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 an American defense contractor who was convicted for selling US spy satellite secrets to the Soviet Union in the 1970s.


Boyce is the son of Noreen Boyce (née Hollenbeck) and former McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation, Director of Security, Charles Eugene Boyce. He, along with three brothers and five sisters, were raised in the affluent community of Rancho Palos Verdes located in Southern California. In 1974 Boyce was hired at TRW, a Southern California aerospace firm in Redondo Beach, California. Due to his father's prestigious position at McDonnell Douglas, Boyce was able to obtain employment. Within months, Boyce was promoted to a highly sensitive position in TRW's "Black Vault" (classified communications center) with a top secret security clearance, where he worked with National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) transmissions.

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 finally 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 harsh 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 hiding out 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.


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 2013 Boyce published a book entitled American Sons: The Untold Story of the Falcon and the Snowman, which details the 1970s events, the events leading up to his release in 2002, and his actions afterwards.

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]

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