Welcome to Get Rich or Lie Trying: The Life Story of Wolfgang Halbig.
Decades before he became the face of the fraudulent “Sandy Hook Hoax” conspiracy theory in 2014, Wolfgang Halbig was already hard at work: carefully assembling his résumé, creating stories to cover the ugly parts in his work history, studying how to fool and scare people, and—more than anything—coming up with ways to make money by exploiting tragedies. His path through life is an oftentimes sickening, sometimes hilarious story, full of betrayals, humiliations, firings, lawsuits, and one catastrophic failure after another.
This story will be an adaptation of, and extensive update to, the landmark document that exposed Wolfgang in 2015, “The Hoax of a Lifetime” (still available here under The Halbig Archives). Much has happened in the years since that story was told, both in Wolfgang’s life and in the lives of those who chose to give him airtime. There is much to share, and meanwhile, Wolfgang’s story is still unfolding. Check back often for new installments!
When Wolfgang fled Lake Weir, to return to the football program at Vanguard High School, he was surely disappointed that this also meant stepping back down to assistant coach. But it would be a chance to restore his reputation.
And there had been better news for 32-year-old Wolfgang, in his personal life. Marriage records show that on April 14, 1979, married 22-year-old Kathleen Audrey Crace.
Kathy was the daughter of a doctor in the Ocala area, according to Wolfgang’s 2012 deposition. It was her 2nd marriage; the last one ended in divorce on January 6, 1978. That would have been right around the time when Halbig was originally working at Vanguard, before any of the Hurricanes unpleasantness. (Eventually she would work in education, like Wolfgang, but I don’t know if she was already doing that in 1979. She was probably still in college.)
Their marriage took place just three months after Wolfgang was fired as head coach, when he would have been working at Lake Weir Middle School.
In December of that year, the newlywed Halbigs closed the purchase of their first home, in the Tall Pines division of Ocala, just up the street from Vanguard High.
It was where they were going to start a family; Kathleen was already pregnant with their first child, and in May of 1980, she gave birth to a son, Erik Halbig. And November of 1981 would see the arrival of a second Halbig son, Karl.
The Vanguard High School Conspiracy
Wolfgang arrived back at Vanguard ready to coach football. But by the time the season came around, there was only more frustration awaiting him. According to Wolf’s 2012 deposition, it was the principal at Vanguard, Henry Lambert, who broke the news, telling the spurned athletics coach, “I’m sorry Wolfgang, but they took it out of my hands.”
Wolf was furious, and he displayed the same “fire” as when he lashed out at his Lake Weir superiors after that downfall: this time, Wolf went straight to the district’s superintendent, and “questioned” him as to “why he would do” such a thing.
30 years later, still stinging from the confrontation, Wolf says in his deposition, “the answer is ‘None of your business.’ And he thought since he appointed the new head football coach, that it would be best for me not to be there.”
[Side note: In the deposition, Wolfgang appears to get confused on this point. He thinks he was moved to a different school after this, but he is mixing up his exit from Lake Weir High, when he was fired and moved to Lake Weir Middle School, with him losing an assistant coaching job at Vanguard the following year, which resulted in him not being on the coaching staff at all — presumably, because of his blowup at the district superintendent. Lake Weir and Vanguard are in the same district (Marion), so this superintendent surely already knew Wolfgang from his disastrous year coaching the Hurricanes, which is the more likely explanation for putting the kybosh on any coaching role.]
Anyway. It was another conspiracy.
Wolfgang didn’t leave Vanguard after the rug was pulled out from under him, despite his memory from 2012. He stayed on a teacher, making no use of his athletics experience at all.
On the other hand, his brief experience with the highway patrol would come in handy, at least: Wolfgang was going to be Vanguard’s new drivers education teacher.
It was probably in the course of teaching these drivers-ed classes when he first started dropping references to his state patrol days into his speech patterns, as well as coming up with folksy catchphrases — “let me put my state patrolman hat on” — that he’d rely on for decades, in the various sales pitches and conspiracy theories to come, all of which would incorporate his persona into the sale.
This becomes apparent within one year of him starting as a drivers ed teacher. An article from the October 27 edition of the Ocala Star Banner documents how Wolfgang “has embarked on a crusade” to restore a law that once made drivers education mandatory for 16-year-olds to get a license, until Governor Bob Graham succeeded in getting the law repealed a few years before.
The [Governor’s] argument was that driver education served no useful purpose, that there were no statistics to show that it was instrumental in preventing any accidents or saving any lives.
Halbig doesn’t buy that argument. He told to Ocala Rotary Club last week that there are no statistics because nobody ever asks people involved in accidents if they ever had driver education.
“Who keeps statistics on the number of accidents that never happened because some driver drew on his knowledge of defensive driving to avoid a collision?” he asked. […] His experience as a highway patrolman has shown him first hand the death and destruction that takes place on our highways.
The story notes that Halbig was, with the support of his supervisor from Vanguard, “seeking help from individuals and civic organizations in promoting the return of mandatory driver education.”
The same reporter, David Cook, documents in a follow-up column in March 1981 that “Wolfgang has reason for a small celebration,” because he had managed to succeed in getting a bill before the state legislature, one that (if passed) would reinstate the drivers-ed requirement.
But the column also noted that “the introduction of a bill doesn’t mean success,” and that this one still had only a very long shot at making it.
Wolfgang himself knew this.
Halbig is fully aware that the biggest battle is yet to come and that many minds must be changed in the Legislature if success is to be achieved. Halbig is elated but gearing up for the major battles that lie ahead. He’s aware, too, that even if this bill (or one like it) is enacted by the Legislature, there is still the job of convincing Governor Graham that it ought not to be vetoed.
[Side note: I couldn’t find anything saying whether the bill passed or failed, which almost certainly means it failed. Judging by Florida’s posted statutes (Title XXIII chapter 322) it definitely isn’t current law; drivers must take a “traffic law and substance abuse education course,” but its only 4 hours and can be taken online.]
Anyway, it didn’t matter that his stated goal was hopeless. He was excited by the process. It was, in a sense, performative; it allowed him a chance to sell himself to more people than could hear him within the walls of his school, or in the sports pages. Halbig liked having access to an audience.
Likely, the same can be said for his announcement, on March 25, 1982, that he would be joining the list of names campaigning for a seat on the Marion County School Board. He was listed as a Democrat on the primary ballot, and was vying for the District 5 seat, held by incumbent Lamar Luffman.
There’s only one news report on Wolfgang’s campaigning, from the Star-Banner of August 26 1982. It was a political forum attended by all Wolfgang, Luffman, and the other two primary candidates, and it was held at a funeral home in front of an audience of 125. The topic of discussion was “the performance of black students on standardized tests and improving the quality of education.”
When it was Wolfgang’s turn to speak, he deployed another section from his biography-turned-sales-pitch; he had once been a student whom the local school board had failed to teach proper English. Now, he was a teacher, and “it’s time to put a teacher in there who knows the needs of [local students.]”
