Journalist with a Conscience
Horman, born May 15, 1942 in New York City, was the only child
of Edmund and Elizabeth Horman. In 1964 he graduated from
Harvard University with honors in journalism. He later served
in the Air Force National Guard, followed by six years with
the reserve force, during which time he worked as investigative
journalist for various communications media. In 1968 Charles
married Joyce Hamren, and in late 1971 the young couple set
out on travels to explore Latin America. The Hormans began
their adventure in Mexico and continued south over land until
reaching Santiago, Chile, where they settled.
In Chile, Charles undertook various projects including the
production of an animated film for children in conjunction
with Chilean friends. Charles also collaborated with Pueblo
Films and wrote the script for a documentary film Avenue
of the Americas, on the social and economic history of
Chile. In early 1973 Charles, along with other United States
citizens living in Santiago, assisted in editing and publication
of Fuentes de Informacion sobre Norteamerica (FIN), a news
bulletin that focused on social and political issues covered
in the North American press. Among the other U.S. citizens
who collaborated in this project was Frank Teruggi, of 24
years of age, who was arrested September 20, 1973 and executed
September 22, 1973 at Santiago's National Stadium.
As investigative journalist, Charles also compiled information
for a book on the assassination of Chilean Army General Rene
Schneider, and had discovered facts that linked agents of
the United States to the crime. In 1975 the Senate Intelligence
Committee published a report which, for the first time, documented
CIA involvement in the assassination for the intent of preventing
Salvador allende from taking office as President.
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Led to the Arrest and Murder of Charles Horman
The series of events that remain to be clarified leading to
the summary execution of Charles Horman began on September
10, 1973 when Charles accompanied Terry Simon, a friend of
the couple on vacation in Chile, to the coastal towns of Valparaiso
and Viña del Mar. Their intention was to return to Santiago
the same day but the highways were blocked that night, compeling
them to find lodging in Viña del Mar's Hotel Miramar.
In the early hours of September 11, 1973 the Chilean Naval
fleet, which had reconnoitered with United States vessels
in Operation Unitas manuvers, returned to port. The streets,
provincial government offices and the telephone company were
occupied by Navy personnel. The Military Junta headed by General
Augusto Pinochet Ugarte declared state of siege and imposed
a curfew throughout the country. Charles and Terry remained
stranded in Viña del Mar, unable to return to Santiago for
During their forced stay at the Hotel Miramar from September
10 to 15, 1973, Charles and Terry met several United States
military officials who openly expressed satisfaction with
the coup's success and insinuated at prior knowledge about
the overthrow. The participation of these individuals in the
events of the time forms part of the judicial investigation.
On September 15, 1973, the head of the United States Military
Group in Chile, Captain Ray Davis, drove Charles and Terry
back to Santiago. During the two hour drive back to the capital,
Davis commented that thousands had been arrested, hundreds
were dead and hundreds of houses raided. In Santiago, he left
them off at the United States Consulate where they hoped to
find assistance to leave Chile.
The information confided in Charles and Terry in Valparaiso
caused them to fear for their personal safety. Their fear
grew as the radio called on Chileans to inform authorities
of the presence of any suspicious foreigner. Leaflets distributed
in Santiago carried inflammatory text such as, Have no
pity on foreign extremists who are in Chile to kill Chileans.
Citizens, be on the alert to uncover and denounce them.
Military forces arrested thousands of people in the days immediately
following the coup.
On September 17, 1973 between around 5 PM, a patrol of uniformed
men arrested Charles at his home. Several neighbors witnessed
the arrest. One who had entered a taxi followed the military
truck until it turned in at the National Stadium, converted
into a massive prison camp. Neighbors observed a group of
soldiers return later that night, carrying away a great many
books and documents from the house. Charles' wife Joyce, who
had been unable to return home before curfew, arrived the
next morning to find the house in disarray with books and
papers strewn on the floor, the desk thrown on its side, cushions
ripped apart. Neighbors warned Joyce that military personnel
had returned to the house two or three times during the night,
and persuaded her to find a safer place to stay.
