The kIdnapping and murder of Adolph Coors III

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We have all heard of Coors beer and some of us probably drink it every once in a while. I do.

But not so many of us know the story and the drama behind the name.Adolph Coors stowed away to America at the age of 21 with a dream of brewing great beers. He realized that dream in 1873 on the banks of Clear Creek in Golden, Colorado.

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On February 9th 1960 the Grandson of Adolph Coors and heir, Adolph Coors III,disappeared while driving to work from his Morrison, Colorado, home.  the then chairman of the Golden, Colorado, brewery was kidnapped and held for ransom before being shot to death. Surrounding evidence launched one of the FBI’s largest manhunts: the search for Joe Corbett.

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On February 9, 1960, a milkman sounded his horn several times in an attempt to get the attention of the driver of a station wagon that was blocking the middle of the bridge over Turkey Creek, near Morrison, Colorado. When there was no response, he got out of his truck and walked to the vehicle—it was empty, but its engine was running and the radio playing. A few more beeps on the horn didn’t bring the driver back, so the milkman moved the car himself to the side of the road, noticing a reddish-brown stain on the bridge and a hat on the edge of the river bank below.

The milkman reported the matter to the local police, who quickly determined that the car belonged to Adolph Coors, III. Heir to the Coors Brewing Company fortune, Coors had left his house—not far from the bridge—that morning, but had not been seen since. Searchers soon spread out over the area looking for the missing 45-year-old father of four. In addition to the hat, a few objects belonging Coors were found below the bridge, but no other trace was found during the wider search.

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Twenty-four hours later, the FBI’s Denver Division entered the case to help Colorado authorities—with the passage of a day since Coors’ disappearance, the federal kidnapping statute could be invoked and the full investigative resources of the Bureau could be called upon. Coors’ wife, Mary, received a typewritten note that day demanding a ransom for the return of her husband. Under the guidance of law enforcement, she followed the instructions regarding contacting the kidnapper but heard nothing back.

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The FBI Laboratory began analyzing the available evidence, especially the ransom note, which had a distinct typeface and was written on paper with an uncommon watermark.

Meanwhile, state and local police pursued leads closer to the scene of the crime, conducting extensive interviews and other investigative activities. They soon focused on a canary yellow Mercury that had been seen in the area on several occasions and tried to track down its driver, a man who called himself Walter Osborne. The FBI learned that Osborne had disappeared around the time of Coors’ abduction, but before doing so had obtained a gun, handcuffs, and a typewriter. And the Bureau also learned that Osborne had obtained an insurance policy at a previous job, and that policy designated a man named Joseph Corbett as his beneficiary.

Corbett, in turn, had a son—Joseph Corbett, Jr.—who had previously been convicted of murder but had escaped from a California prison. Now a chief suspect in the Coors case, the FBI obtained a fugitive warrant for him and placed him on the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list soon after.

Throughout the summer of 1960, Corbett, Jr.’s trail remained cold. But tragically, the trail leading to Adolph Coors ended on September 11, 1960, when some hikers came across a pair of trousers in the woods about 12 miles southwest of Sedalia, a town south of Denver. The pants had a key ring bearing the initials ACIII. The trousers, other items of clothing, and skeletal remains found there were determined to belong to Coors. A jacket and shirt had bullet holes that showed he had been shot in the back, and an analysis of a shoulder bone confirmed this.

The story of Coors’ disappearance remained in the public eye and was featured in various publications, including Reader’s Digest. Corbett, Jr.’s wanted photo sparked interest and leads across America, but it was the magazine’s readers in Canada who would break the case. One reader pointed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and their FBI allies to an apartment rented by a man who resembled Corbett, Jr., but the man had recently moved on. The next day, the manager of a rooming house in Winnipeg called local police to report that a man who looked like the fugitive had recently stayed at her flophouse. She also noted that the suspect had been driving a fire engine red Pontiac.

That new information went out across Canada, and on October 29, 1960, a Vancouver police officer reported a similar vehicle parked outside of local motor inn. Soon, police—with the assistance of the FBI’s Toronto legal attaché office—were knocking on the door of the hotel room. The man who answered said, “I give up. I’m the man you want.”

