[Ppnews] J. Edgar Hoover and the Framing of the Omaha Two

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 29 10:19:21 EST 2011



J. Edgar Hoover and the Framing of the Omaha Two

http://www.crimemagazine.com/j-edgar-hoover-and-framing-omaha-two

Dec. 28, 2011

Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, the leaders of 
the Omaha chapter of the Black Panther Party in 
the early 1970s, were framed for the murder of 
Omaha Police Officer Larry Minard as part of J. 
Edgar Hoover’s clandestine, illegal 
counterintelligence operation known as COINTELPRO 
that targeted Black Panther Party leaders all 
over the United States. Although neither man had 
any connection to the murder of the young 
officer, both remain imprisoned for life.

by 
<http://crimemagazine.com/category/authors/michael-richardson>Michael 
Richardson

The murder of Omaha, Nebraska policeman Larry 
Minard over 40 years ago and the 
CONINTELPRO-inspired investigation that followed 
landed two Black Panther leaders – Ed Poindexter 
and Mondo we Langa – in prison for life .  The 
scapegoats came to be known as the “Omaha 
Two.”  In order to pin the police officer’s 
murder on the two leaders of Omaha’s Black 
Panther Party, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover gave 
a secret order to withhold a crime laboratory 
report on the identity of the anonymous caller 
that lured the 29-year-old policeman to his death.

Hoover directed the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation from 1924 to his death in 1972.  He 
also directed a secret, illegal, 
counterintelligence operation within the FBI from 
1956 to 1971, code named COINTELPRO that targeted 
radical groups such as the Panthers, Students for 
a Democratic Society, and the American Indian 
Movement. COINTELPRO’s stated aim was to 
destabilize these groups by either murdering 
their leaders or getting them convicted of 
felonies. (CONINTELPRO is an acronym for Counterintelligence Program.)

Attorney Paul Wolf, author of the report 
COINTELPRO: The Untold American Story, has 
written, “At its most extreme dimension, 
political dissidents have been eliminated 
outright or sent to prison for the rest of their 
lives.”  Wolf explained one FBI tactic involved 
the arrest and prosecution of targeted individuals for “spurious reasons.”

“The FBI made use of informants, often quite 
violent and emotionally disturbed individuals, to 
present false testimony to the courts, to frame 
COINTELPRO targets for crimes they knew they did 
not commit.  In some cases the charges were quite 
serious, including murder,” says Wolf.

The roots of COINTELPRO go deep as J. Edgar 
Hoover established his career with the infamous 
Palmer raids and cases against anarchist Emma 
Goldman and Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey.

In 1926, Hoover wrote to Special Agent John Dowd 
in the Boston FBI office:  “I would like to be 
able to find some theory of law and some 
statement of facts to fit it that would enable 
the federal authorities to deal vigorously with 
the ultra-radical elements that are engaged in 
propaganda and acts inimical to the institutions of our country.”

Hoover finally created his own theory of law and 
thousands of groups and individuals were targets 
of COINTELPRO over the years as Hoover expanded 
the clandestine operation to keep pace with 
tumultuous events as the civil rights and 
anti-war movements grew in the mid-1960s.

“FBI headquarters set policy, assessed progress, 
charted new directions, demanded increased 
production, and carefully monitored and 
controlled day-to-day operations.  This 
arrangement required that national COINTELPRO 
supervisors and local FBI field offices 
communicate back and forth, at great lengths, 
concerning every operation,” explains attorney 
Brian Glick, author of the book War at Home.

So-called “Black Nationalist Hate Groups” were 
added to COINTELPRO assignments on August 25, 
1967 with the mandate from Hoover, “to expose, 
disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise 
neutralize” specified organizations and 1,246 FBI 
agents were given racial intelligence assignments.

By 1968, Hoover had 1,678 agents assigned to 
COINTELPRO around the country and had established 
a “Rabble Rouser” index of domestic political 
activists.  The Black Nationalist COINTELPRO had 
been expanded from 23 to 41 FBI field offices on 
March 4, 1968, including Omaha, Nebraska.

On August 5, 1968, J. Edgar Hoover ordered 
COINTELPRO agents to conduct media campaigns 
against the Black Panthers.  He directed his 
agents to encourage reporters to investigate the 
group and furnish FBI “background data” to 
interested reporters.  Hoover’s memo specifically 
listed Omaha as one of the cities where he 
expected a counterintelligence operation using the local news media.

On September 8, 1968, Hoover told The New York 
Times the Black Panthers were “the greatest 
threat to the internal security of the country.”

Two weeks later, on September 27, George Moore, 
head of Racial Intelligence, sent William 
Sullivan, head of Domestic Intelligence and third 
in command of the FBI, a COINTELPRO memorandum 
advocating an “accelerated” counterintelligence 
program against the Black Panthers.  Moore 
described the Black Panthers, “It is the most 
violence-prone organization of all the extremist 
groups now operating in the United States.”

Moore elaborated on one of the goals of Black 
Nationalist COINTELPRO actions, “Our 
counterintelligence program may bring about 
results which could lead to prosecution of these 
violence-prone leaders.”  Moore had a willing 
ally in his effort to accelerate COINTELPRO 
against the Black Panthers in William 
Sullivan.  Sullivan was a veteran of 
counterintelligence and had orchestrated the FBI 
wiretap campaign against Martin Luther King Jr., 
including a sex-tape blackmail scheme to encourage King to commit suicide.

In 1970, J. Edgar Hoover stepped up his 
clandestine operations with the Key Black 
Extremist Program directed at those “black 
activists who were particularly agitative, 
extreme, and vocal in their demands for terrorism and violence”

Noam Chomsky, a long-time COINTELPRO critic, 
charges, “FBI provocateurs repeatedly urged and 
initiated violent acts, including forceful 
disruptions of meetings and demonstrations on and 
off university campuses, attacks on police, 
bombings, and so on.”  Chomsky says there is plenty of blame to go around.

Chomsky is blunt:  “The criminal activities of 
the FBI were initiated under the liberal 
Democratic administrations and carried further 
under Nixon.  The programs were (partially) 
exposed during the Watergate period, and though 
incomparably more serious than anything charged 
against Nixon, they were virtually ignored during 
this period by the liberal national press and 
journals of opinion, and only marginally discussed since.”

David Cunningham, author of There’s Something 
Going On, a detailed study of COINTELPRO, wrote 
in his book, “The repression of the Panthers 
marked the most savage incarnation of 
COINTELPRO.” Hoover’s intense assault on the 
Black Panthers was an outgrowth of a lifetime of 
racist ideology that kept the FBI virtually an 
all-white agency during Hoover’s rule.

William Sullivan described COINTELPRO to a Senate 
sub-committee investigating the illegal 
operation, “This is a rough, tough, dirty business, and dangerous.”

On January 30, 1969, Hoover sent a COINTELPRO 
memo to Special Agent-in-Charge Marlin Johnson in 
Chicago authorizing an anonymous letter to Jeff 
Fort of the Blackstone Rangers street gang to 
provoke a dispute with Fred Hampton, leader of the Illinois Black Panthers.

In mid-November 1969, FBI agent Roy Mitchell 
recruited Fred Hampton’s bodyguard William O’Neal 
in Chicago, ultimately paying him $10,000. Two 
weeks later O’Neal supplied Mitchell with a 
diagram of Hampton’s apartment, identifying the 
location of Hampton’s bed.  Mitchell then met 
with officers from the State’s Attorney special 
police unit and planned an armed raid on Hampton’s apartment.

On December 4, 1969, 14 heavily-armed members of 
the prosecutor’s special unit surrounded Fred 
Hampton’s apartment at 4:45 a.m.  Police fired 90 
bullets into the apartment specifically targeting 
Hampton’s bedroom where the Panther leader was 
asleep with his pregnant girlfriend.  Peoria 
Panther leader Mark Clark, who was on security, 
fired one shot as he died during the 
fusillade.  Hampton, wounded during the attack, 
was shot at point blank range in the head twice 
as he lay bleeding on his bed.  Attorney Jeffrey 
Haas, who was Hampton’s lawyer, minces no words 
recently authoring a book about the killing 
titled The Assassination of Fred Hampton.

In Los Angeles, on December 8, 1969, a FBI 
informant, Melvin“Cotton” Smith provided inside 
information on the residence of Black Panther 
security head Elmer Gerald “Geronimo” Pratt.  A 
pre-dawn FBI coached raid by the Los Angeles 
Police Department, instead of killing Pratt, 
resulted in a four-hour gun battle.  Thirteen 
Panthers were arrested after the firefight, 
putting Pratt in Hoover’s cross-hairs.

Attorney Paul Wolf draws a comparison: “The 
similarities between the Chicago and Los Angeles 
raids are undeniable, with a special local police 
unit closely linked to the FBI involved in both 
assaults, spurious warrants seeking “illegal 
weapons” utilized on both occasions, predawn 
timing of both raids to catch the Panthers asleep 
and a reliance on overwhelming police firepower 
to the exclusion of all other methods.”

