Christopher John Boyce

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Christopher John Boyce (born 16 February 1953) is a former American defense industry employee who was convicted of selling United States spy satellite secrets to the Soviet Union in the 1970s.[1]

Christopher John Boyce
Christopher John Boyce's U.S. Marshals Service mugshot
Born (1953-02-16) 16 February 1953 (age 71)
Other namesAnthony Edward Lester
Known forEspionage
Notable workAmerican Sons: The Untold Story of The Falcon and The Snowman
SpouseKathleen Mills (2001)

Early life edit

Boyce is the son of Noreen Boyce (née Hollenbeck) and former McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation Director of Security Charles Eugene Boyce. Along with his three brothers and five sisters, Boyce was reared in Southern California, in the affluent community of Rancho Palos Verdes, a suburb southwest of Los Angeles.

In 1974, Boyce was hired at TRW, an aerospace firm in Redondo Beach, California. Due to his father's position at McDonnell Douglas, Boyce was able to obtain employment.

Espionage edit

Bldg. M4 at Space Park where Boyce committed espionage from March 1975 through December 1976.[2]

Within months, Boyce was promoted to a highly sensitive position in TRW's "Black Vault" (classified communications center) with a top secret security clearance, where he worked with National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) transmissions.[3]

Boyce claims that he began getting misrouted cables from the CIA discussing the agency's desire to depose the government of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in Australia. Boyce claimed the CIA wanted Whitlam removed from office because he wanted to close US military bases in Australia, including the vital Pine Gap secure communications facility, and withdraw Australian troops from Vietnam. For these reasons, John Pilger, Australian journalist and author, has written that US government pressure was a major factor in the dismissal of Whitlam as Prime Minister by the Governor General, Sir John Kerr, who according to Boyce, was referred to as "our man Kerr" by CIA officers.[4] Through the cable traffic Boyce saw that the CIA was involving itself in such a manner, not just with Australia but with other democratic, industrialized allies. Boyce considered going to the press, but believed the media's earlier disclosure of CIA involvement in the 1973 Chilean coup d'état had not changed anything for the better.[citation needed]

Instead, he gathered a quantity of classified documents concerning secure US communications ciphers and spy satellite development and had his friend Andrew Daulton Lee, a cocaine and heroin dealer since his high school days (hence his nickname, "The Snowman"), deliver them to Soviet embassy officials in Mexico City, returning with large sums of cash for Boyce (nicknamed "The Falcon" because of his longtime interest in falconry) and himself. According to a book that Boyce and his wife co-authored, the information was not valuable to the Soviet Union.[5]

Exposure edit

Boyce, then 23, was exposed after Lee was arrested by Mexican police in front of the Soviet embassy on January 6, 1977.[6] His arrest was "almost by accident": Lee was arrested for littering.[6] During his harsh interrogation, Lee, who had a top secret microfilm in his possession when arrested, confessed to being a Soviet spy and implicated Boyce. Boyce was arrested ten days later on 16 January, when the FBI found him hiding out at the shack he was renting near Riverside, California. He was convicted on eight counts of espionage on 28 April 1977,[7][8][9] and sentenced by federal district judge Robert Kelleher on 12 September to forty years in prison,[10] initially at Terminal Island, then the Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego. On 10 July 1979, he was transferred to the federal penitentiary in Lompoc, California.

Escape edit

On 21 January 1980, Boyce escaped from Lompoc.[6][11][12] While a fugitive, Boyce carried out 17 bank robberies in Idaho and Washington, hoping to pay for passage to the Soviet Union, and adopted the alias of "Anthony Edward Lester".[13]

According to Boyce, he studied aviation, not to flee to the Soviet Union as some suspected, but to rescue Daulton Lee from Lompoc.[14]

On 21 August 1981, Boyce was arrested by U.S. Marshals while eating in his car outside "The Pit Stop," a drive-in restaurant in Port Angeles, Washington.[15][16] Authorities had received a tip about Boyce's whereabouts from his former bank robbery confederates.

