By Gary Null
The official version of the colonel’s death just doesn’t add up. So his brother is left asking a number of questions: What happened? Is it possible that elements of every major department of government could have been involved in either incompetence or intentional malfeasance, including a coordinated coverup? And if the latter is the case, what could have been the motive?
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diagnosis and treatment by a qualified, licensed professional.
On the morning of January 22, 1991, neurologist Dr. David Sabow received a telephone call while he was at work in his office. The call was one that would change his life forever, and change his outlook on the integrity of parts of this country’s military and political systems. It was from a Marine Corps chaplain, informing him that his older brother, Colonel James E. Sabow, had just committed suicide. At first, Dr. Sabow could not process the information. His thoughts were continually interrupted by snapshots of his brother Jimmy’s life. And there was also this: David knew his brother so very well, and suicide was completely out of character for the man. Jimmy Sabow was a well-respected, highly intelligent, and extremely talented Marine officer, a man who had the ability to work as hard as he played and who demonstrated a strong devotion to his family. David recalls, “He was, without exaggeration, one of the best balanced individuals I’ve met in my life. So, I was immediately taken aback by the designation of suicide, simply because I knew my brother inside and out.”
As it turned out, there were logical holes in the official account of Colonel Sabow’s so-called suicide. These, combined with the discrepancy between what Dr. Sabow knew his brother to be and the idea of the man committing suicide, led Dr. Sabow into an investigation of his brother’s death. He knew in his heart he could do no less.
Colonel Sabow’s “suicide” and its aftermath have turned up far-ranging ramifications. As this special in-depth investigation will show, an unreported secret network of CIA agents was involved in illicit drug traffic from Mena, Arkansas, and dozens of other small airports around the country, the illegal sale of C-130 aircraft from the Forest Service, and the untimely deaths of investigative reporters and pilots. These agents were also involved with one of the largest drug trafficking operations coming into the country and illegal arms going out of the country.
Events Leading to Colonel Sabow’s Death
Dr. Sabow begins his account of the events preceding his brother’s death in late 1990. That was when Chief of Staff Colonel Joseph Underwood came under investigation, allegedly as the result of an anonymous phone call to the Department of Defense’s fraud and abuse hotline. While Colonel Sabow was in Minneapolis due to a family crisis, he received a phone call from Colonel Underwood. They discussed the fact that the Inspector General of the Marine Corps, Hollis Davison, and three assistants, had arrived on base, in El Toro, California. Underwood stated that he (Underwood) was under investigation for the illegal use of government aircraft.
After the call, Colonel Sabow explained to his brother David that Underwood’s investigation probably had to do with taking some golf clubs along on a training flight. When David asked if this was a serious offense, Jimmy replied that it wasn’t; it was, in fact, rather commonplace. When you went out on a training flight, he explained to the doctor, you took equipment with you. If you played tennis, you took tennis rackets; if you read, you took books; and if you were a golfer, you took golf clubs. Jimmy went on to explain that Colonel Underwood was a champion golfer who played in Marine Corps tournaments. At this point, James did not seem to be overly concerned.
The Inspector General’s visit took place in the middle of Operation Desert Shield and right at the beginning of Desert Storm. Why the Marine Corps would send the Inspector General’s team to the California base at that particular time to investigate Underwood for taking golf clubs along on a flight remains a mystery, for, after all, Underwood was chief of staff.
On January 12, 1991, Colonel Underwood was relieved of his duties as chief of staff. A day later, Colonel Sabow returned to El Toro, and learned of Underwood’s dismissal. He called his close friend Bill Callahan. Both men were sure that something else was going on because many of the allegations seemed trivial, commonplace, and not at all deserving of dismissal.
In the days following Underwood’s dismissal, many officers were interviewed, but Colonel Sabow was not one of them. He found it odd that no one was talking to him. On January 16, General W.T. Adams informed Colonel Sabow that he, Sabow, was under investigation by the Inspector General, who had requested his presence at the legal department the next day.
Colonel Sabow immediately sought legal help and was assigned to Captain Paul McBride, a young attorney in El Toro’s legal department. Since no allegations had been made against Sabow, McBride advised him not to make any statements to the Inspector General during their meeting.
On January 17, Colonel Sabow and Captain McBride arrived at the Law Center and met with the Inspector General and his staff. Colonel Sabow was informed that he was under investigation for the alleged misuse of government aircraft. The meeting lasted ten minutes. When Colonel Sabow left the room he was immediately met by an aide who directed him to General Adams’ office across the street. General Adams relieved Colonel Sabow of his duties. The entire scenario was obviously prearranged, as there was no time for the Inspector General’s office to discuss the situation with General Adams.
Colonel Sabow informed his staff of the news, collected his personal belongings, and left. No sooner had he arrived home when military personnel entered his premises and removed his autovan phone system and cellular phone.
Colonel Sabow could not comprehend why he was being treated like a criminal after he had devoted his entire life to the Marine Corps. His wife believed that some terrible mistake had been made that would soon be righted. After all, her husband, a loyal officer, had a sterling reputation. But much to Colonal and Mrs. Sabow’s dismay, no one called to tell them that an error had been made.
Colonel Sabow met several times with his defense attorney, Captain McBride, over the next four days and learned that no formal allegations had been made against him. Several general areas of inquiry were provided by the Inspector General, but any allegations against him in these areas Sabow could easily refute through log books, signed orders, and other hard data.
Only one area was not covered by hard data–the transportation of several unauthorized insignificant articles to his son in Spokane, Washington. The articles, which included two posters, several carpet remnants, a pair of twenty-year-old stereo speakers, and two plastic beer advertisements, had no monetary value. The Inspector General’s office repeatedly insisted on referring to these items as furniture. Captain McBride believed that further investigation was to be carried out on Colonel Underwood, but not on Colonel Sabow.
On January 18, the Inspector General’s team handed over their allegations to General Adams. That evening, General Adams, General Davison, and General J.K. Davis, a retired Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, met for supper at Adams’ residence. The following day, Davison returned to Washington.
On Monday, January 21, 1991, Colonel Sabow met with Colonel Underwood and a mutual friend, Archibald Scott. Scott quoted Colonel Sabow as saying, “Quitters never win and winners never quit.”
When James Sabow returned home, his wife, Sally, recalls, he was white as a ghost. He was obviously upset but did not want to talk about it. An hour later, Underwood stopped by and repeatedly tried to talk Jimmy into accepting an early retirement to avoid a court-martial. Jimmy objected strongly. At this, Underwood became quite angry. Sally stated, “I have never seen such a vicious face as Joe’s when Jimmy said he would not retire and would take the entire matter to a court-martial if necessary. Underwood jumped up and said, “You’ll never go to a court-martial, and I mean never!”
