does not appear that she was the least molested, assaulted or threatened in any way by captains Matte and Sirois and Mr. Normandeau of the Provincial Police in Montréal. She agreed, freely, to sign a long statement at the end of a lengthy questioning that she had undergone; this long statement was dictated to Mr. Étienne Généreux in the offices of the Canadian National Railway of which Mr. Généreux was at the employ and to whom captain Matte had asked so that nothing leaks out, and that nothing of the information he had obtained from Mrs. Petrie be reported to Coffin. (READ MARION PETRIE’S STATEMENT BY CLICKING ON THE ABOVE IMAGES)
Even although Mrs. Petrie was asked to sign her statement in the afternoon of the 6th of August, almost seventeen hours after the first visit the police officers had made to her apartment the night before, she was friendly, according to Mr. Généreux, and even playful with police officers.
Mrs. Petrie was heard before this Commission; except for the length of the questioning that she had to undergo from captains Matte and Sirois, it emerges from her testimony before us that she did not have to complain seriously of the methods used by the police officers to obtain from her the aforesaid information; however, while her testimony before us was entirely finished in the forenoon, she came back in the afternoon, at the request of Mr. Hébert, to explain, for the first time, so to speak “out of a blue sky”, that in the course of her questioning a lie detector was used. Certainly, such a device was there, at the office of the Provincial Police in Montréal, but according to the Police, it was never used without the consent of the person who was questioned; captain Matte and captain Sirois declared that they were not aware of the existence, at the office of the Provincial Police in Montréal, of a device of this kind and that it was not used in the case of Mrs. Petrie. The description made by Mrs. Petrie of the manner this device was used and put on her allows us to believe it is solely the product of her imagination, inspired doubtlessly by the proof that was made before this Commission of the use of such a device by the Miami Police on the Indian Thompson. On the other hand, the fact that Mrs. Petrie has not alluded in any way to such a device in the course of the long description that she made of the events that took place during her questioning by the police and the fact that it was only after her testimony before us was entirely terminated that she suddenly spoke, in the course of a subsequent sitting, for the first time of this device, render more suspect the circumstances of her testimony on this point; in any event, her attitude towards the police officers in the afternoon of the following day, at the time of the signature of her declaration, would suffice to allow us to conclude that, even if she pretended that this device was used, the Commission does not believe it was, Mrs. Petrie did not suffer any prejudice since, anyway, it rises from her testimony that the device was not operated. Therefore, I express the opinion that it was another attempt, clever maybe, but intellectually dishonest, to unjustly discredit the methods of the police. (TO BE CONTINUED)
YOUR COMMENTS, PLEASE!
Montréal, Que. 6 août 1953
Statement of Mary Ann (Mrs. Wilbert Coffin) born Petrie, 6327, de Laroche Street, Montréal, Qué.
I have known Wilbert Coffin for about seven years. I had met him in Montréal, and then went to Val d’Or, where we had in mind to get married, but never did, so far. We have a son, named James, five years of age, and who lives with me at 6327 de Laroche. We stayed in Gaspé about four years together. My husband doing cooking at Baker’s Hotel in Gaspé
Last March, I left Gaspé for Montréal to visit my mother at 6327 de Laroche Street. I have been there ever since. My husband arrived during the night of the 14th/15th of June 1953. He was then driving a Chev ‘53 truck, half ton truck. The truck was green with a steel box, known as pickup truck. When he arrived at 6327 de Laroche, he was alone, and feeling good (under the influence of liquor). He rang at the door and I went to answer. When he came in, he brought with him a leather case containing a pair of binoculars, a big jack-knife with many gadgets on it, and he also took in prospecting maps. About half an hour after he came in, he went out to the truck and came back with a quart of beer, stating that this was his last one. After a while, I asked him if he should not take in the rest of the things he had in the truck, but he said no. We did not go to bed that night, and during the course of the conversation, Wilbert mentioned something about an American party of thee men that were in the woods behind Gaspé hunting. He said that when he met them, they were in a bad fix and that he had helped them out. He said that their truck had had something repaired on the gas line. He said that he took that American back into the bush, and tried in vain to make the repairs. He also said that when he left them, they were alone the three of them. I suppose that he told me those things to explain how he had the pair of binoculars and the jack-knife, because he said that the American had given them to him as a payment for his trip from the woods to Gaspé and back into the woods. He never mentioned receiving any money from them.
During the night of his arrival, I asked Wilbert if he had some money for me since he had not sent any for quite a while a long time. He reached for his shirt pocket and pulled out a certain amount of money (Canadian currency) of which he gave me fifteen dollars.)
I might also mention that he had made the trip with a fellow who he had dropped at Québec. He never mentioned any more about this fellow, not giving his name.
During the morning of the 15th of June 1953, around ten o’ clock, he went out and came back with a bottle of whiskey, which he drank the same day. It was during the late part of the afternoon, I suggested that he would bring in the rest of the stuff he had in the truck, so they went around and by the lane and my brother helped him to get the stuff in.
