Rex Allen Keller Apparently Murdered Viktor Gunnarsson


by Trowbridge H. Ford


In investigating any covert operation – whether it be by one of the operatives, police involved in counterintelligence and law enforcement, or a researcher just trying to find out what really happened – it is always difficult because one does not know where to start, what necessarily to look for as one proceeds, and when to conclude that the process is finally over because operations often change course in midstream, just compounding the problems. Salisbury policeman L. C. Underwood in North Carolina, and I in rural Portugal learned this the hard way back in 1994 when he was trying to pick up the pieces after the murder of Swede Viktor Gunnarsson, the leading suspect in the assassination of statsminister Olof Palme in February 1986, the previous December, just when I was resuming my investigation of the conspiracy which murdered JFK in Dallas after a generation of inactivity.

Underwood became the leading suspect in Gunnarsson’s assassination, once DCI James Woolsey had reprimanded 11 officials of the Agency over the botched inquiry into the spying for the Soviets for nearly a decade by its agent, Aldrich ‘Rick’ Ames. Ames’s spying had been caused by the reckless, illegal operations that the Operations Directorate had allowed Oliver North to lead from Reagan’s National Security Council, bypassing the normal chain of command in undertaking actions, and the usual checks about their feasibility, advisability, and responsibility, and its Counter Intelligence Center (CTC) had been loath to investigate its fallout for fear of Agency-threatening blowback.

If the Congress and the public learned what North had been able to put together with the help of Navy Secretary John Lehman, Jr., former SAS Major David Walker’s private security firm KMS, Ltd., and the Consortium, an international arms network, while the White House, Pentagon, and the Agency merely turned a blind eye to what was going on, the federal government would have been shaken to its very foundations. Most probably, the Agency would have lost any real counterintelligence capability to the Bureau, and the Pentagon would have been given the authority to conduct covert operations, leaving the CIA with only an intelligence function.

Woolsey had reprimanded most of those responsible for allowing this to happen, and covering it up for far too long, most notably DDO Hugh E. ‘Ted’ Price, the former counter intelligence chief in 1990 – who had not pursued the source of the spying after four years of KGB deception had been examined and finally dismissed, and ADDO Thomas Tweeten, who explained his perfunctory approval of North’s plotting as if he were merely acting as his chaperon. (Ted Gup, The Book of Honor, p. 314.) To erase this blot on their careers, the Operations Directorate had used Freddie Woodruff, the Leningrad station chief when Olof Palme was assassinated, as a guinea pig to determine whether he was the spy.

While they determined that Woodruff wasn’t, after he was assassinated by the KGB in August 1993 in Georgia right after a visit by Ames, the problem was merely compounded, not solved, by President Clinton inviting Latvian Grigory Leutchansky, head of the KGB-sponsored oil exporting firm Nordex, and a member of The Consortium, to a photo-dinner, also attended by Vice President Gore and 30 Senators, at a Washington museum in October. He was attending for favors rendered – what obiously included helping Evgenii Primakov, the former KGB chief, and now Russian foreign minister, drive US, bilateral, and multi-lateral policy in ways which suited President Boris Yeltsin’s demands for money. Leutchansky’s firm, thanks to its connections with hit man Leonid Borisovich Wolf, was noted for all kinds of illegal activities – assassinations, money laundering, drug-smuggling, and nuclear arms proliferation to Iran and North Korea.

Jewish business man, Sam Domb, arranged Leutchansky’s invitation, and was a good friend of American scoff law, and Israeli money launderer Marc Rich. Domb was a conduit by which Nordex funneled illegal campaign funds to Clinton’s campaign. Leutchansky discussed with the President the means he was using to force the Ukraine to return its nuclear ICBMs to Moscow – what had helped get Woodruff assassinated for assisting Georgia’s drive for independence. Little wonder that when the smoke finally settled from the crisis, and Bob Woodward wrote about it in The Washington Post, “White House Provided DNC with Top-Secret Information,” on April 8, 1997, he had completely avoided the 1993 dinner.

