The CIA’s Fall Guy

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“The most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface.” So reads a passage in the first manual of assassination developed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA.) This passage was designed to eliminate individuals considered enemies of the United States. Some, however, believe the CIA used its most simple assassination tactic to kill one of its own.


On the evening of November 28, 1953, CIA scientist Frank Olson was found barely alive on the sidewalk in front of New York City’s Statler Hotel. He had fallen from a window from the hotel’s 10th floor and died a few hours later. Foul play was ruled out in his death, which was determined to be either an accident or suicide.

Twenty-two-years after the fall, an investigation chaired by the second most powerful person in America questioned the official ruling of Frank Olson’s death.

Frank Olson had a brilliant mind, and it is believed the CIA sought to control his thoughts. Many contend that when he expressed resistance, he was eliminated by the agency he served.

Frank Olson graduated with a B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin. He and his wife Alice had three children, sons Nils and Eric, and a daughter Lisa.

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For several years, Frank headed the military’s biological warfare research and development program at Fort Detrick, Maryland. The 43-year-old was an expert in aerobiology, the delivery of deadly viruses, and infectious microorganisms via spray and aerosol cans.

In addition to his military position, Frank was also on the CIA’s payroll as the covert agency was involved in germ warfare in association with the Special Operations Division, the most top-secret research being conducted at Fort Detrick. Frank was the CIA’s Deputy Acting Head of Special Operations.

In November of 1953, Frank went to a three-day conference with some of his colleagues. He told Alice the men would be discussing research and development projects but that he could not tell her where the event was being held. Upon his return home, Alice noticed a pronounced change in her husband’s demeanor. Frank had become severely depressed and withdrawn.

Frank told Alice he had done something wrong. The tone in his voice and body language made Alice suspect it was something severe. Frank told her he could not tell her what he had done, but he had not broken national security.

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Olson’s boss, Vincent Ruwett, told Alice he believed Frank was near a nervous breakdown. Shortly before Thanksgiving of 1953, Ruwett took Frank to New York for treatment.

Alice did not hear from her husband for a week. When Frank did call on the evening of November 18, 1953, he said he was exhausted but feeling better. He told Alice he loved her, to kiss the children good night for him, and to tell them Daddy would be home soon.

The phone call, however, was the last time Alice spoke to her husband, and Frank’s children never saw their dad again.

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That evening, Olson and fellow CIA scientist Robert Lashbrook shared room 1018A on the tenth floor of New York City’s Statler Hotel, now known as the Pennsylvania Hotel. Lashbrook said both he and Frank went to bed at approximately 11:00 p.m. He said the room’s window was closed.

Lashbrook said the next thing he remembered was being awakened by the sound of breaking glass shortly before midnight. As he looked outside the broken window, he saw Frank lying on the sidewalk, clothed only his underwear and a T-shirt. Several people were gathered around him.

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The police investigating the incident found no evidence of foul play.

Alice was told her husband had suffered a nervous breakdown and had either committed suicide by jumping through a closed window or had accidentally fallen through the closed window to his death. She and many others were skeptical of the determination.  Suicide victims who leap to their deaths don’t usually jump through closed windows, and it seemed unlikely a person could generate enough force on his own to fall through a closed window accidentally.

Nevertheless, the official ruling of suicide stood for over two decades.

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In 1975, twenty-two-years after Frank Olson’s fatal fall, the Rockefeller Commission was formed to investigate charges of past abuses carried out by the CIA.

Various reports mentioned a government scientist who had plunged to his death from a hotel window ten days after being dosed with the hallucinogenic drug (LSD). The scientist was not mentioned by name, but it was later confirmed to be Frank Olson.

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After learning of the report’s findings, Alice Olson and her three children announced they planned to sue the CIA over Frank’s “wrongful death.” The government offered them an out-of-court settlement of $1,250,000, which was later reduced to $750,000. The Olsons accepted and received formal apologies from President Gerald Ford and CIA director William Colby. They were also given what was said to be a complete set of documents relating to the last nine days of Frank’s life.

After reading the documents, the Olsons were convinced the CIA, either intentionally or indirectly, was responsible for Frank’s death.

