Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Bill Clinton has been quietly doing away with those who oppose him.
Origins: A new version of a lengthy list of deaths associated with Bill Clinton began circulating on the Internet in August 1998. According to it, there have been close to fifty suspicious deaths of colleagues, advisors and citizens who were about to testify against the Clintons, with the unstated implication that Bill Clinton or his henchmen were behind each untimely
We shouldn't have to tell anyone not to believe this claptrap, but we will anyway. In a frenzied media climate where the Chief Executive couldn't boff a White House intern without the whole world finding out every niggling detail of each encounter and demanding his removal from office, are we seriously to believe the same man had been having double handfuls of detractors and former friends murdered with impunity?
Don't be swayed by the number of names listed on screeds like this. Any public figure is bound to have a much wider circle of acquaintance than an ordinary citizen would. Moreover, the acquaintance is often one-sided
"Body count" lists are not a new phenomenon. Lists documenting all the allegedly "suspicious" deaths of persons connected with the assassination of
But where did all this craziness start? In 1994, in a letter to congressional leaders, former
Dannemeyer's list of "suspicious deaths" was largely taken from one compiled by Linda Thompson, an Indianapolis lawyer who in 1993 quit her year-old general practice to run her American Justice Federation, a
Her list, called "The Clinton Body Count: Coincidence or the Kiss of Death?" then contained the names of
Ah, but they had. If not before she put her list together, at least afterwards. Anyone who continues to state the mainstream media has given these claims short shrift is being disingenuous.
Since 1994, various respected news outlets have been confronted with versions of the "Clinton Body Count" list, run their own investigations of a few of the claims, and found nothing to substantiate what they looked into. Those investigations would culminate in yet another story about an oddball conspiracy rumor.
But conspiracy theories don't die that easily. These "body count" lists and the many specious claims contained therein continue to circulate in cyberspace and beyond: yesterday's newspaper articles are forgotten with the next day's delivery, but
The 2007 "Clinton Body Count" list was headed with this entry:
James McDougal - Clinton's convicted Whitewater partner died of an apparent heart attack, while in solitary confinement. He was a key witness in Ken Starr's investigation.James McDougal, a key witness for Whitewater prosecutors when the investigation centered on an Arkansas land deal in which the president and McDougal were involved, had a pre-existing heart condition and died of a heart attack on
The McDougal entry was not part of the "Clinton Body Count" list as it circulated in 1998. This is what we found when we looked into those entries:
1. Mary Mohane - former White House intern gunned down in a coffee shop. Nothing was taken. It was suspected that she was about to testify about sexual harassment at the White House.Former White House intern Mary Caitrin Mahoney, 25, manager of a Georgetown Starbucks, was killed along with two
Yes, it is unusual that three employees were killed in the course of a robbery during which nothing was taken. According to Cooper's
And, right away, we have come to the first big lie of the "Clinton Body Count" list: Any unexplained death can automatically be attributed to President Clinton by inventing a connection between him and the victim. Mary Mahoney did once work as an intern at the White House, but so have hundreds of other people who are all still alive. There is no credible reason why, of all the interns who have served in the Clinton White House, Mahoney alone would be the target of a Clinton-directed killing. (Contrary to public perception, very few interns work in the West Wing of the White House or have any contact with the President. The closest most interns get to the chief executive is a brief handshake or a group photo.)
The putative reason offered for Mahoney's slaying
2. Vincent Foster - former White House Counsel, found dead of a gunshot wound to the head and ruled a suicide. He had significant knowledge of the Clintons' financial affairs and was a business partner with Hillary. If the Clintons are guilty of the crimes they are accused of by Larry, Vincent Foster would have detailed knowledge of those crimes.This laundry list of deaths always refers to someone taking his life as "ruled a suicide," thus implying another conclusion of equal likelihood was capriciously dismissed by someone who had the power to do so. From here on, read "ruled a suicide" as "an investigation was carried out, arriving at this as the only reasonable conclusion."
White House deputy counsel Vince Foster committed suicide on the night of
On 10 October 1997, special prosecutor Kenneth Starr released his report on the investigation into Foster's death, the third such investigation (after ones conducted by the coroner and Starr's predecessor,
If Foster had been murdered or if unanswered questions about his death remained, Starr would have been the last person to want to conclude the investigation prematurely. Or are we to believe Starr is part of the cover up, too? And if we buy into the conspiracy theory, what are we expected to believe? That a group of professional killers capable of carrying out dozens of murders all over the world shot Vince Foster, then clumsily dumped him in a park (after he had bled out), planted a gun he didn't own in his hand (without bothering to press his fingerprints onto it), amateurishly forged a suicide note (in several different handwritings), then expected the nation would believe it was suicide?
3. C. Victor Raiser, II - former National Finance Co-Chairman of Clinton for President, and Montgomery Raiser, his son. Both died in a suspicious private plane crash in Alaska. No cause determined. Raiser was considered to be a major player on the Clinton team.All plane crashes are "suspicious," because airplanes are supposed to stay in the air, and when they don't it's because something went terribly wrong. Pilot error and mechanical failure are by far the most common causes underlying any crash. The National Transportation Safety Board investigates every downed plane in the U.S., and though they might not always pin down the exact cause of a crash, they're generally pretty good about ruling out the use of explosives or mechanical tampering. If the NTSB doesn't find evidence of tampering or explosives, that's not what downed the plane, and we're left with pilot error and mechanical failure as our choices.
Raiser, his son, and three others died in a plane crash in Alaska on
See what the NTSB had to say about this accident.
4. Paul Tully - DNC Political Director, was found dead in a Little Rock hotel room. No cause was ever determined and no autopsy was allowed. Tully was a key member of the damage control squad and came up with some of the Clinton strategies.Paul Tully died on
Note again that the conspiracy buffs offer no putative reason for Tully's "killing," yet would have us believe that Clinton ordered his chief strategist rubbed out while the most important election of his career was still over a month away.
5. Ed Willey - Clinton fund raiser. Found in the woods in Virginia with a gunshot wound to the head. Ruled a suicide.Ed Willey was a former Virginia state senator and a lawyer; his wife Kathleen was active in Democratic state politics, worked as a volunteer (including some fund-raising efforts) on behalf of the Clinton campaign in Virginia in 1992, and later worked as a volunteer in the White House Social Office. Ed Willey's death was as clear cut a case of suicide as one is likely to find. Willey was a desperate, unstable man who (along with his wife) spent money lavishly, stole $275,000 of a client's money, and was about half a million dollars in debt to the IRS. He took his own life on
At the same time as Willey was killing himself, his wife was allegedly being groped by Clinton. She'd gone to the Chief Executive looking for a job to help her family out of its financial crisis and found herself fending off Clinton's advances. Clinton admits to the meeting but denies her version of what went on during it. Kathleen Willey testified in Paula Jones' harrassment suit against Clinton, but she's never claimed that Clinton had her husband killed.
6. Hershell Friday - Clinton fund-raiser. His plane exploded.Herschel Friday, an Arkansas lawyer who had been on the Clinton campaign finance committee, died in a airplane accident on 1 March 1994. His plane did not "explode"; the elderly (73-year-old) Friday, at the controls, crashed it during an attempted landing on a poorly-lighted private airfield at dusk on a dark and drizzly day.
See what the NTSB had to say about this accident.
7. Jerry Parks - former security team member for Governor Clinton. Prior to his death he had compiled an extensive file on Clinton's activities. His family had reported being followed and his home broken into just before being gunned down at a deserted intersection.On 26 September 1993, Luther (Jerry) Parks was hit with ten bullets from a
Parks' security company guarded Clinton's campaign headquarters in 1992. Parks' son, Gary, asserts in Circle of Power and The Clinton Chronicles (both video products of Linda Thompson's American Justice Federation) that his father collected a secret file of Clinton's indiscretions, and that his father was using the file to try to blackmail the Clinton campaign. (He also claims that Vince Foster knew of the file's existence.) Despite these allegations, the younger Parks has failed to produce the mysterious file, and Clyde Steelman, the homicide sergeant with the Little Rock police force, dismissed Gary Parks' theories of his father's death as "unsubstantiated, nothing to grasp." A far more likely suspect in the murder is Jerry Parks' former partner, with whom Parks had quarreled bitterly.
8. John Wilson - former Washington D.C. council member. Had ties to Whitewater. Died of a very suspicious hanging suicide.John Wilson was the chairman of the District of Columbia Council, and his suicide was far from "very suspicious": Wilson had a long history of depression, was wrestling with marital problems, and had tried to kill himself on at least four other occasions. He finally succeeded on
Wilson had absolutely nothing in common with Clinton other than that they worked in the same city (i.e., Washington, D.C.). The claim that Wilson had anything to do with Whitewater is laughable.
