Maryland State Police, confronted by an apparent suicide that they say makes no sense, are investigating the possibility that one of the two diving weights strapped around ex-CIA official John A. Paisley's body did not belong to him, a police spokesman said yesterday.
The second weight belt, attached to the body found floating last Sunday in Chesapeake Bay. was one subject discussed at a three-hour meeting yesterday morning between Paisley's family and police, according to family lawyer Terrence O-Grady.
That meeting, held in O'Grady's Falls Church office, and the intensive seven-man investigation continued yesterday by Maryland police indicated that authorities are far from convinced that Paisley killed himself.
"Nobody can account for the second set of weights," O'Grady said. "It's a mystery and one that has bothered the family from the very beginning."
Scuba divers contacted yesterday who frequently dive in Chesapeake Bay said it is unusual for a driver to own or use more than one set of weights.
Paisely, 55, former director of the CIA's Office of Strategic Research, was first reported missing Sept. 24, the day before his unoccupied 31-foot sailboat was spotted run aground near point Lookout, Md. His body was found a week later with a bullet hole above and behind the left ear, weighted down by the 38-pound belts.
It was learned yesterday that some of Paisley's scuba equipment was not aboard the sailboat when he disappeared. A Maryland detective, who went looking for the scuba gear yesterday at Paisley's Washington apartment, was told by the resident manager at 1500 Massachusetts Ave. NW that she saw the equipment in Paisley's apartment the day after he was reported missing.
Investigators, according to police spokesman Cal Jerry Eiseman, were working throughout the state, tracing down Paisley's actions before his disappearancce and questioning people in the Solomons. Md. area who reported seeing the former CIA official on the day he disappeared.
Eiseman said police have not begun a water search for a gun because the area in which Paisley's body was found is one of the deepest in Chesapeake Bay - about 150 feet. "We just don't know where to start the search," Eiseman said.
State Medical Examiner Dr. Russell Fisher said yesterday that state ballistics experts are having trouble identifying the bullet that killed Paisley because it fragmented on impact.
"The (steel) jacket on the bullet came off and the bullet fragmented so it is impossible to tell what angle the shot came from," Fisher.
The angle of entry of a bullet is often significant in determining whether it was possible for the victim to commit suicide, Fisher said.
Eiseman said the size of the wound indicated that the bullet might have come from a gun larger than a 9-millimeter pistol, which Paisley was known to keep on board his 31-foot sailboat. Police found an unspent 9-millimeter cartridge in the cabin of the boat after it was found unoccupied on Sept 24.
Eiseman said he learned yesterday that "CIA people use heavier loads in their weapons." He speculated Paisley's wound could have been caused by a 9-millimeter shell with a heavier load in the bullet.
Official CIA documents, marked "For Internal Use Only," were found in a briefcase on Paisley's sailboat and in in his Washington apartment, according to O'Grady, who has had access to Paisley's financial and business records.
CIA spokesman Dale Peterson confirmed the presence of the documents, but said they had nothing to do with a breach in the security in the agency's so-called KH-11 satellite surveillance system.
Reports in the Wilmington News Journal this week, termed "ridiculous" by the CIA, linked Paisley's death with the theft this summer of documents related to the surveillance system.
Several days ago Senate Intelligence Committee began a secret inquiry into Paisley's death. No information from that inquiry has been made public.
One CIA employe and former associate of Paisley yesterday called the circumstances surrounding the possible suicide "strange."
"He was not a dramatic man," the friend said. "He was a true intellectual, an avid reader. He was unpretentious and reliable and sensible. He was a gentle man and very well liked. But he was a private person."
At the time of his death, Paisley was earning $36,000 a year as executive assistant to K. Wayne Smith, head of the Washington branch of Coopers and Lybrand, an accounting firm. Smith said yesterday, "If he had financial or marital problems, he certainly concealed them, from us."
Paisley joined the firm, according to Smith when he became "bored" with retirement. After leaving the CIA in 1974, Paisley pursued his sailing interest that friends said, may have caused the break up of his marriage. "He was ready to do something else," one friend said yesterday. "He wanted to spend time on his boat."
At the time of his death, Paisley had grown a scraggly beard, lost weight and started dating, according to the friend. He was fascinated by electronics, and took up ham radio as a hobby.
If Paisley did commit suicide, said family lawyer Terrence O'Grady, insurance was not a motive.
"He had regular government coverage," O'Grady said, adding that no other insurance papers have been found. The lawyer also said that suicide would not effect payment of the benefits that he believes will go to Paisley's estranged wife.
As to what really happened on Paisley's boat, O'Grady said yesterday, "I don't think we'll ever know."
After his retirement in 1974 from the CIA, Paisley continued as a consultant to the agency, specializng in Soviet Military economics. A CIA spokesman yesterday dismissed as "coincidental" that Soviet Embassy personnel lived in the same apartment building as Paisley. The resident manager at the apartment building, located a block from the Soviet Embassy, said yesterday, "We have a lot of embassy people here, from every country. After all, we're within walking distance of the embassies."