Howard Hughes Secrets / Open Lines

Hosted byRichard Syrett

Howard Hughes Secrets / Open Lines

About the show

In the first half, Howard Hughes researcher and retired Air National Guard Major General Mark Musick joined Richard Syrett (Twitter). Musick argued that, contrary to the official record of Hughes' death in 1976, the eccentric billionaire lived under an assumed identity until his actual passing in 2001. As he details in his book Boxes, Musick related the story of meeting Eva McLelland, who claimed to be Hughes' widow, in 2002. McLelland didn't contact media sources with her story because she probably didn't know how to do so, and didn't think she would be believed, Musick explained; she may have trusted him because of his military background.

Musick revealed the story that emerged from his research into McLelland's claims. After meeting in Panama in 1969, she and Hughes—known to her at the time as Verner "Nik" Nicely—began a romantic relationship and soon married. Because Hughes had dyed his hair and changed his eye color through surgery, Musick said, McLelland didn't recognize him. Nor did the press or the public, who believed that Hughes had become a shrunken, long-haired, drug-addicted recluse who hadn't been seen in public in years. Such a man did exist, but he was a "stand-in," possibly an associate of the tycoon's, who died in 1976 in Hughes' place, continued Musick.

Through his wealth and connections, Musick claimed, Hughes was able to arrange this identity switch and fake his own death. "He was involved with many CIA programs," Musick asserted. In exchange for this work, he went on, Hughes was given a new name and appearance. A sharp contrast to his extravagant former lifestyle, his later years were much more modest: Hughes eventually moved with Eva to a trailer in Alabama, and died in 2001.


Targeted individuals were the prominent theme during open lines in the second half. Callers' experiences as TIs varied: while Joe in Ohio said he was injected with tiny tracking robots, Whit in California shared that he suffers from the same symptoms as those who are reportedly afflicted with the Havana Syndrome. Being followed and harassed by shadowy figures was also a common thread for listeners, including Carlos in California and Larry in Tennessee. Stewart in South Carolina described the vibrations and pressure he feels in different parts of his body, which he attributes to a malevolent motel owner connected to a secret military project.

Listeners discussed other topics as well. Calling from Ohio, Ryan warned of the dangers of 5G technology, calling it "a device that can be used against the people." Steve in New York speculated that comedian Robin Williams' death may have not been a suicide, but rather an act of revenge for his criticizing Joe Biden. And from South Carolina, Linda claimed that several close family members have died under mysterious circumstances, but she's not deterred in her commitment to the truth. "Like Tom Petty said, 'Back me up to the gates of hell, I won't back down,'" she declared.

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