Lead investigator says Pan Am 103 attack transformed the FBI

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — At first, now-retired FBI Special Agent Dick Marquise was just a citizen mourning the loss of 190 Americans on board Pan Am 103 as the plane exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

“Lockerbie was unlike anything that we had faced. It was the largest crime scene in history,” Marquise said.

Within hours, it was his to investigate after discovering what was left of the cargo hold.

“This was an aluminum cargo container, and the framing of it had indications of a high explosive. And that’s when we knew it was a high-powered bomb that had brought that flight down,” Marquise explained.

It took them 12 years to convict one of the murderers. Another suspect still faces a trial, now scheduled for May of 2025. Overall, it was a success for the FBI, but not a flawless one.

“In 1988, the FBI was not great at dealing with major catastrophes like this in dealing with the the families of the of victims who died in a horrible way,” said Marquise.

Marquise admits the families who felt they were deprived of information were right. So the laws and the bureau evolved.

There is no doubt in Marquise’s mind that the families of the victims of 9/11 were better served because of what happened to Pan Am Flight 103.

Over the years, Marquise grew close with the families of Syracuse’s lost students.

“I don’t think that there ever really is closure. You can find the people that did this. You can put them in prison. But how do you make up for a life never lived?” Marquise said.

Through the work of Dick Marquise and Syracuse University, those lives never lived aren’t forgotten.

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