Piece of Mindful

John Denver’s death: Another hoax

[Note: See footnotes dated 10/20/2016 and 10/25/16.]

When you ask how I’ve been here without you,
I like to say I’ve been fine, and I do.
But we both know the truth is hard to come by.
And if I told the truth, that’s not quite true.
(Some Days Are Diamonds, by Dick Feller, Performed by John Denver)

The National Transportation Safety Board on January 26 1999 held a public meeting regarding the 10/12/97 death of singer John Denver, real name Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. I called NTSB earlier this summer to get hold of a copy of that report, only to be told that they have no record of it. I did find it, eventually, in the Wayback Machine.

That’s odd, NTSB missing a report on one of the most high-profile plane crashes in recent memory. But it makes sense from another standpoint: If the death was faked, and if higher powers were involved, then people of integrity at NTSB might simply want to back away from it. They would not want their careers or character sullied by such an affair of deceit. So they allow the report to circulate, but do not claim ownership.

Here at this blog we do a lot of research of fake deaths, and on the surface, Denver’s had all the earmarks. He died at an appropriate age (53, 5+3 = 8, Spook marker*), and the circumstances of his death are completely hinky. He is said to have been struggling with the fuel tank switch in his Long EZ, a second-hand home-assembled model he bought and flew even as he could easily afford something new, something factory built. It doesn’t read well. Denver, a smart man and accomplished pilot with hundreds of hours of flight time, was not going to perish in an act of idiocy.

Other markers of fake death are present as well. Denver’s once-prolific output had dwindled, his more current offerings were just not very good. As with Elvis, Karen Carpenter, John Lennon and most recently Prince, faking death is a business decision that maximizes the monetary value of the body of work. Denver’s Greatest Hits, along with his cutting room debris, have all been repackaged and resold to the tune of millions of dollars, as with the others who fake their deaths.

I’ve been working on this issue for months now, off and on, and am convinced now that John Denver did not die that day. Too many things are wrong with the picture. And yet, I don’t think I will ever be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he didn’t. While the people who planned the charade were sloppy and while the whole day of his death seems a cheap and contrived detective novel, there is enough “evidence” to keep the myth alive. There is a fingerprint match, probably facilitated by Monterey Sheriff Norman G. Hicks, and the absence of two toes on the corpse, said to be a link to the real Denver, but probably contrived and circular. While I cannot disprove these two pieces of evidence, I will cast doubt.

John Denver: Fly Fishing in New Zealand

Let’s start with a video which caught my eye months ago. Something is not right.

The video was said to be shot in 1993, and released to YouTube in 2009. Denver is hidden behind sunglasses, hat and beard. The hair looks like that he had back in the 90s, but could easily be a wig. Below is a screen grab of a known video of Denver in 1993:

Several things jump out at us. One, in side view close-ups in the New Zealand video, Denver has pronounced crows-feet and other facial wrinkles, where in the image above his eyes and face are still youthful and unwrinkled. Of course, that could be makeup and the poor quality of video available in 1993, as the latter is a stage performance. So that is not conclusive. In 1993, Denver was 49 years old. Tough call. In 2009, he was 65. The  crow’s feet and lines below look more like 65 than 49.

The other matter however is a bigger tell, and that is the quality of the video. A member of the team that shot the video in 1993 claimed it was done on Sony Betacam 1/2 inch tape. Tyrone, a writer on this blog who has seen the above video and has good knowledge on such matters, says it is entirely plausible that it was shot in 1993 when Denver was still a big deal and high-technology films would be made of his performance. The question is, why? The conversion to video is slick and contains high production values. In 2009, putting it on YouTube does not generate a revenue stream. They basically kept it in the can for all the years it had maximum value (1998 especially), and then cut it loose for nothing.

As with everything else in the matter of the death of John Denver, it is plausible, but highly suspicious.

John Denver, by the way, had three children. Anna Kate was adopted and now lives in New Zealand. Zachary, adopted, still lives in Colorado, and Jesse Belle, product of the second marriage to Cassandra Delaney, lives in California. When I speak of them below, it is only as a matter of trying to clarify their father’s behavior. They were not in control of the events of Denver and his handlers, and I urge everyone to leave them be.


