[This is the headline over the report of Richard Marquise's recent talk at Syracuse University, NY in the university's newspaper The Daily Orange. It reads as follows:]
Richard Marquise searched the 845 square-mile crime scene for a piece of circuit board that would link Libyan terrorists to the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing.
"The piece of evidence that cracked the case could fit on the tip of my finger," Marquise said. "I said, ‘If someone sneezes, we're going to need to do another crime scene search for evidence.'"
Marquise is a former FBI special agent and lead investigator of the task force assigned to the bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 35 Syracuse University students. Marquise, who spoke Thursday in the Life Sciences Complex, worked in the FBI for more than 30 years.
Marquise walked the audience chronologically through what he called the "10-year odyssey" of the investigation. The tiny piece of circuit board evidence eventually led Marquise's task force to Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was eventually convicted as a Libyan intelligence officer and the man behind the bombings. Al-Megrahi was tried before a Scottish court in the Netherlands.
"It was an electric moment. They don't have commercials in situations like this. The judge just stood up and said that they found Mr. Megrahi guilty on all accounts," Marquise said.
Al-Megrahi was released from prison in August 2009 on compassionate grounds that terminal prostate cancer could end his life in three months. He remains alive today. New York senators and other U.S. leaders have called for al-Megrahi to be put back in prison after he survived nearly a year longer than expected and after questions arose about a possible backdoor deal between British Petroleum and the British government to have him released.
Marquise showed the audience a picture of a baby's shoe embedded in the ground after falling from the plane and another of the broken tail of the plane emblazoned with an American flag.
"It hits home here in Syracuse maybe more than in any other city in the United States," Marquise said.
Marquise finished the lecture with a short video that showed interviews with some family members of the victims of the tragedy.
In one video, the mother of a Syracuse student who died in the crash was directed to the imprint that her son's body had made in the ground after falling from the plane. She said she lay down in the imprint and was able to feel close to her son once again. Several audience members wiped their eyes at the end of the video.
Marquise retired from the FBI in 2002 but remains active in the intelligence community by teaching and consulting.
He said: "I'm going to keep doing this because I don't think man was meant to retire."