Jimmy telephoned General J.K. Davis to get some advice. He assumed that the general did not know about his situation. Davis never once mentioned his prior Friday dinner with Generals Adams and Davison where he obviously would have learned of the allegations against Colonel Sabow. General Davis later did admit to Dr. Sabow that Jimmy intended to demand a court-martial to clear his name. He spoke to Jimmy the night before his death and indicated that Jimmy was in good spirits. Yet no one ever questioned him after the death regarding Jimmy’s state of mind.
Colonel Sabow’s Death
Dr. Sabow relates what happened the day of his brother’s death:
“Sabow arose between 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. Sally did not feel well and remained in bed and dozed. She was aware of many telephone calls while she lay resting.
“Deirdre [Colonel Sabow’s daughter] left for school at 7:20 a.m. She had talked with her father while she prepared her lunch. He seemed cheerful, talkative, and relaxed. She observed him as having already showered and shaved.
“Sally joined her husband in the living room just after Deirdre left for school. He showed Sally the morning newspaper, which contained an article about Colonel Underwood being relieved of his command. Underwood had called Sabow at about 7:00 a.m. and told him of the article. He also stated that Jimmy would be in the news, the very next day. When Sabow told Sally of Underwood’s warning, Sally said this was absurd, for Underwood had no way of knowing what would appear in the following day’s newspaper.”
Colonel Sabow’s lawyer, Captain McBride, recalls three separate telephone conversations he had with his client that morning. The last one was made at 8:10 a.m., and lasted ten minutes. In a later conversation with Dr. Sabow and in a letter to General Adams, McBride described Sabow’s attitude as being appropriately concerned about his situation, but as not being desperate. (This is important because it directly contradicts statements made by Marine Corps investigators.)
“At 8:30 a.m.,” Dr. Sabow reports, “Sally finished talking to Sue Bloomer, the wife of a retired general. She checked her time, because she wished to attend Mass at the Catholic church located a short distance off the base. She explained to Jimmy that since it was already 8:30 she would miss most of the mass but that she would go anyway and receive Holy Communion.”
“Exactly at the moment when she was opening the front door to leave, the phone rang and she stopped to observe Colonel Sabow, who was sitting in his leather easy-chair in front of the TV, which was approximately twelve feet from the front door. Colonel Sabow answered, saying, ‘Colonel Sabow…[pause]…Colonel Sabow…[pause]…This is Colonel Sabow.’ What was further said by Jimmy is unknown, for just at that moment, Sally closed the door behind her as she left for Mass. Mysteriously, the one who placed this final call to Colonel Sabow has never acknowledged making it. That call was made just minutes before Colonel Sabow died, and consequently identification of the caller was of the utmost importance. All other calls made to Sabow earlier that morning have been identified.”
Dr. Sabow stresses strongly that the fact speaks for itself. “The caller was involved in the murder. The caller gave Sabow a message which caused him to go into his backyard and lock his two dogs in the garage. However, first he put the TV on mute, which he often did if he intended to momentarily return.”
Dr. Sabow also explains that Colonel Underwood, Jimmy’s next-door neighbor, was afraid of the Sabows’ German shepherd. So before Underwood would visit his neighbor he would telephone him and have him secure Nika in the garage.
At the exact time that Jimmy received his final phone call, a meeting was in progress in the base commander, General Adams’, office. Present were Adams, the new Chief of Staff, Colonel Williams, Colonel Lucas, the chief legal officer, and Captain Betsy Sweat, the publicity officer. They had been summoned for an 8:00 a.m. meeting.
Lucas stated that the meeting was to discuss the potential for bad publicity that could emerge from the newspaper article about Colonel Joe Underwood. However, since the article had only just appeared in the Orange County Register that morning, it’s unlikely, if not impossible, for that to have been the reason for that gathering. Except for General Adams, all the others lived off base, and even if they had been notified immediately after the newspaper delivery, there simply would not have been enough time to gather them at 8 a.m.
Dr. Sabow goes on: “Lucas recalls being notified on Monday evening about the meeting, but he can’t recall by whom. Furthermore, since Monday was Martin Luther King Day, it was a federal holiday and the base was, for all practical purposes, closed. It would have been highly unlikely for a leak of the Underwood article to have been made on Monday, January 21, under these circumstances. Hence, it must be assumed that the meeting was called for other than the expressed purpose and probably by General Adams himself. If so, a possible, if not probable, explanation was to establish an alibi.
It has been acknowledged that the Colonel’s death occurred between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. During that time frame, Sally was attending Mass, General Adams was at a meeting in his office, and Colonel Underwood was at his home next door to the Sabow house. It is presumed that Colonel Sabow, who had just been on the telephone, had gone into his back yard, put the dogs in the garage, and was intending to return to his living room to resume viewing the reporting on the Gulf war. He never made it!”
“Sally arrived home at 9:30 a.m.,” Dr. Sabow explains. “She noticed that the television was on mute and called for her husband, but there was no response. Out on the patio, she saw him laying on the grass. Sally ran to him, placed her arms around his head, and felt a large swelling.”
She immediately ran next door to get help from Underwood. As she went in she exclaimed that Jimmy had shot himself. Sally never once mentioned that her husband was in the backyard, yet Underwood went directly to the backyard gate and confirmed the death at a distance of over 40 feet.
Underwood claims not to have heard the 12-gauge shotgun blast due to noise from air traffic and the television. Records show no air traffic at this time, and the TV was kept exceptionally low due to Mrs. Underwood’s sensitivity to sound.
Underwood immediately called General Adams at headquarters even though it was an hour before the general normally arrived. The general notified the provost martial, Major Goodrow and his deputy, Captain Fouquer, by radio, and they were the first to arrive on the scene. The radio dispatch was intercepted by Sergeant Randy Robinson, an M.P. patrolling the vicinity. He was the next to arrive at the scene.
Robinson observed several Naval Investigation Service personnel handling the weapon without gloves. He also found the ammunition closed up in a garage cabinet with two shells missing. But the ammunition was photographed as if it was strewn on the floor.
Suspicion of Murder
Several hours after learning of his brother’s death, Dr. Sabow called Underwood in an attempt to make sense of the apparent suicide. The colonel mistakenly thought that the call was from another David Sabow, Jimmy’s son. When the doctor corrected him, explaining that he was Jimmy’s brother, not his son, the colonel changed his entire demeanor. Responses to inquiries became cold and calculated, Dr. Sabow reports, and Underwood hesitated before answering even simple questions.
