Robert Spears (naturopath)
Robert Vernon Spears (June 26, 1894 - May 2, 1969) was a naturopath who is alleged to have placed a bomb aboard National Airlines Flight 967, an aircraft which disappeared over the Gulf of Mexico on November 16, 1959, killing 42 people.
Investigators learned that William Taylor, a felon whom Spears had befriended when they were cellmates, had boarded Flight 967 using a ticket made out to "Dr. Spears". The theory arose that Spears, desperate because unlicensed naturopaths would soon be forbidden to practice in his home state of Texas, had tricked Taylor into boarding the aircraft with a piece of luggage containing a bomb; when the aircraft crashed, it would be assumed that Spears was on board. His wife (who had just given birth to twins) would then cash in an insurance policy for $100,000 on Spears' life. However, Taylor himself purchased $37,500.00 worth of life insurance at the airport; when his ex-wife attempted to collect on that policy, authorities were notified. It was determined that Taylor had boarded the flight using a ticket issued for Spears.
Spears was eventually arrested at the Phoenix, Arizona airport after being turned in by another fellow cellmate who was also practicing as a naturopath in Arizona. The informant cut a deal with prosecutors to have marijuana charges against him dropped. He also asked for a share of a reward that had been posted for the capture of Spears. Due to lack of evidence, however, Spears was never charged with any offence in relation to the Flight 967 crash.
- "Robert Spears, 1959 bomb suspect, dies in Dallas". St. Petersburg Times. May 3, 1969. p. 15B. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
- Aviation Safety Network report on Flight 967
- Civil Aeronautics Board Aircraft Accident Report on Flight 967 from the Department of Transport's Special Collections
- List of passenger airline bombings from Aerospace.org (scroll down for information on Flight 967)
- Information on Flight 967 from planecrashinfo.com