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Joyce Horman began the search for her husband. On September
19 she informed the Vice Consul of her husband's arrest and
disappearance, while Terry Simon informed Captain Ray Davis
and requested protection for Charles. Edmund Horman arrived
October 3, 1973 to join the frantic search for his son.
Throughout this time he and Joyce were in constant contact
with Embassy and Consulate staff, insisting that they demand
that the new military government locate and release Charles.
For over a month, the United States diplomatic corps responded
to the Hormans' demands with bureaucratic disinterest. On
the insistence of Edmund Horman, Consul Frederick Purdy and
Vice Consul Dale Schaffer obtained authorization to enter
the National Stadium, converted in a prisoner camp and torture
center in which thousands were crowded inside. There Edmund
Horman took hold of a microphone and called his son, a dramatic
moment that was recreated in the film Missing, produced
Some 28 years later, declassified State Department documents
revealed that U.S. diplomatic staff had knowledge of Charles
Horman's arrest, information it withheld from the Horman family.
In all likelihood, by this time, they also knew that Charles
had been executed. Instead of assisting the Horman family,
they chose to play with the emotions of a desperate father,
orchestrating a visit to the Stadium, knowing beforehand that
the effort would fail to locate the missing son.
On October 17, during a visit to the Ford Foundation, a program
advisor confided to Edmund Horman that a reliable source affirmed
his son had been shot at the National Stadium. Only then,
on October 18, 1973 did the United States Consul acknowledge
the death of Charles Horman by issuing a death certificate.
The autopsy report, dated October 30, 1973, is included as
evidence in the criminal suit. It states that "father
and wife were advised of death in Santiago, Chile on October
18, 1973, after remains identified through fingerprints by
competent officials at the Chilean Identification Department,
U.S. passport B090881 unrecovered."
The autopsy report, issued by United States officials, determined:
"Cause of death: multiple bullet wounds, per doctor in
charge at the Public Morgue in Santiago, Chile."
But the odissey did not end here for the Horman family.
Horman's remains were interred on October 18 before family
members could see the body and were exhumed on January 3,
1974. Before its first burial, the lifeless body of Charles
Horman lay at least two weeks without refrigeration, which
rendered fingerprint identification ineffective. The family's
repeated attempts to remove the body from the morgue were
denied for technical reasons. Members of the United States
Senate pressured their government, threatening to block authorization
of arms to the Chilean military junta.
In March 1974, seven months after the events narrated here,
the Horman family received a telegram from Secretary of State
Henry Kissinger, informing them that the government of Chile
had approved their request to sent Charles' remains to New
York. The cable added that United States Embassy in Santiago
required the payment of US$900 to cover transportation costs.
Mr Kissinger expressed his condolences for the tragic affair.
At the request of Joyce Horman, an autopsy was performed in
New York on April 11, 1974 and on April 13 the body of Charles
Horman was buried in Brooklyn's Greenwood Cementery.
Thus ended in tragedy the journey Charles Horman had embarked
upon to experience South America and his family began travelling
the long road in search of truth and justice. Neither the
government of the United States nor the State of Chile ever
denounced the criminal acts committed against Charles Horman
before any court of law.
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More than three years later, in January 1977, a former intelligence
agent, Rafael Gonzalez, agreed to talk with the U.S. Consul
and an official of the U.S. Embassy in Santiago. The former
DINA agent had sought refuge in the Italian Embassy in June
1975 and lived with his family in the embassy compound since
that time, unable to leave the country. Gonzalez claims to
have seen Charles Horman alive outside the office of General
Augusto Lutz, then head of Chilean Army Intelligence. Coronel
Victor Barria Barria, Assistant Director of Army Intelligence
and an unidentified official of the United States were in
the office talking to Lutz. Gonzalez recalls that Gen. Lutz
referred to the prisoner Horman as someone who "knew
too much and had to disappear." Soldiers guarding the
prisoner outside Lutz's office indicated to Gonzalez that
the man in their custody was Charles Horman. In his interview
with the American diplomats, a conversation which is detailed
in the declassified documents, Gonzalez stated that he heard
nothing more about the prisoner until March 1974. At that
time, he accompanied the United States Vice Consul to the
General Cemetery to assist in identification and recovery
of Charles Horman's remains for repatriation to New York.
In December 2003 Judge Jorge Zepeda ordered the arraignment
of Rafael Gonzalez,
having reached the conclusion that Gonzalez was not just a
witness but an accomplice in the arrest, interrogation and
coverup of the murder of Horman.
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The Declassified Documents
The arrest in 1998 of Augusto Pinochet in London encouraged
President Bill Clinton to order the declassification of "all
documents that may bring to light the abuses to human rights,
terrorism, and other acts of political violence committed
during and prior to the era of Pinochet in Chile.Ó More than
16,000 documents produced by the CIA, the State Department,
the F.B.I. and other agencies of the U.S. government were
declassified between 1999 and 2000 under the Freedom of Information
Act and obtained by the National Security Archive. Among the
documents relevant to the Horman case are several State Department
reports prepared under pressure from the U.S. Congress.
Rudy V. Fimbres, regional director for the Inter American
Affairs Agency for Bolivia and Chile, wrote the first report
in August 1976. State department attorney Frederick Smith
prepared the second memorandum that same year. Although the
officials had limited access only to public documents or others
easily obtainable from the State Department, both concluded
that the United States had involvement in the death of Charles
Horman, despite denials of State Department to the contrary.
A report written by Fimbres on August 25, 1976 suggests complicity
between Chile and the United States.
on what we know, we are persuaded that the government of Chile
sought Horman because he was perceived as a threat and ordered
his immediate execution. The government of Chile may have
believed that it could do away with this American citizen
without negative fallout from the United States.
The documents also show that, prior to the arrival of Edmund
Horman in Chile, an official of the U.S. Embassy had received
information about Charles' execution. However, the official
made no effort to confirm the veracity of the information.
Neither did he bother to mention it to Edmund Horman. The
same Fimbres report cited above, revealed the official's suspicions
that the United States played a role in the death of Horman.
There is some circumstantial evidence to suggest US intelligence
may have played an unfortunate part in Horman's death. At
best it was limited to providing or confirming information
that helped motivate his murder by the GOC (government of
At worst, US intelligence was aware that the GOC saw Horman
in a rather serious light and US officials did nothing to
discourage the logical outcome of GOC paranoia.
The Smith report blamed the Chilean military regime in the
death of Charles Horman as well as Frank Teruggi. It agreed
with Fimbres that it was "hard to believe" the Pinochet
regime would have executed two U.S. citizens without the assurance
that the deaths would not bring "adverse effects" from Washington,
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In 1977, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR in New
York City), through attorney Peter Weiss, represented the
Horman family in a civil suit against former Secretary of
State Henry Kissinger and former personnel of the United States
embassy and consulate in Santiago in 1973. United States government
denial to access key documents obliged plaintiffs to voluntarily
withdraw their complaint.
April 1991 the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee
reached the following conclusion.
Charles Horman was executed by agents of the State outside
the bounds of all legal procedure, constituting a violation
of his human rights. This conviction is founded on the fact
that his arrest by members of the Army and entrance into the
National Stadium is sufficiently accredited and since these
events, nothing else was heard from him until the learned
of his death and this was produced by bullet wounds corresponding
to a execution by firing squad.
In 1998 Joyce Horman became a party to the proceeding investigated
by Spanish Judge Baltazar Garzon. Criminal complaint filed
in Santiago Court of Appeals
On December 7, 2000 Chilean attorneys Fabiola Letelier and
Sergio Corvalan filed a criminal complaint on behalf of Joyce
Horman in the Santiago Court of Appeals. The law suit was
directed against seven former officials of the military regime
and any other individuals, whether citizens of Chile or the
United States, who the investigation determines to hold responsibility
as authors, accomplices, or who engaged in a cover-up of the
crimes of abduction, first degree murder, torture, illegal
interrment and exhumation and illicit association committed
against Charles Horman. Logged in court records as case N
218298, the Charles Horman case became case number 189 to
be filed against Augusto Pinochet and accepted by Special
Investigative Judge Juan Guzman Tapia.
