THE STRANGE DEATH
OF COLONEL SABOW
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?
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.