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Amateur Radio... And Espionage
N5FOT at the Anoka County ARC annual Christmas dinner, December 2, 1989
In the late summer of 1990, I was approached by the Princeton, Minnesota School District and asked if I wanted to teach an "Amateur Radio" course in the Adult Continuing Education Program. I had been involved in "ham radio" since my youth...and have always been a promoter of the fraternity. At the time I was president of the Anoka County Amateur Radio Club...with around 90 members. The school district offered to pay a modest amount in return for my services. The class was advertised in the "Princeton Union Eagle" as well a "mail out" by the school district.
A short time later...a curious thing happened. Jim Adams, who lived near Zimmerman and was a physical therapy patient of Nancy... and who was on full disability after three worker's comp claims, called me on the telephone and asked me if I would mind if he attended the ham radio course. What made it "curious"...is that none of the other students called and sought my permission to attend...Why was Jim Adams motivated to make such a request?
I began teaching the course at the Princeton Middle School, early in the fall of 1990, which ran for about 8 weeks, as I recall. About a dozen students started the course, while only about 6 completed it....and many of those individuals having irregular attendance. Jim Adams was there for every class and had always completed whatever assignments that were made for "out of class" study. He was steadily developing his Morse code skills...and for all appearances, seemed to be my most motivated student.
At the conclusion of the course, I administered the Morse code and written exam...with the willing assistance of Nancy....who had obtained her amateur license through self study, in Houston, only a few months after we were married. Federal Communications Commission regulations require the administration of the exam to be in presence of at least two licensed amateurs with a "General Class" license or higher. Curiously, Nancy seemed more than eager to assist with the examination.
During our marriage, Nancy and I used a simplex frequency in a "remote area" of the amateur 2-meter band, on 146.235 MHz...as a virtual "private frequency". I had a large antenna in the yard...in addition to radios in both vehicles. Having the mobile radio communications capability proved invaluable in many occasions.
The radio also permitted Nancy the ability to know exactly where I was at almost any time. At other times, through a system of repeaters, I kept Nancy appraised of my location, believing it to be a polite and caring consideration. With hindsight...during the period of 1991 to 1992...HAM RADIO...gave her much, much more.
Later that fall, on October 27th 1990, one of the local Minneapolis radio clubs sponsored a large regional "Hamfest" in Brooklyn Park. The event was held at the Hennepin Vocational-Technical College in Maple Grove...and provided a place for electronic equipment vendors from throughout the Midwest to "sell their wares".
Jim Adams called me once again...this time to ask if I would help him choose a 2-meter radio to purchase at the convention. I agreed to help him. He now had upgraded his license to "Technician" grade and had obtained the amateur call sign "N0MSO". I met him at the convention as promised...and he selected a relatively expensive 2-meter portable radio or "handy-talkie". I seem to remember that he spent close to $400.00 for the radio.
Over the course of the next several weeks...I noted with growing curiosity that I had never heard Jim on the radio. My curiosity was rooted in almost 30 years of past experience...in that usually, when someone got a new license and new radio, you would hear them "on the air" at all hours. I had not heard Jim Adams on the radio at all. On two separate occasions, I "ran into" Jim in public... once at the Burger King in Elk River, near the Ace Hardware store, where he worked part time. Each time, I asked him... "Jim...I haven't heard you on the radio...How come?" ...and each time he responded with..."I just like to listen. I enjoy listening"...he said.
By January 1992, Nancy and I were separated and I was living in a rented basement apartment about 2 miles north of Princeton. The owner had permitted me to hang a discone antenna from a tree limb, outside my apartment... and that small "antenna farm" was to soon become an essential part of exposing a dark side of Nancy's behavior.
Sometime later, I received a phone call from an elderly ham friend of mine named Tom Ware, who was known to everybody in the Midwest as "Chicken Feathers"..."W0CF". Tom was quite a remarkable person to know. He had been in the "radio intelligence" division of the Federal Communication Commission before World War II. He subsequently had been in the OSS during the war and had been dropped behind the German lines in France to assist the French underground with communications. After the war he again joined the FCC as an inspector and examiner. Through it all, he had been a "ham's ham"... and was an active member of the Anoka County ARC.
What I had NOT known was that Tom had been listening in on the "secret frequency" Nancy and I were using for many months. Tom had grown upset listening to the condescending manner in which Nancy was talking to me...and wanted to let me know that he "knew what was going on". I somehow felt consoled, after all the stress of the time... in that there was at least another individual who could understand the ridicule and pain I was enduring.
Soon after the first phone call from Tom Ware, he called once again. Tom's house was full of scanners and other radio equipment. He had made a hobby of being a master of all there was to know that was going on in the radio spectrum. Tom had discovered some unusual radio transmissions which he had come to believe were originating in the Princeton area. He asked me if I was aware of them. I responded with "no" at the time....but I was instantly suspicious.