9. Kathy Ferguson - former wife of Arkansas State Trooper Danny Ferguson, the co-defendant with Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones lawsuit. Found dead in her living room of a gunshot wound to the head. Ruled a suicide. Interestingly, her packed suitcases seemed to indicate she was about to go somewhere.Kathy Ferguson killed herself with a gunshot to the right temple on
There was no mention of packed suitcases in any of the reports about Ferguson's death examined so far, but even if there were, it wouldn't be the least bit surprising
10. Bill Shelton - Arkansas state trooper and fiance of Kathy Ferguson. Allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself at her grave.Shelton killed himself over Kathy Ferguson's grave on
11. Gandy Baugh - attorney for Dan Lasater in a financial misconduct case. Supposedly jumped out the window of a tall building to commit suicide.News accounts stated that Gandy Baugh died "at home" on
12. Dr. Donald Rogers - dentist. Killed in a suspicious plane crash on his way to an interview with reporter Ambrose Evans-Pritchard to reveal information about Clinton.On 3 March 1994, the Cessna carrying a pilot, Donald Rogers, and two other passengers crashed. The pilot had earlier radioed in that he was experiencing electrical trouble and then lost radio contact. The NTSB investigation after the crash revealed that the plane's left generator severely overheated and shut down, leaving the plane without electrical systems. The plane went down far off its planned route, and the pilot was good and lost at the time of the crash.
See what the NTSB had to say about this accident.
13. Stanley Huggins - lawyer investigating Madison Guaranty.   Suicide.   His extensive report has never been released.How anyone can confuse dying of pneumonia with suicide is beyond me. Huggins died on
14. Florence Martin - Accountant for the CIA and had information on the Barry Seal case. Three gunshot wounds to the head.On 23 October 1994, 69-year-old Florence Martin of Mabelle, Texas
15. Suzane Coleman - reportedly had an affair with Clinton. Was seven months pregnant at the time she was found dead of a gun shot wound to the back of the head, ruled suicide.At the time of Susan Coleman's suicide, Bill Clinton was her law professor. In 1992 an overzealous supporter of George Bush hired investigators to probe this girl's 1977 suicide. They found no evidence that the two had even had an affair. It was an old rumor and a baseless one, and even a determined attempt at muckraking turned up nothing to substantiate it.
16. Paula Grober - Clinton's interpreter for the deaf. Traveled with Clinton from 1978 until her death in 1992 in a one-car accident. There were no witnesses.The accident took place during the afternoon of
17. Paul Wilcher - attorney investigating corruption. He had investigated federal elections, drug and gun smuggling through Mena, the Waco incident, and had just delivered a lengthy report to Janet Reno. He died in his home of unknown causes.Wilcher's partially decomposed body was found seated on the toilet in his Washington D.C. home on
18. Jon Parnell Walker - RTC investigator who mysteriously fell to his death from an apartment balcony.I can find nothing about this man, not a report of his death or of his being an Resolution Trust Corporation investigator. Various lists state this tragedy happened on
19. Ron Brown - former DNS Chairman, Commerce Secretary. Reported to have died in a plane crash, but new evidence reveals he may have been shot in the head. He was being investigated by a special investigator and was about to be indicted withWhat "new evidence"? Ron Brown and
A lot has been made of an x-ray of Brown's skull in which what looks like a round entry wound appears. Closer examination of Brown's skull by military officials revealed no bullet, no bone fragments, no metal fragments and, even more telling, no exit wound.
Simply imagining a scenario under which Ron Brown could have been shot takes one into the realm of the absurd. Was he shot in the head during the flight, in full view of thirty-four other witnesses? (If so, how did the shooters get off the plane?) Did the killers shoot him before the flight, then bundle his body into a seat (just like Weekend at Bernie's) and hope nobody noticed the gaping hole in his head? Or did Croatian commandos fortuitously appear on the scene to scale a mountain and pump a bullet into the head of an already-dead plane crash victim?
See what the Air Force had to say about this crash.
20. Barbara Wise - Commerce Department secretary. Worked with Ron Brown and John Huang and had extensive knowledge of their activities. Found dead in her locked office the day after Thanksgiving. It was ruled a suicide. Interestingly, she was found partially clothed, bruised, and in a pool of blood.There was no pool of blood, and Barbara Wise's death was never ruled a suicide by anyone. She was discovered in her Commerce Department office on
21. Charles Meissner - Assistant Secretary of Commerce. John Huang was given a special security clearance by Meissner. Shortly thereafter, he died in the crash of a small plane.Charles Meissner died in the same plane crash that took the life of Ron Brown, the one in Croatia on
We're now entering an long segment of the list wherein a number of deaths are tied to those of Henry and Ives, who are supposedly linked to Clinton. All of this linkage is one big canard. Henry and Ives had nothing to do with Clinton
22 & 23. Kevin Ives and Don Henry - seventeen-year-old boys who apparently saw something related to drugs in Mena by accident late at night. Officially ruled an accidental death on the train tracks, but evidence shows they died before being placed on the tracks - one of a crushed skull and the other of a knife wound in the back.Henry and Ives were run over by a train on
A number of Malak's determinations had been challenged and overturned during his career. He certainly wasn't always a conscientious medical examiner, and his Ives and Henry rulings were only two of many such botchings.