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Corbett, Jr. was returned to Colorado, where he was tried by the state for Coors’ murder (because Coors’ remains were found within the state, he wasn’t tried on federal kidnapping charges). During the trial, the FBI offered 23 agents, five lab examiners, and a fingerprint expert to help put forward an iron-clad case. Especially compelling was the ransom note believed to have been typed on Corbett, Jr.’s typewriter, and damning evidence taken from his burned-out canary yellow Mercury, which was recovered by law enforcement in New Jersey shortly after Coors’ disappearance. On March 19, 1961, Joseph Corbett, Jr. was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

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Corbett never testified at his trial and never made any statement, but the evidence was enough to convince the jury who convicted him in 1961. He was released in 1978.

In 1996 Corbett gave his only interview following his release from prison; in it, he maintained his innocence.On August 24, 2009, Corbett, who was 80 and had been suffering from cancer, was found dead in his apartment of a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Adolph Coors III was not the only beer ‘brewer’ to have been kidnapped.Edward Bremer of the Schmidt Brewery and Freddie Heineken of the Heineken beer company also had been kidnapped, however they were both released.

 

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Glen Miller-Missing in Action

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Music legend Glenn Miller’s plane vanished over the Channel without a trace on December 15 1944.

On the day he went missing, Dec. 15, 1944, Miller, an Army major, is believed to have boarded a UC-64A Norseman in Bedfordshire, England, as a passenger. The plane was bound for France, where Miller was planning a performance for Allied troops.

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While traveling to entertain U.S. troops in France during World War II, Capt. Glenn Miller’s aircraft disappeared in bad weather over the English Channel.

Miller spent the last night before his disappearance at Milton Ernest Hall, near Bedford. On December 15, 1944, he was to fly from the United Kingdom to Paris, France, to make arrangements to move his entire band there in the near future. His plane, a single-engined UC-64 Norseman, USAAF serial 44-70285, departed from RAF Twinwood Farm in Clapham, on the outskirts of Bedford and disappeared while flying over the English Channel.There were two others on board the plane: Lt. Col. Norman Baessell and pilot John Morgan.

The wreckage of Miller’s plane was never found. His official military status remains Missing in Action..

However there have been several theories.

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Conspiracy theories abound that he was assassinated  by German agents.

Another theory — one that’s more widely accepted — is that the plane Miller was flying in was destroyed by friendly fire. That theory was first proposed in the 1980s as intriguing evidence about the Norseman plane came to light. It was discovered that 138 planes returning from an aborted Allies bombing raid disposed of their bombs over the English Channel, and the theory is that one hit Miller’s plane, causing it to crash.

A 2014 article in the Chicago Tribune reported that, despite many theories that had been proposed, Miller’s plane crashed because it had a faulty carburetor. The plane’s engine had a type of carburetor that was known to be defective in cold weather and had a history of causing crashes in other aircraft by icing up.The theory that the plane was hit by a bomb jettisoned by Allied planes returning from an aborted bombing raid on Germany is discredited by the log of a plane-spotter that implies that the plane was heading in a direction that would avoid the zone where such bombs were jettisoned.

When Miller disappeared, he left behind his wife, the former Helen Burger, originally from Boulder, Colorado, and the two children they had adopted in 1943 and 1944, Steven and Jonnie. In February 1945, Helen Miller accepted the Bronze Star medal for Miller.

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Ending the blog with one of his many wonderful tunes.

 

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Flight 19-The Lost squadron

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The Bermuda Triangle’s reputation as a boat and plane-devouring chasm was first sealed in December 1945, when a group of five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo bombers known as “Flight 19” vanished in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida. No sign of the Avengers was ever found, and a Navy seaplane sent to rescue them also disappeared without a trace.

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At 2:10 p.m., five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo-bombers comprising Flight 19 take off from the Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station in Florida on a routine three-hour training mission. Flight 19 was scheduled to take them due east for 120 miles, north for 73 miles, and then back over a final 120-mile leg that would return them to the naval base. They never returned.

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Flight 19 was a training flight with five TBM Avengers or Torpedo Bombers and was led by Commander Charles Taylor. Each was a 3-seater plane, very robust, safe and US Navy’s best bombing planes to destroy enemy submarines. It could carry up to 2,000 pounds of bombing ammunitions and had a range of 1,000 miles.

Other than Taylor, there were 13 others in the flight (in different planes) but were all trainees. Taylor was the only experienced pilot. On December 5, 1945 at 2:10 p.m., the five Avengers of Flight 19 took off one after the other from the Naval Air Station (NAS) of Fort Lauderdale at Florida for a routine training session. It was a clear day.

