Philip Arthur Thompson

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Family and early life

Crime spree

2000s murder trial

Confirmed crimes

Betty Cloer murder

[in 1971; she was working as a drug informant]

Ronald E. Winter murder

[in 1975; he was set to be a witness in a case involving weapons thefts from Mather Air Force Base]

Arthur Suel robbery

[in 1981; note that Thompson employed Harland Braun as his defense attorney in this trial]

Suspected crimes

Zodiac killings

Valerie McDonald murder

[in 1980; also involved Michael Hennessey and John G. Abbott as Thompson's associates]

UC Davis sweetheart murders

[in 1980; the male victim John Riggins was the paperboy for John Gordon Abbott and a book of matches from British Columbia was found in the victims' van, leading police to suspect Thompson's crowd who had escaped prison and fled to Canada; police later focused on Gerald Gallego's brother David Hunt and his crew, but dropped all charges when DNA failed to match them; DNA ultimately identified Richard Hirschfield, an airman at Mather who some detectives considered a "shill" for a larger group]

Paul Morasca murder

[in 1982]


Intelligence work

Satanism involvement

Political connections

Republican Party

  • Alan May - Northern California field director for the 1968 campaign of Richard Nixon; subsequently White House counsel in the Nixon Administration; also part of the 1972 reelection effort

Intelligence operatives

See also


External links

Betty Cloer

  • ...
  • Mountain Democrat, "Judge threatens to arrest woman on contempt charge" by Eric Laughlin, 2007/10/22: "The woman, Kate Dixon, is a journalist for the Website and has frequently appeared in court in support of Thompson, who she says is being prosecuted for a crime he did not commit. [...] Dixon told the Mountain Democrat she thinks there is evidence that suggests another man killed Cloer, a man who is currently in state prison and due to testify for the prosecution. El Dorado County deputy district attorney Trish Kelliher has made attempts to conceal that man's name in open court to protect his identity in prison. But Dixon, a former attorney, came to court to fight the concealment, having filed a motion days earlier to unseal the identity of the man, who has been referred to only as John Doe. [...] The key ruling made by Wagoner was regarding a request made by Kelliher to exclude evidence obtained by the defense that suggests victim Cloer was working as an informant to law enforcement in the time leading up to her murder. Weiner argued that there is credible evidence from a number of independent sources suggesting such a relationship with officials. [...] Weiner argued: "John Doe has an extensive criminal history with regard to narcotics, including what we know to be a $250 a day heroin habit. If Cloer was working as a drug informant, that gives motive for suspects in cases with drugs to want to harm her." Kelliher responded that John Doe is a witness and will be able to respond to Weiner's accusations while he testifies. Though she acknowledged the fact that Cloer's family said she was an informant, she said that there is nothing in the records suggesting such a circumstance."
  • ...
  • Mountain Democrat, "THOMPSON GUILTY OF MURDER" by Eric Laughlin, 2008/04/09: "While speaking to jurors after the reading of the verdict, lead detective Rick Fitzgerald said he believes Thompson's killing spree did not end after the Cloer homicide. 'There are at least eight to 10 others that we know of,' the cold case detective said. He did not elaborate on the other alleged murders, but there was an Oregon woman present throughout the trial who said she has reason to believe Thompson murdered her daughter in 1980. Dee Dee Kouns said evidence has been found linking Thompson and two other men to the murder of her daughter Valerie McDonald, an aspiring filmmaker who went missing in San Francisco. [...] 'At one point this murder [Betty Cloer] was thought to be linked to the Zodiac Killer,' Fitzgerald said. [...] During the conversation, Fitzgerald also elaborated on speculation regarding Thompson's possible connection to the federal government. Before the trial's start, there were reports that Thompson had worked as a covert CIA or FBI operative in the 1970s and '80s. 'There is, in fact, some information that suggests he was an operative who was given a lot of leeway,' Fitzgerald said. The Mountain Democrat had previously reported that Thompson had ties with anti-Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, believed to have been responsible for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger jet that killed 73 people. No mention of any of this was made in the trial, but Thompson did testify as to having worked as a driver for state Sen. Randolph Collier and also for Alan May, who led the California Committee to Reelect Richard Nixon."

