Strange Death of Dorothy Hunt
Special for Fair Play
Dorothy Wetzel Hunt, the late wife of convicted Watergate conspirator, E. Howard
Hunt, murdered? Was the plane on which she was traveling--along with other key
Watergate characters--sabotaged? If so, why? And by whom?
questions have troubled researchers for more than twenty years. Along with the
unanswered questions about Hunt and how he relates to the forces that brought
down the Nixon presidency, also too is the question about what more the Hunts
knew about Nixon; what it was that made Nixon so paranoid; that made him so
willing to come up with hush money ("...a million dollars? we could get
that."). Could it be that Hunt and/or Nixon were complicit in the death
It was at 2:29 PM on
Friday, December 8, 1972, during the height of the Watergate scandal that United
Airlines flight 553 crashed just outside of Chicago during a landing approach to
Midway Airport. Initial reports indicated that the plane had some sort of engine
trouble when it descended from the clouds. But the odd thing about this crash is
what happened after the plane went down. Witnesses living in the
working-class neighborhood in which the plane crashed said that moments after
impact, a battalion of plainclothes operatives in unmarked cars parked on side
streets pounced on the crash-site [High Treason 2 (1992, Carroll and Graf);
Harrison Livingston; p426] . These so-called 'FBI types' took control of the
scene and immediately began sifting through the wreckage looking for something.
At least one survivor recognized a "rescue worker"--clad in overalls
sifting through wreckage--as an operative of the CIA [op. cit.; p428]
whitehouse asserts control of Investigation
One day after the crash,
the Whitehouse head of Nixon's "plumber's" outfit--Egil Krogh, Jr.--
was made undersecretary of transportation, a position that put him in a direct
position to oversee the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal
Aviation Agency which are both authorized by law to investigate airline crashes.
Krogh would later be convicted of complicity in the break-in of Daniel
Ellsberg's Psychiatrist's office along with Hunt, Liddy and a small cast of
CIA-trained and retained Cuban black-bag specialists.
a month after Krogh's new assignment, Nixon's appointments secretary, Dwight
Chapin, was made an executive in the Chicago office of United Airlines [op.
cit.; p429], where he threatened the media to steer clear of speculation about
sabotage in the crash. On December 19th--eleven days after the crash--Nixon
appointed ex-CIA officer, Alexander Butterfield, as head of the FAA. Students of
Watergate will remember Butterfield as the Whitehouse official who supervised
Nixon's secret taping system and who exposed the existence of the infamous tapes
that ultimately would force Nixon to resign.
traveling with Mrs. Hunt on flight 553 was CBS news corespondent Michelle Clark
who, rumor had it, had learned from her sources that the Hunts were about to
spill the proverbial beans regarding the Nixon whitehouse and its involvement in
the Watergate burglary; Clark also died in the crash.
large sum of money (between $10,000 and $100,000) was found amid the wreckage in
the possession of Mrs. Hunt. It was during this time that Dorothy Hunt was
traveling around the country paying off operatives and witnesses in the
Watergate operation with money her husband had extorted from Nixon via his
counsel, John Dean. Hunt had threatened Nixon and Dean with exposing the nature
of all the sordid deeds he had done.
it be that the fuel for Hunt's blackmail of the president had little to do with
the so-called "third-rate burglary" of the Democratic headquarters?
Could it have had more to do with the fate of John F. Kennedy and of Nixon's
awareness of who was really behind the planning and deployment of his demise? In
the Watergate tapes, Nixon displays a malignant paranoia to his chief-of-staff,
H. R. Haldeman, concerning E. Howard Hunt and the Bay of Pigs operation. He
decides to use this paranoia to force the CIA to help cover up the Watergate
"...just say (unintelligible) very bad to have this fellow Hunt, ah,
he knows too damned much, if he was involved -- you happen to know that? If it
gets out that this is all involved, the Cuba thing, it would be a fiasco. It
would make the CIA look bad, it's going to make Hunt look bad, and it is likely
to blow the whole Bay of Pigs thing which we think would be very unfortunate -
both for the CIA and for the country..."
In his memoir, The
Ends of Power (1978), Haldeman claims that all the references in the tapes
to "The Bay of Pigs thing", were coded references by Nixon:
In those Nixon
references to the Bay of Pigs [in the White House tapes] he [Nixon] was actually
referring to the Kennedy assassination...After Kennedy was killed, the CIA
launched a fantastic cover-up...The CIA literally erased any connection between
Kennedy's assassination and the CIA...in fact, Counter Intelligence Chief James
Angleton of the CIA called Bill Sullivan of the FBI (Number Three man under J.
Edgar Hoover, who later died of a gunshot would) and rehearsed the questions and
answers they would give to the Warren Commission investigators."
In The Haldeman
Diaries (1994), editor Stephen Ambrose wrote that Haldeman, in the latter
years of his life, attributed the above revelations to his ghost writer, Joseph
Di Mona; by 1990, Haldeman was repudiating the entire book. One must remember
that from the time Nixon fired Haldeman (1973) until December 1978, the two men
were not on speaking terms; it was during this time--coincident with his prison
term--that Haldeman released his book.
and Lansdale in Dealey Plaza
Some JFK assassination
researchers have long speculated that E. Howard Hunt holds the keys to what
really happened to Kennedy. There has long been conjecture about the whereabouts
of Hunt on November 22, 1963. Some have posited that Hunt and his merry band of
operatives were in Dealey Plaza that day providing the logistic backup and
diversion that enabled the true assassins to escape under the cover of the
ensuing pandemonium. Some have even gone as far to say that Hunt--in a clever
disguise--was one of the mysterious "Tramps" arrested in the railroad
yards behind Dealey Plaza shortly after the last shots were fired at the Kennedy
the latest issue of Steam Shovel Press [Steam Shovel Press #11, p13] in
an article by photo analyst Jack White, L. Fletcher Prouty describes one of
several known Tramp photos. This particular photo shows the tramps being
escorted along a service entrance to the TSBD wall comprised of two high
chain-link gates with large diamond-shapes in the center of each [Photo
designated as "P1" in Weberman and Canfield's Coup D' Etat in
America (1992, Quick Trading)]. The tramps are facing the camera and a man
is seen walking in the opposite direction, back to the camera. Prouty believes
that the man walking away from the camera is Edward Lansdale. Lansdale, a
planner with the Air Force Directorate and then the CIA-affiliated Office of
Special Operations, worked closely with E. Howard Hunt. Lansdale's specialty,
according to Prouty, who claims to have also worked closely with him, was
staging real-time covers, diversions, and the general "smoke screens"
under which assassinations took place. When asked to explain, Prouty alleges
that it was Lansdale's job to provide "actors", and
"screenplays" for certain black operations deployed by the covert
must remember that E. Howard Hunt is a prolific author, having written over
seventy books, virtually all of them spy novels; novels that some have
speculated were designed by Hunt's superiors at the CIA to be Cold War
disinformation tools. Hunt has also written screenplays, the most notable being Bimini
One thing is for sure:
Hunt has consistently changed his story about his whereabouts on that November
day in 1963. We must go no further than the retrial of Hunt's liable lawsuit
against the Liberty Lobby (1985) to realize that there is much
that Hunt is holding back on this matter. In this trial, attorney and JFK
assassination author Mark Lane was able to get Hunt to finally admit that he was
not with his family in Washington on November 22, 1963, watching on TV,
along with the rest of the world, the aftermath of the assassination.
posed the question to Hunt that if he was with his family that day, than
why did he have to pursue the lawsuit to square himself with his children who,
Hunt contended, had to endure for years the nagging question of whether or not
their father had in some way been involved in the assassination. Hunt's reaction
to the query--a stunned, head-snapping recoil, followed by a 30-second pause,
pretty much answered the question for the jury. His case was overturned [Plausible
Denial (1991, Thunder's Mouth Press); Mark Lane; p 283].
as part of the evidence was a sworn deposition of CIA operative and one-time
Castro love-interest, Marita Lorenz, testimony which places Hunt--along with CIA
contract agent Frank Sturgis, supermercanary Gerry Patrick Hemming and Jack
Ruby--in a Dallas motel room, with Hunt doling out cash from his famous attache
case ostensibly for the procurement and transportation of two carloads of
firearms moved from Florida to Dallas the day before the assassination.
did Dorothy Know?