When the Democratic National Committee (DNC) attempted to use Leutchansky similarly in the run-up to Clinton’s re-election at a July 11, 1995 dinner at the Hay Adams Hotel in Washington, former DCI Woolsey belatedly complained: “At a bare minimum, any DNC invitation to Leutchansky in 1995 would show a severe lack of scrutiny and appalling bad judgement.” DCI Woolsey had understandably refrained from commenting for operational reasons when Leutchansky had had dinner with the President at the White House back in 1993. An April 1997 issue of Time called Leutchansky “the most pernicious unindicated criminal in the world.”

What had caused Woolsey to change radically his attitutde about Leutchansky was the unraveling of Woodruff’s assassination. Originally, it had been explained by Lt. General Igor Georgadze, a former KGB officer, and then chief of Georgian President Edvard Shevarnadze’s security, as the result of an accidental shooting when the vehicle they were driving in passed a check point, manned by Anzor Sharmaidze, without stopping, causing him to fire one shot which killed the CIA operator instantly. Sharmaidze was later convicted of the crime, sentenced to 15 years in prison, though he later claimed that the police had beaten a confession out of him. Moreover, Georgadze had been amazingly tardy in reporting the shooting, refused to provide investigators with his own weapon, and they never found any evidence of the bullet having penetrated the vehicle.

The FBI agents investigating the crime became increasingly dubious of Sharmaidze’s guilt, reopening their investigation of the crime twice – apparently after Clinton dined with Leutchansky In October 1993, and the DNC tried to use him to help re-elect the President after Woolsey had resigned – what prompted Price’s Operations Directorate to get Shevarnadze to do something about Georgadze, a close friend of Leutchansky’s. The DO suspected that Georgadze had assassinated Woodruff to keep the lid on who was responsible and why for the collapse of the USSR.

Both Shevernadze and Michael Gorbachev were suspected of having torpedoed the Soviet experiment to satisfy anti-communists in the West. As a result of CIA pressure, the Georgian President was forced to sack Georgadze in June 1995, and on August 29th, he carried out a nearly successful assassination attack upon Shevernadze.

By October, Georgian security officials started informing Langley of what had happened to Woodruff, and how his assassination had been covered up. Sharmadize’s conviction, Houston-based lawyer Michael Pullara, now representing both him and Woodruff’s relatives, later explained, “…was an expedient and perhaps necessary political decision needed to protect the integrity of the Republic of Georgia in 1993.” (Thomas Goltz, “Attorney Pushes to Reopen CIA Murder Case in Georgia,” Eurasaia, August 27, 2004) Unless Woodruff’s assassination had been covered up, in sum, a dangerous confrontation between Shevarnadze, and Boris Yeltsin’s Russia would have occurred, probably jeopardizing Georgian independence.

The same hard-nosed approach to solving another ugly assassination occurred in North Carolina – that of Viktor Gunnarsson, the leading suspect in the murder of Sweden’s Olof Palme on February 28, 1986 in Stockholm, on the night of December 3, 1993 after he had been targeted as the killer in Börje Wingren’s book, Han sköt Olof Palme, the previous September. The set up of former policeman L. C. Underwood, the just resigned officer from the Salisbury police force, for Gunnarsson’s murder had been ruined by the assassins hiding his body so well that it took another five weeks to find it – what required the murder of Gunnarsson’s alleged new girl friend’s mother, Mrs. Catherine Miller, to keep Underwood in focus by law enforcement officials in North Carolina for the Swede’s murder.

The screw-up of Gunnarsson’s assassination caused all kinds of problems for the prosecution of Underwood – especially establishing that the accused had a motive and opportunity for committting a murder of a man he had neither met nor seen while he had an alibi for being elsewhere at the time, and when Gunnarsson’s body was nowhere to be found. The evidence ultimately showed that Gunnarsson died a few hours after he was last seen having dinner with Mr. Miller’s daughter, Kay Weden, on the evening of December 3rd. (p. 17 of the Court of Appeals ruling) It also established that Gunnarsson was killed in Deep Gap by 1 a.m. on the morning of December 4th while Underwood was still back in Salisbury – 110 miles or a two-hour drive away.

Once Gunnarsson’s body was finally found on January 7, 1994, the state tried repeatedly to find evidence that would destroy Underwood’s alibi – especially evidence that the naked and alive Gunnarsson had been ín the trunk of Underwood’s Monte Carlo right before he was murdered, and that the former police officer had killed him with the .38 caliber revolver that the Lincoln County Sheriffs Department had issued him, and he had somehow managed to keep despite evidence that he turned it in when he resigned 11 years earlier to join the Salisbury Police Department. The hunt for the revolver was highly reminiscent of efforts by Swedish police to find a similar revolver around Stockholm and Sweden after statsminister Palme had been assassinated.

It was only with the incarceration of Rex Allen Keller, Jr. for food stamp fraud that law enforcement and counterterrorist officials finally decided to go ahead with the set up of Underwood, thanks to the red flag that Woolsey raised with his former subordinates about Clinton’s continuing dealings with Leutchansky. If the Georgians could arrange a cover up of Woodruff’s assassination – what former KGB Chief Primakov had carried out to suit Yeltsin’s financial needs – Agency agents could complete Underwood’s set up – what Keller had apparently arranged by seeing to the murders of Gunnarsson and Mrs. Miller.

As the assassination of Woodruff had possibly gotten rid of the Agency’s apparently most dangerous Soviet mole – and at least rendered his exposure, Ames’s – as it turned out to be – less threatening as Woodruff’s elimination deprived Ames of a colleague who could help justify his spying – Gunnarsson’s murder complemented the process – getting rid of a convenient fall guy for the Stockholm shooting while disposing of another dangerous witness about what others had done.

Keller, it seems, was the assassin of both Gunnarsson and Mrs. Miller. He, according to a letter Underwood wrote to me, dated October 18, 2004, “…confessed to his girlfriend friend in 1993, Cherlyn Lashan Mack, that he was a well trained killer and a hit man and confessed to two murders.” While Keller never told Ms. Mack who he had killed, and for whom, the killings of Gunnarsson and Ms. Miller seem the most likely, since they had just occurred, and remained unsolved. And then Keller was confident that Underwood would soon be blamed for them.

Underwood explained his relation with Keller in another letter I received: “Keller and I were not friends, nor were we close. He ran a store in the police zone I patrolled. He was a low life that I used as a snitch and informant. We did not hang around together. Why he came into court and lied the way he did was a mystery. If I had had competent attorneys at trial, they would have cut Keller to pieces on cross examination. His testimony made no sense.”

Unfortunately, Keller’s testimony did make sense, though Underwood failed to realize that he was being made the fall guy for the Agency killings of Gunnarsson and Catherine Miller, as Keller cleverly concealed in his October 6, 1994 letter to Underwood shortly before he was released from federal penitentiary. After reassuring the police officer that he had nothing to worry about because of his previous relation with Mrs. Miller’s daughter – “In short, you will not be charged, it was a pro hit.” – he described the Palme assassination as a killing that Gunnarsson had peformed for Moscow, and “the hit on Gunnarsson was done to save a government from being embarrassed.”

Of course, this was nonsense, but it seemed to be possible in light of what was known at the time. Gunnarsson did not kill Palme, and even if he had, it would have been done for the West as Gunnarsson was a militant anti-collectivist – what made him a decoy for the people who really did it. Moreover, his own assassination was not performed to save Yeltsin’s government from embarrassment, but the ones in Washington and London, though Keller might have believed so when he carried out the hits on the Swede and Mrs. Miller.

To give credibility to his claims, Keller attributed them to fellow prisoners, CIA and National Ssecurity Agency (NSA) agents who had carried out missions for the NSC’s Oliver North in El Salvador and the Middle East – most seemingly unlikely events since the Marine had resigned from the post 8 years before.

While I was a bit dubious of the claims, especially NSA’s involvement in the murders, I became much less so when I read James Bamford’s Body of Secrets: How America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ Eavesdrop on the World.  Bamford detailed how its Special Collection Service (SCS) had taken over the responsibilties of the CIA’s Divison D after William King Harvey efforts had finally been closed down because of the Watergate scandal, and the prohibitions placed on the CIA after the Church Committee hearings.

After that, instead of NSA assisting the Agency in protecting secrets, the relationship was reversed.