Luffman was re-elected easily. Wolfgang didn’t even pass the first primary. But the important thing was that he campaigned in an election, for the first time.
The race was over by January of 1983, but Wolfgang continued to hone his pitch. He had heard that state legislators representing the Ocala area would be at City Hall, to hear the public’s opinions on what the “important issues to be discussed during the upcoming legislative session should be.” Wolfgang attended, waiting in line alongside people who wanted to change the state song, or raise the drinking age. Wolfgang, of course, told the representatives to “support drivers education programs in schools,” and talked about his experience as a state trooper. He advocated for “more strict fines for people who violate the law,” apparently as a means of funding the courses, because “when school boards look for places to cut budgets, drivers education programs are the first to be considered.”
Third Try’s a Charm
It was one of his last performances in Marion County. He’d moved up north from the Avon Park area three years before, with the hope of reviving his football coaching career, only to see the coaching offer turn to ash. But in early 1983, he decided to give the coaching dream a third try. And he found an opening. A special one, too: Sebring High School, the same school that had led to his getting fired from his the Hurricanes when he reached out about working there, instead, now really was hiring him as their head football coach.
Wolfgang was optimistic about the move.
I’ve been out of coaching two years and I figured it was time to get back into it… I feel like I’m good at motivating people — getting people to support the program… I hate to leave Marion County. I’ve met a lot of nice people here. But this is a great opportunity. It’s just time to move on.
For the first few months, Wolf would make the two-hours-plus commute, back and forth from Ocala to Sebring; the Halbigs would make the permanent move in June, before the new school year. But he really did have the job. And he was determined to get it right this time. Wolfgang was coming home.
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.
Wolfgang Halbig left Lake Weir High School for the 1977-1978 school year, and took a job at Vanguard High School, across town in Ocala. It was another assistant-coach role, but he must have felt he’d have better chances of reaching head coach at the new school. That was what he wanted.
His fortunes changed when the head football coach and athletic director back at Lake Weir, Tom Perrin, announced he was retiring at the end of the year. In a March 15, 1978 article from the Ocala Star-Banner, the principal of Lake Weir High, Clyde Folsom, laid out his plans to replace Perrin. He said the basketball team’s head coach, Bobby Hall, would take over as the school’s athletic director. And returning to Lake Weir, now as the new head coach of the football team, would be none other than Wolfgang Halbig.
In statements to the press, Folsom acknowledged that Wolfgang would have his work cut out for him. “He has a big challenge in front of him. Hopefully in given time he can build the program back to competitive level so we can compete.” The past two seasons had seen mediocre performances from the Hurricanes: 4-6 in 1975, and 2-8 the most recent season. What Lake Weir really wanted out of their new coach was a long-term commitment; they weren’t expecting an overnight miracle.
Wolfgang agreed, and even admitted being “scared to death” when he thought of the challenge awaiting him. “I even have butterflies now.” Wolfgang acknowledged that his first year would be about rebuilding. “It’s got such a long ways to go. In a couple years, Lake Weir will be on top.”
He had a “three pronged plan” to improve the team’s performance: “the three things he said he wants out of the players are enthusiasm, dedication, and loyalty.”
When Wolfgang first returned to the Lake Weir campus on March 16th, the sports columnist for the Ocala Star-Banner described it as nothing less than a hero’s welcome. “Wherever Wolfgang Halbig went Thursday, he didn’t go far before being surrounded by well-wishers… If the likeable, towheaded coach were running for office, he would have been a shooin.”
He set about getting the practice fields re-sodded, and planning spring training. In the meantime, his head-coaching role also meant teaching classes at the school. So, if you went to high school in Ocala that year, there was a good chance you’d be taught History or US Government by Mr. Halbig.
In September, with the start of the football season approaching, the Star-Banner ran a lengthy profile on Halbig, and his plans for the Hurricanes that year. Again, he emphasized that they were focusing on the long-term, such as by getting the juniors on the team into play as much as possible (so that they could return to the team for their senior year, with experience under their belt.)
“I’ve got some good young kids. I’m really looking forward to two years from now and not right now. We’ll try to be respectable. […] I think by the fifth game this year you’ll see a different team.”
The paper’s sports writer commented, at the end of his profile of the Hurricanes, that “the most optimistic look in the crystal ball can come up with no better than a 3-7 season.”
Failure to Launch
The first game was on September 8th, against Buchholz High School. The Hurricanes lost 28-0. They lost again the following week, 27-0, against Forest High School.
Worse still, their fullback, responsible for most of the yards they’d managed to gain in those two games, got injured and would be out for the rest of the season.
Wolfgang wasn’t letting it get to him. “I believe we can win. Things are going to start going our way real soon… We started off the season with the toughest teams in the district but want my boys to know there are two halves to the schedule and we can still have a good year.”
But, it was not to be. The Hurricanes lost every game that season. Wolfgang’s record, at the end of his first season as a head football coach, was 0-10.
Principal Folsom held “several meetings” with Wolfgang at season’s end in November, with (athletic director) Bobby Hall also in attendance. As Folsom would tell a sports reporter, “At the conclusion of those meetings, Coach Halbig expressed a sincere interest in remaining at Lake Weir High School.” And despite the dismal season they’d just had, Folsom decided to keep Wolfgang as head coach for next year.
A Villain’s Exit
Six weeks later, Wolfgang was fired as head coach.
Principal Folsom released a statement on January 27 1979, explaining the sudden decision; as it turned out, while Wolfgang had said he was committed to rebuilding the Hurricanes, and was demanding loyalty from his players, he was also keeping an eye on the exit. “Within the past week,” Folsom said, “I have learned that Coach Halbig was interested in another coaching position in a high school in the state. It is my responsibility to secure someone who is totally committed to develop the football program at Lake Weir High School. Therefor, in the best interest of the football program, a change was necessary.”
Wolfgang insisted it was all a misunderstanding. He wasn’t looking for a job; he hadn’t even contacted Sebring High School himself. He had simply reached out to “an acquaintance who had worked at Sebring to do it.” He said he had inquired about an opening at that school that school because Sebring is closer to Avon Park, where his mother still lived. If wanted to move back home, it was only because his mother was in ill health.
Wolfgang went on to explain that while he didn’t tell Folsom or Hall about any of this, it was only because he was too loyal to the Hurricanes. “If I were interested in leaving Lake Weir, I would have told the kids first and Clyde second. That’s how I feel about the Lake Wier kids.”
And anyway, the response he got was that Sebring was looking for an older coach, “with more experience.” Wolfgang was 32 years old, and in his first year as head coach. So really, he was going to stay put at Lake Weir anyway. (I guess his mother got better after that. Gertrude sticks around for another couple decades.)
“All I wanted to find out was what they were looking for,” Halbig told reporters. “I never sent a resume. I never had an interview. If that’s a reason t show unloyalty, if that’s a reason to be fired for, then I don’t envy the next person coming in there.”
