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It was one fifty five pm on April 3rd, 1996, Flight AFO 21, a U.S. military passenger jet was five minutes ahead of schedule. The journey from Bosnia to Croatia should have taken under an hour, but today's weather was less than ideal.


Air Force captains Ashley Davis and Tim Schaefer called their destination for a climate report. It was overcast with patches of rain. Nothing these pilots had navigated before.


At around 254 p.m., the plane passed over the radio beacon outside the airport in Dubrovnik, Croatia. They were traveling slightly faster than the recommended speed, but there were some dignitaries on board. The least these pilots could do is keep them on schedule.


As they approached, the captain's told air control they were ready to land. But an off duty controller named Leandre Gluon knew that wasn't the case.


Gluon live close to the airport, and if a plane was on course, it passed in front of her house. So when she heard the roar of a jet through her rear windows, she knew something was seriously wrong.


Three minutes after the plane contacted the control tower, the clouds cleared. It was then the captains realized they were doomed. St. John's Hill was directly in front of the cockpit.


The aircraft sped into the mountaintop at a speed of one hundred and seventy two miles per hour. The impact clipped the engine and the right wing before snapping the tail. The plane skidded down the slope, sending thirty five passengers to their death.


Amongst the bodies were respected members of the United States Air Force, the Commerce Department and a reporter for The New York Times. But the most memorable was Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. He may have been the reason the plane went down in the first place.


Welcome to Conspiracy Theories, a Spotify original from past every Monday and Wednesday, we dig into the complicated stories behind the world's most controversial events and search for the truth.


I'm Carter Roy. And I'm Molly Brandenberg.


And neither of us are conspiracy theorists, but we are open minded, skeptical and curious. Don't get us wrong. Sometimes the official version is the truth, but sometimes it's not.


You can find episodes of conspiracy theories and all other Spotify originals from Park asked for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.


This is our first episode on U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. Appointed under the Clinton administration, Brown was the first black official to lead the Democratic National Committee and serve in his cabinet position.


In today's episode will follow Ron Brown's career from his time in the National Urban League to assisting in the election of Democratic President Bill Clinton. Then we'll look at Ron Brown's unexpected death in 1996.


On our next episode, we'll unpack the dark side of Secretary Brown detailing his illicit affairs and political corruption. We'll also analyze the April nineteen ninety six crash, its potential cover up and who benefited from having Brown dead?


We have all that and more coming up. Stay with us. This episode is brought to you by McDonald's, get your favorite soft drink at McDonald's for just a dollar, any size, any time.


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If you are tuning in, chances are you've got quite the imagination for the dark, dangerous and deceitful, call for podcasts, but not so cool for your safety, for peace of mind. Consider ADT as the leader in home security provides 24/7 rapid response monitoring from their nine owned and operated call centers. So the only thing you have to worry about is the Wi-Fi connection to keep listening. Learn more at ADT Dotcom. 1955 was a year of walking contradictions ripe with both social progress and degradation throughout America.


In Alabama, a 26 year old minister named Martin Luther King was leading a bus boycott in defiance of segregation in Mississippi.


A 14 year old black boy named Emmett Till was murdered for allegedly saying the words bye baby to a white woman.


Meanwhile, the 20th century's first black baseball player to play in the nation's major leagues, Jackie Robinson, was about to help lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to a World Series win.


Coming of age during these confounding times was a 13 year old black American named Ron Brown. That summer, his life changed when he shook the hand of Vice President Richard Nixon at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem, New York.


Brown never forgot the moment he stared into Nixon's smug face as they smiled for the cameras. We're not sure if it was Nixon's demeanor, his policy or something, he said. But the boy knew from that moment on he would be on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Whereas Nixon was a staunch Republican, Brown would become a consummate Democrat.


Ron Brown showed qualities of a great political leader as early as age five, he was already reading the newspaper, studying French and sharpening his social skills. His cousin, Bobby Jones recalled, even as a youngster, he made you feel that you were the only person he wanted to talk to.