In June 1970, Hoover authored a secret Special 
Report 5 for the White House where Hoover called 
the Black Panthers “the most active and dangerous 
black extremist group in the United States.”

Meanwhile, in July, Omaha police learned of three 
men selling stolen dynamite.  A buy was set up.

Omaha Police Captain Murdock Platner would later 
testify in Washington, D.C. to the U.S. House 
Committee on Internal Security that the dynamite 
had been stolen in Des Moines, Iowa and was 
suspected to be the source of explosives used in recent Omaha bombings:

“We received information from a party that had 
been approached to buy dynamite.  We had him buy 
it and he bought 10 sticks.  It was 2 and-a-half 
by 16-inch sticks.  He came back later and said 
he could buy more of this dynamite.  So we set 
for him to buy and then
we did move in and 
arrested three young men in a car.  In their 
possession they had 41 sticks of this same type of dynamite.”

Platner called the owner of Quick Supply Co. in 
Des Moines, Iowa where dynamite of that size was 
stolen earlier in the summer.  According to 
Platner, “he was almost positive it had to be 
their dynamite.”  Platner investigated further, 
“Sergeant Gladson checked back with the 
manufacturer of the dynamite, and they told him 
that was the only shipment of that size dynamite in the year 1970.”

Luther Payne, Lamont Mitchell, and Conrad Gray 
were arrested in possession of dynamite during a 
planned traffic stop.  Eager to escape felony 
charges the three men told police a story that found an interested audience.

The three men in jail denied any involvement in 
the Des Moines burglary.  Instead, they claimed 
they found the dynamite in the back room of a 
local anti-poverty agency.  The lead detective 
working the case was Jack Swanson, who was the 
complaining witness against the men in court.

The day after the trio’s first court appearance 
in Omaha, the U.S. Senate Committee on Government 
Operations began hearings in Washington, D.C. on 
the Black Panthers and bombings around the country.

Payne, Mitchell, and Gray remained in jail, 
unreported by the local news media, unable to post bond.

On August 7, 1970, in Marin County, California, a 
courtroom rescue attempt by Black Panther George 
Jackson’s brother, Jonathan, resulted in a 
shootout killing four people including Judge 
Harold Haley.  The bloody courthouse shootout 
captured national attention and helped demonize 
the Black Panthers to many.  Angela Davis had a 
warrant issued for her arrest in the aftermath of 
the California bloodbath, accused of supplying a 
weapon and ammunition. Hoover would soon add her 
name to the FBI’s famed Ten Most Wanted List.

Two days after the Marin County fiasco, a paper 
sack containing 10 sticks of dynamite was found 
along a street in Bellevue, an Omaha suburb. The 
news media, silent about the arrest of Payne, 
Mitchell, and Gray, snapped to action and duly 
reported on the sack of dynamite.

Special Agent-in-Charge Paul Young had been the 
recipient for the preceding year of a series of 
COINTELPRO memos from J. Edgar Hoover demanding 
results against the leadership of the Black 
Panthers in Omaha.  The lethal ferocity of 
Hoover’s secret operation had already been 
revealed in Chicago COINTELPRO operations against Fred Hampton.

Before a week had passed since Hampton’s death, 
Hoover sent a COINTELPRO memo to Paul Young, 
complaining about a lack of action against the Black Panthers in Omaha.

On December 10, 1969, Hoover sent Young a 
critical memorandum.  Hoover wrote, “You 
stated
the United Front Against Fascism (UFAF), 
the successor to the Black Panther Party (BPP) in 
Omaha, is composed of approximately eight to 12 
members, and their only activities have been to 
sell The Black Panther, BPP newspaper, and publication of a UFAF newsletter.”

Hoover continued:  “While the activities appear 
to be limited in the Omaha area, it does not 
follow that effective counterintelligence 
measures cannot be taken.  As long as there are 
BPP activities, you should be giving 
consideration that type of counterintelligence 
measure which would best disrupt existing 
activities.  It would appear that some type of 
counterintelligence aimed at the disruption and 
publication of their literature would be in order.”

The FBI director told the Omaha office to target 
the leaders of the UFAF for counterintelligence 
action.  Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa had 
stepped up to lead the affiliate Black Panther 
chapter in the Nebraska city and were now the focus of Hoover’s attention.

Ed Poindexter was a six-year Army veteran who 
voluntarily served in Germany and Vietnam.  He 
went to work for the Post Office upon his 
discharge from the service.  Poindexter joined 
the Panthers to help the community after being 
informed of the group by his sister; however his 
membership in the Panthers led to his departure 
from the Post Office after his picture was 
published in the daily newspaper as a member of the group.

Mondo we Langa was an outreach worker with the 
Greater Omaha Community Action agency whose 
self-stated motive for joining the Panthers was 
love for his brothers and sisters. Mondo was 
popular at Holy Family church where he played 
guitar and developed a following as a writer for 
two alternative newspapers, Asterisk and Buffalo 
Chip.  Mondo became a regular fixture at Omaha 
City Council meetings where he monitored local issues.

Hoover wrote to Young:  “It is also assumed that 
of eight to 12 members, one or two must certainly 
be in a position of leadership.  You should give 
consideration to counterintelligence measures 
directed against these leaders in an effort to 
weaken or destroy their positions.  Bureau has 
noted you have not submitted any concrete 
counterintelligence proposals in recent 
months.  Evaluate your approach to this program 
and insure that it is given the imaginative 
attention necessary to produce effective 
results.  Handle promptly and submit your 
proposals to the Bureau for approval.”

Paul Young got the message.  Young replied to 
Hoover within days by registered mail promising 
to go after the UFAF newsletter and the leaders 
of the Omaha chapter.  Young wrote to Hoover, “In 
addition to this information, indications are 
that the UFAF is planning to start a liberation 
school at its headquarters in Omaha in the near future.”

Young continued:  “In response to the referenced 
Bureau letter, the identities of the UFAF 
leadership are known to the Omaha office.  Omaha 
is presently giving consideration to some type of 
counterintelligence activity aimed at disruption 
of the UFAF newsletter or its distribution and 
counterintelligence measures directed against the 
leaders of this organization.”

However, on February 24, Paul Young had to tell 
Hoover he was unable to establish a pattern of 
Panther activity and was unable to plan a 
counterintelligence operation.  On April 3, 
Hoover sent approval to Young to send an 
anonymous letter about Ed Poindexter to Black 
Panther headquarters accusing Poindexter of 
ripping off the community and directed Young to 
coordinate the letter with the San Francisco office.

On August 15, 1970, Paul Young, under a 
continuing mandate from Hoover to the Omaha FBI 
office, was plotting a smear campaign against Ed 
Poindexter using another bogus letter addressed 
to Black Panther national headquarters in 
Oakland, accusing Poindexter of collaborating 
with “Whitey’s newspaper”, the Omaha 
World-Herald, in an effort to create a rift in the organization.

The Black Panthers in Omaha were not the “lumpen” 
or street criminals that filled the ranks in some 
cities.  In Omaha, the group worked with 
anti-poverty agencies, on a petition drive, 
operated a liberation school for children, and 
worked on a breakfast program. The chapter also 
published a newsletter. None of the surveillance 
showed any involvement in criminal activity, thus 
Young faced a limited opportunity for a counterintelligence action.

However, the murder of Omaha patrolman Larry 
Minard suddenly presented Paul Young with the 
perfect opportunity to please Hoover if he could 
make a case against Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa

The crime that rocked Omaha was triggered with an 
anonymous 911 phone call on August 17, 
1970.  Dawn broke over the city to an overcast 
drizzle on a Monday morning.  The weather matched 
the mood in the stunned, saddened city.  An 
ambush bombing at 2:11 a.m. had taken the life of 
a policeman, the father of five young children.

Minard and seven other officers had responded to 
a 911 call placed by an anonymous male caller 
with a deep voice who reported a woman screaming 
at a vacant house.  Instead of a screaming woman, 
the eight officers who converged at 2867 Ohio 
Street only found an open empty house and a 
suspicious suitcase just inside the front door.

After a quick search of the house,while examining 
the Samsonite suitcase, Officer Minard was killed 
instantly by a powerful, deafening blast that 
shook the neighborhood and partially destroyed 
the vacant house.  The coroner described severe 
traumatic injuries to Minard’s skull and torso in the autopsy report.

Omaha Mayor Eugene Leahy heard the explosion from 
his home 40 blocks away, telling a reporter the 
next day, “That was a terrific blast.”  Leahy 
called police headquarters after the bombing and 
was briefed on what happened.  The mayor toured 
the crime scene on his way to work in the morning.

Larry Minard had only been on duty since midnight 
when he reported for the “A” shift after telling 
his wife not to worry.  Police arrived at the 
Minard residence about a half hour after the 
bombing to deliver the terrible news but by then 
the newly widowed Karen Minard had been awaken by 
Larry’s police scanner which was blaring reports about an officer down.

The police investigation began immediately as 
officers sifted through debris looking for 
clues.  Larry Minard’s mangled and burned body 
lay where he died until 3:50 a.m. while crime 
scene technicians scoured the premises.  Finally, 
Minard’s body was removed by rescue personnel after a light rain began to fall.