1972 underage girl

  • Sacramento Bee, "Rape Suspect Surrenders", 1972/03/24: "Phillip A. Thompson, 26, of 2526 V St. surrendered himself to the police on charges of kidnaping and rape in connection with a complaint by a 17-year-old girl. Det. William Yeager said the girl complained she was raped March 9 by two men who had picked her up in a car while she and a male companion were hitchhiking in Marysville. She said they stopped in the Gardenland area and drove off without her companion. Another suspect, James A. Allen, 37, of 1917 4th St., was arrested previously on the same charges."

Ronald E. Winter

  • Sacramento Bee, "Suspect In 'Assassination' Slaying Is Jailed By Police", 1975/04/29: "Police have arrested Philip Arthur Thompson, 29, of 2526 V Street on a charge of murder in the assassination-type slaying Saturday night of Ronald E. Winter, 36, at San Juan Road and I-5. Winter was hit by 10 to 12 bullets as he stood behind his automobile parked off the roadway in the under-pass of the freeway. Investigators said he was shot with bullets from an automatic pistol which had a 20-round clip. Many expended shells were on the ground. Three witnesses told police they saw two cars parked at the location about 8:30 Saturday night and, after a burst of gunfire, one of the automobiles sped away. Detective Lt. Robert Waters said officers armed with search warrants last night went to four homes to locate evidence. Waters declined to give any other information or to discuss a motive in the slaying. Winter lived at 2624 Normington Drive with his wife, Lucille. Detectives said he was unemployed and was disabled by severe diabetes."
  • Long Beach Independent, "Patty confirmed in Sacramento at time of crimes", 1975/09/29: "[...] And authorities reportedly also are studying the possibility that an execution-style slaying in Sacramento on April 26 was committed with a gun found in one of the San Francisco houses used as SLA hideouts. Investigators said the AR15 rifle may have been the weapon used to kill Ronald E. Winter, 36, a narcotics user believed involved in illegal weapons sales who was shot 12 times in the chest and stomach. Philip A. Thompson of Sacramento was arrested a few days later in that shooting and faces trial next week, but no murder weapon ever was found. [...]"
  • Notre Dame Observer, "Hearst registered at college under alias", 1975/09/29: "Investigators said the AR 15 rifle may have been the weapon used to kill Ronald E. Winter, 36, a narcotics user believed involved in illegal weapons sales who was shot 12 times in the chest and stomach. Philip A. Thompson of Scaramento was arrested a few days later in that shooting and faces trial next week, but nor murder weapon was ever found."
  • Sacramento Bee, "Indictment Quashed: Judge Applies 'Good, Bad' Rule In Murder Case", 1975/10/06: "Judge Robert W. Cole quashed a grand jury murder indictment in a death penalty case today because the district attorney failed to tell grand jurors both the good and bad about the defendant. [...] Cole's decision was a temporary victory for attorney Clyde M. Blackmon who claimed that Deputy District Attorney Ken Reeves violated the rights of Philip A. Thompson, a 29-year-old K Street massage parlor operator. Thompson was accused of the April 26 murder of Ron Winter, 36, suspected by authorities of involvement in illegal gun traffic. His body riddled with 12 bullets from an automatic military rifle was found near the San Juan Road overpass of Interstate 880. Thompson, a county jail prisoner, was technically free for a few seconds after Cole's ruling. But then he was rearrested and charged over again with the crimes of soliciting to commit murder and murder. [...] The indictment was dismissed under a case called Johnson vs. Superior Court in which the State Supreme Court held that "when a district attorney seeking an indictment is aware of evidence reasonably tending to negate guilt, he is obligated ... to inform the grand jury..." In this case, the evidence was that Thompson was a police informer and furnishing information on another murder case allegedly involving Winter. This, Blackmon declared, should have been told to the jury because it showed that Thompson had a motive for keeping Winter alive rather than killing him. According to information made public in court, Thompson told detectives that Winter was one of three men involved in the slaying of Thomas Foster, a man officially listed as missing. Thompson maintained that Winter was willing to help authorities prosecute the other two in exchange for immunity in the alleged killing of Foster. According to his story, at the time Winter was killed, he and Winter were driving to Foster's Yolo County grave. Near San Juan Road they were overtaken by another vehicle. One of the men in it had a rifle. He opened fire as Thompson fled. Thompson said he heard "the zing" of a bullet pass his head. Thompson reached a farmhouse and called police who found Winter's body. [...] But Reeves maintained the points cited by Blackmon were selective. [...] Among the persons Reeves called before the grand jury was a man named Michael Balzarini, who was brought from the Los Angeles County Jail to testify against Thompson. Balzarini maintained Thompson had put a "contract" out for the murder of Winter. The motive, according to Balzarini, was to stop Winter from testifying against Thompson in another unrelated case."
  • Sacramento Bee, "Rifle May Be Slaying Link", 1977/01/10: "Two rifles and a shotgun were found yesterday in the Sacramento home of Debbie Thompson, wife of Philip A. Thompson who was sentenced to prison for his part in the shooting death of Ronald E. Winter. Winter was fatally shot April 26, 1975 by a rifle on Interstate 5 near San Juan Road, but the murder weapon was never found. Thompson, who has a long list of prior arrests, pleaded guilty to solicitation for murder in that crime. An M-16 automatic rifle was found in the attic at 2526 V St. when firemen were called to douse an early morning blaze that quickly swept through the two-story home. Police Sgt. Ray Bryers said the M16 was the same type of weapon used to kill Winter. It is being tested at the county crime laboratory to determine if it is the murder weapon. A second rifle was also found in the attic, and a shotgun was found in the first-floor bedroom, police said. Mrs. Thompson was not home at the time of the fire. City fire officials currently list the cause of the fire as "suspicious." No injuries were reported."
  • Napa Valley Register, "Escapee Caught On Highway", 1978/09/21: "FBI agents and Santa Clara County Sheriff's deputies Wednesday captured an escaped convicted murderer after stopping an auto on Highway 17. Agents said Philip A. Thompson, 33, escaped from a conservation camp in Northern California a few months ago. He was a serving a ten-year sentence for the slaying of a San Francisco man."
  • EARONSGSK board, "Mather weapons trial 1976", 2015/03/28 (pages 1, 2, 3)
    • threetwozero: "Just got an email regarding Mather AFB and a trial in 1976 regarding the theft of weapons. As of yet, I haven't had any luck finding any articles. According to the email, there was a murder of an individual who was going to testify at this trial.
      I am very curious if this trial involved any individuals from either the 320th or 323rd. I'm also curious if the man killed was in the Air Force or a civilian."
    • drdoogie: "The murder victim was Ronald E. Winter and the killer was Philip Arthur Thompson.

