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Mercenary Says School Owner Spoke of Vandals

April 02, 1987|From United Press International

LOS ANGELES — A mercenary allegedly hired to firebomb the cars of two disgruntled prep school teachers testified Wednesday that their employer called on him for help because she suspected the two were terrorizing her.

"She said she had a terrible problem with herself and her business," Franklin Camper said. "She felt she was being vandalized and terrorized, and she was looking for some kind of help.

"She said her life had been threatened, her pets had been killed, her home vandalized--and she had some trouble at her schools."

Camper, girlfriend Lee Ann Faulk and fellow mercenary William Hedgcorth are on trial in U.S. District Court for the second time on conspiracy, racketeering and explosives charges. A mistrial was declared in their first trial in November, with the jury deadlocked, 11 to 1, for conviction.

The three are accused of being involved in the Aug. 13, 1985, firebombing of the cars of Robyn Rishoff and Harriet Russo, teachers at a chain of preparatory schools owned by Leta Hamilton and Charlotte Wyckoff of Dana Point.

Camper, who runs the Mercenary Assn. training camp in Hueytown, Ala., is charged with masterminding the plot to bomb the cars at the request of Hamilton and Wyckoff.

Prosecutors said the bombings occurred after Rishoff and Russo filed complaints with state agencies against Hamilton and Wyckoff, who had fired the two teachers from the California Learning Centers. The teachers had complained to state agencies about conditions at the schools and said their firings were unjustified.

Hamilton, Wyckoff and two of Camper's former associates, Paul Johnson and James Cuneo, have pleaded guilty to various charges in the case. The women admitted hiring Camper to track down vandals but said they did not authorize or know about the bombings.

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