The exclusion of Jesse Belle from the John Denver estate

Denver, we are told, died “intestate,” that is, without a last will and testament. (This was also said of Prince.) It is nonsense, of course. Denver was said to be worth $21 million, though we never know whether our rock stars are living on royalties or are salaried employees. He had a private foundation supervising land near his home, Windstar**. Having three children, two ex-wives, and surrounded by business advisors and investment managers … I have no doubt he had (has) a will. To think otherwise is delusional.

There is a problem in faking his death, however. The provisions of the will of a living person are only triggered by death. If he was still a living person, it could not be done. In the case of intestate death, courts step in to supervise probate, and assets are distributed by rule of law. In Colorado, when a person dies without a spouse, all assets are distributed evenly to the children.

So Denver’s kids should have each inherited something in the area of $7 million if the $21 million valuation is accurate. There is a 2003 article about a dispute between Zach and Anna, the adopted kids, and the IRS over valuation of the estate and some deductions, we are told, but that is the end of the story. We are told the matter was settled, but not enough of the details to understand exactly what was settled.

His third child, Jesse Belle, would have been fourteen at the time of the IRS dispute, and so a minor. Even so, she should have been named and had representation before IRS. She is not named in the dispute. Why was she excluded? Disposition of property in intestate deaths is by rule of law, so that no human can overrule it. Jesse Belle was entitled to 1/3 of the estate. She is not mentioned.

His Aspen house was sold in 1999 by its legal owners, Anna Kate and Zachary. Again, Jesse Belle, legally entitled to 1/3, is not mentioned. It sounds, oddly as if Jesse Belle, the product of a stormy second marriage, was short-changed. If indeed he died intestate, that is quite impossible. The law is clear that she was entitled to 1/3 of the estate. The movement of assets to Anna Kate and Zachary would appear then to be perhaps a gift than an inheritance. Valuation of the gift would not affect the children’s cost basis, but would affect the value of the gift and the amount of tax paid by Denver, and not the children.

Disposition of assets in deaths is usually public knowledge. Wealthier people try to avoid public disclosure by avoiding probate, and that is usually done by setting up trusts during their lifetimes. In the case of intestate deaths, disposition of assets is controlled by the courts. Usually, with small estates (most of us) the matter is routine, often not even handled by courts. But Denver’s estate was very large. The Pitkin County Combined Courts (Aspen, Denver’s home, is in Pitkin County) were involved, and did indeed supervise disposition of assets.

I called Pitkin County on October 12 of this year and innocently asked questions regarding intestate deaths. After being assured I was in the right place, the clerk asked me whose death I was inquiring about. “Henry Deutschenforf,” I said, hoping she would not recognize the name. She quickly said “I can save you a lot of time here. You’re not going to find anything out. Those court records are sealed.”

I asked if disposition of assets in intestate deaths was not a matter of public record, and she said yes, but in this case “the family’s privacy took precedence over the public’s right to know.” It was the end of the line.

The Long EZ

John Denver is said to have died on October 12, 1997. His experimental plane, was an Adrian Davis Long-EZ. There are many inconsistencies about the plane and the crash.

The Long-EZ is no longer manufactured by the Rutan Aircraft Factory, since renamed Scaled Composites. It is a home job, that is, if you buy one it comes in a crate. You assemble it yourself.

There has been one other known crash of this model, where an author, John Gleick, crash landed in New Jersey. He was badly injured, and his eight-year old son was killed. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) link to that report is a dead-end. This will factor in again.

The Long EZ was famously flown around the world in 1997 by Dick Rutan and Mike Melvill, with some legs lasting 14 hours. It was a light plane designed for fuel efficiency, and not comfort. In 1979 the Long EZ, flown by Rutan, set a world record for distance flown, 4,900 miles.

The “EZ” refers to ease of assembly. Denver’s model was second-hand, we are told, and here it gets murky. The official cause of the crash was pilot error. Denver was supposedly attempting to switch fuel tanks when he kicked a lever and entered into inescapable descent into Monterey Bay.

