40 Years Later Fugitive Hunt Continues
August 28, 2010
A man named Leo Burt has been on the run from the law since a bomb
attack that was once the largest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history
Where is Leo Burt? You can earn up to $150,000 by helping the FBI find him.
Forty years ago this week on August 24, 1970 Burt and three other
young men protesting the Vietnam War carried out a pre-dawn bomb
attack at the University of Wisconsin in Madison that would stand as
the largest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history until the
Oklahoma City bombing 25 years later.
The three accomplices were eventually arrested and served time in
prison for the bombing of Sterling Hall, which caused significant
damage and the death of a physics researcher.
But Burt 22-years old at the time and an aspiring journalist has
been on the run ever since.
Retired Special Agent Kent Miller, one of several agents to lead the
hunt for Burt over the years, said the Bureau has run down hundreds
of tips around the world everything from Burt reportedly being
homeless in Denver to working at a Costa Rican resort.
But Burt has somehow managed to elude capture, leading some to
believe he is dead.
Miller, who spent 36 years in the Bureau and is currently a deputy
coroner in Madison, thinks Burt may still be alive. "If so, I don't
think he's living in the United States. And if he is alive," Miller
added, "he's got to be worried every day that he's going to slip up
and get caught. That's no way to live."
Special Agent Kevin Cassidy has been in charge of the investigation
for the past three years. "Even after four decades," he said, "we
cover every credible lead that comes in." Despite the passage of
time, agents in the field are happy to help. "If we ever catch him,"
Cassidy said, "it will be due to the hundreds of agents who have been
so diligent in their efforts."
Cassidy prefers not to speculate about Burt being alive or dead.
"Until I know for sure," he said, "we will pursue him. This was the
largest truck bombing in the country's history at the time, it did
millions of dollars worth of damage, and Burt killed someone. He
needs to be held responsible for that."
Burt was part of a radical anti-war group known as the New Year's
Gang. They were targeting the Army Math Research Center in Sterling
Hall to protest the Vietnam War and the university's involvement with
The explosion heard some 30 miles away caused extensive damage to
the building and to 26 others, and resulted in the death of Robert
Fassnacht, a 33-year-old father of three who was working late on
campus to finish a research project.
Even though Burt is the only bomber to thus far avoid prisonthe
other three served relatively brief sentencesretired Agent Miller
thinks he may have suffered the most.
"He had a fairly close family," Miller said. "But because he was on
the run, he had to sever ties with his brother and other family
members. He missed both his parents' funerals. When he became a
fugitive," Miller added, "he basically gave up his life."
If you have any information on Leo Burt, you are urged to contact
your local FBI office or the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $150,000 for information
leading to Burt's arrest.