Donald Fifield Bolles (July 10, 1928 – June 13, 1976) was an
American investigative reporter for The
Arizona Republic whose murder
in a car bombing has been linked to his coverage of the Mafia.
5 In popular culture
7 See also
9 External links
Donald Fifield Bolles grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, and attended
Teaneck High School, graduating in the class of 1946. He pursued
a newspaper career, in the footsteps of his father (chief of the
Associated Press bureau in New Jersey) and grandfather. He graduated
Beloit College with a degree in government, where he was editor
of the campus newspaper, and received a President's Award for personal
achievement. After a stint in the
United States Army
United States Army in the Korean War
assigned to an anti-aircraft unit, he joined the
Associated Press as a
sports editor and rewriter in New York,
New Jersey and Kentucky.
In 1962 he was hired by The
Arizona Republic newspaper, published at
the time by Eugene C. Pulliam, where he quickly found a spot on the
investigative beat and gained a reputation for dogged reporting of
influence peddling, bribery, and land fraud. Former colleagues say he
seemed to grow disillusioned about his job in late 1975 and early
1976, and that he had requested to be taken off the investigative
beat, moving to coverage of Phoenix City Hall and then the state
Bolles was the brother of Richard Nelson Bolles, author of the
best-selling job-hunting book
What Color is Your Parachute? He shares
a grandfather, Stephen Bolles, with humanist theoretician Edmund Blair
Bolles. He was married twice and had a total of seven children. His
daughter, Frances Bolles Haynes, has co-authored four books on job
The Hotel Clarendon (now Clarendon Hotel) located at 401 W. Clarendon
Parking space in the south parking area on 4th Avenue of the Hotel
Clarendon where Bolles was murdered. The parking space is now a
covered parking lot.[not in citation given]
Datsun 710 in which Bolles was fatally injured
On June 2, 1976, Bolles left behind a short note in his office
typewriter explaining he would meet with an informant, then go to a
luncheon meeting, and be back about 1:30 p.m. He was responsible
for covering a routine hearing at the State Capitol, and planned to
attend a movie with second wife Rosalie Kasse that night in
celebration of their eighth wedding anniversary. The source promised
information on a land deal involving top state politicians and
possibly the mob. A wait of several minutes in the lobby of the Hotel
Clarendon (now known as the Clarendon Hotel) was concluded with a call
for Bolles himself to the front desk, where the conversation lasted no
more than two minutes. Bolles then exited the hotel, his car in the
adjacent parking lot just south of the hotel on Fourth Avenue.
Apparently, Bolles started the car, even moving a few feet, before a
remote-controlled bomb consisting of six sticks of dynamite taped to
the underside of the car beneath the driver's seat was detonated; the
explosion shattered his lower body, opened the driver's door, and left
him mortally wounded while half outside the vehicle. Both legs and one
arm were amputated over a ten-day stay in St. Joseph's Hospital; the
eleventh day was the reporter's last. However, his last words after
being found in the parking lot the day of the bombing included "John
Adamson", "Emprise" and "Mafia", and he had left a note by his
typewriter reading: “John Adamson. Lobby at 11:15. Clarendon House.
4th + Clarendon.”
The San Francisco Examiner
The San Francisco Examiner on October 20, 1976, reported that Maricopa
County District Attorney Donald Harris "said a conspiracy by 'the
country club set' was more likely than Mafia involvement in the June 2
bombing that fatally wounded Bolles. ... The mob doesn't kill cops and
reporters. This is not a Mafia case." The article stated "Bolles, 47,
frequently wrote about land fraud. [His stories] eventually resulted
in passage of an emergency measure legislative bill opening 'blind
trusts' to public scrutiny." "Emprise" referred to
the New York-based horse- and dog-racing company of the same name,
which he had written articles about.
Arizona resident John Harvey Adamson by photograph
while hospitalized, and Adamson's former lawyer Mickey Clifton
informed the police of Adamson's involvement in the bombing.
According to trial testimony, Adamson had gone to San Diego with a
girlfriend and purchased the electronics for two bombs. Police
searching his apartment later found the electronics for one bomb. Also
according to trial testimony, Adamson early on June 2 went to The
Arizona Republic employees' parking area and asked the guard which car
belonged to Bolles.
The incident sparked an investigation by Investigative Reporters and
Editors resulting in a book titled The
Arizona Project, with Robert W.
Greene assuming the head and drawing nearly 40 reporters and editors
from 23 newspapers including
The Milwaukee Journal
The Milwaukee Journal and Newsday.
John Harvey Adamson pleaded guilty in 1977 to second-degree murder for
building and planting the bomb that killed Bolles. Adamson accused
Phoenix contractor Max Dunlap, an associate of Kemper Marley, of
ordering the hit as a favor to his friend Marley, and Chandler plumber
James Robison of triggering the bomb. Phoenix police said they
could find no evidence linking Marley with the crime. Adamson
testified against Dunlap and Robison, who were convicted of
first-degree murder in the same year, but whose convictions were
overturned in 1978. When Adamson refused to testify again, he was
charged and convicted of first-degree murder in 1980 and sentenced to
death, which was overturned by the
Arizona Supreme Court. In 1989,
Robison was re-charged, and re-tried and acquitted in 1993, but
pleaded guilty to a charge of soliciting an act of criminal violence
against Adamson. Robison died in 2013. In 1990, Dunlap was
re-charged when Adamson agreed to testify again, and was found guilty
of first-degree murder. Max Dunlap died in an
Arizona prison on
July 21, 2009.