Return to prison edit

On 26 January 1982 in Los Angeles, Boyce was convicted of escape from federal prison in a nonjury trial before U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Lydick, a proceeding which lasted three minutes.[17] The following week he was flown to Idaho and was arraigned in Boise, where he pleaded not guilty to charges related to multiple bank robberies.[18][19][20][21][22][23]

That spring, Boyce appeared before Judge Harold Ryan in U.S. District Court in Boise and was sentenced to three years for his escape and 25 years for bank robbery, conspiracy, and breaking federal gun laws.[24][25][26][27] Given an aggregate total sentence of 68 years, he was transferred to United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth in northeastern Kansas.[28][29]

Later that year, Boyce gave a television interview to Ray Martin for Australia's 60 Minutes about the dismissal of Whitlam. After this he was assaulted by fellow inmates, an attack he believed was orchestrated by prison guards.[30] After the attack, he was transferred to USP Marion in southern Illinois, where he was held in isolation.[31]

In April 1985, Boyce gave testimony on how to prevent insider spy threats to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations as part of its Government Personnel Security Program.[29][32]

With support from senators, he was transferred out of solitary confinement in 1988 to the Minnesota Correctional Facility – Oak Park Heights near the Twin Cities.[33] At this prison in January 1993, Boyce was almost killed by Earl Steven Karr, a mentally ill fellow inmate and convicted pipe bomber. Karr had planned to blind Boyce with a mace-like concoction after luring him into his cell, then electrocute him using a homemade electric shock prod fashioned out of a rod and newspaper. The plot failed when Karr slipped on a puddle of mace, allowing Boyce time to escape.[34]

Boyce was transferred in 1998 to ADX Florence, the supermax facility in Colorado west of Pueblo; he believed this was punishment for a newspaper article he had written.[35] In 2000, he was transferred to FCI Sheridan in Oregon, northwest of Salem.[36]

Release and subsequent life edit

Boyce was released from prison on parole on 16 September 2002 after serving a little more than 25 years, accounting for his time spent outside from the escape.[37][38] Shortly thereafter he married Kathleen Mills, whom he had met when she was working as a paralegal spearheading efforts to obtain parole for Lee. After her success with Lee, she turned her attention to securing parole for Boyce as well, and the two developed a personal relationship.[39] Boyce is on good terms with his father and eight siblings, and was with his mother as well until her death in 2017.[40]

In 2013, Boyce published a book titled American Sons: The Untold Story of the Falcon and the Snowman, which mainly discusses his time in prison and relationship with his wife, Kathleen, and writer Vince Font. At that time, he was living a relatively quiet life where he has resumed his participation in falconry as a frequent pastime.[40] When interviewed at the time his book was released, Boyce expressed support for the actions of Edward Snowden in exposing information about the United States government's surveillance programs.[40]

In popular culture edit

The story of their case was told in Robert Lindsey's best-selling 1979 book The Falcon and the Snowman. This book was turned into a film of the same title in 1985 by director John Schlesinger starring Timothy Hutton as Boyce and Sean Penn as Lee.