The Lake Weir High School Conspiracy
Wolfgang had his doubts that the Sebring totally-not-looking-for-a-job contact was the real reason Lake Weir was firing him, anyway.
He told reporters that the ten months he worked at Lake Weir were “somewhat stormy in regards to his relationship with Folsom and Hall,” ever since they had let one of his junior-varsity coaches go “for not following the chain of command.” Wolfgang had stood up for his coaching staff, and as a result, “The reason they’re firing me, I think, is because I’m backtalking them and defending my coaches.” The Sebring call was just a cover story from Folsom and Hall. “They don’t like it because I’m giving them fire.”
It’s a conspiracy, in other words.
Wolfgang was still an employee of the school district, despite losing his coaching spot. So the district moved him down to Lake Weir Middle School, probably just so they didn’t have to see his face around the Hurricanes campus for the rest of the year.
He got an offer to work as a defensive coordinator at Forest High School in 1979, and would do that for just a week before turning around and accepting a job back at Vanguard, as assistant football coach. Exactly the same spot he had back before he took the head coaching job at Lake Weir.
And it’s funny: When you look at his resume from 2012, Wolfgang doesn’t mention any of this at all. He just puts down that he worked at Vanguard High School all the way from 1975 to 1983. Like the last year of Wolfgang’s life, and his first season as a head football coach, had never happened at all.
To be sure, for years afterward, there were many at Lake Weir High School who would prefer to imagine the same thing.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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 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.
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…”
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.”
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 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 while 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.
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 has faith in his strategy for the baseball team. “Once we get it together, look out.”
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 move to any high school in central Florida that seemed to offer him the best shot at achieving it.
Wolfgang’s First Grudge (Sophomore Year: 1970-1971)
While Wolfgang Halbig officially exited the armed services in the summer of 1970, he continued working at Dyess Air Force Base for awhile, as a lifeguard and swimming instructor for the Officer’s Club. The Florida State University scholarship he’d been offered prior to his surprise enlistment wasn’t on the table anymore, but that was okay. He wasn’t looking to move back home, Abilene suited him just fine.
His first choice for a place to relaunch his college football career was McMurry College, on the south end of town. He visited the campus in February 1970, ahead of his discharge in the summer, and spoke to Buddy Fornes, the head football coach there, inquiring about a scholarship. Fornes told him to come to their spring tryout camp.
Wolfgang believed his record was proof enough that he deserved a scholarship. He was offended, actually. So he inquired at his second choice, and McMurry’s cross-town football rival, Abilene Christian College. Their head coach Walling Bullington did indeed sign him that same month, saying “Wolfgang has the ability to become an outstanding college player… I think his experience as an athlete in the service will be a great asset to him.” He planned to use Wolfgang “primarily as an outside linebacker” on the Abilene Wildcats.
Wolfgang majored in Science at at ACC, with minors in History and Physical Education.
By the time the football schedule began in early September, he had been shifted to 2nd-string tight end, and played only briefly in the opening game, catching two passes for 21 yards. But Coach Bullington told the papers he “liked what he saw” in Halbig, and that he’d get more time soon.
It turned out this was because, by happenstance, their starting tight end got a separated shoulder, and would be out for the rest of the year. So Wolfgang would start after all, for the rest of the season.
The Wildcats suffered a hard loss in a Halloween-night game against Arkansas State, including two incomplete passes to Halbig, but they bounced back the following week against Drake University, with five completions from Wolfgang. He also suffered a “severely bruised kidney” in that game.
He’d be anxious to get back on the field: the Wildcats were due to face their arch-rivals, the McMurry Indians, at the end of November. And he wanted to show McMurry’s Coach Fornes that he’d made a mistake in not signing him.
The two teams had faced off in 37 games from 1930-1969, with ACC holding a 22-15 edge. And when that year’s game came around, ACC did indeed bring home another victory, 43-26. With that, they officially ending the season with a 9-2 record. And Wolfgang himself had three pass completions in the game, and a first-down. He wasn’t satisfied with his performance overall, though: “I didn’t have a great game, but they knew I could play ball,” he’d tell reporters. He was already looking forward to next season, hungry to do better against McMurry in a rematch.
That was assuming he’d be in the game at all, though; the tight end with the separated shoulder was all better now, and expected to rejoin the team as starter. And when the Southland All-Conference team was announced in December, ten Wildcats players made the list… but Wolfgang only got “Honorable Mention.” It looked like he might be spending more time on the bench next year. But not if he had any say in the matter.
Then, sometime in the spring of 1971, Wolfgang was reading the Abilene Reporter-News and saw his name mentioned: sports columnist Carl Dingler wrote that Wolfgang had been moved to starting fullback for the fall season, and “should add power if the coaches leave him there.” He called up the reporter, and was emphatic that there was no “if”: Wolfgang was a lock for starting fullback. Period.
Wolfgang Halbig of Abilene Christian College telephoned to report he WILL be the Wildcats’ fullback this fall… Halbig was somewhat upset over the statement as he is confident he will be at full-back. We did not know anything Wolfgang didn’t know so will concede, Wolfgang, that you will be the starting fullback. However, the information on the possibility that he might be switched comes from the coaches breakdown on next season’s prospects. (Abilene Reporter-News May 15, 1971)
In the summer, Wolfgang is reported to be working out hard, gearing up for the “Bulling Three-Mile,” a workout in which all prospective players must run three miles in 21 minutes. Seven minutes per mile. Wolfgang was particularly determined to clear the test because he almost wasn’t a starting player at all the previous season. “No second team for me, I want to start.” The same article notes that he continued working at the Dyess officer’s club pool over the summer.
The next month, Wolfgang appears in the press for a different reason: he had shared a humorous story about the difficulty he had in impressing his mother with his onside-kicking skills, since the native German had no understanding of the game (and didn’t grasp that such kicks are supposed to be short):
Creeper Vibes (Junior Year: 1971-1972)
Drills for the upcoming season started in August 1971, and Wolfgang gave it his all: he even re-injured his kidney during a pre-season scrum. Coverage of the incident records that Wolfgang had by then earned a nickname on the team, reflecting his national origins (in a coarse and poorly-aged manner): “Kraut.”
He had a lot to prove: despite his “correction” to the sports reporter back in May, he was not a lock for starting fullback for this year. He was indeed slotted for that position, but he’d be competing with another player, Jim Lee Williams, to start. The Abilene Reporter-News published a story reporting on Wolfgang in early September, that detailed this jockeying for the same position:
It is the first known, detailed profile on Halbig, and it includes a number of insights as to his plans and mindset at the time:
For some reason he again claims that he emigrated from Germany at age 16, instead of the truth, which is that he was 12
On switching positions, he says, “Changing from tight end to fullback there’s not much difference because you do catch the ball and we have a running backfield”
About his competitor for starting fullback, Jim Lee Williams, Halbig says, “He’s just taller and weights a little more, but we’re at about the same level… As to the quality of ball player I don’t think he’s that much better than I am.”