Finally, David caught the colonel in an outright lie. When David asked, “What, my God, happened that my brother would have taken his life?” Underwood replied that Colonel Sabow had just come under investigation for the illegal use of aircraft. David told the colonel he understood that he (Underwood), was the one under investigation, and Underwood said that Colonel Sabow was too. David then said, “For God’s sake, Jimmy was third in command, and you were second. What happened to General Adams? Doesn’t he take care of you guys?” To this, Underwood replied that General Adams and Jimmy were very, very close friends.
That statement immediately put up a red flag, as far as David was concerned. The doctor knew that his brother was not a friend of Adams, and that, in fact, he did not respect him. Colonel Sabow had even described General Adams as a disgrace to the Marine Corps. So David knew immediately that Underwood was lying. Within hours, he went from wondering why his brother committed suicide to a firm suspicion of foul play.
This impression was strengthened during the funeral, when David had a chance to speak to Underwood in person. The first thing he noticed was that Underwood did not want him to speak to Mrs. Underwood alone. He surmised that Underwood was afraid that his wife would contradict his account of what took place on the morning of the Colonel’s death. Over the phone, for example, Underwood had told David that his wife had a series of seizures on the morning of the murder. Yet, Sally Sabow says that when she ran into the Underwood house after discovering Jimmy’s body, she found Mrs. Underwood sitting up and watching television.
Further information implicating Underwood’s involvement was collected on the way to the funeral. David rode in the van driven by Underwood. This allowed him the opportunity to interview him. Underwood talked about how he had told Colonel Sabow to move his guns from a rack in the garage to his son, David’s, vacant bedroom. He specifically mentioned to Jimmy that someone was going to walk into the garage and take his gun since the garage door was often left open. Underwood noted that the shotgun was a special gift from his father and that he ought to move it to a safer location. Sally overheard the conversation. This means that Underwood was one of the few people who actually knew where the shotgun was kept. He also knew where the ammunition was located and that it was left in a cabinet in the garage.
Underwood went on to state that it was a terrible thing to be under investigation by the military. David asked what this meant since Jimmy had only just come under investigation. Joe Underwood replied that back in 1980 and 1981 he had been the target of an NIS (Naval Investigation Service) investigation.
David continued to question Underwood about being under investigation. He learned that Underwood had been stationed in Panama at the time he was accused of smuggling somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000 worth of contraband into this country. The NIS had conducted a 10-month investigation of Underwood and then suddenly dropped it “for unknown reasons.”
Something that seemed strange to David at the funeral was that right after the requiem mass, none of the high command or field grade officers came up to him, his brother Tom, or their wives to express condolences. It appeared as if they wanted to stay away.
So after one day in El Toro, David Sabow became highly suspicious, if not convinced, of foul play in his brother’s death. He came to believe that something very bad was going on, and resolved to find evidence of his brother’s murder. He knew he had to do so in a truly scientific manner because the authorities were going to dismiss him as simply a bereaved brother.
Meeting with the Military
Following his brother’s death, David sought cooperation from the Naval Investigation Service and from the legal department at El Toro. But no cooperation was forthcoming. After a month and a half of frustration with the military channels of information, he set up a meeting with a journalist from the Los Angeles Times. General Adams became aware of the planned meeting, and begged David to meet with him first. This was the first time that David had heard from the military. David agreed to the meeting only if several others would be present: Colonel Lucas, the head of the legal department; General David Shuter; and General J.K. Davis, retired Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps (’83-’87). General Adams said that he would comply with these terms.
On March 9, 1991, David and his brother’s widow, Sally, attended the meeting. Several Marines, including generals, were there. Colonel Lucas, however, was conspicuously absent. This disturbed David, who believed that Lucas had information critical to his search. In his place was a man by the name of Wayne Rich, a supposedly retired, but reactivated, Marine. At the time, David did not know Rich’s importance to the meeting.
The meeting, Dr. Sabow reports, turned out to be nothing more than an attempt at intimidation. For five hours, he and Sally sat dumbfounded as Adams and Rich slandered Dr. Sabow’s dead brother. James Sabow was accused of felony, of falsifying documents, and of other serious crimes. No one came to the dead colonel’s defense. Only General Shuter reminded those present that Colonel Sabow had been found guilty of absolutely nothing, and that these charges were only unproved allegations. In the face of intimidation, however, he did not go on to defend the colonel’s reputation of incorruptibility. It became obvious, David says, that Adams and Wayne Rich had conspired to concoct a scenario of lies that would paint the dead colonel with a brush of disgrace. They hoped to shame the colonel’s widow and brother into silence.
During the meeting, General Adams pointed to Sally and demanded that she not talk to his ex-wife. Sally, taken by surprise, countered that she would talk to anyone she pleased. Adams then warned her to stop spreading rumors that he had some involvement in her husband’s death. But up until that point, Sally had never considered this idea; she believed her husband’s death was a suicide.
David asked General Adams why Colonel Sabow was implicated for the misuse of government aircraft. Adams suggested that he did a lot of flying with Underwood. David says that this was an outright lie–for several reasons. First, Colonel Sabow was not allowed to be the first officer of the type of planes they were flying. This is because he was a jet pilot and a fighter pilot, but had never qualified on small aircraft.
Also, Underwood was in a somewhat similar situation. Underwood was overweight, hypertensive, and on medication for a prostate condition. He did not pass his physical, and consequently, for a great deal of the time that Colonel Sabow was stationed in El Toro, Underwood was not allowed to be the first pilot. Therefore, the two could not fly together. In the course of reviewing Underwood’s flight record, Adams claimed to have seen Sabow’s name a lot, when that could not be the case. He could only have flown with a qualified first officer.
After four hours, General Adams dismissed everyone but the NIS agents. David insisted on speaking to them privately, which irritated the general. David had asked for a full report to back up their official determination of suicide. But it appeared that General Adams was determined to keep this information from him. After all this, he was not even able to obtain autopsy or fingerprint information from the NIS forensic experts.
The First Real Help
Three months subsequent to the meeting, David obtained information from a secret source that he developed. The information included copies of several documents.
The most damaging evidence was a five-page hand-written summary by Wayne Rich. By this time, David knew that Rich was an Assistant Attorney General from Washington, who replaced Colonel Lucas at the March 9 meeting. These notes were written by Rich during a telephone conversation with the deputy SJA in Washington, Colonel Lang, on the day before the El Toro meeting, and included statements such as: “We are about to try to convince Sabow’s brother that his brother was a crook and so big a crook…”
The packet also contained an order from one legal officer to another regarding the investigation of ways to have Dr. Sabow’s medical license revoked.
There was also a copy of a memorandum written by the head legal officer, SJA Colonel Lucas. The memorandum was in reference to the peculiar behavior of Lieutenant General Hollis Davison, the Inspector General of the Marine Corps, during an investigation into Colonel Sabow and Colonel Underwood at El Toro from January 10 until January 17, 1991, days before the murder. Lucas talked about the repetitiveness of the Inspector General’s questions, and his peculiar behavior while conducting his interviews. The last paragraph of Lucas’ memorandum stated that he put this into his personal files to protect himself for the future. He stated that if the Inspector General’s behavior became public, it would be very bad for the Marine Corps.
There was also a memorandum from Captain McBride to Colonel Lucas. The memo reported conversations between McBride and Dr. Sabow. This order was from Rich or Adams ordering McBride to divulge confidential information, and violated the trust of the attorney-client relationship.
The packet also included transcribed responses of “witnesses” interviewed by the I.G. in an attempt to depict Colonel Sabow’s misconduct. There was a glaring omission in the transcription–the questions asked of those “witnesses.” David learned that at least one person interviewed, Major Bob Friend, would not sign the transcript because the statements did not reflect his responses.
The JAGMAN Reinvestigation
In the fall of 1991, David contacted Captain Tony Verducci, a Marine Corps officer at El Toro. Verducci had authored the first Judge Advocate General Manual Investigation (JAGMAN), and David appealed to him to reopen a second one. He was also handling his sister-in-law’s attempt to obtain death benefits from the Veteran’s Administration. The V.A. was withholding money on the grounds that Colonel Sabow died in a manner “not becoming of a Marine Corps officer.” Sally trusted Captain Verducci to clear up this problem.
Verducci appealed to Brigadier General Drax Williams, who had replaced General Adams. Williams immediately assigned Verducci to the case. After two days of getting things organized, Verducci was dumbfounded when Williams removed him from the case, stating that the investigation was near completion.
The reinvestigation was reassigned to other legal officers who were not from El Toro, but from adjacent bases. According to Verducci, Colonel Pearcy and Captain Bowe had no previous knowledge of the case. Their entire inquiry and analysis spanned approximately 2« days. During that time, they never left the legal department, and they never consulted Verducci. They never even talked to major players in the affair, including Underwood and Adams. Nor did they visit the crime scene. Their reinvestigation relied on two interviews and old NIS reports. Basically, they shuffled papers.
The sizable document that resulted from this supposed reinvestigation was approved by the appropriate people in Washington. Yet, this report is “replete with misstatements, illogical conclusions, and outright lies,” according to David. Indeed, there were accusations of guilt against a man who was never formally charged, and, further, who could not defend himself against the charges. These are the basic conclusions of the reinvestigation:
Colonel Sabow was desperate.
Colonel Sabow was guilty of misconduct.
Colonel Sabow was guilty of conduct unbecoming a Marine Corps officer.
The transparency of the lies was obvious. For instance, the report included a letter by Captain McBride, who had spoken to Colonel Sabow minutes before his death. In the letter, McBride described Sabow as appropriately concerned “but not desperate.” The report contradicted his statement by saying that Colonel Sabow was desperate. Strangely, McBride’s letter was attached as part of the evidence, an apparent ploy to make suicide appear more plausible.
The specific allegations of misconduct against Colonel Sabow were revealed for the first time during the JAGMAN reinvestigation. They claim that he made several illegal flights. David gave the material to Colonel Sabow’s best friend, Colonel Bill Callahan, who disproved the allegations by obtaining the relevant flight records, orders, and flight plans. Callahan showed conclusively that each and every allegation was unfounded. For example, Colonel Sabow was said to have flown to his ranch for business rather than for a training flight. Yet Sabow never even owned a ranch. His in-laws had owned a ranch south of Tucson, but sold it in 1985 due to illness. According to the report, Colonel Sabow took these illegal flights in 1990. At times, Colonel Sabow would fly to a nearby base to fulfill required training hours, and stay over at his in-laws to visit, but he would never do so if friends and family were there to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The Marine Corps and the NIS twisted the colonel’s caring behavior to discredit him.
Another allegation was that Colonel Sabow went to Phoenix to pick up Callahan to fly him back to El Toro. What actually happened was that Colonel Sabow was assigned to Yuma, Arizona to attend a change of command ceremony for an officer. On his way back, he was to stop in Phoenix, and then return to El Toro. Colonel Sabow knew that Colonel Callahan had been ordered back to El Toro, and that the Marine Corps would have to pay for his commercial flight. Since Colonel Sabow had to come that way, he let Callahan know that he could make the flight back with him. So this “illegal flight” amounted to transporting a friend back to the base, and saving the Marine Corps money!
The report also claimed that Captain Verducci voluntarily removed himself from the reinvestigations. Upon seeing this, Verducci was appalled. He told David that this was an outright lie. “I wanted to investigate this case to get to the bottom of it,” he said. Commenting on the report, Verducci added, “Not only is this a mass of lies, it is a gross violation of law!”
Irrefutable Evidence of Murder
After ten months, David was finally able to obtain the autopsy report and other forensic materials. As he reviewed the material, he slowly began to understand why it had been withheld: The reports contained hard, irrefutable evidence of murder. These are some of the findings:
Colonel Sabow was killed by a 12-gauge shotgun blast that made contact with the soft palate. This is difficult to fathom for two reasons. First, unlike the relatively insensitive hard palate, the soft palate reacts negatively to touch. Contact with the soft palate initiates a gag reflex in a conscious person. Second, the soft palate is narrow, causing David to wonder, “How could my brother have put the shotgun up against his soft palate, when the barrel is literally as wide as the soft palate?” This evidence suggests that Colonel Sabow was unconscious during the time of the shot.
The autopsy report states that the brain was literally pulpified from the shooting. It was completely lacerated and turned to pulp. Yet, the autopsy report states that Colonel Sabow’s lungs were filled with aspirated (inhaled) blood. This would indicate that the colonel was able to breathe without a brain or brain stem, an impossibility. Several minutes of coordinated breathing were necessary to fill the lungs with blood. After the brain was destroyed in this manner, the colonel would have been unable to take a single gasp. It proved that his brother was rendered unconscious and breathed for several minutes before the shooting destroyed his brain.
The report indicated that there was no exit wound. Therefore, the entire explosive force of the 12-gauge discharge was contained within the confines of the skull itself, except for the “blowback” out the mouth. The fact that the entire explosive energy was contained in the brain and rendered the cervical spinal cord functionless precludes any chance of even a slight gasp, let alone several minutes of coordinated respirations. So it is far more likely that a powerful blow to the head rendered Sabow unconscious but breathing for several minutes before the shooting. Autopsy photos and interviews of Sally Sabow and Cheryl Baldwin, an NIS agent in charge of investigation, indicate a large bulge on the back of the colonel’s head, an obvious sign of external trauma. The military has consistently denied this evidence.
Colonel Sabow s fingerprints were not on the gun. Yet, he would have touched the gun several times in a suicide scenario.
No blood was found on the gun or on any portion of the colonel’s body below his upper chest. Yet, from the way he was discovered, it was assumed that the colonel shot himself while sitting in a patio chair. David states, “If he had bent over to stretch his right arm to discharge the weapon and to hold the gun barrel in his mouth with the left hand, the blowback would have drenched the intervening clothing. The posture would have placed his face with mouth open directly over his chest, torso, thighs, legs, and feet. But there was no blood below the chest, none over his bathrobe, none on his pajama bottoms, none over his athletic socks, and none on his slippers. But even more impossible and more ridiculous–not one drop of blood was on the gun!”
Furthermore, photographs demonstrated that the ring and small finger of the left hand were covered with blood, but that there was absolutely none on the thumb, index, middle fingers, and back of his hand. If he held the gun in his mouth, his left hand, the back of the hand, thumb, and forearm, including the gun, would be covered with blood. David states that this is extremely important because the NIS said that Colonel Sabow was sitting in a lawn chair holding the gun in his mouth against the soft palate, his left hand grasping the barrel. He then supposedly reached down with his right hand to depress the trigger with his right thumb or index finger. If the weapon had been discharged in that position, blood would have blown back, covering his thumb and index finger, and the web of the hand and the gun. But there was no blood there whatsoever. David points out, “Indeed, when you look at the way he was lying, the ring and little fingers were fairly close to his mouth, and the left forearm was right in front of his mouth.”
After careful study of the material, evidence of homicide was obvious. In fact, it was so apparent that David at times doubted his own judgment. To see if he had been making some mistake in interpretation, David realized he should consult with respected experts. He did contact two such people. One was a leading specialist in the neurological control of respiration, and the other an authority in ballistics trauma.
Dr. Jack Feldman is chairman of the Department of Neuroscience at UCLA. He lectures worldwide and has published over 500 treatises on how the nervous system controls breathing. Upon studying Colonel Sabow’s autopsy reports, Dr. Feldman asked, how did blood enter the lungs? As David had thought, blood in the lungs was a sign that the colonel had been breathing for several minutes before he died. Furthermore, the body was discovered laying on its right side, and blood was found in both lungs. A strong, coordinated breathing effort would have been necessary for the blood to travel uphill to the left lung. Dr. Feldman concluded that since respiration requires an intact brainstem and spinal cord, and since the blast produced massive damage to this area, the colonel would not have been able to generate respiratory movements after the gunshot. On June 20,1994, Dr. Feldman wrote and signed an affidavit that painted the most likely scenario:
“Colonel Sabow was rendered unconscious or immobile by a blow to the head that fractured the base of the skull, causing bleeding into the pharynx. Breathing continued after this injury, aspirating blood into the lung. Sometime later, a shotgun was placed in the mouth and triggered (by another party), causing death and obscuring any evidence of prior injury. This scenario is consistent with the evidence available.”
Dr. Feldman wrote to David that the investigation should be reopened and the evidence reexamined to explore alternatives to the conclusion that Colonel Sabow committed suicide. “It seems to me,” he said, “that the evidence as presented in the autopsy is inconsistent with the scenario that Colonel Sabow placed a shotgun in his mouth, shot himself, fell to the ground, and wound up with a significant amount of aspirated blood.”
David next approached Dr. Martin Fackler with the same evidence. Dr. Fackler founded the Wound Ballistics Laboratory at Letterman Army Institute of Research at the Presidio in San Francisco, and directed it for ten years. Newly retired from the army after 30 years of service, he was the Department of Defense’s expert on wounds. In his report to David, Dr. Fackler’s comments closely echoed those of Dr. Feldman. These were his main conclusions:
“The position of the shotgun (under his body) and the lack of gross blood on the front of the white garments that Colonel Sabow was wearing at the time of his death make suicide appear, to me, unlikely….”
“The amount of blood, and edema, found at autopsy in Colonel Sabow’s lungs would seem, to me, to indicate that he took at least a dozen breaths after the shot. The structures destroyed by the shot, however, would seem to preclude this: the autopsy report states ‘No intact brainstem, including midbrain, pons, or cerebral peduncle is identified'”….
“The fact that none of Colonel Sabow’s fingerprints were found on the shotgun seems strange to me, but the techniques of fingerprinting are out of my field of expertise. One of the reasons given, however, for the lack of fingerprints–that the barrel gets so hot that any fingerprints on it would be burned off–is simply absurd. This is within my area of expertise: I have handled many shotguns immediately after they have been fired–the barrels are not even hot to the touch.”
Dr. Fackler says the strongest evidence of murder is the small amount of blood found on the victim. He says, “Since no blood went out the back of his head, I would expect more of it to blow back and be over things in the front of him. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the most supportive evidence to support Dr. Sabow’s beliefs.”
Deputy Sheriff Freiberg of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, whose field of expertise is fingerprint evidence, was also contacted. According to the JAGMAN reinvestigation, Freiberg said that it’s not infrequent for no fingerprints to be found on a shotgun if the individual washed his hands with strong detergent prior to the use of the shotgun. It further refers to him as stating that the heat of even a single shot commonly obliterates fingerprints on a shotgun.
When he found out what was attributed to him, Freiberg became incensed and denied making the statement. Then he vaguely recalled someone from El Toro calling him and concocting an imaginary scenario of a suicide in which the weapon was devoid of prints. Freiberg’s response to the far-fetched situation was, “I suppose anything is possible.” He was given no factual information surrounding Colonel Sabow’s death, and was only asked to render an opinion on some hypothetical, unlikely situation.
In Search of Justice
Gene Wheaton, a retired military investigator, learned about David from an article in the Los Angeles Times, and offered his help. Wheaton began by educating Dr. Sabow on dark forces within the government, the unelected “shadow government” that resorts to any means to exert control, including, when all else fails, threat of financial ruin and assassination.
