Feb. 10, 1956: Was coffin innocent like he stated?

A coffin for a man named Coffin

By —— Bio and Archives--February 10, 2010

Canadian News, Politics, Opinion | Comments | Print Friendly | Subscribe | Email Us

Wilbert Coffin, 41, (1915 - 1956) was a Canadian prospector who was convicted of murder and executed in Canada.

Montreal journalist, editor, author and politician Jacques Hebert raised doubt in Coffin’s guilt in his book J’accuse les assassins de Coffin, which was published in 1963.
The book led to a royal commission which upheld the conviction. On July 15, 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 July 23, 1953, the bodies of Lindsey’s 17-year-old son Richard and 20-year-old Frederick Claar were also found, four kilometers away. The three men had last been seen going into the woods to hunt. Coffin was accused of ambushing the three men and stealing more than $600 (about $5,000 today).


Coffin denied committing the murders, but admitting to stealing some of the men’s luggage. Coffin was the last person to see the murdered men alive and convicted of murder. Coffin had been seen with the youngest of the three Americans at a gas station. He had purchased a pump to repair the pickup truck the Americans were driving.

The case proved to be complicated without an eye witness; the prosecution had to rely heavily on circumstantial evidence. After much deliberation, the jury found Coffin guilty of murdering one of the hunters. The mandatory sentence was death by hanging.

The sentence was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. There, a majority of justices affirmed the judgments of the lower courts. Coffin was again found guilty, and returned to Bordeaux Jail in Montreal to await his execution.

He was refused his final wish of marrying Marion Petric, his partner and mother of his 8-year-old son James.

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 Feb. 10, 1956, a death flag flew and a chime sounded seven times announcing that Coffin was about to die. At 12:01 a.m. the living Coffin felt the long noose of death.

Many were upset by the ruling. They believed Wilbert Coffin to be innocent that his conviction relied solely on circumstantial evidence. Senator Jacques Hébert, a journalist at the time, was cited for contempt of court for his subsequent articles on the case.

The argument against the death penalty eventually won Canadians over and the practice was abolished in 1976. Sadly, this came too late for Coffin.

Coffin, the 708 th person to be executed in Canada, was placed in a coffin and might be at peace in Canadian ground. Was coffin innocent like he stated? Guilty or innocent, this is an event in Canada and reported in a place we call It’s Our History, Our Country.



Only YOU can save CFP from Social Media Suppression. Tweet, Post, Forward, Subscribe or Bookmark us

Ronald Wolf -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Ronald Wolf wolfthewriter.com is a college graduate of a renowned journalism program at Niagara College in Welland, Ontario Canada. He has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines in three different countries. He is a former newspaper owner who specializes in photography and writing.

He presently resides in northwestern, Ontario Canada where he continues to research and write articles about Canadian history, Canadian paranormal and other interesting articles.

Commenting Policy

Please adhere to our commenting policy to avoid being banned. As a privately owned website, we reserve the right to remove any comment and ban any user at any time.

Comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence and death, racism, anti-Semitism, or personal or abusive attacks on other users may be removed and result in a ban.
-- Follow these instructions on registering: