The body of former CIA official John A. Paisley, found near here last October in Chespeake Bay, had markings around the throat indicating "foul play," according to statements made today by a county coroner and by the owner of an area marina.
The statements, made at a press conference here called by the attorney for Paisley's widow, later brought an angry denial from the Maryland state medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Paisley.
Paisley, 55, was found floating in the Bay Oct. 1 with a bullet wound in his head and 40 pounds of scuba diver weights wrapped around his waist. A state police investigation has concluded that he "probably was a suicide victim," although the case has not been officially closed.
One speaker at today's press conference was Dr. George Weems, coroner of Calvert County, who said he viewed Paisley's bloated body when it was brought ashore by the U.S. Coast Guard andnoticed markings on the neck indicating it had "been squeezed or had a rope around it."
"They were the type of things you see when people are strangled," said Weems, who has been coroner here for 20 years.
Another speaker at the Press conference called by Bernard Fensterwald, a Washington lawyer hired by Paisley's widow Maryann, was Harry Lee Langleyy, owner of Langley Point Marina. He said he also saw the markings on the body when it was brought to the U.S. Naval Ordnance Laboratory near here. "It was either a helluva [rope] burn or his throat had been cut," Langley said.
Dr. Russell S. Fisher, the medical examiner who performed the autospy on Paisley, reacted angrily when told of Weem's and Langley's statements.
"They had no way of observing this body adequately," he said. "The marks around the neck were caused by skin slippage because the body was badly decomposed."
Fisher said he was "mad as hell" at Weems, who is the subordinate under Maryland law. He said Weems didn't tell him he saw any marks on Paisley's neck.
"Where the hell did he [Weems] get to be such an expert, anyhow? I don't think my subordinates should be spouting off about things they don't know about," Fisher said.
In a separate development, Mutual of New York Life Insurance Corp. announced today that after a six-month investigation of whether the body found last October was that of Paisley, it will pay off Paisley's $100,000 life insurance policy to his widow.
A Mutual of New York spokesman said today the company had delayed payment because of doubts raised by Maryann Paisley about whether her estranged was dead.
"We are now satisfied that all the hard evidence shows this was the body of John Paisley," the spokesman said.
Paisley, the former director of the CIA's Office of Strategic Research, disappeared Sept. 24 after setting sail alone from here in his 31-foot sloop, the Brillig. A week later the body of a man identified by Maryland State Police as Paisley - weighted down by two diving belts - was recovered from the bay.
At the time of his death, Paisley had access to top secret information about Soviet military capabilities. A spokesman for the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has been looking into Paisley's death since last fall, said yesterday the committee is continuing its investigation and a report will be issued shortly.
At the press conference here this afternoon, the two men who said they saw marks on Paisley' body indicating "foul play" had different accounts of why they waited more than a half-year to make their information public.
Dr. Weems, who said that he and Langley were fishing on his boat when word came that a body had been found in the bay, said he did not mention the marks on Paisley's neck earlier because "I wasn't asked to."
Weems, who said he performed a preliminary examination of the body, said he made no mention of the neck mark in his report that he forwarded to the state medical examiner. He said it was not his job to make a thorough examination of the body.
Weems refused to characterize what he saw as evidence of murder, saying only, "I call it foul play."
Langley, who said he knew Paisley from seeing him around his marina, claimed he was told by unnamed officials at the time the body was brought ashore to keep quiet about what he had seen.
"They told me Mr. Paisley was CIA. Shortly this happened, I thought this was all government, all secret. I thought I don't want to get into all this," Langley said. He said he finally called Paisley's widow, who lives in McLean, three weeks ago after hearing news reports that said she had not yet received her husband's life insurance.
Paisley, according to lawyer Fensterwald, was insured for $200,000. His group insurance with the CIA for $30,000 has already been paid, Fensterwald said. He said Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance Company and Mutual of New York have refused to pay off on their policies because of questions about the identification of the body and the cause of death.
A spokesman for Mutual of Omaha said today that his company had paid its claim, which he said was "considerably less than $100,000," earlier this year.
The Washington Post learned today that Mutual of New York, which announced it will shortly pay off Paisley's $100,000 policy, made its decision after insurance investigators spent six months examining evidence found on the body.
The investigators, sources said, were satisfied that five fingerprints taken from the body found in the bay were those of Paisley. Sources said the insurance company also checked a dental plate found on the body with a dentist who recognized it as a plate he had made for Paisley.
Questions about oversized underwear found on the body were resolved, sources said, when investigators learned that a friend of Paisley had recently bought him several pairs of underwear that were too large.
Fensterwald, who said today he still is not sure that the body found in the bay was Paisley's claimed he is certain Paisley was murdered.
"Jumping off a boat with gun in hand, pulling the trigger while in the water, is, to be charitable about the matter, a weird way to commit suicide," Fensterwald said.
Paisley's 22-year-old son, Eddie, said today after talking with Langley and Weems he believes his father was dragged from his boat with a rope and killed. CAPTION: Picture, JOHN A. PAISLEY . . . death still being probed