At first, David did not understand how this affected him, but as he delved into matters he could not help coming to the conclusion that “Colonel Sabow was murdered by fellow Marines, and a conspiracy to cover up the murder involved officers locally and at Marine Headquarters, Navy headquarters, the NCIS, the Department of Justice, including the FBI, and the Orange County Coroner’s Department. It probably also included at least one federal court judge.”
At one point, the Marine Corps contacted Wheaton about the Sabow affair, and David sent him to Washington, where he met with senior field grade officers and gave them an account of the evidence proving murder. He also let the Marine Corps know that Dr. Sabow was not out to ruin the Corps, since his brother had served with them for almost 30 years. He was out to get to the bottom of the murder.
Wheaton let the Marine Corps know that Dr. Sabow was available for discussion and willing to fly to Washington at his own expense and to cooperate fully. But no one ever called.
Dr. Sabow appealed to the Department of Defense, the Secretary of the Navy, and even FBI Director William Sessions. No one would listen. He commonly received form letters with words to this effect: We have reviewed all of the in-depth investigations that have been carried out in great detail, and we find no evidence of foul play.
David gave up on the military and sought private channels. He had an equally difficult time finding a lawyer. No one wanted to help. They claimed it was too difficult to win such a case. Several attorneys said that the Feres doctrine prevented servicemen or their families from suing the government. It soon became obvious that trying to get a law firm to take on a case involving the government was almost impossible.
Finally, David found a small law firm in southern California that was willing to work with him. The firm was having financial difficulties and would not work on a contingency basis. They would proceed on a per hour basis only. David accepted the terms as they were the only law firm willing to take on the case. They prepared a Federal Torts Claim Act (FTCA) against the government.
Dr. Sabow requested partial discovery because he knew that full discovery would not be granted. The government would become too vulnerable. But the judge in the Santa Ana federal district court, Alice Marie Stodler, refused to grant the plaintiffs even limited discovery.
In the meantime, the Department of Defense was ordered by Congress to reinvestigate certain deaths due to an act signed by President Clinton in early 1994. Due to David’s persistence, the DOD knew that they would have to at least make a pseudo attempt at a reinvestigation. In March 1994, Special Investigator Larry Swails was assigned to the case. Swails was from the Division of Criminal Investigation Services (DCIS) for the Inspector General of the DOD.
Swails interviewed several key people, including Colonel Sabow’s immediate family, Lt. Col. Bill Callahan, Captain Anthony Verducci, Randy Robinson, Dr. Jack Feldman, Gene Wheaton, and individuals from the Orange County Coroner’s office.
Many of these people had key information to offer. Robinson, for example, had witnessed tampering with the patio chair’s position at the scene of the death, and discovered the ammunition inside a garage cabinet. He saw the same ammunition photographed on the garage floor to make it appear that it had been found in that location. Gene Wheaton provided Swails with much evidence of murder. Captain Verducci told Swails that Dr. Sabow was the only one who had ever investigated the case, and that he had overwhelming evidence of foul play. But Swails was only interested in finding out what these people knew about covert activities. He was not interested in the events of the death and the material that pointed to murder.
Needless to say, the FTCA claim was thrown out of court by Federal Judge Alice Marie Stodler. And this was despite the fact that Dr. Sabow was able to prove that no thorough investigation was ever done.
Sabow learned that a huge legal team was working against him. The Justice Department sent a Mr. Zipperstein from Washington, D.C., to southern California to coordinate the efforts of the government against him.
David summed it up: “The end result was that we were denied our day in court….The decision of the judge was at best outrageous in addition to being unconstitutional.”
In October 1994, Larry Swails finally interviewed Dr. Sabow. When Swails started his investigation in March 1994, Sabow expected that he would be the first person interviewed. He called Swails several times and asked why he was not seen. After all, he had autopsy material, photographs, and other documents. He had more than an opinion to offer–he had the hard evidence. Despite this, Sabow was the last to be summoned.
A week before the interview, Swails phoned David and requested Sally Sabow’s presence at the meeting. Sabow surmised that this would be an exit interview and did not bother to tell Sally about it.
A couple of days prior to the meeting, Sabow invited a close friend to sit in on the talks. Judge Marshall Young was a prominent judge and a past president of the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada.
On October 22, 1994, Larry Swails and his assistant, Nancy Sundervan, came to David’s home. The investigators immediately started questioning Sabow about his knowledge of covert activities, and his sources of documentation. Their questions were direct: Who are your sources? Who supplied you with information from headquarters? And so on. David told them that he was not interested in this type of conversation. He reminded them that there was only one reason for the interview, and that was to establish the manner of death of Colonel Sabow.
The two were clearly at odds in their intent. David would start to present his evidence, but before he could finish a sentence, Swails would say, “no, that’s not quite right. It’s this way.” Judge Young interrupted several times saying that he didn’t understand the way the interview was being conducted. They had come all this way to find out what Dr. Sabow knew regarding the manner of his brother’s death. Yet any time Dr. Sabow opened his mouth to present a piece of evidence, they would counter it by saying that their experts say otherwise. This was not a court, Judge Young reminded them, but a fact-finding mission.
Sabow insisted on going over the evidence point by point, and the two so-called investigators continued to resist. They were not open to any evidence that did not support their point of view. The two were particularly disturbed by statements and autopsy photos regarding a large lump on the back of Colonel Sabow’s head, and by the idea that it was not likely that a person would hit himself over the head before shooting himself. According to David, whenever such an inconsistency arose, the two would ignore it, change the topic, or offer to show it to the FBI. At one point during the interview the investigators actually said that they were not going to consider any evidence that was not pointing toward suicide.
After Swails and Sundervan left, Judge Young told David that “I have never seen anything in my life like this, and I’ve been on the bench for over 30 years. I have never seen a capital crime proved so conclusively. You have proved murder in spades.” He went on to say, “But I want you to know, you’re dealing with evil people. And you make one grave mistake. You have faith in the judicial system. I don’t.”
Three or four days after the meeting, Gene Wheaton called Larry Swails to find out how the Rapid City investigation went. Gene had known Larry years before when he was a criminal investigator for the army. Swails answered that the meeting was “an absolute waste of time. All Dr. Sabow wanted to talk about was the investigation of his brother’s murder. He didn’t want to say anything about covert activities.”
Judge Young told David about a dedicated FBI agent, Bill Grode, and David was able to arrange a meeting with Grode. He expected their talk to last a half hour or so, but Grode was deeply interested and stayed for 3« hours. He took voluminous notes and left with copies of the evidence. In early January 1995, Grode called to set up another meeting.