The radio signals in question were being operated on 145.895 MHz...in the lower part of the 2-meter band. Upon listening over a short time, it was clear to me that there were three radios in operation on this frequency. There was seldom any voice communications made...only a series of long to short key down transmissions. This is not the kind of thing that a legitimate radio amateur operation would entail. Whoever was doing this was either doing something illegal or immoral. Was it a smuggler or dope dealer who had found the benefits of using 2-meters?
After a short while, I was able to evaluate the "finger print" of the three transmitters being used. One radio had a characteristic known as "alternator wine"...which at low engine RPM in a car, sounds like a low pitched siren as the engine speed varies. (At the time, Nancy was driving a 1984 Dodge Caravan which I had previously known had this problem). This same radio had a transmit power of 50 watts...and clearly was presented a strong "receive signal" on my radio. The second radio being used had a low level "60 cycle hum" on the carrier. (This was from a radio which was at the house which was powered through a 12 volt car battery in the basement...and was our "emergency" radio in the event of a power failure. The hum was a little more than a nuisance...but clearly evident on the signal). The third radio signal was generally a "clean" carrier...but noticeably weaker than the other two radios...the kind of signal level you would expect from a 21/2 watt "handy-talkie".
I set up a "voice operated" tape recorder with a 2-meter receiver, hooked to the discone antenna, in order to monitor the "espionage frequency". I had a time hack on the tape recorder in order to establish what times the signals were occurring whenever I was at work or sleeping. The activity seemed to be most frequent at around 7:30 AM and also between 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM. At other times it would be active around 10:30 to 11:30 PM.
On one occasion, I could hear a child "fussing" in the background on the radio with the "alternator wine" (Nancy's Dodge Caravan). On another occasion I clearly heard Jim Adams "sign" a transmission with "N0MSO".... specifically, about 11 PM one night, saying, "N-0-M-S-O...good night now". At the time, I could not remember the call sign he had received many months earlier, after upgrading to Technician. One on the guys I worked with in the F.A.A. ...and who had also been in my amateur radio class...and taken the exam at the same time, had been assigned the amateur call "N0MSP". This was easy to remember as "MSP" is the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport identifier...and it seemed a coincidence that an F.A.A. person would who lived in Minneapolis...would be assigned this call. The other known factor here was that the F.C.C. normally issues radio calls in alphabetical sequence. Whoever was using the call "N0MSO" had also been in the same upgrade class as my friend at work. The following Saturday morning, I made a trip to "Radio City", the local ham radio store in Fridley to look at the latest "Amateur Radio Callsigns" book... which revealed that the call sign N0MSO was assigned to James Francis Adams of Rural Route 1, Zimmerman, Minnesota.
The conclusion of this evidence of course was...that I had both trained and equipped my wife and Jim Adams with the knowledge and equipment to conduct "secret rendezvous" through an illicit procedure with ham radio equipment. Few people may comprehend the degree of failing as is evidenced here.
Months later, at our divorce hearing in the Mille Lacs County courthouse, I set a small cardboard box on the large table in the center of the court room. It was obviously full of cassette voice tapes... with the box labeled "145.895" on all sides. It was placed there, in the appearance of being evidence to be admitted to the court. Nancy obviously saw it... and it was very likely, the first moment she may have realized, that all of her deception and dishonesty had not gone without documentation... and it was likely the first time it was clear, she was about to be confronted.
Most of the 12 years of our relationship were nice ones. We had tried to have a child for some time... and Nancy had finally become pregnant after 10 very prolonged, complicated years of trying. For reasons she has never shared, she made a decision to compromise the basis of a very close friendship in January 1989, while I was attending an FAA school in Oklahoma City.
Given to my suspicion, I wanted most to confront someone who I had always considered my "best friend". Not out of anger, nor fear, nor as a vindictive act... but merely to confront my "best friend" with her problem, I asked my attorney to present the following question during the divorce hearing. Because of a long sequence of unexplained allegations towards me, I had already sought a D.N.A. paternity test, which established a "zero probability" that I had contributed to the genetic pool" of a child I had delivered... and knew only as, my son.
In the pre-divorce period, Nancy had signed notarized statements, affirming that I was the father of "a child born during the period of the marriage." In that process, she was attempting to get, what would have been more than $250,000. over the term and the conditions, that I would have been required to pay child support. In signing that document, she had illegally committed perjury, for which the District Court would prove to be, more than willing to look the other way. I would sometimes find myself wondering, "Who else had she been in bed with?"
Attorney Michael Williams of Princeton spoke the following, to Nancy, who was sitting in the witness stand at the time. "Name the individual with whom you had sexual intercourse, appropriate at the time to conceive the child, William Kendall Waters".