Getting back to the real meat of who killed the boys, nothing ties Ives and Henry to Clinton. Though various of these lists will claim the boys accidentally stumbled onto a "protected" drug drop and were killed for it, there's no reason to believe even that. In a
24. Keith Koney - had information on the Ives and Henry deaths. Died in a motorcycle accident with reports of a high-speed car chased involved.19-year-old Keith Coney died on
25. Keith McKaskle - had information on the Ives and Henry deaths. Stabbed to death.In August 1989, Ronald Shane Smith was sentenced to ten years for the
26. Gregory Collins - had information on the Ives and Henry deaths. Gunshot wound to the head.Greg Collins (25) of Bryant, Arkansas, was found shot in woods near Rosston on
27. Jeff Rhodes - had information on the Ives and Henry and McKaskle deaths. Tortured, mutilated, shot, body burned in a dumpster.In July 1989 Frank Pilcher was arrested for the April 1989 murder of Jeffrey Rhodes. Rhodes had earlier told his father he feared for his life because he'd witnessed a narcotics transaction.
Rhodes was last seen alive on
28. James Milam - had information on the Ives and Henry deaths. He was decapitated. The coroner ruled death due to natural causes.This is my favorite entry. Remember that Arkansas medical examiner, the one I said wasn't always the most conscientious investigator on God's green earth? Yep, we're about to see him again. Fahmy Malak listed James Milam's cause of death as a perforated ulcer, adding that Milam's small dog afterwards ate the dead man's head, accounting for Milam's headless condition.
Milam's daughter-in-law insists Milam was murdered. She claims Malak showed her photographs of the headless corpse, and the neck was cut clean. The Milam family has not attempted to legally challenge the ruling because of the expense, so we'll never know which way the cat jumps, ulcer or murder.
Whatever killed him, Milam died three months before the Ives and Henry murders. What are we supposed to believe here, that Clinton conspirators knocked off someone who "had information on the Ives and Henry deaths" three months Ives and Henry actually died? Wow, talk about a preemptive strike!
29. Jordan Kettleson - had information on the Ives and Henry deaths. Found shot in the front seat of his pick up truck.21-year-old Jordan Ketelsen died on
30. Dr. Stanley Heard - Chair, National Chiropractic Health Care Advisory Committee. He personally treated Clinton's mother, stepfather, and brother. His personal small plane developed problems so he rented another. Fire broke out in flight and he crashed.Stanley Heard and Stephen Dickson died on
Here is what the NTSB had to say about this crash.
I've found nothing on the National Chiropractic Health Care Advisory that Heard supposedly chaired.
31. Steve Dickson - attorney for Heard. Died in same plane crash.Dickson attended the same briefing Heard did. I do not know if he was there as Heard's lawyer or for independent reasons.
32. John Hillier - video journalist and investigator. He helped to produce the documentaries "Circle of Power," and "The Clinton Chronicles." He mysteriously died in a dentist's chair for no apparent reason.Again, I can find no record of this man's death or of his work. There have been a few dental chair deaths, but I find nothing on his.
33. Maj. Gen. William RobertsonSteve Willis, Robert Williams, Todd McKeehan, and Conway LeBleu were Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents killed during the Waco confrontation on
34. Col. William Densberger
35. Col. Robert Kelly
36. Spec. Gary Rhodes
37. Steve Willis
38. Robert Williams
39. Conway LeBleu
40. Todd McKeehan
41. Sgt. Brian Haney
42. Sgt. Tim Sabel
43. Maj.William Barkley
44. Capt. Scott Reynolds
* all former Clinton bodyguards who are dead.
Brian Haney, Timothy Sabel, William Barkley, and Scott Reynolds died in a helicopter crash on
Jarrett Robertson, William Densberger, Robert Kelly, and Gary Rhodes died in a helicopter crash in Wiesbaden, Germany on
45. Gary Johnson - former attorney for Larry Nichols, severely beaten and left for dead.Again, I can find nothing on this incident or even this man's life.