      Winter was to testify in the weapons case. Winter was an informant for SCSD Detective Pat O'Neill. The homicide was investigated by Sac PD Detective Robbie Waters who later was elected Sac Sheriff and even later was elected to the Sacramento City Council."
    • pluckman56: "Was PAT charged and jailed for the Robert Winter murder. Could he have been the taller man at the Maggiore murders.? Many questions about this creep. Doe's he know who ear is?"
    • drdoogie: "[...] Winter's murder and Thompson's arrest occurred around April 1975. The Sacramento Bee article of Thompson's arrest happened the same day as the front page showed the iconic photo of the last helicopter leaving the US Embassy in Saigon for a perspective of timeframe.

      Thompson was probably in prison when the Maggoire murders occurred, but that is not confirmed. Thompson and John Gordon Abbott escaped from a work camp near Sonora and committed several robberies, but I have never been able to nail down the exact dates."
    • drdoogie: "Thompson's auto lot was on Alhambra and operated circa 1970 to 1975. He had a couple of partners, one of which also was involved in the rapes too. I think his name was something like "Masterson" - he testified against Thompson in the Cloer trial. His name would be in the news articles in the Mountain Democrat newspaper. [...]"
    • sammyt: "[...] Aside from his car lot, PAT also owned a medical supplies business - which should IMO be investigated - particularly when we consider the possible medical/hospital connections, and the theory that EAR possibly had access to medical records."
    • drdoogie: "I am developing a lot more info about Ronald Winter through contact with informants.

      Winter was not in the military, but seemed to be a spook himself - he was reportedly seen taking "hops" on military transports traveling between the U.S. and Southeast Asia.  Winter was reportedly a licensed gun dealer and seemed to have run with a rather "sketchy" group of aquaintances, but according to my sources was not involved in criminal activity himself.

      I also now have the names of the victim of another murder linked to guns and drugs at Mather and the two people convicted of that murder (it may be this trial that Winter was scheduled to testify).  I will hold off publishing that info until I can confirm the details via published media reports of the trial - once vetted, I will list names and info.

      As how this relates to EAR and the Maggoires, I am not sure.  All of these events I am speaking of occurred prior to mid-1975 which (I believe) is before Brian transferred to Mather.  How it MAY be related is if the people arrested circa 1975 were only part of the people involved and the gun-thefts continued on after the arrests by those who were not arrested, but (let me emphasize) this is just speculation as of now."

Valerie McDonald

Arthur Suel

Other curiosities

  • Press Democrat, "Woman Sentenced For Fraud", 1967/03/01: "Phillip Arthur Thompson, 21, alias Hart, no address, was committed to the state medical facility in Vacaville for a 90-day period of diagnosis and evaluation. He previously pleaded guilty of forging and passing a $151 check."
  • Used car business
    • ...
    • Sacramento Bee, "REWARD $1000", 1973/08/04: "For the return of or apprehension of party responsible for '65 Olds 98 missing from 2526 V St. on Tues., July 31. Lic. No. 658ERS. Ident. No. 384675M250698. Beige convert. w-white top. Call 457-8123, 441-1460."
    • ...
  • Medical supplies business - reportedly was involved in "the secure transport of medicines and supplies of blood"; may have been linked to Process Church member and Manson Family associate Brother Ely a.k.a. Victor Wild, who worked on dialysis machines in the late 1960s; could have also been involved in the drug trafficking activities of the Son of Sam cult that took Golden Triangle heroin through Hawaii into the United States using blood and plasma shipments, which likely tied in with the Nugan Hand Bank, Citibank, and Mather Air Force Base (note that victim Donna Lauria was an ambulance technician, attempted victim Carl Denaro was a Citibank security guard, and victim Christine Freund worked at Reynolds Securities)
    • TODO: find corroborating information
  • Salon business
    • Sacramento Bee, "PUBLIC NOTICE No. 1004", 1975/10/22: "Debbie Thompson, 2526 V St Sacto Ca 95616 is doing business under the fictitious name of Satin Salon, 2328 K St. Sacto. 95814. This statement filed with Sacto. County Clerk. 4 ti. Oct. 22, 29, Nov. 5, 12, 1975."
  • Zodiac killer allegations
    • forum discussion on Philip Arthur Thompson as a potential Zodiac suspect (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32) - has Dr. Doogie as the main supporter of the theory
      • DrDoogie: "[...] PAT's father was a policeman in Oakland who was fired and jailed for corruption [...]"
      • DrDoogie: "[...] It is clear to any astute researcher that PAT's ties to the CIA go back to when he started working on the staff of a man named Alan M. May in 1967. May was the liaison between the Nixon White House and the CIA. Years later, May was fingered as the "bag man" who delivered the payoff to the Iranian regime during the infamous "October Surprise". [...] He was hired on staff by Alan May even though he had no known skills other than being a violent criminal."
      • DrDoogie: "[...] In 2004, the SFPD deactivated their investigation into Zodiac. Has anyone ever heard of such a move? I could understand that they would "move it to the bottom of the pile", but why make a public statement about it? Well, PAT was matched up through DNA to the Cloer murder in 2003 and if, hypothetically, PAT also matched up to the Zodiac forensic evidence at the same time, then the timing of SFPD's announcement suddenly makes sense. They would have been angry and frustrated that their search was being squashed and, unable to publicly proclaim the Federal interference with the case, they may have done the next best thing - doing something so odd that it should have raised red flags with the public that something was rotten. [...]"
      • DrDoogie: "[...] I have also heard the specific rumor that Thompson was forensicly matched to Zodiac. I have no idea if this rumor is true, but it would fit into what I have suspected about this case. I am working on confirming the rumor because it is attributed to a specific source who is in a position to have this sort of info. [...]"
      • theforeigner: "Very interesting Dr. Doogie !If PAT was involved in the Zodiac murders I think he might have been som kind of an accomplish to Zodiac.IMO he might have been the man the 3 young woman saw Sep 27th 1969.I add a quote from the LB murder police report, the description of that man, who IMO is a good match to PAT.I also add a picture of PAT and a copy of the Lake Berryessa Zodiac sketch which is also a good match IMO: [...]"
