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Ex-Cia Director Missing After His Canoe Capsizes

Tue., April 30, 1996

Former CIA director William E. Colby was missing Monday after his canoe was found capsized in the shallows of a Potomac River tributary near his Southern Maryland weekend retreat, about 40 miles south of Washington, authorities said.

The U.S. Coast Guard and state agencies, using helicopters, divers and boats, searched areas of the Wicomico River and Neale Sound near Cobb Island for about 12 hours Sunday and Monday without success.

Colby, 76, was last seen by neighbors about 7:15 p.m. Saturday outside his modest, yellow house at the end of a peninsula. A Cobb Island resident found Colby’s green fiberglass canoe wallowing on its side by the Wicomico River shore of Rock Point on Sunday morning.

But police learned Colby was missing only after neighbors entered the former spy chief’s house about 7:45 p.m. Sunday, said Charles County Sheriff Fred Davis.

Davis said that there was no indication of foul play and that Colby’s disappearance was being viewed as the result of an accident.

Neighbors entered the unlocked house because Colby’s vehicle was still there, and he usually would have returned to his Georgetown home by then, Davis said. At the cottage, the neighbors found dinner dishes and a glass of wine in the kitchen, clam shells in the sink, and Colby’s radio and computer still on.

In a telephone conversation with his wife, Sally Shelton-Colby, on Saturday, Colby said he was fatigued but intended to take his canoe out anyhow, Davis said.

Colby was CIA chief from September 1973 until November 1975.

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