Remembering Pan Am Flight 103: Dick Marquise

Retired FBI Special Agent Dick Marquise initially led the FBI’s Pan Am Flight 103 investigation.

Video Transcript

The magnitude of that crash never really hit home to most people in the United States. I don't know that it hit home to most people in the FBI. In order for anybody to get a full appreciation and feel for what happened, I think that someone had to go there and look at a crime scene—a crash site—that was 845 square miles in a mostly rural or small-town atmosphere in a small country in Scotland, southern Scotland.

When I look at what the police collected, and you think about a crime scene—we’re not talking about in a building, we’re not talking about around a car, we’re not talking about in somebody's home. We are talking about fields and streams and mountains and houses and buildings—845 square miles—and I think probably the largest crime scene in history. Eight-hundred-forty-five square miles that the police picked up evidence. And those police officers that did it, quite honestly, the majority of them didn't know what terrorism was. They had never faced it, they had never worked it, they had never seen a crime scene of that magnitude.

Here you have this small department—at the time, 333 police officers. The biggest crime scene, or biggest crime problem that they faced the year before was bicycle theft. But when I look back at what those police officers did—many of them probably with far less training, far less education, and certainly far less experience than even the most inexperienced FBI agent—they did an incredible job that I don't know that anybody, including the FBI, could have replicated with the circumstances that they had to deal with.


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