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Jul-02-2013 01:17printcomments

Evidence Calls for New Investigation Into the Murder of Marine Colonel James Sabow

Marine Colonel at MCAS El Toro blew the whistle on continuing Central and South American drug shipments and was murdered; his death passed off as a suicide.

Marine Colonel James Sabow at El Toro
Marine Colonel James Sabow at El Toro

(RAPID CITY, SD) - In 1991, my brother, Colonel J.E. Sabow, USMC was murdered in the backyard of his home on the Marine Corps Air Base El Toro, California. Col. Sabow was a highly decorated Jet pilot with 221 combat missions in an A-6 Intruder. This was followed by multiple assignments and commands stateside, as well as in South Korea, Okinawa and Japan. At the time of his death he was Assistant Chief of Staff, Chief of Operations Marine Air, Western Area.

His fitness reports throughout his entire 28 ½ year career were outstanding and among the highest in the Marine Corps. He was known as the straightest of straight arrows. That is what determined his death!

I have first hand knowledge that Colonel Sabow met with Oliver North in Arizona on at least three occasions while the US Military was involved in Central America. I assume that these meetings were related to LtCol. North’s involvement in arming the Contras. Only two weeks before my brother’s death we talked briefly about Lt.Col. North about generalities regarding his reputation.

I have substantial reason to believe that on the day before Col. Sabow was killed, he learned that flights of C-130s landing and leaving El Toro in the middle of the night were sanctioned by the Base Commander W. Tom Adams and Chief of Staff Colonel Joseph Underwood. The planes were transporting weeapons to Central America and returning with drugs. Many returning flights landed in airports in Mexico where drugs were off-loaded while some continued to military airfields in the Southwest and Florida. These C-130s were non-military planes but were those C-130 and P-3 Orions that were illigally tranferred from Davis-Monthan Airbase in Tucson, AZ through the Forestry Division of the Department of Agriculture and then into private airlines in a museum swap. These airlines were supposedly using them to fight forest fires but, in fact, that they were used for weapons and drug shipments1.

Images of Marine Col James Sabow

Underwood told Col. Sabow (on the day before he was murdered) that the C-130s were not simply transporting weapons but were returning from Central America and Mexico with drugs. Sabow threatened Underwood and told him that he would not tolerate this and he would divulge all that he knew. In fact, Col. Sabow called his retired mentor, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General J.K. Davis on the night before he died and told Gen. Davis what he was about to do. General Davis immediately informed Washington and General Adams about his conversation with Colonel Sabow. An “IRT” team was mobilized out of San Diego and Colonel Sabow was assassinated the following morning. Orders, presumedly originating from Washington, were to defy DOD (SECNAVINST) regulations and send his body to Orange County Sheriff/Coroner rather than to the nearby Balboa Naval Hospital for post mortem examination.

The Orange County Medical Examiner determined the manner of death as suicide. Despite my profession as a board certified neurologist and involved in forensic neurology, Dr. Singhania refused to discuss the findings with me. It was over one year before I received the autopsy report. Prior to seeing the autopsy report, I had serious suspicions that Col. Sabow was murdered. This was based on sound circumstantial evidence. But after studying the post mortem findings and subsequently reviewing autopsy and crime scene photos, I knew beyond a doubt that Col. Sabow had been murdered. I also knew that there was an extensive cover-up. (It did not take a board cetified neurologist to come to this conclusion). Anyone with a modicum of common sence would know that the manner of death was homicide..

Then I received a package from a “source” who was an active duty Marine Corps officer stationed at El Toro. In it were copies of hand written notes of Wayne Rich.

Wayne Rich was a Special Assistant Attorney General from the Department of Justice who also happened to be a reserve Marine Corps Colonel. He was sent to El Toro from Washington to “handle” the Colonel Sabow affair. Rich admitted under oath during a deposition, “They were my notes”. 

He stated that he made the notes while speaking with someone “back in Washington” but, “ I can’t remember with whom I was speaking”. He failed to observe that the name Lange was on the border of one page. Rich made the notes during a phone conversation with Col. George Lang III, Deputy JAG of the Marine Corps on the night before a meeting at El Toro with Dr. David Sabow which was scheduled at the request of General Tom Adams, to provide Dr. Sabow with the evidence they had collected regarding his brother’s death. Those notes were a script for the meeting attempting to convince Dr. Sabow that, “His brother was a crook and so big a crook that he…” encl 1

Ever since I initiated my own investigation my communications have been closely monitered and I told this to Special Agent Bill Grode of the Rapid City, SD FBI office. I explained why I had these suspicions and he felt that they were legitimate. He told me that he would have their office arrange to have my premises “sweeped”. However, it didn’t happen.

Sometime later Special Agent Grode told me that his chief told him that he should drop any involvement with the Sabow business and concentrate on his other work. This surprised me because Bill Grode previously reviewed the evidence with his SAC in Minneapolis and they concluded it was “murder”.