First light brought the start of what would be a 
day-long procession of motorists slowly driving 
by the crime scene.  A crowd of neighborhood 
onlookers was also on hand much of the time as 
people spoke in hushed tones and muted voices.

At 6:05 a.m. off-duty policeman Harold Flemmer 
called police headquarters after learning of 
Minard’s death.  Flemmer reported he had been 
pulling guard duty at room 318 of the County 
Hospital over a prisoner named George 
McCline.  Flemmer said that McCline, who was 
being held for a July 29th shooting, told him the 
dynamite obtained from July arrests of three men 
“had been meant for the new police 
station.”Flemmer also said that McCline told him, 
“that at least 12 policemen were going to get it.”

Flemmer related what McCline told him while 
recovering from surgery:  “He further bragged 
that the policy had been changed and there would 
be no more burning and looting, from now on it 
was to be blowing up things.  He bragged that 
Component Concepts had been blown as the owner 
was a Uncle Tom.”  Component Concepts Corporation 
was a black-owned defense subcontractor that was 
bombed July 2, 1970, in an unsolved crime.

At police headquarters, a hastily convened 
meeting of a multi-agency task force called 
“Domino” was called to order.  Principals present 
were agents from the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation and the Division of Alcohol, 
Tobacco & Firearms, detectives from the Douglas 
County Sheriff’ and the Omaha Police Department. 
Governor Norbert Tiemann had also ordered the 
Nebraska State Patrol to send two troopers to work the case.

Retired ATF agent James Moore, from the Kansas 
City, Missouri ATF office, told about the Domino 
meeting in his book Very Special Agents: “This 
meeting has one mission: to catch the cop 
killers. Preliminary discussion was brief and 
pointed.  The weapon, the method and the target 
suggested extremists.  Panthers and Weathermen 
murdered policemen this way.  The Negro voice on 
the dispatcher’s tape suggested Panthers.”

Then Moore gave a big surprise:  “One of the FBI 
agents told the group “We have excellent informer 
coverage of the Panthers, and our key informer 
advises us that two white males were observed 
running from the scene shortly before the blast.”

Moore raised the possibility the tip was only a 
ruse to throw off ATF agents competing to crack 
the case.  However, if the FBI informant had a 
role in the crime he may have told the agents 
about two “white males.”  Or, maybe two white men really were the bombers.

Although the FBI told the Domino group about 
white men, SAC Paul Young wasted no time in 
privately talking with Assistant Chief of Police 
Glen W. Gates, who was in charge of the investigation into the deadly ambush.

According to a confidential FBI “airtel” 
memorandum, Paul Young and Glen Gates discussed a 
piece of crucial evidence the police had – the 
recorded voice of the anonymous caller captured by the 911 system.

Gates was already working with the ATF laboratory 
on dynamite analysis from other bombings in Omaha 
earlier in the summer so it would have seemed 
natural to accept the help of the FBI laboratory 
to analyze the 911 recording.  However, the FBI 
offer was conditional: no written report which 
might end up in court as evidence.

At noon following the bombing, 13 off-duty Omaha 
policemen led by Captain William Pattavina 
cornered Mayor Leahy in his office to complain 
about a lack of support for police.  Pattavina 
and two sergeants, Keith Lant and Robert Pfeffer, 
met with the mayor for a half-hour while the 
other 10 officers occupied the lobby.

At 4:05 p.m. the administrator of Girls Town, 
Harold Youngren, called police headquarters and 
reported a pushy black book salesman named Frank 
Fortino who was selling books on Black Studies. 
Fortino claimed to be a demolitions expert and an 
officer in the Black Panthers.  “He threatened to 
blow up the school if books were not purchased,” said Youngren.

Despite the FBI tip about the two white males 
seen fleeing the bomb scene, Omaha police 
concentrated on arresting members or associates 
of Omaha’s Black Panther affiliate group.  By 
week’s end, the dragnet begun on Monday through 
the Near North Side would net 60 black suspects.

At five o’clock in the afternoon,Detective Jack 
Swanson, head of the OPD Intelligence Unit, 
reported a call from an FBI agent named 
Hayes.  “He has a witness in the neighborhood of 
the bombing, who states that there was White 
Cadilac [sic] which left the scene shortly before 
the blast at a high rate of speed.”

Swanson continued, “Hayes said he got this 
information second hand, and that the actual witness was a young Negro male.”

The record of the call from the FBI concluded, 
“This white Cadillac was supposed to have been 
occupied by one Negro male, and one white male.”

Swanson also made up a list of 39 members or 
associates of the National Committee to Combat Fascism, for questioning.

While Swanson worked on his list of NCCF 
suspects, Sergeant Joseph Boan went to County 
Hospital to interview prisoner George McCline and 
finished his report at 9 p.m.  McCline gave Boan 
an earful about alleged dynamite sellers in the 
Omaha area.  McCline said dynamite could be 
bought from a Mafia-member named Leroy Chiles, 
from Yano Caniglia at the Cheeta Lounge strip 
club, and from Bubbles, a dancer at the club.

McCline also said the kingpin of the explosion 
was “Bussie,” an uncle of Vivian Strong.  Vivian 
Strong was a 14 year-old girl shot to death by 
Omaha policeman James Loder in 1969, whose 
killing led to several days of rioting. McCline 
said Bussie drove a 1967 silver-black Cadillac 
and that a man named Luther Payne was arrested 
taking dynamite to Bussie’s house.

Tips kept rolling in. At 9:30 p.m. Omaha officer 
D. Howard reported an informant overheard a 
conversation at the Hilton Hotel with a bartender 
where a hotel employee allegedly said he knew who 
sold the dynamite and planted the bomb that 
killed Larry Minard.  Howard was unable to locate 
the hotel employee for questioning.

The day after the bombing in Omaha, a powerful 
blast at the Federal Building in Minneapolis, 
Minnesota at 3 a.m. injured a night watchman and 
caused $500,000 damage.  Investigators later 
determined the bomb had the force of 20 sticks of 
dynamite.  Suddenly the Midwest was on the front 
line of guerilla warfare.  The Minneapolis crime remains unsolved.

Back in Omaha, the round-up of suspects on the 
Near North Side continued on Tuesday with 11 more 
arrests bringing a total of three dozen people in 
custody by the end of the second day of the dragnet.

Glen Gates barred reporters from police 
headquarters’ fourth floor squad room where 
police and reporters normally chatted about the 
daily arrest log as the investigation intensified.

Douglas County Assistant Prosecutor Arthur 
O’Leary moved in to police headquarters to help 
coordinate the logistics of the arrests, telling 
reporters he was there on routine business.

At 8:25 a.m. Sheriff Ted Janning called a police 
captain and stated that a security guard from his 
office overheard either prisoner George McCline 
or Lamont Mitchell, who had been arrested with 
dynamite in July, at the County Hospital where 
the inmate stated Vivian Strong had an uncle 
named Busby who drove a 1967 Cadillac and that 
“he had something to do” with triggering the bomb

The departure from Omaha of the primary piece of 
evidence – the recorded voice of Larry Minard’s 
fatal caller – was noted with a front-page Omaha 
World-Herald article.  The newspaper headlined, 
“Voiceprint in Bombing to FBI Lab.”

The Omaha World-Herald quoted Acting Police Chief 
Walter J. Devere: “A copy of the telephone tape 
in the booby-trap killing of Patrolman Larry 
Minard has been sent to the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation in Washington for voiceprint analysis.”

“Voiceprinting – using voice sounds to establish 
identity – is relatively new and not admissible 
evidence in court.  But it is a good investigative tool,” Chief Devere added.

Jack Swanson got another call from FBI Agent 
Hayes which he reported at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, 
the day after the bombing.  “Hayes says that this 
was supposed to be a Black Vinel/White 66 
Cadillac, [sic] bearing green license 
plates.  The witness did not [see] the number of 
the plates, nor the state which it was 
from.  This auto was seen going north from Ohio, 
on 30th at a high rate of speed, and ran the red 
light at 30th and Binney Sts.  It was supposed to 
have been occupied by one white male, and one Negor [sic] male.”

Swanson dug into his files and at 7 p.m. reported 
on information he obtained on June 12 about two 
suspicious white males from FBI agent 
Hayes.  Hayes told Swanson that David Lawrence 
Coyle was “involved with the SDS [Students for a 
Democratic Society] and was extremely 
militant.”  Coyle was reportedly recruited by John Herold.

Swanson elaborated, “Also, according to Agent 
Hayes, FBI, he [Coyle] had stated to one of his 
sources that they were going to [do] something 
really big to make people sit up and take notice.”

The FBI’s white Cadillac was not the only 
Cadillac police were looking for.  At 7:45 p.m. 
another Omaha policeman, Patrick J. John, 
reported an informant told him about a “dirty red 
older model Cadalic [sic] with loud mufflers” 
seen in the neighborhood of the bombing driving 
suspiciously and then departing at a high rate of 
speed a “few minutes” before the explosion.

