Dorothy Wetzel was born in Ohio on 1st April, 1920. She became an employee for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) after the Second World War and was stationed in Shanghai, China, where she met her future husband, E. Howard Hunt.
After the war Dorothy worked for the CIA in Paris. She was liaison between the American Embassy and the Economic Cooperation Administration (a CIA front). The couple returned to the United States and settled in Maryland. Her husband spent much of his time involved in covert operations in Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Cuba.
On 3rd July, 1972, Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker and James W. McCord were arrested while removing electronic devices from the Democratic Party campaign offices in an apartment block called Watergate. The phone number of E. Howard Hunt was found in address books of two of the burglars. Reporters were able to link the break-in to the White House. Bob Woodward, a reporter working for the Washington Post was told by a friend who was employed by the government, that senior aides of President Richard Nixon, had paid the burglars to obtain information about its political opponents.
E. Howard Hunt threatened to reveal details of who paid him to organize the Watergate break-in. Dorothy Hunt took part in the negotiations with Charles Colson. According to investigator Sherman Skolnick, Hunt also had information on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He argued that if "Nixon didn't pay heavy to suppress the documents they had showing he was implicated in the planning and carrying out, by the FBI and the CIA, of the political murder of President Kennedy"
James W. McCord claimed that Dorothy told him that at a meeting with her husband's attorney, William O. Buttmann, she revealed that Hunt had information that would "blow the White House out of the water".
In October, 1972, Dorothy Hunt attempted to speak to Charles Colson. He refused to talk to her but later admitted to the New York Times that she was "upset at the interruption of payments from Nixon's associates to Watergate defendants."
On 15th November, Colson met with Richard Nixon, H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman at Camp David to discuss Howard Hunt's blackmail threat. John N. Mitchell was also getting worried by Dorothy Hunt's threats and he asked John Dean to use a secret White House fund to "get the Hunt situation settled down". Eventually it was arranged for Frederick LaRue to give Hunt about $250,000 to buy his silence.
However, on 8th December, 1972, Dorothy Hunt had a meeting with Michelle Clark, a journalist working for CBS. According to Sherman Skolnick, Clark was working on a story on the Watergate case: "Ms Clark had lots of insight into the bugging and cover-up through her boyfriend, a CIA operative." Also with Hunt and Clark was Chicago Congressman George Collins.
Dorothy Hunt, Michelle Clark and George Collins took the Flight 533 from Washington to Chicago. The aircraft hit the branches of trees close to Midway Airport: "It then hit the roofs of a number of neighborhood bungalows before plowing into the home of Mrs. Veronica Kuculich at 3722 70th Place, demolishing the home and killing her and a daughter, Theresa. The plane burst into flames killing a total of 45 persons, 43 of them on the plane, including the pilot and first and second officers. Eighteen passengers survived." Hunt, Clark and Collins were all killed in the accident.
Just before Dorothy Hunt boarded the aircraft she purchased $250,000 in flight insurance payable to E. Howard Hunt. In his book Undercover (1974) Hunt claims he was unaware that his wife planned to do this. In the book he also tried to explain what his wife was doing with $10,000 in her purse. According to Hunt it was money to be invested with Hal Carlstead in "two already-built Holiday Inns in the Chicago area".
The following month E. Howard Hunt pleaded guilty to burglary and wiretapping and eventually served 33 months in prison. Hunt kept his silence although another member of the Watergate team, James W. McCord, wrote a letter to Judge John J. Sirica claiming that the defendants had pleaded guilty under pressure (from John Dean and John N. Mitchell) and that perjury had been committed.
The airplane crash was blamed on equipment malfunctions. Carl Oglesby (The Yankee and Cowboy War) has pointed out that the day after the crash, White House aide Egil Krogh was appointed Undersecretary of Transportation, supervising the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Association - the two agencies charged with investigating the airline crash. A week later, Nixon's deputy assistant Alexander P. Butterfield was made the new head of the FAA.
Several writers, including Robert J. Groden, Peter Dale Scott, Alan J. Weberman, Sherman Skolnick and Carl Oglesby, have suggested that Dorothy Hunt was murdered. In 1974, Charles Colson, Howard Hunt's boss at the White House, told Time Magazine: "I think they killed Dorothy Hunt." (7/8/1974)
Barboura Morris Freed also raised several issues in her article, Flight 553: The Watergate Murder? Freed claimed that Attorney General John N. Mitchell was under investigation for corruptly helping the El Paso Natural Gas Company against its main competitor, the Northern Natural Gas Company. Mitchell's decision to drop anti-trust charges was worth an estimated $300 million to El Paso. Ralph Blodgett and James W. Kreuger, two attorneys working for Northern Natural Gas Company in the investigation of Mitchell, were both killed in the crash. .
Freed also claimed that just hours after the crash an anonymous call was made to the WBBM Chicago (CBS) talk show. The caller described himself as a radio ham who had monitored ground control's communications with 553, and he reported an exchange concerning gross control tower error or sabotage. CBS, the employer of Michelle Clark, kept this information from the authorities investigating the accident. One FBI agent went straight to Midway's control tower and confiscated the tape containing information concerning the crash. The FBI did this before the NTSB could act - a unique and illegal intervention.
Freed also pointed out that FBI agents were at the scene of the crash before the Fire Department, which received a call within one minute of the crash. The FBI later claimed that 12 agents reached the scene of the crash. Later it was revealed that there were over 50 agents searching through the wreckage.
(It was completely irregular for the FBI to get involved in investigating a crash until invited in by the National Transportation Safety Board. The FBI director justified this action because it considered the accident to have been the result of sabotage. That raises two issues: (i) How were they able to get to the crash scene so quickly? (ii) Why did they believe Flight 553 had been a case of possible sabotage? Freed does not answer these questions. However, it could be argued that it is possible to answer both questions with the same answer. The FBI had been told that Flight 553 was going to crash as it landed in Chicago.