After reading in the
spring of 1991 James Hougan's amazing Watergate book, Secret Agenda, I
began a Freedom of Information Act search on certain FBI documents related to
the death of Dorothy Hunt. I was especially intrigued by the report by Hougan,
that amongst the cash Mrs. Hunt had in her possession, was a $100 bill with the
inscription, "Good Luck FS". I immediately suspected that FS could
stand for Howard's Watergate co-conspirator and fellow CIA affiliate, Frank
Sturgis, and began searching for other crash-material ascribed to Mrs. Hunt from
the ill-fated flight.
Agenda, Hougan describes an engineer, Michael Stevens, proprietor of the
Chicago-based Stevens Research Laboratories, as being visited in early May, 1972
by Watergate wireman James McCord who had come to place orders for ten
highly-sophisticated eavesdropping devices---much more sophisticated units than
the cheap, commercial-grade bugs supposedly found in the DNC the next month in
claims that Dorothy Hunt was traveling to see him in Chicago when her plane went
down and that the $10,000 or more she possessed was intended for him as an
installment for his silence. Stevens says he told the FBI that his own life had
been threatened anonymously and that Hunt's death was a homicide.
to Hougan, the high-performance bugs were not used at the DNC but rather
in various hotel rooms setup by Hunt and McCord as combination "dens of
compromise" and psychological data-gathering field laboratories; rooms in
which high-priced call girls helped stage episodes with political figures that
were worthy of blackmail. Hougan makes a very good case for this including a
statement by landlady, Miriam Furbershaw, who claims that she rented her
basement apartment to James McCord [Secret Agenda; James Hougan; p19] two
or three years before the Watergate scandal. McCord is known to have had
considerable bugging equipment in this apartment which appears to have been some
sort of safehouse. Mrs. Furbershaw also told the FBI that McCord had several
male visitors, including E. Howard Hunt. Intriguingly, Hunt claims to have never
met McCord until introduced to him in 1972 by G. Gordon Liddy. There is ample
evidence that Hunt and McCord knew each other by 1963 if not earlier [op. cit.;
pp17-18] having worked extensively in the CIA's Bay of Pigs operation.
Furbershaw says she ultimately evicted McCord because he had "...more than
one occasion on [sic] which 'young girls' visited during the night." In a
confrontation in the presence of a young woman said to have been crying
hysterically on the bed, she ordered McCord leave. Hougan claims that McCord's
blackmailing activities were illegal CIA-sanctioned operations the purposes of
which were to collect personality information for use in personality
predicting-models by CIA psychiatrists. He further claims that McCord was
engaging in similar if not identical operations at the Watergate; that McCord
compromised the DNC "cover" operation to protect the CIA-sponsored
callgirl operations or other operations known only to McCord and or Hunt.
My request of the
Chicago FBI office for all documents related to this matter have only yielded
the FBI claiming that there are no documents related to that case using the
index numbers I obtained from Hougan's book. The case is on appeal with the
Justice Department. Updates on the case will be presented when they develop.
Hunt's Death Certificate
In the process of
pursuing the case, I was required to obtain a certified copy of Dorothy Hunt's
death certificate, which I did, obtaining it from the Cook County Coroner's
office. A link to a scanned image of this document is at the end of this
article. Note the clear copy of E. Howard Hunt's signature. Also note that while
Dorothy Hunt was officially pronounced dead on December 8th, 1972, it wasn't
until November of 1973--nearly a year later--that the Coroner's signature is
dated. Also interesting on this certificate is the lack of a Social Security
Wetzel Hunt was also an employee for the CIA in the late forties, stationed in
Shanghai, China, where she met her future husband. E Howard Hunt lives in
southern Florida with his second wife where he continues to write. One of his
latest novels (1992) is Body Count.
* * *
I can be reached for Questions, Comments, Files Transfers or, Clarifications at the following e-mail address.