According to the official story, the previous owner of Denver’s EZ had made some adjustments, one of which was to move the fuel tank switch behind the pilot seat so that his children in the back could make that change while he was flying. This model has two fuel tanks, one in each wing, and a switch between the pilots legs. On Denver’s model, we are told, the change of fuel tanks was difficult, requiring the pilot to turn around and use a vise grip. That’s why Denver screwed up. He was monkeying with it and got twisted up and his foot hit one of the control levers.

That story insults our intelligence, in my opinion. Denver, an experienced pilot and wealthy performer, did not need to be buying planes off the used car lot. He did not need a plane designed for fuel efficiency. As he was not a stupid man, he would have assured himself that the plane was safe to fly. He would not have taken off until all systems were performing well.

Moving the tank switch to a place where it is not visible or easily accessible to the pilot achieves so little, while increasing flight danger, so that only a fool would have done it. We are told that the original owner did it so that his children could perform the maneuver from their seats behind the pilot, and also keep track of fuel. Not only do I find that hard to believe, but also that Denver would have owned, much less taken off in, such a Rube Goldberg contraption.

(Denver, we are told, on taking ownership of the plane, changed its wing registration to “NC555JD.” Again, numerologists take note*! The number “555” signals that a person is going though a major life change, neither good nor bad, but major.)

The crash

Denver died on October 12, 1997. Having just purchased his Long EZ, he was anxious to give it a trial run. He was using it that day to practice take-offs and landings. Though he was not legally qualified to fly on that day due to a drunk driving episode in Colorado, later toxicology reports show that he was clean and free of drugs and alcohol.

Here is Wikipedia’s report on the crash itself:

The NTSB interviewed 20 witnesses of Denver’s last flight; six of them had observed the plane’s crash into the ocean near Point Pinos.[35][36] Four of the witnesses indicated that the airplane was originally heading west; five of them observed the airplane in a steep bank, with four of those five reporting the bank was to the right (north). Twelve witnesses saw the airplane in a steep nose-down descent. Witnesses estimated the plane’s height at 350 to 500 feet while heading toward the shoreline. Eight of the witnesses said that they heard a “pop” or “backfire”, along with a reduction in the engine noise level just before the airplane descended into the water.

[Emphasis added.] I left the footnote citations 35 and 36 in because both of those links are dead. Footnote 36, linking to the NTSB report, is an interesting one. As mentioned above, the report does exist in the Wayback Machine.

While NTSB does not name any witnesses, the report of the Monterey County Sheriff/Coroner names eleven. Nine are at odds with NTSB. I’ll review them later.

Denver took off from Monterey Peninsula Airport at about 4:30 in the afternoon. He was wearing a bright shirt and gray pants. Everyone who saw him that day remembered his clothing. (Often times when looking for my wife as she disappears on me in the grocery store, I realize that I don’t know what she is wearing that day.) But according to official reports, everyone who encountered Denver that day remembered his bright shirt and gray pants.

Denver discussed his flight plans with Chris Hadland, airport mechanic, who said that he was only going to do a couple of practice take offs and landings, and go for a short flight thereafter. He was low on fuel but did not think that a problem and refused to fill up. He discussed the problem with the switch on the Long EZ aircraft. He is said to have requested a mirror so he could read his fuel status from the gauge, which was behind him.

Although NTSB does not name its twenty witnesses to the crash, the Coroner’s Report does list the eleven by name. Both reports conclude pilot error, and “case closed.”

Norman G. Hicks

Norman G. Hicks, the sheriff in 1997, campaigned in part based on his military service record, but I can find no record of it. Although officially both sheriff and coroner of Monterey county, on official reports he is a ghost. He signed no documents that I have seen in regard to the Denver death.

The Coroner’s Report

I first called the Monterey County Coroner in May of 2016, and trying to be coy asked if I could get a copy of the Coroner’s Report for the 1997 death of John Henry Deutschendorf, Jr. It is numbered 97-227. As I hoped, the clerk did not recognize the name, so no red flags went up. So I thought … she then expressed surprise, as their records are computerized, but that the record of this particular accident was still on paper, had never been digitized. She would have to search for it. Nonetheless, she said, I had to write and request the report, enclosing $10. I did so on May 18.

Time went by, other matters interfered, and I next broached the subject in July of 2016. It had been two months, and they had not sent the report. I called, and the same clerk said they had no record of my letter or check.  So on July 5th I sent another $10 check. This time I got a phone call back saying that my original check had been located, would be processed, and that the report was on the way.

It did arrive, some time in July or August.

The report is a 19-page document. The first page is the Coroner’s Register, which serves as a death certificate, I suppose. It lists Denver’s Social Security Number as 453-70-6010 – that, for numerologists*, contains a 53 (8), and two sevens (6+1 is the second). I don’t know what to make of numerology, and do not consider it to be solid evidence, but I do note that Denver’s death is littered with markers.

The report states that Denver’s corpse was fingerprinted by Susan Clark, the body was examined by M. Burns, and that another investigator was A. Wheelus. Photographs were taken by T. Jenkins and the above listed M. Burns. Carl Wheeler was the officer on scene. The pathologist was F. Walker. As I make it out, the report was signed by Chief Deputy “Joe Submeier,” even as the officer with legal accountability was the County Coroner, in Monterey County, the Sheriff, Norman G. Hicks.

A word about the Sheriff/Coroner functions. Combining the two offices may be common, but in my view, that combines two functions that need to be separate. The sheriff has  “line” authority, that is, the power to enforce laws, while the coroner is a “staff” function, there to assure accountability. Most counties in the United States have elected coroners, as we need to know the truth of deaths. So, operating independently of law enforcement, the coroner has the power to examine every death, perform autopsies, and assure the public (and insurance companies) that there is transparency.

The sheriff with law enforcement duties, the coroner operating as a check and balance against the sheriff, assure public integrity in the matter of suspicious deaths. When one person holds both offices, there is a conflict of interest.

But in either case, Hicks is absent from this report. In an event this significant, the death of a major public figure, the absence of the sheriff’s signature on the report speaks to me. (If anyone reading this has access to public military records and can locate those of Norman G. Hicks (Army, as I recall), please do so. I have had no luck.)

The Coroner’s Report recounts the events leading up to delivery of the corpse to the morgue. A police lieutenant, Carl Miller, reported that a small aircraft had crashed into the bay. Part of the pilot’s remains were recovered, and Miller believed they were that of singer John Denver. Chris Hadland was contacted, and claimed to be present for pre-flight inspection, recounted his dealing with Denver and the color of his clothing.

It is noted that Denver had changed the wing registration number of his plane to #N555JD, and sure enough, a portion of the wing bearing that number was said to have been recovered in the wreckage.

While very little of Denver’s body is supposed to have survived this crash, the following items were recovered from the ocean bottom by the Coast Guard:

Given this array of surviving evidence, we are to conclude this was indeed the body of John Denver. It was just enough to be a postcard from the edge. There was no face or teeth, only one hand. And his underwear.

The body was put in the morgue cooler and placed under guard. Reports of Denver’s death were already appearing in local and national news. Since the only person who suspected the crash was that of John Denver, the news must have been planted by Lt. Carl Miller or his superiors. They were the only ones suspecting it was Denver at that time.

Given the news spreading like wildfire, the immediate object was to contact family members. Denver’s brother Ron Deutschendorf, his mother and ex-wife were all contacted.

Annie, we are told, helped identify the body. She told investigators that John had lost two toes in a lawn mowing accident as a youth. If perhaps the leg that survived the crash were his right leg, and if the foot were still intact, well, that might just help identify the body. And it did! The Coroner later reported “…healed partial amputations of the right first and second toes” on the right foot. Annie’s song was the right tune, it appears.

Later we learn that Denver left his wallet containing his driver’s license and a wad of cash in his car at the airport. Perhaps the bulge on his backside was too much for such a small aircraft.

The body was delivered to the autopsy room in multiple bags. A full examination was done on the remains. A toxicology report reveals that Denver had not been drinking or taking any substances of any kind. The esophagus and stomach were intact, and even though Denver enjoyed lunch that day with friends at the country club, no mention is made of contents. The right hand survives intact, and so the Coroner was able to identify fingerprints as matching those supplied by Colorado authorities as belonging to Denver. Cause of death is listed as “multiple blunt force trauma (seconds).”

A final note about the body – while no alcohol was present in the blood stream, ethanol was present in liver fluid. More later.

Witnesses, and the “Pop!”

NTSB failed to name its twenty witnesses, as noted above. It gives a general summation of their statements, seeing a plane enter the water, a loud “Pop!” before that.

The “Pop!” is interesting given  the lower speed of sound, that it was heard by witnesses before the plane hit the water. The crash was said to be 150 yards offshore. Witnesses were said to be on the beach and further inland. Sound travels  in in air at about a football field per second, there would have been as much as a half-second delay in sound arriving onshore after a visual witnessing of the event. Estimated speed of the craft on impact varies from “very fast” to 60-100 mph. Taking a mid-ground of 80 mph, the pop sound would have occur when the craft was 120 feet higher in the air, that is, the “Pop!” occurred 120 feet before people actually heard it.

The Coroner’s report makes no attempt to explain it, and witnesses could not identify it, so that “Pop!” sound remains unexplained. Reasonable explanations – an explosion, breakage of a wing or other major part of the craft, or a shot fired at the craft or engine backfire …  are pure speculation.

It can always be said that eyewitness accounts vary.  Keep in mind the NTSB report as we recount the listed witnesses in the Coroner’s Report. Here is what NTSB said, according to Wikipedia, repeated from above:

The NTSB interviewed 20 witnesses of Denver’s last flight; six of them had observed the plane’s crash into the ocean near Point Pinos.[35][36] Four of the witnesses indicated that the airplane was originally heading west; five of them observed the airplane in a steep bank, with four of those five reporting the bank was to the right (north). Twelve witnesses saw the airplane in a steep nose-down descent. Witnesses estimated the plane’s height at 350 to 500 feet while heading toward the shoreline. Eight of the witnesses said that they heard a “pop” or “backfire”, along with a reduction in the engine noise level just before the airplane descended into the water.

Coroner’s Report witnesses

I have placed the witnesses listed in the Coroner’s Report on the map above. Descriptions of their locations are vague – only two were specific: “1273 Ocean View Boulevard”, shown by a red pin above, and Rachel Bertone, on the eighth hole of the golf course. Since witnesses said the plane crashed “beyond the rocks” or “behind the trees” I have placed the crash site beyond a rocky area and beyond some trees as shown below:

Peter Aline and his wife said the plane flew directly over their house at 1273 Ocean Grove. Roger Rodriguez thought it came from the direction of the “cemetery on Asilomar Avenue (El Carmilo Cemetery, near that street, is located not too far from the eighth hole of the golf course), so I have put in an guesswork flight path that draws a line over their house to the point beyond the rocks. This report forces us to do a lot of guessing. (NTSB reports witnesses saying the plane was flying towards the shoreline.

Here is a brief summary of the eleven witnesses recounted in the Coroner’s report:

Contradictory witness reports are not unusual, but this is a mishmash. We have a plane flying so low that it nearly clips telephone poles, and also hurtling down from 300 feet (NTSB 350-500 feet). Two witness reported what appeared to be a “remote-controlled vehicle,”  one heard what “sounded like a dirt bike.” None, however, describe any features of a Long EZ, as shown here:

The craft is 16 feet long and has a 26-foot wing span. It has a forewing called a canard, an unusual feature on aircraft. The propeller is behind the aircraft. It has the wings with the ends sticking up in the air. No witness described any feature that would make what they saw a Long EZ.

Most of the witnesses place the vehicle low to the ground, and not doing the “350-500 foot” uncontrolled drop described by NTSB.  Most report it heading out to sea, while NTSB reports it heading towards the shore. Only Ellis, who saw an airplane (or helicopter) plunging from 3-400 feet, and Burshinger, who place the altitude at 300 feet, are in agreement, somewhat, with NTSB. And none saw the crash. They only saw the events before the crash. Only one person, looking directly up from her rooftop at 1273 Ocean View, saw the head of a pilot.

So, we either had a plane scraping rooftops and narrowly avoiding light poles, or one plummeting from 350-500 feet in the air. But not both.

Or maybe, both.

While NTSB does not name witnesses and only summarizes, it offers a different view of the crash than ten of the eleven referenced in the Coroner’s Report. Only Ellis places the aircraft anywhere near the 350-500 feet in the air that NTSB claims. In fact, other witnesses have the aircraft flying low over Pacific Grove, skimming rooftops, even nearly hitting telephone poles. No one describes anything like a Long EZ.

Pathologist’s Report

Rumors abound that Denver had a drinking problem, this associated with “a number of drunk driving arrests” (Wiki)  in Aspen. Due to this, he was not supposed to be flying.

The body that was delivered to the Coroner in bags, and was severely damaged, the head mostly gone, and only the right half of the torso present. It was identified as Denver’s by fingerprints and the presence of sutures on the right foot where two toes had been severed as a youth.

The toxicology report showed no sign of alcohol present in blood or tissue except for .04% ethanol in the liver. This is significant.

Toxicologists have long struggled with the presence of alcohol in corpses. It is vital information for law enforcement and insurance companies. A problem arises when a  corpse has laid around for a long time prior to autopsy and toxicology reports. Microbial contamination and fermentation occurs,  and the corpse can produce its own ethanol.

John Denver’s body was recovered from sea water three hours after the crash, and stored for a brief time, not stated, before delivery to the morgue. There it was refrigerated. The autopsy was performed at 9:30 the following morning, or about 16 hours after the crash. Given the short time and overnight refrigeration, there was not time for natural decomposition to produce ethanol.

But even so, presence of ethanol in the liver and nowhere else is atypical, and indicates that the ethanol in the liver was a product of decomposition. This is evidence that the body examined at the autopsy, unrecognizable and massively deformed, which could only be identified by potentially circular evidence (a right hand fingerprint and two toes missing on the right foot), might well have been a cadaver.

Below is a copy of the toxicology report, furnished on 10/15/97 by the Institute of Forensic Sciences in Oakland.

Please note that the name of the body is not “Deutschendorf, Henry John Jr.”, but rather “Denver, John.” This is evidence of fakery, as official documents around this death are not going to refer to stage names, but rather for historical purposes, real names. (Did the toxicology report on the death of Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr., refers to “The Big Bopper”? Of course not. This is not done. Official and legal documents are going to refer to the real name.)

I suggest this document is a fake.

Photographic evidence

There isn’t much. Internet sites will show us what are claimed to be pictures of Denver’s corpse, but I doubt they are real and I would not show them here anyway. As told to us by the autopsy report, the remains were unrecognizable anyway. There are photos of the “John Denver plane crash,” but these too are not real. There are no photos of the wreckage, and even though the Monterey Sheriff/Coroner’s Report claims that the wing with the plane ID #N555JD was recovered, there is no photographic evidence of that on the Internet. Perhaps it is all available in the official archives, but there is nothing available to the public on the Internet to give evidence of a plane crash that day.

There is this:

That looks like Denver, might be real, but is not of him in the Long EZ, which was a white aircraft. It looks more like he is leaving on a bombing raid for Tora! Tora! Tora!

There are these:

Those are said to be of “John Denver’s body being carried ashore.” The problem with that, of course, is that Denver’s body was said to have been recovered by the Coast Guard and divers, put aboard a ship and taken to a dock and kept under guard. What we see here is a yellow tarp.

There just isn’t much photographic evidence of the crash that day available to the public, and what there is tells us nothing.

What really happened – an alternative explanation of events

What follows is a recounting of the events of 10/12/1997 as they might really have happened, and not the fairy tale recounted above:

Sometime long before 10/12/1997 the decision was made that the public performer “John Denver,” widely beloved and having a large fan base, but whose output had slowed and talents had diminished, had to be fake killed. In the music business, people who have a large body of work, like Elvis, Karen Carpenter, Prince, Queen, Michael Jackson, for instance, are often “killed off” in order to maximize the postmortem value of their works. In Denver’s case, his post-death sales skyrocketed, and are still significant to this day. His later works, songs that did not catch on or make it off the cutting room floor of the recording studio to the public, have also been packaged and sold.

