Robert Spears (naturopath)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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 that went missing over the Gulf of Mexico on November 16, 1959, killing 42 people.


Spears had a long history of crime, having been arrested 17 times under 14 different aliases. He had become financially successful in Texas as a naturopath, even becoming president of the Texas Naturopath Association in 1954. But in 1957 he was expelled from the organization in a bribery scandal. He moved to California and took up hypnotism, his business was with a doctor performing abortions (which were then illegal in the U.S.). He was charged with three felony accounts and was set to stand trial in Los Angeles on December 3, 1959.[1]

Investigators learned that William Taylor, a fellow felon and longtime criminal accomplice of Spears,[1] had boarded Flight 967 using a ticket made out to "Dr. Spears." The theory arose that Spears, desperate to avoid trial and wanting a fresh start, had tricked Taylor (perhaps through hypnosis)[1] 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 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.[citation needed]

Spears was eventually arrested in Phoenix after being turned in by the ex-wife a fellow naturopath in Arizona.[1][2][3] In February 1960, Spears was convicted of interstate transportation of a stolen car (Taylor's Plymouth). He was sentenced to the maximum term of 5 years. Due to lack of evidence, however, Spears was never charged with any offense in relation to the Flight 967 crash.[4]

Spears died in Dallas, Texas on May 2, 1969, of coronary thrombosis.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d "Con Man, Best Man, An Air Crash - A Far Out, Far Up Mystery". Life. Vol. 48, no. 14. February 1, 1960. pp. 13–17. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  2. ^ "National Airlines Flight 967 Part 01". FBI. Retrieved 2022-08-26.
  3. ^ "National Airlines Flight 967 Part 02". FBI. Retrieved 2022-08-26.
  4. ^ Valrie, Plaza (2015). American Mass Murderers (1st ed.). ISBN 978-1312961401.
  5. ^ "Robert Spears, 1959 bomb suspect, dies in Dallas". St. Petersburg Times. May 3, 1969. p. 15B. Retrieved June 23, 2016.

External links and references[edit]