Halbig sees himself as “quicker” than Williams
He “expresses no qualms at not liking the idea of being a utility man,” that being a player who is skilled at multiple positions— and not necessarily excelling at any of them
“I want them to realize that I do have the potential to be a good ballplayer”
He does not have aspirations to play professionally, though. “I’m more interested in teaching and going into coaching…. I think by the time I graduate from Abilene Christian College I’m going to enjoy looking forward to going out, making a living and teaching the kids what I know.”
Even as this article was being published, there was proof on the gridiron that Wolfgang had failed in his competition with Jim Lee Williams, and that the article from Carl Dingler back in May had it right all along: he was not the starting fullback for the 1971-1972 season.
It surely stung Wolfgang to have lost the battle, given how much he had invested himself in making the starting lineup. Still, he would see plenty of play from the second string. And when called upon, he did fine. Adequate. “Workman-like,” one could say. Not the big fish he had been in the small-pond of Avon Park High School, but not embarrassing either.
If there was any confirmation needed on this point, it came on September 11 1971. On that day, the arch-rival Wildcats and Indians clashed once again. In the latest entry in their storied rivalry—the very same event that Wolfgang had been looking forward to ever since his underwhelming (but perfectly adequate) 1970 performance, and his attempt to humble McMurry for spurning his gifts—Wolfgang was ready… except it didn’t matter at as far as Wolfgang Halbig was concerned. He rode the bench for the entire game. Not a factor at all.
Halbig would continue to play 2nd string, at a perfectly acceptable level of skill—but nobody would ever again waste their time writing profiles of him in the context of playing sports.
And so Wolfgang was smart not to have dreams of playing pro ball. He wasn’t that good, and he must have figured that much out by 1972.
He did like being in the newspaper, though. And he liked hanging around in schools. Plus he’d been teaching fitness classes back at the air force base for years, and knew he could do it well; if he fulfilled his goals of becoming a football coach at a high school somewhere, he could assume a position of authority over those around him.
Something about that concept appealed to him. But he had another year at ACC to go.
Wolfgang needed knee surgery in January of 1972, after an injury suffered in the “Purple and White” scrimmage game.
He would be on the shelf for the first few weeks of the season. It doesn’t seem he was really missed.
In the meantime, one thing can be said with confidence about Wolfgang Halbig in 1972: He was really, really horny. And it seems like everyone at ACC knew about it.
There was a campus newspaper at Abilene Christian College, the Optimist, and on September 10, 1971, the satirical column “Random Notes” published a “list of freshman women” whom sophomore Wolfgang Halbig supposedly said were “the most datable”:
Since this was sort of the local version of National Lampoon at the time, it’s tough to know exactly what the joke is. It seems unlikely Wolfgang provided any such “list”, and the names don’t seem to match actual students from the yearbook from 1971-1972. Maybe it’s nothing.
Further in that same class-of-1972 yearbook, there’s a section about “bushing.” It’s all photos of couples kissing.
…kind of weird, just as something to put in a yearbook.
Helpfully, 32 years later, the same yearbook (produced by the 2004 class at ACC, by then renamed ACU) actually explained this forgotten bit of 1970s Texas slang very succinctly:
As it turns out, Wolfgang himself is the context of that quoted section. The actual page from back in the 1972 yearbook, given the framing of the photo, actually seems to depict him in mid-recuperation from his knee surgery:
Well, those two things put together, the list of names and the “award” for making out in public… I dunno. I’m kind of skeeved out. Just in my, Blade’s, opinion: As of this point in his story, in 1972, I wouldn’t trust this dude. Just saying. He’s gross.
Anyway, it’s probably just a quirky local story from the 1970s that aged poorly. Probably won’t come up again or have any significant impact on Wolfgang’s life path at all. Whatever.
Awkward Exit (Senior Year: 1972-1973)
Wolfgang continued to be a utility player—the very thing he so vocally resented the year before—for the remaining year of his time on the ACC roster. He bounced around from wingback, to fullback, to placekicker as needed. The team continued to perform, despite his decreasing contributions.
As graduation day approached, Wolfgang developed an exit plan. He had decided he was going to say goodbye to Texas, and return to central Florida, the region where he grew up after his exit from Germany. Where his mother still lived. He’d applied for, and was accepted to, a coaching position on the football team at Lake Brantley High School, the next town over.
But then, six months into the school year at Lake Brantley, and just as everything seemed to be going according to plan… Wolfgang made a surprise change. He wasn’t going to be a coach, nor would he be a teacher.
He was gonna be a cop.
There’s really nothing in the third-party sources explain this surprise move. But, in his 2012 deposition, Wolfgang would attempt to give an explanation. Here, even the attorney seems to get a migraine, trying to understand how Wolfgang’s horniness levels somehow required him to make a major career move:
This change in career path seems extremely sudden, and bizarre in its rationale. Combining Wolfgang’s explanation for the move, with his conduct just the year previous, when he was still on a college football team rather than coaching high schoolers, it sounds to me like something really, really gross happened at Lake Brantley High during those six months. Maybe something involving “bushing” that got out of hand. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I wasn’t even born yet actually.
I guess all I can say is that it’s something Wolfgang Halbig could clear up anytime, if he wanted to. But he never has.
Anyway. In the meantime, Wolfgang was ready for the next phase of his adventure: patrolling the highways of Florida, while wearing a badge.
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.
(Also, as a proud Canadian, your humble author has little understanding of sports outside of hockey and curling. Apologies if he botched any football terms/rules here, it probably wont be the last time)
May 18th, 2012: Seven months before the Sandy Hook shooting, the man who would become the most notorious denier of that tragedy, Wolfgang Halbig, age 65, enters an office building in Orlando. He takes the elevator to the fifth floor, where some attorneys are waiting for him with a tape recorder, and a series of questions. Some of the questions will be about the facts surrounding the lawsuit he was pursuing against the city of Apopka — over responsibility for some cracked sidewalk that he had allegedly tripped over near his home in 2010 — but they would also be scrutinizing his life in general, the entire path that had brought him there. Practically everything he’d ever done, professionally or personally. And he knows that this time, he has to tell the truth. Or there would be consequences.
Wolfgang sits down at the table. The court reporter begins their recording. Wolfgang raises his right hand, and is sworn in. Then, the attorney begins his questions.
Wolfgang Halbig takes a deep breath.
In the Beginning
Wolfgang Walter Halbig was born somewhere in Germany—probably Heidelberg—on August 10th, 1946. (Making him a Leo, for those interested).
His mother, Gertrude, left him in the custody of her parents immediately after giving birth to him, and then apparently up and left town for the next twelve years. Similarly, whoever his father was, he seems to have already disappeared completely before Wolfgang was even born.
