US cold-case ‘millionaire murderer’ found after 30 years – in New Zealand

By Ian Wishart

An American criminal “genius” and alleged CIA asset – linked to a string of bank robberies, the Nicaraguan contra scandal, attempts to murder police and the cold case murder of a San Francisco actress in 1980 – has fled to the UK after being sprung living a double life in New Zealand for the past 20 years.

John Gordon Abbott, together with CIA black-ops asset Phillip Arthur Thompson and another man Michael Hennessey, is a prime suspect in the murder of San Francisco actress Valerie McDonald.

The crime not only crossed the US state lines of California, Oregon and Washington, it crossed the border into Canada where Valerie’s body was dumped. Thompson returned to the US, but Abbott and Hennessey became involved in a shootout with Canadian Mounties in early 1981, leaving Hennessey dead and Abbott in jail on charges of attempting to murder a police officer.

But with no body, investigations into Valerie McDonald’s disappearance hit a brick wall and remained so for more than a decade.

In the meantime, John Gordon Abbott had been released from his Canadian prison and deported to England, his country of birth where the trail for investigators went cold.

Last year Investigate magazine discovered Abbott living in a tiny provincial New Zealand village where he had purchased millions of dollars of property since 1990, all of it for cash. He had originally slipped into New Zealand without declaring his criminal past.

He had flown to Australia on business when the magazine story broke within New Zealand, and police put borders on alert for his arrest if he tried to re-enter. Australian police also placed their border security on alert.

Dubbed the “millionaire murderer” by a neighbour who’d become suspicious after Googling his name, Abbott had been dividing his time between teaching at a Japanese University for part of each year, and then returning to his New Zealand bolt hole for the other half of the year.  He was trying to get to his family home in Japan when the tsunami struck, devastating his city.

In a strange twist of deja-vu, one of the buildings Abbott owns – the town hall in the town of Waverley, New Zealand, was two weeks ago devasted by a massive storm that blew part of the building out.

Abbott was prevented from re-entering Australia or New Zealand and police have informed Investigate he returned to England, where he still has citizenship by birth.

In the meantime the family of slain actress Valerie McDonald are asking US authorities to seek his extradition from the UK back to the US to face murder charges.

A Canadian journalist is writing a book on the case, and Abbott’s old high school classmates are wondering if he will show up at their class reunion this year, according to a letter published in the upcoming issue of Investigate:

Whatever happened to John Gordon Abbot?

That is a BIG topic of conversation right now as our Grad Class of 1972 is entering into our 40th Year.
I am heading the Lost and Found Committee, with a list of past students to locate.
Apparently you located his whereabouts for us but he is still lost.

We have talked about placing an information page John Abbott for general conversation.
Kind of a touchy subject, but how many grad classes can boast of having a psychotic genius millionaire university lecturer, who is also a convicted felon, murder suspect, and escaped felon, among their ranks?

I would like to acknowledge him at least with an invitation to our celebration.
I have an idea that he will not attend, but he might respond to us if we send the invite anyway, even if it is in Japanese.
Could you please direct me to the exact university that he is teaching in so I may send the invite in that direction?

I believe that your interests in John Abbott story could be sparked. We have read your story and are currently chatting about John Abbott our old classmate. There is more than one picture of him. Our year book for one, and a poem that was published back in grade 11..1971

Classmates have memories of dress. Example an embroidered flag of Japan on the back of his blue jeans  1970-72.

Back then the Home Room / Roll Call was in Alphabetical order last names by Division A – C etc. John was in my home room.

Hoping this info you can add to your paperwork of John. I would enjoy the Film if it ever came out.

Rod Bojechko