At 11:30 p.m. a Social Security card belonging to 
Johnnie Lee Bussby was turned over to the 
property room.  The card was found at the scene 
of the crime in the blast debris the day before 
by ATF agents and given to Lt. James Perry.

The next day, August 19, at 6:30 p.m. Jack 
Swanson “observed a White 1966 Cadillac occupied 
by one Negro male, one White male and one Negor 
[sic] female.”  Swanson radioed for a uniform 
cruiser to make a stop and bring the occupants in 
for questioning. The two men spotted by Swanson 
were James Boose and Lannie Hicks.

According to Swanson’s report, Boose was “a 
former member of the Black Panther 
Party.”  Lannie Hicks was just a “suspected house 
burglar.”  Nothing came from the interrogations 
ordered by Lt. James Perry at Swanson’s request

At the Omaha FBI office, Paul Young anxiously 
awaited word from Washington, D.C. on his request 
to withhold a lab report on the identity of the 
anonymous 911 caller who lured Minard to the 
deadly ambush.   Young wanted to use the bombing 
as an opportunity to satisfy J. Edgar Hoover’s 
mandate to “destroy” the local Black Panther 
leadership. The presence of an unknown caller 
presented a problem in making a case against the Panther leaders.

With Larry Minard’s death Young finally had an 
opportunity to direct counterintelligence 
measures against Ed Poindexter and Mondo we 
Langa.  When Young’s confidential memo to Hoover 
was received by COINTELPRO supervisors at FBI 
headquarters, a second memo was written for Ivan 
Willard Conrad,director of the FBI crime lab.

A COINTELPRO agent at FBI Headquarters named W.W. 
Bradley authored the confidential memo to Conrad 
following up on Young’s proposal to withhold 
evidence.  The heavily redacted memo, released 
under the Freedom of Information Act, spelled out 
that no written report on Minard’s killer was to be furnished.

Bradley’s memo to Conrad, dated August 19, 1970, 
was sent to top FBI officials including William 
C. Sullivan.  Sullivan was head of Domestic 
Intelligence and helped create COINTELPRO for Hoover.

Charles D. Brennan also got Bradley’s memo on 
Larry Minard’s fatal caller. Brennan was a senior 
member of the daily COINTELPRO directorate that 
issued illegal commands to the field 
offices.  Brennan had worked in the Omaha FBI 
office before his transfer to FBI headquarters 
where he reported to William Sullivan.

Brennan was the most vocal critic of Martin 
Luther King Jr. within the FBI and had authored 
an 11-page internal monograph on 
counterintelligence measures against King leading 
to the elaborate operation conducted against 
King.  Brennan was aggressive on counterintelligence actions.

A mysterious “Mr. Shimota” also appears on the 
Bradley memo copy list.  FBI Special Agent John 
E. Shimota was a relatively obscure agent who 
ended his FBI career working prostitution cases 
in Fargo, North Dakota.  Shimota, who also worked 
on the Wounded Knee FBI task force in South 
Dakota, was possibly the agent assigned by Paul 
Young to coordinate COINTELPRO actions in the 
Omaha office.  The identity of the COINTELPRO 
agent in Omaha has never been officially disclosed.

Bradley wrote:  “By airtel 8/17/70 the Omaha 
Office has advised that the Omaha Police 
Department has requested laboratory assistance in 
connection with a bombing which took place in 
Omaha 8/17/70.  This bombing resulted in the 
death of one police officer and the injuring of 
six other officers and is apparently directly 
connected with a series of racial bombings which 
the Omaha Police have experienced.  The Police 
were lured to the bomb site by a telephonic 
distress call from an unknown male.”

Blanks appear in the COINTELPRO memo where text 
has been crossed out:  “[REDACTED] of the Omaha 
Police has requested [REDACTED].  The SAC 
[Special Agent-in-Charge], Omaha strongly 
recommends that the examination requested by the 
Omaha Police Department be conducted.”

“[REDACTED] It is felt, in view of the SAC’s 
recommendation and the significance of this case, 
an exception should be made in this case in order 
to assist the Omaha Police in developing 
investigative leads.  The results of any 
examination will not be furnished directly to the 
police but orally conveyed through the SAC of Omaha.,” wrote Bradley.

The confidential memo concluded with a 
recommendation:  “[REDACTED] Omaha Police in 
developing investigation leads.  If approved, the 
results of any examinations will be orally 
furnished the police on an informal basis through the SAC, Omaha.”

The memorandum to Ivan Conrad bears his initials 
twice.  Once, when he reviewed the request, and a 
second time after he talked to J. Edgar Hoover 
confirming the lab was not to issue a formal 
report on the recording of the anonymous 911 
caller who lured Larry Minard to his death.

Conrad talked with Hoover the same day Bradley 
sent the COINTELPRO memo.  Conrad wrote on the 
document, “Dir advised telephonically & said OK 
to do.”  Conrad then initialed and dated the note 
about Hoover’s command on withholding formal 
identification of the anonymous 911 caller.

Detective Jack Swanson, now working the Minard 
case, was still in the middle of the 
investigation of the  three men arrested with 
stolen dynamite three weeks earlier on July 28, 1970 .

Several days after a cancelled federal raid on 
the headquarters of the Omaha Black Panther 
affiliate chapter, the Omaha Police Department 
got a lead on stolen dynamite being sold in the city.

Based on a tip from an adolescent, agents of the 
Division of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms had 
sought to search the Panther headquarters looking 
for machine guns and explosives.  Omaha was on 
edge after a series of bombings including one at 
a police substation in North Omaha and ATF agents 
suspected the Black Panthers were involved.

The Omaha FBI office, under pressure from Hoover 
for action against the Panthers, put a stop to 
the rival agency’s search with a phone call to 
the Justice Department and initiated their own investigation.

Paul Young had no interest in becoming the object 
of Hoover’s wrath.  FBI agents then began their 
own canvass of the neighborhood where the Panther 
office was located in a futile effort to learn 
about a purported stash of machine 
guns.  Assistant U.S. Attorney William Gallup 
later resigned his position as a federal 
prosecutor in Nebraska in protest against FBI 
interference with the planned ATF raid.

After Larry Minard’s murder, Luther Payne got 
word out of the jail he could help the 
investigation.  Payne told Omaha officer Arnold 
Dailey that one of four men--Lonnie Woods, 
Maurice Reedus, Eddie Bolden, or Thomas Bick--was 
most likely responsible, implying they were the 
source of the explosives he had been arrested 
for.  One of the men Payne named, Eddie Bolden, 
was the former head of the local Black Panthers 
who had been replaced by Ed Poindexter.

Officer Minard was buried on Thursday following 
one of the largest funerals in the city’s 
history.  The father of five was buried on his 
30th birthday, August 20, 1970.  The day before 
Minard’s funeral Hoover had given the order to 
let the anonymous 911 caller go unidentified.

On Friday, August 21at 2 a.m. a man arrested at a 
disturbance call, Anthony Sanders, was in custody 
and offered information on Minard’s 
murder.  Sanders, on Federal probation, wanted 
help leaving Omaha in exchange for his 
information about two white men, Gary and 
Darrell, who hung out at Rocket 
Billiards.  Sanders told police the pair quizzed 
him about “militants” in the past.  More recently 
Sanders claimed the two men “are now bragging” of 
knowledge about two “Germans” from Iowa, “who are doing the bombings.”

Sanders’s Germans were responsible for the 
Components Concepts Corporation blast and also 
the “North Assembly,” a police substation bombed 
on June 11 in North Omaha.  Sanders was shown 
“several hundred photos” out of the “Indmo 55 
group” of police mug shots and identified Darrell as Henry Casperi.

Henry Casperi, who had been arrested in Omaha at 
the bus depot, had an FBI file which documented 
an arrest in Laguna Beach, California for assault against a police officer.

At 8:45 a.m. a police informant, Tyrone Stearns 
alias Turner, told police that Luther Payne, who 
had been arrested in July possessing dynamite, 
was a Black Panther.  The informer also said he 
was present at a Black Panther meeting on 
Wednesday after the Components Concept 
Corporation bombing and the operation was described as a success.

Paul Young, special agent-in-charge, called FBI 
Headquarters and requested a FBI Laboratory 
supervisor travel to Omaha “for the purpose of 
furnishing technical guidance” to local 
police.Meanwhile, police got a visitor to 
headquarters at 1:50 p.m. when a taxi-driver 
named Richard Gibson asked to speak to an officer about the Minard murder.

Gibson lived on Ohio Street three blocks from the 
bombing and told police he was a former member of 
the Omaha chapter of the Black Panthers who had a 
falling out with then-leader Eddie Bolden.  A 
police report says “Gibson stated that he felt 
that some of the group still has it in for him 
and may be trying to involve him in the bombing.”

Gibson told police he had just delivered a fare 
and drove to the sound of the explosion but was 
stopped at 30th & Ohio by police who had already 
cordoned off the crime scene.  Gibson ended his 
visit by telling police the Black Panthers had 
also worked with “Caucasian” members of the Peace 
and Freedom Party in Lincoln, Nebraska.

