word seemed to move at the speed of light, like a prayer chain composed of electrons.
From one hysterical middle-aged woman in a bathrobe, frantically dialing a portable phone as she stood that sunny March morning in the middle of a Lakewood alley, to a stunned young mother supervising her noisy children several houses down. From a shocked friend at the hospital to a minister at the church that was the center of their lives. From the church workers to the members of the close-knit Sunday school class. Beginning at 11 a.m., the message ripped through their little world, always eliciting horror, then anguish, then a consuming grief.
The terrible news was quickly telegraphed to most of Susan McIntosh’s friends and neighbors in Dallas, where she had lived for sixteen years, but there it stalled. As the clock ticked toward the start of the five o’clock news, a few of Susan’s closest friends realized that if no one took it upon themselves to call her mother and sisters in her hometown of Tyler, where her two children were preparing for a happy spring break week with relatives, they might find out what had happened from TV. That was unthinkable. They talked about who should make the call. They talked about what to say. They still knew little beyond the most basic facts, even after a friend called in mid-afternoon, telling them that Susan had been killed.
Several hours later, Dana Kaye McIntosh telephoned his wife’s family and told them what had happened the morning of March 19, the day he and Susan had planned to fly to Washington, D. C, for a vacation. He and an employee had come home from work to pick up her station wagon, which needed repairs. On the floor of the garage he found her, brutally stabbed more than thirty times. He had thrown her into his Mercedes and rushed her to Doctors Hospital, on the other side of White Rock Lake. It was too late. Susan McIntosh-his forty-two-year-old wife, their beloved daughter and sister-was dead.
As shocking as that horrifying news was, it couldn’t have prepared them for what came next. Dana said he was calling from Lew Ster-rett jail. Cuffed, fingerprinted, interrogated, he had been placed under arrest, charged with Susan’s murder.
That evening, others who loved Susan McIntosh learned that a man they had known for years was being accused of a crime they couldn’t fathom, for reasons they couldn’t imagine. They had seemed the perfect couple, the perfect family, living in their small paradise on Sunnyland Lane. He-one of the most highly decorated Vietnam veterans in the state of Texas, a Sunday school teacher, a sought-after computer executive-and she-intelligent, upbeat, with bright, well-mannered daughters and a full life that revolved around her church and school-were the kind of people others strived to emulate.
It simply could not be true, friends adamantly reassured each other. Susan must have surprised a burglar. Or perhaps, others hinted darkly, those clandestine missions Dana had for years performed for the Central Intelligence Agency had resulted in a terrible retribution. They coalesced around Dana, tending off reporters and photographers at the funeral, staunchly defending their friend’s integrity.
But as the days and weeks passed, and details of Dana’s life and Susan’s death were passed along that same chain of information, opinions slowly changed. They whispered about Dana’s strange behavior the day of Susan’s death, about the eerie similarities to the Walker Railey case. And while most remain unwilling to pass judgment, many of the McIntoshes’ friends have begun to believe that the man they knew and trusted as Dana Kaye McIntosh was, if not a killer, at least an elaborate fraud, a man leading a double or triple life. Whatever the outcome of the murder charge, their world will never be the same.
AS IN MANY SMALL TOWNS, one of the popular pastimes in Tyler during the mid-Sixties was cruising the main drag. “All of us got our driver’s licenses when we were fourteen,” says a Tyler woman who became one of Susan Kidd’s close friends in the ninth grade. “We would go to the drive-in to see James Bond movies. We would drag Broadway with her and Dana.”
Dana Kaye McIntosh was one year older than Susan. Though they attended different high schools-Susan went to Robert E. Lee and Dana attended John Tyler High-they began dating during his senior year. In many ways, theirs was the classic lovers-from-opposite-sides-of-the-tracks romance. Susan was the youngest of four daughters born to Herman and Allene Kidd, who had a prosperous dairy farm and were themselves members of old Tyler families. They were well-to-do but not flashy, their lives revolving around family and tradition. If Susan wasn’t a beauty queen, she was “pretty inside,” says another longtime friend. “You just loved her.”
Dana, who went by Kaye as a child and young man, was the youngest of four sons and grew up in a family shattered by divorce shortly after his birth, Raised by his mother, Wayne McIntosh, Dana saw little of his father; his mother tried to fill the gap by taking the boys fishing and hunting. A friend remembers the McIntosh clan as having little money, but adds that Dana “dressed real neat and always had a good personality. He could make me laugh.”
After graduation in 1965, Dana attended Tyler Junior College. Susan joined him at TJC the next year. But in the fall of 1967. he left school and was drafted. She enrolled in The University of Texas, her three sisters’ alma mater. That year, Susan was chosen to serve as Duchess of the Rose Growers in the popular Tyler Rose Festival. As UT was a family tradition, so was the Rose Festival; two of her older sisters had also been Tyler “roses.”
In the late Sixties, The University of Texas, like many colleges, had its share of tumult, but the drugs and protests of the counterculture had no allure for Susan, who remained the person she had been in Tyler. “She was one of the few who would get up and go to church every Sunday,” says one college roommate. Though she dated other young men, Susan continued to correspond with Dana, who occasionally visited her after completing boot camp in early 1968. “A lot of us who knew her felt she could have done a lot better,” says the roommate. “He was not obnoxious by any means. But he was not what you’d call the ail-American boy. He was short, small, not outgoing. But he was the only one she dated seriously. He was very devoted to her.”
After basic training, Dana was tapped for Officers Candidate School, and in the fell of 1969 was sent to Vietnam as a second lieutenant. Though he told friends later that he served only four or five months in Vietnam, as a member of the elite Army Rangers, he had numerous medals to show for his time there: two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, and other awards. They married eight months after he returned to the U.S., in August 1970; he served the rest of his Army commitment at Fort Hood until his discharge in February 1971.
The newlyweds settled in Austin while Dana completed his education, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UT. Susan had graduated in 1970 with a degree in education; in 1974, they moved to Dallas where she began teaching at Skyline High School. Dana, as she began calling him after their marriage, went to work for a public accounting company,
Almost immediately after moving to Dallas, the young couple began attending White Rock United Methodist Church, which quickly became the center of their lives. Susan sang in the choir, taught children’s Sunday school, and helped run the church’s day-care center and parents’ day out programs. Dana played in the church softball league and gave talks to youth groups, often relating his war exploits.
Especially vital to the McIntoshes was their adult Sunday school class. “This group of couples did everything together,” says Angela, one of the women who started the group. (She asked that her real name not be used.) “They were at all of our parties and we were at all their parties.” The core couples went out to dinner and movies, even vacationed together.
“I just idolized her.” says Rebecca, another member of the class who requested anonymity. “She was an exemplary person, but a lot of fun, too. She could make things that were boring, like Bible study, interesting.” If many of the women at church saw Susan as their best friend, a lot of the men thought that way about Dana. Politically conservative, with a dry sense of hurnor, Dana was always there when someone needed a hand with a project. “He was a super guy,” says Don, Rebecca’s husband.
The McIntoshes were among the last of their friends to have children. Kathryn was bom when Susan was thirty, and Sarah came along four years later. After the birth of her first daughter, Susan quit teaching and became a full-time mother. As with everything she did, Susan approached motherhood with a passion and enthusiasm that left other mothers envious. In 1979, the couple moved to a new custom home on Sunnyland, which was lined with brick ranch houses with tricycles in the driveways.
Their back yard became a gathering place where children played, Susan keeping an eye out as she did her housework. As they grew older, Susan could be seen almost every day at Hotchkiss Elementary, where her children attended school. She was PTA president two years, then parliamentarian and volunteer coordinator.
Despite their exhausting schedules. Susan and Dana McIntosh seemed to thrive. Their home, conservatively decorated in beige tones, with framed religious homilies on the walls and children’s toys underfoot, was the site of frequent get-togethers and parties. Friends teased them about their one outrageous room: a half-bath off the kitchen, garishly papered in a University of Texas print, complete with a burnt orange toilet seat.
The men often would gather in Dana’s home office, listening to him talk about business. After leaving the CPA firm, he had worked for another oil and gas firm, then had gone to work as oil man Algur Meadows’s “right-hand man,” he would say, telling one person he had invested the millionaire’s idle cash in Florida real estate.
After Meadows’s death in 1978, Dana had started his own executive search firm, then a computer bookkeeping business. Their friends didn’t always understand just what Dana did for a living, but they definitely got the impression that he was highly prized as a businessman and money manager. After all, they often heard him say he worked for many of the area’s richest businessmen; besides Meadows, he claimed to work with H. Ross Perot and Amon Carter Jr.
“He was an entrepreneur,” says Don. “He made a million, lost a million. They were always the wealthiest people in the group. Even when they were broke they had more money than anybody.” Susan, by contrast, never talked about finances. Dana was the one who told friends of Susan’s inheritance, occasionally adding that the Kidd family didn’t realize what an asset they had in their 594-acre farm.
Whatever his business, it apparently paid off. Both McIntoshes wore nice if not outrageously expensive clothes, and Dana began to drive a Mercedes. He talked a lot about providing financial support for his attorney, John Bryant, a member of the Sunday school class who successfully ran for Congress in 1982.
Friends were aware that in the early Eighties the McIntoshes had gone through counseling for problems apparently brought on by yet another financial reversal. In order to buy Computer Business Service, a computerized bookkeeping company, Dana had mortgaged Susan’s interest in the family’s farm and stock in several banks.
After they were forced to refinance the loan several times, the McIntoshes defaulted. Susan lost her interest in the family prop-erty and bank stocks. Her loss has been estimated by a friend at $200,000; to keep (he property in the family, her relatives bought it back. Angela says Dana blamed the problems on John Bryant, saying he “hadn’t read the fine print.”
Susan was devastated, but she stuck by Dana. “She made the decision that her marriage was more important than money,” says a friend. As far as the Sunday school class knew, everything was fine.
Soon, Dana was telling friends he had started a company called Aims Plus, which wrote and marketed computer software. He also found investors for two other businesses: Financial Sense, a financial planning software firm, and Expert Medical Systems, a Washington, D.C.-based company that provides computerized billing services for physicians. “I was always amazed how he made the best of a bad situation and landed on his feet,” says Angela’s husband, Andrew.
Business was always a popular topic with Dana, but occasionally, in the back room, the men would listen as Dana talked about his experiences in Vietnam as a member of the Army Rangers, and the years he spent as unit commander in the Army Reserve, parachuting out of helicopters around Redbird Airport. Dana was forty-four years old, with thick, receding black hair and a slight paunch straining at his shirt. Though his reserve duty had ended years ago, his service experience still clung to him like an invisible suit. “He had a walk that was pure military,” says Don. “elbows out, thumbs down the seams of his pants.”
Dana would show them his many medals, carefully displayed in a glass case on the wall, and his friends, none of whom had served in Vietnam, would shake their heads, nodding in admiration. To have been in Vietnam only four or five months, and to have earned all those medals’? It was amazing.
Dana’s stories, though twenty years old, had lost none of their vivid detail. Dana talked about being wounded in Vietnam. He made it a point to see every movie made about the Vietnam experience, and shared his impressions about their accuracy. If at times the stories of his exploits seemed a bit exaggerated, his friends took it in stride. “They were war stories,” says Chuck Williams, vice president of Aims Plus and the son of a military officer. “They get better with age.” Whatever the embellishments, few doubted that the gist of the tales was true.
Inevitably, during these sessions, Dana would lower his voice, then confide that he had received no medals for his most dangerous work in Vietnam. “In fact,” he told them, “if I was caught, the U.S. government would deny they knew me.” He had been with the CIA, he explained, and several times had been dropped behind enemy lines on secret missions. He talked about the Phoenix Program, a secret strike group that assassinated leaders sympathetic to the Viet Cong, and said that while he was recovering from his wounds, he had helped bust a heroin-smuggling ring in Taiwan that was bringing drugs to the U.S. in the coffins of dead GIs. But he always talked in very vague terms about the secret missions.
“He told me that he loved Vietnam,”Angela recalls. “He would go back.”
At such times, Dana’s stories could be vivid and frightening. Several adults, hearing a speech he gave to a Methodist youth group about being dropped into Cambodia to assassinate civilians, were very upset. He always left the distinct impression that almost twenty years after leaving active duty, he was still doing undercover work for the government. In early March 1990, he told one elderly couple he was involved with a covert operation. “Isn’t that dangerous for you?” they asked, never doubting that he was telling the truth. “Oh, yes,” Dana told them.
That same month. Susan and Dana planned to spend spring break in Washington, D.C., where business forced him to keep an apartment. The Washington work was consuming more and more of his time; he spent at least two nights a week there.
