This webpage examines the eyewitness accounts and other evidence that shows Amelia and Fred were arrested and taken to Saipan. There were over 200 individuals who claimed they saw her, this site examines who they were, and what they heard or saw. It includes details of evidence the Electra was found on Saipan, interviews with people who saw her and the Electra before and after they were taken to Saipan. Interviews with over two dozen Saipanese who claim they saw her there and over a dozen US Marines who claim they found the Electra, her passport, briefcase and other details.


Saipan Redux

Still pulling all of our sources together, as well as resources...

Mike Harris & Capt Cooper on site 1
Here's a shot of the airfield and one of our sites close to where US Marines said they saw the Electra burned.  We've done some test digs as well as examine the best method to find aluminum in a field full of ferrous material.  Note the bunker behind Mike, it's one of the original ones that have been there since prior to the War and mark the old airfield.

Test hole dug with help of HPO

Typical pieces found in the grass

There's bedrock in some places, about six feet down.  However, between the surface and the bedrock we've found a number of pieces of metal.

Escolastica's son
Escolastica's son helped us track down an old cemetery. (apologies for not having your name in front of me! Thanks for coming to our talk as well) This cemetery has been moved for the most part, and most of the bodies were re-interred at the new cemetery.  However, Robert Wallack, one of our eyewitnesses, who found Earhart's briefcase in a safe in Saipan (confirmed by a number of Marines we've spoken to), told us about a cemetery that had a wrought iron fence around it.

Took us awhile, but we were able to locate it.  There are still some tombs that haven't been moved, perhaps the family members didn't get a chance to do so.  But their resting area is in a beautiful patch of bamboo.  This is the cemetery where Robert Wallack was told by a local woman that "An american woman flyer and another American man were buried."  Wallack told me about it in his interview, and he also pointed out that "It was different than the one that a local native had told Tom Devine about."  He found it odd that two islanders would point to two different cemeteries.

This could be because two other flyers were executed just prior to the War's start - they were captured in early 44 and held in the Garapan prison.  It could be because a person heard the story from someone else and got the wrong cemetery.  It could be that the bodies of Earhart and Noonan were recovered as reported in "The Stars and Stripes" in 1944. We know of at least three different cemeteries where she and Fred Noonan might have been buried.  But here's the one I told Robert Wallack I would find for him:

Old Garapan cemetery
Some of the crosses were bare, but others had names on them:

Old cemetery

Rich went off to Tokyo to scour the military archives.  Along with an interpreter, he was shown records from every Japanese prison from 1937 to 1945.  Both he and the librarian were surprised to learn that the records from Saipan had never arrived.  The librarian thought that might be perhaps they were never returned by the US after the war.  Of course, we've learned from our search of the US National archives that those records never made it to Washington either.  So despite a wealth of detailed prison information - somehow the records on Saipan seem to have disappeared into thin air.  Or have they?

In the heart of Tokyo, the Japanese Imperial Palace looms large.

The Japanese Imperial Palace looms in the background

Meanwhile, there are flights that leave from Tokyo to Saipan every day filled with tourists from Korea, Japan, China and Vladivostok in Russia.  After all, it's US soil - and who wouldn't want a little vacation time on US soil? Great shopping, great beaches, wonderful friendly natives, and a wealth of secrets.

Delta flights to Saipan from Tokyo
Meanwhile, one more sunset from the beach in front of the Hyatt hotel in Garapan.  Calling to us to continue our search, as the secrets of Saipan have yet to be revealed.  Stay tuned....

The shores of Garapan


  1. Found this news item... funny how we were able to dig behind the jail, not sure why HPO was not! This is from 2005.

    Jail Where Amelia Earhart Said Held to Be Probed ^ | 3 29 05 | ap
    Posted on 3/29/2005 7:38:13 AM by freepatriot32

    SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands Mar 29, 2005 — Researchers want to excavate an old Japanese jail where aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator were rumored to have been detained before they vanished in 1937.

    The Historic Preservation Office of the Northern Mariana Islands has applied for a grant with the National Park Service to fund the excavation, hoping to solve the 67-year-old mystery of what became of Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan.

    The Northern Mariana Islands, about 3,800 miles southwest of Hawaii, were administered by Japan from 1914 to 1944 and are now a U.S. commonwealth.

    "In the past, there had been rumors that Amelia Earhart's plane was shot down and she was held captive by her Japanese captors on suspicion that she was a spy," said Epiphanio Cabrera, director of the preservation office. He said the aviator was supposedly "burned and buried at the back of the jail."

    Earhart was 39 and already had set numerous flying records when she began her final flight May 20, 1937, from Oakland, Calif.

    She made it as far as New Guinea. On July 2, she took off from there for tiny Howland Island on a 2,556-mile flight.

    Earhart and Noonan never reached the atoll. In one of her last radio messages to the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca, she said her fuel was running low. No trace of her, Noonan or their Lockheed Electra plane was ever found.

    The project looking for signs of Earhart's presence on the prison grounds is expected to begin by September, and could "close the gap" regarding various claims on Earhart's disappearance, Cabrera said.

    A year after she and Noonan vanished, a French consul sent a telegram to the U.S. State Department claiming Earhart was a prisoner of the Japanese on Saipan. Some locals insist she died in captivity and was buried on the island.




