Special Agent Robert William Conners | Federal Bureau of Investigation
Served: 4 years
January 1979 to December 16, 1982
Bob was born October 12, 1946 in Dayton, Ohio to an Air Force officer and World War II and Vietnam War veteran, Ralph Wilson Conners, and Bernadine “Bernie” A. (May) Conners. His twin brother was killed in military action in 1966. Bob graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1968 and enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served as a pilot and pilot-instructor and held a L-382 (Lockheed Hercules C-130) rating and was honorably discharged after the Vietnam War on March 31, 1976. During April 1975, he married Beverly Ann Johnson in Pulaski County, Arkansas. Bob was a bank officer in Arkansas and Oklahoma before joining the FBI in January 1979. He also held a commercial pilot license for single/multi-engine and instrument ratings and had in excess of 3,000 flying hours. Special Agent Conners was assigned to the Chicago Division in May, 1979. He resided in Naperville, Illinois with his wife Beverly Anna Conners; children, Kerstin Conners (10) and Robert Conners (5); and stepson, Michael.
Special Agent Charles Lawrence “Larry” Ellington | Federal Bureau of Investigation
Served: 14 years
1968 to December 1979 – Atlanta Police Department
December 1979 to December 16, 1982 – Federal Bureau of Investigation
Larry was born in Atlanta, Georgia on December 20, 1946. After high school, he spent four years in the United States Marine Corps, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, and was honorably discharged as a Sergeant. During 1968 he joined the Atlanta Police Department as a Police Officer. Officer Ellington earned an Associate Degree from DeKalb College in Clarkston, Georgia in 1973 and graduated from Georgia State University in 1977 with a Bachelor of Business Administration/Management Degree. The next year, he joined the FBI in December 1979. Special Agent Ellington was assigned to the Atlanta Division and was assigned to the multijurisdictional task force investigating the murders and disappearances of twenty youths until Wayne B. Williams was captured. After that arrest, during August 1981, he was transferred to Chicago. He resided in Naperville, Illinois with his wife Juliana (Phillips) and daughter, Betsy (10).
Special Agent Terry Burnett Hereford | Federal Bureau of Investigation
Served: 3 years
December 1979 to December 16, 1982
Terry was born in Pomona, California on July 24, 1948 to William George and Rayma May (Waugh) Hereford. After high school, on September 9, 1965, he joined the United States Army and served in the Airborne. Terry was wounded in action in Vietnam, received a Purple Heart, and was honorably discharged. He then attended San Diego Mesa College, San Diego State University, and the United States International University where he earned an Associate Degree in Business Management, a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. He was the Director of Psychological Services at Encintas Hospital in San Diego before joining the FBI in December 1979. Special Agent Hereford was assigned to the San Diego Division until December 1980 when he was transferred to Chicago. He was a licensed commercial pilot and resided in Wheaton, Illinois with his wife Nancy and children, Rebekah (7), Samuel (5), Mary (4), and Jeremiah (1).
Special Agent Michael James Lynch | Federal Bureau of Investigation
Served: 6¾ years
March 1976 to December 16, 1982
Mike was born in Lima, Ohio on September 21, 1947. He attended a seminary in Canton, Ohio. He then joined the United States Air Force. Four years later, after his honorable discharge, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree, majoring in accounting, at Wright State University in 1975. Mike joined the FBI in March 1976. Special Agent Lynch was assigned to the Indianapolis Division until November 1978 when he was transferred to Chicago. He was instrumental in the Teamster President Roy L. Williams convictions in 1982. He resided in Woodridge, Illinois with his wife Jane and children, Joshua (9), Joni (7), Jaclyn (5), and Jordan (1).
Carl Henry Johnson was born August 24, 1936 to Victor George and Carolyn Elsa (Manz) Johnson. He married Lois Dunn in 1961. He also spent twelve years earning a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification and in 1972 was appointed Assistant Controller at the National Bank of Albany Park in Chicago.
During 1975, Carl and his wife were undergoing marital difficulties in 1975. He went missing on August 6, 1975. The next day the National Bank of Albany Park discovered a theft of $614,851.
Within days, The Federal Bureau of Investigation, charged Johnson with the theft. They had, by then, recovered two parcels intended for his wife and parents containing a total of $144,000.
