Accession Number



ELLIOTT, Subgroup Rumrunners (suspected)


At 1:30pm on January 7, 1933 in the First District Court of Barnstable, Special Justice Thomas Otis, Esq. presided over the examination of 12 individuals at the inquest on the death of Franklin C. Bearse. Robert S. Elliott was interviewed after his father, Albert (an old coot himself), and before his brother Warren Scott. The terse responses and churlish temperaments of all three men indicated that they had little intention of helping District Attorney William C. Crossley, Esq. identify the killer(s). With Robert on the stand, Crossley was attempting to determine ownership of a shotgun found at the crime scene. It was during this line of questioning that William C. Crossley made a joke.*

(WC) Q: Did you ever go duck hunting on Craigville Beach in October of 1933?
(RE) A: no.
Q: Did you or not?
A. I didn’t go duck hunting.
Q: Did you go any kind of hunting?
A: I might [go] coot shooting, ---all there is there.
Q: Maybe I am in error, -- isn’t a coot a duck?
A: I wouldn’t say about that.
Q: Is it a member of the duck family, -- you aren’t ducking now, are you?
A: Maybe classed as that; I don’t know.
Q: You are not ducking now?**
A: No.

*This is curious behavior given the solemnity of the occasion and the fact that in the two weeks previous, Crossley’s car had been hit with bullets, his 13-year old daughter had fallen off a cliff while horseback riding in a “haunted” forest (see CROSSLEY.1.1932/BRIDGEWATER TRIANGLE) and two murder cases had landed on his desk.
**Not only did Crossley make a joke at what was arguably an inappropriate time, he repeated it


coot (wing) feather

Verification Reference

Transcript: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Inquest:
Murder of Franklin C. Bearse


American Coot.png


“Coot,” Institute for Clew Studies, accessed March 24, 2019,