(Leopold Report updated 100221) "I am innocent of the murder
of the Swede Victor Gunnarsson. I am convicted to life imprisonment plus
40 years for a murder I have not committed.
I must have a new trial in which I can prove that I was convicted on forged
evidence and that witnesses as could have been a support for me never were
called to the trial. Witnesses also heard another man confess the murder."
So says policeman Lamont C. Underwood, 52, detained in the Marion Correctional
Institution, North Carolina, in an exclusive mail-interview for Leopold
Report. In July 1997 he was sentenced for kidnapping and murder of Victor
Gunnarsson, now 45, who was arrested two weeks after the assassination of
Swedish prime minister Olof Palme on February 28, 1986 in Stockholm as a
suspect. Underwood is fighting for his release from the life sentence, and
NCCAI is reviewing it with an investigation by their own lawyers and private
investigators to see if a new trial is justified.
Victor Gunnarsson vanished from his apartment the night of Dec.
3 and 4 1993, and it maintained that he was killed in that time 01.00
at the latest. The body was found in a piece of woodland called Deep Gap,
off US Route 421, 300 kilometres from his apartment in Salisbury. He was
naked, and shot twice around the head by a .22 caliber weapon . He wore
a signet-ring and a fake gold-watch, two things easy to use to identify
" A soil sample taken from underneath where Gunnarsson's head was positioned,
in the wooded area in which he was found, contained his hair. 17 hairs were
found in the soil sample - the exact number of hairs the State claimed to
have found on the trunk mat of one of my cars, after searching the mat for
almost two years without finding any hair. The 17 hairs from the soil sample
"The State's hair expert wrote, certified as thorough and accurate,
a laboratory report nine months before the start of my trial, showing that
he turned the hairs belonging to Gunnarsson over to the FBI for DNA testing
on August 19, 1995, which was fifty days before the State claimed at my
trial the hair was found on the trunk mat in my car on October 8, 1995.
How do you turn evidence over to be tested fifty days before the State claimed
at the trial the hairs were found?"
Underwood thinks that this fact should be enough for a new trial
- the hair was planted evidence, no doubt about that, he says.
L. C. Underwood is very upset that the police never completed an investigation
of a man in Salisbury, known by the initials BS, who confessed repeatedly
to his ex-wife and a friend that he killed Victor Gunnarsson.
"He was interviewed only once, and on direct question, he didn't deny
that he killed Gunnarsson. He also named a companion, MB, who sometimes
lived together with Gunnarsson, and had a key to his apartment, as having
heard BS's confession.
BS was interviewed July 25 1995 by Detective Sergeant Paula Townsend,
indicating that he was a suspect.
(From the report of the interrogation -SBI CASE:1994-01642 (494-4-26):
BS also admitted later in the interview that he confided to RS that
he and MB went to Victor Gunnarsson's apartment on the night of the murder,
and MB let them in with a key. Gunnarsson was in bed. They coaxed him out
of bed on the pretence of going to a party and jumped him. BS told RS they
taped Victor's hands behind his back with tape found at the apartment. It
was black electrical tape and some light coloured tape. BS said he told
RS they carried Victor down, and put him in the trunk of his (Victor's)
car. BS admitted he told RS and others that he and MB drove to the mountains,
and shot Victor in the head with a .22 pistol in the woods. They then drove
Gunnarsson's car back to the apartment, and parked it.
BS would not admit to the investigators that he and MB killed Victor, only
that he admitted to others he did. BS was very nervous, and said before
he said anything else, he wanted to talk to a lawyer.
BS has newspaper clippings about Victor's murder. They are at his grandfather's
house next door. BS started keeping newspaper articles about Victor's murder
after Gunnarsson was killed.
BS was asked : Did you kill Victor Gunnarsson? He hung his head
and said, I had best not answer that question right now.
Detective Sergeant Paula Townsend, responsible for the murder investigation,
didn´t carry through further interviews with BS! And BS wasn't called
to the trial.
"It's absolutely unimaginable that the police only interviewed BS one
time in July 25, 1995, and never spoke to him again. Today, no one knows
where BS and his friend MB are now.