The SCS is located in “…a heavily protected compound of modern buildings on Springfield Road in Beltsville, Maryland, a few miles south of NSA.” (479) While known for its Sigint ability to compromise a nation’s secrets by human and technical resources, it is quite capable of resorting to harsher methods, even killings, if the circumstances warrant it. The unit became the successor of Harvey’s assassination unit when protecting the nation’s vital sscret required it.

While Keller was reassuring Underwood, he did everything he could to undermine any confidence in what Ms. Mack might testify: “Fuck her! I don’t have time for any more of her shit, and I am damned sure not going to jail or prison over her. You’re right too, if she would have cared, she would have written more and come to see me more, but she did neither. Mostly, all I ever got from her was lies, and a hard time.” (Keller’s ltr. to Underwood, dated October 6, 1994.)

Keller, thanks to professional advice apparently provided by psychologists in the prison, attributed her behavior to chronic crack-cocaine addiction.

When Ms. Mack made a statement to police on July 28 1995 about Keller bragging about being a professional hit man – what threatened to send him back to prison for the murders of Gunnarsson and Mrs.Miller – he moved into high gear to make sure that Underwood went there instead. He made statements that Underwood had asked him in either February 1993 or 1994 how he could dispose of a gun so that it could not be recovered by sniffer dogs – what was intended to explain why police had not found the .38 caliber Colt revolver and the .22 caliber pistol they were looking for.

In March 1994, Keller claimed that he helped Underwood make a missing tape, explaining why he no longer had a Dan Wesson .22 caliber pistol; yet failing to mention the .22 caliber Ruger rifle he still had, and could have killed Gunnarsson with. Finally, Keller stated that Underwood, who had already shown him where Kay Weden, Mrs. Miller’s daughter, lived, gave him the Colt revolver, and $500 to scare and assault her in November and December 1993.

On October 12, 1995, Underwood was arrested, and charged with Gunnarsson’s murder.

Unbeknownst to me, the CIA’s DO leadership, thanks apparently to encouragement by the former DCI Richard Helms, began to seek my elimination through ricin poisoning – what I just attributed to high living at the time – because of my growing complaints about its assassinations, especially the JFK one.

While I would suffer severe attacks of dizziness, vomiting, and diarrhea 18 hours after having had dinner in the Thai restaurant in Caldas da Rainha – what, I believe, the new American ambassador to Portugal, Elizabeth Frawley Bagley arranged with the owner José Flour – they were not often enough and severe enough for me to be alarmed. Moreover, I was just too busy with making arrangements for my girl friend to return to Sweden, and promoting the just published first volume of my biography of English barrister Henry Brougham to imagine that anyone, particularly America’s covert government, was trying to kill me.

The book’s appearance curiously raised further threats to me, though I still failed to suspect any danger. Since I have arrived in Portugal five years earlier, I often talked to friends and acquaintances about my theories surrounding America’s assassinations during the 1960s – what I was increasingly saying that I was going to write a book about – and about the biography I had written about Brougham. I think that they increasingly thought that it was all just a lot of hot air – probably by one who the American government had grievances against rather than the reverse.

When Barry Rose published the book in April 1995, my friends were staggered by its appearance. Whatever was inside it, it certainly looked like a most impressive book. I particularly remember the son of a couple who lived in a grand villa nearby, stating with the greatest surprise: “I am really impressed. I never thought that you could write such a book.”

He maintained an impressive ham radio operation at the villa, apparently for the NSA, by which he monitored Cold War confrontations like the revolt that the Kremlin hardliners mounted unsuccessfully against Gorbachev during August 1991. His mother ran an international media service which provided educational materials to American schools around the globe – an ideal routine, either officially or informally, for keeping the Agency informed of my and other suspects’ latest activities and intentions. Of course, if I could write an impressive-looking book about Brougham, I could also do one about Langley too.

In September 1995, I received several most unexpected articles about Jim Garrison, Oliver Stone, and Gerald Posner from the mother. While I had asked her to find out any information she could about Sir Michael Cook, she sent me Posner’s article from The New York Times Magazine of August 5, 1995 about Garrison’s investigation of the Dallas assassination, “Garrison Guilty: Another Case Closed,” and responses by people like Oliver Stone to the article. Posner’s article was just a rehash of his book, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of J.F.K., plus some telling criticisms of the New Orleans prosecutor’s efforts to convict businessman Clay Shaw of the crime.