      • DrDoogie: "[...] PAT was married in mid 1968. He and his wife first lived in King's Beach on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, so he had some familiarity with the area. Shortly after the marriage, they moved to the Bay Area before finally settling in Sacramento. They divorced in December 1973."
      • DrDoogie: "[...] The newspaper article went on to say that Alan Michael May, age 50, [a former Northern California field director in Richard Nixon's presidential campaign and attorney for Nixon's brothers Donald and Edward] was found dead in his San Francisco home on June 19, 1991, four days after a newspaper story in the Napa Sentinel outlined his role in an alleged plot by Republican Party officials to bribe Iranian officials to delay the release of U.S. hostages until after President Reagan's inauguration......Michael May also apparently attended briefings connected with Lawrence Livermore Labs in California according to an official listing of Lawrence Livermore employees at a "Briefings and Discussions" document obtained from Riconosciuto's files. The document, stamped, "Official Use Only," listed Edward Teller along with nine other names, including Michael May, under the heading "Lawrence Livermore Laboratory." [...] May's name also popped up in a letter Michael Riconosciuto wrote to Dr. John Phillip Nichols at the Cabazon Indian reservation when he was being screened for security clearances to work on the Cabazon/Wackenhut joint venture. The letter focused primarily on Al Holbert, an Israeli intelligence officer who allegedly recruited Riconosciuto into the CIA, and May's name was mentioned only once, in connection with members of "The Company." That one sentence read as follows: "Ben Kalka's relationship with Holbert and `May' will give the proper authorities the necessary auspices to come in and swiftly clean it [The Company] up.""
      • DrDoogie: "PAT was actually in the Bay Area itself between late 1968 and 1970 when he then moved to Sacramento. He had been born and raised in the East Bay and spent at least one year in high school in Santa Rosa. [...]"
      • DrDoogie: "[...] So approximately one month after the accident that occured in January 1968, [Mark Allen] Masterson moved to Sacramento and went into business with Thompson selling automobiles. That means that between mid 1968 through 1971, Thompson had access to numerous vehicles from his car lot."
      • DrDoogie: "I was at the library today and researching PAT's arrest in Sacramento in 1975 for the execution murder of gun-dealer Ronald E. White (the murder that appears to have been linked to the SLA) when I found an article about the Sheriff of Sonoma County announcing that there was a "Witchcraft Killer" murdering women across Northern California. It links the Highway 101 / Sonoma Coed Murders with Hilburn and Bennellack killings. It also ties in Donna Lass as possibly being the same killer. The article mentions that at several of the murders, the killer had left an occult symbol designed to assist the victims travel to the afterlife (sound familiar?) The article mentions that the Sheriff published the symbol, but does not actually show what symbol it was. [...]"
      • DrDoogie: "[...] A member of LE who is very familiar with PAT stated that he would not talk to me until he "checked me out" because he was concerned for his own safety if he spoke with the wrong people. He also said that if I knew as much as I said I did, then I would understand what he meant.Remember that PAT has been in prison since 1983 and was just sentenced for the Cloer murder which means that he will probably die an old man in prison. But this LE still was concerned for his safety which tells me that PAT obviously still has powerful "friends" looking out for his interests (or their own interests) on the outside. [...]"
      • DrDoogie: "[...] At the time of the [UC Davis sweetheart] murders, (Hirschfield) was stationed at Mather Air Force Base and living in Rancho Cordova, Hill said." [...]"
      • DrDoogie: "PAT's father was named Lonnie M. Thompson. Lonnie was a police officer in Oakland until he was fired, tried and convicted for being involved in a grand theft of a vehicle.From the Oakland Tribune, August 17, 1950: [...]"
      • DrDoogie: "Something else to chew on: PAT's uncle Ivan Thompson was a captain with the Alameda Police during the Zodiac killings. (Thanks to "The Foreigner" for uncovering the link between Lonnie and Ivan!)"
