One of J. Edgar Hoover’s least known dirty tricks was his order to let the killer of an Omaha, Nebraska policeman get away with murder in order to convict the two leaders of the local Black Panther group, Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice).
Officer Larry Minard, father of five young children, was murdered with a suitcase bomb at a vacant house on August 17, 1970, while responding to an anonymous call about a woman screaming.
The day of the bombing, Douglas County assistant prosecutor Sam Cooper listened to a recording of the killer’s voice at the 911 call center while the Special Agent in-Charge of the Omaha field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation met with Glen Gates, the Omaha Police assistant chief heading the murder investigation.
Cooper made a copy of the 911 tape as plans were made to send the recording to Washington, D.C. for analysis at the FBI crime laboratory. The official version of the story was “Voiceprint in Bombing to FBI Lab” as told in newspaper headlines. The “voiceprint” would be a “good investigative tool” a police spokesman assured the public.
However, the FBI was working on a secret agenda of the clandestine Operation COINTELPRO and wanted to convict the Black Panther leaders for the bombing. The day of Minard’s death a plan was hatched in Omaha to withhold the lab report of the recording so the messy business of an unknown killer would not interfere with COINTELPRO actions against the two leaders.
The director of the crime lab was told by secret memo, “The results of any examination will not be furnished directly to the Police but orally conveyed through the SAC of Omaha.”
When Ivan Willard Conrad got the COINTELPRO memo two days later, the crime lab boss called Hoover, the dictatorial director of the FBI, to verify Conrad was really to withhold a report on the killer of a policeman.
Hoover was adamant that only an informal, oral report be given to the Omaha office–nothing that could turn up in court– and told Conrad to do it. Conrad scrawled on his copy of the COINTELPRO memo, “Dir advised telephonically & said OK to do” followed by his initials and the date.
Conrad followed orders and the jury never saw or heard the tape recording of Larry Minard’s killer.
The significance of the tape was discussed in a COINTELPRO memo from FBI headquarters to the Omaha office. The memo explained, “use of this call might be prejudicial to the police murder trial.”
Larry Minard was buried on what would have been his 30th birthday.
Hoover was never found out about his role in the conviction of the Omaha Two. The dirty secret only emerged years after Hoover’s death in Freedom of Information requests about COINTELPRO files.
Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa are sre serving life sentences in the Nebraska State Penitentiary.
Larry Minard’s killer, the 911 caller, got away with murder.
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