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At first, Flight 19’s hop proceeded just as smoothly as the previous 18 that day. Taylor and his pilots buzzed over Hens and Chickens Shoals around 2:30 p.m. and dropped their practice bombs without incident.
But shortly after the patrol turned north for the second leg of its journey, something very strange happened.
For reasons that are still unclear, Taylor became convinced that his Avenger’s compass was malfunctioning and that his planes had been flying in the wrong direction.
The troubles only mounted after a front blew in and brought rain, gusting winds and heavy cloud cover. Flight 19 became hopelessly disoriented. “I don’t know where we are,” one of the pilots said over the radio. “We must have got lost after that last turn.”

As the weather deteriorated, radio contact became intermittent, and it was believed that the five aircraft were actually by that time more than 200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km) out to sea east of the Florida peninsula. Taylor radioed “We’ll fly 270 degrees west until landfall or running out of gas” and requested a weather check at 17:24. By 17:50 several land-based radio stations had triangulated Flight 19’s position as being within a 100 nmi (120 mi; 190 km) radius of 29°N 79°W; Flight 19 was north of the Bahamas and well off the coast of central Florida, but nobody transmitted this information on an open, repetitive basis.

At 18:04, Taylor radioed to his flight “Holding 270, we didn’t fly far enough east, we may as well just turn around and fly east again”. By that time, the weather had deteriorated even more and the sun had since set. Around 18:20, Taylor’s last message was received. (It has also been reported that Taylor’s last message was received at 19:04.)He was heard saying “All planes close up tight … we’ll have to ditch unless landfall … when the first plane drops below 10 gallons, we all go down together.

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As it became obvious the flight was lost, air bases, aircraft, and merchant ships were alerted. A Consolidated PBY Catalina departed after 18:00 to search for Flight 19 and guide them back if they could be located. After dark, two Martin PBM Mariner flying boats originally scheduled for their own training flights were diverted to perform square pattern searches in the area west of 29°N 79°W. US Navy Squadron Training No. 49 PBM-5 BuNo 59225 took off at 19:27 from Naval Air Station Banana River (now Patrick Air Force Base), called in a routine radio message at 19:30 and was never heard from again.

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At 21.15, the tanker SS Gaines Mills reported it had observed flames from an apparent explosion leaping 100 ft (30 m) high and burning for 10 minutes, at position 28.59°N 80.25°W.

Captain Shonna Stanley reported unsuccessfully searching for survivors through a pool of oil and aviation gasoline. The escort carrier USS Solomons also reported losing radar contact with an aircraft at the same position and time.

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The disappearance of the 14 men of Flight 19 and the 13 men of the Mariner led to one of the largest air and seas searches to that date, and hundreds of ships and aircraft combed thousands of square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and remote locations within the interior of Florida.

No trace of the bodies or aircraft was ever found.

Although naval officials maintained that the remains of the six aircraft and 27 men were not found because stormy weather destroyed the evidence, the story of the “Lost Squadron” helped cement the legend of the Bermuda Triangle, an area of the Atlantic Ocean where ships and aircraft are said to disappear without a trace.

The Bermuda Triangle is said to stretch from the southern U.S. coast across to Bermuda and down to the Atlantic coast of Cuba and Santo Domingo.

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The disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg.

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I have read a lot about this remarkable man and hero and I was reluctant to write an article about him, because I just didn’t think I would do him justice. However since it is the 72nd anniversary of his disappearance I thought it would be a good opportunity to look at some elements of his life, including his disappearance.

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Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg led one of the most extensive and successful rescue efforts during the Nazi era. His work with the War Refugee Board and the World Jewish Congress saved thousands of Hungarian Jews.

On 17 January 1945, during the Siege of Budapest by the Red Army, Wallenberg was detained by SMERSH on suspicion of espionage and subsequently disappeared.

 

Raoul Wallenberg was born on August 4, 1912, in Stockholm, Sweden.

After studying in the United States in the 1930s and establishing himself in a business career in Sweden, Wallenberg was recruited by the US War Refugee Board (WRB) in June 1944 to travel to Hungary. Given status as a diplomat by the Swedish legation, Wallenberg’s task was to do what he could to assist and save Hungarian Jews.

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Beginning in 1938, the Kingdom of Hungary, under the regency of Miklós Horthy, passed a series of anti-Jewish measures modeled on the so-called Nuremberg Race Laws enacted in Germany by the Nazis in 1935.

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Like their German counterparts, the Hungarian laws focused heavily on restricting Jews from certain professions, reducing the number of Jews in government and public service jobs, and prohibiting intermarriage.

Before Wallenberg’s arrival, the Swedish embassy in Budapest was already issuing travel documents to Hungarian Jews – these special certificates functioned as a Swedish passport.