      • DrDoogie: "PAT's uncle Ivan Thompson actually may have been the rank of Assistant Chief during the Z killings. He was in that position in 1970 when he served as "Acting Interim Chief" when the Chief stepped down due to unrest among the ranks. Ivan was offered the position but declined. He retired shortly thereafter and moved to Georgetown, CA - not far from where PAT murdered Betty Cloer in June of 1971 (about twenty miles away). [...]"
      • theforeigner: "Hi Dr. DoogieIn the Ferrin/Mageau police repport, PAT´s uncle Ivan Thompson is mentioned: [...]"
      • DrDoogie: "[...] Not on this list is:*The rape of sixteen-year-old Sharon Strain in 1970 - he was acquitted but his accomplaice admitted that they had committed the rape.*The rape of Melinda Montgomery in 1971. A different accomplaice plead guilty, but PAT bargained down to an assault charge with a sentence to run concurrent to a forgery charge that he had already been sentence on (in other words, no additional jail time). [...]"
      • DrDoogie: "[...] I was actually looking at Thompson for a different case when I was presented unverified information that linked him to the Zodiac case by a source that has been reliable in the past. [...]"
      • DrDoogie: "I made contact today with a retired homicide detective who interviewed PAT in 1975. He made a statement that echoes what other LE has said about Thompson: That he was the single most cunning criminal that he ever met. He interviewed Thompson in connection with the machine-gun murder of Ronald E. Winter in 1975 by PAT. It occured in a different jurisdiction, but the victim (Winter) was an informant for the detective concerning a different kidnapping/murder case. The detective was not aware that Thompson had been a contract killer in his career, so the fact that Winter was scheduled to testify the next day in the murder case becomes rather curious. [...]"
      • DrDoogie: "[...] PAT was raised by his mother and a stepfather for most of his childhood. The detective said that he is not aware of any contact between Phil and his birthfather after the divorce. [...]"
      • DrDoogie: "Also, it was confirmed that Thompson did know Luis Posada, the terrorist. It appears that Posada was on the defense's witness list to provide an alibi for Thompson, but was never called - primarily because Posada was under arrest in Florida and his testimony would have probably brought out the Feds claiming a "national security" issue as to why he could not appear at the trial."
      • DrDoogie: "BTW: PAT's stepfather is a retired California Highway Partol officer [...]"
  • Michael Riconosciuto website page on Phillip Arthur Thompson - has Ted Gunderson claim that PAT and his girlfriend Kathy Allen were identified as the high priest and high priestess of a Satanic cult in Fresno CA
  • Hawaiian businessman - unsure if same person
    • Honolulu Star-Bulletin, "Appliance, Furniture Firm Sold", 1973/11/22: "Three Honolulu businessmen have acquired Electrical Distributors, Ltd., which operates the retail stores known as Big K, Kapiolani Appliance and Furniture, from the Williams Companies of Tulsa, Okla. The new owners are Clarence Apau, Ross Rimell and Philip Thompson. Apau has been with Avco Financial Services for 27 years. RINIELL WAS WITH Amfac Financial Corp. after 25 years with Avco Financial. Thompson, a certified public accountant, is controller for Eurocars of Hawaii, Ltd. They announced that the present operating personnel will be retained. Hall H. Hoxie will continue as president; Robert Watson as vice president and retail manager. Electrical Distributors is also the Hawaii distributor for Whirlpool appliances, Motorola TV, Litton microwave ovens and Corning cooking appliances. The new owners said the builder and commercial sales departments will also be expanded. Included in the purchase was the acquisition of Pacific Finance, Ltd., which will be expanded to a full service financing company."
    • Hawaii Real Estate Commission, "PRELIMINARY HORIZONTAL PROPERTY REGIMES (CONDOMINIUM) PUBLIC REPORT ON KAPIOLANI/KEEAUMOKU BUSINESS CENTER, 1440 Kapiolani Boulevard, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814", 1984: "The terms and provisions of lease dated August 22, 1946, made by and between Hawaiian Dredging Company, Limited, a Hawaii corporation, as Lessee, filed in the Office of the Assistant Registrar of the Land Court of the State of Hawaii as Document No. 86943, as amended, which said lease, as amended, by mesne assignments, was assigned to Philip Arthur Thompson, unmarried, by instrument dated December 12, 1979, filed as aforesaid as Document No. 990791."