This is one reason why older musicians fake their deaths. But note, the decision to fake their deaths is probably not theirs. These are not independent people making their own way through the business world. They are the products of music companies, producers, managers, public relations. Often they have Intelligence ties. They could be nothing more than wage slaves, though the wages are a bit higher than for most of us. (I often question whether the music they write is really their own, or the product of a group of people assigned that task. I do not believe that John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote everything attributed to them, and have similar suspicions about John Denver.)

While Denver was a talented man and a good performer, it was decided that it was 555 time for him, or a new life in anonymity, quietly enjoying his earnings and family in peace. So plans were made to stage his death. A script was written.

Since Denver was a pilot, a plane crash seemed the logical end. But staging a plane crash can be difficult. It would have to be done in a place where all the elements were controlled. Monterey County, California, is the center of the old Hearst empire, a county long under control of oligarchs. The Sheriff/Coroner’s office is probably under their control as well. Having both sheriff and coroner in the same man, an ex-military man, would help.

So the Pacific Grove location was decided. Several elements would be needed to sell the production. A corpse would be needed, and that corpse would have to be positively ID’d as Denver’s. A plane would be needed, but it would have to be a flawed aircraft … fatally flawed I would say. Who better to supply the aircraft than a spook-run aircraft company, Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites. Did they have anything sitting on the shelf that could be used?

Prior to the event, Denver wanted to be sure his assets were distributed to the people he wanted them to go to, and so gifted them to Anna Kate and Zachary, leaving Jesse out. This included his home in Aspen. It was a taxable gift, which later put the two children in a dispute with the IRS over valuation.

The Long EZ was chosen because it was home assembled and so could easily be defective. But something else was needed, as there would not be a real crash – a simulation vehicle, a remote controlled light plane. That is what the Pacific Grove witnesses saw, not a Long EZ.

But the critical element was the body. That required a wait, as they needed an unidentified cadaver that could be mutilated to the degree that it was unrecognizable, and then supplied to county morgue people. (Most of the staff people involved in the autopsy were just professionals doing their job.)

Where to get a cadaver? One might turn up in a car accident or wash up ashore in a river or on the beach. Since the Sheriff, Norman G. Hicks, was compromised and a player, he was put on the lookout and told to notify the John Denver people when a body was available. One turned up, the phone call was made, and the plan went into action.

The plane was flown in and put on display at the local airport, but Denver would not actually fly it that day. His job was to be seen around Pacific Grove, wearing bright clothes, happy and chipper, playing golf, avoiding alcohol, in general just being visible. Since he had never flown the Long EZ, he might not have actually flown it that day, if one was flown at all. But again – he might have. The problem is that when a pilot’s license is suspended, airports can get in trouble if they let the pilot use the facilities.The suspension is meant to be enforced.

In fact, he could have merely parked his car at the airport and left the scene. He did leave his wallet.

Assume he did fly that day, and airport mechanic Chris Hadland was a real guy, and not a player. In that case, he might have done a couple of take offs and landings, and then flown off into the sunset, landing the craft at the nearby Coast Guard air base at Alameda. Other landing sites were no doubt also available.

Or perhaps Denver made an appearance, but another pilot familiar with Long EZ flew it, did some take offs and landings, had some contact with the tower, and then flew to Alameda. (Coast Guard, we must assume, which also recovered “the body”, was also part of the charade.)

Or perhaps Chris Hadland was given a script and told to read it – no Denver, no pilot, no Long EZ.

In the meantime, the remote-controlled aircraft was flown over Pacific Grove, low enough that people would be sure to see it, and then out and over a bunch of rocks, possibly crashing into the ocean. Perhaps it was blown up by remote control, resulting in a loud “Pop!” heard by many witnesses. However, the “Pop!” event was later downplayed and ignored, as it was not congruous with a plane merely hitting the ocean at high speed.

That was it for the real event. Ron Deutschendorf and Annie Denver knew in advance, and possibly Anna Kate, Zach and the mother, Irma Deutschendorf. They were told to lay low and not offer anything but grief and regret remarks to the press, and not to worry, that John would be OK and in touch as soon as possible.

