September 29, 2005

  • “Papa” is still in the wind.

    The latest news on Robert Hale is that the Troopers are still looking for him and concentrating on the Valdez-Glenallen area.

    The Scripture-quoting patriarch was indicted
    last Thursday on 30 counts of sexual assault and related charges
    involving one of his daughters.

    The 17-member family, bound by strict rules
    that Hale drew from his reading of the Bible, broke apart last winter
    after a single, horrific episode, described by troopers this week. They
    said Hale locked a daughter in a small shack on family property near
    the Kennicott River in McCarthy and raped her repeatedly. Some other
    family members knew she was in there, heard suspicious sounds and were
    concerned, troopers said.

    Soon after, the older children left the
    family, which also had a homestead on an old mining site 14 miles from
    McCarthy, inside Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. A sympathetic Palmer
    family took them in. Troopers were contacted over Labor Day and began
    an investigation.

    “When our sister came to us for help, we were
    united in our desire before God to take whatever action was necessary
    to protect her,” the older Hale children said in a statement Tuesday.

    Multiple charges of rape and assault, as well
    as single charges of kidnapping, coercion, and incest, were pegged to
    an incident Jan. 10. Other charges broadly cover the seven years the
    family known as the Pilgrims have been in Alaska.

    Troopers who have interviewed the children say Hale was able to carry on his abuse of his daughter in secret.

    “It was a secretive thing, so most of the family wasn’t aware of the direct sexual abuse,” said investigator Derek DeGraaf.

    But the situation was complicated by the mysterious hold the father had over his family, said Massie.

    When this story broke a couple of days ago, all I knew of the Pilgrim
    family was about their apparent disregard for park rules and ecological
    concerns in the park that surrounds the homestead on which they live,
    and for private property rights and the public rights of way in the
    little town nearby where they set up a business to get some tourist
    dollars.  What I had seen of Papa in the media struck me as a
    sleazy and self-righteous hypocrite, using scripture freely as a screen.

    The ADN website had links to earlier stories.  One of them amazed me with the complexity of this man’s life. 

    Papa’s papa was football hero I.B.Hale, two time All-American offensive
    tackle at Texas Christian, who led his team to a national championship
    in 1938.  Instead of accepting the professional football career he
    was offered, I.B. joined the FBI.  He was a “close associate” of
    J. Edgar Hoover.  After the FBI, he became head of security for
    military contractor General Dynamics.

    The son, Robert, eloped in 1958 at the age of 17 with the daughter of
    John Connally, who later became governor of Texas and Nixon’s Treasury
    secretary, the man who was wounded in JFK’s car that day in
    Dallas.  A month later, Kathleen Connally Hale was dead.

    “Kathleen had been open and sweet and
    wholesome, a daughter to be envied by anyone who raised a child,
    watched her bloom. She had never caused us the least of worries,”
    Connally wrote. “But suddenly a wall had gone up that we could not

    At the coroner’s inquest, Bobby Hale said
    she’d been alone in their apartment with the shotgun when he returned
    home from looking for her. He tried to persuade her to put it down. He
    said he’d grabbed for the gun and it went off, according to Connally’s

    “I have not spoken to Bobby since then,” the
    former governor wrote. “Over the years, he has attempted to call me. I
    have never taken his call, nor will I. If this seems flinty and cold,
    so be it. Our daughter was gone and so was Bobby Hale, as far as I was

    The death was ruled an accident.

    In a 1997 book about the Kennedy administration, The Dark Side of
    , investigative reporter
    Seymour M. Hersh places Bobby Hale and his twin brother, Billy, in a possible plot involving his father to blackmail
    President Kennedy.

    Hersh’s story is based on FBI documents
    obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. It involves Judith
    Campbell Exner, the woman revealed by a congressional committee in 1975
    to have been having an affair with the president even as she had close
    ties with Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana and mob associate Johnny

    The affair was known to FBI chief Hoover. He had Campbell’s Los Angeles
    apartment under FBI surveillance in August 1962, when agents observed
    two young men break in through a sliding glass door on a balcony.