At 8 p.m. Detective Swanson was busy going over 
surveillance photos his intelligence unit had 
taken of NCCF headquarters in July looking for 
clues.  Tracking down the license number of one 
car containing two white men, Swanson got names, 
Donald Stirling and Roger Duncan.  Duncan was 
questioned about his coming and going from the 
Panther office.  Duncan said the two were 
volunteers for United Methodist Ministers 
investigating reports of police harassment.

Swanson wrote in his report:  “DUNCAN further 
said that he did not think the Panthers were 
involved
.Duncan said that party policy was 
strictly defensive right now.  He indicated that 
they would need authority from National Headquarters to place a bomb.”

“DUNCAN has said that in his opinion, the person 
who committed the crime would be one party who 
feels that he is alienated from society.”

Swanson noted that pinned to the wall were 
several scorched draft cards.  Swanson reported, 
“This information was given to Agent HARRIS, FBI.”

Officer Arnold Dailey was also working late and 
at 10:20 p.m. filed a report about an interview 
with a Mrs. White and a Mr. Jerks earlier in the 
evening.  Both White and Jerks said they had seen 
Duane Peak with “a light gray Samsonite suitcase 
which looked like it was heavy.”

Mrs. White added that Duane did not own a 
suitcase and had only a few clothes.  Dailey’s 
report said Peak “throws them over his arm 
whenever he moves from place to place.”

“The next day he stated that he has to lay low 
because they (Police) has a warrant and they are 
looking for him.  He was also bragging about 
bombing the house at 2867 Ohio St.”

Dailey’s report on Peak also said Duane stole a 
police riot gun, burglarized a gas station and 
fire bombed a shack behind the gas 
station.  Duane’s night of crime against Erikson 
filling station was with Russell Peak according 
to the police report.  “Russell PEAK is also the 
one responsible for shooting a white male on 30th 
Street, Mr. Jenks and Mrs. White stated.”

Sgt. Robert Pfeffer interviewed Annie Morris at 
police headquarter.  According to Pfeffer’s 
report of the session Morris said Duane Peak had 
asked for the phone number of the police station 
a day or so before the bombing.  Morris also told 
of an exchange between Duane and Donald Peak on 
Monday night after the explosion.

Pfeffer’s report gives Morris’s account:  “Duane 
PEAK was setting [sic] with her on the couch in 
the front room and DONNIE came to the front 
window and scared her, DONNIE said that at this 
time the Police were trying to scare the ones who 
did it and that DONNIE then asked DUANE, “what’s 
the matter boy, can’t you get any sleep”?  Then, 
“don [sic] let that bother you.”

At 10:33 p.m. Pfeffer took Morris to the sixth 
floor Communications Room where the 911 tape was 
played for her repeatedly.  Morris initially said 
she thought the voice was Duane’s then she 
switched brothers.  “However, after listening to 
the tape, two and three times, she stated it 
sounded like Donnie PEAK, disguising his voice, or trying to do so.

A public break in the case came the next day when 
a warrant for murder was issued on August 22, 
1970, against 15 year-old Duane Peak. At 6 p.m.a 
teenager, Theresa Peak, was brought in for 
questioning.  Theresa told police that shortly 
after sundown on August 16 her two brothers 
Donald, Jr. and Duane got into her car and that 
Duane was carrying a suitcase.  After an hour of 
intense questioning Theresa told of Duane’s confession to her.

The police report states:  “Theresa said that on 
Monday 17 Aug. 70 her brother Peak, Donald Jr. 
told her that Peak, Duane had put the bomb in the 
house, also that one day just before the funeral 
of Minard, Larry her brother Duane Peak was at 
her home and told her that he had put the bomb in 
the house that killed the policeman.”

The report continues:  “Theresa said that both 
brothers told her it was Nitro glyerine use [sic] 
in the bomb.  She further stated that Duane Peak 
told her that he had carried the suitcase from the Panther headquarters.”

While Theresa was being questioned, her sister 
Delia’s boyfriend, Willie Lee Haynie, was 
undergoing interrogation. Haynie admitted giving 
Duane Peak a ride with a suitcase to the alley 
behind Ohio Street near the bombing site but said 
he had no knowledge of any bomb.

The police report goes on with Haynie’s story, 
“when he got up the next morning he did hear 
PEAK, Donald, negro male, 20 years, and PEAK, 
Duane, laughing and talking about the bombing and 
stated that [Minard] had got blowed up and how 
many they sent to the hospital, both were making jokes about this incident.”

Chairman of the National Committee to Combat 
Fascism Ed Poindexter was also arrested.  The 
headquarters of the Black Panther affiliate chapter was raided that same day.

Poindexter had been subjected to regular police 
harassment and talks candidly about the 
experience: “Part of the COINTELPRO project was 
to harass party members around the clock seven 
days a week.  Never let up, try to break us or 
cause us to snap or drop out under the pressure.”

"At no time, not a single day went by that the 
police didn’t threaten to kill us
I would be 
careful not to be at the same place every night, 
to be so predictable that they could pull the 
same stunt they did on Fred Hampton on me.”

If the two Black Panther leaders were to be 
convicted they would need to be implicated by 
Duane Peak and tied to the crime by some type of physical evidence.

On the evening of August 22, Mondo we Langa’s 
home was raided and dynamite was purportedly 
found in the basement by detective Jack Swanson, 
the OPD liaison with the FBI.  Mondo was in 
Kansas City speaking at a rally for Black Panther 
Pete O’Neal who was facing federal gun charges 
brought by ATF agent Moore over the transport of a shotgun over state lines.

The search of Mondo’shouse began with a canvass 
for Duane Peak and grew into a hunt for 
explosives.  The police attempted to explain the 
search of the dwelling by claiming they had gotten a lead from Peak’s family.

Mondo we Langa denies any dynamite was ever in 
his home:  “Swanson says that when he and the 
other cops showed up at the house the door was 
open and the lights were on.  I don’t really have 
a clue yet exactly what happened but apparently 
what happened is police went through the house 
but did not have a search warrant,  that we know, 
they did not have a search warrant, what they had 
was an arrest warrant for Duane Peak. Aside from 
the fact he was in the party or associated with 
it, they had no reason to look for Duane Peak at 
my house.  Duane Peak was 15 years old.  He wasn’t somebody I hung with.”

“It is interesting to say the least that the 
police say we found dynamite in the basement next 
to the furnace.  But they took a picture, they 
took a photograph of my basement.  There is not 
dynamite in the photograph.  But they also took a 
photograph of a box of dynamite in the trunk of a 
police cruiser.  They took a photo of my basement 
and they claimed there is dynamite there, why not 
have a photo of dynamite in the basement?”

“There are all kinds of things about the case 
that are really pretty basic and pretty 
outrageous that are part of the record that 
people don’t know about,” says Mondo.

While the search for Duane Peak was underway, the 
police had older brother Donald in custody and 
played for him the 911 call that sent Larry 
Minard to his death.  Donald was interrogated in 
Room D of the Criminal Investigation Bureau on 
the 4th floor of the police headquarters.  Donald 
told Sergeant P. Foxall that Duane admitted 
killing Larry Minard.  Foxall played the 911 
recording for Donald to see if he would identify 
his brother’s voice.  Donald said he thought 
Duane was lying when he admitted killing a policeman.

In Washington D.C., FBI agent Bradley followed up 
on the COINTELPRO memo written three days earlier 
about the killer of Minard.  Bradley wanted to 
make sure the targeted people were charged with 
the murder and recommended approving Young’s 
request to send headquarters staff to Nebraska to steer the investigation.

In a heavily redacted COINTELPRO memorandum, not 
released until years later, Bradley wrote to 
Conrad:  “In referenced memorandum [8/17/70] the 
Director approved a request to assist the Omaha 
Police Department in captioned case through the use of [REDACTED].”

More redactions follow, then the memo 
continues:  “The SAC [Special Agent-in-Charge] 
noted that he had been instructed by the Bureau 
to suggest steps of possible assistance to the 
Omaha Police in solving the bombings.  He advised 
technical guidance of the type requested would 
provide maximum immediate assistance particularly since the [REDACTED].”

The confidential memo was sent to the same 
distribution list as Bradley’s earlier 
memorandum.  The plan was reviewed by Hoover 
personally and the memo bears his “OK” and distinctive “H” initial.

The COINTELPRO plan to help Omaha police solve 
the crime by sending out headquarters staff 
followed the withholding of a laboratory report 
on the identity of the 911 caller showing the 
true purpose of assistance was not aiding a 
search for truth or to catch Larry Minard’s 
killer but instead was a counterintelligence 
operation approved by J. Edgar Hoover to bring down Poindexter and we Langa.

Also signing the memo sealing the plot to direct 
the course of the case was George Moore. Although 
not on the copy list, George Moore was the head 
of the Racial Intelligence division and daily 
helped manage the COINTELPRO operation.