Unknown fibers were found in Gunnarsson' hair, and on the electrical tape
found at the crime scene.
Trial evidence showed this fiber did not come from my home, or car, or from
the trunk mat. Fiber samples were taken from BS's car by the police on the
day he was interviewed but they were not compared to the unknown fibers
found in Gunnarsson's hair or on the tape. How do the police know the fiber
didn´t come from BS´s home or car since it was never tested?"
BS´s wife, HS, and Gunnarsson had an affair. She separated
first time from BS in August 1993.
(From the report.)
On this occasion in November 1993 (one month before the murder of
Gunnarsson red note) when Gunnarsson came to her home: it was 7:00
or 7:30 p.m. She did not expect her husband home until 1:00 a.m. when he
got off from work. She stated that she and Gunnarsson had sex in her bedroom
while his friend waited in the living room. She stated her husband came
home from work early as she and Gunnarsson were getting dressed. Her husband
told both he was going to kill them. She also acknowledge that she and Gunnarsson
had sex on more than one occasion.
BS was extremely jealous and possessive of her. She told her husband that
if he would not hurt Gunnarsson, she would end the affair.
"BS later admitted to her that he and a man named MB killed Gunnarsson
and she believed him. BS hated Gunnarsson after he caught her with him.
BS was always saying he was going to kill her and Gunnarsson. After the
murder and after BS admitted to her he and MB had killed Gunnarsson,
he would not say anything about Gunnarsson or the murder."
BS kept all the articles from the newspapers about Gunnarsson´s murder
in a scrapbooks he had.
Even though HS was listed as a defence witness she was never called to
testify on Underwood´s behalf during trial.
District Attorney Tom Rusher told the court that BS was drunk when
he made the confession to the murder. He informed the court that statements
made by BS to the murder were the kinds of statements drunk people make
and the State viewed the evidence as unreliable.
But defence counsel Bruce Kaplan told the court that the District Attorney
was making it sound like the confessions by BS to the murder were made when
BS was drunk and the information that had been provided to the defense by
the District Attorney was that BS was sober when he made the confessions
to RS, his wife and others that he killed Gunnarsson.
L. C. Underwood says to Leopold Report:
"You hear so many people in prison saying they are innocent. Yet I
have the evidence and the facts to prove I am innocent. I now hope that
the Innocent project see this case for what it is: an innocent man was sent
to prison for a crime he did not commit on planted evidence. I don´t
know how long time it will take them to investigate my case. I don´t
want to keep writing to them, and I do not want them to think that I am
trying to influence them.
I don´t know who killed Gunnarsson or why, a man I never met. I just
know I did not killed him but was set up for the murder. And I do not want
to die in prison for a crime I did not commit."
LC Underwoods defense fund
My attorney contacted me on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 and informed
me that my Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus has been granted. A federal judge
overturned my conviction and ordered a new trial saying my trial attorneys
provided me with ineffective assistance of counsel during my 1997 trial.
The judge ordered a retrial within 180 days. The bad news is the State
has appealed the decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, asking
the Court to overturn the federal judge's decision granting me a new trial
and throwing out my conviction.
My attorney and I expected the State to appeal as North Carolina will
never admit they were wrong in arresting and trying me to begin with. So
for the near future I will be sitting in prison while my case winds its
way through another round of appeals. While they will have to set a bond
for me the State will set it so high that I will not be able to make it.
L.C. Underwood, a retired police officer, has spent more than $100,000
of his retirement funds to pay for the desperate attempt to clear his good
name. Now that the federal courts have overturned his conviction, the State
of North Carolina likely will appeal and it will cost L.C. at least another
$25,000 to continue to fight this miscarriage of justice. If you would
like to contribute to LC's defense fund, please use the email contact below
and we will send you the information you need.
If you would like to contact L.C, you may either click the email link and
your letter will be forwarded to him or you may write him at the following
Mr. LC Underwood #0525542
Marion Correctional Institution
PO Box 2405
Marion, NC 28752-2405
*I have got four comprehensive
letters from L. C. Underwood (LC). I confess willingly that it has strengthened
my belief that this man is innocent of the murder of Victor Gunnarsson (VG).