They sent a request to the Los Angeles FBI headquarters asking for a further investigation. Agent Grode subsequently told me that the Los Angeles FBI informed him that it was too hot to handle and that they sent it on to FBI Headquarters in Washington.encl. 2

My investigation has been continuously thwarted. When I have tried to meet with the Orange CountySheriff/Coroner, they refused. Their own Assisstant DA, Mike Jacobs said that their was no question that Col. Sabow was murdered but they would not listen to him or meet with him. encl.3 When Chairman Hunter discovered that an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 calling for a reinvestigation by the Secretary of Defense was not conducted in accorrdance with Duncan Hunter’s directives, he asked US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales to investigate. Congressman Hunter received a letter from the DOJ that stated they had no jurisdiction in the matter. This was the same Justice Department who on multiple occassions warned the California AG that this was a federal matter under exclusive federal jurisdiction and “Don’t get involved”. encl 4,5,6

My more recent experiences at attempts of criminal cover-up involve monitering ever more blatently my e-mail and telephone conversations. One instance was intercepting an affidavit from Dr. Werner Spitz, world famous Forensic Pathologist that I received stating without hesitation that Col. Sabow was murdered and that there was obvious tampering of the crime scene. Three days later he recanted his conclusions but refused to write a report stating why he had changed his opinion. A special cold-case investigator for the NCIS also requested a written report but he would not comply.

On another occassion I received a call from an ex-Marine living in North Carolina who wished to share information about things he either witnessed or learned of while he was stationed at  El Toro. Only two other people knew of this contact.  However, within three days after our converstion that was to arrange a meeting, he was visited by three men allegedly from the Department of Justice and warned him in no uncertain terms to “ keep quiet or else” (lose his Military pension and his present employment) encl. 7.

A MP who was one of the first at the crime scene witnessed three men in suits arriving in the backyard and ordering everybody except two NIS agents to leave. Then they placed a patio chair on the victim and later removed a club from the grass .encl. 8

In Feb. 2009 I received an unsoliceted call from Orange County Sheriff’s investigator, Daniel Salcedo. He told me that he had recently reviewed the Sabow case and was convinced that he was murdered. He asked me if I would agree to cooperate with a new investigation for he wished to present his findings and opinions to the OC Sheriff/Coroner’s staff. Naturally, I agreed and later left a voice mail asking if I could be present. He emailed me and told me that they would not allow me to be present even though they knew that I had the professional qualifications to address the manner of death as well as twenty years of collected evidence. On Mar 2, 2012, I received a letter from Sheriff Hutchins with no explanation of any dicrepancies in the official opinon, suicide. As always they never have allowed me nor any of the experts with whom I have consulted in all these years to be interviewed. Encl. 9

These are only a few of multiple examples of instances that I am being monitered. I am being monitered because I can prove that Colonel Sabow was murdered (assasinated) because of what he learned shortly before he was killed. I am being monitered because exposing the murder of Colonel Sabow would threaten the covert and criminal elements entrenched within our government.



John David Sabow, MD

Board Certified- Neurology

1 Personal interviews with Robert Tosh Plumlee, contract pilot for CIA. Testified in 1974 in Church committee and in 1990 and 1991 in Kerry Commision Hearings. He personally had flown into ElToro with weapons and drugs and testified to the same.

encl. 1 Wayne Rich notes

encl. 2 SA FBI Grode

encl.3 DA Mike Jacobs letter to Chairman of House Armed Service Committee (retired) Duncan Hunter

encl 4,5,6 2004 Defense Auth. Act, Hunter to AG Gonzales, DoJ Response to Hunter

encl. 7 emails  Richard Severance

encl. 8 Interview with Sgt. Randy Robinson (Retired)

Encl. 9 Hutchins letter, Communication with Investigator Daniel Salcedo


Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Anonymous July 8, 2016 10:21 pm (Pacific time)

Watch the movie "Collapse" on YouTube.

yorick March 12, 2016 11:21 am (Pacific time)

22.5 years in the USMC and I had never heard this story until this week; it SICKENS me...EVERY "door blocker" to this case should be imprisoned with 100% of their families' assets frozen, including the Orange County Coroner and Sheriff; and Gen Adams (probably retired by now) who asked to see if he could get Dr. Sabow's license removed. That Gen should also have his title of "Marine" WIPED from his record books, 100% of his pay the he received from (and including) 18 Jan 1991 revoked; his discharge changed to dishonorable, and his pension permanently suspended.

Dan Hennen May 22, 2014 7:09 am (Pacific time)

This story needs to be followed up on....very similar to the murder of Captain Phil Marshall and his two children after he started blowing the whistle. Facebook Page here:

John Atkins July 2, 2013 6:03 am (Pacific time)

I do not doubt this story for even a second. But I would like one question answered: Why did Underwood tell Col. Sabow anything?

I think he had a hard time appreciating the depth of  Underwood's depravity and Marine Corps criminality.   He probably thought this could never happen in his own country.  This and the Francke case have a number of similar points; they are some of the most important stories we have followed here at Salem-News.

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