This was thanks to his father, Bill Brown, who was a good role model. Bill worked for progressive government programs like FDR, Federal Housing and Home Financing Administration. His job was to secure homes for low income families, but his work moved his own family around the country, making it hard for young Ron to establish normalcy.


In 1947, Bill began managing Harlem's famed Hotel Theresa. The location was an upscale destination for black celebrities, athletes, politicians and civil rights leaders.


The Browns took up residency on the top floor of the hotel here. Six year old Ryan was exposed to a life of luxury. Guests spoiled him with trips to players and sporting events and introductions to celebrities experiences that were rare for a black boy growing up in 1950s Harlem.


But later that decade, the family fell on hard times. Bill lost his job and moved his family to the suburbs. He sold beauty supplies and insurance just to get by.


The comforts of their previous life were a distant memory, one that took an emotional toll, causing Ron's parents to file for divorce when he was a teenager in the aftermath. Ron gave up on his academics free time that should have been dedicated to his studies were spent placating his mother's depression despite his lack of focus.


Ron graduated with an acceptance to Middlebury College in Vermont when Ron Brown arrived in 1958. He was one of only three black students enrolled in the university, but he wasn't intimidated.


Brown's confidence allowed him to achieve many firsts. At Middlebury College, one of the most defining moments was when he became the first black man to join Sigma Alpha Epsilon, a previously all white fraternity.


Unfortunately, brown place too much emphasis on perfecting his social skills. His academics declined and he flunked out of Middlebury. But the 18 year old saw the pitfall as another obstacle to overcome.


Brown used his powers of persuasion to negotiate with the college administration, winning his way back into Middlebury. It was a shrewd skill, one that would prove useful throughout his career.


On Labor Day weekend, 1959, Brown's life changed forever. He met the love of his life, Alma Arrington. The pair had a lot in common, having both grown up in Middle-Class Black Families with similar interests for nearly a year. They exchanged letters from their respective campuses.


Meanwhile, Brown enrolled for Middlebury's Reserve Officers Training Corps. The honor of serving his country in the ROTC coincided with his marriage to Alma in the summer of 1962.


Their love was put to the test when Brown deployed to Korea in 1966. It was there he received his first taste of leadership. He trained soldiers assigned to the Korean augmentation to the U.S. Army, otherwise known as Katusa.


Essentially, Katusa was a military ambassador program, bringing in soldiers from the South Korean army to work positions within the U.S. military. Brown rewrote the curriculum for this program, turning him into one of the best institutions in the army, according to his lieutenants, after returning home in 1967.


Brown was faced with a difficult decision to renew his service or continue life as a civilian. It was at this crossroads that a serendipitous opportunity came his way.


Brown learned of a job opening at the National Urban League, a non-partisan civil rights agency who fought for social justice on behalf of the black community. Essentially, the league helped secure jobs, education and housing.


Brown became a trainee adviser at the Bronx, New York, branch. His task was to find businesses with job openings and established training programs to prepare black candidates.


The Urban League was also supportive of its own employees. With their flexible hours, they encouraged staff members to continue with their degrees. Brown took advantage of this opportunity by attending law school.


Between 1967 and 1970, Ron Brown studied law at St. John's University. Meanwhile, America was experiencing unprecedented changes when it came to social justice.


The new left pushed the boundaries of sexuality, feminism and abortion. The Black Panthers stormed the California Capitol building, demanding equality for all campuses nationwide felt the effects of Mario Savio free speech protests that rocked UC Berkeley.


There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, but you can't take part. You can't even possibly take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus. And you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.


When the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Kent State, students protesting the Vietnam War, the landscape of American universities changed drastically. St. John's was no different.


Brown used his resources from the league and encouraged the school's administration to sit down with its student leaders and black power groups as one of the students leading the negotiations. He persuaded the faculty to adhere to their demands, and thanks to his efforts, St.. John's began hiring more black teachers and enrolling more black students.