The following articles were taken out of the truck and brought part in the shed, part in the house:- In the shed were left an axe, a bucksaw, a spade, a boiling pail and an oil can (5 gallon), a pail (galvanized iron). In the house were brought two sleeping bags, a cardboard box with groceries: a few cans of sardines, some tea, coffee, sugar, (a small quantity of each, about half a pound), a few tins of canned milk CARNATION, a few cans of beans, some butter, two loaves of bread wrapped in waxed paper coming here from Langlois or Peterson bakery, Gaspé, some tins of tomatoes, one big box of matches, about a dozen of eggs wrapped in stripped paper and the container was a small box of heavy cardboard. The truck was then taken back to the front of the house by my brother William and the only things left in the truck at that moment were a pair of chains and a bag of coal, a galvanized iron pail and a piece of canvas that covered these things.
-Sheet two - Mrs. Wilbert Coffin
From the time of his arrival, my husband stayed around the place until on or about the 22nd of June 1953, when he went up to Cornwall, Ont., visiting his sister Mrs. Bert Williamson who lives somewhere on Riverdale Sreet. I am pretty sure that he came back the same day. During the evening of the 23rd of June 1953, coming back from my brother-in-aw Moe Sauvé’s place, who lived at that time at 8036 Durocher Street, we collided with a streetcar, at the corner of Durocher and Ogilvie. Wilbert was knocked out and taken to St-Luc ospital and so was I. The truck was taken to a garage. We stayed in the hospital for a few hours, and we were then told to go back home. This accident occurred around 11.45 P.M. I remember that a few days after, Wilbert asked my brother to go to the garage where the truck had been towed and to bring back the chains that were in the truck. My brother went to the garage but when he arrived there, he was told that the Insurance Company representative had come to get the truck and nobody knew where it was. This accident delayed the return of my husband to Gaspé, as he had mentioned about leaving the next morning. From the date of the accident up to July 10th 1953, he remained at our place. He then left on July 10th 1953, by taxi, carrying with him the two sleeping bags, one packsack and a suitcase. When he left the house, I understood that he was going to check his luggage for Gaspé. He did not show up the rest of the day. On Saturday July 11th 1953, he came back to our home on de Laroche Street at about eleven o’clock a.m. and he was quite tight. He then went to bed until sometime in the afternoon. Late during the evening, between ten and eleven, I left with my brother William and Wilbert, in my brother’s car, and we drove up to Wilbert’s aunt, Mrs. Maynard Coffin who lives at 3800 Mentana Street. My brother and I left him there, and we drove back home. I had no idea when he was going to leave town, but later on I heard that he had had dinner at his sister’s place on Sunday night July 12th and then left. The next I heard from Wilbert was when I had the phone call from him from Val d’Or. On the phone he told me that he was up in Val d’Or to meet some people regarding his mining business. That phone call was received from Wilbert during the afternoon of July 16th. He also told me then that he was expecting to go through La Tuque to visit his father, and that after “we will go down to Gaspé and we expect to be there either Sunday or Monday”.
Wilbert also had, when he arrived in Montréal, a little overnight suitcase, in which he had blue jeans, underwear, shirts, socks. This suitcase did not look new and to my knowledge I had never seen it before.
I is to my knowledge that during the time he was in Montreal, he had borrowed money from my brother William, I did not know the amount; $20.00 from my sister-in-law Ivy (Mrs. Sauvé); he telephoned to his brother Donald, in Gaspé, asking him for some money and was telegraphed $10.00 or $12.00; after having written his father in La Tuque, he got a cheque but I do not know for which amount. I never saw any American money in his hands while he was up here in Montreal.
He received, while he was in Montreal, a telegram from A. MacDonald which read “Come back to Gaspé important” and signed A. Mac Donald. Wilbert wired back to MacDonald telling him that if he wanted him in Gaspé to wire back to him $40.00. He never got any answer from MacDonald, and that was all.
A couple of days after my husband had been in Montreal, my brother William told me that Wilbert was giving him a German Luger revolver and he did not know what to do with it. He told me a few days later that he had sold it, that he did not want to keep it. He did not mention to who he had sold it, nor what money he got for it.
Wilbert being pretty always tanked up while he was home, gave our son the jackknife and binoculars to play with, so I decided to take them out of the house so that he would not see them again and handed them over to some distant relation of mine, Dennis Renshaw who lives at 6244 de Normandville Street, together with some other distant relation of mine Gordie Bowes. That is where they were fetched from, on the morning of August 6th 1953, when I went from Police headquarters to my home to turn over the things left in Montreal by my husband.
On Sunday, July 19th, I heard a broadcast over the radio saying that Wilbert Coffin was being looked for as he was presumably the last one who had seen the three Americans reported lost in the woods behind Gaspé. After hearing that broadcast, I telephoned to Gaspé and talked with Edith and asked her if Wilbert was in Gaspé, and she answered no, I told her that I thought he was in La Tuque, with his father, and that he would be in Gaspé either Sunday or Monday.
Around July 26 1953, I phoned again to Gaspé and as I wanted to talk to Wilbert’s father. It was Wilbert’s sister, Rhoda who came over the phone. I asked her how things were down there, and was answered everything was all right. The same question about my end, and the same answer. Having asked her why her mother had not come to the phone, she told me that she was upset about her son being mentioned in that affair. Rhoda told me that she was sure Wilbert had nothing to do with that, and I also told her the same.
About two weeks ago, I wrote my husband, asking him what the score was down there and other personal things, but so far did not get any answer.
The German Luger revolver shown to me this morning is the same one that Wilbert had and that I saw last winter in Gaspé.
(Signed) Marion Petrie
Witnesses: (signed) JE Généreux
“ Raoul Sirois, Capt.
“ JA. Matte