Very little is known about Wolfgang’s father. Wolfgang himself claims he was a US soldier, who had been “in a concentration camp for three years” before the war ended, one located in Posen, Poland. This is plausible, since Posen was the site of POW camp Stalag XXI-D, while Heidelberg would be the site of a US troop garrison after the war, having been spared the destructive bombing campaigns that left many neighboring towns a smoking rubble by the time of the German surrender in May 1945. And Wolfgang’s birthdate suggests he was conceived sometime in December of that year. So, this all sounds credible.
(SIDE NOTE: Immediately, it’s necessary to explain something about the subject of our story: As we will soon see, Wolfgang Halbig develops into a prolific and shameless liar by the time he reaches adulthood. And while we will have plenty of official documents and contextual info to check his answers against in future entries, for these early years, we mostly have just Wolfgang’s word to go on. Furthermore, even if Wolfgang relates these details with sincerity, the fact is he was a small child at this point, and so presumably is only repeating things his mother or grandparents told him, and these relatives could very easily have been spinning stories of their own. So, pretty much everything in this post should be taken with an asterisk next to it, except for a few instances where it’s documented by a third party.)
If Wolfgang’s biological father was simply reluctant to accept responsibility for his child, it is known that the occupying US forces would have backed him up, as they did so even in cases of rape (which was tragically common in Germany after the war). As historian Miriam Gebhardt reports in Crimes Unspoken: The Rape of German Women at the End of the Second World War:
Of course, the men committing the rape didn’t leave an address, but it sometimes happened, especially when occupying troops were billeted in the houses of German civilians, that the women knew the name, rank and company of the perpetrator and child’s father, or had at least sufficient fragmentary information to find out who had made them pregnant. This did not mean that they were able to obtain financial support from them. Even after 1955, there was still a yawning gap between the legal situation and the reality. The headquarters of the US Army in Heidelberg, which was meant to serve the summonses of the guardianship courts – the army refused to serve the soldiers directly – often failed to fulfill its duty and even advised the soldiers in writing that they were not obliged to pay child maintenance and that coercive measures by the German courts were not supported or followed up by the US headquarters.
In many cases the German courts were unable even to ascertain whether a summons or order to pay had been served at all. Or they received a curt reply that, in spite of the precise details of his identity, the accused soldier had not been found by the headquarters. Or the cases were terminated summarily because the soldier concerned had been posted. Once he had departed to the USA, for example, it was impossible to follow up maintenance claims. Legal assistance, even between states within the USA, was unusual. There was no compulsory registration or poor people’s courts that might have paid for an insolvent father.
Whatever the case, Wolfgang claims to have never met his biological father, and no further information about the man is known.
His grandparents were Catholics, and raised him so. But he would not be a practicing Catholic as an adult.
According to a forum post Wolfgang wrote in 2009, he attended public school in Germany starting at age six, and “learned discipline and respect for my teachers and grandparents” during these years.
However, there are also signs that his upbringing involved exposure to domestic abuse. In a 2014 post to his Facebook account, Wolfgang writes “My grandfather beat the hell out of my grandmother because he was an alcoholic and I will never ever forget those days.”
One day, when Wolfgang was twelve years old, everything changed. His mother suddenly reappeared at his doorstep. And she wasn’t alone: she’d remarried, and she had Wolfgang’s new stepdad with her.
As if this wasn’t earthshattering enough for young Wolfgang, they also had some news: his time in Germany was over. Gertrude had married an American, and they were going to reclaim custody of Wolfang, bringing him with them back to the states. Wolfgang relates this milestone day in his life early in his 2012 deposition:
“Well, I never knew my mother till age 12. The week that I was confirmed in the Catholic Church, she shows up with this military guy. They’re married, and she tells me and my grandparents, who raised me up to this point, that “You’re going to the United States;” so I saw my grandparents having a huge fight. And the next thing I know, I’m headed to Rammstein Air Base and I’m coming to the United States. I got my shots and I was displaced from my grandparents and I was not very happy about it, ‘cause I never knew her. I didn’t know what the hell I’m doing with her, you know?”
Wolfgang didn’t know a word of English, and this state of “Florida” he’d be living in must have sounded as alien as Jupiter to him at the time. But he had no choice in the matter.
The newly-formed Halbig family thus arrived stateside in the summer of 1958, shortly after Wolfgang’s 12th birthday. But whoever his new stepfather was, he didn’t stick around long; he pulled much the same disappearing act as his biological father not long after the relocation, and is never heard from again.
(Some followers of Wolfgang’s story have speculated that this “stepfather” was actually his biological father, given that both of his parents disappeared shortly after his birth, and that his mother was mysteriously apt to relocate to the United States after spending twelve years in an unknown location — possibly Florida — where she happens to have met another man who had been in the United States military, and whom was also apt to disappear the moment his child appeared. But, that mindset also describes a lot of military veterans. They indeed picked up Wolfgang like he was luggage to bring along for their second attempt at a union, in the states. But we just don’t know.)
Wolfang’s mother, Gertrude, was a stranger to him up to this point, but she would raise him as a single parent until he reached adulthood. And she was also the only person in his new life who could understand German, which made immediately him reliant on her, despite this sense of alienation.
Not much is known about his teenage years; in one comment he posted to a CNN article in November of 2012, Wolfgang claimed “I picked fruit at age 12 all through High School to help my mother and I liked it because I got paid for my work.”
According to Wolfgang’s recollections of this part of his life, he did not learn to speak English fluently until well after high school. But meanwhile, his body was developing into that of an athlete; he was muscular, with a large frame, qualities that the sports coaches in his district were on the lookout for. By high school, he was six feet tall, and excelling at football in particular—enough for him to get by academically, regardless of his inability to understand the language anyone at the school was speaking. He describes his recognition of this dynamic in an interview with Dave Gahary from 2014:
“I gotta tell you, when I came to this country at age twelve, I mean, I was scared to death. I’m in public schools, I remember being in fifth grade, I couldn’t speak a word of English. They didn’t have [English as a Second Language instruction]. I sat there in the back of the room every day, EVERY day, and eventually I got a scholarship to play football out in Texas, and it sorta changed my life. Athletics changed my life.”
In his 2012 deposition, Halbig recalls that he was first asked to play football “because they thought I was so big; the first thing they had me playing was center…because I was German and didn’t understand the game of football. They told me all I had to do was bend over and snap the ball whenever the guy said a certain number.”
But despite his size, Wolfgang soon found that he was not up for the physical rigors of playing that position — “I got tired of getting beat up all the time,” as he would put it in 2012 — and he requested the team move him to halfback. The team obliged. And the thrived in his new position.
His aptitude for playing sports would define his life’s path for the next few years. Although he could “barely” speak a word of English by his senior year at Avon Park High School, he was on the fast-track for graduation. In his 2012 deposition, Wolfgang would struggle to explain how.