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The CIA reports said Frank was among ten scientists who had gone to a retreat in Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland in November of 1953. The stated purpose of the meeting was to discuss ongoing research, but in reality, the men were to be used as guinea pigs in testing the effects of LSD.

The Cold War was rapidly heating up, and the Soviet Union was viewed as the most dangerous threat to America. The CIA feared the Russians would use LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs to produce anxiety and fear in captured CIA agents. The agency sought to test the effects of LSD to prepare its American operatives for that possibility. Officials chose their own scientists as the unwitting subjects of their experiment.

The documents revealed eight of the ten men drank Couitreau after having dinner. Unbeknownst to them, the French liqueur was spiked with doses of LSD. The effects were visible within an hour as the men became delusional, dizzy, and discombobulated.

The LSD was said to have been put into the drinks either by Sidney Gottlieb, head of the CIA’s technical services staff or by his deputy, Lashbrook. When Gottlieb told the scientists the drinks had been spiked with LSD, the men became agitated.

Frank Olson was said to be the angriest. The documents say he told his bosses he no longer wished to work for the CIA or have any involvement in germ warfare programs.

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Later that week, the documents went on to say, Frank was taken to New York, supposedly suffering from a nervous breakdown as Vincent Ruwet had told Alice in 1953. Frank was treated by Dr. Harold Abramson, an allergist-pediatrician and LSD expert who worked with the CIA in researching the drug’s psychotropic effects.

Over the next few days, Frank made several more visits to Dr. Abramson, always accompanied by Lashbrook and Ruwet. The documents released to the Olson family, however, do not say what occurred during these sessions.

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The documents do state that while he was in New York, Frank experienced delusions and, in one instance, threw away all his identification and money.

After reading the report and going public with its findings, the Olsons were contacted by Armand Pastore, the night manager at the Statler Hotel at the time. He said shortly afterward Frank was found have fallen from the window, that the hotel’s telephone operator told him she heard the man calling from room 1018A (Lashbrook) say, “Well, he’s gone.” and the man on the other end reply, “Well, that’s too bad.”. Then they both hung up.

After reading the report and hearing Pastore’s account, the Olson family believes that Frank told his superiors of his intention to leave the CIA and end his involvement in germ warfare research. The agency had determined he was a security risk and decided to have him eliminated. Author Ed Regis concurs, saying Frank told Ruwet he wanted to quit the biological program after the LSD experiment.

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When Alice Olson died in 1993, Nils, Eric, and Lisa had their father’s body exhumed to rest beside hers. Before Frank Olson was reburied, however, the children had an autopsy performed on him.

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George Washington University Professor and renowned forensic scientist James Starrs performed Olson’s autopsy forty years after his death. Dr. Starrs was pleasantly surprised and amazed that the remains were in excellent condition.

After completing his examination of Frank’s remains, Dr. Starrs criticized the original autopsy performed by the New York Medical Examiner in 1953, saying the report was incomplete as the examiner had not checked for foreign substances or accurately charted Frank’s physical injuries. The New York Medical Examiner had stated that there were multiple lacerations on Olson’s face and neck, but Dr. Starrs found no such injuries.

Dr. Starss said that if Frank had fallen out of a closed window, he would have incurred numerous cuts and abrasions. He found no such wounds.

What Dr. Starrs did find was a large hematoma on the left side of Olson’s head and a significant injury on his chest. The forensic team concluded injuries likely occurred in the room before the fall. He believes the window was broken after Frank fell to his death.

Dr. Starrs concluded the police and CIA ruling of Frank Olson’s death as either suicide or accident was, “rankly and starkly suggestive of homicide.”

After the findings were made public, Lashbrook, who was in the room with Frank before he plunged to his death, changed his story and said he could not remember if the window had been opened or closed.

Robert Lashbrook died in 2002 at age 84.

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In 2012, Eric and Nils Olson filed suit in the United States District Court in Washington, D.C., seeking unspecified compensatory damages and access to additional documents related to their father’s death, which they claim the CIA had withheld from them.

The lawsuit was dismissed in July of 2013 because of the 1976 settlement between the family and government.  U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote, “While the court must limit its analysis to the four corners of the complaint, the skeptical reader may wish to know that the public record supports many of the allegations [in the family’s suit], far fetched as they may sound.”

