Nelson promised Caradori incriminating photographs, and they agreed to meet in Chicago. Caradori, accompanied by his 8-year-old son A.J., flew his single-engine Piper Saratoga from Lincoln to Chicago on July 7, 1990. The mission, he said to his wife, was to meet Nelson and then go to the Major League All-Star Game with A.J. “I met with Caradori briefly,” says Nelson. I just gave him the pictures and got out of there.” Caradori phoned Senator Schmit from Chicago, exclaiming, “We got them by the shorthairs!” Rusty | Audio 2

The Piper Saratoga crashed around 2 A.M. on July 11 in a cornfield near Ashton, Illinois, killing both Caradori and his son. Remnants of the plane were scattered up to 1,800 feet from the fuselage, indicating that it had broken up in flight. Two days later, FBI special agent Michael Mott and a colleague delivered a subpoena to Caradori’s grieving widow, demanding all of her husband’s Franklin evidence.

Caradori’s investigative assistant, Karen Ormiston felt that someone had tampered with the plane. Many of his possessions were missing from the wreckage, she said, including the briefcase that presumably held the photographs. She also asserted that Caradori’s death was effectively the end of the Franklin investigation, because additional witnesses were too frightened to emerge from the shadows.

Senator Schmit submitted an affidavit stating that he had been warned that Caradori’s life was in danger. He also wrote a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board regarding the missing backseats of Caradori’s plane: “... I do not know anything about sabotage, but I have been told that a phosphorous type bomb would, in fact, vaporize metal and any other material with which it came in contact and that unless someone knew what they were looking for, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to detect.... I am sure there will be those who will scoff at such a suggestion, but there have been entirely too many violent deaths associated with this investigation....”

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