    According to FBI documents in the case examined by the Anchorage Daily
    News, the burglars’ getaway car, a blue Chevy Corvette, was registered
    to I.B. Hale, the former agent who was now chief of security for
    General Dynamics.

    Hersh’s account was also corroborated by an ABC-TV documentary.

    The FBI said the description of Hale’s sons is “generally similar” to
    that of the two burglars seen at the glass door, one of whom later
    drove away in the car registerd to Hale. The Dallas FBI office reported
    one of the sons drove a Chevy sports car and was possibly in California.

    The FBI agents did not try to intercept the burglars or report the
    incident to police — presumably, Hersh wrote, because they would have
    blown the cover for their own stakeout.

    Exactly what happened in the apartment is unknown; the FBI agent
    interviewed by Hersh said agents assumed an electronic listening device
    was planted.

    Three months later, Hersh wrote, the Kennedy administration shocked the
    Pentagon and Congress in awarding what was then the largest U.S.
    military aircraft contract in history. The $6.5 billion contract for
    the experimental TFX jet fighter went to General Dynamics, a distant
    second to Boeing in all the procurement studies.

    Had Kennedy been blackmailed? The surprise contract inspired
    investigative hearings in Congress, which found no collusion between
    the company and high government officials. But investigators did not
    have access to the burglary information in the FBI files, Hersh said.
    The congressional investigation, unfinished, was called off after
    Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.

    Papa says he dropped out in the 1960s, spent
    some time in Haight-Ashbury, lived on an Oregon commune, and wandered
    around South America on horseback.  When he was 33, in 1974, he
    met Kurina Bresler in the California desert.  She was 16. 

    “The Lord spoke to me. He said, ‘This is your wife. She’s strong and she will bear you many children,’ ” Pilgrim said.

    Betty Freeman, a singer and actress, said her daughter was in drug
    trouble and running from home and Hollywood when she met Hale and quit
    high school.

    “In spite of everything he tells you, he trapped her with sex and drugs,” she said.

    They married and legally changed their last name to Sunstar, which
    makes me wonder why current news stories say that Papa Pilgrim’s legal
    name is Hale.  Oh, well, there are a lot of things about the
    Pilgrims that make me wonder.  The Sunstars lived, stole, and
    alienated their neighbors on a New Mexico ranch owned by Jack
    Nicholson, where Papa was known as Preacher Bob.  They left there
    on their way to Alaska in the late 1990s, when the ranch was in the
    path of a wildfire.

    Since they have been here, Bobby “Papa” Pilgrim-Sunstar-Hale and his
    adult sons have had run-ins with the law over illegally-taken game,
    trespassing, allowing their horses to run loose on a small-town
    airstrip, and a bunch of other violations stemming from the Park
    Service’s efforts to protect the Wrangell-St. Elias International Park
    from them.  Papa has characterized at least one of the law
    enforcement people who thwarted his desires as “worse than the
    terrorists.”  In the bulletins notifying the public of his
    fugitive status, he is described as “armed and dangerous.”  No

Comments (5)

  • Holy crap–thanks for the extra info–I knew about the shotgun death thing, got the impression it had been ruled suicide–I can’t wait for the national media to get a hold of this!

    PS–I got to this through my email subs–I am now checking web2mail–um, you know, whatever–yesterday, I had my inbox down to three messages!

  • Crazy schtuff…

    New Pics again!

    Still you?


  • Wow Kathy that is incredible!

  • OMG. The Hale name was familiar, but relate it to his past. When I read more into this post, I wanted to vomit. No offense to you, and I want to know about these things, but hearing of pedophilia and incest send me over. And all in the ‘name of god.’ Like our administration.

  • Xgram–I am frustrated–tried to print out the stuff from new client so I could read it at home, at leisure, but the page cut off much of the right-hand type–the comp did it, I used “page  preview,” I don’t know what to do.  Any ideas?  (Don’t spend much time in this, I’ll either figure it out or else just transcribe stuff by hand later.)

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