High-Wire Hunt

He climbed. He saw. He hasn't yet conquered the mystery of his missing brother.

Robb Annable gripped a metal girder with one hand and peered down at the wind-whipped water 150 feet below. His pontoon boat, rolling on the waves, looked like a toy. He'd moored it to the base of a 400-foot-tall radio tower about 50 yards from the Venetian Causeway and just outside the Miami Herald's back door. The slight, sandy-haired 63-year-old had attached himself to the tower with a climbing harness, but even so, vertigo whispered in the back of his brain. He had spent the night on his boat in Biscayne Bay, and he felt a phantom sensation that the tower's concrete base was dipping and rolling with the water, as if it might break free of the thin metal walkway connecting it to the mainland and float out to sea.

TV and police helicopters thumped overhead, cops massed below like insects, and the breeze billowed so that Robb could barely hear the dial tone on his silver Sprint cell phone when he tried to call Miami Police.

He had to make himself heard — he would certainly never get a second chance. So he stuck his head in his maroon nylon backpack to block the wind and called 911. He gave the operator his cell number and asked her to relay it to the police officers gesturing at him from the ground.

Robb Annable
Vincent Hobbs
Robb Annable
Harrison Annable (in a high school photo from 1958 when 
he was eighteen) was an avid outdoorsman who never 
discussed politics
courtesy of Robb Annable
Harrison Annable (in a high school photo from 1958 when he was eighteen) was an avid outdoorsman who never discussed politics
Robb Annable (in a high school photo from 1962) became 
politically active after his brother's disappearance
courtesy of Robb Annable
Robb Annable (in a high school photo from 1962) became politically active after his brother's disappearance
Linda, Robb, and Harrison (in an undated photo from their 
Cape Cod home) could never have guessed that their family 
would be caught up in the tumult of Miami in 1962
courtesy of Robb Annable
Linda, Robb, and Harrison (in an undated photo from their Cape Cod home) could never have guessed that their family would be caught up in the tumult of Miami in 1962
Robb Annable made a collage of sensational headlines from 
1962 and 1963 as the cover page for a packet he sent to 
the media before his aerial protest this past January
Vincent Hobbs
Robb Annable made a collage of sensational headlines from 1962 and 1963 as the cover page for a packet he sent to the media before his aerial protest this past January
Robb Annable still combs through hundreds of pages of documents in his Scottsmoor home, searching for clues to his brother’s disappearance
Vincent Hobbs
Robb Annable still combs through hundreds of pages of documents in his Scottsmoor home, searching for clues to his brother’s disappearance

If they don't call, maybe they'll use the radio I left at the foot of the tower, he thought. "I left them a package with a walkie-talkie," he yelled into the phone. "I have the other one with me."

Then he thumbed the phone's End button, put it in his pocket, and rummaged through the pack. There was extra rope, Gatorade, two flags, a lighter.... He completed his mental checklist for the hundredth time and then pulled out a walkie-talkie and turned it on; it worked fine.

Next he grabbed the phone again and dialed a preprogrammed number. But the wind was too loud for him to hear. "Hello — HELLO! Is there anyone there? This is Robb Annable," he said and then stuck his head in the backpack again to block the wind.

Finally he made out the voice on the other end. "This is the Miami Herald, how may I help you?"

"Yeah, I'm the guy on the tower outside your building," he yelled. "I need to talk to a reporter. I need to tell someone my story."


Robb Annable's very public protest was the grand finale to a decades-long quest — nigh obsession — to discover the fate of his older brother, Harrison, who had set off from the Miami River on a ten-day lobstering trip with two other men on November 17, 1962.

Four days later a Bahamian fisherman had discovered the bullet-riddled 40-foot-long hull of the Revenge, the group's ill-fated craft. It was floating in twenty-foot-deep waters off the Bahamian island of Cat Cay in an area frequented by fishermen, smugglers, and, in those days, emissaries from both sides of the unofficial war to depose Fidel Castro.

