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TWA Flight 800 Kin Meet With FBI

November 18, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Relatives of the victims of TWA Flight 800 met with the FBI on Monday and said afterward they were satisfied with the agency’s conclusion that there’s no evidence the explosion was a criminal act.

Walter Becker, whose 19-year-old daughter Michele was one of 230 people killed, said the FBI presented the families with an overwhelming amount of information.

``My head was spinning,″ said Becker, from St. Petersburg, Fla. ``These guys did absolutely everything that they could have done and then some to find out if this was a crime.″

The agency investigated for 17 months, including a re-enactment of the blast that ripped the plane apart on July 17, 1996. Last week, the FBI sent a letter to family members saying it was suspending its investigation after finding no evidence of a bomb or a missile.

The agency scheduled a news conference for Tuesday to tell the public what it knows.

Frank Carven of Belair, Md., who lost his sister, Paula, and his nephew, Jay, said Monday’s meeting ``tied up a lot of loose ends.″

About 10 members of the TWA Flight 800 Families Association met with James Kallstrom, who headed the FBI’s criminal investigation into the explosion, and other investigators. Kallstrom later met with government representatives from France, Norway, Sweden and Italy, where the majority of the foreign passengers resided.

Kallstrom told the families the FBI would return to the case if any evidence of criminal activity developed.

The families are now looking toward hearings next month by the National Transportation Safety Board to finally determine a cause.

``This closes the first phase for us and allows us to go on to look at criminal negligence and an unsafe aircraft,″ Becker said.

Aurelie Becker, Walter’s wife, said she worried that the absence of a criminal investigation would lead the probe into the explosion’s cause to lose importance.

``Is this now going to be pursued as vigorously as if it was a bad guy with a turban from a foreign country rather than some guy from corporate America in a blue pinstripe suit?″ she asked.

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