24 November 2012


by Andy Weddington
Saturday, 24 November 2012

"Once a Marine, always a Marine!"

First, a word about the murder of my wife's step-mother. This morning, early, a reader unknown to me - who happens to live in the same area where the crime was committed - posted a comment to the original article I posted, 'Murder! Can You Help? Will You Help?' Included was mention of gossip that police had made arrests. Forwarding that comment to the police for situational awareness met with expected reply that the police continue to pursue all leads. There was no confirmation of arrests. So, the hunt for the killer(s) continue. Please continue pushing the following link, it's working. Thank you!

Now to Corporal Corriveau...

This morning I received an email from a gentleman named John Kelly. I did not recognize his name (email address) as anyone I know, but saw in the preview window he addressed me as "Colonel" so figured to take a look, and am glad I did.

Mr. Kelly is a Marine. He is a retired NYPD detective. He, along with a few others, are working pro bono to solve the murder of a Marine - Corporal Robert D. Corriveau, USMC.

Mr. Kelly sent me the story asking for help to spread the word in hopes someone out there knows something and will come forward.

Corporal Corriveau's story is fascinating, and it is sad. He was put to rest in Lawrence, Massachusetts on Saturday, 13 October 2012 - nearly 44 years after vanishing from the Philadelphia Naval Hospital.

So, Marines, Marine families, friends of Marines, Sailors, and public at-large, again I ask your help passing this commentary along and ask recipients of recipients of recipients to do likewise. Who knows - through the exponential connective power of the Internet - a murder may be solved. Take a moment to send along.

The Story of Corporal Robert Daniel Corriveau USMC – The Turnpike Marine 
On October 17, 1968 Marine MPs signed Corporal Robert Daniel Corriveau into the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia. He had been escorted there from his home in Massachusetts after several violent outbursts prompted calls to the police and then Marine Corps authorities. The thrice wounded Viet Nam combat vet was home on leave when the incidents occurred. In the Philadelphia Naval Hospital he was assigned to the psych unit and missed a 0730 muster on November 18, 1968. 
Forty miles away at the Downingtown interchange on the Pennsylvania Turnpike a State Trooper, John Lowthert, on patrol at 1030 noticed what looked like a human form propped up against a fence. The trooper stopped his vehicle and found the unconscious male with a Navy P coat covering him and the trooper realized that he was dead. Later an autopsy would find that he had been stabbed in the chest and had succumbed to the wound. The Trooper performed a quick search for identification, found none, and made the notifications that would start an investigation that has lasted for over 44 years. Over the course of the investigation there were several investigators assigned but their work was hampered by the fact that the dead man was unidentified and his place of origin unknown. 
Back at the Naval Hospital on that Monday morning in November Corporal Corriveau, having missed a morning muster, was in an Unauthorized Absence (UA) status, then 10 days later declared AWOL (absent without leave), and finally on December 17, 1968 he was declared a deserter. The war in Viet Nam was in a full blown state and the ranks of all the services were heavy with AWOL and deserter members. 
The body found on the Pike had no identification but there was a tattoo on each arm. A nondescript bird in flight appeared on his left arm but on his right arm there was the Marine Corps Bulldog wearing a WWI helmet with the letters USMC. As one of the Investigators, Corporal Tom Waters, a former Marine, said “You don’t have a tattoo like that unless you have been in the Marine Corps.” There were other clues on the body that might have helped, a healed bullet wound on his upper arm and a scar from a partially amputated finger. 
The early investigators visited the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia, sought information on missing patients and employees, and were stymied when no one identified the photos. Visits to a tattoo parlor and inquiries to the Philadelphia Police likewise produced no results. Fingerprints of the deceased were not on file with any queried agency. Available leads were exhausted and the case remained cold and the unidentified body interred in the Longwood Cemetery in Kennet Square, Pennsylvania with no marker to identify the deceased. 
In the summer of 2009 Trooper Patrick Quigley, one of the cold case investigators, attended a course and learned of a new center that attempted to identify victims by DNA. He thought this case of the Turnpike Marine was a good candidate for this technology and began his quest anew to put a name to the murder victim. The body was exhumed, another autopsy performed, and DNA samples extracted. The samples were submitted for comparison with databases and no hits arose. 
The Internet age has produced some remarkable situations and has provided users with information and sites unavailable years ago. Amateur sleuths arose out of this Internet age and they have become adept at matching unidentified remains with those reported missing. One such sleuth is Richard Bergren, a former naval officer, who had had some experience with recovery of WW II servicemen, their identification, and locating next of kin. His efforts linked the unidentified Turnpike Marine with the missing person last seen alive in Pennsylvania. A DNA sample was taken from his sister in New Hampshire for comparison. Recent DNA test results have positively identified (two days ago) the Turnpike Marine as Corporal Robert Daniel Corriveau and arrangements will be made to disinter him and render suitable Marine Corps honors and burial. His sister has informed me that his status as a deserter has not yet been revoked but it is likely that he will be placed on active duty and Honorably Discharged. The murder investigation is still open.  
May God hold him close. Semper Fidelis. John Kelly
And, this morning's email... 

