TWO-STAR GENERAL SWINGS FROM END OF ROPE
HANGS HIMSELF IN TEXAS - NOTE PINNED TO BODY
READS: "CONVICTED, SENTENCED AND EXECUTED
FOR CRIMES BY U.S. ARMY AGAINST PEOPLE OF
THE WORLD" - ROBERT OWNBY FOUND DEAD IN
OFFICE AT FORT SAM HOUSTON - HANDS BOUND
BEHIND HIM - NOOSE AROUND HIS NECK - BEXAR
COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER CLAIMS DEATH "A
SUICIDE" - SAYS "TERRORIST" ANGLE A TRICK TO
GET LARGE INSURANCE POLICIES TO PAY OFF
It was a terrible sight. When a base employee at Fort Sam Houston, Tex. came to work at 0640 in the morning in early 1984, she found the limp body of Maj. Gen. Robert Ownby hanging from a rope in an office stairwell. He was very much dead, his hands bound behind him with a military web belt, a noose around his neck. Blood had trickled out of his nose and one corner of his mouth.
Most chilling of all was a typewritten note pinned to the general's chest. It read: "Convicted, sentenced and executed for crimes by the U.S. Army against the people of the world."
The 48 year-old former leader of the 90th U.S. Army Reserve Command in Texas had given no indication he was in trouble or depressed when he went to work alone at night in his office, a practice well known to his family and many of the people who shared space with him in the building.
THE MYSTERY REMAINS UNSOLVED - WAS IT MURDER OR SUICIDE?
His wife and friends said Ownby appeared to be normal just prior to his death, but even before the body was buried four days later, whispers around the fort and in San Antonio had it that the strange demise was really an elaborate "ruse" to trick insurance companies into paying off big bucks to companies that the general controlled which could benefit his survivors.
Chief among the proponents of that theory was then-Bexar County Medical Examiner Vincent DiMaio, who almost immediately trotted out his "suicide" answer as to almost every mysterious death under his jurisdiction. Long time readers of MilitaryCorruption.com will note that DiMaio was also a key figure in the Col. Philip Shue death cause "cover-up" which made the deceased officer's wife, "tiny terror" Tracy Shue, worth millions of dollars.
The note found on Ownby's body was just one piece of evidence the CID, FBI and other investigators had to work with. They found another document - this one a piece of paper hastily handwritten by the general himself - in which he wrote:
10 Jan 84. I started out of the building and caught a glimpse of some people inside who quickly moved toward the back. I don't know who they are or what they are doing. They were apparently startled. I came back here to call the MPs, however I cannot get any of the telephones to work. Just as a precaution, I am placing my office keys in my shoe. I will call the MPs as soon as I can get to a working phone.
A check of his personal papers at home showed he had taken out two large insurance polices two years before. The "suicide" clause on one of them, worth $750,000, was due to expire in a matter of weeks. If Ownby wanted to stage his own death to deceive the insurance companies and force them to pay off, why did he kill himself before the time period was up?
There was no indication the general had been a terrorist target. Prior to his death there weren't any threats or hints that he might be in danger.
Some 26 years after the fact, this mystery remains unsolved, deep in the COLD CASE FILES. Now, it's up to you, our readers, to write us with suggestions or ideas on what really happened. Was the general murdered? Who did it? Did he stage his own death? And how did he manage to tie his own hands behind his back and hang himself from a stairwell?
Click on the CONTACT US tab on our masthead, and while you're at it, read up on another unsolved mystery - the bizarre death of Air Force Col. Philip Shue. Just click the SEARCH tab in the masthead, type in "Col. Philip Shue" on the subject line, and then read away. Thank you.