Chicago Sun Times

March 29, 1978. p.5.


Chicagoan Killed in Cuba Jail?


By Art Petaque and William Braden


            A former Chicagoan accused of conspiracy to poison the city’s water supply in 1972 was beaten to death in a Cuban prison in 1974, according to skyjackers kicked out of Cuba.

            The death of Allan C. Schwandner was reported by six skyjackers who were ejected from Cuba last week, federal sources said Tuesday.

            Schwandner, then 19, and Steven Pera, then 18, were arrested here on Jan 18, 1972, when they were students at the Amundsen-Mayfair branch of the City Colleges of Chicago. They were charged with planning to introduce deadly bacteria into Chicago’s water as part of a fantastic scheme to create a master race by the mass murder of most of the world’s population.

            Schwandner and Pera skipped bond in March of 1972 and reportedly hijacked a private plane from Jamaica to Cuba. Pera returned to Chicago and surrendered in January, 1975, and was subsequently sentenced to five years’ probation. He said at the time that he and Schwandner split up as soon as they arrived in Cuba, but he said Cuban officials had told him Schwandner was being held in prison on an attempted murder charge.

            Federal authorities said information supplied by the six hijackers virtually confirmed that Schwandner was fatally beaten by the director of La Cabana prison.

            One of the six, Garland J. Grant, said he saw the director attack a fellow prisoner in a drunken rage and beat the man’s head against a steel gate. Grant said a guard and other inmates told him the following day that the man had died of head injuries.

            Grant said he had known the beaten man as Allan Switzer. But federal authorities appeared all but certain the man was actually Schwandner.

            The six skyjackers were expelled from Cuba as troublemakers and dumped in Jamaica, where they were arrested by the U.S. marshal there and transferred to cells in Jacksonville, Fla. The story of Schwandner’s death came out when Federal Bureau of Investigation agents questioned them to gather intelligence on conditions in Cuba.