Adamson was given a reduced sentence because of his cooperation, and
was released from prison in 1996. He remained in the federal
witness protection program (in which he had been placed in 1990 while
he was still in prison), and died in an undisclosed location in 2002
at the age of 58.
Among the last words that Bolles mentioned was "Emprise". Emprise
(later called Sportservice and now called Delaware North) was a
privately owned company that operated various dog and horse racing
tracks and is a major food vendor for sports arenas. In 1972, the
House Select Committee on Crime held hearings concerning Emprise’s
connections with organized crime figures. Around this time, Emprise
and six individuals were convicted of concealing ownership of the
Frontier Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. As a result of the conviction,
Emprise's dog racing operations in
Arizona were placed under the legal
authority of a trustee appointed by the
Arizona State Racing
Commission. Bolles was investigating Emprise at the time of his death.
However, no connection between Emprise and his death was
His remains were interred in a crypt located in the Serenity Mausoleum
of the Greenwood/Memory Lawn Mortuary & Cemetery in Phoenix.
The Newseum, a $400 million interactive museum of news and journalism
located in Washington, D.C., features Bolles' 1976 Datsun 710, which
had sat for 28 years in the
Arizona Department of Public Safety's
impound lot, as the centerpiece of a gallery devoted solely to the
In response to Bolles' death, the Investigative Reporters and Editors
board decided to continue Bolles' work in exposing corruption and
organized crime in Arizona. Led by
Newsday journalist Robert W.
Arizona Project team consisted of 38 journalists from 28
newspapers and television stations. They produced a 23-part series in
1977 exposing widespread corruption in the state.
On the 40th anniversary of the
Arizona Project, the
Don Bolles Award
was established. The first recipient was Miroslava Breach
In popular culture
This incident is mentioned in an episode of Lou Grant, although
Bolles' name is not specifically mentioned. After the murder of a
patrolman, and the subsequent killing of the suspect, a police
lieutenant speaks of reporters descending on Phoenix after the
killing, comparing the idea of professional solidarity among reporters
to that among police officers.. The Bolles murder is
also mentioned in 'The Reporter' episide of the TV sitcom "Alice."
Conscience-in-Media Award, from the American Society of Journalists
Arizona Press Club Newsman of the Year in 1974
John Peter Zenger Award for Press Freedom 1976 (posthumous) 
List of journalists killed in the United States
Censorship in the United States
^ "Don Bolles' tragic death". Michigan Daily. June 16, 1976. Retrieved
December 6, 2012.
^ a b Hensley, Tatiana (2006-05-28). "Bolles: Cautious man, dedicated
Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
^ Staff. "
New Jersey Briefs", The New York Times, June 4, 1977.
Accessed September 13, 2011.
^ "Don Bolles' bomb-rigged car - Photos". Retrieved October 20,
^ a b c "40 years later, final words of murdered reporter Don Bolles
still a mystery". Retrieved October 20, 2016.
^ a b c "40 years later, final words of murdered reporter Don Bolles
still a mystery". Retrieved October 20, 2016.
^ "History of IRE". Website. Investigative Reporters and Journalists.
Retrieved June 1, 2016.
^ a b Kelly, Charles (2006-05-28). "Reverberations felt 30 years after
Don Bolles' death". The
Arizona Republic. Retrieved December 6,
Associated Press (1980-02-26). "Pair win reversal of murder
verdicts". The Spokesman Review. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
^ Ruelas, Richard (July 6, 2016). "James Robison, accused of bombing
Don Bolles in 1976, dead at 90". The Arizona
Republic. Retrieved October 20, 2016. The Republic confirmed Robison's
death this week when it obtained a death certificate from the San
Bernardino County clerk’s office, showing he died in 2013 at age
^ Glen Creno and Dennis Wagner (July 22, 2009). "Max Dunlap dies; was
guilty of killing "Republic" reporter". The
Retrieved October 16, 2016.
^ Tribune News Services, Man Who Bombed Reporter in 1976 Will Leave
Chicago Tribune (August 12, 1996). Retrieved 2016-10-16.
^ Associated Press, Notorious '76 bombing figure dies, reprinted in
Tucson Citizen (May 27, 2002). Retrieved 2016-10-16.
Delaware North Companies Incorporated - Dictionary definition of
Delaware North Companies Incorporated - Encyclopedia.com: FREE online
dictionary". Retrieved October 20, 2016.
^ "Jeremy Jacobs Looks Like a Saint Compared To His Father". Retrieved
October 20, 2016.
^ Ruelas, Richard (July 23, 2009). "Bolles exhibit impresses
detective". AZ Journal. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
^ IRE History - The
^ The History of IRE
^ Inc., Investigative Reporters and Editors,. "Investigative Reporters
and Editors - IRE board to award first
Don Bolles Medal". IRE.
^ "Murdered Mexican journalist Miroslava Breach recognized with Don
Bolles Medal from U.S. investigative reporters". Knight Center for
Journalism in the Americas.
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Don Bolles Case 25 Years On
Bolles: Cautious man, dedicated journalist – profile in The Arizona
Special Report: Don Bolles
Arizona Project by Michael F. Wendland Book
The Death in
Arizona of the Kemper Marley Machine - "Kemper Marley, a
wealthy Phoenix rancher and liquor wholesaler, was Dunlap's mentor and
was rumored for years to have been the person who actually ordered the
hit on Don Bolles".