Coast Guard higher-ups agreed to allow their name to be used in the publicity around the event, but did not recover either plane parts or a body. That is an indication of the source of the power behind this event.

Photos of men carrying a stretcher with a yellow tarp were staged, again out of sync with the official script, which had the body transported by the Coast Guard to a dock.

The cadaver, in cold storage, was delivered to the autopsy team on October 13th. It was already known that it was missing two toes on the right foot, so a story was planted that Annie Denver told them that John was missing those two toes. He was not. She said nothing of the sort.

Finger prints were crucial, and had to go through channels. A set of prints was taken off the cadaver, and in the meantime, Colorado authorities supplied the real John Denver prints to Sheriff Hicks. He switched them so that technician Susan Clark indeed could match them and report that the identity of the corpse was John Denver. Such an act, switching of finger prints, requires real juice to make them look authentic. The new prints, made to look like they came from Colorado, might have been prepared at Langley. Susan Clark was not a player. (This is the only aspect of the fake death that might involve illegal activity. It is NOT a crime to fake your death. If insurance fraud is involved, that is a crime.)

The NTSB report was fake, which is why they had no reference to it in their files. It was probably written by people at Langley, who would have the necessary muscle to force NTSB to go along. The Monterey County Sheriff and Coroner’s report was genuine, and the witnesses, with perhaps the exception of Ellis, Dilling and Burshinger, were real. Or maybe they were all fakes reciting a script. That’s why the people who prepared the NTSB report in advance did not name them. They did not know who they were going to be.

But suppose they were real. If so, they saw the remote-controlled vehicle, and not a Long EZ, as there was no Long EZ to be seen that day, far too high in the sky to identify.

Various county officials tried to do their job, but in the end, knew they had to shut up if they wanted to keep their jobs. They did manage to smuggle some clues to us, enough to tell us the event was faked, most notably the presence of ethanol in the liver of the cadaver. Medical personnel would know that to be an anomaly.

Denver was said to have died without a will, as even in a corrupt environment as ours, it is still impossible to probate the will of a living person. There was no life insurance, as that kind of fraud brings in powerful insurance companies and their investigators. The Pitkin County Courts had to be strong-armed into silence, forced to seal the records, and I do not know how that was done other than sheer brute force, again indicating the source of the power behind this event. The Coroner’s report was never made part of the official records of Monterey County, and is only now available electronically. As with NTSB, people of integrity knew to keep quiet and back away from it.

Denver himself made his escape. He might live in New Zealand, now 71 years of age. But like others before him used to the spotlight, he could not help himself, and with friends staged the Fly Fishing in New Zealand video in 2009. It was a message to his fans.

He was telling us “I am still here.”


*Spook marker: There are (at least) hundreds of thousands of Intelligence agents around the world, and they have apparently designed a shorthand method of communication with each other, part of which is numerology. Several numbers have significance to them, among them 8, 9 (3*3), 11, 27 (3*3*3), 33 (especially and in many forms), 47 (4+7=11), and Denver’s age at death, 53 (5+3=8). The number “555” has significance to them.

**Windstar Foundation closed its doors in 2013.

[Footnote, 10/20/16] Several interesting points have come from the comments below. Lux brought in childhood photos of the Deutschendorf family, and it appears the John has been pasted in. As with Jim Morrison, he is apparently not a member of the military family whose name he bears. Daddieuhoh notes that his post-death sales are 33 million, that he got his first guitar at age 11, additional spook markers. And we learn that divers the day after the crash miraculously recovered his ring from the ocean bottom. A pilot with a suspended license would not have been allowed to fly – those rules are enforced, so that the Monterey Airport would be culpable had JD actually flown that day.  He is said to have a nephew by brother Ron who is also Henry John Deutschendorf II, indicating that John Denver did not own that name. And then it gets even weirder. Thanks to all who chimed in.

[Footnote, 10/25/16] Immediately after the autopsy and at the request of the family, the body was cremated, thereby forever disposing of evidence of fraud. There were public memorials and remembrances, but never a formal death ceremony for John Denver. Since, as I contend, it was not his body and he was not really dead, is anyone surprised?