Both Bradley and Conrad initialed the 
document.  When Hoover gave his blessing to a 
counter-intelligence proposal his subordinates 
acted quickly, putting their signatures or initials in place.

Back in Omaha, the round-up of suspects continued 
through the weekend.  On Sunday there was a rally 
at Kountze Park to raise bail money for those in 
custody.  A group of 200 listened to community activist Ernie Chambers.

Just before noon at police headquarters Russell 
Peak, cousin of Duane, was brought in to the Room 
D interrogation room for questioning.  Russell 
told the police that in the previous month Duane 
told him how to construct a suitcase bomb. Duane 
did not identify a target or discuss police officers said Russell.

Monday morning at 3:42 a.m., a week after the 
Omaha bombing, the math-science building at the 
University of Wisconsin in Madison was bombed, 
killing a graduate student.  Recent Midwest 
bombings shattered the heartland in Minnesota, 
Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska putting law 
enforcement officers and the public on edge.

While the police sweep of the Near North Side 
continued in Omaha, Raleigh House, the NCCF 
treasurer, got unusual treatment from Arthur 
O’Leary in the prosecutor’s office.  House was 
arrested on a conspiracy to commit murder charge 
but released after one night in jail on a 
signature bond by O’Leary who refused comment on 
the reason for House’s release.

Meanwhile, Hoover got around to reviewing the 
COINTELPRO action being planned against Ed 
Poindexter that was proposed before Larry 
Minard’s murder.  On August 15, 1970, Paul Young 
wrote to Hoover proposing to exploit an article 
in the Omaha World Herald about the local Black 
Panther chapter.  Young wanted to get Poindexter 
in trouble with the national headquarters for his 
purported cooperation with “Whitey’s newspaper,” the Omaha World-Herald.

Hoover gave approval to the bogus letter plan but 
advised:  “It is suggested you include several 
misspellings to make the letter appear more 
authentic
.Take the usual security precautions to 
insure this letter and mailing cannot be traced to the Bureau.”

Hoover concluded his authorization, “This should 
be an excellent disruption technique.”

On Friday, August 28, 1970, Duane Peak now in 
custody and following a visit from his 
grandfather, Rev. Goodlett Foster, and his 
father, Donald Peak Sr. gave a statement to 
Sergeant Foxall at police headquarters.  Foxall’s 
report of the interview was made out at 3:20 p.m.

Peak claimed he had a desk at NCCF headquarters 
and dropped by Sunday afternoon before the 
bombing.  Peak told Foxall that he found a white 
envelope addressed to him in green ink.  Peak 
said that inside was a note that said: “DON’T 
TELL ANYONE ABOUT THE NOTE.  KEEP IT QUIET.  A TOP SECRET.”

Peak’s secret note gave him instructions to go to 
Lothrop Drug Store and pick up a suitcase that 
contained “highly classed confidential papers” 
which he was directed to deliver to an alley 
behind a house between Lake and Ohio 
Streets.  Peak claimed the note then instructed 
him to a phone booth on 24h Street where he was told to burn the note.

Peak said when he got to the phone booth at 2 
a.m. the phone rang and a woman’s voice told him 
to call police and report a woman 
screaming.  Peak said the woman told him to 
forget he ever saw a suitcase and hung up.

Foxall’s report continues, “DUANE said that he 
made the call but he used a different tone of voice.”

On September 5, Sgt. Robert Pfeffer went to the 
Dodge County Jail to interview Duane 
Peak.  Peak’s lawyer, Thomas Carey, had talked 
with Lt. Perry and said that Duane had 
information for police.  Peak told Pfeffer that 
Ed Poindexter approached him on August 10 with a 
“beautiful plan to blow up a pig.”

Peak said that Poindexter met him at Frank Peak 
Jr.’s house.  Frank, a cousin of Duane, was the 
defense captain of the NCCF.  A man named Raleigh 
House brought Poindexter over to Frank’s house at 
9:30 p.m. according to Peak.  From there Peak, 
Poindexter and House drove to Mondo we Langa’s 
home where Poindexter got out, according to Peak.

Peak then went with Raleigh House to pick up 
dynamite and a suitcase and returned to 
Mondo’shouse where the bomb was assembled by Ed 
Poindexter according to Pfeffer’s report.

Pfeffer wrote that Peak said that Poindexter“told 
me that he couldn’t plant the bomb, because they 
had his description and would know that he was 
the one who did it, so he asked me to do it, and he told me how to do it.”

Duane Peak said he waited several days before 
following the order allegedly given him by Ed 
Poindexter.  Peak claimed he was given a ride to 
Mondo’s house by a white woman, Norma Aufrecht, 
who also gave him a ride with the suitcase bomb after he picked it up.

Norma Aufrecht, a Black Panther supporter, would 
sometimes give party members rides in her 
father’s car.  When police searched her residence 
some of Duane Peak’s clothing was 
found.  Aufrecht was arrested during the sweep 
following the bombing but was released for insufficient evidence.

On October 12, 1970, William Sullivan, made his 
only public statement on the Omaha Two case.

Sullivan monitored COINTELPRO daily for Hoover 
and was on the copy list of the COINTELPRO memos 
involving the Omaha Two.  Sullivan’s remarks came 
up in a rare public speech to a United Press International conference.

Sullivan falsely denied any FBI role in any 
conspiracy against the Black Panthers.  About 
Minard’s death, Sullivan said to the gathered 
reporters and correspondents:  “On August 12, 
1970 [sic] an Omaha, Nebraska police officer was 
literally blasted to death by an explosive device 
placed in a suitcase in an abandoned 
residence.  The officer had been summoned by an 
anonymous telephone complaint that a woman was 
being beated [sic] there.  An individual with 
Panther associations has been charged with this crime.”

Sullivan went on describing a variety of violent 
acts for which he blamed the Black Panthers, 
including the deaths of rival group members that 
later would be discovered to be 
COINTELPRO-instigated shootings.  Sullivan 
dismissed the growing body of evidence that there 
was some sort of coordinated national effort 
against the Black Panthers that used illegal tactics.

“Panther cries of repression at the hands of a 
government “conspiracy” receive the sympathy not 
only of adherents to totalitarian ideologies, but 
also of those willing to close their eyes to even 
the violent nature of hoodlum “revolutionary” acts,” said Sullivan.

The next day Paul Young, at the Omaha FBI office, 
sent a COINTELPRO memo to J. Edgar Hoover 
following up on the 911 recording of Larry 
Minard’s fatal caller he had sent to the FBI Laboratory.

Young updated Hoover on the case:  “Assistant COP 
GLENN GATES, Omaha PD, advised that he feels that 
any uses of this call might be prejudicial to the 
police murder trial against two accomplices of 
PEAK and, therefore, has advised that he wishes 
no use of this tape until after the murder trials 
of Peak and the two accomplices has been completed.”

The COINTELPRO memo continued, “
no further 
efforts are being made at this time to secure 
additional recordings of the original telephone call.”

Meanwhile, in New York, FBI agents located Angela 
Davis and arrested her for the Marin County 
jailbreak in California.  Davis would remain 
jailed for months awaiting trial where she was 
found not guilty while at the same time in Omaha 
the two Panther leaders sat in jail.

The day after Young’s memo to Hoover about the 
911 tape, Murdock Platner was in Washington, D.C. 
to testify before U.S. House Committee on 
Internal Security about the Omaha Two case. 
Platner was under oath and testified to a 
different source for the dynamite than that 
alleged by Duane Peak at the preliminary hearing two weeks earlier.

Peak’s story was that Black Panther treasurer 
Raleigh House, who was never prosecuted, was the 
supplier of the dynamite that killed 
Minard.  Captain Platner told a different story to the Committee:

“Duane Peak, a [now] 16-year old boy who was 
arrested, testified in a preliminary hearing.  It 
is from this preliminary hearing you are bound 
over to the district court to stand trial.  In 
the preliminary hearing he testified that David 
Rice [Mondo we Langa] brought a suitcase filled 
with dynamite to his house or to somebody’s 
house, I’m not for sure just which place; that 
they removed all the dynamite from the suitcase 
except three sticks, made the bomb, the 
triggering device, and so on, and put it 
together; and then packed the suitcase with 
newspapers and that he left with this suitcase.”

Platner continued his testimony:  "On July 28, 
1970, three young Negroes, one who is an 
ex-Panther, were arrested with 41 2 ½ inch by 
16-inch sticks of dynamite in the car.  This is 
also similar to the dynamite taken in burglary in Des Moines of Quick Supply."

Platner then quit answering questions from the 
Committee, "Now I am a little hesitant to go into 
the rest of this because there is a trial yet to 
be held. I don't know what I should say."

Platner would also travel to Washington to 
testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary 
Committee where he would tell a similar story but 
with different amounts of dynamite confiscated by 
police from the three men detective Jack Swanson 
was investigating from the July arrests.

Neither of Platner’s trips, nor his conflicting 
dynamite testimony, was ever reported by the 
Omaha news media or mentioned in the trial of Ed 
Poindexter and Mondo we Langa.

