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Tipster Says Affair May Be Behind Rogers Van Bombing, Newspaper Reports

October 7, 1989 GMT

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A man who says he was questioned by the FBI in the bombing of a van belonging to the former captain of the USS Vincennes alleges an extramarital affair may be behind the attack, The San Diego Tribune reported Friday.

George Marxmiller said he told the FBI shortly after the March 10 bombing that Capt. Will Rogers had been having a three-year affair with a woman in Kensington, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C., the newspaper reported.

The FBI declined comment on the case and the Rogers’ attorney called the allegations ″irresponsible″ and ″wrong.″


Rogers’ wife, Sharon, narrowly escaped injury when she jumped out of the Toyota minivan when a pipe bomb exploded under it at an intersection in La Jolla. The FBI initially focused its investigation on a possible terrorist attack.

Both The San Diego Union and the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week that federal investigators think someone with a grudge against the former skipper, and not revenge-minded terrorists, may have been behind the bombing.

On Monday, the Union quoted an anonymous Navy official as saying the focus of the investigation had switched to a U.S. citizen who has a personal vendetta against Rogers.

The day before, the Times quoted four unidentified sources as saying the probe was now on the personal vendetta theory. The FBI, however, has said it hasn’t ruled out the possibility that the bombing could be a terrorist attack.

Will Rogers was the captain of the Vincennes in July 1988 when it shot down an Iranian jetliner over the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 aboard. Rogers later was exonerated on the grounds he had reason to believe his ship was to be attacked by a fighter.

He has since taken another assignment away from the Vincennes.

Marxmiller, 48, of Buckhead, Ga., said he knew of Rogers’ affair because the 42-year-old Kensington woman was a best friend of his estranged wife, Rebecca, the newspaper said. The names of Will Rogers and the Kensington woman are among a list of names of potential witnesses in Rebecca Marxmiller’s divorce suit against her husband, according to the Times, which did not name the woman.

Rogers’ attorney, Pat Shea, told The Associated Press that Rogers only met the Marxmillers once several years ago and that Rogers didn’t know why he was being sought as a witness in their divorce.


″The innuendo that you can draw from George Marxmiller’s comments pointing in anyway at Capt. Rogers are way off base. They are irresponsible and they are wrong,″ Shea said.

Rebecca Marxmiller released a statement through her attorney Friday, saying that her husband is trying to discredit a third person who may be a witness at their divorce trial.

Marxmiller told the Tribune that he and his wife spent a weekend in Portland, Ore., in 1987 with Will Rogers and the woman during a rose festival. The Vincennes was docked in Portland at the time.

The newspaper said two of its reporters saw photos of Rogers, the Kensington woman and the Marxmillers. One shows Rogers and the woman with their arms around each other and the Vincennes in the background. Another shows her hugging Rogers from behind.

Marxmiller told the Tribune that many of his friends have been questioned by federal agents and that the home of his brother, Tom, in the Los Angeles area was searched by FBI agents earlier this week.

Marxmiller’s wife of 22 years demanded a divorce last year. Marxmiller, who said he is a pilot for Eastern Airlines, said he became emotionally upset and decided not to fly for three months.

Eastern Airlines then went on strike and his income fell to almost nothing, he said.