In the months and years after the disappearance, Robb and his father, Robert Annable Sr., would come to believe that Harrison died while helping to fight the CIA's secret war against Cuba's Communist government. Their evidence is sketchy. That could be because they faced a bureaucratic brick wall. Or it may be that the crew of the Revenge — Harrison, captain Gil Rahm, and schoolteacher Victor Skalski — were simply victims of a nautical accident or a robbery at sea.

Robb says it's difficult to imagine such a strange and exotic fate befalling Harrison, a happy kid from small-town New England whose main aspiration was to work outdoors. Pseudomilitary maneuvers in the subtropics weren't part of the Annables' world in Cape Cod, where they lived from the time Robb was eleven and Harrison was fifteen.

Robb's sister Linda, older by one year, remembers her brothers as close friends but very different people. "They shared the same room, and they did things together all the time, but Harrison was always outdoors, and Robb always had his face in a book," she says. "Robb was a little more of a recluse, and Harrison was very outgoing. I think my younger brother always looked up to my older brother."

Though Linda says Harrison was of "average height and build," Robb's description hints at his feelings for his brother. "He was about six-foot, in good shape," Robb says. "Blond hair, blue eyes. He tended to date prom queens and got good grades."

Linda and Robb both recount a fairly idyllic childhood: Though their cottage was surrounded by the much larger homes and beach houses of wealthy New Englanders, their mother, Carol, was sweet-tempered. Their father was stoic.

"My dad was sort of the classic patriarch of that era," Robb says. "He was driven, he was demanding, he never complained about anything."

About Harrison, Robb says: "I liked being outdoors, but I was never the kind of hunter he was." As a teenager, Harrison trapped muskrat. He'd skin them and sell the fur. Once he went on vacation and left eleven-year-old Robb in charge of the trap. "One morning there was a poor muskrat there," he remembers. "Harrison said the way to kill it would be to beat it to death. I was horrified. Finally I closed my eyes and did it."

In 1957 Harrison enrolled at the University of Massachusetts, and Robb visited him there. "It was great," he says. "We got drunk together, and he introduced me to all of his friends. We were sort of getting to a more equal relationship, I thought. I felt less like his little brother and more like his friend."

In summer 1957, Harrison took a trip that, four decades later, still preoccupies Robb. The elder Annable brother visited an aunt, Mariada Arensberg, in Havana. She had married an American businessman whose produce company was based in Cuba, and she taught private school there. "At the time I didn't think much of it," Robb says. "I didn't even talk to him much about it. I remember my aunt being a Fidel supporter initially, because she thought he would help the people who needed helping, but she changed her ideas as he started to become more ruthless."

Robb conjectures that on that trip his brother became politicized — which may have led to his death: "Now I really wish I'd talked to him more about that trip, and I wish I'd known more, at the time, about my aunt's political activity. I simply thought of it as a family vacation. Of course, knowing some of the things I know now, I have to wonder."

Harrison majored in wildlife management at UMass and thought about becoming a park ranger. He continued to do well in school, with the exception of one class. "I think it was physics or something," Robb says. "Anyway, he needed it to graduate, but he failed. So he went down to Miami to take some marine biology courses at the University of Miami in the fall of '62."

Harrison befriended a crew of single guys who lived at his apartment complex in Coconut Grove. He roomed for a while with Bruce Althoff, a City Gas employee who worked nights tending bar at the Hut, a popular Polynesian-theme bar on Douglas Road.

"Miami was just unbelievably fun at the time," reminisces Althoff, now a 66-year-old Home Depot salesman in Atlanta. "There was a sense that anything could happen. You had all this wild Cuban intrigue going on at the periphery, and in the bar we'd get showgirls all the time."

Althoff remembers Harrison as a straight-laced guy. "He liked to hang out at the bar, but he wasn't really a drinker or a rough-talker," Althoff says. "His only real vice was he drove too fast. He had this little red Italian car, and he listened to the radio loud, and he'd tap his foot on the gas pedal until I reminded him to slow down."

The sometime bartender says he was surprised to learn that Harrison had taken up with two other Hut regulars, Gil Rahm and Trevor Davies. "They were tough guys and hard drinkers, and Harrison was more of a school guy," he says. "Harrison was polite and friendly, not a boozer or carouser. And they were."