From: john kelly
Sent: Saturday, November 24, 2012 9:50 AM
To: '

Colonel. FYI. Thought you might be able to distribute via your blog. Semper Fidelis. John Kelly
Some time ago I was speaking to a retired detective friend, Tom Nerney, and he told me that he was working on his own to identify the body of a probable Marine found on the PATPK [Pennsylvania Turnpike].  I told him that I would take a look at it and when I did I found that the body had been identified as Corporal Robert Daniel Corriveau (RDC) from Lawrence Massachusetts. A retired Navy Lt. Commander named Richard Bergren who had done work in the Navy involving the identification of WWII and Korean War remains had become interested in the case and found the unidentified person information on line and the missing person information on an entirely different site. He relayed this information to the Troopers who had the case and suggested that they contact the Marine Corps Deserter Unit.

Interestingly enough the troopers had attended a class on DNA and were able to get enough funds to exhume the body for DNA samples. They then contacted the Marine Deserter unit and discovered that the body was probably that of RDC. With names and addresses of relatives they traveled to Massachusetts and New Hampshire and obtained DNA samples from Virginia Cleary, sister of RDC. There was a match and therefore a positive identification. 

Meanwhile the body was still interred in an unmarked grave in Kennett Square Cemetery. After some family conflicts between the mother, sister, and the ex-wife were resolved he was disinterred, transported to Lawrence, Massachusetts where he was buried.

Corporal Robert Daniel Corriveau (RDC) was wounded three times in VN [Vietnam] just a couple of years after I left the Corps. In some small way Tom Nerney, Navy Lt. Commander Richard Bergren and I wanted to give back. Much of the credit in identifying RDC goes to  his “little” sister Virginia Cleary who lives in new Hampshire and she has kept her dream alive of finding her “big brother” and clearing his name and designation as a deserter. 

We buried RDC on October 13 in Lawrence, Massachusetts next to his father. The Marine Corps provided an honor guard and a rifle squad to render honors. He was buried with a set of dress blues covering his body with the Purple Heart and devices indicating a second and third award pinned to his chest. It was an emotional time for us. 

When we first started on the investigation we were told by his sister that RDC was in a locked down facility in the psych unit in Philadelphia Naval Hospital (PNH). He was escorted to the hospital from Boston after a psychotic episode in his parents’ house. Virginia Cleary, his sister, said that Robert knew there was something wrong with him and wanted help before he was discharged.  She said that he could have gotten an early out but elected to stay for treatment. His sister told me that he had been assigned to a locked down facility at the PNH. Through rosters of nurses that Lt. Commander Bergren was able to discover, I was able to contact several nurses and through them several corpsmen.

As luck would have it, one Corpsman in Louisiana still had logs that he had maintained as a supervisor in PNH. The logs showed his [RDC] admittance, his transfer out of the admitting ward to another locked unit and finally his transfer to an open ward where he had free run of the hospital, the grounds, and even may have had liberty. And so the crime scene was extended some thirty or forty miles west on the PA Turnpike and an initial theory that he had been killed in the hospital questioned. 

Through pulling some of the stories from newspapers published in 1968, I was able to learn that the coroner said that time of death was somewhere between 12 and 24 hours before he was found. This made more sense to me since McDevitt said that he had been placed there on the Pike some two hours before he was found. Moving a body in daylight is risky and it can be accomplished more secretively under cover of darkness. RDC was a bantam weight boxer in the Marine Corps and the newspaper report said that there were no other injuries on his body. He was described as a tough kid and would always do well in a fight. 

We are looking to interview any Marines, corpsmen, and others who may have been acquainted with [Corporal] Corriveau. He served with I 3/4 [India Company, 3rd Battalion/4th Marines] in VN and later was with B 1/8 [Bravo Company, 1st Battalion/8th Marines] when he returned stateside. He was later transferred to Boston Naval Hospital in Chelsea and then Philadelphia Naval Hospital.

Points of contact:

John Kelly
Intersect Services Corp.
59 Cuddy Road
Mahopac, New York 10541
917-544-0920 Mobile
845-621-0045 Office

Pennsylvania State Police
Lt. Jeremy Richard
Criminal Investigation Section
Commander Pennsylvania State Police / Troop J - Lancaster
2099 Lincoln Highway East | Lancaster, PA 17602
Phone: 717.290.1959 | Fax: 717.299.7663
Trooper Henry Callithen assigned

Or contact me. Please, readers, pass this story, this murder investigation, along. Someone somewhere knows something. Let's find them. Thank you!

Author's note

John Kelly's material is as sent to me with exception of [bracketed] information I inserted for clarity.  


No comments: