Agents of FBI Investigate Letelier Killing - Get Tip Chilean Secret Policeman Flew to US Last Week

23 September 1976
Article

The FBI said today it was pursuing 'a lot of leads' in the bomb killing here yesterday of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean Foreign Minister, and a woman assistant.

TNI and the Pinochet precedent

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 - The Federal Bureau of Investigation said today it was pursuing 'a lot of leads' in the bomb killing here yesterday of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean Foreign Minister, and a woman assistant. A bureau spokesman, Joseph E. Dowling, said there were no suspects. He added that it was too early to say precisely how the bomb had been detonated after it was attached to the bottom of the Letelier car - whether by a timing device or remote control. Michael Moffitt, whose wife, Ronni, died from wounds sustained in the blast, said he had heard 'a buzzing' just before the explosion. The Moffitts were riding with Mr. Letelier in his car to their downtown offices at the Institute for Policy Studies when the bomb went off in heavily traveled Sheridan Circle. Mr. Dowling said the FBI was reconstructing the death car and fragments of the bomb, but would not be able to complete its examination 'for a couple of days.'

Nearly everyone associated with Mr. Letelier in his political exile has attributed the bombing to the Chilean military leadership that overthrew the elected Marxist Government of President Salvador Allende Gossens in September 1973. Mr. Letelier, who served the Allende Government first as Ambassador to the United States, then as Foreign Minister and finally, in the last days, as Defense Minister, was imprisoned for nearly a year by the Chilean junta. He was released on the intervention of the Venezuelan authorities and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and came to the United States late in 1974. Associates of Letelier and the Moffitts said today that they believed the bomb could have been attached to his car on Monday, when it was parked for a long time on a downtown lot next to the Institute for Policy Studies. This left open the question of whether the bomb was set off by remote control or by a time device.

New York Lead is Investigated

Mr. Letelier had lent his car to the Moffitts Monday night when their own vehicle broke down, and they picked him up ap 9 a.m. yesterday at his suburban home, about 35 minutes before the explosion. Among the leads under investigation, The FBI said, is a tip from a Chilean that he recognized a Chilean secret policeman who disembarked from an airliner that arrived Aug. 25 in New York from Santiago. The tip was passed first to William L. Wpfler, a director of the National Council of Churches in New York, a few hours after the blast. In a telephone interview, Mr. Wpfler said the Chilean source had identified a high-ranking officer of DINA, the Chilean secret police, aboard a New York-bound Lufthansa flight, and noted he was accompanied by a woman and four men. Mr. Wipfler passed the information to Representative Donald M. Fraser, Democrat of Minnesota, whose office informed the Justice Department. When Mr. Fraser learned today that Mr. Wipfler had not yet been called on by the FBI, he made public the tip to indicate his disappointment with the investigation. An FBI spokesman called The Times late today to say that his office had attempted yesterday afternoon to get in touch with Mr. Wipfler, but had been unable to find him.

Copyright 1976 The New York Times