Howard Hughes was a smart man. Smarter than people think. Smart enough to escape his problems by hiring stand-ins to draw people off his trail while he fled his problems. One of them went to the grave in his place. In seclusion, he married a woman who kept his secret for 30 years. This strange story of love and deception can finally be told.
Industrialist Howard Hughes had a favorite client: the CIA. For spy satellite technology alone the CIA owed him a big debt. There came a time when he needed to collect.
As Howard entered the autumn of his life his leaves were not turning beautiful colors. They were pretty much all brown. He was being chased down by lawyers and an anxious media hoping to create or report some new disaster. He had zero chance of living his remaining years in peace. Then something interesting happened. He suddenly was reported to be a long-haired insane man, hidden away in the Desert Inn Hotel in Las Vegas, where no one could gain access to him.
Meanwhile in Panama, a CIA operative named Verner Nicely disappeared. He didn’t say goodbye to his family. He just left on a mission from which he didn’t return. Almost. After two years Verner came back and he was a new man. Literally. His eye color had changed and he was five inches taller. He did not in any way match the description on his government documents (in the book) but he did match Howard Hughes. Howard suddenly had a new lease on life.
Boxes: The Secret Life of Howard Hughes: Second Edition
Did Verner abandon his entire family to marry another woman in the Canal Zone, aging fifteen years, changing his eye color, and growing five inches taller in the process? Or did he lose his life in a covert CIA operation that left his identity conveniently available to be assumed by someone who wanted a new life? All we know for certain is that in the late fall of 1969, Eva McLelland was in Panama, fascinated by a mysterious, tall, blue-eyed man who was always shadowed by a cadre of aides. He gave his name as Verner Nicely, but his physical characteristics did not match the physical description of Verner Nicely’s United States government documents. This is most curious.