Herse Investigation

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Murder Suspect


DS Special Agent John Raymond "Jack" Herse was murdered at 10:15 PM, on 14 August 1974 in Arlington (Rosslyn), Virginia. SA Herse was between overseas assignments and temporarily back in the United States. SA Herse and his wife were leaving a Rosslyn restaurant when SA Herse was approached from behind by three men and suddenly shoved to the ground. As he tried to stand back up, one of the men pulled out a concealed pistol and shot SA Herse killing him. The assailants immediately fled the scene. [1] [2]

Arlington County Police Wanted Poster


Although the police suspected a street robbery, nothing was taken and the suspects never said a word during the encounter. SA Herse had $500 hundred dollars cash on his person (State Dept travel monies) and his SY special agent badge and credentials were in his jacket. SA Herse was in DC -- on official orders -- in between assignments, on the night of his murder. He was shot and killed on day two of a three-day consultation at Foggy Bottom. His duty issued S&W .38 5-shot revolver was not on his person at the time of the killing, the weapon had been shipped to his onward assignment, Pretoria, South Africa.

At the time of the murder, SA Herse was married with four children. Herse was walking back to the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel, after dinner with his wife at The Orleans House, a Rosslyn landmark, when the attack occurred, at North 19th Street and North Moore Street.

Several factors seem to indicate that Herse's killing may have been a targeted assassination and related to one his active criminal investigations. Prior to the murder, SA Herse was stationed in Panama City as the RSO and had been investigating a threat against the life of the US Ambassador to Costa Rica. The threat was linked to Robert Vesco, an international fugitive and money launderer tied to the Nixon White House. Herse was also investigating allegations of corruption and public integrity -- linked to Vesco -- affecting another government agency. Herse had also been investigating allegations of corruption linked to dirty DEA agents in Costa Rica. Through FOIA'ed State Department cable traffic, corrupt DEA personnel had been hired to conduct bug sweeps of Vesco's New York and Costa Rica offices and home.

Subsequent to the murder, the U.S. DOJ received intelligence from an unidentified source -- possibly a foreign security or intelligence service -- that indicated Herse was killed for a work related motive, however, the FBI was quick to discredit the information, without a thorough investigation.

One of the more intriguing elements of the the crime is that shortly after the shooting, four white males in a government looking four-door vehicle (antena on the back of the car) pulled up to the scene and appeared to render first aid. Their identities are not known. When the police and ambulance arrived, the four men departed without providing identification.

State/SY agents wanted to offer a reward of $5000.00 (5K) for information pertaining to the murder, however, the Black Dragons would only approve an offer of $500.00.

Physical evidence left at the murder scene was sparse. Herse was shot with a .25 caliber automatic pistol. A bullet cartridge was left at the scene, along with a cigarette butt, however, the status of the bullet cartridge and butt is not clear. The status and whereabouts of the fatal round recovered from Herse's body is also unknown. SY investigated the murder, in support of the Arlington County Police (the original police detective is deceased.) The FBI monitored the local police case, since Herse was a federal agent, but no formal investigation by the Bureau was conducted. At the time of the killing, State/SY leadership and the Black Dragons did not consider Herse "on duty", even though he was in DC for official consultations at Foggy Bottom and was traveling on government orders. A crime scene sketch of the suspect was done by a DC police artist and it is unknown if an autopsy was conducted.

Herse was a larger then life personality and was known as a "troubleshooter." SY agents in those days were few and far between and jack of all trades. [3]In a previous assignment in Islamabad, SA Herse single-handedly arrested Dr. Timothy Leary on a flight in Kabul, after Leary had broken out of jail with help from the The Weather Underground (For details surrounding Leary's capture see Leary's first person account depicted on page 91 of "The Politics of Psycho Pharmacology" by Timothy Leary (Ronin Publishing, 1988. Leary alleged he was "kidnapped by American agents.") Leary's comment -

“It was a blatant kidnapping. No one noticed. No one protested. Nixon was inaugurated that month. In Afghanistan, a uniformed official at the Kabul airport requested my passport, and an American agent then moved in to bust me for not having a passport.”

Herse had previously served at the US Embassy Saigon, protecting Ambassador Bunker (1968-1970); Rio de Janeiro (1970-71); the Washington Field Office (1965-1968); Islamabad (1971-1973.)

Herse was also a former Marine, at The Chosen Reservoir and Inchon (1st Recon company, 1st Marine Division) in Korea; and before SY, a U.S. Forest Ranger (1954-1957), recognized for saving the lives of persons whose boat capsized on a lake, during a storm.

While in the USMC, Herse attended the Counter-Intelligence Agent's Course, US Army Intelligence School, Fort Holabird (1963); USMC Mountain Warfare School (1961)


  1. http://washingtonexaminer.com/state-department-officials-killing-still-a-mystery/article/331331
  2. http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/police/crimereport/page62556.aspx
  3. Under Fire, by Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz, (SMP, 2013)