Former Soviet spy called York County home
You never know what fascinating stories you might uncover in the York County History Center files. I never expected to find one on a Soviet spy who allegedly hid from the world in plain sight in the little village of Delroy. (Delroy is in Lower Windsor Township on Route 124, the East Prospect Road, where it intersects with Blue Stone Road and Barcroft Road.) My recent York Sunday News column on Reino Hayhanen/Eugene Maki/John Linden is below.
His name might not be familiar to us, but the name of top Soviet spy Rudolf Abel might ring a bell, lately thanks to the recent Bridge of Spies motion picture. If not for our eventual York County resident, the United States would probably not have had someone of Abel’s rank to exchange for our spy, Francis Gary Powers. How might that have changed history?
If anyone has any further information or clues on Linden’s York County stay, please email me at email@example.com. Here is the column:
A former Soviet spy lived in York County
The recent motion picture Bridge of Spies tells of the 1957 arrest, trial and conviction of top Soviet Spy Rudolf Abel and the subsequent 1962 exchange of Abel for U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. The Soviet Union had convicted Powers of spying after his plane was shot down.
Abel was brought down by another high-ranking Soviet spy, Reino Hayhanen. Both Abel and Hayhanen were based in the New York City area. Abel supposedly did not trust the hard-drinking Hayhanen, who lived in Peekskill, New York as Eugene Maki with a wife, Hanna. Abel had Hayhanen recalled in 1957 to the Soviet Union, but the couple got off the plane in Paris, contacted the U.S. Embassy and asked for asylum. Hayhanen led the FBI to Abel, who had been posing as an artist named Emil Goldfus in Brooklyn. Enough evidence was found to convict Abel, and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
What is the York County connection? Under a government protection program the Hayhanens were evidently resettled in Keene, New Hampshire. They later moved to York County living in a house with two acres in Delroy on the East Prospect Road. Neighbors reportedly noticed that their car had New Hampshire tags, and visitors’ autos often sported D.C. plates. The couple now went by the names John Eugene Linden and Anita Linden.
Linden died at York Hospital in August 1961, probably from cirrhosis of the liver. He is buried in Greenmount cemetery. Almost no one in York County knew it until almost a decade later.
Rudolf Abel became a household name, especially when coupled with Francis Gary Powers, our spy who was captured. No one seemed to care what had happened to Hayhanen. In his 1964 book, Strangers on a Bridge, the attorney assigned to defend Abel, James B. Donovan (portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie) said Hayhanen died in 1961 in an automobile accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The 1961 and Pennsylvania part were correct. Hayhanen was arrested, as Linden, for drunken driving in York shortly before his death, so maybe that started the fatal accident rumor.
In 1970 Abel: Biography of Colonel Rudolf Abel by Louise Benikow came out. Someone reportedly told Annabelle Decker from Decker and Decker Funeral Home to read the book and she would know who she had buried in 1961. Reverend Robert E. Nale, Shiloh Lutheran pastor had officiated. He later said he was also convinced Linden was Hayhanen, especially after reading the book. Nale counseled Linden about alcoholism, referred through a York Hospital program. Nale often spoke with the couple and said they had attended some of his services and that “’he really tried to kick the booze habit.’”
Much of this information in this column is from two lengthy clippings, in the York County History Center Files, written in 1970 by Yorker Harry McLaughlin of the York Bureau of the Harrisburg Patriot News. McLaughlin does not say how he became interested, but he started asking questions, and he learned more.
He found out that a New Hampshire lawyer quickly got Linden in and out of police court on the drunken driving charge. The same lawyer and other “strangers,” who Decker thought were CIA, told Nale and Decker at the quiet burial “never to discuss the event.” A document on file at the York County courthouse named the same lawyer “attorney in fact.” McLaughlin identifies the New Hampshire lawyer as John Marback and says that the Abel book reveals that Marback also worked on the spy trial. Local attorneys who assisted with settling Linden’s legal matters would “only say that ‘mystery surrounded the case.’” One of them later told McLaughlin he “knows he is right.”
McLaughlin relates that when contacted, Lawrence Houston, general counsel for the CIA, “which assisted Maki’s quiet disappearance from Peekskill, said the story is plausible. Through a spokesman, Houston said, ‘Hayhanen died in a northeast city of cirrhosis of the liver.’ York Hospital records show that ‘J.E.L.’ died of a liver ailment. Attorney William Tompkins, who prosecuted Abel and later became chief of the Internal Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, did not deny the connection either. Tompkins said he talked to Hayhanen once after the former spy left New York state, and ‘it was in Florida.’” Reverend Nale remembered that Linden mentioned being in Florida for a while.
Nale also said that when he saw an NBC television documentary on Abel broadcast in November, 1961, he recognized Hayhanen, even though he was filmed with his face masked. Chet Huntley and David Brinkley reported that “the interview was made in July, 1961, but that Hayhanen had died a short time later.”
York City Police Sergeant Newton Brown was asked about the drunken driving incident. He told McLaughlin: “’I never saw a case moved to conclusion so quickly. He appeared in police court on the next morning, surrounded by two lawyers who had come up from Washington to defend him. He pled guilty and the two Washington men quickly paid his $50 fine and got him out of there.” Brown said the man had a heavy accent and his wife appeared to be Scandinavian.
Reverend Nale related that Mrs. J.E.L. came back to York two years later for a brief hospital visit and stopped to visit Nale. “’In her conversation, she often referred to herself as Hannah, the alias Mrs. Hayhanen used in applying for a passport to this country.” When Nale talked to a local FBI agent about his suspicion that J.E.L. was spy Hayhanen, “’Stranger things than that have happened,’” was the reply. When McLaughlin contacted the FBI, “they would neither confirm or deny.”
McLaughlin obtained Photostats of legal papers signed by the Hayhanen/Maki/Linden couple from Westchester County, where Peekskill is located, and from the York County courthouse. Both named New Hampshire attorney John Marback as “attorney-in-fact.” He showed the Maki and Linden documents to handwriting expert, William Ryall, who decided ‘”The same man and woman signed both documents,’” pointing out the identifying characteristics.
One thing that does not seem to have been ever explored: Those Delroy neighbors said that shortly after the Lindens came to Delroy, there was a “large quantity of camera equipment that he was seen to have ‘dumped in an adjacent water-filled ore hole.” Hayhanen/Maki/Linden was said to have “posed as an owner of a camera equipment store, and operated the store for a short time while residing in Newark, prior to going to Peekskill.” Who knows what might be found there.
I was just informed the William Ryall was one of several people who came from Newark, New Jersey in the mid-1960s to work at Therm-Air , which was located in what is now the York County History Center’s Agricultural and Industrial Museum on West Princess Street. His full time job was as service manager for the company. I did find other references in local newspapers on his expertise at hand-writing analysis.