Two LA bomb squad officers killed in a booby-trapped bomb may have been murdered to prevent one of them blowing-the-whistle on the CIA destruction of Arrow Air 1285, and the deaths of 256 Americans.

(LOS ANGELES, CA) – Donald Lee Morse, a Hollywood make-up artist, was convicted in the murder of two LA Bomb Squad officers in 1986.  LA Bomb Squad Detective Arleigh McCree and Officer Ronald Ball were killed on February 8, 1986, when they were attempting to defuse a pipe bomb in the garage of Donald Lee Morse, a Black Hollywood make-up artist, when a sophisticated pipe bomb, composed of a master and slave components, exploded in Morse’s garage.

There’s strong circumstantial evidence to support that Morse may have been the ‘sacrificial lamb’ in the murder of the two LA Bomb Squad officers. The master bomb exploded when McCree attempted to use his wire cutters to cut one of the wires from the bomb to a battery.  McCree was a world-class bomb disposal expert, and his death at the hands of an amateur bomb maker at best is highly questionable.  Morse with no military background in bomb disposal or making was a bona-fide bragger with a hot temper.

In the worst case scenario, the bobby-trapped pipe bomb was set-up by government covert operatives to kill Arleigh McCree, who had worked with the CIA, to keep him from blowing-the-whistle on the deliberate destruction of Arrow Air 1285 in Gander, Newfoundland, and the deaths of 258 Americans on December 12, 1985.

The Arrow Air 1285 flight originated in Cairo, stopped in Cologne to change crews and refuel and landed at Gander to refuel but after takeoff, the aircraft loaded with 45,000 liters of jet fuel, never reached more than 1,000 feet in altitude before an incendiary devices and napalm planted in soda cans on the aircraft were remotely detonated with the deaths of all on board.

Arleigh McCree connected the destruction of Arrow Air 1285, a chartered military airline transporting peacekeeping forces from Cairo to Fort Campbell, KY, to an incendiary device sold exclusively to the CIA. McCree reported his finding to his government contact and unknowingly signed his own death warrant.

The Arrow Air 1285 crash is linked to an aborted mission to rescue hostages held by Hezbollah, and to use nuclear backpacks as a diversion to blowup an Iraqi nuclear research facility.  The mission resulted in the deaths of several soldiers.  Their bodies were loaded on AR 1285 in Cairo along with at least one nuclear backpack, and hundreds of 101st Airborne troops returning from a six-month peacekeeping tour with the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), returning from the Sinai and up to eight others involved in the covert mission.


Support for the use of an incendiary device and an explosion on Arrow Air 1285 came from a conversation in January 1986 between Arleigh McCree and Charles “Chuck” Byers, President of Accuracy Systems Ordinance Corporation, Phoenix.  Both men were friends, had common interests in munitions, guns and knew each other for a number of years.

Don Devereux, a long-time member of Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE) whose investigative work for the print media earned him two Pulitzer nominations, investigated the Arrow Air 1285 crash for several years for both the print media and TV series like “Investigative Reports” and “Unsolved Mysteries” reported a discussion between Byers and Arleigh McCree in January 1986:

On the shelves in a company office, Byers had arranged a display of the various specialized products being manufactured and marketed, mostly going to defense, intelligence, and law enforcement customers.

While walking past the display, McCree suddenly stopped and reached out to pick up one object.

Obviously startled by what he held in his hands, he exclaimed, “This is what brought down a plane we’re investigating!”

The object in question was a transparent plastic packet with three sealed pockets.

Two of the pockets contained chemical compounds—one white, one black—which when combined became highly volatile, and the third pocket included a folded aluminum foil cup in which to mix them.

Once combined, the chemicals could be ignited by a simple burning fuse, by a trigger, or even by remote control.

The device had various names in the trade; a “flash” compound, an “incendiary trigger,” a fire starter.”

Detonated in association with such inflammatory materials as napalm, it very quickly could produce one hell of a conflagration, easily sufficient to bring down an aircraft.

McCree asked Byers who had been buying the device.

Byers answered that he only had one customer for it, indicating that the single purchaser was, in fact, the Central Intelligence Agency.

McCree in turn told Byers that he was going to be writing a report about his discovery at Byers’ place and that someone would be getting back to him about it.[i]

The discussion was witnessed by Todd Cremeans, an employee of Accuracy Systems.[ii]


Was the pipe bomb booby trapped?  Did McCree file a report on the Arrow Air 1285 crash with the CIA as indicated in his discussion with Charles Byers and then was murdered by a booby-trapped pipe bomb to prevent him from blowing-the-whistle?

