James Hogan Case: A Royal Hurricane Shit Storm of Pain for All to Read

This blog has followed the James Hogan case since September 2009 when the Foreign Service officer was first reported missing in the Netherlands Antilles.  In March 2012, USDOJ announced that Abby Beard Hogan, 50, pleaded guilty in the Northern District of Florida for her role in the obstruction of a multinational investigation into the disappearance of her husband in Curacao.

The Scared Monkeys Forum recently posted some of the court documents related to this case, including the Government’s Sentencing Memorandum where it requests that the Court “impose a sentence within the applicable guideline range of 27-33 months.”

The memorandum fills in some of the details that we did not know about this story including how soon and how many agents were deployed in the search for James Hogan following his immediate disappearance and the fact that Mrs.Hogan apparently was the last person he talked to via phone before he disappeared. Excerpt via:

Within 48 hours, the U.S. government began dispatching agents from multiple domestic and foreign locations, eventually mobilizing approximately 25 agents within the first two weeks.  The Dutch and Antillean governments reacted similarly, committing significant resources to find James Hogan in the largest search in the history of the Netherland Antilles.

To this date, the disappearance of James Hogan remains unsolved, and Defendant has failed to reveal the truth of what happened that night, even declining a government request to speak after her guilty plea. Most significantly, Defendant has never told the truth about the last confirmed phone call from James Hogan after he left the house. Defendant’s claim in her March 2010 interview that she could not remember the nearly three-minute conversation because she was “groggy” is undeniably false, as her internet activity proves she was not asleep when her husband called and that she was alert enough to sign into her email account within minutes of concluding that call. This uncertainty and lack of closure has affected her family, including her children, see Email 70, and James Hogan’s mother and siblings.

A more detailed narrative of what happened is below. The full account is available here:

Sometime after 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 24, 2009, James Hogan – the Vice Consul at the U.S. Consulate in the Caribbean island of Curacao – left his residence in the capital city of Willemstad. Shortly after midnight on Friday, September 25, James Hogan’s cell phone (located near a tourist resort called “Lion’s Dive”) called Defendant Abby Hogan. That two minute, 58-second phone call is the last confirmed contact with James Hogan. Later that afternoon, a recreational diver discovered a pair of jeans with bloodstains, a pair of socks, and a pair of tennis shoes at a rocky beach area in Curacao known as Blue Rock. Dutch law enforcement also discovered blood on the beach and on rocks near the shore; the blood on the jeans and rocks matched James Hogan’s DNA. Investigators found James Hogan’s cell phone and a knife in the water near the blood-stained rocks. James Hogan’s body has never been found, and he is presumed dead.

American, Dutch, and Antillean officials mobilized immediately in an effort to locate James Hogan or to prevent the disposal of his body. Their primary source of information was Defendant Abby Hogan – James Hogan’s wife – who was the last known person to see or speak to him. In at least five interviews over the course of six months, Defendant told U.S. and Dutch law enforcement essentially the same story: that the evening James disappeared had been normal; that James had been in a good mood, nothing had been bothering him, and there were no marital problems. Defendant claimed that James had taken his normal evening walk and that she had taken a sleeping pill and slept through the evening. She was awakened briefly after midnight by a call from James to her cell phone. She could not remember anything from the nearly three minute conversation except that he was still out walking and she should leave the door unlocked.  She then fell back asleep and did not notice he was missing until the next morning. After her initial statement, Defendant amended her story to add that: (1) James had been worried that a recently-fired Consulate employee with a criminal record might seek revenge; and (2) someone had interrupted James during the midnight phone call.

Subsequent investigation, however, revealed that Defendant’s version of events was completely false. Defendant’s own emails (see Attach. 1) provide a timeline of events leading up to Hogan’s disappearance and disclose a household in turmoil. In March, 2009, Defendant reconnected with her high school boyfriend “Mike” (Attach. 1; Email 1). By early June, Defendant was planning a trip to Gainesville to see him (Email 2: “Do you understand I want to sleep with you?”); on August, 17, 2009, Defendant consummated the affair in Florida (Email 6).  Even before returning to Curacao, Defendant broached the idea of leaving her husband for her lover. See, e.g. Email 7 (8/27/09: “If there’s any way I can do it we are going to be together).  Within days of her return to Curacao, Defendant began exploring her options. See, e.g. Email 11  (9/1/09 email to sister asking about career options in Florida); Email 17 (9/8/09 email to friend “I’m thinking of leaving my 23+ year marriage”). Defendant, however, was concerned that James might “react very strongly” to her leaving (Email 13; Email 19); See also Email 21: (“will Jim let me leave”).