In characteristic style – what I would not do if I was again confronted by the clippings – I replied thus on September 12th to her:

“It’s just more elaboration of a false explanation of the conspiracy, at the expense of the intended patsies, which Garrison started looking into right after the killing, and only put aside when it was determined that it could not be used to trace the murder back to Castro. Once William Manchester started asking embarrassing questions, and it was feared that The Death of a President would show that the United States government was just another banana republic which engaged in complicated political murders, Garrison was back in business, though the story was complicated further by claims of aliases, drugs, and homosexuality, and Langley had William Harvey infilitrate and misdirect the New Orleans investigation for good measure.

As Ruby had had to kill Oswald because his trial threatened to blow the whole thing sky high, Harvey had had to clean things up because of misplaced responsibilities in people like John Roselli and Jack Ruby.

In sum, Garrison is a corrupt official, probably under the influence of CIA from the very beginning; Stone a movie-maker who wants exciting scripts, no matter what their secret agenda, sponsors, and outcomes; and Posner is just a shit, in a long line of shits, going back to the Warrren Commission. I guess the only consolation for the deceased L. H. Oswald for his involvement in Operation Litle Egypt is his being the subject of so many books, one now by one of America’s leading novelists. That the NYT continues to be an integral part of this shows that it is just a gutter rag, for sale to America’s secret government.

To give you the background for what I have said, I am enclosing an outline I wrote last year for the book I am putting together. It will appear in a few years, God willing, and provided Langley doesn’t have a job done on me, as it did with Roselli, Giancana, Cain, Nicoletti, Oswald, etc., ad nauseum….”

I added that the CIA was trying too hard to prove that it was not behind the JFK assassination, an effort which was backfiring. For example, Mark Rieling’s just published book, Wedge, tried too hard to prove that there was a gap between the Agency and the Bureau which Kennedy’s murderers took advantage of, while saying too much about why and how Harvey and Roselli, with Hoover’s neglect and Ruby’s help, may have actually arranged it. Christopher Andrew’s study, For the President’s Eyes Only, was based too much on the self-serving testimony of former DDP Helms and at the expense of former DCI John McCone to be reliable. While Helms might have been right to conclude that former President Nixon was a shit, I concluded, it took one to know one.

Unfortunately, this letter, like Keller’s to Underwood, put us both on a deadly collision course with America’s covert government, as we shall see.


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Trowbridge Ford (1929 - 2021) was the son of William Wallace Ford, the father of the US Army's Grasshoppers. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, and Columbia University where he received a Ph.D. in political science after a stint in the Army's Counter Intelligence Corps as a draftee during the Korean War, and after being discharged, worked as the sports editor and a reporter for the now-defunct Raleigh Times. Thought academia was the thing for him.  He was quite satisfied teaching all kinds of courses about European and American politics while writing his dissertation about an under-appreciated British politician, Henry Brougham, who became the Lord Chancellor of the famous Reform Government (1830-34). At the same time, Trowbridge became most interested in the role that A. V. Dicey, a famous Oxford legal professor, played in settling the Irish question - another figure that historians didn't think did much about.   It was while he was doing research on the dissertation at the British Museum in London that President Kennedy was assassinated, and it slowly led him to take a dimmer view of academic life, especially when joined by campus protests over the growing Vietnam War.  He was fired by two institutions of higher learning because of his protests against the war. When the Vietnam War finally ended, he got involved in researching the Dallas assassination, and his first serious efforts about it appeared in Tom Valentine's The National Exchange in 1978 - what Fletcher Prouty thought was quite good, just urging him to go higher in the Agency and the political world for the main culprits. He slowly started doing this, ultimately deciding to retire early in 1986, planning on finishing his Brougham biography while living in Portugal. While he did this, he had made too many enemies with the White House not to be punished - first by attempts to establish that he maliciously tried to destroy Richard Nixon during Watergate by libeling him, and when he died, DCI George Tenet tried to have me killed by poisoning - what would make his death look like a suicide or a natural one. As a result of this, once he had finally determined the cause, he moved to Sweden to not only save his skin but also investigate and write about assassinations, covert operations, 'false flag' deceptions, preventive wars, weapons development, and their use, etc.  He passed away in 2021.