In the spring of 1970, Brown graduated with his law degree and passed the New York bar exam the following year, even with his shiny new credentials.


Brown remained loyal to the league. At age 30, he was promoted to their general counsel, reviewing the organization's upcoming plans and programs to make sure they acted in accordance with the law.


A couple of years later, he was named director of the National Urban League's Washington bureau. It was the perfect fit for Brown, who had known since age 13 that he loved rubbing elbows with Capitol Hill's elite. Now he'd be the liaison between the leagues programs and federal agencies.


Brown's skills as an intermediary did not go unnoticed. Some six years later, in the fall of 1979, the campaign manager for Senator Ted Kennedy called. He wanted to know if Brown would consider a new position helping Ted Kennedy become president.


As in any campaign risk was involved, these operations could run out of money or in a more likely scenario, Kennedy could lose the election and Brown could be back to looking for work.


But that didn't matter to Brown or his wife, Alma. Despite having a mortgage and two young children, she supported his transition into politics. So he quit his job at the league and joined Senator Kennedy on the campaign trail.


Officially, Brown's job was to help with political strategy, but his real job was to attract the support of black Americans. Coming up, Ron Brown secures another first with the Democratic National Committee.


Hi, it's Vanessa from Podcast Network, and I'm thrilled to tell you that this month marks a huge milestone for us.


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Now back to the story.


In December 1979, Brown found himself on Senator Ted Kennedy's estate in West Palm Beach, Florida. He'd reached paradise both literally and figuratively.


Here he was chatting political strategy with a potential president of the United States. The Democratic primaries were right around the corner. Kennedy knew he stood a tough chance, winning against incumbent President Jimmy Carter. But Brown didn't see it that way. As a man of firsts himself, he had faith Kennedy could win over the black vote and secure the Oval Office.


As part of their strategy, Brown suggested Kennedy spend time campaigning in black churches and news outlets while developing relationships with black celebrities and organizations.


But the campaign's lack of funds made outreach difficult. Kennedy's team barely raised enough money to pay their own employees, not to mention the senator was polling poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire. Important states for the nomination.


Brown's cool head and positive attitude kept Kennedy in the running. In fact, his soothing demeanor landed him the role of deputy campaign manager.


After that, Brown's newest challenge was a sizable one. He was tasked with winning over the state of California, and since the campaign no longer had money to produce ads and purchase airtime, Brown got creative. He used what little money the Kennedys had to create inexpensive commercials and air them on low cost markets.


It was Brown's ingenuity that won Kennedy the vote in California. After that, people started asking, when was Ron Brown going to run for office?


Despite Kennedy's progressive policies and brown sway with the black community, the senator never made it past the primaries. In August 1980, Kennedy conceded the nomination to Jimmy Carter at the Democratic National Convention.


Let me say a few words to all those that I have met and to all those who have supported me at this convention and across the country. There were hard hours on our journey and often we sailed against the wind. But always we kept our rudder. True. And there were so many of you who stayed the course and shared our hope. You gave your help, but even more you gave your hearts. And because of you, this has been a happy campaign.


You're welcome to me and our family into your homes and neighborhoods, your churches, your campuses, your union halls. And when I think back of all the miles and all the months and all the memories, I think of you and I recall the poet's words and I say, what golden friends I had.


It didn't take long for Brown to get back on his feet. Thanks to the Kennedys, he became the deputy chair and the general counsel for the Democratic National Committee in 1981. The organization was the governing body for the Democratic Party, helping to get their candidates elected on a local, state and national level as the committee's lawyer.


Brown needed a firm to call home, so his old boss, Kennedy, put in a call to one of the most authoritative practices in the country, Patton Boggs and Blow. And they didn't just hire Brown, they made him a partner.


Brown's salary went from around sixty five thousand dollars a year, up to a reported two hundred thousand dollars. Now Brown could resurrect the comforts he missed from his childhood. The cushy job paid for expensive cars, fine dining and prep schools for Brown's kids. Under the firm's unofficial slogan, You eat what you kill. Brown knew he'd have to bring in some big fish if you wanted to maintain this lifestyle.