Upon her return, James Hogan became suspicious of his wife’s behavior and began asking questions about her trip. Email 10, 18, 23. Eventually, James caught his wife in a lie about seeing her high school boyfriend (Email 23), and two days before his disappearance, James discussed the lie in an email exchange (Email 25). On the night he disappeared, James Hogan used Defendant’s pink Dell laptop to make a Skype video call to his step-daughter. Afterwards, sometime around 9:00 pm, he saw Defendant’s emails, including her emails to her lover. Email 49. At 9:20 pm, four emails were forwarded from Defendant’s email account to James Hogan’s email account. See Email 33-36. These contained references to the affair. See, e.g. Email 28 & 36 (“it is very difficult for me to pretend to love him [James] when my heart is there with you.  To have sex when I don’t feel the love behind it.”) An argument ensued, which led Defendant to email her lover: “jim knows everything. it’s awful.” Email 37. During the argument, Defendant “refused to call” her lover and break off the relationship, as her husband requested, and as a result she might have “caused something terrible to happen.” Email 36.

Via Scared Monkeys Forum

Via Scared Monkeys Forum

Via Scared Monkeys Forum

More than a couple hundred emails were retrieved.  Some are posted here, a few are quite graphic, and includes some of the email exchange with the “other man” on the weeks following James’ disappearance and while the search was ongoing.

Even the other man’s concern of causing a “royal hurricane shit storm of pain” to others is an understatement.  One man is presumed dead. And life is never the same again for their children. The wife of the missing diplomat in her response to the sentencing memorandum cites the toll of constant relocation on her marriage as giving the wrong perception that the Hogans were “somehow distant or unresponsive.” The court document argues that “The correct perception, which should have been formed by those observing the Hogan family, is that they were intelligent, independent, and very adept at adjusting to difficult circumstances.”

At least one member appears to be extremely adept.  So far we have not been able to find a record of her sentencing. Our previous posts on this sad, tragic and tawdry saga are here.

 

 

 

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3 Comments

Filed under Consul Generals, Court Cases, Foreign Service, FSOs, Realities of the FS, Spouses/Partners

3 responses to “James Hogan Case: A Royal Hurricane Shit Storm of Pain for All to Read

  1. ADA, glad to see you here! Yes, these are indeed from public records and hopefully no one will go bitchy on you here. I appreciate the offer, thanks much. I don’t really need to see any more docs right now though I would appreciate a heads up when she gets sentenced.

    What strikes me about this case is how quickly things can get out of hand. I’ve seen marriages come apart while overseas. In all of those cases, there were no signs that there were marital troubles. But if there were marital problems or other personal issues, solving them while overseas becomes more challenging. Our folks overseas live in a glass ball, every action is reflected.

  2. And also, just in case anyone gets bitchy with me, I need to re-iterate that federal court filings are PUBLIC RECORD. In fact, according to:

    http://www.pacer.gov/psc/faq.html

    When asked: “What are the acceptable uses of the data obtained from the PACER system?” the answer is:

    “The PACER system provides electronic access to case information from federal courts across the United States. The information gathered from the PACER system is a matter of public record and may be reproduced without permission.”

  3. I have access to the case files through PACER at the website of the US District Court, Northern District of Florida (Gainesville). It appears as though sentencing proceedings initially began in August but were continued to a later date. I don’t believe that later date (for final sentencing) has yet been set. Thus, it appears that she has not yet been sentenced.

    In the interim, Abby Hogan has been filing what I’m assuming she hopes are mitigating factors asking for leniency for her sentence. For example, she has filed several letters from friends of the family asking that she only be given probation because her son needs her in the home (etc.). Also, she has filed a deposition transcript of Fiona Hogan (her 18 yr old daughter) who is also asking for leniency for her mother. This is all public record, and some of the letters reference back to when she was a post in Curacao. Interesting reading.

    I have been following this case closely through PACER. I guess it pays to have been a litigation paralegal in my former life – I know my way around federal court filings. If you want any documents, let me know.

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