At this meeting, Sabow started showing a magnetic resonance film demonstrating the extent of damage that would have occurred with a shotgun blast contacting the soft palate. But after a few words, Grode looked at him and said, “Dr. Sabow, that’s really interesting, but we know it’s homicide.” Sabow dropped his pointer and began to weep. This was the first time in four years that anybody in the government had acknowledged him.
Interestingly, Grode had said we instead of I. Subsequently, David learned that the other person was an Agent Fred Collins, head of the north central FBI district and stationed in Minneapolis. Together, Grode and he reviewed information before sending a report to Washington. David subsequently learned that from Washington it had been referred to the Los Angeles FBI bureau but that “it was too hot to handle” and sent back to Washington.
Dr. Sabow wrote a letter to the director of the FBI after not hearing anything for several months. The letter was detailed, and filled with hard evidence. A week or two later, Dr. Sabow received a letter from the Congressional liaison and public affairs officer for the FBI, a man by the name of Collingwood, stating, in essence, that the FBI had already conducted investigations into the matter in 1993, and had found absolutely no evidence of foul play. They were sorry that his brother was dead, but it was over. The FBI didn’t want any part of it.
David was devastated at this point. By this time, he had been stonewalled by the Marine Corps, the Secretary of the Navy, the Justice Department, and the FBI. He had written to Senators and Congressmen, and had received nothing except perfunctory responses, such as that they had given the material to the Marine Corps or to the Department of Defense, and they were looking into it. He could not get a major commitment from anybody.
His law firm did launch an appeal, which is in front of the court right now. It appears that it will be a year to a year-and-a-half before he will get a decision.
In the interim, David decided to go to Washington. He was fortunate in that he met Senator Tom Daschle, a man who he feels has the integrity and commitment to help him all the way. Upon seeing the evidence, Senator Daschle acknowledged its importance. Currently, his staff is working with David. With this help, David continues to pursue justice. His plan is to request a special Senate inquiry and a meeting with Janet Reno and Louis Free at which time they will demand a federal grand jury.
One thing is for sure: Dr. David Sabow is not going away. He is sure that it is only a matter of time before the truth will out, and Colonel Sabow’s name is cleared.
Pete Barbee and the Drug Connection
Dr. David Sabow’s investigation has proven without a shadow of a doubt that Colonel Sabow’s death was murder, not suicide. But why was he killed? Captain Pete Barbee, who has conducted investigations into drug trafficking at air bases for several years, claims to know.
Barbee was a mustang in the Marine Corps (a mustang is an officer who came up through the ranks). In 1985, Barbee was a Captain in the Marine Corps in Tustin, California, serving as a helicopter aircraft commander. Barbee was selected for a degree completion program, so he left the Marines for two years to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree at the University of California at Irvine.
During this time, Colonel Sabow became aware of drugs on the base. He and his staff decided to use undercover methods to find out how the drugs were getting there. Somebody recommended Barbee, who, as a mustang, had rapport with the troops. In the latter part of 1987, Colonel Sabow contacted Barbee and discussed his concern about drug trafficking within the El Toro and Tustin bases.
Investigations confirmed suspicions that drug activity was taking place. But the information uncovered was surprising. After much research, Barbee discovered chemicals used to make methamphetamine were being sold.
In 1987, Barbee graduated from the University of California at Irvine, and was assigned back to the Marine Corps in Tustin, where he continued to investigate and report on chemical trafficking. Colonel Sabow advised him to report to him and no one else.
Barbee learned that the chemicals red phosphorus and P2, a bluish liquid used for cleaning ships and aircraft for quality control, were being removed from the military stockpile and transferred through DRMO, the Defense Regional Management Office, and several NIS agents.
Barbee left the Marine Corps but he did stay in southern California, and therefore saw the newspaper articles about Colonel Sabow’s death in the Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register. When he read about the “suicide” he immediately said that that was impossible. He knew the death had something to do with drug interests. Barbee had a great respect for Colonel Sabow, and felt that he owed him a debt. He would repay the debt by continuing with the investigations in an attempt to find the killer. Barbee continued to go to DRMO auctions to watch what was happening, and to gather information and leads. In the back of his mind, he could hear the colonel’s words, “Trust no one.”
In 1993, Barbee moved to Fontana, close to Waters’ Country store, the center of massive and open drug dealing. Twelve to twenty drug dealers worked there seven days a week, and he could not understand why they were dealing so openly, and why nothing was being done to stop them. There were no drug busts made, and no police monitoring them. Yet everything from heroin to cocaine, speed, and pot were being sold and bringing in easily $50,000 to $70,000 a week.
Barbee became too visible. On the night of November 10, 1993, he was kidnaped, drugged, and left for dead in Ventura County. Several underlings who worked for drug lords Carlos Segura, Rudy Garza, and Augustine were responsible. They were major dealers and providers at Waters’ Country Store.
Barbee was discovered by the police, and after a short stay in the emergency room was taken to jail on drug charges. After getting out of jail, he obtained a gun, and continued his search. He slowly gathered more knowledge on why and how these dealers were allowed to operate with such impunity. He discovered a great deal of corruption.
With the backing of the Ventura sheriff’s office, Barbee was able to make an agreement with Mr. and Mrs. Waters. His goal was three-fold. He wanted to remove the debris that they had collected for over 40 years in back of Waters’ Country Store, to remove the drug dealers, and to remove the people who were living in the back of the store.
Barbee worked with the sheriff’s office for approximately three months, during which time he denied the drug dealers access, moved things around so that they weren’t familiar with their territory, and gave the sheriff’s department information about types of drugs and drug deals being made.
At the end of three months, a big raid took place, and the drug dealers were gone. Once they found out that Barbee had a lot of information, and that he was passing it along, Garza and Augustine saw to it that Barbee was badly beaten. This happened more than once. Guns were pulled on him, his head was cracked, and his nose was crushed.
After recovering, Barbee continued working. Garza was determined to put an end to his interference. He told several people that he was going to take Barbee down because of his connection with the sheriff, and because he had eliminated him from the drug scene. Barbee did not perceive this as an idle threat. Garza had a rap sheet three or four pages long filled with violent assaults, including murder.
On August 29, 1994, Garza attacked Barbee with a knife at his place of business. Barbee pushed Garza away and armed himself. Garza came at him again, and Barbee shot him four times in the head.
Several witnesses saw what Garza had done. Others heard Garza’s threats to kill Barbee. Unfortunately, the sheriff chose to ignore witnesses. They also ignored reports by emergency medical technicians who found Garza lying on the pavement, knife in hand. Barbee was arrested that night for first-degree murder, which shocked several police officers who had been working with him.
