‘Agent’ Gets Stuck in Museum’s Air Conditioning Duct
September 18, 2008 - 10:28 AMIt wasn't the preferred way to enter the Knoxville Museum of Art, but Richard Anthony Smith told police he was on a mission.
Police and firefighters reached the roof, found a rope and cable and followed them to a vent shaft. Peering inside, they spotted Smith about 45 feet down.
"Mission failed," he told them.
Hoisted up and read his rights, Smith told police he was a "special agent from the United States Illuminati, badge number 0931" and had rappelled onto the museum from a helicopter, a police report said.
He said he was following orders to "defuse and confiscate" a Soviet-made nuclear warhead, specifically a "MERV6SS-22AN" warhead, according to the report. The bomb supposedly was hidden in a blue, plastic cow sculpture in the museum basement, he said.
However, Smith told officers his "agency" called while he was in air-vent limbo to say it made a mistake and the bomb might be in a Memphis museum instead.
Police charged Smith with aggravated robbery. He was being held on $2,000 bond at the Knox County Jail. Authorities said he did not have a lawyer.
"Fortunately he was able to reach his cell phone," DeBusk said, "or he may not have been found for quite some time."
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