At first, Brown juggled his role with the DNC and the firm with ease. His job as deputy chair meant Brown had his eye out for fresher forward thinking Democrats to fill the party. One committee official remarked how Brown was single handedly responsible for bringing more women into the policymaking circle.


Meanwhile, over at Patton Boggs and Blow, Brown was perfecting his skills in lobbying, meaning he influenced political decisions on behalf of powerful companies and organizations.


Brown's job was to introduce these clients to federal agencies and officials who might sway the law in their favor no matter how corrupt, Brown always saw a way to rationalize his client's cause and frame it with a humanitarian angle. For example, one of Brown's most dubious clients was the government of Haiti. In 1983, Haiti was ruled by a dictator named Jean-Claude Duvalier. Haiti was looking to secure federal aid from the U.S., so they hired Brown to lobby for those funds on Capitol Hill, according to Brown's daughter, Tracy.


Her father took on the fascist regime for the good of its people. He didn't believe the citizens of Haiti should be punished for the actions of their leadership. Except Brown got more out of the transaction than heroism in Tracey's book, The Life and Times of Ron Brown.


She claims Haiti wasn't receiving any government aid from the U.S. at the time, mainly because they'd been violating human rights policies, according to her. Brown convinced the Duvalier regime to change how they treated their people. If they could prove they were evolving, the U.S. government would be more inclined to give them federal aid budget.


Cashel, author of Ron Brown's Body, says this wasn't exactly the case. According to Cashel, Haiti was already getting federal relief from the United States. Thirty eight million dollars a year, to be exact. What Brown did was manipulate Haiti's image in order to secure them more funding from the American government in doing so. Brown managed to up the dictatorship's pay to 55 million dollars per year, all of which might have seemed above board had it actually benefited the people of Haiti.


But Brown reportedly made sure the money went directly into the pockets of Duvalier rather than private aid programs.


It was out of this relationship with Haiti that Brown began his signature trade missions, the goal of these trips was to introduce government officials and CEOs to foreign countries over the hope of sparking international business opportunities.


Specifically, Brown wanted to introduce black owned American companies to the Haitian economy. Problem was, according to Cashell, the businesses he introduced them to were owned by the dictator Duvalier and his associates.


And one of those black owned companies called Harman International belong to Ron Brown himself. In the end, Cashel claims that Brown made a significant bonus, collecting a cut of the imports and exports from Haiti while claiming it was for the good of the Haitian people.


Then, in 1985, a constitutional referendum gave the Duvalier regime more power than ever before. It reconfirmed him as president for life and gave him the power to select a prime minister as well as his next successor.


The people of Haiti had reached a breaking point that year. Citizens rose up against the Duvalier regime, and the Reagan administration suspended all aid to the country. But that reportedly didn't stop Brown from trying to lobby it back.


The Haitian revolt was successful. The following year, Duvalier left his post and fled to France. But a former associate of Brownes named Nalanda Hill claimed that the corporate looting didn't stop. It's unclear for how long, but Brown apparently continued to profit off of the Haitian people even after the fall of the fascist regime. This history with Haiti would continue to haunt Brown for his entire career.


Despite being one of the firm's biggest moneymakers, Brown felt unfulfilled, he yearned for his days in public service and decided it was time to fully immerse himself in politics.


In November 1988, he calmly gauged Almaz perspective, saying, quote, Honey, you know, I'm really thinking I'd like to run for chairman of the party.


He was referring to the highest ranking position in the Democratic National Committee, a seat that had only ever been filled by white men.


Brown must have sensed opportunity on the horizon because in December of that year, the current DNC chair, Paul Kirk, said he'd be stepping down.


As soon as Brown announced he was running as Kirk's replacement, he received significant backlash. According to Brown's daughter, Tracy, Louisiana State Chair James J. Grady told Brown that voters wouldn't be comfortable with him in this position of power.


He said they risk the South seceding from the party entirely.