In the meantime, Robb enrolled at tiny Eureka College in the cornfields of Illinois. "There were only 350 people there, but my parents had picked it out for me because they liked the religious aspect," he remembers.

Robb began his freshman year in the fall of '62, just as his brother was starting out in Miami. By Christmas the small-town doldrums would be gone forever.


We didn't have much money that Christmas, so originally I was supposed to stay at school," Robb says. "When [my parents] said, 'Come home,' I knew something was wrong."

Robb's dad was waiting for him at the Boston airport. "He had tears in his eyes, and I'd never seen him cry before," the son recalls. "Then he hugged me — that was another new thing. We got to the car and he told me Harrison was missing."

The older Annable boy, in fact, had vanished almost a month before. "They didn't want to disturb my studies, so they waited to tell me," Robb explains. "I think they also wanted to tell me in person."

It was a somber Christmas. Linda had come up from Boston, where she was attending school, and she and Robb sat with their mother. Robert Sr. was constantly phoning the Coast Guard and congressional offices, hoping to spur the investigation. "He had gone down to Miami as soon as they found out, and he was very industrious, but there wasn't much he could do," Robb says.

Linda and Robb remember their mom crying a lot. "It was how she was until the day she died," Robb says. "She was a basket case that Christmas, but she kept busy and tried not to talk about it. She would leave the room when we talked about Harrison."

Robert Sr. made a to-do list regarding his son's disappearance, but it was more than he could accomplish and still hold down his job as a printing parts salesman. "He had the names of the boat builder, the relatives of the missing crewmen, the people who may have financed the trip," Robb says. "He had started talking to journalists in Miami, and I think he pumped them for information as much as they pumped him. I knew I had to help him."

Then Robb showed a new assertiveness, says his sister Linda. "Robb is interesting, I think, because he's very measured and mild. But when he feels strongly about something, you can't change his mind."

There was no way Robb could return to his studies while Harrison was missing. "My parents were very opposed to the idea of me missing any school," he says. "It meant a lot to them that I stay on and graduate. I had to fight to drop out, but I finally got the dean to approve it. I have a feeling down deep my father was pleased."

Robert Sr. showed a new confidence in his son. After some discussion, they decided Robb would do some investigating in Miami in early January while his father manned the phones in Massachusetts.

"I must admit I was very naive and very ill-equipped for something like that," Robb says. "I'd never really spent any time in big cities at all."

To save money, Robb carpooled with a cousin who was headed to Miami for spring break. He stayed in a warehouse on the Miami River that was owned by his grandfather and used to store floats for the King Orange Jamboree parade. "I remember in the mornings I would go down to the river and shave," Robb says. "I remember getting scared to death by a manatee one morning. It was just swimming along, but I had no idea what it was."

Bigger shocks were in store.


In 1963 Miami was home to a massive CIA headquarters and ground zero for anti-Fidel Castro activity. El dictador had taken over the island four years earlier, and the aborted Bay of Pigs invasion took place in April 1961. The Cuban Missile Crisis concluded only two months before Robb arrived in Miami.

Both the Miami News and the Herald picked up on the story of the missing crew. The Newstracked down Edison Higgs, the captain of the Bahamian fishing boat that found the Revenge. Higgs said the bullets appeared to have penetrated the Revenge's hull from the inside out. Headlines across the nation read like something out of a Robert Ludlum novel: "Castro Slaughter Hinted in Bahamas," "Did Gunfire Sink Lost Ship Revenge?" "Did Cuban Killer Boat Get Three Lost Miamians?"

"I talked to the man who actually owned the boat my brother was on," Robb recalls. Trevor Davies, a sunburned fellow in his mid-forties who worked at another warehouse on the river, claimed to know little about the fishing trip. He simply supplied the boat for a fee.

But Davies was sure violence had been involved. "Miami was just steeped in this talk of Castro, and everyone had a theory about what the CIA would do next," Robb says. "Davies was literally ready to kill someone. He couldn't stop talking about mounting a 50-caliber machine gun on one of his boats and hunting for the guys who did this."

