Michael Townley: The Infamous Mass Murderer Currently Free In Witness Protection

In September 1973, the Commander in Chief of the Chilean army, Augusto Pinochet, led a bloody military coup to overthrow the government of the man who had appointed him to his position, the democratically elected President Salvador Allende. According to Britannica, he then used his power at the head of the military government to violently stamp out any leftist opposition to his right-wing goals of free-market policies and economic growth. In the first few years of his dictatorship, he had around 130,000 people arrested. Many were tortured. Thousands never saw their families again.

Such actions may seem to go against American ideals of free and open elections, transparent government, and pretty much every item on the Bill of Rights. But funnily enough, there were some Americans who were totally on board with what Pinochet and the military junta were doing down in Chile. The New York Times notes how the CIA supported the overthrow of Allende's government. It even provided weapons to try and help the junta along. Then, after Pinochet was in power, one American civilian looked at what he was doing and thought he'd like in on the action.

Michael Townley snitched on a brutal authoritarian regime

According to The Infographics Show, Townley worked as a hitman for Pinochet's secret police, killing the dictator's opponents all over the globe. According to The Guardian, there's even a pretty good chance he was behind the tragic death of beloved Chilean poet, and staunch opponent to the Pinochet regime, Pablo Neruda. Everything was going great for Townley, international hitman, until he failed to make a proper getaway after assassinating Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier in 1976. The Washington Post reports that for organizing the assassination, Townley ended up serving just under half of a 10-year-sentence thanks to a plea deal that saw him snitch on one of the most brutal dictatorships of the 20th century in exchange for his freedom and a spot in the federal witness protection program.

UPI reports that an Italian court convicted him of attempted murder in absentia in 1993, but he has never had to answer for that crime. So yes, mass murderer Michael Townley is living somewhere most likely in the United States under an assumed identity, completely safe from prosecution and, one would guess, anyone he may have crossed down in Chile. He might even be your nice old neighbor, so make sure you clean up after your dog, just in case.