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If the police report can be believed, if Melissa was right about Sue,

Judy and the poor woman who inadvertently uncovered the conspiracy, then

Sue has followed a classic pattern of behavior for vanishing, one that I

followed when I fled in 1969, one that was outlined in detail by Abbie

Hoffman in an underground rebel's manual Sue would have read: "Steal

This Book"

 

If forced to go "underground," Abbie Hoffman says: "Build contacts with

aboveground people that are not that well known to the authorities and

can be totally trusted. You should change location in which you operate

and move to a place where the heat on you won't be as heavy."

 

Since Melissa, the Newark cop and myself had come incredibly close to

uncovering Sue, she cut out the cat and mouse game she had been playing

for months, and sought another location.

 

She may have adopted a good disguise, as Hoffman recommended.

 

"The more information the authorities have on you and the heavier the

charges determines how complete your disguise should be," he wrote.

"Only in rare cases is it necessary to abandon the outward appearance."

 

Since the staff of Unsolved Mysteries was beginning to sniff around as

well, Sue may have needed a very serious disguise. But Hoffman also made

it clear why it is so easy to disappear.

 

"In the usual case, the authorities do not look for a fugitive in the

sense of carrying on a massive manhunt," Hoffman wrote. "Generally,

people are caught for breaking some minor offense, and during the

routine arrest procedure, their fingerprints give them away. Thus for a

fugitive having good identification papers, being careful about

violations such as speeding or loitering ... become an important part of

security. It is also a good idea to have at least a hundred dollars cash

on you at all times. Often even if you arrested you can bail yourself

out and split long before the fingerprints or other identification

checks are completed."

 

When I was on the run, I was busted three times, once in LA, once in

Portland, Oregon, and briefly in New York City, and each time bailed

myself out before fingerprints were checked from my military tour of

duty. Now, 30 years later, this becomes much more difficult with

computers. But thanks to resistance by the NRA, and a Supreme Court

decision against background checks for gun purchases, fingerprint checks

still take three to seven days -- an easy margin for escape. For Sue, by

the October, the manhunt was so intensive that she needed to take

Hoffman's next step as if she -- like me and my best friend on the road

in 1970 -- made the FBI's 10 Most Wanted.

 

"The list is a public relations gimmick," Hoffman said. "Most FBI agents

are southerners who majored in accounting or some other creative field.

When you are placed on the list, go deeper underground. It may be

necessary to curtail your activities for a while. The manhunt lasts only

as long as you are newsworthy since the FBI is very media conscious.

Change your disguise, identification and narrow your circle of contacts.

In a few months, when the heat is off, you'll be able to be more

active."

 

As I found out when I was on the road, acquiring phony identification is

easy. The 1990s have made it easier even than it was in the 1960s, but

both eras had one essential element, and active underground movement.

Before I flein the 1960s, but both eras had one essential element, and

active underground movement. Before I fled I had actively associated

with the Weather Underground, but never so much as to draw attention to

myself. I hung around Abbie Hoffman's Renaissance Switchboard on East

10th Street. One of my friends from this period actually survived the

explosion of the bomb-makers when it leveled the apartment building on

East 11th Street. He was blown down the stairs, and out of the building,

which saved his life. Th

 

Sue had the same advantage since she had associated with the underground

movements of the 1990s, Goths, Hells Angels and others who could have

easily helped her to escape without media or police or friends knowing

about it. Indeed, Sue's disappearance very much duplicated my own. I

vanished overnight, leaving my family to believe that I was addicted to

drugs and bottoming out on the street somewhere. As a matter of fact, I

did not contact any of my close friends in New York and New Jersey for a

whole year after I had left.

 

Hoffman recommended building a new identify, something I did, as did my

associate who made the 10 Most Wanted List.

 

" An amateur photographer or commercial artist with good processing

equipment can make passable phony identification papers," Hoffman wrote.

 

In an era of the home computer and advanced printing techniques, I could

manufacture a driver's license in an afternoon. My friend actually had a

contact at the New Mexico Division of Motor Vehicles, which processed a

legitimate license for him, from which he manufactured a host of other

materials, from library card to Master Charge.

 

While on the run, I used three different names. The first I had

developed in case I got caught going AWOL from the army, something that

allowed me to drink in Manhattan and survive a police check. Now with a

good scanner, you could take real ID papers, mask out the name, address

and signature with the click of a mouse and reprint any name you wanted,

matching everything via the computer paint program.

 

"If you use a phony state and city papers such as birth certificate or

driver's license, choose a state that is far away from the area in which

you are located," Hoffman said.

 

By the time I got to the west coast, I found the underground center in

LA and purchased a complete set of identification, a real set from a

real person who had sold his ID for dope. With these, I could travel

freely, and easily avoided a check of national records -- since more

than one piece of ID usually gives credibility to the lie. But I had

other options, and grew up in a era where the draft card also provided

me with an additional piece of ID that few police would challenge. At

one point, I owned six or seven blank draft cards, liberated from the

local draft board. I could have been anyone I wanted at any time, and

often was, especially after I got busted, since the fingerprints check

after my flight, gave away my real identity.

 

Hoffman recommended building more than one set, but cautioned against

having both sets on you at the same time, since that gives away the game

once you are searched.

 

"If you sense the authorities are close to nailing you and you choose to

go underground," Hoffman wrote, "prepare all the identification papers

well in advance and store them in a secure place. Inform no one of your

possible new identity."

 

Sue, with her experience at disappearing at college, long ago learned to

deal with the most pressing problem about going underground. The fact

is, Floyd, Joel, Ridgeway, Hardin and the other proponents of the "Sue

is dead" theory, have fallen for the underground gimmick. Each has

repeated the same phrase over the long months saying: "How could she

still be alive, she's been away so long? No one could stay away for so

long."

 

Which is exactly the point of going underground, to convince people by

sheer length of time that you are dead. It is what I did. It is what

Abbie did. It is what most of the Weather Underground did through the

decade of the 1970s.

 

But there is a psychological price, one that plagued me when I was on

the road. While I was nearly caught once in Phoenix, and was the

passenger in a car chase through Portland, Oregon, and had many other

close encounters during my time on the run, it was the isolation that

nearly defeated me.

 

"Living underground, like exile, can be extremely lonely," Hoffman

wrote, "especially during the initial adjustment period when you have to

reshuffle your living habits. Psychologically, it becomes necessary to

maintain a few close contacts with other fugitives or folks above ground

... This means communication. If you contact persons or arrange for them

to contact you, be super cool. Don't rush into meetings. Stay OFF the

phone! If you must, use pay phones. Have the contact person go to a

prescribed booth at prescribed time. Knowing the phone number

beforehand, you can call from another pay phone. The pay phone system is

superior to debugging devices and voice scramblers. Even so, some pay

phones -- that police suspect bookies use -- are monitored."

 

Sue was a fanatic about using public telephones, taking this advise from

Abbie's book to heart. At school, she would seek out a different public

phone for each call she made, and even then, use a different phone in a

bank of phone for each call she chose to make. She was so paranoid about

phone use and took Abbie's advise to the point that she rarely -- if

ever -- used the telephone in her apartment to call out, almost always

making her way to one of the many local public phones. In fact, she

vanished on her way to make such a phone call.

 

"Personal rendezvous should take place at places that are not movement

hangouts or heavy pig scenes," Hoffman wrote. "Intermediaries should be

used to see if anyone was followed. Just groove on a few good spy flicks

and you'll figure it all out."

 

Sue had grooved on such flicks since high school, and had already worked

out this drama in college. But in the months that followed her vanishing

from Nutley, she managed to take Abbie Hoffman's advice to a new higher

level, fulfilling a fantasy she she'd had since I knew her.

 

"Communicating to masses of people above ground is very important,"

Abbie wrote. "It drives the MAN berserk."

 

By allowing herself to be sighted in various locations around Newark and

the state, Sue kept people wondering about her, kept her name in the

press, and made her friends and family worry that much more about her,

made her revenge -- if that's what this was -- more poignant. Was that

really Sue they saw? What is she doing on the street? Is she walking

around in the fugue? Is she alive or dead? But Sue was careful -- except

in a very few cases -- to maintain the veil of doubt. No one could

certain it was her.

 

But then, when we uncovered Judy as her companion and we began to get

closer and closer to her, Sue must have panicked. Perhaps she had no

alternative plan. We learned that when Melissa first came to Newark, Sue

and Judy picked up and moved from 5th Street to 6th Street. But when the

Newark cop came, and when I arrived and left my business card, Sue

freaked out, she and Judy making their visit to the woman who had given

them away.

 

But that was not enough. Sue needed time to set herself up with a new

plan. Police said she fled the state for another location. I think she

left behind a distraction, someone who would confuse the trail, giving

Sue time.

 

And that distraction, I believe, came in the shadowy shape of "the man

from NEXT."

 

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The Man from Next

 

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