In 2017, Netflix released “Wormwood,” a documentary detailing the controversy surrounding Frank Olson’s death.

In the six-part miniseries directed by Errol Morris, journalist Seymour Hersh says high ranking sources told him that during the height of the Cold War, the government had a security process to identify and execute domestic dissidents perceived as a risk to the United States. He said that Frank Olson was viewed as such a dissident and that his death was covered up by his CIA colleagues. Hersh, however, says he cannot elaborate or publish on the facts because it would compromise his source.

The Wormwood documentary is still available for viewing on Netflix.

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Frank’s death was not the only tragedy the Olson family endured. Another untimely family death also occurred in New York.

Lisa Olson Hayward was only seven-years-old when her father died. On March 19, 1978, she, her husband Greg, and their one-and-a-half-year-old son perished in a plane crash. As a result of intensely high winds, the twin-engine Beechcraft crashed into the Katy Mountain in the Adirondack Mountains near Lake Clear, New York. The pilot and one other passenger were also killed. Lisa was 32-years-old.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


SOURCES:
• Associated Press
Frederick (Maryland) News Post
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
Newark Advocate
The Telegraph
Unsolved Mysteries
• UPI
Washington Post
• Washington Times 


Recommended Reading:

More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Silenced By The Dixie Mafia Part 1: The Buford Pusser Story

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The movie Walking Tall tells the Hollywood version of the real-life story of Sheriff Buford Pusser’s war with the Dixie Mafia. A two-hour film cannot possibly explain the entire story, nor can it relate the stories of all the secondary characters. Unfortunately, the story of murder, betrayal, and cover-ups didn’t end with the death of Sheriff Pusser. I will try to relate this massive tale to you, but it may take more than one post.


This blog post is a part of a series of stories about the Dixie Mafia. Make sure to subscribe to Synova’s True Crime Newsletter so you don’t miss out on any of the stories.


1967:

 The Dixie Mafia was known as the State Line Mob and was led by Carl Douglas “Towhead” White. White was in prison when his lover, Louise Hathcock, pulled a gun on Sherriff Pusser and was killed. Upon hearing the news, White called his friend Kirksey Nix, Jr and ordered the hit on Sherriff Pusser and his wife, Pauline.

August 12, 1967:

 Sherriff Pusser received a disturbance call in the wee hours before dawn. Pauline Pusser decided to ride along with her husband as she had done on many occasions. The pair drove out to New Hope Road to check it out. The disturbance was a ruse to ambush the young sheriff and his wife.

 Pusser passed the New Hope Methodist church looking for the reported disturbance but continued driving when he found the place quiet. A black Cadillac pulled out from behind the church and followed the sheriff with its lights off. As the two cars reached a narrow bridge, the Cadillac flashed on its headlights and came racing up beside the officer’s car.

 The Cadillac’s passenger opened fire, hitting Pauline in the head. The sheriff ducked and stepped on the gas. The engine roared to life, and the car lurched ahead of the assassins. He sped up the road a couple of miles until he was sure he had lost his tail, and then pulled over to check on Pauline. Moments later, the assassins again found their mark, and gunshots rang out, hitting Sherriff Pusser in the face and jaw blowing it apart. Somehow the sheriff would survive the attack, but Pauline was killed.

 At first, Pusser declared he knew who was responsible and named Towhead White, George McGann, Gary McDaniel, and Kirksey Nix. After 18 days in the hospital and a dozen surgeries to repair his face, Pusser declared he couldn’t tell who had shot him.

Was it the trauma that caused his amnesia, or was the hard-nosed police officer going to exact his revenge?

Time would witness the deaths of three of the conspirators, but Kirksey Nix would remain on the loose. Legends would be told about the great Buford Pusser, but the story didn’t end with his death in a 1974 car wreck. Kirksey Nix continued and became the head of the Dixie Mafia. By 1987, Nix would be embroiled in another major hit.

Here is where the side stories start creeping into this case. The Dixie Mafia and the State Line Mob were prevalent in the area due to the payoffs of local officials and the coverups by local police departments. This corruption allowed the mob to rule without much interference. Although a few shady officers corrupted the police departments, other lawmen were threatened into silence. At this point in the story, I would like to interject one officer named Lieutenant Dan Anderson of the Harrison County Sherriff’s Department.

