Get Rich or Lie Trying: The Life of Wolfgang Halbig


Part 3: Police Quest

Wolfgang Halbig signed up to be Florida State Trooper sometime around the end of 1973. He explained his inspiration for this career change in a 2014 interview with Dave Gahary:

I grew up in a little town called Avon Park, Florida. I had so many great role models: coaches, teachers, even a Florida State Trooper that really touched my heart, especially when my mother almost died in a motor vehicle accident. And so, guess what? I became a Florida state trooper, because he made a difference in my life.

Whether or not this is really the reason for his decision, his mother Gertrude was indeed involved in a serious car accident six years before he joined the force, on December 29th 1968—one that resulted in the death of the other driver.

A story in the Tampa Tribune documents Wolfgang's mother surviving a serious auto accident (1968-12-31)

Wolfgang was 22 at the time, and was still stationed at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas. Maybe he was in town for the holidays, or maybe he flew back home when he got the news.

Another story from the Tribune records that the other driver was at fault

At the Academy

Wolfgang Halbig attended the Florida State Patrol academy in Tallahassee from January to April, 1974. According to his boasts over the years since, he was the first college graduate to have ever completed the academy there. I don’t know if that’s true, but according to FSP documents, he was the class president.

Wolfgang delivers a speech at his academy gradation. The photo's caption notes he was Class President
Wolfgang amid his graduating class

(Checking back on the timeframe he gave for how long he worked at Lake Brantley before leaving for the state patrol—”six months”—his start date of January 28 1974 would put him at Lake Brantley around July of 1973, shortly after he graduated from Abilene Christian College. So that timeframe for his stint at Lake Brantley seems plausible.)

After graduating from the academy, Wolfgang was assigned to Troop E: patrolling the highways in the Miami area, in south Florida.

Wolfgang Halbig graduates from the State Patrol academy, and is sent off to Miami - Tampa Tribune, Apr 26 1974

With that, Wolfgang Halbig got his badge, and began his career with the Florida State Patrol—starting with his one-year probationary period, during which he would be under close supervision, and given no real responsibilities. His job, until at least April 19th 1975, was simply to learn the basics.

On the Job… and Out the Door

Wolfgang Halbig in his Florida State Patrol days. There weren't many.

Wolfgang didn’t last very long with the Florida State Patrol. In his deposition, he states that he worked for the FSP from 1974 to 1976.

Wolfgang describes his (extremely, extremely brief) Florida State Patrol career in his 2012 deposition

He didn’t even make it very far into the calendar year of 1976, either. A February 19, 1976 news story would record that he had already been working at Lake Weir High School as a wrestling coach as of that time.

So, taking January 28 1974 as his start date (from his class photo, above), and setting his last day on the force (being extremely generous) as February 18 1976, the day before that news story… even in a best-case scenario, he worked 752 days as a Florida State Trooper. Probably less, given how long it would take to move back home from Miami after he threw in the towel. I’ll be generous and call it two years, including the probationary period.

(In a June 2015 interview with Aaron Wilson, Halbig would say “when I worked as a Florida State Trooper, we had a Superbowl in Miami.” That would have been Superbowl X, which happened on January 18 1976 at the Orange Bowl. Ten days later would have been his two-year mark, and he was gone within 20 days after that; I’m thinking he stuck around just long enough to claim he was on the force for two full years.)

So, what has Wolfgang Halbig claimed he experienced during those two years patrolling the highways in and around Miami?

In a December 2, 2011 comment to the website Education Weekly, he would (after falsely claiming to have been a trooper until 1977) reminisce that “you can only put so many people in jail, riots, death everyday, Medical Examiners Officers has bodies stack in 18 wheelers out the offices, drugs, gunfights…”

A fragment from a 2011 post from Wolfgang records his exaggeration of his law enforcement record (the full post is unavailable because the forum banned him not long after, for unknown reasons)

Just six months after that post, when he gave his deposition in the slip-and-fall lawsuit, he was somewhat more reserved in his claims, though he does state that he was “shot at too many times.”

Wolfgang Halbig claims in 2012 that he quite the state patrol due to "too many fights and broken noses." He doesn't mention any homicide investigations, nor any autopsies

That was when he was under oath. He’d go on to re-inflate his duties when it served his purposes, in the years that followed.

  • In a 2014 interview with radio host Deanna Spingola, Wolfgang said “I’m gonna send you my resume, just take a look at it. This is something I’m very passionate about. And when people talk about Sandy Hook, it really, really bothers me, because as a former Florida State Trooper, and being a homicide investigator… every police officer who should be listening to your show, and every parent who’s listening to your show… every crime is a puzzle. And we in law enforcement, as investigators, we put the puzzle together.
  • In a March 1 2015 facebook post, he wrote “After observing over 145 autopsies, I can tell you that as an investigator and I am sure all my brothers in law enforcement will validate my comments today…”

Even including Wolfgang’s probationary period, 145 traffic deaths would average to one every 5.18 days. Keep in mind that this figure wouldn’t represent ALL of the traffic deaths in Miami during that time period; that just the number Wolfgang himself, a rookie on the force, would have “observed” for no explained reason. It’s just absurd on its face.

During a July 24, 2014 radio show “debate,” a “Sandy Hook-Hoax” skeptic, Keith Johnson, called him out on his law enforcement credentials. In the exchange, Wolfgang doubled down on his fabrications.

KJ: You’re a liar, you’re a fraud. Sue me.

Wolfang: Oh I can not wait to do that! Thanks for being on the record. Because you know, when you’re a Florida State Trooper, that’s the first thing you do, is you learn to deal with homicides. You know, what do you call it when you pull a dead body out of a car? It’s a homicide, you idiot.

Perhaps Wolfgang was recalling that the Florida State Patrol does employ Traffic Homicide Investigators, and these officers would perform “homicide investigations” in the context of car accidents. But Wolfgang himself never achieved that rank. (Or really any rank at all, as he confirmed in his own deposition, above).

So he’s definitely lying about his “homicide investigation” experience. And is exaggerating whatever experiences he did have, making it sound like he was working in a war zone.

Still, I think there is a kernel of truth in his explanation for why he left the force: He just didn’t have what it takes.

When Wolfgang signed up with the Florida State Patrol in late 1973, he would have had no idea that he’d get assigned to Troop E, in Miami. According to the above newspaper story, his fellow Avon Park alumni, who graduated at the same time, were sent off to troops in small towns. And maybe that’s what Wolfgang thought was awaiting him. But Instead, the FSP brass sent him to Miami.

(One could imagine a scenario that resulted in this: Wolfgang was the “first college graduate” to have completed the academy, according to him. And given his personality, he surely rubbed some people the wrong way by the time they graduated. Perhaps his deployment was a “Let’s see how you like Miami, college boy” from his superiors.)

Wolfgang’s comments to Dave Gahary in 2014 support this explanation (even though Halbig once again tries to add another year onto his tenure):

I worked in Miami, Florida in 1974 through 1977, [the] days of the ‘Cocaine Cowboys.’ And Miami was a tough place to work. A lot of people don’t remember; in those days, we had no paramedics or EMTs. We had no trauma centers, or LIFE STAR trauma helicopters. We didn’t have the ‘jaws of life.’ […] You know, you can only put so many people in jail. And that’s not who I am, and that’s not what I wanted to do. I want to prevent people from going to jail. So I got into education. ”

The Miami area was indeed a tough place in the mid-1970s. It had one of the highest rates of violent crime in the country. It sure as hell wasn’t like the Florida that Wolfgang was used to, back in the small-town Avon Park of the 1960s. His experiences in the big city as a traffic cop, despite his absurd exaggerations, were probably eye-opening. He likely did see drugs, and scary men with guns. And while there’s no reason to believe he ever observed a single autopsy, he very likely did see the aftermath of a gruesome car accident at some point, if not several.

While Wolfgang had trained pilots how to kill when he was in the air force (or at least claims he did), he never saw a moment of actual combat himself. He spent all his time on military bases. The feeling of being in danger, and being around death, was entirely new to him. And as it turned out, he didn’t like it one bit.

And so the most plausible explanation is that Wolfgang quickly realized he was not cut out for the job.

Back when he was playing football, and was “tired of getting beat up all the time,” he could simply ask for a move to fullback. But it’s unlikely his superiors on the State Patrol would be as receptive to his complaints. So he quit, and hightailed it back to the suburbs.

Back to School

As I mentioned, after Wolfgang’s exit from law enforcement, he first resurfaces as a wrestling coach for Lake Weir High School, in February 1976.

An article in the February 19, 1976 edition of the Ocala Star-Banner documents that Wolfgang has left the force by that date

It is not known if the “dress code” for female students at Lake Weir was more strictly enforced than the scene that caused Wolfgang to flee Lake Brantley high in 1973. Perhaps he now felt his law enforcement experience was sufficient to protect his reputation, if any accusations ever came up.

Lake Weir High is in the city of Ocala, a few hours north of Avon Park, and comparable in size. The crime and danger of Miami was in the rearview now. Wolfgang was back in his groove.

Wolfgang stayed at Lake Weir for somewhere between one and two years. During that time he appears to have been the head coach of the Hurricanes’ wrestling and baseball teams.

In March 1977, a sports column from the Ocala Star-Banner documents that Wolfgang had invested in a pitching machine to help his team up their batting stats. He then learned than unfortunately, there were no electrical outlets to plug the machine into. Still, he had faith in his strategy for the baseball team. “Once we get it together, look out.”

Wolfgang explains his strategy for the Hurricanes baseball team, Ocala Star-Banner Mar 15 1977

But when it came to coaching football, the sport he and everyone else really cared about, he was only an assistant. Rising above that level, and getting named Head Coach of a football team, became his new career goal. For the next decade of his life, he’d be ready to move to any high school in central Florida that seemed to offer him the best shot at achieving it.

(continued in Part 4: Coach Wolfgang)

Austin “Blade” Tompkins is a certified forklift and order-picker operator located in the province of Ontario. He was an active Sandy-Hook “hoaxer” from 2013 to 2014. He has been sober since 2015.