Davies stormed off, and Robb was left talking to a Cuban pilot who was hanging around Davies's warehouse. "This guy started telling me about flying over Cuba on weekends in a Piper Cub and throwing sticks of dynamite out the window," Robb says. "I'm going, 'Where have I come to?'"

Robb met with various Coast Guard investigators, as well as two Miami Newsreporters who'd written about his brother's disappearance — Hal Hendrix (who would win a Pulitzer that year for revealing Cuba's installation of Russian missile-launching pads and importation of Soviet MiG 21 fighter planes) and Miller Davis. He gleaned no new information from them.

Then he tracked down Gil Rahm's wife, Lila, an encounter that left an indelible mark. "I'd been calling her all week, and I couldn't get hold of her," Robb remembers. "Finally I was told, 'She's at the Hut.' She was leaning against the bar, and she looked older than 40. It was apparent that she was pretty drunk. I asked her if she knew my brother. She didn't have much to say except that she wasn't too concerned that her husband was missing....

"Then she said, 'Do you have any money?'

"I said, 'A little.'

"She said, 'How much would you pay to sleep with me?'

"I said, 'I'm sorry?'"

Robb went home after two weeks, fundamentally frightened for his brother and jarred by the surreal world he'd encountered in Miami.


Spencer Meredith sits at a wooden table at Scotty's Landing, adjacent to the Grove Key Marina, where he was once manager and co-owner, and shakes his head at four-decade-old memories. A hale 73 years old, the gray-haired retiree affects a WASPy politeness. He contends that Harrison Annable's disappearance had nothing to do with politics.

After the Bay of Pigs, Miami's anti-Castro activists exchanged more dialogue than ammunition, he says. "Everybody talked. Everybody said they were connected to the CIA or to Alpha 66; everybody knew how to get guns or weapons or whatever; everybody predicted Castro's imminent assassination. It was a lot of talk."

Meredith says the Bahamas in those years drew vessels from all over the Caribbean. "There were Cuban fast boats, there were anti-Castro fast boats, there were fishermen and poachers from all over the Caribbean and Miami, so it's easy to see how there could have been some confusion at the outset."

But the facts of Meredith's involvement — his search for the missing boat, his detention in the Dominican Republic — raise questions, particularly for Robb, who for decades has tried to connect the businessman to the CIA.

Meredith is a Manhattan native who quit his job as an ad executive to pursue a career as a novelist in Cuba in 1957. He left the island nation as the revolution was nearing its peak, and settled in Miami. A good friend of Gil Rahm's, he says that around December 1, 1962, he received a call from Lila Rahm that alerted him to the disappearance.

According to Meredith, on December 2 he hired a 40-foot overhauled PT boat and sailed to the area where the Revenge's battered hull had reportedly been spotted. During the search, he encountered a Miami-registered boat, Sigma II, owned and operated by Alpha 66.

Meredith says one of that boat's crew members had met Edison Higgs, the Bahamian captain who saw the overturned Revenge.In the second week of December, Meredith persuaded the Coast Guard to let him accompany a search-and-rescue flight over the waters that swallowed Annable, Rahm, and Skalski. Again they saw nothing.

Meredith submitted a report of his search to the Coast Guard, and his account of the encounter with the Sigma II was printed in many newspaper articles as evidence of secret wars waged in the Caribbean.

On February 15, 1963, the State Department issued an order to detain Spencer Meredith in Santo Domingo. U.S. authorities accused him of impersonating an FBI agent to obtain information about the Revenge from the U.S. consul in the Bahamas. Meredith says now that he simply walked into the consul's office "wearing a good suit" and requested information.

"Someone must have assumed I was with the government," he explains. "I certainly never said any such thing."

When questioned about his role in the Revenge's voyage, Meredith says, "At the time, I suppose I may have believed that there was foul play, and that made me angry, so I very energetically pursued all leads, not unlike young Mr. Annable."

Meredith contends he didn't fund the voyage but that he may have loaned Rahm money now and again "as friends do." Throughout Meredith's Coast Guard testimony are hints of CIA connections — for instance, asked if he was involved in the Bay of Pigs, Meredith answers, "Possibly." There's no followup. Meredith now says he was never in the employ of any government agency.