Barbee subsequently identified the district attorney in the Fontana Court as someone he frequently saw with Garza at Waters’ Country Store. He told the sheriff’s investigator, and co-defender investigator this information. They informed Barbee that they were doing an investigation into the prosecuting DA. They said that the situation would be worked out and that it would not be a problem–this was strictly a case of self-defense.
Barbee then learned that the DA was aware of the investigation. As a result, he had an even greater dislike of Barbee.
While in jail, Barbee was threatened and beaten. He was told he would be killed in jail. At one point, Barbee was moved from his cell block to another one, right next to Rudy Garza’s cousin, Eddie. Like his cousin, Eddie Garza was involved in a great deal of violence and drug trafficking.
In prison, Barbee has given information to the sheriff’s department concerning DRMO involvement in the sale and use of red phosphorus and P2. The information has panned out for them. Yet he has not received any help in return. They also have records of Barbee’s investigation with the sheriff’s department into the Garza crime family.
On November 17, 1994, Diane Barbee, Pete Barbee’s wife, saw Connie Chung’s Eye-to-Eye television program, which had a report about Dr. Sabow investigating the death of his brother. They phoned Pete to tell him about the show. Pete Barbee broke down in tears when he learned that someone else cared enough to investigate the murder. As a result, Dr. Sabow and Pete Barbee made contact.
Dr. Sabow informed Jim Willworth, an investigative reporter for Time magazine, about Barbee, and he subsequently interviewed him in depth several times. Willworth later told Dr. Sabow, “I’ve done this business for 28 years. This man is legitimate.” After Jim Willworth’s interview, the prosecution changed the charge against Barbee from first-degree murder to manslaughter. The reason given for the manslaughter charge: He had overreacted with his gun. Rather than fight this in court, Barbee pleaded no contest. (His attorney had said that they could fight it, but if they lost he could get up to a ten-year penalty. Believing the system to be corrupt, Barbee thought it best to serve for a lesser time, especially since the time served before he was given bail is included.)
So Barbee took the plea of manslaughter and has been sentenced to three years in state prison. The last time his wife, Diane, visited him, Barbee stated that he needed to talk about Colonel Sabow. He needed to get all the information to them so that he could repay the debt he owes. Diane says that her husband wants to verify that he brought up Colonel Sabow’s death long before he was incarcerated. He actually gave the information to the sheriff’s department, and they were supposed to have turned it over to other authorities, including the DEA. But nothing has been passed along. Also of interest is the fact that Barbee was interviewed by the FBI months ago, and has heard nothing from them since that time.
Some say that Barbee was arrested because of his insight into Colonel Sabow’s death and his knowledge of covert government operations. Not surprisingly, Barbee fears for his life. “There is a lot of corruption here in Fontana,” he says. “I am going up against a DA who has prostituted his position, and a judge who has prostituted his. The judge has eliminated evidence, and has lied about it. I am scared. I fear for my life, and my wife fears for hers. She has had to move. I need help, and I just pray that I can get it.”
Other Casualties of the Sabow Affair
The following additional individuals connected to the Sabow affair have met with strange misfortunes. Evidently, they knew too much.
Randy Robinson, the MP who witnessed evidence tampering at the death scene, was arrested two months after the murder, and charged with rape. The charge was then changed to the lesser one of adultery, for which he has served a six-month sentence. Captain Verducci, who acted in Robinson’s defense, felt that the whole affair was bizarre, because the alleged victims did not file a complaint and refused to testify in court.
Archibald Scott, a highly decorated colonel who heard Colonel Sabow exclaim to Underwood that “Quitters never win and winners never quit,” was accused of impersonating an officer. Scott took the case to court, and the decision has been reversed in his favor.
Captain Leslie Williams worked for Colonel Sabow and thought highly of him. She openly protested derogatory remarks against him. Despite a highly rated performance and recommendations for promotion by Colonel Sabow, Williams was “passed over” by the military and had to “get out.”
Provost Marshall Goodrow and deputy, Forquer, were the first on the scene when Sabow died. Both were given new assignments in the summer of 1991. One was sent to Okinawa and the other to Twenty-Nine Palms. They were “short-termed.”
Jack Chisom, the co-owner of T&G Aviation, who supplied C-130 and DC-7 operations in the Persian Gulf, was found dead in the Arizona desert as the result of a hit-and-run accident.
“Kevin,” a marine who retired in the summer of 1994, was at the home of some friends when ®MDBR¯Eye-to-Eye With Connie Chung®MDNM¯ appeared on television. The program contained a segment on the death of Colonel Sabow and included a reference to large quantities of drugs being delivered to military bases, and an interview with a pilot who was involved in these flights. The group of people watching the program were astounded. “Kevin” assured them that everything they saw was true. He himself had been ordered to load vast quantities of drugs onto airplanes with the idea that drugs would be used for sting operations. He was not supposed to discuss the matter with anyone. Later, David Sabow learned of him and tried to reach “Kevin” for an interview. Five days later, a secret source told him “Kevin’s” place of work and his unlisted phone number, but “Kevin” was dead. He was found hanging from the rafters of his parents’ barn.
Tom Wade was a computer specialist who accessed confidential records for the Inspector General during his bogus investigation in January 1991. He found that the MWR files had been purged, including contracts with proprietary airlines, which are suspected of being involved in illegal C-130 acquisitions and illicit drug traffic. Wade’s brutal death remains a mystery. He was shot in the head early on Christmas Day, 1994, as he was returning from Midnight Mass. As Wade’s colleague at El Toro, computer installation chief Felix Segovia, explains, Wade was a single parent living in an apartment complex. “He had a small daughter. He was going home Christmas Eve from services. He was on his way home to pick up some gifts to take back to the church…to give out to the kids, and he was accosted by a couple of individuals in the parking lot of his complex, and shot in the back of the head, execution-style. Nothing was taken from his car. His daughter was left in the car crying. And no one saw anything. And until 6 in the morning when finally someone heard his daughter crying, it was never reported to the police.”
Sergeant Felix Segovia is awaiting court-martial. He was a close friend of Tom Wade’s, and had filed a “wholesale theft of computer equipment” report after having found that hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of computers, hardware, and software were missing from the El Toro base.
Colonel Jerry Agenbroad was found hanged in the BOQ in El Toro, on Feb. 24, 1994, five days after a 60 Minutes segment on illegal acquisitions and use of C-130s. He was in charge of MWR and at one time had been the head of the Air Museum at El Toro.