The complaint names as defendants the following former officials
of the military regime:
Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, ex Commander in Chief of the Army
and President of Military Junta
Victor Barria Barria, former Assistant Director of Army Intelligence
Herman Brady Roche, former Commander of Army Division II and
Santiago Zone Chief for State of Siege
Jaime Espinoza Ulloa, former Commander of National Stadium
Prisoner Camp (now deceased)
Pedro Espinoza Bravo, former Director of Army Intelligence
Ariel Gonzalez Cornejo, retired Army colonel, member of Joint
Luis Contreras Prieto, retired Army Major
criminal complaint also is filed against all individuals,
whether Chilean, United States citizens, or any other nationality,
who the inquest may subsequently determine to be responsible
as authors, accomplices, or accessories to the crimes of abduction,
first degree murder, torture, illegal inhumation and exhumation,
committed against Charles Horman.
Attorney Fabiola Letelier states:
"The criminal actions against the life and rights of
Charles Horman are crimes under the Penal Code. They are also
prohibited by treaties and international conventions signed
by Chile. Some have attempted to privatize human rights, in
the sense of imposing the idea that families of the victims
or non governmental human rights organizations are responsible
for protecting human rights. But International Law teaches
protecting citizens, enforcing respect for human rights and
investigating possible violation of those rights are responsibilities
Request for Supreme Court Appointment of Investigative Judge
Citing Article 52 of the Court Structural Code, on December
12 , 2000 attorneys Corvalan and Letelier asked the Supreme
Court to appoint an Investigative Judge to focus exclusively
on the Charles Horman case. United States government backs
initiative The judicial petition seeking appointment of a
special Investigative Judge was backed by 31 members of the
United States Congress in a letter sent to President Bill
Clinton. The United States government subsequently sent Chile
Diplomatic Note N330, of December 18, 2000, through its Embassy
in Santiago. The Diplomatic Note repeated the petition originally
enunciated in Diplomatic Note N 311, November 29, 2000, soliciting
support of the Chilean government for a thorough investigation
of the circumstances and responsibilities in the death of
Charles Horman. The Foreign Relations Ministry received the
Diplomatic note but never transmitted it to the Supreme Court.
The political decision to withhold the Diplomatic Note considerably
weakened the petition for a special investigative judge. Chamber
of Deputies Human Rights Committee Adds its Supports The Chamber
of Deputies Human Rights, Nationality and Citizenship Committee
issued Motion N669, signed by Jaime Naranjo, at the time Chamber
President, supporting Joyce Horman's request for an independent
and complete judicial investigation.
Supreme Court Turns Down the Request
In January 2001, the petition encountered its first rejection
from a session of the Full Supreme Court. In response to a
request from attorneys Fabiola Letielier and Sergio Corvalan,
on February 13, 2001 the Foreign Relations Ministry conveyed
to Chile's high court documents from government Historic Archives.
The files consisted of eight diplomatic notes sent by the
United States Embassy to the Chilean Foreign Relations Ministry
between October and November 1973 concerning the disappearance
and execution of Charles Horman. The diplomatic pressure brought
to bear on Chile failed to produce a effect, and the petition
for appointment of a special investigative judge was again
turned down. The attorneys continued to insist on their request,
sending the Supreme Court an unofficial copy and translation
of Diplomatic Note N330 through the United States Embassy,
asking that the Court solicit an official copy from the Foreign
Relations Ministry. Once more, the Supreme Court refused the
request and blocked efforts to disclose official information
on the case, preferring to wait for the Foreign Relations
Ministry to act de oficio, despite the evident disinterest
of Chilean authorities to do so. Complaint Begins to Move
withJudge Guzman Meanwhile, Investigative Judge Juan Guzman,
responsible for the investigation of nearly 300 cases filed
against Pinochet, undertook a number of procedures requested
by the attorneys for the Horman case.