At the April 1971 murder trial the jury never 
heard the 911 recording of Minard’s 
killer.  Duane Peak alleged he planted the bomb 
and made the anonymous phone call.  Peak 
testified he was supplied with the dynamite by 
Raleigh House and claimed the bomb was 
constructed at Mondo we Langa’s home under orders of Ed Poindexter.

Norma Aufrecht moved from Omaha soon after her 
release from jail and was not called to testify 
at the murder trial about Duane Peak’s clothing 
found at her residence or Peak’s claim she gave 
him a ride to Mondo we Langa’s house.

The jury never knew that three men had been 
arrested several weeks earlier in the city before 
the bombing with a cache of stolen dynamite in their car.

Nor did the jury know the detective in charge of 
the seized explosives later allegedly found 
dynamite in the Minard case.   The jury was also 
not told that Captain Platner testified twice in 
Washington, D.C.to two different Congressional 
committees about the dynamite, leaving dynamite 
unaccounted for by giving a different amount seized in his two versions.

Jack Swanson was the star police witness against 
the two Panthers at trial with his claim of 
discovery of dynamite in the basement of Mondo we 
Langa’s residence.  Swanson's claim was supported 
by fellow detective Robert Pfeffer who testified 
he first saw the dynamite when Swanson carried it 
up the stairs from Mondo's basement.  Pfeffer has 
since contradicted his own trial testimony and 
now claims under oath that he, not Swanson, found the dynamite.

Lieutenant James Perry testified Peak’s sister 
Delia said the teenager might be found there.

Perry’s testimony was carefully reviewed by U.S. 
District Judge Warren Urbom in a later appeal by 
Mondo we Langa.  Judge Urbom dismissed the police 
story:  “Lt. Perry’s testimony that Delia Peak 
told him that Duane Peak, Edward Poindexter and 
David Rice [Mondo we Langa] were constant 
companions is in no way corroborated by the remainder of the record before me.”

Judge Urbom concluded the police account of the 
search warrant was unreliable.  “On the basis of 
the entire record before this court and having 
heard and seen Lt. Perry testify, it is 
impossible for me to credit his testimony.”

Jack Swanson’s role in the Minard case was good 
for his career.  On November 26, 1972, he was 
promoted to lieutenant and was again promoted on 
August 22, 1975 to Deputy Chief of Police.  In 
1981 Swanson was named Chief of Police in Omaha.

Raleigh House was never prosecuted for supplying 
Peak with the dynamite, adding to speculation he 
was the FBI’s informer inside the Panther group 
because of his get-out-of-jail free treatment in 
the police dragnet after the bombing.

Luther Payne, Lamont Mitchell, and Conrad Gray 
all quietly had their dynamite possession charges 
dropped a week after the murder trial ended.

Duane Peak made a deal with prosecutors, escaping 
punishment as an adult and walked free from 
juvenile detention when he turned 18 years 
old.  Peak is now living on the West Coast under 
the name Gabriel Peak and refuses all comment on 
the case.  Arthur O’Leary confirmed the deal with 
Peak in an interview with the Washington Post on January 8, 1978.

COINTELPRO was officially terminated 10 days 
after the Omaha Two were convicted, following 
disclosure of secret FBI files after a March 8, 
1971 break-in of the Media, Pennsylvania satellite FBI office.

A group of unidentified activists called the 
Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI made 
their way under the cover of darkness with 
crowbars into the non-alarmed second-floor office 
and emptied desks and file cabinets, including 1,000 classified documents.

Hoover was furious and ordered chief inspector 
Mark Felt, Watergate’s “Deep Throat,” to go to 
Media and get a first hand report.  Despite an 
intense effort for a year with a massive 
investigation to catch the burglars, the crime 
was never solved.  Meanwhile, the activists were 
busy leaking the documents to media and government officials.

By the end of March, COINTELPRO’s dirty tricks 
were coming to light despite Attorney General 
John Mitchell’s efforts to muzzle the national 
news media.  Hoover kept the lid on his 
counterintelligence operation during the Omaha 
Two trial before cancelling the clandestine 
operation late in April.  The jury never knew of 
COINTELPRO’s existence or that Ed Poindexter and 
Mondo we Langa were personal targets of J. Edgar Hoover.

J. Edgar Hoover died on May 2, 1972 without ever 
making a public statement about his role in 
letting one of Larry Minard’s killers escape justice.

Also unknown to the jurors, Arthur O’Leary, the 
chief courtroom prosecutor who stood before them, 
did not care about the truth.  The transcript 
from an interrogation of Peak by O’Leary soon 
after Peak’s arrest reveals the prosecutor said, 
“As a practical matter, it doesn’t make any 
difference what the truth is concerning you at all.”

O’ Leary continued, “You realize now that it 
doesn’t make any difference whether you did or 
didn’t.  That doesn’t really make one bit of 
difference at all at this stage of the game but I 
want to make sure concerning somebody else that 
might have been involved.  Because you see what 
it amounts to, Duane, is that eventually you are 
going to have to testify about everything you 
said here and it isn’t going to make one bit of 
difference whether or not you leave out one fact 
or not, as far as you are concerned.  Do you 
understand what I am trying to tell you?”

Peak got O’Leary’s message and after a half-dozen 
different versions of his story finally 
implicated the two Panther leaders.  In the 
solitude of his jail cell, the young killer would 
express remorse in a letter to a relative, 
intercepted by his jailers but kept from the 
defense attorneys at trial.  The letter would 
later emerge and become part of the appellate court record.

Peak wrote: “The Lord knows I tried but something 
happened which forced me to realize that I had no 
alternative but to say what I said.  No matter 
what anyone says from now on I refuse to call 
myself a man, or anything close to a man because 
I did what I did.  Even though there was no other 
way, because they already had enough evidence to 
convict those other two bloods.”

Peak continued his lament: “I not only turned 
against those two bloods but I turned against 
myself and my own people.  I could have denied 
everything and all three of us would have gone up 
to the chair.  And then again if I denied 
everything one of those other bloods would have 
gave them a story and sent me and the other dude up.”

At Dune Peak’s preliminary hearing in September 
he refused to implicate Ed Poindexter or Mondo we 
Langa.  The prosecution called for an early 
recess to the morning hearing.  When the session 
reconvened after the lunch hour Peak returned to 
the witness stand wearing sunglasses and shaking 
nervously.  When defense counsel David Herzog had 
Peak remove his sunglasses his eyes were red and 
puffy.  The courtroom testimony follows:

Defense Attorney:  What happened to make you 
shake and bring your nervous condition about now?

Duane Peak:  I don’t know.

Defense Attorney:  You had a conversation between 
the time you were placed on the witness stand 
this morning and the present time now, isn’t that correct?

Duane Peak:  Yes.

Defense Attorney:  And there were the same things 
that the police officers told you about what 
would happen to you, like sitting in the electric chair, isn’t that correct?

Duane Peak:  I didn’t have a chance.

Defense Attorney:  You didn’t have a chance did you?

Duane Peak:  No.

Defense Attorney:  You are doing what they want you to do, aren’t you?

Duane Peak:  Yes.

In California on June 5, 1972, Angela Davis was 
found not guilty of involvement in the Marin 
County jailbreak but her experience in jail gave 
her a connection with Black Panthers arrested 
under COINTELPRO, in particular the Omaha Two, who she says should be released.

Geronimo Pratt did not fare as well. On July 28, 
1972, Pratt was convicted in Los Angeles of the 
December 18, 1968 shooting of Caroline Olsen 
during a robbery.  Pratt was fingered by a FBI 
informant, Julius Carl Butler.  Pratt’s alibi was 
he was in Oakland attending a Black Panther 
meeting which was corroborated by Kathleen 
Cleaver.  Pratt sought FBI wiretap records which 
also could confirm his innocence of the 
robbery-murder by establishing his presence in 
Oakland.  Pratt was falsely told by the FBI that 
wiretap transcripts were “lost or destroyed” and 
during the trial it was denied that he was a COINTELPRO target.

Geronimo Pratt was finally released after 27 
years in prison, eight years of it in solitary 
confinement, when his conviction was vacated on 
June 10, 1997 over FBI and prosecutorial 
misconduct withholding relevant information about 
the FBI informant and targeting of Pratt.  Pratt 
later won $4.5 million dollar lawsuit against the 
Los Angeles Police Department and FBI for false imprisonment.

Ivan Willard Conrad resigned from the FBI on July 
12, 1973.  In December 1975, Conrad was 
questioned over missing FBI laboratory equipment 
and initially denied any knowledge.  Conrad then 
changed his story and returned $20,000 worth of 
equipment.  The disgraced former lab director 
escaped prosecution because of the statute of 
limitations and paid the FBI $1,500 for use of the equipment.

On July 5, 1974, U.S. District Judge Warren Urbom 
ordered a new trial in the Minard case, tossing 
out the dynamite evidence allegedly found by 
Swanson in Mondo we Langa’s home.  The state appealed.

