British Man Called ‘Spy’ by London Press Found Dead after Family Slaying
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ An international commodities broker who reportedly was linked to British and U.S. spy agencies was found dead in the desert three days after his wife and children were shot to death.
Authorities on Monday were investigating the London newspaper reports that Ian Stuart Spiro had helped British and U.S. intelligence agencies in efforts to win release of Western hostages in Lebanon. But sheriff’s Lt. John Tenwolde said the case most likely was murder-suicide.
Spiro, 46, was found Sunday in a remote desert area east of San Diego. There were no signs of struggle or injury, Tenwolde said.
Some of the British newspaper stories speculated Sprio and his family were killed as part of an international intrigue. Another suggested Spiro was the killer, driven to suicidal despair by business troubles and the end of his alleged spy work.
Last week, neighbors called authorities to the Spiro home, where they found the bodies of his 40-year-old wife, Gail; daughters, Sara, 16, and Dina, 11, and son Adam, 14. Each was shot in the head.
Evidence found in the family’s rental home in the affluent suburban community of Rancho Santa Fe led investigators to suspect Spiro. The discovery of his body made murder-suicide the most likely scenario, Tenwolde said.
Investigators were aware of the reports about Spiro’s alleged espionage work and were studying them, authorities said.
″We’re on the alert for anything that may change the scenario,″ he said.
An autopsy failed to determine the cause of Spiro’s death. Further investigation was planned, along with toxicology tests that can take weeks to produce results.
The deaths of his family and Spiro’s disappearance prompted speculation in the international press that he could have been the target of Middle East terrorists.
British papers have reported that Spiro assisted the CIA and British intelligence in Lebanon in the 1980s and worked with Oliver North and Anglican church envoy Terry Waite in attempts to free hostages.
The Sunday Telegraph in London and other newspapers have reported that Spiro helped arrange meetings in Lebanon between Waite and Muslim fundamentalists.
Waite, who was abducted while in 1987 and became a hostage himself until last year, dismissed the reports that he had worked with Spiro as ″half- informed″ and dangerous.
Former hostage David Jacobsen, who was held in Lebanon for 17 months in 1985 and 1986, said he had met Spiro after his release and is convinced that Spiro worked for British intelligence, and possibly for the United States as well.
Jacobsen, who has been studying the hostage crisis, said he got that information from trusted sources including private U.S. citizens and some U.S. government officials. He wouldn’t elaborate but said he didn’t get his information from the British reports or from Spiro himself.
Jacobsen said he knew Spiro under the alias John Smith but later realized he was Spiro. He also said he didn’t believe Spiro was important in Waite’s mission.
″He was a very James Bond-type character,″ Jacobsen said. ″He was very charming and very intelligent and very committed.″
Cornelius Coughlin, who wrote in his book ″Hostage″ that Spiro had aided Waite, said it was unlikely that that activity would have led to terrorist retaliation against Spiro. But he said the CIA dumped Spiro after the Iran- Contra scandal became public.
In a story in the Telegraph, Coughlin quoted anonymous sources who suggested Spiro might have committed suicide because he was bitter over being rejected by the CIA and was running out of money.