Louisiana Senator John Breaux also told Brown he wasn't right for the job. Breaux said it would send the wrong message if a black man were to lead the Democratic Party.


This was the first time Brown had experienced such glaring racism in his career. Those who once supported him now told him he was overstepping boundaries. It was a heartbreaking realization. Despite being in their tax bracket, he wasn't earning the same respect as his white counterparts. The worst of it came during a DNC meeting in Atlanta. As the candidates for chair were announced one by one, they were greeted with standing ovations.


Instead, when Ron Brownstein was called, he walked on stage to silence. He was met with blank stares and looks of disgust. Brown later said of that moment, I felt like a penny waiting for change.


But this wasn't enough to thwart him. Instead, he did what he knew best. He called every DNC member who'd shunned him in Atlanta and sweet talk them into support. He pitched his plans for the next presidential election and spoke about reuniting their divided party. It also helped that he was neither a liberal nor a conservative. He appealed to both sides of the spectrum.


Brown won over the members one by one. In February 1989, he was unanimously voted as the first black chair of the Democratic National Committee, but he had his work cut out for him.


His number one task was making sure a Democrat was named president in the next election.


Meanwhile, Brown hired younger members, people of color and more women to help run the party. He showed drive and passion for every electoral race, local, state or otherwise. He raised more money for the DNC than anyone else had before.


By the 1990s, Brown was the most powerful Democrat in America. But now he prepared for his most important task to date finding the perfect presidential candidate.


He knew America needed someone they could trust, someone they respected who could also raise money, carry a campaign and attract a wide audience, someone who would make Ron Brown look like a superstar.


That man was Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.


Coming up, Brown's career in the White House leads to his devastating demise.


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Now back to the story after becoming the first black chair of the Democratic National Committee in 1989, Ron Brown felt consumed with purpose. His number one goal was getting a Democrat elected as president after vetting multiple candidates for the role. The forty 45 year old governor of Arkansas seemed like the best fit.


Bill Clinton had indisputable leadership qualities. He knew how to handle the press on difficult topics and was beloved by many in the DNC, including the man who mattered most, Ron Brown.


In October 1991, Clinton stepped up to the challenge. In the months following, he gained a strong lead over the other Democrats in the primaries. Brown encouraged the other candidates to drop out of the race and throw their weight behind Clinton. He felt the focus should be on beating President George Bush senior, not members of their own party. But Governor Clinton was a ticking time bomb at the height of his campaign, news broke about his alleged affair with singer and actress Gennifer Flowers.


The starlet came forward claiming she met Clinton while reporting at KIRO TV in 1977. The two had a 12 year relationship, which Clinton denied.


Many Democrats insisted Brown ditched Clinton. He still had time to search for a new candidate. Amongst those voices was the matriarch of the party, Pamela Harriman. Harriman was a major Democratic fundraiser and a confidant of Brown's. She didn't believe Clinton could survive the scandal. Even if he did, he tarnished the party's reputation.


Brown ignored her concerns and remained loyal to Clinton. This proved to be a risky but shrewd move despite the scandal.


Clinton swept the primaries. Now the nominee had to beat the incumbent president, George H.W. Bush.


In 1992, the United States was struggling to recover from a terrible recession, the wealthy Bush seemed out of touch with the American people. He spent more time on foreign policy than reinvigorating the economy. Brown saw this as an opportunity to push Clinton to head.


The governor's campaign drilled the need for economic growth, something Clinton had accomplished in Arkansas. This, along with his charisma and confidence, won over the hearts of America. Bush was not re-elected for a second term. The election went to Bill Clinton.


This election is a clarion call for our country to face the challenges of the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the next century to restore growth to our country and opportunity to our people to empower our own people so that they can take more responsibility for their own lives to face problems too long ignored from AIDS to the environment to the conversion of our economy from a defense to any mistake, economic giant, and perhaps most important of all, to bring our people together as never before so that our diversity can be a source of strength in a world that is ever smaller, where everyone counts and everyone is a part of America's family.


