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lire à l'Annexe C de mon livre L'AFFAIRE COFFIN:
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EXTRAIT DU RAPPORT BROSSARD PARTIE VII, VOL. 2, CHAPITRE VI,
L’arrêté en conseil a donné mandat à la Commission de faire enquête « sur la crédibilité des déclarations faites par Francis Thompson à la police de Miami, en novembre 1958 ».
Pour pouvoir se prononcer en connaissance de cause, la Commission a donc enquêté sur tous les aspects de ce curieux incident et elle a, sur ce seul sujet entendu 36 témoins et recueilli 66 pièces à conviction.
L’étude de la matière suggère la division suivante :
I – LA PERSONNALITÉ DE FRANCIS GABRIEL THOMPSON;
II – LES ÉVÈNEMENTS DE MIAMI;
III- LE VOYAGE DU NOTAIRE J. CONRAD MOREAU;
IV – L’ALIBI DE THOMPSON
V – LA CRÉDIBILITÉ DE THOMPSON
VI – CONCLUSIONS
NOTA NE MANQUEZ PAS CE CHAPITRE DU RAPPORT BROSSARD SUR LE VOYAGE DU NOTAIRE MOREAU À MIAMI. C’EST ROCAMBOLESQUE, VOIRE ÉPOUSTOUFLANT… UN ROMAN TORDANT! DU JACQUES HÉBERT A SON MEILLEUR!
B) LE CAS DE VINCENT PATTERSON;
C) LES INTERROGATOIRES DE WILBERT COFFIN, MARION PETRIE ET LEWIS SINNETT ;
D) LES DEUX PRISONNIERS QUE L’ON AURAIT INCITÉS À TÉMOIGNER CONTRE COFFIN.
INTERROGATOIRE DE MARION PETRIE
Au cours de cette enquête, une tentative de M. Hébert d’établir que Mme Marion Petrie avait elle-même été assujettie à des traitements répréhensibles au cours d’un très long interrogatoire qu’elle fut appelée à subir dans la nuit du 5 au 6 août à Montréal, au Palais de Justice, a échoué. Rappelons que c’est au cours de cet interrogatoire que les capitaines Matte et Sirois réussirent à obtenir de Mme Petrie les informations qui les conduisirent à la découverte de certains des effets ayant appartenu aux chasseurs américains et qui se trouvaient en la possession de Coffin lorsqu’il arriva à Montréal à la demeure de Mme Petrie; la communication de ces renseignements et la production de ces effets, lors du procès, jouèrent sans aucun doute, un rôle fort important, lorsqu’on les opposa aux déclarations que Coffin avait faites aux officiers de Police dans les jours antérieurs. Ce fut, d’ailleurs, immédiatement après avoir obtenu ces renseignements et découvert ces effets que le capitaine Matte donnait des instructions à ses collègues de Gaspé de faire subir à Coffin son interrogatoire du 6 août, qui fut suivi de sa déclaration, dite statutaire, déclaration qui devait jouer un si grand rôle dans la décision des défenseurs de Coffin de ne pas le faire témoigner et de ne pas faire entendre de témoins en sa faveur. (CLIQUEZ SUR LES IMAGES CI-DESSUS POUR LIRE LA DÉCLARATION STATUTAIRE DE WILBERT COFFIN)
Certes, Mme Petrie fut sur la sellette pendant de nombreuses heures au cours de cette nuit, mais il n’apparaît pas qu’elle a été le moindrement molestée, violentée ou menacée de quelque façon par les capitaines Matte et Sirois et un M. Normandeau de la Sûreté provinciale à Montréal. Elle consentit, librement, à signer une longue déclaration à la suite de l’interrogatoire qu’elle avait subi; cette longue déclaration fut dictée et transcrite en sa présence au bureau d’un M. Étienne Généreux dans les locaux des Chemins de fer nationaux, dont M. Généreux était l’employé et auquel le capitaine Matte s’était adressé pour que ne puissent pas être le moindrement ébruités, de façon à parvenir aux oreilles de Coffin, les renseignements qu’ils avaient réussi à obtenir de Mme Petrie. Bien que Mme Petrie ait été appelée à signer cette déclaration dans l’après-midi du 6 août, près de dix-sept heures après la première visite que les officiers de police avaient faite à son domicile la veille au soir, elle se montra très aimable, aux dires de M. Généreux, et badins même avec les officiers de police. (CLIQUEZ SUR LES IMAGES CI-DESSUS POUR LIRE LA DÉCLARATION DE MARION PETRIE.)
Mme Petrie fut entendue devant cette Commission; à l’exception de la longueur de l’interrogatoire qu’elle eut à subir de la part des capitaines Matte et Sirois, se dégage nettement de son témoignage devant nous qu’elle n’eût pas à se plaindre sérieusement des méthodes employées par les officiers de police pour obtenir d’elle les renseignements susdits; cependant, alors que son témoignage devant nous s’était entièrement terminé au cours de l’avant-midi, elle revint l’après-midi, à la demande de M. Hébert, pour expliquer pour la première fois, pour ainsi dire « out of a blue sky », qu’au cours de son interrogatoire on s’était servi d’un appareil détecteur de mensonges. Certes, un tel appareil se trouvait au bureau de la Sûreté à Montréal, mais aux dires de la Sûreté, il n’était jamais utilisé sans le consentement de celui qui était interrogé; le capitaine Matte et le capitaine Sirois déclarèrent qu’ils ignoraient l’existence, au bureau de la Sûreté à Montréal, d’un appareil de ce genre et qu’on ne l’utilisa pas dans le cas de Mme Petrie. La description qu’a faite Mme Petrie de la façon dont on aurait utilisé cet appareil et dont on l’aurait ajusté sur elle nous permet de dire que ce renseignement de Mme Petrie paraît avoir été uniquement un produit de son imagination, inspiré sans doute par la preuve qui avait été faite devant cette Commission de l’usage d’un appareil semblable par la Police de Miami sur l’indien Thompson. Par ailleurs, le fait que Mme Petrie n’avait fait aucune allusion quelconque à cet appareil au cours de la longue description qu’elle fit devant nous des événements qui se produisirent pendant son interrogatoire par la police et le fait que ce ne fut qu’après que son témoignage devant nous eût été entièrement terminé qu’elle s’avisa, soudainement, au cours d’une séance ultérieure de la Commission, de parler pour la première fois de cet appareil rendent plus que suspectes les circonstances de son témoignage sur ce point; à tout événement, son attitude envers les officiers de police le lendemain après-midi lors de la signature de sa déclaration serait suffisante pour nous permettre d’en venir à la conclusion que, même si on prétendit se servir de cet appareil, ce que la Commission ne croit pas, Mme Petrie n’en subit aucun préjudice puisque, de toute manière, il appert de son témoignage que l’appareil n’a pas fonctionné. Aussi bien, j’exprime l’opinion qu’il s’est agi là d’une autre tentative, habile peut-être, mais, à mon sens, intellectuellement malhonnête, de jeter un discrédit injustifié sur les méthodes de la police. (À SUIVRE)
RÉAGISSEZ À CE RAPPORT!
Montréal, Que. 6 août 1953
Statement of Mary Ann (Mrs. Wilbert Coffin) born Petrie, 6327, de Laroche, Street, Montréal, Que.
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 jackknife 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 jackknife, 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 Street. 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-law 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 Hospital 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