Eyewitness Accounts: Published


Pg 40. “Glancing out on the runway ramp.. an area not the main part of Aslito Field, but an extended arm of the airstrip at the southwest corner… Near an embankment was (AE’s plane). (LATER) .. a muffled explosion at Aslito Field erupted into a large flash fire… I crouched and crawled toward the airfield. When I could see what was burning, I was aghast! The twin engine plane was engulfed in flames! I could not see anyone by the light of the fire… in July 1944.”


Goerner gathers dozens of eyewitnesses to Earhart’s incarceration and second hand info about her execution.


Amelia reveals she did not know Morse code (and neither did Fred Noonan)



South African journalist gathers numerous eyewitnesses at Mili, Majuro and Jaluit. There is footage of these interviews, but it exists somewhere in Miami – still trying to locate the negative.


Elgen shows how the original plan devised by radio man Harry Manning was adhered to by the Coast Guard Itasca – they didn’t know Manning got off the plane in Hawaii and wasn’t on the electra. So 90% of all their communication was in Morse code – something neither AE or FN knew.


PG 32. Robert Sosbe, 1st battalion 20th Marines, 4th marine division) Sosbe said he saw the Electra before and during its destruction) “on or about D+5 after our infantry had captured Alsito, the night before, then were driven off, only to capture it again, our Co was called up to fill a gap between our infantry and the 27th Army infantry. The trucks carrying us stopped off the opposite side of the runway from the hangars and tower about 3 to 5 hundred yds. This two engine airplane was pulled from the hangar to off the runway where it was engulfed in flames from one end to the other. I can still remember exactly the way it burned, how the frame and ribs because it was visible. It was about half dark. It burned approximately 15-30 minutes.”

Same page: a letter from Earskine Nabers: “I am seeking Marines who were placed on duty at Aslito to guard a padlocked hangar containing AE’s plane. The hangar was not one of those located along the runway. It was located near what may have been a Japanese administration building, and an unfinished hangar at the tarmac, in the southwest corner of the airfield.

The follow up letter (pg 33)

…”we had to get Col. Clarence R Wallace to sign all the messages that came through the message center.) Hq 8th moved back to bivouac area. I was dropped off at the Hangar for guard duty at the main road that went by west side of hangar. The road that went out to hangar, I was placed on the right side, just as it left the main road….

Pg 34 The best I can recall the plane was pulled on the field by a jeep.. the plane was facing north after the plane was parked and jeep moved. A plane came over real low and on the next pass he strafed the plane and it went up in a huge fireball. (We were sitting on the west side of the airfield about one hundred yards from the plane. We were on higher ground. As far as I remember, the (men) that pulled the plane on the field and us guys from H & S 8th were the only ones there.”

Pg 36 Marine Capt Earl Ford of Fallbrook, CA, artillery master sgt with 2nd Marines. Interview 6-7-88 by Paul Cook. “The aircraft was about 100 yards (from me) maybe less. We all saw it. No way we could miss it. A civilian twin engine. No way it was military. American aircraft in civil registration… some officers were saying it was Amelia’s… it had only two windows on the side, back here.”

Arthur Nash, Air Corps Corps, P47 group on Aslito. Claims he saw the plane on July 4, 1944 (book says 1945, must be a misprint based on following) pg 40:

“After landing on Isley.. at 2:30 pm, Japanese soldiers were running around the airstrip, one killed himself in the cockpit of a P47D with a grenade…” I slept fairly well (in the hangar) and (in the morning) wandered over to a large hole in the hangar wall facing the other hangar. The hangar floor and the area between the hangars was littered with debris, displace with siding from the hangars, maybe 65 yards apart, but close enough to get a good look at a familiar aircraft outside the other hangar. My eyesight was acute and what I saw was Amelia Earhart’s airplane!... the next morning I went over to see it but it was gone.”

Jerrell Chatham, 1st platoon, I company, 3rd regiment, 2nd marine deivions: “I was driving trucks .. on Saipan… when we went ashore I saw the hangar where Amelia Earhart’s plane was stored, I also saw the plane in the air. They told us not to go close to the airplane hangar and we did not…”

Pg 44: Howard Ferris, US Marines: “Sent to Saipan for guard dutey… an old hangar structure at end of a runway. This hangar was not large,.. small trees in front of big doors.. (then he recounts the same Marine argument that Devine and Nabers recount – where some Navy brass attempted to get in, but a Marine (Nabers) refused them entry.)” Howard was not present at the fire, but one of his buddies was. The buddy said a truck arrived with many gas cans and the guards saturated the entire hangar.. and it burned totally.

Pg 50 Robert Sowash, 23rd regiment 4th Marines Division: “I saw a plane in a building that was not a military plane.. I remember other Marines saying it was the same as Earhart’s. Later the place was cordoned off..”

Pete Leblanc, 121st Naval CB’s, 4th Marine division: “some of our guys were sneaking over towards the airfield to try and see (AE’s plane). We heard there were guards there. Then it was burned up later.”


Over 200 eyewitnesses as gathered by all the different authors with the various reports of her landing on Mili, being brought to Jaluit and incarcerated in Garapan prison.