Now that Brown had an all access pass to the White House, he fantasized about which role he'd play next. Secretary of State, Chief of staff, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. The possibilities were endless.


Deep down, Brown really wanted to be the first black president of the United States one day. Any position that could give him that leverage would be ideal. But it was all up to Clinton.


In the weeks leading up to his inauguration, Brown met with the president elect at the Hay Adams Hotel in D.C. It was the day Brown had been waiting for the offer that would change his career forever.


Except Brown didn't anticipate the words that followed. Clinton wanted him to be U.S. secretary of commerce, and he needed Brown to accept or decline the role by morning.


Brown wasn't displeased. He just wasn't sure how he felt about the role. So he quickly phoned his friend Jim Destler at the DNC headquarters and told him about the offer, to which Jim replied, quote, I'm really embarrassed about asking you this, but what does a commerce secretary do?


Brown wasn't entirely sure himself, but he was going to find out after accepting the position.


Brown learned that the secretary of Commerce role was a perfect fit. He'd help grow the U.S. economy by expanding into new international markets, a skill he'd acquired through his trade missions with Patton Boggs and Blow.


As with any cabinet position, Brown needed to be officially approved by the Senate. First, he had to familiarize himself with the many departments he'd oversee from the U.S. Weather Service to the Patent and Trademark Office to the Office of Travel and Tourism. It was a massive undertaking, but Brown's confidence never wavered.


However, there was one setback Brown's former representation of the fascist Duvalier regime on the Senate floor.


Brown executed his defense flawlessly. It wasn't the first time he had to safeguard a morally questionable decision, and it wouldn't be the last.


Brown highlighted all of the benefits that had come from his representation of Haiti.


He explained to the Senate committee how he'd helped to install the Peace Corps in Haiti and convinced Duvalier to reexamine his policies on human rights.


Brown was approved, but controversy would follow him for the rest of his career.


One of his most important jobs as commerce secretary was to help American companies expand their businesses overseas. Brown was constantly organizing trade missions and traveling the world. Meanwhile, the country's top CEOs were dying to get a seat on those planes.


Brown created new opportunities in unprecedented nations like Malaysia, Senegal and Chile. He brought in 40 billion dollars worth of new business throughout his career.


Despite the revenue, Brown continually found himself in hot water, for starters, he didn't agree with Clinton on certain decisions like the one happening with Arms Corps. This was a state owned South African business that allegedly shipped weapons to Iran, a large violation of the South African arms accord. Essentially, Brown thought it was in the United States best interest to not intervene. But Clinton insisted on getting involved.


The president also told Brown to stay away from business in Colombia, but the secretary pushed back, reminiscent of his relationship with Haiti. Brown insisted that international trade would help the people of Colombia citizens who were largely oppressed by the illegal drug industry. And as usual, Brown got his way outside of the Oval Office.


Brown face serious threats to his reputation. A conservative publication accused him of accepting a bribe from the Vietnamese government. Allegedly, this payment was meant to convince the Clinton administration to lift their trade embargo.


On top of that, Attorney General Janet Reno had her eye on Brown after Brown misfiled the financial disclosure report. Reno believed he was concealing payments from a former associate named Nalanda Hill. She believed this was another exchange for his influence on Capitol Hill.


Brown was complicating the Clinton administration in more ways than one. With his reputation floundering, many advised Clinton to replace the secretary of commerce. Whether or not the president planned to take that advice is uncertain.


In April 1996, Brown embarked on a trade mission to Croatia. The nation was rebuilding after a brutal civil war, and Brown saw this as an opportunity for U.S. companies like Boeing, an aerospace company, and Enron and Energy Corp. to get in on the ground floor.


And Brown had other business to attend to in Croatia. His itinerary included a meeting with the president, Franjo Tuzman. He'd also be leading the negotiations between international businessmen, the meeting with President Bush.


One was set to take place in the capital city of Zagreb. But at the last minute, the Croatian government suggested Brown fly to the city of Dubrovnik to meet with him instead.