"Now this was all 40 years ago, you understand, so what I think I need to do is read over what I said at the time," he insists. "I need to jog my memory."

Robb claims he heard vague rumors that Meredith was involved with the CIA, but couldn't confirm them. He says he tried and failed numerous times to reach the businessman. "We just could never get hold of him, and he never returned calls," Robb says. "We felt like there were a lot of dead ends."


From February to September 1963, the Coast Guard investigated the disappearance of the Revenge. Robb's father befriended Lt. Cmdr. E.W. Dorr, who was conducting the Coast Guard inquiry, and the pair exchanged twenty letters about the inquiry's progress. Robert Sr. flew to Miami more than once to watch the testimony of several key witnesses.

The Coast Guard's final report, issued in November 1963, concluded it was impossible to know what happened to the three missing men. It downplayed any sort of Cuban involvement. "Getting the report was a real letdown for my father," Robb says. "He was never satisfied with it. We felt like there were all these questions floating around, especially about Meredith and the CIA, and they just didn't want to look in that direction. And my father was really crushed when several people suggested that they may have been poaching lobster traps."

Robb returned to school, this time in Ohio, but whenever he visited home, he and his father would spend hours trying to link the disparate stories and rumors surrounding the disappearance. "My father kept writing to congressmen and the like, but they all cited the Coast Guard investigation as the last word," Robb says. "We felt like, if there was foul play, the CIA might be involved or at least have some idea what happened, but they weren't answering any questions."

Robert Sr. was increasingly embittered. He began smoking and drinking more heavily and was diagnosed with high blood pressure. His eyes would tear up at odd moments, Robb remembers: "He was like a different person."

Robb himself became more politically active. He began attending civil rights marches and protesting American involvement in Vietnam. After graduating in 1967, he joined the Peace Corps and worked in Micronesia and New York City.

In the late Sixties, Robb and his father began filing public-records requests and traveling to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. They didn't find much, but Robb hatched a plan for a protest that would attract national attention. "I just felt like the government wasn't going to give us anything, but that someone out there, probably in Miami, had to know something about what happened," Robb says.

He mentally shelved the plan and in 1973 moved to Titusville, east of Orlando where he began work as a mental health counselor. The following year he met Pam Ascanio, a petite and outspoken community college employee. The pair moved in together by the end of the year.

Robert Sr. was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1977 and died within months. On his deathbed, he made Robb pledge to do everything possible to discover Harrison's true fate. He bequeathed to his son a metal file cabinet filled with pages of beautifully handwritten notes and copies of all the letters he had written since Harrison vanished.

Robb married Pam in 1982 and they settled into a comfortable life, but he never escaped the ghosts of his father and brother. "My brother's disappearance became one of the main focal points of my relationship with my father," Robb says. "It sort of defined our relationship, and after he died, I just felt very strongly like I had to honor that commitment to him."

In the late Nineties, Robb resumed his quest with a zeal that alarmed Pam. "I knew how important it was to him, but I didn't know when I married Robb that I was marrying his brother," she says.

Robb filed more information requests, wrote more letters, and spent hours combing the Internet. The responses to his inquiries were more or less the same as this one from U.S. Sen. Bob Graham in January 2001:

Dear Robert: Thank you for your recent letter and for sharing with me the reply you received from the Central Intelligence Agency. After a thorough review of the responses you have received from all the agencies my office has contacted on your behalf, it is clear that I would be unable to facilitate any administrative remedy regarding your concerns....

Ultimately all of Robb's research yielded only enticing tidbits: a 1963 CIA document requesting information about Spencer Meredith, mostly blacked out; a letter sent in 1999 from the Department of Justice acknowledging that the FBI had information about Harrison in its Foreign Counterintelligence file, along with a refusal to provide anything from it.

As the years went on, Robb's zeal increased. Adding to his determination were encounters with the terminally ill people he counseled. "I just had so many people tell me about all the regrets they had, all the things they never did," he says. "I swore to myself I wouldn't die with that kind of regret."