Lindsey's initial book was followed by The Flight of the Falcon: The True Story of the Escape and Manhunt for America's Most Wanted Spy (1983), an account of Boyce's escape from prison and subsequent bank robbing spree.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Spy's arrest ends chapter in saga". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. 23 August 1981. p. 4A.
  2. ^ "Testimony of Christopher J. Boyce, Convicted Spy" (PDF). Polygraph. Vol. 14, no. 2. American Polygraph Association. June 1985. p. 129. Retrieved 25 December 2023. Suffice it to say that from March 1975 through December 1976, I removed or photographed a sizeable number of classified documents from the highly secret "black vault" of TRW, a CIA contractor in Redondo Beach, California and sent them on with Daulton to the KGB in Mexico City. I was able to obtain those documents through my position as a specially cleared TRW employee, working in the black vault, located in building M4.
  3. ^ Pilger, John, A Secret Country, Vintage Books, London, 1992, ISBN 9780099152316, pp. 212-15, 230, 236, 252.
  4. ^ Martin, Ray (23 May 1982). "A Spy's Story: USA Traitor Gaoled For 40 Years After Selling Codes of Rylite and Argus Projects (transcript)". 60 Minutes. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  5. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font. p. 240.
  6. ^ a b c "Man convicted as Soviet spy escapes from federal prison". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). UPI. 22 January 1980. p. 3A.
  7. ^ "Man found guilty of spying; government to seek life term". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. 29 April 1977. p. 5.
  8. ^ "'Reluctant' spy guilty of 8 espionage counts". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. 29 April 1977. p. 7A.
  9. ^ "Spying suspect found guilty". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. 15 May 1977. p. 1A.
  10. ^ Lindsey, Robert (13 September 1977). "Californian is given 40 years for spying". The New York Times. p. 13.
  11. ^ "Spy flees prison". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. 23 January 1980. p. 3, part 1.
  12. ^ "US Marshals Service - Capture of Christopher Boyce".
  13. ^ "The Falcon and the Fallout". Los Angeles Times. 2 March 2003. Retrieved 30 January 2023. He needed money, and he found banks an easy mark. He hit a dozen of them throughout the Pacific Northwest, hoping to pay for passage to the Soviet Union. He would have friends there, he thought. He would be safe. But these would be mere flights of fancy.
  14. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font. pp. 63–65, 80–86.
  15. ^ "Escaped spy Boyce posed as fisherman". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. 23 August 1981. p. 3A.
  16. ^ "Agents went incognito to catch spy". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. 23 August 1981. p. 4A.
  17. ^ "Boyce convicted of escape in three-minute, nonjury trial". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. 27 January 1982. p. 3A.
  18. ^ Hathaway, Bill (18 September 1980). "Lewiston bank robbed". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1A.
  19. ^ "Boyce charged with robbing two Idaho banks". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. 14 January 1982. p. 3C.
  20. ^ "Convicted spy Boyce pleads innocent to robbery charges". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. 5 February 1982. p. 7B.
  21. ^ "Convicted spy Christopher Boyce pleaded innocent in U.S. District Court". United Press International. (archives). 4 February 1982. Retrieved 19 July 2023.
  22. ^ "Attorney asks judge to clarify status of spy-harboring charge". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. 24 March 1982. p. 1B.
  23. ^ "Boyce's lawyer claims bribery". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. 25 March 1982. p. 3C.
  24. ^ "Boyce enters guilty plea to 10 counts". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. 3 April 1982. p. 1B.
  25. ^ "Boyce faces sentence". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. 30 April 1982. p. 5B.
  26. ^ "Boyce sentenced to 25 years". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. 1 May 1982. p. 3B.
  27. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font. pp. 132–33.
  28. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font. p. 139.
  29. ^ a b "Statement of Christopher J. Boyce" (PDF). CIA. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  30. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font. pp. 145–49.
  31. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font. pp. 158–60.
  32. ^ "Christopher Boyce Congressional Testimony, April 1985 - What it's like to REALLY be a spy".
  33. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font. p. 200.
  34. ^ Adams, Jim (July 17, 1993) "Spy Escapes Bomber's Plot in State Prison ProQuest 418505836, Star Tribune. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
  35. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font. pp. 252–53.
  36. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font. pp. 267–70.
  37. ^ U.S. spy freed after 25 years in prison / Christopher Boyce sold secrets to Soviets. Chuck Squatriglia, San Francisco Chronicle, 15 March 2003.
  38. ^ The Falcon and the Fallout, Richard A. Serrano, Los Angeles Times, 23 June 2007.
  39. ^ Denson, Bryan (6 March 2014). "Christopher Boyce, whose spy work inspired 'The Falcon and the Snowman', finds happiness in Oregon". The Oregonian.
  40. ^ a b c Miller, Sheila G. (10 November 2013). "The (ex) spy among us". The Bulletin.

Further reading edit

External links edit