Fifty years ago FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover gave command for no report on identity of Omaha policeman’s killer in order to arrest Black Panther leaders for murder

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Patrolman Larry Minard, August 22, 1970 memorandum to FBI Laboratory, “OK” approval, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (credits: Omaha Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, White House)

Fifty years ago Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover gave his written approval to keep secret the identity of an Omaha policeman’s killer. Hoover was on vacation when a federal conspiracy to blame leaders of a Black Panther affiliate chapter for the death of Patrolman Larry Minard was hatched by Paul Young, the Special Agent in Charge.

Hoover, in California on vacation when the Omaha bombing murder happened on August 17, 1970, gave his verbal approval to Young’s plan to withhold the identity of the anonymous 911 caller who lured Minard to his death with a false report of a woman screaming in a vacant house. Young had been under secret orders from Hoover to get group leaders off the street.

A memorandum to the FBI Laboratory chief, Ivan Willard Conrad, spelled out details of the plot under the clandestine COINTELPRO counterintelligence operation.

“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.”

“Glen Gates of the Omaha Police has requested [REDACTED]”

“The SAC, Omaha strongly recommends that the examination requested by the Omaha Police Department be conducted.”

“If approved, the results of any examinations will be orally furnished the Police on an informal basis through the SAC, Omaha.”

A handwritten, initialed notation by Conrad stated, “Dir advised telephonically & said OK to do.”

Assistant to the Director William Sullivan was also on the memorandum distribution list and initialed the document indicating his approval to withhold a lab report on the 911 caller’s identity. Charles Brennan, only on the job several weeks as Assistant Director in charge of the Domestic Intelligence Division, was on a special typed distribution list and had been informed of Minard’s death hours after it happened

Alex Rosen, Assistant Director of the General Investigative Division, was on a rubber-stamped distribution list. George Moore’s Racial Intelligence unit stamped the memorandum indicating receipt and approval of the confidential plan to withhold potential evidence. Hoover’s inner circle of Bureau top executives all knew of the misdeed to be done in Omaha and none dissented.

Hoover was still in California when Conrad called Hoover by phone for instructions. Hoover conducted limited FBI business while on vacation and was only called on important matters, however Conrad understood the significance of letting a policeman’s killer get away with murder necessitated making the call.

Back in Washington, Hoover gave William Sullivan a $250 “incentive award” for the time Hoover was in California. Sullivan’s duties included going along with the plan to withhold a report on the identity of Minard’s killer. Hoover wrote, “You certainly deserve commendation for your exceptionally meritorious services during the period of time when I was away from Washington.”

“I am aware that my absence necessitated your shouldering additional responsibilities. Your splendid performance is appreciated.”

John Mohr, who oversaw communications with the FBI Laboratory and the Omaha field office, was likewise given a commendation and cash award for his actions while Hoover was on vacation. Hoover sent a personal letter to Mohr commending him and awarding $250 for the “superior manner in which you fulfilled your responsibilities.”

On August 22nd a second memorandum to the FBI Laboratory was sent. “In referenced memorandum, 8/19/70, the Director approved a request to assist the Omaha Police Department in captioned case through the use of voice comparison examinations by the Laboratory.”

“By telephonic communication 8/21/70, the SAC, Omaha has requested that a Laboratory Supervisor travel to Omaha for the purpose of furnishing technical guidance to the Omaha Police concerning the correct techniques in obtaining known voice samples for comparison purposes and make recommendations as to what commercially available equipment can be used in making known voice recordings.”

“No Bureau equipment will be used in connection with obtaining the known voice recording samples.”

“The SAC, Omaha, 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 existing recording of the false “bait” complaint to the police is the most important present tangible evidence in the possession of the police, and he recommended the Bureau send a Laboratory representative.”

“RECOMMENDATION: That a Laboratory Supervisor travel to Omaha and furnish the Omaha Police with technical guidance in obtaining known voice samples for comparison purposes.”

William Sullivan’s initials are beside his name indicating his approval. The war on the Black Panthers was a priority for Sullivan and he stayed informed, following counterintelligence actions and developments closely.

John Mohr’s name was on two distribution lists, a rubber-stamped distribution list and a special typed list with his initials at the bottom of the page. Alex Rosen, head of the General Investigation Division read, approved, and initialed the memorandum. George Moore of the Racial Intelligence section signed on. Charles Brennan, in charge of the Domestic Intelligence Division, gave his approval and initials. The cast of the conspiracy was complete. The FBI top directorate was aware and approved of the plan to conceal the identity of the 911 caller by withholding a formal laboratory report and instead send a lab technician to Omaha to guide the local police investigation.

J. Edgar Hoover put his own pen to paper and wrote “OK” followed with his distinctive “H” initial. The anonymous 911 caller that lured a policeman to his death would not be sought. The search for truth was over.

Edward Poindexter was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit first degree murder. Poindexter did not know he was fated to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The lights were on late at the Omaha FBI office that night fifty years ago when Paul Young sent Hoover a teletype report on the case. Young’s report noted the deep involvement of the FBI in the bombing investigation and ongoing collaboration between Bureau agents and the local police.

Hoover’s manipulation of the murder investigation and subsequent trial succeeded and Ed Poindexter and co-defendant David Rice, later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, were convicted in April 1971 following a controversial two-week trial. Mondo died in prison in March 2016, serving a life without parole sentence. Ed Poindexter remains imprisoned at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary, a half-century after the crime, where he continues to maintain his innocence.

This article is excerpted from FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, in print edition at Amazon and available in ebook. Portions of the book may be read free online at NorthOmahaHistory.com. The book is also available to patrons of the Omaha Public Library.

Author: richardsonreports

Author of FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two Story.

2 thoughts on “Fifty years ago FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover gave command for no report on identity of Omaha policeman’s killer in order to arrest Black Panther leaders for murder”

  1. Unbelievable, but then again, Its really not. Should this be investigated and substantiated, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be , will this Man ever receive justice and vindication.

    Like

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