The likely explanation is that college football was — and continues to be — a major cultural force in South Florida, and while it appears that Wolfgang was perhaps not quite a future-pro player, he was at least a prospect. According to newspaper profiles from a few years later (Abilene Reporter, Sep 8 1971) he was good enough to earn a full scholarship to Florida State University as he exited high school—though he would first have to spend a year at Coffeyville College in Kansas, which he would describe as “a junior college for Florida State players who couldn’t speak English… they thought my chances in a four-year school were bad and they thought I couldn’t make it because of the English problem.”
In the one year he spent at Coffeyville, he played linebacker, and made All-Conference, helping his team to a 9-1 record for the season. Asked if the year at Coffeyville helped him learn English, he says “not fluently.” But he apparently progressed enough to satisfy Florida State University, who brought him back to their campus in Tallahassee for his second year of college. It was a big opportunity for young Wolfgang — except just four days after he arrived, he got some bad news.
…Draft? What Draft?
As it turned out, Wolfgang was still not a naturalized American citizen at this point. FSU said that was no big deal, they would just need to see his draft card, and they could proceed with enrollment. And that was the REAL problem: Wolfgang had not registered for the draft. And it was 1966. There was a little something called the Vietnam War going on. (Wolfgang would insist in interviews from the 1970s that he had “no idea the draft existed” at the time. This is a highly dubious claim, given how he was surely surrounded with draft-aged men during his year at Coffeyville.)
Wolfgang’s recollection of how this all unfolded is pretty jumbled by the time of his 2012 deposition; it sounds as though he found out that his lottery number would have already been called, if he had registered for the draft, and so they were ready to draft him right there on the spot.
Whatever the bureaucratic process was, in the end he did enlist with the United States Air Force, “rather than joining the army” (per his comments in a 1971 profile). He was first stationed at San Antonio’s Lackland Air Force Base, before a transfer to Dyess Air Force Base, in Abilene, Texas, where he would spend the next few years, primarily as a “combative measures instructor.” He describes the role as “teaching pilots — E-52 bomber pilots, C-130 tanker pilots and load testers — how to kill people in the event they had a crash or eject from the aircraft.” He never got a pilot’s license.
One part of his duties that would linger in his memory, given his later career path(s), was that he was responsible for training some of the base staff on safety measures in case of disaster:
“In the United Air Force I was trained in Disaster Preparedness in light of the fact that our base served as a B-52 Bomber base with nuclear weapons. The number one issue that confronted the base and the community on a daily bases was what if a B-52 Bomber crashed and an accident occurred triggering an explosion. How would we handle such a scenario?”
He continued playing sports while on-base, excelling in baseball, softball, and tennis.
Despite the state of the Vietnam War, he would not serve overseas at all; asked why this was the case in his 2012 deposition, Wolfgang claims it was because, again, “I was not a naturalized citizen.”
He rectified that finally in May 1968, in Abilene. This is one of the singular moments in Wolfgang’s life, a scene he would recount over and over in his various sales pitches in the decades to come: standing in the federal courtroom in Abilene, having just finished his exam, and reciting an oath of citizenship with his “right hand raised.” He considered it “earning the privilege.”
Halbig got his discharge papers a couple years later, in 1970 — honorable, at rank E-4 — and he promptly picked his life back up, right as he left it in 1966: at the start of what looked like a promising college football career, and what would in many ways be the most successful and happy period in his life… But it was also when his personality first started to become apparent to those around him. And then, the problems start.
Howdy, folks. Blade here. I’ve been hard at work polishing up Get Rich or Lie Trying: The Life of Wolfgang Halbig, in between shifts down at the warehouse. But I wanted to make sure we don’t go too long without acknowledging a very important event that happened in the meantime: Wolfgang Halbig turned 74 years old this past month!
Happy Birthday, Wolfgang! (It was August 10th, to be precise.)
Now we all know that when birthdays roll around, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on our lives, and where our path has taken us over the years. So today I thought we could take a look back at Wolfgang’s life, and see how things were unfolding during three of his previous birthdays. Sound good? Let’s go!
Wolfgang Halbig’s Favorite Position
First, let’s go all the way back to around the time of Wolfgang’s 24th birthday, in the summer of 1971. He was just getting into playing college football at Abilene Christian College at the time, after getting out of the Air Force. The local newspaper, the Abilene Report, mentioned this among a bunch of updates in their college-sports coverage, with the reporter noting that Wolf should be able to perform in that position “if the coaches leave him there.”
What I like about this (this very, very unremarkable article) is that it results in the very first time that Wolfgang Halbig was ever quoted in the press, at the age of just 24, and already, it’s him being butt-hurt and whining over basically nothing. One gets the impression that Wolfgang was actually waiting at the newspaper stand with bated breath, all amped to read about himself and how much the team valued him… then saw what the article said, and immediately went to a nearby payphone to start his cry-fest.
The next week, the paper issues a correction; there’s only this little fragment available online, but you can tell the reporter was annoyed at what a little baby Wolfgang was about the whole thing:
Wolfgang Halbig of Abilene Christian College telephoned to report he WILL be the Wildcats’ fullback this fall. We had reported that Halbig had been shifted to fullback and should add power “if the coaches leave him there.” Halbig was somewhat upset over the statement as he is confident he will be at fullback. We did not know anything Wolfgang didn’t know so will confess, Wolfgang, that you [fragment ends]
It must have seemed odd, that this big tough-looking dude would call the waaahmbulance over something so minor. But a few weeks later, we learn why Wolfgang was so sensitive about these details: because he only got his last position after someone better got hurt:
Halbig, 25, recently was sidelined with a bruised kidney and didn’t return to drills until Monday, although he’s been running through some passing patterns in shorts. His main challenge this year, he said, is to make the starting lineup. “I don’t want to make it this year because somebody is injured. I did it last year and I think it’s a poor way to have to start.”
So, he knew his actual abilities on the field had relatively little to do with his success so far, and the suggestion that he might get moved to another spot from fullback, or that he was somehow untested in that role, triggered his insecurities. (These sorts of paranoid thoughts likely played a role in his surprise career change a few years later: he had been talking about going into coaching, or teaching, but then suddenly, quit the school district to go be a cop. He wasn’t any good at that either, but it would come in handy later when he got into the “school safety” racket.)
Vote for Wolfgang
For our next Wolfgang milestone, let’s jump forward to the 1980’s. It’s August of 1982 in Florida, and perhaps if Wolfgang had stuck with the law enforcement career track, he’d be busting cocaine smugglers while wearing a pastel blazer and loafers with no socks, like his colleagues down in Miami around that time. But no, after ‘ol Halbig quit coaching to join the Florida State Patrol, it wasn’t even 2 years before he turned in his badge. (His reasons for doing so are… let’s just say questionable. But that’s another post.)