Witnesses Testify before Judge Guzman
In July 2001, Judge Guzman heard testimony from a Chilean
witness and four U.S. citizens, two of whom were held prisoners
in the National Stadium in September 1973. Terry Simon and
Joyce Horman also traveled to testify before the judge. From
May 8 to 13, 2002, witnesses again were summoned to testify
before Guzman. Steve Volk, who worked on the FIN news bulletin
and later identified the body of John Teruggi in the morgue,
Mark Cooper, a translator for Salvador Allende, and Adam Schesh,
who was imprisoned in the Stadium 8 days together with his
wife, traveled to Chile for the proceedings. Several Chilean
witnesses, all of whom were imprisoned in the National Stadium,
testified as well.
Their 9/11 and Ours, Marc Cooper)
Frederick Purdy, former U.S. Consul from 1969-1975 who retired
in Chile, also testified. Judge Guzman questioned Purdy in
the presence of the other American citizens, in order to verify
several points of the testimony he gave last year that contradicted
declarations made by witnesses for the prosecution. Upon leaving
the court after his audience, Purdy reiterated to members
of the press that his office gained the release of 24 U.S.
citizens held prisoners in the Stadium after the coup, a point
of contention with the American witnesses who testified before
Guzman. The magistrate sought to ascertain whether, as the
Horman family sustains, embassy and consulate staff failed
to provide the protection needed to avoid the homicide or
whether American diplomats engaged in a cover-up of criminal
On July 17, 2001 Joyce
Horman had a private audience with Chilean President Ricardo
Lagos. Horman asked President Lagos that Chile become a party
to the case by assigning the State Defense Council to investigate
the crime committed by agents of the State of Chile. In a
press conference, President Lagos publicly affirmed Chile's
commitment: "this unfortunate situation must be properly
investigated by our courts of law and the responsible parties
sanctioned, as has been the case with other judicial investigations
of past human rights violations."
On July 20, 2001 four
members of the United States Congress backed Joyce Horman's
petition with a letter addressed to the President of Chile.
Ignoring the broad support calling for a full investigation,
on September 11, 2001 the State Defense Council turned down
Joyce Horman's petition. It also refused to take the penal
and civil actions open to it and is unwilling to exercise
its legal authority to become a party to the case. The State
Defense Council described as rationale for the decision that
the plaintiff possesses "sufficiently adecuate and qualified"
Rogatory Letter to U.S. Officials
On September 10, 2001, Chile's Foreign Relations Ministry
issued Letter Rogatory N 2676 2001from the Supreme Court of
Chile (Motion N3904, August 1, 2001) requesting assistance
from the the United States Supreme Court. Delivered in diplomatic
pouch to the Chilean Embassy in Washington D.C., the Rogatory
Letter referred to declassified documents and to knowledge
by persons who held political responsibility at the time,
such as the former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former
U.S. Ambassador to Chile Nathaniel Davis, and other officials.
Reenactment of Scene of Detention in National Stadium
On May 14, 15, 22, and 23, 2002 Judge Guzman oversaw the recreation
of conditions of detention in the National Stadium, intended
to reconstruct the organization and system of imprisonment
described previously by witnesses in their sworn testimony
in court. The procedure was the most important of its kind
conducted on the premises of the National Stadium, convening
former Consul Frederick Purdy and several former prisoners,
both Chilean and U.S. citizens, held in the Stadium following
the coup. The various witnesses separately described conditions
of their detention and scenes they experienced, which were
then reenacted by a cast of 30 young detective school students.
October 2002 Horman Case is transferred to Judge Jorge Zepeda
December 10, 2003 Judge Jorge Zepeda ordered the arraignment
of Rafael Gonzalez.
The judge concluded that Gonzalez acted as accomplice in planning
and carrying out the arrest of Horman as well as his interrogation,
actions that led to the homicide and subsequent the cover-up
of the murder.
this date, in 2006, the Charles Horman case continues in the
investigatory stage, under Judge Zepeda.