Paul Harvey Aurandt eventually overcame the murder of his father, a Tulsa police officer, when Paul was just a toddler. That murder spun off a series of bizarre incidents in the State of Oklahoma:
- A lynch mob demanded that the Tulsa County sheriff prove that the accused were not in the jail. They dispersed after their hand-picked “inspection committee,” which included the Aurandts’ family pastor concluded that the three alleged assailants had been moved elsewhere.
- An insurance company took out a quarter-page newspaper ad to boast that it paid Mrs Aurandt’s claim in less than twenty-four hours after Harry Aurandt’s death. The ad included a photo image of the actual check given to the widow.
- The Ku Klux Klan appeared without notice at Officer Aurandt’s funeral and performed a silent and mysterious ritual.
- After two of the accused were convicted, the Governor of Oklahoma (and former Tulsa mayor), John Calloway Walton, granted one of the murderers a furlough from prison. Alvis Fears did not return to prison as scheduled. Instead, he hooked up with a gang of other criminals to commit other crimes. It took a task force of officers from three states to capture him after a bank robbery in Missouri.
Each of these things was a part of the ambient environment of Tulsa as Paul Aurandt grew up with his sister Frances (nine years older), being raised by their Danish emigre mother.
When Paul was in high school, a teacher took him to the studios of KVOO radio in Tulsa and suggested a career in radio for him. Although he started out sweeping up at night, he eventually got on the air.
The Secret Wedding–Who Exactly Did Paul Marry and When?
Paul later attended the University of Tulsa and had radio jobs in Salina, Kansas, and Oklahoma City before going to St Louis to work at the former KXOK. It was there that he met Evelyn Cooper, a soon to be Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Washington University. Authoritative biographies of both Paul and “Lynne” say that he asked her out for dinner and then proposed on their first date.
Many of these same biographies say that Paul began calling his sweetheart “Angel” that very evening, a practice he continued throughout their lives. Others, however, say that Lynne Cooper had been called “Angel” since childhood.
Most biographies agree that Paul and Lynne were married in 1940. Most such biographies say the wedding was in June 4, 1940 (see for example the obituary in the Chicago Tribune). In the Missouri marriage records, there is just one marriage for a Paul H. Aurandt. That marriage took place on August 5, 1940, in Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri. Ste Genevieve County is south of St Louis on the Mississippi River. The Paul H. Aurandt on this Ste Genevieve marriage license claimed to be from San Francisco, California, as did his bride, Evelyn Betts.
And did I mention that on the face of the marriage license are the words “Please do not publish”? This is almost certainly the marriage of Paul Harvey Aurandt and Evelyn Cooper. Why did they conceal their marriage? Why did they later adjust the date by two months? To answer those questions, we probably need to unravel the complicated genealogy of the impressive woman known most of her 92, or perhaps 95 years, as “Lynne Cooper Harvey,” but who might have been Evelyn Buergler and who died as “Evelyn Cooper Aurandt.”
Getting to the essence of “Angel’s” background proves to be a monumental task–so much so that GeneaBlogie’s Special Investigations Unit asked us to move our deadline, but they still could not complete the task by press time. But what did turn up is fascinating. So fascinating, in fact, that it will be the subject of a future post where we’ll show how we found out what we found out.
The Newsman is Arrested by Federal Authorities
Argonne National Laboratory was during the Cold War one of America’s most secret nuclear research facilities. Located 25 miles from Chicago, it had been part of the Manhattan Project to produce the first atomic bomb. One evening in early February 1951, when the Cold War was arguably at its highest level of tension, Paul Aurandt climbed a fence at the Argonne facility and dropped to the floor inside. He was promptly detained by a security guard. The guard turned Aurandt over to the FBI which at that time was in charge of security at Argonne.
Aurandt was questioned by the FBI and released. But his detention became national news. “Paul Harvey” by that time had become extremely well-known throughout the country, thanks to his show on the ABC Radio Networks. Aurandt said that he had entered Argonne “working in cooperation and conjunction with the investigating divisions” of certain government agencies which he declined to identify. He said that he was “not at liberty, nor authorized by the governmental investigating agencies to release any story or information concerning the matters upon which he has been working.” He said he was testing the lax security at the lab.
The Chicago Daily Tribune reported that accompanying Aurandt on his raid was John Crowley of Chicago, who was identified as a “reserve naval lieutenant and a civilian employee of the Office of Naval Intelligence.” The Tribune also reported that a laboratory security guard was also with them.
According to the Associated Press, the FBI issued a statement denying that Aurandt had ever been employed by the FBI. Later at a news conference called in his Lake Shore Drive apartment, Aurandt said that “explanation of the events will have to come from another source.”
The Truman Administration, however, was outraged. Otto Kerner, Jr., the United States Attorney for Northern Illinois, announced his intention to seek a felony indictment of Aurandt on charges carrying a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. Kerner told the press that he had been instructed in the matter by high level officials in the Department of Justice in Washington.
[Kerner later became Governor of Illinois and later a judge on the federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Kerner was forced to resign his judgeship when he was sentenced to three years in prison for taking bribes while Governor.]
In an unusual move, Aurandt requested and was granted permission to appear before the grand jury. Aurandt’s lead attorney was former Illinois Senator Charles Wayland Brooks. Another unusual aspect of the case was that Congressman Fred Busbey asked Kerner, the U.S. Attorney, to keep the case “open” until he, Busbey, could arrive in Chicago with “important evidence” concerning the matter.
The FBI investigation revealed that a security guard at Argonne, Charles Rogal, had noticed what he considered to be instances of laxity in Argonne’s security procedures. H e contacted Naval Reserve Lt. Crowley and Aurandt. The relationship among the three is not known. Rogal was with Aurandt and Crowley on their incursion into the lab. He was later discharged by the government for his role in the matter.
After hearing more than a dozen witnesses over a two week period, the grand jury declined to indict Aurandt. The grand jury foreman told the Chicago Tribune that it was “not a close vote.”
The Tribune said that Aurandt issued a statement after the grand jury action saying, among other things, “if our internal security has been improved by the fact that national attention was focused on this situation, I am extremely grateful.”
The grand jury’s vote may have been a vote of confidence in “Paul Harvey.” His career continued to thrive after the incident and it was almost never mentioned again in the press.
“And now you know the rest of the story!”
March 12, 2009 Thursday at 8:58 pm