FBI Continues Search For Burt
December 19, 2007
MADISON, Wis. -- The search for a man wanted in a 1970 bombing on the
University of Wisconsin-Madison campus is continuing.
A request for fingerprints last week had produced speculation that
authorities might finally have Leo Burt in custody after 37 years on the run.
But FBI spokesman Leonard Peace said that authorities don't have Burt
in custody and a routine check of someone's fingerprints didn't match
Burt's prints. The motion last week was sealed.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Grant Johnson said that the lead was
generated from a recent "America's Most Wanted" episode that
described Burt's case, but he said that it was unsuccessful.
The bombing occurred in 1970, when there was ongoing protests of the
Vietnam War on the UW-Madison campus. On Aug. 24, 1970, prosecutors
said that Burt and three other radicals parked a van full of ammonium
nitrate -- fertilizer and jet fuel -- and exploded it outside
Sterling Hall to protest weapons research.
Just before 4 a.m., a huge blast erupted and was heard for miles. It
didn't wipe out their target, the Army's Math Research Center, but it
caused heavy damage and sent debris flying for blocks.
Robert Fassnacht, a 33-year-old graduate student who had been working
late, died in the explosion.
Within seven years, everyone had been caught and prosecuted, except
Burt. The FBI said he remains at large. His last official sighting
was with accomplice David Fine in 1970 as they headed across the
"If he's alive this many years later, he would have to continue to
avoid everybody and everything he knew. But since it's 30 to 35 years
later, he would have assumed a new identity and gotten to know new
people. And if he never did let on and never wants to let on, he
could be in Deforest or Mount Horeb or Madison," said Chris Van
Wagner, a former federal prosecutor and current defense attorney.
However, Van Wagner said he thinks that's "highly unlikely." He said
he believes Burt is dead -- as strongly as another defense attorney
believes Burt is alive.
Madison attorney Stephen Meyer said he is "absolutely" certain Burt
is alive because he was the smartest of the four men.
Meyer insists the now 57 or 59-year-old could disappear and stay
hidden, and points out that Burt's new identity could have been set
up long before technology tightened up U.S. identity documents.
On the other hand, Van Wagner said he finds it hard to believe
someone could keep a secret and stay away from family and friends for so long.
Ringleader Karl Armstrong apparently is still in the area. He is
believed to be working and living in Madison after serving seven
years of a 23-year sentence.