In early 2005, Robb concluded he had only one option remaining. He began thinking again about a public protest. "I knew it had to get attention, and I knew it had to be in Miami," he says. "That's the only place where [I thought] there might be someone who knows something about what happened."

In March 2005, he drove his old VW minibus down to South Florida, looking for a suitable spot. He passed the bunkerlike Herald building on a lark, and the radio tower behind it caught his eye.

"I'd seen it before when I was in town for a convention. I knew it was perfect for getting attention," Robb says. "I mean, talk about media access!"

He videotaped the tower from both the Venetian and MacArthur causeways, taking careful note of the gated walkway from the mainland to the concrete base, which appeared accessible by boat. A spectacle atop the tower would back up traffic for hours, he surmised.

Robb returned home to Scottsmoor, his new home just outside Titusville, and began searching the local classifieds. He found a pontoon boat and trailer for $4500.

Next he had to make sure the people who would see his protest knew its purpose. So he pulled out a packet he'd compiled in 1998 that included copies of photos from yellowed newspaper articles about the Revenge's crew and Spencer Meredith. There were also articles and his own five-page summary about the boat's demise. He photocopied the packet and around 100 pages of documents from his files: letters to and from congressmen, redacted CIA and State Department documents, pages of testimony from the Coast Guard inquiry. Then he filled envelopes with the information and addressed them to police, the Herald, Miami New Times, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and local TV news stations.

He mailed the packets Monday, January 2.

Around 9:00 p.m. this past January 3, he hooked up the trailer holding the boat and climbed into his 2002 brown Toyota Tundra. He was 50 miles out of Scottsmoor, already jittery with adrenaline, when the Check Engine light came on. He turned around and headed home. He called a friend to inspect the truck, who couldn't find anything wrong with it. By then the evening was half over.

Robb left again in the predawn hours of January 4, making it to Miami by noon. Soon he was on Watson Island, checking and rechecking his equipment. Then he put in and motored out into the bay, slowly driving back and forth past the Herald building, quietly contemplating the fact that, likely as not, the next day would be the strangest of his life.

For the rest of the day and evening, he tooled around the bay. He phoned Pam, who had, she says, "really mixed feelings about all this." He explored a mangrove island where he had to sit out the early evening when his boat was grounded at low tide. By midnight he was back in the boat and out on the bay, lying on his back while the waves rolled around him. He lifted his head and saw the Herald building over the gunwales. Then he fell asleep.

By 5:00 a.m. the water yawned up at the predawn sky, and Robb thought about the ocean's relentless newness. Every wave and ripple spreads into a thousand others; all notion of cause and effect becomes untraceable,he thought. Harrison's body could be somewhere under these waves.

He rolled out of his sleeping bag and, for the thousandth time, reviewed his supplies: Two walkie-talkies. Climbing harness. Cell phone with preprogrammed numbers for the Herald, CNN, Miami TV news stations, the Miami Police Department, the FBI, and the CIA. Two flags, one American, one POW/MIA. A copy of the statement he'd sent to the press. His sleeping bag. Gatorade.

By about 7:00 a.m. he'd moored to the tower's foundation and climbed out with his bag of supplies. He left a walkie-talkie and an information packet at the gate, and scaled the ten-foot fence. He checked his supplies again, making sure he had his harness. Check. He took a last look around and started up, hooking his climbing gear to the tower's metal rails.

He didn't look back until he was halfway up. Then he thought, This is high enough. The wind was buffeting him. Cars were driving by on the Venetian and I-395; he expected someone to call the police and get the ball rolling, but nothing happened. Soon it was 8:00 a.m.

He pulled out the American Flag, hung it from a girder, and then draped the POW-MIA banner next to it. "[Around 8:30] someone noticed and called the police, because I saw them start to pull up outside the Herald," he says.

No one would approach the packet with the walkie-talkie. So he called 911 and gave his cell phone number. Then he phoned the Herald and asked to be connected to a reporter. But there was too much wind. "I was yelling into the phone, saying, 'I've just climbed the tower outside your building!'" Robb recalls. "The person said, 'So what?' and hung up. If only they'd looked out the window."

