Murder by Mail

Parcel bombs kill a federal judge and a civil rights lawyer

On the cold, overcast afternoon of Dec. 16, federal appeals court Judge Robert Vance received a package at his white-columned house in Mountain Brook, Ala., a Birmingham suburb. The return address indicated that the parcel had been mailed by Vance's old friend Senior Judge Lewis R. Morgan, who knew of Vance's passion for animals. "I guess Judge Morgan sent me some more of those horse magazines," Vance told his wife Helen. But as Vance eagerly opened the shoe box-size parcel, it exploded. Vance was killed instantly; his wife was seriously injured.

Two days later two more parcel bombs appeared. One detonated...