Chasing Dr. Robert Vernon Spears
Alan C. Logan
In the early hours of November 16, 1959, a commercial airliner mysteriously plunges into the Gulf of Mexico and quickly becomes one of the most baffling mysteries in aviation history. Presumed dead in the wreckage of Flight 967, ticketed passenger Dr. Robert Vernon Spears is alive and well, speeding west on a southern highway, seizing the chance to leave his past behind—a past that defies all belief.
But when Dr. Spears' old friend is also discovered missing, a more sinister plot begins to emerge.
In the months that follow, the nation is spellbound by bizarre revelations of substituted passengers, hypnosis, deception, and hidden identities—dramatized across the headlines through a soap-opera rivalry between the wives of the two missing men. Each new twist is stranger than the last, as a larger web of political bribery, police corruption, crime, and deception is slowly uncovered. In a feature 1960 cover story, Life magazine concluded it was "a case so bizarre that even the most imaginative mystery writer would hesitate to use the plot."
Yet, as incredible as this seemed at the time, it was still only a fraction of a much larger story spanning decades—of imposters, society romance, underground abortion rings, Hollywood connections, forgery, aliases, artful dodgers, and naturopathic quackery—with a cast of characters to match. Each player on a trajectory toward involvement, in one form or another, in the Flight 967 enigma. At the center was one of America's most prolific yet mysterious confidence men—a kind man, a gentleman, and a model husband. In a story that has never been told. Until now.
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