John A. Paisley
Another notable death that occurred in our waterways was that of John A. Paisley. Mr. Paisley was an important employee of the CIA who was involved in highly covert activities and had loose ties to the JFK Assassination. According to an investigative report by Tad Szulc titled “The Missing C.I.A. Man” that appeared in the New York Times on Jan 7, 1979, Mr. Paisley set sail from Solomons Island in his sloop, named Brillig, on the night of Sept. 23, 1978. The next day, a state park ranger from Point Lookout notified the coast guard station at St. Inigoes that recreational boaters had reported that a boat under full sail went ashore on Point Lookout. Investigators found no one on-board and there were no prints in the sand.
The boat was reported to have been equipped with sophisticated radio equipment used for secret communications. The NY Times postulated that the equipment would have had to been provided by either the CIA or the NSA. CIA operatives also reportedly removed classified documents from the boat after it had been refloated by the Coast Guard and moved to St. Inigoes.
Several days later on Sunday, Oct 1, 1978, pleasure boaters radioed the Coast Guard that they had spotted a body floating near the mouth of the Patuxent River. The body was recovered and later identified as that of Mr. Paisley by the state's chief medical examiner. The identification was made despite the fact that the body was badly decayed and the CIA and FBI both claimed not to have a set of finger prints on file with which to do a comparison. Prior to being cremated, both hands were removed and sent to the FBI under undisclosed orders. The FBI later declined to identify the reason or disposition of the hands.
The body was said to have a single 9mm bullet wound to the head behind the left ear. The body was also found to have been weighted down by diver's weights. The Maryland State Police originally deemed the death a suicide. However, that ruling was later changed to “undetermined.”
Mrs. Paisley later retained the services of a prominent Washington attorney to help her find out what happened to her husband and to determine if the body that was found was even that of her ex-husband. After his retirement from the CIA, Mr. Paisley had returned to work as a contractor on matters of the assessment of Soviet nuclear capabilities. He was the coordinator of “Team B” in an experiment that pitted CIA analysts against outside experts in attempt to see who could come up with a better National Intelligence Estimate on Soviet capabilities. The CIA denied to the NY Times reporter that any “Team B” documents were found on Mr. Paisley's boat after his disappearance. According to the report, this denial was in conflict with what other reliable sources were saying.
Many theories abound on the what really happened in southern Maryland in late September 1978. Again, we leave that research to the curiosity of the reader. We also welcome any local citizens with personal experiences in any of these matters to share your experience with the community. Please write to us at news @ somd.com.