The papers had no real authority in law but the Swedes managed to persuade the Hungarian authorities that people holding them were under their protection.

When Wallenberg arrived, he decided that the certificates needed to look more official so he redesigned them. He introduced the colours of the Swedish flag, blue and yellow, marked the documents with government stamps and added Swedish crowns. It was known as a Schutz-Pass or protective pass.

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After the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross movement seized power with the help of the Germans on October 15, 1944, the Arrow Cross government resumed the deportation of Hungarian Jews, which Horthy had halted in July before the Budapest Jews could be deported. As Soviet troops had already cut off rail transport routes to Auschwitz, Hungarian authorities forced tens of thousands of Budapest Jews to march west to the Hungarian border with Austria. During the autumn of 1944, Wallenberg repeatedly—and often personally—intervened to secure the release of those with certificates of protection or forged papers, saving as many people as he could from the marching columns.

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On 29 October 1944, elements of the 2nd Ukrainian Front under Marshal Rodion Malinovsky launched an offensive against Budapest and by late December the city had been encircled by Soviet forces. Despite this the German commander of Budapest, SS Lieutenant General Karl Pfeffer-Wildenbruch, refused all offers to surrender, setting in motion a protracted and bloody siege of Budapest.

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At the height of the fighting, on 17 January 1945, Wallenberg was called to General Malinovsky’s headquarters in Debrecen to answer allegations that he was engaged in espionage.

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Wallenberg’s last recorded words were, “I’m going to Malinovsky’s … whether as a guest or prisoner I do not know yet.”Documents recovered in 1993 from previously secret Soviet military archives and published in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet show that an order for Wallenberg’s arrest was issued by Deputy Commissar for Defence (and future Soviet Premier) Nikolai Bulganin and transmitted to Malinovsky’s headquarters on the day of Wallenberg’s disappearance. In 2003, a review of Soviet wartime correspondences indicated that Vilmos Böhm, a Hungarian politician who was also a Soviet intelligence agent, may have provided Wallenberg’s name to the SMERSH as a person to detain for possible involvement in espionage.

On 6 February 1957, the Soviet government released a document dated 17 July 1947, which stated “I report that the prisoner Wallenberg who is well-known to you, died suddenly in his cell this night, probably as a result of a heart attack or heart failure”

However newly published diaries of the first KGB chief,Ivan Serov, state that the Swedish diplomat was liquidated on Stalin’s orders in a Soviet prison in 1947.
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Behind the diaries’ publication is Vera Serova, the KGB chairman’s only grandchild. Four years ago, Serova, a retired ballet dancer, wanted to renovate her grandfather’s Moscow dacha, which she inherited. The workmen found the journals in suitcases hidden inside the garage wall; they were disappointed that the treasure turned out not to be money or jewels but only papers.
“I have no doubts that Wallenberg was liquidated in 1947,” the ex-head of the former Russian secret police and intelligence agency writes in his diaries. Wallenberg was killed in a Soviet prison and Serov quotes his predecessor, Viktor Abakumov, as saying the order to kill Wallenberg came from the top: Joseph Stalin and then-foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov.

 

It is still not clear why he was killed.In May 1996 the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released thousands of previously classified documents regarding Raoul Wallenberg, in response to requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

A communique sent on 7 November 1944 by the OSS, (the predecessor of the CIA) branch in Bari, Italy which apparently acknowledged that Wallenberg was acting as an unofficial liaison between the OSS and the Hungarian Independence Movement (MFM), an underground anti-Nazi resistance organization.This particular disclosure has given rise to speculation as to whether, in addition to his efforts to rescue the Hungarian Jews, Wallenberg may have also been pursuing a parallel clandestine mission aimed at politically destabilizing Hungary’s pro-Nazi government on behalf of the OSS. This would also seem to add some credence to the potential explanation that it was his association with US intelligence that led to Wallenberg being targeted by Soviet authorities in January 1945.

Several other humanitarians who had helped refugees during World War II disappeared behind the Iron Curtain in the period 1949/50.

On 29 March 2016, an announcement was made by the Swedish Tax Agency that a petition to have Wallenberg declared dead in absentia had been submitted. It stated that if he does not report to the Tax Agency before 14 October 2016, he will be declared dead legally.

Wallenberg was declared dead in October 2016. Consistently with the approach used in cases where the circumstances of death were not known, the Swedish tax agency recorded the date of his death as July 31, 1952, five years after he went missing.

His name has been honoured in several countries across the globe.

 

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