"Once we received the call from Mr. Annable and ascertained that it wasn't a prank, a lot of things went into motion," says MPD spokeswoman Herminia Salas-Jacobson. "We had to send negotiators, we had to send tactical units, everything had to be accompanied by ambulances. Of course, as soon as people on the Venetian started seeing all those emergency vehicles, traffic just stopped."

By 9:00 a.m. Robb was on the phone with a police negotiator, talking about Cuban fast boats in the Bahamas in 1962. Meanwhile traffic stood still. TV news crews in helicopters swarmed overhead, and reporters, onlookers, and angry commuters clustered on the sidewalk next to the Herald. By 9:30 Robb showed up on CNN and other nationwide cable news channels.

"I sort of got my message across to the police that I wasn't going to hurt myself or anyone else, so then I started making my planned phone calls to reporters and to various government agencies," Robb says. "Of course, I had to stick my head in my backpack to hear anything over the phone, so I looked like a real loony."

Robb called the CIA number and read a prepared statement. He spoke to an agency FOIA officer in Langley, saying he needed information about his lost brother. He said he was calling from a radio tower in Miami. "They were a little nonplussed," he remembers, chuckling. "I think half the people I called just thought I was crazy."

Next, around 11:00 a.m. he made a half-hearted attempt to ignite the American flag. He gave up when it became clear the wind was blowing too hard. The police were insisting that he come down.

Salas-Jacobson remembers how Robb was persuaded to descend: "We finally just made an appeal to his rational side, saying, 'Look, you've tied up a lot of traffic and a lot of emergency resources. We're going to have to send some guys up the tower pretty soon, but we'd rather not take the chance of anyone getting hurt.'"

Robb came down around noon and was immediately handcuffed and taken in a squad car to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, where he was charged with trespassing, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison.


It's four weeks after his arrest, and Robb Annable sits in an easy chair in the living room of his house on Keepout Lane in Scottsmoor, light pouring in through windows that look out on orange groves. In one corner is the computer where he still plugs away at his Internet research. The metal file cabinet full of his father's papers sits on rollers in an adjacent laundry room.

Robb is amazed he was only fined court costs —$278 — after his stunt. He was also a little dismayed at the media attention, even though his climb was covered by seventeen newspapers, including the New York Times. "It was all about the crazy man on the tower," he says. "No one wanted to get into what happened to my brother too much."

So far the only new leads are the kind of tidbits that don't seem likely to crack the case. "I guess I could probably live without knowing exactly what happened to Harrison," he says. "But I can't stand the feeling that my own government isn't telling everything it knows about this. If he died fighting communism, he deserves recognition for that."

The attention did generate at least one new lead. After seeing Robb on CNN, Ed Sherry, a researcher for the South Florida Researcher's Group — an enclave of investigators obsessed with anything remotely related to JFK's assassination and all things Cuban — decided to find out about Robb's aunt, Mariada Arensberg. "I never knew his aunt was involved with any anti-Castro activities, so I did a little digging," Sherry says.

He found testimony from a Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing that Arensberg, who left Havana after Castro took power, had recommended recruits to the CIA. "We knew she was part of an anti-Castro group when she came back to the States, but we never thought she was recruiting for the CIA," Robb says. "I'd hate to think she had anything to do with what happened to Harrison, or that she might have known anything she didn't tell us."

It's possible, Robb says, that Harrison was recruited by his aunt and sent on some kind of CIA-sponsored sabotage or smuggling mission. "The thing is, I don't know what it was," he says. "It could have been anything, but it sure doesn't seem like a fishing trip. Harrison never talked politics."

Robb's aunt died a decade ago. His mother passed away in 2002 after a ten-year bout with dementia. He doesn't know where Lila Rahm is, and he says he heard that Trevor Davies died long ago.

Linda says she hopes Robb feels like he has fulfilled his obligations. "He is a sane, level-headed person who felt very strongly that he had to do this," she states. "But now I keep hoping that maybe this will be the end. This obsession to get to the truth and get the answers from the government is something that I'm not quite sure I understand. I don't have the same need."

His wife Pam is more blunt: "I don't think anything definitive is going to come out of this [protest]. And I don't think he's going to stop."

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