On the morning of April 3rd, 1996, the U.S. ambassador to Croatia, Morris Reid, was scheduled to fly with Brown and his team. But Brown asked him to stay back in Zagreb. He needed him to handle conflict with Enron. Reid promised he'd get the job done and join Brown in Dubrovnik later that day.


That never happened at around six a.m.. Brown took a 40 minute flight to Tuzla, Bosnia. It was a quick stopover where he said hello to the troops at a nearby U.S. Army base. Brown dropped off a few hundred McDonald's hamburgers to thank them for their service. Then he got back on the plane to head to Dubrovnik.


A little before 2:00 p.m., Brown boarded the military passenger jets, the same plane that had transported first lady Hillary Clinton on her European travels a month before.


Despite the wind and rain in Croatia, the pilots made contact with Dubrovnik to ground control around 254 p.m. They displayed no signs of distress or indication that anything had malfunctioned on the plane. And yet it was the last time anyone heard from the crew.


Minutes later, the jet disappeared from radar. By three p.m., Morris Reid had beaten Ron Brown to the tarmac, the first indication that something was off.


Reid knew firsthand that Croatia was a war torn country operating with outdated technologies and systems. He suspected that it was only a delay, but it wasn't.


Ron Brown's plane had collided with St. John's Hill that afternoon. Alma Brown got a call from Clinton. He said that her husband's plane had gone missing in Croatia. American search crews scoured the nearby Adriatic Sea for evidence. Almost first thought was that the plane had been shot down.


Clinton told her there was no indication of that, but she may have been on to something.


Later that day, a Croatian villager reported an explosion near St. John's Hill. The rescue teams narrowed down their search all through the night. They combed the location and uncovered the wreckage of the jet.


Ambassador Reid was among the search and rescue teams trying to locate survivors with the discover. Three of each dead body. He lost more and more hope then amid the ash and the rubble, Reid spotted a familiar face. It was Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. Neither he nor the other 34 passengers had survived.


Despite the impact, Brown's body remained intact. Aside from chemical burns and lacerations on his face and torso, Brown's injuries reportedly didn't appear to be lethal. What may have killed him was the alleged 45 caliber bullet hole through his head. Next time, we'll explore a few theories surrounding Brown's past, the plane crash and his enemies conspiracy theory number one, Ron Brown was wildly corrupt, taking on seductive mistresses and accepting life altering bribes.


Conspiracy theory number two. Brown's plane crash was not accidental and may have been instigated by foreign powers.


And finally, conspiracy theory number three, the Clintons ordered the hit on the commerce secretary themselves.


Was Ron Brown's death caused by outdated equipment, bad weather and faulty aerial maps, or was there something more nefarious happening behind the scenes?


Perhaps Brown was nothing more than a scapegoat, a political fall guy who took Washington's darkest secrets down in that plane with him. Thanks for tuning into conspiracy theories, we'll be back next time with Part two on Ron Brown. Out of the many sources we used, we found The Life and Times of Ron Brown by Tracy Brown. Helpful to our research. You can find all episodes of conspiracy theories and all other Spotify originals from PA cast for free on Spotify.


Until then, remember, the truth isn't always the best story, and the official story isn't always the truth.


Conspiracy Theories is a Spotify original from podcast. It is executive produced by Max Cutler Sound, designed by Dick Schroder with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Travis Clark. This episode of Conspiracy Theories was written by Lori Gottlieb with writing assistants by Nix, Mort and Ali Whicker, fact checking by Annibale and research by Bradley Klein. Conspiracy theory stars Molly Brandenberg and Carter Roy.


Hi, listeners, it's Vanessa again. Before you go, don't forget to check out the Spotify original from podcast Serial Killers each week.


Join me and my co-host Gregg for a deep dive into the minds and madness of history's most notorious murderers. You can binge hundreds of episodes, four years worth and catch new episodes every Monday and Thursday. Listen to serial killers free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.