People are learning about many genuine incidents thanks to the HBO series White House Plumbers; we’ve already talked about the general Watergate scandal, the Dita Beard memo, and the several gruesome American historical occurrences involving Howard Hunt. But it’s noteworthy that the entire fourth episode of the miniseries was devoted to Dorothy Hunt, Howard Hunt’s wife, who sadly perished in a mystery plane crash in the midst of the Watergate investigations. Let’s examine the actual events and the reasons they are thought to be a potential component supporting the scandal’s conspiracy theories.
The plane crash where Howard Hunt’s wife died: the true story
It’s a true story: Howard Hunt’s wife, Dorothy Hunt, died in a mysterious plane crash on December 8, 1972, six months after the Watergate break-in. The Watergate scandal investigations were intensifying throughout that time. Howard Hunt was under a lot of strain because he had already been indicted along with Gordon Liddy and the other five burglars and the Watergate trial was about to start. Knowing that disclosing the truth would directly involve Nixon’s administration, Howard Hunt had to concentrate on his defense. The other option was to enter a guilty plea and deny any involvement with the White House; in this case, he would be sentenced to prison and wait in vain for Nixon, who had just been re-elected, to grant him a pardon in appreciation for his silence.
United Air Lines Flight 553 crashed while attempting to land just a few weeks before the trial began. Howard Hunt’s wife Dorothy, CBS news reporter Michelle Clark, and Illinois politician George W. Collins were all on board that aircraft. Investigations determined that the flight crew’s failure to adequately monitor and regulate the aircraft’s fall rate during the approach was the principal cause of the accident, which was determined to be a pilot error.
However, there were a lot of peculiar things found near that plane crash. Above all, the FBI’s presence, which showed up 45 minutes after the collision and arrived on the scene before the NTSB’s (National Transportation Safety Board) official investigators. Even before the NTSB, the FBI requested access to the control tower tapes. You may read a portion of the 1973 letter from the NTSB chairman to the FBI director, in which he expressed worries about what actually transpired in the crash:
“For the first time in the memory of our staff, an FBI agent went to the control tower and listened to the tower tapes before our investigators had done so; and for the-first time to our knowledge, in connection with an aircraft accident, an FBI agent interviewed witnesses to the crash, including flight attendants on the aircraft prior to the NTSB interviews. As I am sure you can understand, these actions, particularly with respect to this flight on which Mrs. E. Howard Hunt was killed, have raised innumerable questions in the minds of those with legitimate interests in ascertaining the cause of this accident.”
The FBI responded that they were still unaware that Dorothy Hunt was on board the flight when they arrived at the crash site and that their presence at the scene was for the purpose of “developing any information indicating a possible Federal violation within the investigative jurisdiction of the FBI.”
The conspiracy theory: did someone want Dorothy Hunt dead?
The mystery surrounding that plane disaster gave rise to numerous conspiracies. That disaster, after all, earned the moniker “the crash that changed the course of US history.” Howard Hunt entered a guilty plea at the trial after his wife passed away, making clear that no officials at a higher level took part in any plot. Which was exactly what Nixon’s government desired: Nixon needed to downplay that scandal, severing any ties to the Watergate break-in, and the ideal consequence for him would be that the people charged would be jailed as the only parties accountable for those crimes.
Investigations conducted afterwards revealed that the White House had been paying Howard Hunt and the burglars in secret in exchange for their silence. For months, Dorothy Hunt, the wife of Howard Hunt, distributed that money to all parties involved. Following the plane disaster, $10,000 in cash was discovered on Dorothy. Theoretically, though, the Hunts and the burglars were unhappy with the circumstances, the money was insufficient, and Dorothy Hunt was on the verge of telling the press sensitive information, presenting Howard Hunt’s perspective and potentially involving the White House. The CBS news correspondent might have been on board that flight for that reason.
Nixon’s administration would have suffered greatly from the potential information leak coming straight from Dorothy Hunt. This gave rise to the conspiracy idea that Howard Hunt’s wife was killed in the plane disaster on purpose. And from this perspective, the indictees in the Watergate trial would receive a clear message from her passing: knowing what could happen to those who implicate the White House, Howard Hunt, Gordon Liddy, and the burglars would independently decide on their strategy for the trial. On the opposite side is a taped phone discussion between Nixon and Charles Colson, his special counsel, during which Colson informs Nixon that Howard Hunt’s wife died in the plane crash. It was disclosed.
“I just got a terribly tragic bit of news. That plane crash — Howard Hunt’s wife was on it.” Nixon interjected with real surprise in his voice, “His wife is dead?” Colson responded, “Yes sir, she was killed in that plane crash in Chicago.”
Nixon was thunderstruck. “Oh my God!” he exclaimed
Nixon’s startled response would demonstrate that he was not involved in any of the sabotage that was intended to kill Dorothy Hunt.
As we said, Howard Hunt entered a guilty plea, and the burglars imitated him. Hunt had hoped to receive a presidential pardon, but that didn’t happen because Nixon had to step down in 1974 due to the Watergate crisis. Hunt received a sentence of 30 months to 8 years in prison in 1975, and he subsequently served 33 months behind bars. became the final turn of his extraordinary life.