The Eighth Circuit U. S. Court of Appeals had a 
three-judge panel review the case and they 
unanimously upheld Judge Urbom’s ruling.  The 
federal appellate court wrote:  “Testimony before 
Judge Urbom suggests that the purpose of 
searching for explosives was an afterthought 
conceived after the police arrived at the house, 
rather than an urgent emergency, and that they 
decided to apply for a warrant to search for 
explosives in the petitioner’s house only because 
they had not discovered dynamite in any of the 
other locations they had searched earlier in the day.”

The court continued:  “We consider it necessary 
to point out that the record discloses a 
widespread search for the suspects Peak and 
Poindexter and which evinced at least a negligent 
disregard by the Omaha police for the 
constitutional rights of not only petitioner but 
possibly other citizens as well.”

With four federal judges now calling for a new 
trial, the state appealed to the U.S. Supreme 
Court.  The appeal arrived at the court as Warren 
Burger, the chief justice appointed by Richard 
Nixon before the President resigned in disgrace 
over Watergate.  Burger was busy seeking to 
overturn earlier decisions of his predecessor, 
Earl Warren.  Mondo’s case was consolidated with 
another murder appeal, Stone v. Powell.

However, judicial scrutiny of the facts of the 
case was over, the two political prisoners of J. 
Edgar Hoover next had their case examined by the 
nation’s highest court through a political lens. 
Time magazine called the case “important” and 
described the jockeying of the justices in a 
campaign over rights of criminal 
defendants.  Authors Bob Woodward and Scott 
Armstrong discuss Stone v. Powell in their book, 
The Brethren, “To Burger, these seemed perfect 
cases: two murderers were trying to overturn 
their convictions by raising technical Fourth Amendment claims.”

Woodward and Armstrong continued, “Under the 
Constitution, any state prisoner has a right to 
petition the federal courts for a writ of habeas 
corpus, which required the state to show that the 
imprisonment did not violate the federal Constitution.”

The authors wrote:  “Burger had long wanted to 
cut off habeas petitions on Fourth Amendment 
claims.  He believed they were almost always 
frivolous, and they clogged the federal 
courts.  To preclude such petitions – and to 
overrule an important Warren Court precedent – would be a major victory.”

The Supreme Court refused to hear the merits of 
the case, creating new restrictive precedent for 
prisoner appeals and returned the matter to 
Nebraska courts where the outcome was already 
foreshadowed by media attention hostile to the 
Black Panthers.  No new trial was ever granted 
despite requests from both convicted men and the 
revelation of manipulation of evidence by J. Edgar Hoover

The U.S. Senate appointed a committee to 
investigate the intelligence agencies of the 
United States.  The sub-committee of the 
Judiciary Committee was chaired by Frank Church 
[D-Idaho] which became known as the Church Committee.

The Church Committee conducted an investigation 
and issued a damning report on the practices of 
the nation’s intelligence agencies.  COINTELPRO 
got particular attention and illegal actions of the FBI were documented.

The Church Committee concluded in part: “Legal 
issues were often overlooked by many of the 
intelligence officers who directed these 
operations.  Some held a pragmatic view of 
intelligence activities that did not regularly 
attach sufficient significance to questions of 
legality.  The question raised was usually not 
whether a particular program was legal or ethical, but whether it worked.”

The full story of COINTELPRO will never be 
known.  Neither Congress nor the courts seized 
the COINTELPRO files and they were left in the 
custody of the FBI which began destruction of the 
incriminating documents after 20 years with many never seeing the light of day.

Over the years Angela Davis continues to make 
trips to Nebraska to visit the Omaha Two.  Actor 
Danny Glover has also made the trip to Lincoln 
and has called for the release of the two former 
Panther leaders.A citizen group, Nebraskans for 
Justice, formed to support a legal battle for a new trial.

Lincoln attorney Robert Bartle, head of the 
Nebraska Bar Association, has worked for a 
half-decade to obtain a new trial untainted by 
COINTELPRO manipulation.  Omaha attorney Tim 
Ashford, who grew up on Ohio Street a few blocks 
from the murder scene, has joined the effort to 
secure a fair trial.  Bartle represents Ed 
Poindexter and Ashford represents Mondo we Langa.

Robert Bartle says: “The whole COINTELPRO 
operation under the late J. Edgar Hoover’s 
administration was unknown to the folks at the 
time.   The whole COINTELPRO focus on Ed and 
Mondo
and the efforts to discredit them in the 
Omaha community were a separate conspiratorial 
operation that was not known to either Ed or Mondo.”

Bartle continues: “The fact that the tape was 
withheld from the defense at the time and the 
fact that the FBI under the auspices of the 
COINTELPRO program, first offering to do a voice 
analysis and then retreated from that position 
because it might prejudice the prosecution we 
believe is critical information
that would likely 
have led to an acquittal in this case.”

Tim Ashford is sharp with his criticism of 
COINTELPRO, “They withheld, the FBI, the mighty 
FBI, withheld a memo regarding the 911 tape
these are political prisoners

The recording of the 911 call that lured Larry 
Minard to his death was destroyed by Lt. James 
Perry several years after the trial without the 
jury that convicted the Panther leaders ever 
hearing the voice of the deadly caller.

Years after the murder trial, a copy of the 911 
call was found in the personal effects of a 
deceased police dispatcher who had secretly made a copy of the recording.

In 2006 and 2007 the tape was subjected to 
sophisticated scientific analysis by audio 
forensics expert Tom Owen.  Owen is an 
internationally recognized analyst and he 
listened to exemplars of the 911 call and a 
contemporary recording of Duane Peak repeating the same words.

Owen, who frequently works for the prosecution 
and conducts professional seminars for police on 
voice analysis, concluded the voice on the 911 
call was not that of 15 year-old Duane Peak.  The 
Omaha World-Herald described the voice as “deep and drawling.”

Owen testified in May 2007 that the voices did 
not match with a detailed phrase-by-phrase 
courtroom explanation of the 
discrepancies.  However, Judge Russell Bowie 
denied a new trial in a decision that was upheld 
by the Nebraska Supreme Court.  Despite the new 
forensic evidence about the identity of the 911 
caller, federal courts have declined review 
because both prisoners have exhausted their 
appeal rights during their lengthy incarceration.

The anonymous 911 caller is still unidentified 
and at large with Donald Peak considered a prime 
suspect by a number of people familiar with the case.

At the time of trial, Nebraska law had the jury 
determine both guilt or innocence and the 
sentence.  Prosecutors sought the death penalty 
for the two Panther leaders but the 11 white and 
one black juror opted for life sentences 
instead.  Some observers attributed the sentence 
to the lone black juror while others felt the 
outcome reflected doubt in the minds of the 
jurors.  The impassioned closing arguments by 
Public Defender Frank Morrison have also been 
credited for the jury’s refusal to execute.

Morrison, a former three-term governor of 
Nebraska, later described the verdict as the 
biggest disappointment of his legal career: “As a 
citizen, as a former prosecutor, and governor of 
this state, I abhor, detest and condemn the 
cowardly, cruel, and unjustified murder of 
officer Minard.  My heart aches for his 
family.  The guilty parties should pay the 
penalty.  The self-confessed murderer was turned 
loose after a slap on the wrist.”

“I now believe and always have believed that the 
true role of law enforcement is truth.  Real 
justice can only be built on truth.  I hope the 
Congress and other policy makers will reestablish 
this policy.  I feel both I and the system failed Ed Poindexter.”

Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa remain 
imprisoned at the maximum-security Nebraska State 
Penitentiary serving life sentences, while they 
continue to deny any role in the fatal bombing.

Mondo we Langa explains his situation:  “We 
didn’t know about COINTELPRO
but what we did know 
in the party is that in ’69 Fred Hampton and Mark 
Clark had been murdered by the police in 
Chicago.  We knew that all over the country 
Panthers were being targeted by the police, the 
FBI and so forth.  Even though we didn’t know 
about the existence of COINTELPRO we did know 
that some things were going on that shouldn’t 
have been going on in a supposed democracy.  It 
is about paranoia.  And when you think about it 
the U.S. government had a right to be 
paranoid.  They were doing wrong to people every day.”

“But there were a couple of agendas working hand 
in hand.  One, you had the Omaha Police 
Department.  Two, you had the FBI.  Now the FBI’s 
agenda was probably more related to the 
destruction of the Black Panther Party 
solely.  The Omaha Police had that as part of 
their agenda as well as finding the killer or 
killers of Minard.  You can believe those cops 
wanted somebody.  But when you put the two 
agendas together, that is where we ended 
up.  Somebody had to pay for Minard’s killing, so 
they got that taken care of.  At the same time 
they were able to essentially kill the head so the body would die.”

Ed Poindexter says simply, “I have been unjustly 
accused of a crime I had nothing to do with.”

Author’s note:  Elmer Geronimo Pratt changed his 
name to Geronimo Ji Jaga but Pratt has been used 
in the article to avoid reader confusion.  David 
L. Rice changed his name while in prison to 
Wopashitwe Eyen Mondo we Langa which has been 
shortened to Mondo we Langa for reader 
convenience.  Mondo’s new name combines four 
African languages and means “natural man”.




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415 863-9977

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