Wilbert Coffin (October 1915 - 10 February 1956) was a Canadian prospector who was convicted of murder and executed in Canada. Montreal journalist, editor, author and politician Jacques Hebert raised doubt as to Coffin's guilt in J'accuse les assassins de Coffin, published in 1963. The book led to a royal commission which upheld the conviction. See more at Coffin Affair.
On 15 July 1953, the remains of Eugene Lindsey were found in the Gaspé region of Quebec a month after his disappearance. The body had been torn apart by bears. On 23 July 1953, the bodies of Lindsey's 17-year-old son Richard and 20-year-old Frederick Claar were also found, 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) away. The three men had last been seen going into the woods to hunt. Lindsey had graduated from high school in Pennsylvania the day before the trip. Coffin was accused of ambushing the three men and stealing more than 600 dollars. Coffin denied committing the murders, but admitting to stealing some of the men's luggage.
Coffin went through seven reprieves after his conviction where he was denied clemency by the Quebec Court of Appeals, the Canadian Supreme Court and the Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent's cabinet. Finally, on 10 February 1956, Coffin mounted the gallows. He was refused his final wish of marrying Marion Petrie, his partner and mother of his 8-year-old son James.
- UPDATE **
February 9, 2016
Newly discovered information by lawyers who could launder the reputation of Wilbert Coffin, rekindled hope for the family.
The niece of Wilbert Coffin, Judy Reeder, who still lives Gaspé, says that until recently, she and her family kept some hope that the one day he would be cleared of the charges at the time.
Two lawyers working on the case for the past two years, have found items that were not disclosed at the trial that would permit a review of the conviction.
A full report with the two lawyers will be presented tomorrow on Radio Gaspésie waves. It will have been 60 years tomorrow, February 10, Wilbert Coffin died by hanging.
- Source.: Reporter: Richard O'Leary
- UPDATE #2 **
The preliminary investigation of Samuel Labonté accused of impaired driving causing death of Georges Mamelonet, began Monday morning at Mont-Joli courthouse.
February 10, 2016
60 years after the death of Wilbert Coffin, lawyers claim to have discovered new evidence that could clear his name.
On 10 February 1956 the mining prospector Gaspé was hanged after murder charges in three American hunters. For its part, Wilbert Coffin has always claimed he was innocent.
He was arrested in 1953 and accused of the murder of Eugene Lindsay, his son and one of his friends.
After a trial of about a month in 1954, Wilbert Coffin was convicted and sentenced to hang.
A lawyer from Gaspé, Michael Rooney, who now lives in the US, is currently working on a story and wants to show that Wilbert Coffin was wrongfully accused of murder in 1954.
For its part, AIDWYC, an organization created in order to exonerate the wrongfully convicted, working for 10 years to prove that shortcomings occurred during the trial of Wilbert Coffin.
The organization received other documents and is hopeful that new information will help to reverse the verdict of the Court.
Having researched from documents of the trial and various publications for two years, Michael Rooney, says that the facts that could prove the innocence of Wilbert Coffin, have not been accepted by the Court during the trial.
According to counsel, his theory regarding two other Americans allegedly involved in the murders.
The element also surrounding a second jeep, with the same two men, who were in the area when the killings occurred, also holds his attention.
Elisabeth Widner, of AIDWYC, came in Gaspé in 2006 to gather information to demonstrate the innocence of Wilbert Coffin. In recent months, she and a group of students in forensic pathology at the University of Toronto believe that the Crown's theory surrounding the crime scene did not take the road. According to them, new clues show that Wilbert Coffin could not have committed the crimes alleged against him.
Elisabeth Widner says that even if there are more witnesses after sixty years, it considers that these developments could allow a review of the case by the Department of Justice Canada.
This research on the crime scene to grow as the two Americans theory with another jeep who were in the area.
Elisabeth Widner expects the work to be completed within three months, and then the documents will be forwarded to the Group of the criminal conviction review of the Department of Justice in Ottawa.
- Source.: Reporter: Richard O'Leary
Mohawk Indian Frederick Gilbert Thompson confessed to the crime in 1958, fingering his friend Johnny Green as the killer of Richard. He later recanted his confession and Canadian authorities dismissed his story as not credible.
- 1958 :[Final Edition 57]. (1999, December 27). Kingston Whig-Standard, p. 61. Retrieved February 15, 2008 from Canadian Newsstand Core database. (Document ID: 294746281)