State Police seek help solving Vietnam vet’s 1968 homicide

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I came across this while researching another story on the Pennsylvania State Police website 

Pennsylvania State Police are looking for information in the unsolved murder of U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Robert Daniel Corriveau.

Corriveau was found dead along the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Chester County about 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia on Nov. 18, 1968. He was sitting on the side of the highway about a mile east of the Downingtown interchange by a trooper on turnpike patrol. 

An autopsy determined that the man had been stabbed once through the heart. He carried no identification and was considered a John Doe. He remained unidentified for 44 years.

On July 29, 2009, in an effort to further the investigation, members of the State Police Criminal Investigation Assessment /Missing Persons Unit, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office and the Chester County Coroner’s Office exhumed John Doe’s body. Bone samples were sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification where a DNA profile was obtained and entered into a national missing persons DNA database.

Suspecting the victim might have been in the military because of his physical description at the time and two tattoos; one being a bird in flight with a heart in the background, and the other being a bulldog wearing a World War I helmet with letters “USMC” printed below it, a request was sent to the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service Cold Case Unit and the U.S. Marine Corps Absentee Collection Unit.

On May 31, 2012, John Doe was positively identified by DNA as Cpl. Robert Daniel Corriveau, United States Marine Corps. Corriveau, just shy of his 21st birthday, was an active duty Marine who had been wounded in action on three separate occasions in Vietnam in 1967. At the time of his disappearance, Corriveau was a patient at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital where he was receiving psychiatric treatment for a combat related condition. Hospital personnel discovered Corriveau missing at approximately 7:50 a.m. on the same day he was found dead.

Originally from Lawrence, Mass., Corriveau was 20 years old when he was killed. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in March 1965. He served several tours in Vietnam, was injured in the line of duty and was awarded two Purple Hearts. He previously received psychiatric treatment for a combat related condition at the Chelsea Naval Hospital in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

State Police are asking for the public’s assistance in recalling any details that could help solve this case. This would include members of the U.S. Marine Corps or Navy who may have served with Corriveau and personnel or patients who were at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital in October and November 1968.

Individuals with information are asked to contact the Pennsylvania State Police at 610-268-5158 or email RA-1968MarineDeath@pa.gov.

If you have information about this case or any serious crime or wanted person, call Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers toll free at 1-800-4PA-TIPS or visit the website at www.PACrimeStoppers.org.

Tips made to Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers may be eligible for a cash reward.

About Rick Lee

Rick Lee is a veteran courthouse reporter for the York Daily Record/Sunday News. Contact him at rlee@ydr.com or call 495-1782.
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