46. Dennis Patrick - had millions of dollars laundered through his account at LasaterIt's hard to know what to say about this one. Though I find credible reference to Patrick's life having been in danger a few times, I'm unable to trace back to news reports on the original incidents. Without seeing them, I'm not confident in stating an opinion on whether or not those attempts took place.
Patrick was a client of Lasater, albeit a reluctant one. He was asked to open an account there, he refused, one was opened for him anyway, and he was handed "profits" from one transaction for his part in allowing whatever was going on to take place. Again, someone who got involved with drug dealers ended up in trouble. In this case, an otherwise upstanding man took money he knew to be dirty to keep quiet about what his account was being used for. If he's now being chased by drug dealers who don't want the details of the transactions to come to light, is that all that surprising?
47. L.J. Davis - reporter. While investigating the Clinton scandals he was attacked in his hotel room and his notes were taken. He survived.Davis said he had awakened in his hotel room with a big bump on his head. He soon admitted having drunk at least four martinis that night. No pages were missing from his notebook, and he had no idea how he ended up on the floor. "I certainly wasn't about to conclude that somebody cracked me on the head," Davis said at the time.
48. Larry Nichols - former marketing director of ADFA. Responsible for bringing forth more evidence and witnesses on Clinton corruption than any other source. Very public about his claims against Clinton. He has suffered six beatings, arrest on trumped up charges, and a near arrest.In 1988 Larry Nichols, then a marketing director for the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, was fired from his job for making hundreds of calls to the Nicaraguan contras from his office. In 1990 he filed a lawsuit against Clinton claiming the then-Governor of Arkansas and others made him the scapegoat in a misappropriation-of-funds charge that cost him his job. In that suit he also tossed in claims of extramarital affairs, naming five women Clinton was supposed to have chased across the sheets. Nichols withdrew his lawsuit in 1992 and issued a round of apologies to everyone involved. He admitted what he'd said had been an attempt to destroy the Governor by innuendo.
Nichols has since changed his tune yet again, and has returned to making allegations against Clinton, always being careful to stop just short of asserting Clinton is involved in various murders and other crimes Nichols points to as "suspicious."
Since his dismissal from the AFDA, Nichols has made a career of peddling anti-Clinton books and tapes to the lunatic fringe. Take anything claimed about or by this man with a huge grain of salt.
Now, ask yourself: how many people with whom you were acquainted have died mysteriously or violently in the past 10 years.The bottom line on this piece of
Clinton was acquainted with some people who died
Though it's clear from digging through numerous newspaper articles there is a thriving and dangerous drug culture in Little Rock, how or why this should be connected to Bill Clinton is left unanswered. Regrettably, Little Rock is akin to numerous other large cities: it has its share of drug dealers, murders, and violence. It also has one very famous citizen. And that's about as much of a connection as anyone can make.
Whereas a typical private citizen has a much smaller circle of acquaintance, those in public office come into contact with a great many people over the course of their careers. It is therefore not unusual to find at least a few accidental deaths, homicides, and suicides among any politician's list of contacts. (For example, a "body count" list exists for George Bush.)
A number of suicides are enumerated in this list. Suicide is far from an unusual mode of demise. It claims 32,000 lives in the U.S. every year, and it's the 9th leading cause of death. It is indeed a rare person who does not know someone who died by his own hand.
Deaths by airplane crash account for a number of entries on the list. Again, this is not all that surprising. Every year many small planes crash in the United States, and some of those crashes result in fatalities. As mentioned above, the National Transportation Safety Board investigates every one of them, to determine both the cause of the accident as well as to gather data that will help prevent future tragedies. The agency does a thorough job of looking into the circumstances surrounding each downed plane. To describe any of the plane crash deaths on this list as "suspicious" is to suggest the NTSB was part of a coverup.
There have been a couple of unsolved murders (Jerry Parks, Kevin Ives, and Don Henry), but there have also been deaths by natural causes that have been tossed into the mix willy-nilly simply to boost the body count. (Like I said earlier, how can anyone claim a death by pneumonia was a suicide?) All the best lies make sure to mix a bit of truth in with them, and the few genuinely unsolved murders work to cloak the many less credible claims in an aura of plausibility. Don't be overly bemused by them
One final question to ask yourself before falling for any Clinton Body Count list: If the Chief Executive was having people bumped off left, right, and center, why aren't Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp on this list? At the time of Mary Mahoney's death
Barbara "let's get back to Clinton's bawdy count, okay?" Mikkelson
Last updated: 5 February 2007
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.