In a telephone interview with Devereux in July 2016, he said that that McCree and his partner could have used a robot to remove the pipe bomb and destroy it without exposing themselves to harm.  Devereux thought that the CIA may have asked McCree to not destroy the pipe bomb found in a garage in North Hollywood but to disarm it and report his findings. The quick response of the CIA in retrieving documents and/or computer disk from McCree’s home lends support to the agency’s interest


Devereux followed-up with an interview with Mrs. Edie McCree, the wife of Arleigh McCree, who said “their home in [the] San Fernando Valley was placed under LAPD guard on the day her husband died. The security was necessary because her husband was thought to have a copy of a top secret report in his possession and authorities wanted to be sure that it didn’t get lost or misplaced in the confusion.”

Several days later four men showed up to retrieve the document.  Mrs. McCree told Devereux that “two were ex-military officers…both with apparent links to the CIA, as she recalled.”  The third man was an LAPD representative and the fourth man a locksmith.  She was excluded from the room while the search went on for several hours.  Mrs. McCree said they left without telling her what they found.

Was the pipe bomb booby trapped?  Did McCree file a report on the Arrow Air 1285 crash with the CIA as indicated in his discussion with Charles Byers and then was murdered by a booby-trapped pipe bomb to prevent him from blowing-the-whistle?

In a telephone interview with Devereux in July 2016, he said that that McCree and his partner could have used a robot to remove the pipe bomb and destroy it without exposing themselves to harm.  Devereux thought that the CIA may have asked McCree to not destroy the pipe bomb found in a garage in North Hollywood but to disarm it and report his findings. The quick response of the CIA in retrieving documents and/or computer disk from McCree’s home lends support to the agency’s interest in obtaining a classified document in his possession.  There is no authority for anyone to keep a classified document in their residence.  McCree definitely knew the rules on safeguarding and handling classified documents.  Unknown to McCree, the report filed with the government more likely than not was classified.  Would McCree have blown-the-whistle on the CIA’s involvement in the crash of Arrow Air 1285?  Those involved in this illegal action had to consider the risk of exposure.  Would McCree keep silent, if no action was taken by the government to investigate CIA operatives allegedly involved in destroying the aircraft?

The call to McCree was on Saturday, February 8, 1986.  Did he receive a call from the CIA to investigate the Morse bomb?  After visiting Byers’ plant, McCree filed a report with the CIA or the FBI that identified the incendiary device causing the fire and explosion on Arrow Air 1285. This took place in January 1986.  He’s killed in early February 1986. The LAPD assigns a police officer to guard McCree’s home.  Was that unusual?  Probably not.  A senior officer is killed by a pipe bomb.  Was there intent to kill him and his family? Just to make sure, LAPD assigns a police officer to stand guard outside the home.

The CIA showed-up at McCree’s home several days after his death. No doubt that they wanted a copy of the report he filed on Arrow Air 1285.  Was it just a coincidence that a witness to the CIA’s involvement in the Arrow Air 1285 crash was killed and now was no longer a threat to blow-the-whistle?

Devereux followed-up with one man who confirmed the search for a top secret document but declined to say whether they found it or the topic but did say that it had nothing to do with Gander; a Phoenix private investigator and friend of Devereux, followed up with second man who said they were looking for dangerous munitions.  Apparently, they hadn’t gotten their stories straight. Devereux was suspicious that they were looking for McCree’s Gander Report.


The evidence of Morse’s knowledge of pipe bombs and in making them appears solid at first glance.  The California Appeals Court reported in 1992 that:

Based upon these photographs [taken at the scene by Office Ron Ball] and the evidence recovered at the scene, Detective Weller [a member of the LA Bomb Squad] made replica bombs.

Detective Weller described the bombs as follows: the master bomb was 12 inches long and the secondary, or slave bomb, 9 inches long. Inside of each were four 12-gauge Remington Peters number six-shot cartridges, taped together. Pyrodex, a low-grade explosive, filled the pipe cavity. A small light bulb filament was inserted in the pyrodex. A wire from the bulb fed through a drilled hole and connected to two 9-volt batteries taped to the outside of the master bomb. The pipes were capped at each end. A wood block affixed to the master bomb had the triggering mechanism, a folded piece of metal and a soldered wire. Wire connected the triggering mechanism to the batteries. A safety device consisting of a piece of rubber tubing covered part of the triggering mechanism. Black nylon fishing line was tied to the triggering device. Bungee cords were wrapped around each bomb.

The bungee cords were designed to attach the bombs to a car or some other object. When the car moved the nylon fishing line would become taut, [2 Cal. App. 4th 635] bend the piece of metal, cause contact with the soldered wire, switch the batteries on, emit current to the light bulb filament, heating it, and the heat would ignite the pyrodex causing detonation. The linked bombs would both explode. If one bomb failed, the other would still explode.