 Six weeks after the ambush of Sheriff Pusser on New Hope Rd, Lt. Dan Anderson’s son, Ronnie Anderson, was shot and killed. The case was immediately ruled as a suicide despite massive evidence to the contrary.

What happened to this 17-yr-old polio victim in leg braces? 

What kind of threat could he have been?

I will dive deeper into the case of Ronald Anderson next week and follow up with the murder of his father, Dan. Along the way, we will highlight the nationally publicized case of the slaying of Judge Sherry and his wife. All these bizarre murders are tied together with a delicate string. That string is the Dixie Mafia. Find out more next week when this cold case story continues.


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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Recommended Reading:

Synova’s new book about this series of cases will be out soon. Pre-ordering will begin on May 1st.

If you’d like to check out Synova’s other true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Last Call

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As South Carolina State Trooper Roy Caffey’s shift was nearing an end on the evening of October 8, 1972, he radioed dispatch, saying he would meet his relief at the Interstate 26 interchange, just north of Orangeburg. Approximately one minute later, he again contacted dispatch, saying he was pulling over a red Mustang. About 10 minutes later, another call came from Trooper Caffey’s car to dispatch. But this call was from another trooper saying the two words every lawman fears hearing: “Officer Down.”

A fellow patrolman found Trooper Caffey lying in a pool of blood, shot to death near his patrol car. His gun and holster were missing, and it appeared a struggle had occurred in the vehicle. Witnesses remembered seeing Trooper Caffey pull the Mustang over, and later motorists saw him talking to two men.

A quarter of a century passed before an arrest was made in the murder of Trooper Roy Caffey. 

In 1997, 25 years after the murder of Patrolman Roy Caffey, Betsy Kemmerlin was charged in connection with the crime. Officials say her bragging to friends about her role in the incident and getting away with it for so long led to her arrest.

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Kemmerlin, 15-years-old at the time of the incident, identified her brother, Ben Kemmerlin, and their friend, Lee Mizzell, as the two men seen arguing with Trooper Caffey on the evening of October 8, 1972. Betsy Kemmerlin claimed Mizzell threatened to kill her if she fingered them.

Both Ben Kemmerlin and Lee Mizzell had since died. 

Kemmerlin said Trooper Caffey saw drugs in the car after he pulled itover for a traffic violation. As he attempted to confiscate them, the two armed men fought with him outside the car. One of them shot Trooper Caffey during the struggle. Kemmerlin, who claimed to have stayed in the car during the altercation, said she could not tell which man had fired the fatal shot and also claimed she knew nothing about who owned the Mustang or what happened to it after the murder. It has never been found.

Police believe Ben Kemmerlin and Lee Mizzell borrowed the car from a woman for a drug purchase. The men also had access to heavy machinery, and police believe they likely used it to destroy the vehicle. Trooper Caffey’s gun and holster have also never been found; police believe they were either buried or thrown into a pond.

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In February of 1999, Kemmerlin pled guilty to murder as an accessory after the fact. She was given a ten-year suspended sentence and was placed on probation for five years. After violating her probation by failing a drug test in 2000, she was sentenced to one year in prison. She was released in December of 2001. Betsy Kemmerlin died in 2009 at age 52.

In 2014, the Orangeburg County, South Carolina rest areas located at mile marker 150 on Interstate 26 East, and near mile marker 152 on Interstate 26 West were named the “SCHP Patrolman First Class Roy O. Caffey Memorial Rest Stop.”

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SOURCES:

• Herald-Journal (Orangeburg, South Carolina)

• Index-Journal (Greenville, South Carolina)

• Seattle Times

• Tulsa World

• Unsolved Mysteries 


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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SIGN UP HERE


Recommended Reading:

Follow the heart-rending cases Synova first wrote about on her blog in 2018. Filled with missing persons’ cases, unsolved homicides, and even serial killer cases, this book will give you a greater insight into the shattered lives behind every story. Cases Included in this book: Jayme Closs, Haley Owens, Josh Robinson, Timothy Cunningham, Carol Blades, Pam Hupp, Arthur Ream, Angela Hammond, The Springfield Three, Jennifer Harris, Danny King, Angie Yarnell, Jack Robinson, Madelin Edman, Alexis Patterson, Amber Wilde, Sandra Bertolas, Jennifer Casper-Ross, Crystal Soulier, Jody Ricard, Carmen Owens, Brandon Tyree McCullough & The I-70 Serial Killer.

A portion of the profits of this book will go to support the Missouri Missing Organization.

Get Your Copy Here


If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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Mobster Monday: Sam Giancana


Born in Chicago on May 24, 1908, Sam Giancana was left motherless when Antonia Giancana died in 1910. His father Antonio remarried and had four more children. Lonely, misguided, and growing up on Chicago’s west side, Sam began his criminal education early.  As a youth, he ran with the 42 Gang, working for Joe Esposito. Giancana rose to the top of the pack, with his driving and killing skills among the best. After Esposito was murdered, the infamous Chicago Outfit recruited Giancana, and he joined their ranks. By the tender age of 20, Giancana was already an experienced killer.

During the ‘40s and ’50s, Giancana began a career of high crime, making him the king of gambling and racketeering. He had friends in high places that allowed him to gain control of liquor licensing, among other things. This gave Giancana the power to make or break a business and he used it. 

After several high ranking mob murders, including the retaliation murder of Theodore Roe. The Chicago Outfit was keen on taking over all the crews at the time, and they continued their violent efforts. After the attempted murder of “Big Jim” Martin, the crew finally succeeded. Money began pouring in for the Outfit, with Giancana souring to the top of the crew. By 1957, Sam Giancana was their leader.

During the ’60s, Giancana was investigated for possible involvement in the Kennedy assassination. It is rumored that Giancana was commissioned by the CIA itself to assassinate Castro. This was substantiated in 1997 with the release of documents pertaining to Castro. It reveals that several attempts were made on Castro’s life via poisoning that was obviously not successful. These attempts ended with the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961.

After the high profile activities of Giancana, the Chicago Outfit decided that he was too much of a heat up for their organization. He remained loyal, however, even after a stint in jail after being offered immunity during a grand jury proceeding. After this ordeal, he left for Mexico. There he proceeded to take up his old pastime of gambling. He refused to share his winnings with the old crew, and The Outfit had finally had enough.

Sam Giancana was returned to the USA via the Feds in July 1974.  Whilst under guard by the police in Oak Park, Illinois, Giancana was shot several times while preparing sausage and peppers for dinner. He is buried in the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.


Recommended Reading:


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Giancana

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-cia-secrets/cia-tried-to-get-mafia-to-kill-castro-idUKN2623180820070626


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Karen Reep is a new true crime writer learning to spread her wings on our Mobster Monday posts. Look for more of her writing in the near future.


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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SIGN UP HERE


If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.


Synova’s Amazon Author Page


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Remnants Of A Tortured Life

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Photos courtesy of Guest Blogger



As a telephone company laborer went to work on the morning of October 4, 1978, little did he know he would make a discovery that would instigate one of Iowa’s most wrenching mysteries?

The worker was laying cable along Highway 182 in rural Lyon County, near Rock Rapids in the far northwest corner of the Hawkeye state. In the course of his work, he found more than a few dead lines. He found one dead human. The skeletal remains of a half-naked woman lay in a ditch along the north side of a gravel road approximately one mile from the Rock Rapids school. The remains were too decomposed to identify.

The remains found near Rock Rapids remained unidentified for over 27 years until, January of 2006 when a Des Moines lab technician matched the woman’s left thumbprint to one sent to various labs from Los Angeles, California. The woman in the ditch finally had a name; Wilma June Nissen. Sadly, she had suffered a rough life.

Wilma was born in San Francisco, California, in 1954. Her younger sister, Mona, was deaf and unable to speak. Wilma’s mother abandoned her children when she was eight, and her father abused his daughters. While he was at work, Wilma and Mona were locked in a closet. After he was fired from his job, the young girls moved from the closet to the car, where Mona was confined for most of the day while Wilma was dispatched to the streets to scour for food. Wilma never attended school and could neither read nor write.

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In 1964, after the state of California removed the Nissen children from their father’s “care,” they spent the remainder of their youth bouncing around foster homes. Perhaps predictably, as she became a young adult, the uneducated and desperate Wilma resorted to prostitution.

Wilma married three times and had two children. In February of 1978, the 23-year-old went to Atlanta, Georgia, with 54-year-old Charles Belt, the last known person to have seen her alive, eight months before her remains were found in Lyon County, Iowa. I could not find a picture of him.

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Investigators believe Wilma was placed in the Lyon County ditch in either July or August of 1978, 5-6 months before her remains were discovered. She was naked from the waist up, and her feet were tied together with a braided hemp rope. The cause of death could not be determined, but it had been horrendous. All but two of her teeth had been pulled. The rest of her teeth, along with her lower jawbone, her other clothing, and belongings, were never found.

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In August of 2009, a suspect emerged in the death of Wilma Nissen when 82-year-old John Van Gammeren was charged with six counts of perjury after lying to detectives about transporting strippers and prostitutes from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, across the Iowa border to his home in Inwood. The ditch where Wilma was found was not far from Inwood. However, the charges against VaGammeren were later dismissed.

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Seven years later, in 2016, investigators announced they believed they knew one of the people who killed Wilma Nissen.

Authorities believe that after leaving Atlanta, Georgia, sometime between February and July of 1978, Wilma made her way to northwest Iowa after connecting with an escort service based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Police say the woman pictured below was a prostitute and escort for the same company as Wilma during the mid-1970s when the photo was taken. Lyon County investigators believe she is one of the people who murdered Wilma Nissen. Police say they have conducted several interviews with her, but she has steadfastly denied any involvement in Wilma’s death. They know her true identity and where she is currently living but have not yet divulged that information.

In the summer of 1978, investigators say several Lyon County residents attended sex parties in the western part of the county, near the South Dakota border. Both Wilma and this woman worked as dancers, escorts, and prostitutes at these parties. Police believe Wilma was killed at one of the parties and that robbery was the motive, as the woman pictured below frequently stole from other prostitutes, escorts and dancers.

Authorities say they need someone to independently identify this woman; so far, no one has done so.

Another prostitute, known only by her stage name of “Peaches,” is also believed to have participated in Wilma’s murder. Authorities do not have a picture of her but say she is a light complected black female from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, who was in her mid-to-late ’20s in the late 1970s.

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Investigators would like to speak to Donald Wellington, one of Wilma’s former husbands. It is emphasized that he is not a suspect in Wilma’s murder and is only being sought for questioning. Authorities believe he may be living in the Palmdale, California, area. The below photo was taken in 2000.

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Wilma Nissen’s short and tortured life ended with her brutal death in an area to which she had no connection– rural northwest Iowa. Lyon County, nevertheless, considers the woman who had no name for over a quarter of a century as “Our Girl.” Wilma June Nissen is buried in Rock Rapids’ Riverview Cemetery.

By investigators’ own admission, a little luck led to learning Wilma’s identity. Perhaps luck will one day make a curtain call and lead to her killer’s identity.

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A $10,000 reward is offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Wilma Nissen’s death. If you have any such information, please contact one of the people below:

• Detective Jerry Birkey, Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, (712) 472-8300
• Special Agent J.R. Mathis, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, (712) 252-0507
• Special Agent Jon Moeller, F.B.I., (712) 258-1920


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SOURCES:
• ABC Affiliate KSFY TV
• CBS Affiliate KELO TV
• Iowa Cold Cases
• Lyon County, Iowa Sheriff’s Office
• Northwest Iowa Review
• Sioux City Journal 


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)


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EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


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Recommended Reading:

Follow the heart-rending cases Synova first wrote about on her blog in 2018. Filled with missing persons’ cases, unsolved homicides, and even serial killer cases, this book will give you a greater insight into the shattered lives behind every story. Cases Included in this book: Jayme Closs, Haley Owens, Josh Robinson, Timothy Cunningham, Carol Blades, Pam Hupp, Arthur Ream, Angela Hammond, The Springfield Three, Jennifer Harris, Danny King, Angie Yarnell, Jack Robinson, Madelin Edman, Alexis Patterson, Amber Wilde, Sandra Bertolas, Jennifer Casper-Ross, Crystal Soulier, Jody Ricard, Carmen Owens, Brandon Tyree McCullough & The I-70 Serial Killer.

A portion of the profits of this book will go to support the Missouri Missing Organization.


If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED