The Vanishing of Marialice Clark

The Vanishing of Marialice Clark

Marialice Clark was 14 years old living in Omaha Nebraska when she disappeared in August of 1972 under extremely mysterious circumstances. She was last seen near the Bali-Hi Lounge, located on the corner of North 24th street and Hamilton Street on August 1. She stated she was going to visit a friend who lived in the neighborhood, and did not return. Witnesses have said that Marialice got into a vehicle with Chicago, Illinois licence plates. Marialice is an African American female, 5’2”, 130 lbs with black hair and brown eyes. She has a birthmark on her right hip and a scar on the back of her head. Her date of birth is May 17, 1958.

Two years prior to her disappearance, Marialice was named in a federal affidavit by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) stating she had seen a large collection of foreign-made firearms and explosives inside of the headquarters of the National Committee to Combat Fascism (NCCF.) This testimony was submitted by Agent Thomas Sledge, the head of the ATF. Marialice was said to have allegedly described the dynamite and machine guns in intricate detail, down to exactly how many sticks of dynamite were in each bundle, and how many machine guns were inside each box. So detailed, in fact, that it seemed too detailed to come from a 12 year old girl. She allegedly went on to say that she saw 5 men making a bomb out of the dynamite, including a 16 year old named Duane Peak and his two cousins Frank and William. The affidavit claimed that the men planted the bomb at “Components Concepts Corporation”, took a photograph of it there, and came back to NCCF headquarters and showed the photograph to Marialice.

Due to this affidavit, the ATF was able to obtain a warrant to search the NCCF Headquarters. However, on July 21, 1970, an Omaha FBI agent contacted the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington and asked that it intervene to stop the raid, because they had an informant in the NCCF chapter and already knew there were no guns and dynamite located there. The DOJ told a U.S attorney, J. William Gallup in Omaha that they did not want a repeat of the raid in Chicago that killed Black Panthers Mark Clark and Fred Hampton in December of 1969. ATF Agent Tom Sledge was told to return the search warrant to the judge unserved, and to cancel the raid. Because of this, the raid never happened.

On August 17, 1970 at 2 A.M, a call was made to a 911 operator reporting a woman was dragged screaming into a vacant house, 2897 Ohio Street. Officer James Sledge, who happened to be Agent Tom Sledge’s brother, accompanied by Officer Michael Lamson were assigned to the call. Two other cruisers in the area also responded to the scene. After a few minutes, a total of 8 police officers were there, some names included Officer Larry Minard, Officer John Tess and Officer Paul Rust. None of the surrounding neighbors ever corroborated the information, never seeing or hearing anything pertaining to the supposed screaming woman.

Upon entering the boarded up abandoned house, the police noticed a suitcase on its side lying halfway inside and halfway outside the doorway. 5 of the officers stepped over the suitcase and entered the building. Officer Larry Minard tripped over the suitcase, resulting in an explosion that killed him and seriously injured his partner, Officer John Tess.

   The two leaders of the NCCF, David Rice (now known as Mondo We Langa) and Edward Poindexter, were immediately accused of the crime.

   After going into hiding for almost 7 days, the police located Duane Peak on August 28, and he was promptly arrested. In his first statement, which he did not consult an attorney, Duane said that there was an envelope for him at NCCF headquarters on Sunday, August 16. Inside of it was a note that told him to go in back of the “Lothrop Drug Store” and pick up a suitcase before 5 p.m. He was instructed to take the suitcase to an address near 28th and Ohio Street at 11 p.m. and leave it on the field side of a fence. The note told him to go to a particular payphone before 2 a.m. and wait for a phone call. The phone rang and when he picked up, a woman’s voice told him to call 911 and report a woman dragged into 2867 Ohio Street. The police report states that Duane admitted to placing the 911 call. Duane did not implicate either Rice or Poindexter in this first initial statement. 

   Duane also said that Lt. James Perry interrogated him several times over the weekend of August 29 and August 30. On Monday, August 31, Duane told the County Attorney Art O’Leary in a deposition, that Edward Poindexter the bomb at David Rice’s house, told him to plant it, and then lure the police to the vacant house with the anonymous 911 call.

   In this deposition, Duane told the County Attorney that he wanted to “get out of this whole thing.” He stated he couldn’t remember details of his story, such as the name of a woman who drove him from NCCF headquarters to David Rice’s house to pick up the suitcase bomb. The County Attorney provided the name “Norma Aufrecht.” Duane repeatedly said that Edward Poindexter got a box of dynamite and a suitcase out of David Rice’s basement. 

   At the trial, he would change his testimony to implicate another NCCF member. His new testimony was that someone named “Raleigh House” drove Duane with the suitcase full of dynamite to David Rice’s house, and Edward Poindexter took three sticks to make the bomb and put the remaining sticks in a box, which he took into the basement. Peak also claimed that he put the suitcase in the middle of the room standing up, and that “someone else” must have laid it down in the doorway and armed it to explode. He refused to say that he attached the bomb to the floor. Duane also said that police officers told him that Black Panthers were coming from out of town to eliminate him.

It came to light that County Prosecutor Art O’Leary admitted to making a deal with Duane Peak to prosecute him as a juvenile in return for his testimony; he knew that without it, Edward Poindexter and David Rice would not have been convicted.

On September 28, there was a preliminary hearing. At this hearing, Duane took the stand and recanted his story, and testified instead that neither Edward Poindexter nor David Rice were involved. After a recess, Duane again implicated Poindexter and Rice. Duane appeared to have puffy eyes, and David Rice’s Attorney, David Herzog, asked him to remove his glasses. It seemed as if Duane had been beaten up. Duane was asked if he had been threatened during the recess, to which some sources state he denied, but others say he affirmed.

On August 22, police went into 2816 Parker Street, which was David Rice’s home, and left with 14 sticks of DuPont Red Cross brand dynamite, blasting cups, wiring, a battery, and a pair of long-nosed pliers to be tested. A chemist analyzed their clothing, and found traces of dynamite in Edward’s jacket pocket and on David’s pants. The defence attorney Kenneth Snow made a claim that the particles found could have come from common household matches. An expert testified that the pliers from David Rice’s basement had been used to cut copper wire like that used in the suitcase bomb. The type of dynamite the police claimed to have found in David Rice’s basement was similar to residue from the bomb.

In the months before the explosion, Edward and David had bylines in newsletters, expressing their hatred for police and advocating violent, lethal force against them. The state brought forward as evidence at trial, political literature the two men had written in said newsletters. These included the opinion that “I believe that pigs look very good roasting on a stick… Barbecue for the pig”, which had been published by “David L. Rice, Deputy Minister of Information”, in a 1970 publication of the United Front Against Fascism.

Both David and Edward had alibis for the night of the bombing. Edward went to a movie with a girl named Linda Walker, who was the daughter of a New York City Police officer. They were together when they heard the blast. David Rice was at a party from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. at Rae Ann Schmitz’s house. She testified and eventually became a part of his legal defense team.

   William Peak provided David Rice an alibi for the night that he was accused of building the bomb in David’s kitchen. Norma Aufrecht, who allegedly drove Duane from the NCCF headquarters to David’s house, did not testify. She was charged with conspiracy to commit first degree murder and accessory after the fact. She would have testified that she did not drive Duane Peak on Sunday, August 16, but she was never questioned by the defense. 

There were several different stories about the bomb and how it was obtained. Duane said that a week before the bomb went off, Ed Poindexter told him he had “a beautiful plan to blow up a pig.” That same night, Duane said he got the suitcase from “someone else in the group and took it to David’s house with the dynamite already inside. He also said he watched Edward make the bomb and then went with him the next night to see the vacant house on Ohio Street.

   Deliberations lasted 25 hours before both men were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

From the beginning, Ed and David have always said they had been framed, that Duane Peak was lying and that the dynamite was planted. Which is what Duane’s two cousins, Frank and Will, said as well, that Duane was lying about the events that supposedly took place the week before the bombing.  

According to attorney Bob Bartle, Edward Poindexters lawyer, there were “street memos” later made public, about the Omaha FBI being part of a national campaign called COINTELPRO that targeted the Black Panther Party. In one, dated October 13, 1970, Omaha Assistant Chief of Police Glenn Gates says, “any use of tapes of this call might be prejudicial to the police murder trial against two accomplices of Duane Peak and therefore… he wishes no use of this tape until after the murder trials of Peak and the two accomplices has been completed.” After the trial, in post-conviction proceedings Lt. James Perry testified that he destroyed the tape in 1978 because the trial was “over as far as he was concerned.”
  For more information about Cointelpro, you can read about it here:

  During post-conviction hearings, officers were not clear as to the exact location of the dynamite in David Rice’s basement and changed their testimony as to which officer found it. 

Suspiciously, shortly after David’s conviction, his house burned to the ground. This eliminated any possibility of exploring the accuracy of police testimony about the dynamite.

   On October 23, 1980, a copy of the 911 call that lured police to the North Omaha home was discovered at the police station. The tape had never been played at trial. Expert analysis hired by the defense determined in 2006 that the voice on the tape was not the voice of Duane Peak. State and Federal appeals courts denied a new trial based on the voice analysis. In his February 4, 1971 deposition, he claimed to have shouted and raised his voice to sound like he was excited. In the weeks after the bombing, Peak’s brother was said to have identified the voice as Duane’s.

In a 1990 British documentary made by George Case and Joe Bullman of Twenty/Twenty Productions, the officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Jack Swanson, confirmed the Omaha Police Department’s fear of the Black Panther Party, “We feel we got the two main players, Rice and Poindexter, and I think we did the right thing at the time, because the Black Panther Party completely disappeared from the city of Omaha, and it’s been the end of that sort of thing in the city of Omaha — and that’s 21 years ago.”

Attorney Bob Bartle also said “At this point it would take compelling new evidence that someone else is responsible for Officer Larry Minard’s death.”

   Marialice’s brother Ed Clark thinks his sister’s disappearance may have been a consequence of being named as an informant. He has commented many times about this case, and he sincerely believes that the ATF lied about Marialice giving them information. He is quoted saying, “We could see their back porch from our front porch.” Explaining that the NCCF headquarters were near to where he and his family lived. “Our older sister, Linda, dated the head of the NCCF, Ed Poindexter. The young men who were members of the NCCF were part of the neighborhood. We had no fear of them. Agent Tom Sledge claimed my baby sister saw 10 boxes of machine guns with 6 guns per box in the NCCF. He said 15 bundles of dynamite with 12 sticks to the bundle inside the house. He said that 5 men, some of whom I knew, made a bomb out of dynamite in front of my sister. I do not believe that is true. Agent Sledge never told our mother that he put my sister’s name on his affidavit – and he spelled her first name wrong, as “”Mary Ellis”” making me wonder if he ever even met her.”  Ed Clark has also stated, “The Omaha FBI added an informant in the chapter, and they knew the affidavit was false. Marialice never told anyone in her family that she had met an ATF agent, and she never told anyone that she saw machine guns, dynamite, or men making bombs at the NCCF. It is a crime to lie on an affidavit, Sledge should have been investigated and fired in 1970 over this. Everything Sledge did to investigate an August 1970 bombing that was blamed on the NCCF should be questioned and investigated. He may have fabricated evidence to convict two innocent men for a crime they did not commit. Marialice wasn’t a militant. She was a school girl. How would you feel if this happened to your sister?”

   10 days after her 14th birthday, and just 3 months before she went missing, Marialice was brutally and repeatedly gang raped. She was able to escape and she called the police. The police did little to investigate. Copies of the paperwork on the incident were revealed, showing many sections on the report left blank. Something of note, there were 2 life insurance policies on Marialice. No one seems to know if those policies were ever cashed out or executed.

   It wasn’t until 1997 that their mother finally received a copy of the ATF affidavit, and from that, she learned that Mariallice was named an informant. She wonders if her daughter was put into a witness protection program, but, she asks, “how could a 14 year old be put into witness protection without informing her mother? How could a 12 year old be named as an informant without telling her mother? Especially if she truly saw such dangerous things.”

It is strongly believed by those who support the Clarks that Marialice was a “victim of the nationwide effort to eliminate the Black Panthers Party.”

The late Officer Larry Minard’s daughters, Carol and Charlotte, both think Ed and David are guilty.

   David Rice died in prison in 2016, and Ed Poindexter remains incarcerated, even though the Nebraska Parole board voted unanimously in favor of both men’s release. 

   Marialice Clark was not added to the government missing persons directory until 2020. Any details regarding the investigation into her missing person case are unknown. Some specific information, such as the exact date Marialice was last seen, is still unclear. Most sites have reported Marialice went missing in August of 1972, but on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Marialices disappearance is listed as September 27, 1972. If Marialice is still alive, she would be 62 years old.


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