Johnson traveled around the country, including living in Cincinnati for a time. Agents tried to track his whereabouts, but his trail ran cold.
Seven years later, on November 4, 1982, Lois Johnson received a court judgment declaring Carl dead, clearing the way for her to receive $22,500 in life insurance.
Less than a month later, on December 2, 1982, Johnson turned himself into authorities. He was transported back to Chicago where he began showing FBI agents where he had secreted the embezzled funds. Among the locations, he buried $55,000 in Cincinnati and told them where, but local agents were unable to find it. He offered, “if you take me down there, I’ll show you where it is.”
On December 16, 1982, Johnson, Special Agents Conners, Ellington, Hereford, and Lynch, and a retired Chicago Detective, Patrick Daley, hired by Johnson’s attorney’s law firm, boarded a twin-engine Cessna 411 at Meig’s Field in Chicago destined for Cincinnati. Special Agents Conners and Hereford piloted the plane.
When they approached Cincinnati Lunken Airport, they found the area cold and cloudy with a low ceiling of about 900 feet, which was less than 500 feet above Lunken’s runways and about 100 feet above City of Montgomery streets. They were flying on instruments and assigned an altitude of 2,200 feet, but when the descended through the clouds, over Montgomery, they found themselves less than 100 feet above ground.
The Cessna struck power lines at Shelly and Main Streets. Witnesses said the plane came in low and loud; that it turned on its side and flew down an alley avoiding people in the surrounding buildings; then it straightened back up and struck the Sheppards Book Store foundation at 9307 Main Street and exploded into a 1000º ball of flame.
All six men aboard were killed instantly. Four persons on the ground were injured, two seriously with burns: Phyllis Neyer (51), a customer, and Helen Schwarz (60), the bookkeeper.
It was the largest, single-day loss of agents in the history of the FBI.
Special Agent Conners was survived by his wife, Beverly Conners; children, Cole Conners and Kerstin Conners; parents, retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Ralph and Bernadine Conners; stepson, Michael; and sister, Barbara Vaughey. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Monday, December 20, 1982 at St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in Napierville. He is buried in the Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery, Naperville, Illinois.
Special Agent Ellington was survived by his wife, Juliana (Phillips) Ellington; daughter Betsy Ellington; parents, John L. Ellington and Hazeleen Bryant; and sisters, Cerithia Garrard, Pam Tebow, and Patti Goodman. Funeral services were held on Monday, December 20, 1982 at Timberridge Presbyterian Church in McDonough, Georgia. He is buried in the Church graveyard.
Special Agent Hereford was survived by his wife, Nancy Hereford; children, Rebekah Hereford (7), Samuel Hereford (5), Mary Hereford (4), and Jeremiah Hereford (1); and mother, Wilma May (Waugh) Hereford. Funeral services were held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Naperville. He is buried in Glacier Memorial Gardens, Kalispel, Montana.
Special Agent Lynch was survived by his wife, Jane Lynch; children, Joshua Lynch (9), Joni Lynch (7), Jaclyn Lynch (5), and Jordan Lynch (1); parents, James and Wilma Lynch; grandparents, Teresa Glass and Mr. and Mrs. John Lynch, and sisters, Elaine Evans and Kathryn Clark. His funeral services were held Wednesday, December 22, 1982 at United Methodist Church in St. Mary’s, Ohio. He is buried in Elm Grove Cemetery, St. Mary’s, Ohio.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for Chicago Detective Daly (Retired) at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Chicago.
Immediately after the crash, the manager for aircraft control in the Greater Cincinnati area reported that the altitude reading transponder was send inaccurate readings of the plane’s altitude.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Hank Boyd, the Ohio State Patrol, and the National Transportation Safety Board investigated the accident. The reports of that investigation were turned over to the FBI. The general consensus was that the Cessna’s altimeter indicated false readings.
The FBI did not publicize the location of the money, but many people looked for it, generally on the west side. There was no report of it having been found by anyone, but then if they had, it would have been confiscated. Based on Special Agent Boyd’s knowledge of the case, he asserted in 2013 that it would have been exposed to the elements and gone to compost.
If you know of any information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding these officers or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Memorial@Police-Museum.org.
© The narrative was further researched and revised on December 22, 2021 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, with burial research by Cincinnati Homicide Detective Edward W. Zieverink, III (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Curator. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum.