Sabotage: The Downing of Flight 629
A Mother's Son
Jack Graham was born on January 23, 1932, in Denver. When he was just 3 years old, his father died suddenly. Jack was placed in an orphanage because his mother, Daisie, was unable to take care of him. He lived in a succession of foster homes until the age of 13. In 1940, Daisie met a man named John Earl King and the following year, they were married. She retrieved Jack from the orphanage and the family moved to a large ranch in the northeastern part of the state. But they faced financial problems and found it difficult to make a living. John King began to sell the land, piece by piece. By 1950, the ranch was completely sold off and the family moved again to Yampa, a small town located about 100 miles west of Denver. Daisie King, however, was an astute businesswoman. Through a succession of businesses, including a drive-in restaurant in Denver, she became successful and invested in several real estate ventures. She made money.
In the meantime, young Jack had joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1948. His service record was not a good one, though he had received an honorable discharge in 1949. During his less than one-year service, he was AWOL a total of 63 days. When he retuned to Denver, he held several jobs, excelling at none of them. While he was employed as a clerk for a manufacturing firm in 1951, Graham stole a quantity of payroll checks and cashed them for several thousand dollars. He forged the name of the company president on each one of the checks. With the proceeds, he bought a new convertible and promptly left Colorado and disappeared. During his absence, Denver police built a criminal case against Graham for the theft and forgery of the payroll checks. An arrest warrant was issued and filed away.
On the night of September 11, 1951, outside Lubbock, Texas, a young patrolman attempted to arrest Graham for transporting liquor in his car. Graham decided not to stick around and fled the scene. He led police on a wild, countywide pursuit, which ended when Graham crashed into a police roadblock, injuring several officers and forcing cops to fire dozens of shots into his new convertible. Although he was not injured, Graham was arrested and charged with a number of crimes relating to the chase and illegal transportation of alcohol. On the floor of the front seat of the car, cops found a loaded .44 caliber handgun.
Graham was later sent back to Colorado to face forgery charges. His mother made restitution to the company where he had stolen the checks. Graham was placed on probation and met with his probation officer religiously. By 1953, he was married and had two children. They lived with his mother in a large house, which Daisie had paid for, on Mississippi Avenue in East Denver. Soon, he was managing the drive-in restaurant and business was good. But relations between mother and son were difficult and strained. Graham had to pay back all the money his mother had spent to keep him out of jail. Additionally, he had to pay his mother rent for the house he lived in with his family. Graham fought with his mother publicly and they argued continuously over money. Rumors circulated that Graham was stealing from the family business.
In early 1955, a Chevy truck, owned by Graham, was struck by a train outside Denver. The vehicle had apparently been abandoned on the railroad tracks for some unknown reason, though Graham did not report the truck stolen. The case was never solved. Graham later submitted an insurance claim for the loss of the truck and collected several thousand dollars. He used some of the money to pay back his mother. By October 1955, the debt was almost fully paid.
But Graham's resentment towards his mother had not diminished.