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Vet 2172

SHARKHUNTERS Salutes Veterans

Count ALFRED deMARIGNY (2172-1992)

Dashing socialiteArriving Nassau Police StationLeaving Nassau Police Station

Prior to and during World War II, Nassau, the Bahamas, was teeming with spies, counterspies and the wealthy who moved here to escape the tax burdens of their homelands. Harry Oakes was a down and out Canadian who was riding a train across Canada – without a ticket. When the Conductor caught him, he tossed Oakes off the train – right onto the second biggest gold strike in Canada! Harry Oakes became incredibly wealthy, became Sir Harry Oakes – then moved to Nassau when he got tired of paying heavy British taxes. He had a beautiful daughter and she met the dashing Count ALFRED deMARIGNY and fell in love with him.  It didn’t matter to her that he had been married twice before, both times to wealthy women – she was young and in love.  One day after her 18th birthday, she and “FREDDY” were married, much to the displeasure of Sir Harry who thought that “FREDDY” was just after the Oakes fortune.

About a year after the marriage, On 7 July 1943, Sir Harry was found beaten to death in his bed, which was then set on fire. There was a great uproar to find the killer, but some think a cover-up was in place.  The Governor General of the Bahamas (the abdicated King Edward VIII, now the Duke of Windsor) was said to have been in cahoots with some of the other ultra-wealthy men in Nassau in illegally funneling great quantities of money to a certain bank in Mexico. It was also said that these men, known as “the Bay Street Boys” were negotiating with Meyer Landsky to allow the Jewish mafia to bring casinos and gambling to Nassau, to which Sir Harry vehemently objected. It was also said at the time, that the Duke, a staunch supporter of Hitler and the Reich, was funneling vast amounts of money through Nassau and into this Mexican bank.  So was Sir Harry killed because he defied the mafia?  Because of the alleged ties to the Reich?  Or did “FREDDY” want all the money in a hurry?

The US offered to send the FBI to Nassau to help in the investigation, but the Duke refused and instead brought over two detectives from the Miami Police Department.  The duke detested “FREDDY“, calling him “an unscrupulous adventurer with an evil reputation for immoral conduct with young girls“.  All things considered, it came as no surprise that “FREDDY” was charged with the murder and magically, one of his fingerprints was found on a Chinese screen in the bedroom where Sir Harry was murdered.  His wife, Sir Harry’s daughter, testified on his behalf and it was learned at trial that the detectives had given “FREDDY” a glass of water during his interrogation at the police station, lifted his print from the glass and transferred it to the Chinese screen!

FREDDY” was acquitted and released, but the Duke wasn’t satisfied so he had “FREDDY” declared ‘persona non grata‘ and kicked out of the Bahamas.  He and his wife Nancy moved to Cuba where they lived a lavish lifestyle until they divorced in 1955.

Toward the end of the 20th Century, RICOU BROWNING (60-1984) and JOHN McLAUGHLIN (138-1985) produced a film entitled “Passion in Paradise” which told this story. BROWNING was the monster in the rubber suit in “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” and he also produced some early TV shows such as “Sea Hunt” and “Flipper“.  McLAUGHLIN was an accomplished underwater photographer and worked on many films including “Jaws“.

To this date, the murderer of Sir Harry has never been found and probably will never be known.  When HARRY COOPER (1-LIFE-1983) was in the islands doing research on the U-Boats and the intrigue in the Bahamas, he interviewed a real estate broker who suddenly got livid and threw COOPER out of his office.  COOPER later learned that this was the man that most people believed was the real killer.

Incidentally, “FREDDY” wasn’t really a Count – but the title served him well.