After considerable discourse between the two attorneys and Judge Stephen Ruble, there was a recess, to permit the judge to research, as to whether we had the right to ask the question. During the discourse, Nancy remained in the witness stand... and in one of the few times she would make eye contact with me in many, many months... looked at me as she mimed in silence... " I hate your guts". Nobody in the courtroom saw it but me... and I felt badly that Nancy had failed understand why, I was confronting her in this manner.
The judge (a former patient of Nancy), returned from the recess after about 20 minutes and turned to Nancy, still sitting in the witness chair. He then stated, "Sometimes there are things judges have to do, that we really don't like doing... but I am going to rule, they have a right to ask the question".
Then... attorney Williams did something remarkable. He went straight in to asking a long series of questions for perhaps another 45 minutes, all the while, with Nancy knowing, that sooner or later, "THE" question was going to be asked once again.
When the question, "Name the individual with whom you had sexual intercourse with, at a time appropriate to conceive the child William Kendall Waters?", was asked... Nancy responded, "Well Ashley, I guess you want to know... Jim Adams".
I had known the answer to that question for many months. It was asked purely and wholly to confront someone's behavior, much as a parent would do to confront a child, already knowing the answer the child should respond with... and done mainly for the child's inner needs.
Nancy changed the name of "my son", whom I had never suspected was not just that, until he was over 2 years old. I had grown to love him very, much... just as any father would be doing, in all that was natural to do.
His name is now "James Kendall Nichols"... I guess that is a derivative from the name of his biological father, with "Nichols" being her maiden name. "Nichols" is the name she apparently has chosen to use on her FCC license information, which can be viewed by researching "N5FOT" on "QRZ.com". In 2004, "my son" would now be 15 years old. Nancy, in an apparent vindictive motivation (and what she perceives will save her future embarrassment, if confronted by her son), has seen to it that I have had absolutely no contact with him...
Nancy has never spoken a single word, not attempted to communicate in any manner, including even a modest expression of remorse, since her last words spoken to me at the divorce hearing. One might consider a pathology that would include something akin to a psychopath... and for that, it is difficult to feel anger towards her. Somehow... and I accept you may not comprehend why, there is still a place within me that holds a spot for her as a "friend".
N5FOT and N0MSO appear to no longer have any relationship. She soon dropped him after the divorce, after the death of Lorna Kinney (Director of Rehab at the hospital). She was soon pursuing, the widower Steve Kinney, who is a teacher at Princeton High School... and who also, once tried to represent himself to me as a "friend".
During the period of time before the divorce, I got wind that Jim Adams was suing State Farm Insurance for an additional $250,000. for "pain and suffering". This gets really involved to explain here... but I was convinced he had been defrauding the insurance company all along. I called the Minnesota State Insurance board, who contacted State Farm Insurance... and in a few days, I was called by a private detective, under contract with State Farm.
The detective drove to Princeton and took me to lunch. I explained the general situation... and how in a small town, one's physical therapist could have more than a normal amount of influence on the disposition of a patient's case. I explained to the detective that Jim Adams had "an unusual relationship" with his physical therapist... and he was in fact, the biological father of her child. I then furnished the detective a 2-meter radio and gave him instructions on how to monitor their "communications". I explained to him where Nancy lived and where Jim Adams lived.
After a few months, the detective called me, saying he had "something I want to show you". He explained that on the previous weekend, he had "spent the entire day dressed in a camouflage suit, crawling on my belly in a corn field, next to Nancy's house". He sounded quite excited on the phone... and I was soon to view why that was so.
He had made a video tape, which repeatedly shows Jim Adams climbing up and down a 2 story extension ladder, through the afternoon, painting his physical therapist's house... with her looking on, clad in a bikini bathing suit.
I was later asked if I would testify in federal court, on the behalf of State Farm Insurance, in their attempt to thwart his obtaining more insurance fraud money. That morning in court in downtown Minneapolis, my presence "so upset" Jim Adams, that his attorney asked the judge to have me removed from the courtroom. I sat in the hall, just outside the courtroom for the remainder of the morning, listening to the proceeds. I later obtained a court transcript of the event. He lost $250,000. that day, with me never saying a word in court...
His physical therapist was later investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The day the BCA appeared at Fairview Northland Regional Hospital in Princeton... every one of the hospital records pertaining to Jim Adams had been purged.
Nancy continues to work as a state certified physical therapist in that same hospital. The Fairview Corporation clearly "looked the other way".
This is an example of a very painful way... of losing one's "best friend"... in fact the best friend I would ever imagine, that I would ever have. Twelve years later, I still, regularly experience nightmares relating to that period of my life. I pray you may never experience such a loss...
There is a great deal of further, protracted information, including pictures and a copy of the D.N.A. test at the below listed "links".
I can well understand why you would not choose to read further...
73's Ashley - WA5NNO
"QSL's" invited via the below e-mail More
Return to Introduction --- Who Is Nancy? --- Kent's Story --- The D.N.A. Paternity Test
Espionage --- Who is the Father? --- What I Believe
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