In episode 5 we discuss a very suspicious airplane crash in 1955. Flying was still relatively new to the work in a commercial capacity. Now a days commercial flights are a part of everyday life. Back in the 1950’s people never new if they would be safe, to help give people peace of mind a lot of insurance companies installed life insurance vending machines to give everyone the opportunity to make sure their families where taken care of in the event that something were to happen.
Daisie King a mother of two from Denver, Colorado was taking a flight to visit her daughter in Alaska when tragedy struck, and the plane blew up and landed in a field not long after takeoff.
The flight crashed into a sugar beet farm 43 miles away, near Longmont, Colorado
By nightfall the FBI was on the scene. There was so much debris from the explosion, smoke was filling the sky. There were passenger seats and suitcases in front yards.
As bodies were found they would station someone with a flashlight to mark where the bodies were found. In the 1950's the number found dead was a lot so they opened a temporary morgue in the National Guard Armory.
The Civil Aeronautics Board investigated the crash to see what could have happened to make this plane go down. During the investigation they took all of the debris to an airplane hanger and reconstructed the plane. They knew that the plane had exploded mid flight because of the way the tail of the plane separated from the rest of it. It was a clean split. If it had been engine failure they plane would have crashed as a whole and the tail was found about a mile behind the rest of it. There was a theory that it could have been the aviation gasoline could have been the reason it exploded because it was so volatile but, at one point in the investigation they found a smell that smelled like a firecracker, like that sulfur smell and copper wire so at that point they were sure that it was dynamite that caused the explosion.
At this point the Civil Aeronautics Board advised the FBI to open a Criminal investigation. The FBI now had the task to find the person responsible for this catastrophe. One of the first things the FBI looked for is who had something to gain from this. Most of the time it is something financial so they reached out to the insurance companies to see if anyone had taken out a larger than normal policy. Now in the 50's it was very popular to get life insurance before a flight, just in case. So popular that they had these life insurance vending machines for passengers to purchase from. The idea was that you put your money in to the machine, like 2.50 in quarters get the paper documents and sign them before your flight and deposit the documents in the specified slot and that policy covered your one-way trip!
The FBI did not find anything abnormal with the insurance amounts purchased that day. Their next stop was to find out who's luggage the dynamite was in. They FBI then caught a break because the crew happened to remember the baggage loaded on to this flight because they had to remove it from the plane that came in from Chicago to look for a set of keys left in the cargo hold by one of the Chicago staff. The FBI interviewed the crew to see if they remembered having a bag that was heavy and big enough to house a bomb. Only three passengers check luggage on that flight and the only back big enough to house a bomb big enough to take down an aircraft this bag belonged to Daisy King
The police decide to dig further, and they found out this was not the first time there was an explosion around Daisie. Just two months prior there was an explosion from a gas leak which Daisie has received an insurance payout for. Police found that the drive thru was struggling financially and Daisie was thinking about selling the business. Why would you blow your own business up if you were planning to sell it? The FBI had two theories, one is that Daisie is behind all of this and the second was that someone is trying to hurt her.
The police then looked into who would gain financially from something happening to Daisie.
Daises estate in todays money would be worth around 1 million dollars. So naturally who would that money go to? Her kids.
Police then found that Dasies son Jack had previously worked at the same insurance company that insured the drive thru.
They were also getting anonymous tips to look into Jack because he was behind the explosion at the drive thru.
At the hanger where they collected all of the debris they found Daisies personal belongings and among them was a faded news clipping from 1951 that indicated Jack was involved with a check fraud scheme which Daisie offered to pay the restitution so that the judge would go easy on him.
The police the decided to interview Gloria, jacks wife and she corroborated jacks timeline. There was only one difference. She told police that Jack wanted to do something nice that she will never know about, jack was planning on surprising his mother and snuck a wrapped present for her inside her bag before she left for the airport.
After this key piece of information, police then received a warrant to search his home and taped behind a dresser was an insurance policy for 37,000 dollars, police also found spools of copper wire similar to the wire that was similar to the wire found at the crash. Police also found a hardware store in a town of Kremmling, Colorado that identified Jack as a man that he sold dynamite to. When police confronted him her advised he knew nothing about the policy and that they use copper wire at the drive thru. Police then pressed Jack more about what they had found and at that point Jack succumbed to the pressure and Jack started to talk.
Jack said that he used a 6v battery and an appliance timer that had 60 minutes on it which would give them enough time to get to the airport which is why they left so late.
Jack also said they hit a snag when Daisie went to check her bag, they airline employee advised it was 30 lbs overweight and that it would be a fee of 27.00 or she could open the luggage and remove some items and ship them to where she was going which would be less of a cost. Jack insisted that Daisie just pay the 27.00 because she may ship something she needs when she gets to Alaska and who knows how long the shipping company would take to get it to her. So you have these people who are discussing whether or not to open this suitcase and there is a bomb inside. Its crazy! Daisie decides to pay extra. And the luggage is checked.
Jack is then arrested an put on trial. During this time there were no federal laws that stated, blowing up an aircraft was a crime. The DA then decided to charge him with a single charge in intentional deliberate murder and named the victim as Daisie King. Jack Graham was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was gassed in January of 1957.
Dwight Eisenhower actually signed a law that blowing up an airplane was a crime just a few weeks after Jacks conviction.