By Lincoln Anderson
October 14 - 20, 2010
Dana Beal is a Yippie not a detective.
But he thinks he has a pretty good idea how 10 pounds of powerful C-4
plastic explosive wound up in the historic New York City Marble Cemetery.
For most of Monday, E. Second St. between First and Second Aves. was
closed off by police after eight sticks of the military-grade
explosive were found inside the leafy, landmarked graveyard, which
was founded in 1831.
In a press conference at the scene, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly
said there were no detonators found with the mysterious ordnance,
saying it would have been hard to blow it up without them.
"We believe it's been there for a significant period of time," Kelly
said of the C-4 cache. He added that the explosive material was the
same type used in the London transit bombings in 2005.
The sticks were removed by a police explosives truck to the Rodman's
Neck firing range in the Bronx for examination.
According to The New York Times, a cemetery caretaker found the C-4
while planting a shrub in a foot of dirt in May or June of last year.
The explosives were in a decaying black garbage bag. Unsure what the
substance was, the caretaker reportedly placed the bag against a
tree. On Sunday, while cleaning up after an Open House New York event
when the cemetery was open to the public a volunteer came upon
the explosives. The volunteer called police on Monday.
According to reports, police subsequently determined the C-4 sticks
are more than 13 years old because the ordnance lacks special taggant
chemicals required since 1997 to help identify the materials in
bombs. Specifically, the explosives are reportedly M112 blocks, which
were manufactured exclusively for the military.
The Times reported that police were investigating whether the Hells
Angels whose E. Third St. clubhouse is a block away from the site
are connected with the C-4 cemetery cache. But on Tuesday, Beal
scoffed at that notion as implausible.
"Hells Angels are not the type of people who plant bombs," he said.
"They might have some guns but they wouldn't have bombs."
When a reporter stopped by the Yippie Cafe and Museum, at 9 Bleecker
St., Tuesday morning following up on a phone call from Beal the
previous day it was coincidentally right after two police had just
paid Beal a brief visit.
"I think they're fishing," Beal said.
The previous day, after news of the C-4 find broke, Beal had told two
officers in a patrol car on the Bowery that he knew the real story.
"I told them, 'I figured the whole thing out. If you want to talk,
come over to the Yippie Museum,' " he said.
He said the police who showed up Tuesday claimed someone had called
911 from 9 Bleecker St., but he knew that wasn't true since he'd been
using the phone all morning. Beal said the police didn't ask him
anything, but wanted to check upstairs on the second floor. He told
them they could talk to his lawyer, with whom he happened to be
speaking to on the phone right then about another matter. The
officers left abruptly.
"They wanted to look around," Beal said. "I don't want them to look
around. Maybe they would find...a roach."
Plus, he added, "The upstairs smells very strongly of cat, and I
didn't want to affront their olfactory organs. Some people would say,
'Because you have unfixed cats they should be taken away.'
"All I got is too many cats no bombs, not even an M-80."
Beal said his hunch is basically that the C-4 explosives could be
connected to David Degondea, who is currently in prison Upstate for
killing a New York City police officer. Degondea, according to Beal,
was a young "weapons dealer" who was dating Linda Twig, who lived in
an E. Second St. tenement building whose rear wall happens to abut
the Marble Cemetery.
Degondea, Beal said, was "a dangerous, violent young man."
"I bet dollars to donuts that's what some soldier from Desert Storm
brought back and sold to David Degondea," Beal said of the C-4. The
Persian Gulf War, a.k.a. Operation Desert Storm, lasted from late
1990 to early 1991.
According to the NYPD Angels Web site, which is devoted to officers
slain in the line of duty, Detective Luis Lopez, 35 from the
Manhattan South Tactical Narcotics Team was shot and killed by
Degondea, then 23, during an undercover marijuana buy-and-bust
operation on March 10, 1993. The shooting occurred outside a T-shirt
store, the Screen Printing Co., at 114 E. First St.
According to NYPD Angels, Degondea had offered to sell Lopez, who was
disguised as a drug dealer, four pounds of pot and an unspecified
number of illegal guns for $10,000. Lopez left, saying he was going
to get the money from his car. When Lopez and three other officers
returned to arrest Degondea and two other suspects, Lopez was shot in
Beal, 63, is a leading Yippie, or member of the Youth International
Party, the countercultural group formed in the 1960's, known for its
prankster activism. He's also the organizer of the annual Global
Marijuana March, as well as an advocate for ibogaine, a purported
cure for heroin addiction.
Degondea and Twig weren't Yippies, however, Beal said, but rather,
considered themselves "junior mafia." Degondea, he noted, didn't
arrive in the East Village until 1993. Twig, Beal said, smoked heroin
twice a day and manufactured poker chips in her apartment. She also
made her own GHB, a drinkable drug, which Beal said she had
"squatters" peddle for her in local nightclubs. Twig died in 1997 of
an overdose of a bad batch of her own GHB brew, Beal said.
Making the story more bizarre, Twig was friends with Henry Nuesslein,
a.k.a. "Hank the Skank," another non-Yippie and sometime caller to
the Howard Stern radio show. A former telephone company worker and
Nazi, Nuesslein was busted in 1995 for having a sizable weapons cache
in his Brooklyn apartment, after his bathtub overflowed, drawing
According to a 1995 New York Law Journal article, police found
grenades, a loaded AK-47 assault rifle, a Glock handgun and several
cane swords in Nuesslein's lair as well as "five manuals on the
chemistry and principles of explosive devices and homemade bombs."
"The Skank" was paroled in 1999, and died last year.
To make a long story short, Beal's theory is that after Degondea was
arrested, Degondea had to stash his weapons cache somewhere.
Nuesslein might have been given some of Degondea's "arsenal," but
probably declined on the C-4, feeling it was too dangerous, Beal
surmised; as a result, Twig likely used a ladder to get down into the
locked cemetery, where she buried the C-4.
Beal walked over to the cemetery with a reporter early Tuesday
afternoon, and pointed out the building and the basement-level
apartment where Twig had once lived. Suit-wearing detectives were
investigating inside the cemetery. A daily newspaper reporter was
posted at the graveyard's gate. Beal explained to her that he had
solved the mystery of the C-4.
Interestingly, Beal noted, the detectives were focusing on the
eastern end of the graveyard, near where Twig had lived. A detective
entering the cemetery, when asked exactly where inside the burial
ground the C-4 was found, just shook his head and declined to answer.
However, a photographer who was at the scene Monday said police were
digging in "multiple locations" along the wall in the northeastern
area of the cemetery across from Twig's former building.
"If they want to find out about the rest of the arsenal including
the pocket nuke," Beal quipped, "they should make a deal with Degondea."
Aron Kay, a.k.a. "The Yippie Pie Man," said Beal's hunch just might
"Anything is possible," Kay said.