I know it's not a good starting position for objective journalism, so I
want you to take it into your judgement of my view of this case.
*The conclusion is of technical kind: the 17
hairs from underneath Gunnarson's head which were found in the wooded area.
It is the only link between LC and VG in this murder case. And it's a link
which bursts with an magnificent bang!
*SBI agent John Bendura (SBI=North Carolina
Bureau of Investigation) testified under oath in the trial that he by chance
found the 17 hairs on the trunk mat in LC's car. The trunk mat had, together
with other things, been examined in 22-month period on six registered occasions
without finding anything.
The actual finding occurred in other words on October 8 1995 just before
the mat was packed for returning to the murder investigators. Now LC wonders
so do I how it was possible when the laboratory in Raleigh
was closed because it was Sunday.
*LC now knows that there was a laboratory report
from the State's hair expert showing that the 17 hairs from Gunnarsson,
found on the crime scene, were turned over to FBI for DNA-testing
I repeat 17 hairs, exactly the same number of hairs claimed to have
been found on the trunk mat fifty days before.
Of these two statements, one is the truth the laboratory report.
The report exists but it was not presented at the trial.
The other one, the 17 hairs on the trunk mat, is nothing more than a bluff.
This is the planted evidence, sentencing an innocent man to life plus 40
years for kidnapping and murder.
*In Sweden and I think every state governed
by law this is enough to give a convicted a new trial (including the fact
that another man repeatedly confessed to the murder).
*Another fact is the fibers found in Gunnarsson's
hair and on the tape. The forensic investigation shows that the fibers found
in Gunnarsson's hair and on the electric tape did NOT come from LC's car
or home. So, Paula Townsend, responsible for the murder investigation: Where
did they come from?
*And very terrifying in this case is that a
man, BS, several persons admitting how he and a companion, MB, murdered
Gunnarsson, was not pressed harder. Detective Sergeant Paula Townsend had
only one only 1 interview with this man. It' absolute unbelievable!
It must be a breach of duty in a murder case. And I think that this will
be a reason for the Swedish police to act because Victor Gunnarsson in fact
was a Swedish citizen.
And when Paula Townsend asked this man BS if he killed the Swede, he didn´t
deny it - just said : I had best not answer that question right now.
*The American justice is sometimes difficult
to understand. Since BS, a notorious drunkard, according to the prosecutor
was drunk when he admitted to the murder, so the court refused to hear him
and at least three witnesses who heard his confession on different occasions.
If a court can act like that in such a serious crime, it must be a offence
against due process of law and public probity.
*The Court did not listen to the defence counsel,
Bruce Kaplan. And when you read the interview with BS's wife HS and his
friend RS they emphasize that the man was sober. HS also said that BS's
companion did not want to tell him anything but on one occasion BS said:
I and MB have killed a person." It was a short while after the
murder. Later RS asked MB if it was the Swede they killed. He answered:
Yes, we killed him."
*The facts about the 17 hairs and the fibers
and another man's confession, together with witnesses, is more than enough
to give L. C. Underwood a new trial in a state governed by law. How
about the State of North Carolina?
The N.C. State Court of Appeals upheld the conviction in August of 1999.
The N.C. Supreme Court also upheld the Court of Appeals decision in October
*Since the victim was a Swedish citizen connected
to the most serious crime in Sweden, the murder of our prime minister Olof
Palme, also the UN´s peace mediator, I will send this article to Governor
Michael F. Easly, former District Attorney, along with a few questions.
I will also present this material to some colleges, and the most important
newspapers in the US and ask them to take measures.
*Not only because a solution of the Gunnarsson
murder may close (or open?) doors about covert operations connected to the
Palme murder but also, and maybe more so, because an innocent man
I don´t hesitate - was sentenced to life imprisonment, on above
stated 'evidence'. Underwood has a right to justice. At least in a state
governed by law.