So now, at age 36, Wolfgang is back in the education game, and has become a family man. He’s teaching Driver’s Ed at Vanguard High School, but as always whenever he’s teaching, he has little side-hustle project going on too. (It seems like teaching was all he was left with after his coaching gig crashed and burned — see the chapter Hurricane Fail from the archived Hoax of a Lifetime — but he couldn’t ever see teaching students as more than a foot in the door to obtain something more lucrative, so he just goes from failing at one scheme to failing at another, until his retirement.)
At this time, his side project was to try and get involved in local politics. This started when he was just trying to get a law passed that would make Driver’s Ed mandatory (basically guaranteeing himself employment). He succeeded there, and it must have been a real thrill, because then he started running for office!
On August 26, 1982, the candidates for the District 5 School Board seat assembled for a public forum (which was held at a funeral home for some reason). Wolfgang had some public speaking experience from his years coaching, but little more than that at this point. And he didn’t have long to make the case that change was needed at the school board. So, he chose to argue that the district was afraid to give failing grades to bad students… and used himself as the example:
“When it came time to attend college, Halbig said, he did not have the grades. ‘The school board is responsible. They have to answer to you.’ They had their chance; now it’s time to put a teacher in there who knows the needs’ of local students, Halbig said.”
It’s a bit difficult to parse exactly what point Halbig is trying to make here — especially since he did not “fail” as the black students he cites did, and he did go on to college. I guess his pitch is “as revenge for letting me graduate with failing grades, now you should elect me to the school board.” It’s a bold strategy, highlighting your lack of genuine achievement as a qualification all by itself. Perhaps it’s no surprise that this strategy was not enough to get Wolfgang into a position of power. He lost, and lost so badly that the newspaper didn’t even report his vote totals. But it wouldn’t be the end of his battles with school boards in Florida — or elsewhere.
The Buzzkill Conspiracy
For our last stop on memory lane today, let’s jump ahead 16 years and see what Wolfgang was up to in August of 1998: he’s just turned 52, and has secured a position as the District Security Chief for Seminole County Schools. This is probably the height of his professional achievements, a role with a lot of visibility and responsibility… so of course, Wolfgang sees it as a stepping stone to something more lucrative, and he starts figuring out how he can exploit it. He and some of his buddies in the school safety racket are already making plans to shift over to the private sector (to collect some of that sweet, sweet, independent-contractor money that Wolfgang already has plenty of experience appropriating). But that’s a competitive industry, and they know they need an edge.
In addition to his role as Director of Security for all schools, Wolfgang is also an administrator at one specific school, Project Excel — an alternative school, for the district’s discipline cases. And one day that August, he learned that none other than the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, was going to be visiting his school!
At this point, something happens. Here’s how Wolfgang put it, when he wrote about the event in a later article, Breaking the Code of Silence:
One central Florida school district operates a Save-A-Friend hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is contracted out through a private company, which has people manning the phones at all hours. One morning, a call was received from a high school student, who anonymously reported that drugs were being sold in the high school parking lot before the start of the school day.
Under the protocol in place, the company contacted the district’s security director — who, in turn, alerted the high school resource officer. The officer went to the parking lot, where he saw someone talking with students arriving for classes. After the man was approached by the officer and questioned, he became defensive and left. The officer pursued and ultimately arrested the man. He was taken to the administrative office of the school, where he was searched. The search showed he was carrying 22 bags of marijuana.
That morning, a top political leader in Florida was visiting the school. Television reporters were covering his visit. When the district security director received the details of the incident, he immediately informed the principal. Unfortunately, fearing the glare of perceived negative publicity that would be associated with the confiscation of drugs on campus, the principal did not share what had just happened with his visitors. As a consequence of the principal’s silence, state legislative leaders were not made aware of how well the Save-A-Friend hotline worked that morning.
Note that the “private company” that Wolfgang does not name is in fact Sonitrol, a company he also will go to work for, and that several of his business partners also work for. By 2000, when Wolfgang and said partners have launched the National Institute for School and Workplace Safety, Halbig is still pissed about this lost opportunity, retelling the story to a newspaper reporter… but oddly, the amount of seized cannabis shifts from 22 bags, to 28:
Halbig said the entire community needs to recognize that children will do illegal things, and come together to take preventive measures. An example: Around six months ago, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was to visit a high school campus. The morning of his visit school officials got a call from a student warning them that another student would be selling marijuana in the parking lot. Officials caught the student with 28 bags of marijuana, but the principal didn’t want Gov. Bush – and the hordes of reporters following him – to know about the bust. That frustrated Halbig, who thought it would have made a good learning opportunity about the value of working together to promote safety and lawful behavior in school. “Now Jeb Bush left that day thinking there’s not a problem. We have to share the good as well as the bad and not be afraid of it,” Halbig said.
This is another question that Wolfgang MUST answer, now that I think about it — what happened to the other 6 bags of contranband? Why is Wolfgang hiding this information? Did he smoke it? Did he sell it? Plant it on an innocent student? Personally it’s the not-knowing that really keeps me up at night… but Wolfgang refuses to answer these questions, so what else can we do but speculate?
Anyway, one thing you have to keep mind here is that the company Wolfgang was tied up with, Sonitrol, already had a contract for “tip lines” with the district, and was trying to expand that contract at the time. So in other words, on the day that the governor is visiting that specific school, the tip line that Wolfgang’s buddies profit from got an “anonymous” call that some drug dealing was going on, right where there’d be a chance that Jeb could witness the aspiring-contractor Halbig’s heroic actions in person. Serendipity!
Do you buy that? Because I don’t. I mean… it could be true, I wasn’t there after all. But it sounds to me like a more likely story is simply that Wolfgang knew there were dealers there every day, had failed to do anything about it so far, and then just called in the “tip” himself. Hell, it might even have been weeks or months prior when he first found out about this massive drug-dealing operation going on outside his school, and he chose to sit on it until he knew Jeb was in town.
Also, none of the articles name the person who was supposedly arrested, which is unusual. So maybe it’s completely made up? Maybe he just threw a few dozen ziploc baggies of lawn clippings in a drawer and told his boss he made a bust? Who knows!
Anyway, look, the weed wasn’t even the important thing: the REAL crime was that Jeb never even found out about Wolfgang’s heroism. That’s the part that really stuck with Wolfgang. He would stay mad about it for years.
And so in the years that follow, Wolfgang and his Sonitrol pals would repeatedly and shamelessly email Jeb, essentially begging for a contract (I’ll have to do a separate post just about those emails, they’re hilarious), trying to revive that opportunity that was lost in the parking lot of Project Excel that fateful morning. Maybe if things had gone differently, the National Institute for School and Workplace Safety could have landed that crucial bid, and flourished into a successful business. Wolfgang’s whole life could have gone differently after that… maybe he’d even be wealthy by now, and he’d have every school board in the state begging for his help. He could get back at all those professional educators who laughed at him over the years, and dominate them with his incredibly valuable and consistent ability to keep schools safe.
