May 17, 2018

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Retired Police Chief Re: A Call to Arms for The Sun

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To the Editor:

This is in response to the Letter to the Editor of the Cornell Daily Sun (May 7, 2018) from William Fogle, Jr. ’70, Mesa, Arizona, relative to the Cornell Residential Club Fire in 1967.

The Cornell Daily Sun has done an excellent job in reporting the facts over the years, facts that Bill Fogle has largely ignored.

As the principal investigator of the tragic fire who spent more than one year of my life focused only on the investigation of this tragic fire, I can assure the Cornell Sun and its readers that Fogle’s theory that the Residential Club fire was an arson or murder is not supported by the facts as currently known.

Fogle’s supposition based on the media reports of a former Ithaca Police Chief, former Ithaca Fire Chief and former Tompkins County District Attorney (all deceased) is flawed and the reports attributed to them were not based upon any facts then or now known.

I can also assure you that contrary to the outrageous claims of Fogle, there was never any “collusion by Cornell University administrators, local law enforcement officials and the press to stall a criminal investigation”.

Fogle’s fabrication may be good fiction but it is far from supported by any facts that would support a legal conclusion that the tragic Res Club fire was an arson or murder. He has even gone so far as to suggest that a specific occupant of the Res Club started the fire and committed murder.

Anyone who knows me would support that I have spent a lifetime searching for the truth in matters like this. Fogle’s obsession and fabrication as outlined in the recent excellent New York Times article is very troubling.

I am very proud of my successful career in law enforcement at the local, state, and federal level and knowing that, contrary to Fogle’s allegations, it was not the result of his claims that I colluded with Cornell University to cover up a crime.

I am only sorry that Fogle’s obsession has stirred up memories of this tragedy for the families of those who lost their lives and the surviving building occupants.

Harlin R. McEwen
Chief of Police (Retired) Village of Cayuga Heights
Chief of Police (Retired) City of Ithaca
FBI Deputy Assistant Director (Retired) Washington, DC