At 8:30 p.m. Sunday, March 18, Dana and Susan left Tyler, where their daughters were to stay with one of Dana’s sisters for the week. They planned to fly to the East Coast the next day. That was the last time anyone besides Dana-and the killer-saw Susan McIntosh alive.
AT A FEW MINUTES BEFORE II a.m., paramedics knocked on the door of the house next to the McIntosh home. It was a Monday, the first day of spring break, and the neighbor’s children were home from school. The paramedics told her they had a 911 next door, and that Susan was at the hospital with her husband. They asked her to walk through the house to see if things appeared normal. Everything seemed in place, the neighbor says-the kitchen was clean and the carpet vacuumed-but in the garage, she saw a small pool of blood between Susan’s station wagon and the deep freeze.
About 10:45 a.m., Dana had come home with an employee and friend, Gary Hanks. Hanks was a member of the Sunday school class, and after he lost his job. Dana hired him to manage Financial Sense. Dana told Hanks they had to pick up Susan’s car and take it to a repair shop to be worked on while they were in Washington.
They drove through the alley to the garage, which was closed. Dana asked Hanks to come inside while he got the car keys. As they entered the garage, Hanks told police, they saw Susan’s body, crumpled between the wagon’s front bumper and the door into the house. Dana screamed, and Hanks rushed in to phone 911. But within moments, Dana had Susan’s body in the back seat of his silver 1980 Mercedes. He told Hanks to drive to Doctors Hospital.
When Susan was brought into the emergency room, hospital staffers immediately noticed the slashes on both sides of her throat, but it wasn’t until her skirt and shirt were removed that they saw just how savage an attack she had suffered. An autopsy would later show more than thirty gashes, mostly in the upper torso and abdomen, with stab wounds in her heart, lungs, stomach, and liver. Cuts and abrasions on her arms, face, and legs led police to believe she had fought fiercely with her attacker. Emergency room personnel noted one odd bit of information: her hair and clothes were damp.
On Sunnyland, neighbors began to gather. One officer started questioning them about Bitsie, the family’s collie in the back yard, asking if the dog had a habit of jumping on people. “I thought he was afraid to go in the back yard,” says a neighbor. “I said if the dog was any smaller she’d be a lap dog.”
But the officer wasn’t concerned about getting attacked. Called to the hospital, investigators had seen Dana dabbing with a towel at deep scratches across the left side of his neck and face. When asked where he had gotten the marks, Dana said Bitsie had raked him with her paws.
To the shock of those friends who had gathered in the emergency room, police arrested Dana at 1:45 p.m., preventing him from returning to the house on Sunnyland, Dana refused to allow a search of the home, so police obtained a warrant to go over it that night. Officers confiscated a steak knife and a carving knife, as well as bathroom sink faucets. They also found a $250,000 life insurance policy on Susan, purchased in 1985.
Dana McIntosh spent the night in jail. The next day, attorney Bob Hinton. a neighbor, got Dana’s bail lowered to $15,000, and he was released from custody. Hinton later infuriated police when he suggested that investigators were jumping to the conclusion that Dana was the killer because the department “had taken it on the chin” in the 1987 Walker Railey case, when the Methodist minister’s wife Peggy was found nearly strangled in the garage of the couple’s home.
Dana’s friends rallied around him at the funeral, but the situation was tense. “The casket was only open to friends and the Sunday school class,” says.Angela. “Dana was not going to let them have an open casket. Gary Hanks insisted. He said, ’I have to see her another way than the way I saw her last.’” Hanks won.
During the ceremony, Dana gripped a hand towel and wailed loudly. “You could have wrung the tears out of it, it was so wet,” says Rebecca. “He was acting like any normal person would, but he had always been so controlled, it was strange.” But she remembers him sobbing, then looking up abruptly to ask in a conversational tone how her children were doing.
A friend had called Rebecca and Don with the news that Susan was dead and Dana had been charged with her murder, tearfully describing Susan’s multiple stab wounds and her fierce struggle with the attacker.
“I said it couldn’t be Dana,” says Don, vividly remembering McIntosh’s war stories. “I told him if Dana had killed her, she wouldn’t have felt a thing. He was in Vietnam, with the CIA. He wouldn’t stab someone like that. He would do it real quiet, real quick. Maybe it was somebody else that killed her to get to him,” Don speculates.
At first their friends agreed. Besides, why would Dana have wanted to kill Susan? No one could remember even seeing them argue. Dana had told some friends Susan had a bad temper, but no one had ever seen either of them in a rage. There had been no rumors of infidelity or threats of divorce.
No, they concluded, it had to be connected to the CIA stuff-if it was not the action of a desperate burglar. A year earlier, the McIntoshes’ Christmas gifts as well as two VCRs and a computer had been stolen. In response, they installed a security system.
Dana insisted to police that the killer must have been a deranged intruder. He said that he and Susan had made love the night before, and that morning they had taken a shower together. They ate breakfast at 8:30 a.m. When he returned, she was dead.
But early on, even some of Dana’s staunchest supporters had problems with his version of events. “Those scratches were deep gashes on his face,” says Angela. She and most of their friends could not imagine how the eleven-year-old collie Bitsie, who was in poor health, had done such damage.
One of Dana’s relatives claims that he received the scratches when three policemen threw him to the floor at the hospital. And at one point, Dana ripped his shirt, tie, and undershirt off, as if in grief over the realization that his wife was dead. “He was hysterical and in shock,1’ she says, adding that perhaps the scratches happened then. When first asked about the scratches by police, he said he didn’t know they were there.
Another puzzling thing was Dana’s behavior during the ride to the hospital and in the emergency room. Hanks and a nurse told police they had seen Dana with his wife’s fingers in his mouth. It seemed to investigators as if he was trying to suck incriminating evidence from beneath her fingernails.
And the police have found little physical evidence to support Dana’s strange-intruder theory; there was no forced entry, and the house did not appear to be ransacked. Statements by police indicated that it was possible that Susan had not been killed in the garage but elsewhere, because blood spatters that would have resulted after a struggle were not present. Speculation surfaced that she had been lulled or washed down in the shower- which would explain why her clothes and hair were wet. Would a burglar, anxious to get out before being discovered, do that?
And how would an intruder get in the house, kill her, and leave with no one seeing or hearing anything, despite the fact that it was the first day of spring break and kids and parents were out in their yards? The only person anyone saw leave the McIntosh house was Dana; one neighbor remembers hearing the diesel engine of his Mercedes around 9 a.m. and looking up to see the car roaring off down the alley. “I thought, ’Dana, you know better than that,’” she says. An hour and forty-five minutes later, Dana returned to find Susan on the floor of the garage.
Other discrepancies remain. According to one source, Dana claimed that Susan had given him her wedding ring, watch, and diamond tennis bracelet that morning to take to a jeweler to be cleaned. During the excitement, he lost track of them. He explained to another friend he had taken off her jewelry on the way to the hospital and dropped it in his jacket pocket. Though Dana told the family at one point that he had found the gems, neither the jacket nor the jewelry has been found.
On the Friday night after Susan’s murder, there was an apparent break-in at McIntosh’s Aims Plus office. In the office, located on the tenth floor of a building that requires a magnetic card key to enter after hours, Dana’s personal and financial files were rifled, and his wife and children’s photographs had been moved to the desk. Hinton, the attorney, blamed the incident on police looking for something to link McIntosh to the murder.
Police officials denied any involvement, implying that McIntosh himself staged the incident. But Aims vice-president Williams says that Dana left the building-his office intact-with him and another colleague about 7 p.m. The burglary was discovered by a security guard at 9:30 that night. Williams says that Dana was not out of his sight in that period of time long enough to ransack his own office. “And the police had Dana’s car and office keys,” Williams says, “so how could he get someone else to do it?”
The case has been referred to a grand jury, to be heard beginning on August 14. Though police took Dana’s tissue samples with much fanfare, nothing has been said publicly about the results. Courthouse gossip has it that the forensic tests failed to match tissue taken from under Susan’s fingernails with samples from Dana, hurting the police department’s case against him.
About three weeks after Susan’s death, a court awarded Susan’s mother and sister custody of the McIntoshes” children. Dana, who was ordered to pay $1,000 per month child support, did not fight the court order. But his defense attorney, Brett Stalcup, says that after Dana is cleared, he will fight his in-laws for custody.
As time has passed, many of the Sunday school couples and other close friends gradually have begun to accept that Dana might have killed Susan. “It’s taken a while to sink in,” says Andrew, who says his teenage children worshiped Dana. “But it doesn’t take a brick to hit me in the head.” Others are still unconvinced that the police have the right suspect.
What no one pretends to have any knowledge about is the big question: why? What reason would Dana McIntosh have to kill his wife? Could it have been money? Dana was making no salary from Aims Plus; he would have made money when the rejuvenated company was sold. Also, the IRS had a lien of $13,287.35 against Aims Plus, and Financial Sense and EMS were not yet bringing in revenue, according to a source close to the business. Though his home was paid for, Dana was paying some $900 per month for the luxury high-rise apartment in Washington, as well as traveling extensively. In Susan’s will, Dana was declared the executor of her estate and the sole beneficiary. Two weeks before she died, Susan confided to one friend that she was worried that Dana’s business was facing possible bankruptcy. “She was shocked,” the friend told the Dallas Times Herald. “At that point, she had not decided what to do.”
“Being close to filing bankruptcy is something I’m not aware of,” says Gerald McNaron, an Austin investor who owns a portion of Aims Plus. He said that he and other investors have been happy with Dana’s management of the company. Two days before her death, when talking to the same friend, Susan had seemed happy, and didn’t mention the potential bankruptcy.
What about another woman? Police questioned associates in Washington, where Dana spent at least two nights a week, pursuing the possibility that he had a mistress. But Steve Novinger, who worked with EMS until January, doesn’t buy the other-woman theory. “Dana didn’t have time to have a mistress,” he says. “He was juggling all these companies.”
By the time this article appears, Dana McIntosh probably will be either under indictment or no-billed. If he is indicted, prosecutors may face a difficult challenge attempting to prove-beyond a reasonable doubt-that Dana McIntosh killed his wife, especially lacking an obvious motive and strong physical evidence linking him to the crime. With no witnesses or murder weapon, the state will be forced to rely on circumstantial evidence: the scratches on Dana’s face, the reports that he was seen “purposefully” sucking his dead wife’s fingers and racing down the alley less than two hours before she was found, the missing jewelry. Certainly Dana’s behavior was strange, an able defense attorney would argue, but does that mean he murdered his beloved wife?
Stalcup says that when all the facts come out, his client will be cleared. “The finger’s been pointed at him the whole time,” Stalcup says. “But there’s the possibility she wasn’t killed in the house. That alley’s so accessible, so open, it could have been anybody. And [James] Bartholomew [a friend of the McIntoshes] will tell you that damn dog has caused scratches on the head. Dana McIntosh is very, very intelligent. If he did murder her, he would have done it in a lot more sophisticated manner.” But predicting what a jury will do-or what wild cards the police or defense has up a sleeve-is difficult. Stalcup is already anticipating those, with an explanation for the report that blood was found in the shower drain and elsewhere in the bathroom. “Susan was on her menstrual period.” Stalcup claims. If the police are able to show the presence of blood in the drain, indicating that Susan was killed or washed down in the shower, it may be hard for Stalcup to counter; the autopsy report showed no signs of menstruation.
Whether or not Dana McIntosh killed his wife is a question that ultimately will be answered by the courts. But another question remains: just who is Dana McIntosh?
AFTERMATH OF SUSAN’S MURDER has caused confusion and disbelief for many of those who felt closest to the McIn-toshes, not only because of her death, but because it slowly revealed a Dana profoundly different from the one with whom they had eaten dinner and played softball.
“I feel like I never knew him for fifteen years.” says Angela. “He had us completely fooled. If Dana said it. I believed it. Now, everything I believed for fifteen years was a lie. It’s like he lived two lives.”
Dana’s glamorous image-Vietnam War hero, CIA agent, successful businessman-was manufactured from a tissue of lies, The many stories he told business associates and friends make it difficult to pin down exactly what Dana did and when-and while McIntosh spoke with D for almost an hour, he declined to put anything on the record. Still, it’s clear that many of the things he claimed were not true and he knew it.
Sometimes the lies were small. For example, despite what he told a friend, he was never on the Selective Service Board. An attorney friend was astounded when he was told that Dana had asked his law partner at a Christmas party to put money into a new computer company, falsely claiming that the other attorney had invested a quarter-million dollars in McIntosh’s newest business.
Other fabrications were larger. Though Dana left some friends with the impression that he started and owned Aims Plus, the company was founded in Austin in the midSeventies by a computer programmer. In the summer of 1984. it was bought from one group of investors by another group of Austin investors. In 1986. after the nationwide collapse of the computer industry, McIntosh was brought in as an accountant and “turnaround artist,” with expertise in saving troubled companies, and experience working for Perot.
“Dana is a pathological liar,” says one computer expert who worked with him at Aims Plus. “He lies all day long for nothing at all. I quit in 1988. I couldn’t take it anymore.”
At various times, Dana has told friends he was a CPA, held an engineering degree, and an MBA-false on all counts. And his ties to the wealthy and powerful are either greatly exaggerated or fabricated, despite his repeated name-dropping. He did work for Algur Meadows-but not as his “right-hand man,” as he told people, making the oil man’s investment decisions. Hired in 1976, he was simply a systems analyst in the accounting division that handled General American Oil company’s computerization of records.
And far from being a “turnaround artist,” Dana had trouble making a profit with the companies he did control. When he left General American in 1978, he told his supervisor he and several friends were buying a Century 21 franchise. It is unclear what happened to that scheme. But in 1981, he mortgaged Susan’s inheritance as part of the purchase price of Computer Business Service, a computerized bookkeeping company.
“Dana was a blue-sky artist,” says Gary Venrick, who went to work for Dana as a marketing director. “He always had a big deal working. But he was a poor businessman. He wouldn’t supervise people, didn’t attend to details.” And he made some of his employees uncomfortable.
An attorney who represented the former owner says that McIntosh created an atmosphere of intimidation in the office. “He repeatedly made allusions to being in the CIA and doing all these dangerous secret missions. He talked about his gun collection. They were scared of him.”
Venrick, who is also a veteran, says he wasn’t afraid of Dana, but he could see how others at Computer Business Service might have been. During a couple of CBS staff meetings, Dana pulled a pistol from his drawer, twirled it, and pointed it at an unseen target on the wall. “He’d give an imaginary ka-pow!” Venrick says. “It was somewhat unnerving. He made comments like, ’If somebody ever crossed me, I would fix them.’” Once. Dana regaled the office workers with a tale of chasing a burglar out of the office with the pistol while working late.
“It was not a good situation to work in.” says a tax expert who worked at CBS. “I did not feel he was a good manager. Business was two-thirds below the level we had been at before he took over. There was too much employee turnover. His management style was disorganized. Once I saw at least a one-inch stack of pink slips for people he had not called back. His way of dealing with [problems] was to ignore them.”
But while he was running CBS, Dana found time to begin an executive search firm. That too was a failure. “I don’t believe they ever made a placement,” Venrick says.
Dana stopped making the note payments on CBS, and former owner Keith Laseter filed suit against Dana in October 1982 to reclaim the company. “Laseter had no choice,” says the former employee. “It was confrontational and difficult for everybody concerned. Dana was very hostile toward Keith and Gary and me. He blamed Keith for putting too much pressure on him and misrepresenting the company’s assets,”
The employee recalls Susan’s maintaining “a dignity that was impressive.” But the result of the suit was that they lost the company and Susan’s property, shocking her family. Dana later told friends at church that the loss was the fault of attorney Bryant, then in private practice, for not reading the fine print on the contract. “That’s impossible.” says Bryant, now a U.S. Congressman from Dallas, adding that Dana never accused him of making such an error to his face. “It’s quite obvious he pledged the collateral and if he didn’t make the payments he would lose it. You don’t make those kinds of mistakes [as a lawyer] and not have it come out.”
Dana’s Vietnam stories seem to have the same mixture of truth, fiction, and self-aggrandizement. He indicated to friends that he was the most highly decorated Texas veteran outside Audie Murphy. At first glance, his military records, obtained by D Magazine through the Freedom of Information Act, would seem to support the claim: two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, an Air Medal, an Army Commendation Medal with Valor, and a number of lesser medals and awards. One form says he was awarded a Purple Heart, a medal given to those wounded in combat. But further investigation at the National Archives and army records in Washington reveals that Dana or someone else apparently falsified his military file.
What is true is that Dana arrived as a second lieutenant in Vietnam in mid-September 1969 and was appointed rifle platoon leader. Most new arrivals in Vietnam received two weeks of “in-country” training before going to the field. Dana had left Vietnam by mid-December, meaning that he saw only eight to ten weeks of combat. He did not become a member of the Army Rangers until he left Vietnam and returned to Texas.
Dickie Thedford, who grew up in Tyler, served in Vietnam during the time that Dana was there. “He was a typical officer” says Thedford, who did not go out into the field. Dana would come back to Thedford’s base for rest between missions. “He was just ’do your job and get home,’” Thedford says. “But they were on a bunch of ambushes; I had a feeling he was close to the Ho Chi Minh Trail. They were having an ambush every night.”
Warrant Officer James Garrett, a Washington army expert on military awards, says that Dana did win a Silver Star for gallantry in action on October 17, 1969. The citation says that when his company came under intense mortar fire and a massive ground assault. “Lt. McIntosh left his position of relative security and maneuvered through the bullet swept area to the perimeter to direct his men’s fire on the insurgents.”
But Dana’s claims about the other combat medals, according to the “general order,” numbers of the documents that back up awards, are false. For example, General Order 11936, listed on Dana’s file as awarding him a Bronze Star, actually gives Warrant Officer John Driscoll a Distinguished Flying Cross. GOI5596, cited as giving Dana a second Silver Star, is in reality the order awarding soldier Larry Masters a Bronze Star with Valor.
And GOI236, which supposedly awards Dana an Air Medal of the sort given to soldiers for twenty-five combat air assaults, is a number far too low to be awarded in late 1969, when Dana saw combat. “It would be unusual for someone to have gotten an Air Medal for the short time he was in-country,” Garrett says. Instead, a records search reveals that number refers to a 1970 Army Commendation Medal for Heroism, awarded to soldier Ray Black. And, Garrett points out, another designation on Dana’s file, “ACM/V,” is an acronym for a medal last given in World War II.
Garrett says that falsifying military personnel documents is not difficult. “We give them their records to carry back when they go to their next assignment,” Garrett says. “There’s opportunity to add things that don’t belong.” And the actual medals themselves are easy to come by, at flea markets and pawn shops. “There are so many out there that the fact that a person has a medal doesn’t mean anything to us. They have to have a document to back it up.” After researching Dana’s record for D Magazine, Garrett said the military would open its own investigation to determine if he had committed fraud.
Though he told people variously that he was shot or hit by grenade shrapnel, Dana was not wounded in Vietnam, so he could not have won a Purple Heart. According to Joyce Weisner, with the Army Reserve Personnel Center in St. Louis, Dana was shipped to a Japanese hospital apparently after getting a skin condition. He was sent back to Texas after doctors determined that his skin was sun-sensitive.
As for his vaunted undercover work, covert operations such as assassinating civilians in Cambodia wouldn’t be listed on a military record, even if they happened. The CIA will neither confirm nor deny McIn-tosh’s involvement. But Garrett, for one, doubts that McIntosh ever was in the CIA.
“Those people are hand-selected,” Garrett says. “Dana McIntosh was probably not in-country long enough.”
The falsified records seem to indicate that Dana Kaye McIntosh created another Dana McIntosh-more manly, more aggressive, more admirable, more successful. “But as squirrelly as Dana is, he never exhibited any violent tendencies,” says an attorney who knows him. “The person I knew couldn’t do that,” says Thedford. “Dana was gentle and conservative.”
Others disagree. ’”I think maybe Susan found something about the business and said she was getting out,” says one woman friend from the Sunday school class. “I don’t think Dana’s ego would take her leaving him.” She wonders, as do other friends, whether Dana has built a new life for himself in Washington, D. C-a life that had no room for Susan.
Today, the McIntosh house is up for sale. Dana spends little time in Dallas, preferring to take care of his business in Washington, Tennessee, and Florida, Stalcup says. Recently, Dana returned to the Sunday school class. “When he walked in, it was a shock,” Angela says. “There was dead silence. He never mentioned Susan. He never had a tear in his eyes. He never said anything about how sorry he was for everything.”
She remembers a talk Dana gave to the class at Christmas while Susan was teaching third-graders. He waxed on about the Yule traditions in Susan’s family, describing how they gathered at the farm and ate chicken-fried steaks. Her mother made chocolate pies. They would read Christmas cards to each other and say prayers.
It was a touching story. But after Susan’s death, Angela discovered a book in the church library. “That exact story was in it,” she says, shaking her head. “Susan had checked it out.”
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