The investigation showed the following: a roll of nylon fishing line found in appellant’s garage matched that used on the bomb’s triggering mechanism; inside appellant’s van were two 9-volt batteries and a bungee cord, both similar to those used on the bombs; in appellant’s kitchen, on a closed cabinet shelf, concealed in a sealed three-pound coffee can was a container of Pyrodex; the explosive material in the bombs was Pyrodex; a bomb-making book, “The Anarchist Cookbook” was found in appellant’s den; fibers removed from the exploded bomb tape matched the gold carpet in appellant’s house; both the slave and master pipes had been threaded by a Tred-o-Matic machine whose four-jaw vise had left tool marks on both pipes; that Tred-o-Matic machine was about two blocks from appellant’s house in a Snyder-Diamond hardware store; the metal plate portion of the bomb triggering device had tool marks which matched pliers found in appellant’s garage; appellant’s fingerprints, and only his, were found on the three-pound coffee can, the Pyrodex container, the garage cabinet, and on cans in that cabinet; his fingerprints were found on the cover of “The Anarchist Cookbook” (as were his brother’s) and on pages 113-114, beginning the chapter entitled “Explosives and Booby Traps.” [iii]


The evidence from the California Court of Appeals in People V. Morse (1992) shows that the pipe bombs were not booby-trapped but the explosion was caused by an accidental electronic contact from wire cutters from McCree’s tool kit. Following McCree’s and Ball’s deaths, the LAPD authorized the purchase of “nine bomb squad tool kits” so that items could be electronically coated to prevent accidental electronic discharge in the future.

Donald Lee Morse, age 39 in 1989, a Black man, and film and television makeup artist, denied knowing the explosives were in the home.  Morse was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of Arleigh McCree and Officer Ron Ball. Based on an Appeals Court ruling in 1992, the conviction was reduced to 2nd degree murder.  Subsequent to the Appeals Court decision, Morse committed suicide in prison in 2009.

Was McCree killed by a sophisticated pipe bomb planted in Morse’s garage intended to kill him? Getting access to Morse’s garage, home and vehicle would not be a problem for covert operatives. Morse’s attorney had no idea that McCree called the government to report he found the device that destroyed Arrow Air 1285.  Byers confirmed that he never called Morse’s attorney to tell him about his conversation with McCree. Byers never connected the dots.

The stakes were very high.  If McCree blew-the-whistle by publicly connecting Byers’ incendiary device to Arrow Air 1285, it could have literally brought down the Reagan and Bush administration.  It’s reasonable to conclude that Donald Lee Morse’s blabbering about bomb making and toying with the idea of making a bomb could have killed officers McCree and Ball and convicted him of first degree homicide.

In a memo from Don Devereux, dated September 2, 2016, entitled “Gander Crash Addenda,” Devereux agreed that Morse may have constructed some basis type pipe bombs but didn’t have the technical capability to construct the sophisticated pipe bombs found in Morse’s garage; Morse bragged about his capability to make pipe bombs, and this information could have been obtained by LA area intelligence operatives, which could have led “someone with very high-level explosive expertise finding the relatively primitive bomb material in Morse’s garage, and adding a fatal booby-trap to one of them.  The speed of the recovery of classified material from McCree’s residence after his sudden and his unexpected death suggests “arrangements already in progress.”[iv]

McCree’s report could have marshalled covert intelligence resources necessary to set-up Morse, a Black man with a penchant for bragging about his bomb-making capability, and killed the very man who could have connected the CIA to Arrow Air 1285. Absent a death bed confession by a covert operative, there’s no way to prove it.

[i] Don Devereux Newsletter No. 36, dated September 14, 1992, “The Gander Crash: More Intrigue.”

[ii] Don Devereux, op. cit., p. 3.

[iii] THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. DONALD LEE MORSE, Defendant and Appellant, Court of Appeals of California, Second District, Division Seven, JUSTIA US Law:, January 9, 1992.

[iv] Don Devereux, “Gander Crash Addenda,” September 2, 2016.

Treachery - Robert ODowd-1200x900

For the full story, read TREACHERY (@ Amazon), a nonfiction story of US government weapon sales, narcotrafficking and murder. Those who got in the way of the guns-for-drugs operation were brutally murdered. Enrique Kiki Camarena, DEA agent and former Marine, kidnapped, tortured and murdered in Mexico; Marine Colonel James E. Sabow murdered at El Toro before he could blow-the-whistle on the use of the base to ferry cocaine into California, Marine Tom Wade, a ‘computer guru’ at El Toro, promoted and transferred to Florida, killed with two shots in the back of the head; hundreds of 101st Airborne troops killed on the way home from a peacekeeping mission in the Middle East on the same aircraft with a special operations team who aborted a mission to use a nuclear backpack, which if leaked to the media would bring down the government.

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  • The writer can speculate all he wants, and he does, but his speculations do not consider McCree’s approach to bomb work. He was always very intent on recovering devices as intact as possible for evidentiary purposes. He was not interested in reconstructing devices from post blast scenes if he could RSP the device without counter-charging or disrupting it. He was extremely confident in his RSP skills as evidenced by his statement, “piece of cake” when asked how things were going while taking a break during this event. Yes, he had a robot available and also had ready access to ballistic bomb suits, disrupters and a whole variety of equipment. But remote RSP and “suiting up” was not McCree’s MO.