Christopher John Boyce

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For the science fiction author, see Chris Boyce.
Christopher John Boyce
US Marshal Mugshot
Born (1953-02-16) February 16, 1953 (age 62)
Other names Anthony Edward Lester
Employer TRW
Known for Espionage
Notable work American Sons: The Untold Story of The Falcon and The Snowman
Spouse(s) Kathleen Mills

Christopher John Boyce (born February 16, 1953) was a defense contractor who was convicted for selling US spy satellite secrets to the Soviet Union in the 1970s. He wrote a book entitled American Sons: The Untold Story of the Falcon and the Snowman, which details the 1970s events to events leading up to his release in 2002 and his actions afterwards.


Boyce is the son of a security chief at McDonnell Douglas who was a former FBI agent. He, along with childhood friend Andrew Daulton Lee, were raised in the affluent seaside community of Palos Verdes Peninsula near Los Angeles. In 1974 Boyce was hired at TRW, a Southern California aerospace firm in Redondo Beach, California. His father, in his position as an aerospace security manager, was able to help his son obtain employment. Boyce was within months promoted to a highly sensitive position in TRW's "Black Vault" (classified communications center) with a top secret security clearance.

Boyce claims that he began getting misrouted cables from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) discussing the agency's desire to depose the government of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in Australia. Boyce claimed the CIA wanted Whitlam removed from office because he wanted to close U.S. military bases in Australia, including the vital Pine Gap secure communications facility, and withdraw Australian troops from Vietnam. For these reasons some claim that U.S. government pressure was a major factor in the dismissal of Whitlam as prime minister by the governor general, Sir John Kerr, who according to Boyce, was referred to as our man Kerr by CIA officers.[1] Through the cable traffic Boyce saw that the CIA was involving itself in such a manner, not just with Australia but with other democratic, industrialized allies. Boyce considered going to the press, but believed the media's earlier disclosure of CIA involvement in the 1973 Chilean coup d'état had not changed anything for the better.[citation needed]

Instead, he gathered a quantity of classified documents concerning secure U.S. communications ciphers and spy satellite development and had his friend Andrew Daulton Lee, a cocaine and heroin dealer since his high school days (hence his nickname, "The Snowman") deliver them to Soviet embassy officials in Mexico City, returning with large sums of cash for Boyce (nicknamed "The Falcon" because of his longtime interest in falconry) and himself.

Boyce, then 23, was exposed after Lee was arrested by Mexican police in front of the Soviet embassy on January 6, 1977, on suspicion of having killed a police officer. During his interrogation Lee, who had top secret microfilm in his possession when arrested, confessed to being a Soviet spy and implicated Boyce. Boyce was arrested on January 16, 1977, when the FBI found him at the shack he was renting near Riverside, California. He was convicted May 14, 1977, of espionage and sentenced to 40 years in prison, initially at Terminal Island and then the Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego. On July 10, 1979, he was transferred to the federal penitentiary in Lompoc, California.


Fearing for his life inside the violent prison, on January 21, 1980, Boyce escaped from Lompoc. While a fugitive, Boyce carried out 17 bank robberies in Idaho and Washington state. Adopting the alias of "Anthony Edward Lester," Boyce did not believe he could live as a fugitive forever, and began to study aviation in an attempt to flee to the Soviet Union, where he believed he would accept a commission as an officer in the Soviet Armed Forces.[citation needed] On August 21, 1981, Boyce was arrested while eating in his car outside "The Pit Stop," a drive-in restaurant in Port Angeles, Washington. Authorities had received a tip about Boyce's whereabouts from his former bank robbery confederates.

According to Boyce's account in American Sons: The Untold Story of the Falcon and the Snowman, he was studying aviation not to flee to Russia but to help Daulton Lee escape from prison in Lompoc.

Senate testimony[edit]

In April 1985 Boyce gave testimony on how to prevent insider spy threats to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations as part of its Government Personnel Security Program.[2]


Boyce was released from prison on parole on 16 September 2002 after serving a little over 25 years, accounting for his time spent outside from the escape.[3][4] In October 2002 shortly after Boyce was freed, he married attorney Kathleen Mills. She had lobbied successfully for Boyce's espionage accomplice, Andrew Daulton Lee, to be awarded parole in 1998. Following Lee's release from prison, she turned her attention to freeing Boyce, and the two fell in love through their correspondence. Boyce was released from parole after serving 5 years in July 2008.

There are no restitution requirements on Boyce's parole.

Boyce later justified his actions by claiming that he was selling this information in the hopes of fostering peace between the Soviet Union and the United States.

In popular culture[edit]

The story of their case was told in Robert Lindsey's best-selling 1979 book The Falcon and the Snowman. This book was turned into a film of the same title in 1985 by director John Schlesinger starring Timothy Hutton as Boyce and Sean Penn as Lee.

Lindsey's initial book was followed by The Flight of the Falcon: The True Story of the Escape and Manhunt for America's Most Wanted Spy (1983), an account of Christopher Boyce's escape from Federal prison and subsequent bank robbing spree.

American performance artist Johanna Went's 1982 album Hyena features a song called "Christopher Boyce."

American band Luna's song "Moon Palace" from the 1995 album Penthouse features the line "You've got no choice, Feel like Christopher Boyce."


  • American Sons: The Untold Story of the Falcon and the Snowman (2013)


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]