But it just wasn’t to be. He’d have to find another way to exact revenge on the education system that had so spurned his gifts. Yeah…. someday he’d show everyone…. somehow…
..Well, that’s all for today! Take care, fellow wolf-watchers, and one more time: Happy Birthday Halbig, from your biggest fan!
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.
If it’s your first time here, there’s a good chance you just found out what a Sandy Hook Hoaxer is, and now you have a question like that stuck in your head: “Who is Wolfgang Halbig?”
I see that a lot. I’ve been occupying this URL for some time, and I see all sorts of searches, yes indeed. And there are many variations on this question, for example:
Exactly what the hell is wrong with Wolfgang Halbig?
How is it possible that this obvious lunatic Wolfgang Halbig is out walking the streets?
Isn’t there even one single person in Wolfgang Halbig’s family who cares about him and will just do something already?
How can I make sure that whatever happened to Wolfgang Halbig’s brain doesn’t happen to mine?
Well, the good news is, I’m here to help.
The bad news is, the answers to these questions are complicated.
You see, as of this writing, Wolfgang Halbig is a 73-year-old retired man, living all alone in a house in Florida, probably wondering how it all went wrong.
His scam to pretend he was exposing the “Sandy Hook Hoax” has bottomed out. His wife walked out on him, all of his businesses have failed, his much-touted lawsuits have all fizzled, no radio hosts will return his calls, the donations have dried up, and he’s racked up one legal defeat after another. He is openly referred to in court — by his co-defendant’s counsel, no less — as a “raving lunatic.”
People all over the state of Florida, and across his own neighborhood, recognize Wolfgang Halbig as the broken-down old fool who has burned every bridge he ever crossed in life, and who occasionally is cause for a camera crew to visit, just to get a picture of one of the most loathed human beings in America.
Even his own children want nothing to do with him (though this should not be confused with them actually taking responsibility for stopping the harm he inflicts on innocent people; they don’t want any of that either, unfortunately. See: “Family” section for details.)
He’s been turned away from every charity website, payment processor, and web host on the internet. Face-to-face, he has been informed by several churches and elementary schools, quite forcefully, that he is not welcome on their grounds ever again. Security guards circulate his picture before events, and whispers precede him wherever he goes — about the creepy, incoherent, slobbering old man who preys on the memories of children. He is, in short, a complete loser, a fraud, and an embarrassment to humanity. Now, as he nears the end of his life expectancy, there’s probably not one single soul anywhere on the planet who could look him in the eye and honestly tell them that they feel one bit of love for him. And deep down, he knows it.
So, all that’s got to suck!
But he didn’t start that way. What a lot of people don’t know is, decades before the events of 2012 that led to him becoming the leader of the fraudulent “Sandy Hook Hoax” conspiracy theory, Wolfgang Halbig began a long transformation into the beast he would become. He spent his life bouncing around different careers, studying how to fool and scare and exploit people, how to lie and get away with it, and more than anything, how to make money by exploiting tragedies.
His path through life is an oftentimes sickening, sometimes hilarious story, full of betrayals, humiliations, firings, lawsuits, and one catastrophic failure after another. Telling that story is what this blog is all about. I call it: Get Rich or Lie Trying: The Life of Wolfgang Halbig.
(The main source for my little analysis is gonna be The Hoax of a Lifetime, a free ebook published about Wolfgang Halbig in 2015. You can still find that version of Wolfgang’s story if you want, filed under The Halbig Archives, or by clicking here.)
Cheers, fellow Wolf-watchers! Stay tuned for more real soon. And remember: never turn your back on a Wolf.
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.
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF ODDITIES POPPING UP IN WOLFGANG HALBIG’S PAST.
17 IMPORTANT QUESTIONS MUST BE ANSWERED – BY HALBIG HIMSELF.
The well-known con man and fraud, Wolfgang Halbig, is on a mission. As the leader of the Sandy Hook Hoaxers, one of his schemes is to claim there are a number of “questions” that those impacted by the Sandy Hook case have not answered.
We have a few questions of our own for him. And unlike Wolfgang’s long-tired act, these questions really are unanswered.
Stop hiding, Wolf. Be a man. Tell the truth.
Here are SEVENTEEN of the MOST important questions that the gutless liar Halbig needs to answer:
Question #1 Wolfgang Halbig MUST answer:
How is it even remotely possible that you were going to high school in America in 1965 and you didn’t know that the United States had a draft?
Seriously, nobody on your football team mentioned Vietnam once? You really expect people to belief this nonsense?
Were you trying to dodge the draft?
Question #2 Wolfgang MUST answer:
Why did you try to make it look like you never worked at Lake Weir High?
You say on your resume that you were at Vanguard High School from 1975 to 1983. But when we look at what you were up to in 1978, the newspapers say you’d only been at Vanguard for one year at that point, and were about to leave. Why is that?
What happened at Lake Weir High School that you don’t want people to know about?
Question #3 Wolfgang Halbig MUST answer:
Why were you planning to abandon the Lake Weir High School Hurricanes, right when the children needed you the most?
The school trusted you. You told everyone that “by game five you’ll be a different team.” But they were not a different team by game five – under your leadership, they lost every single game!
Even worse, you lied to those children about planning for the next two years with them. You were actually doing everything you could to ditch out on them and leave them without any coach for the next season. Some of those kids were probably aspiring college athletes, and you tanked their stats. Why would you lie like that? What sort of person does these things?
Question #4 Wolfgang MUST answer:
Why don’t you include your stint at Sebring High anywhere on your resume?
You just completely leave out 1983-1985 in your career, why is that?
Is it because you stabbed somebody in the back again? Is that why you need to cover your tracks every few years?
Wasn’t it kind of stupid to dare people to look into your background, now that you think about it? Or do you legit not realize what a blatant scumbag you’ve been for your entire life?
Question #5 Wolfgang MUST answer:
Why does your wife have so many aliases?
Is she hiding something?
What do you think it says about her, that she would choose Wolfgang Halbig to be her spouse?
How’s she doing these days, anyway? You guys good?
Question #6 Wolfgang Halbig MUST answer:
Why did you and your wife get a divorce back in 1993?
Did one of you have an affair?
Was it because of your career?
Or was it your mental state?
Why won’t you just answer these simple questions and put all the speculation to rest? What are you running from?
(You look tired by the way)
Question #7 Wolfgang Halbig MUST answer:
Why have you been touting your experience as a U.S. Customs Inspector for more than twenty years, when you know that it was an entry-level part-time job at an airport, lasting one year at most?
Seriously your resume has more padding than a box of sanitary napkins. Give it a rest.
Question #8 Wolfgang Halbig MUST answer:
If you were such an informed Customs Inspector, why did you buy the Quadro Tracker scam hook-line-and-sinker, a product which the U.S. Customs Service had already declared to be a fraud?
Why were you trying to sell a phony bomb detector to the school you work at?
Can you imagine if there really was a bomb? Your incompetence would have endangered hundreds of lives at the school. And you were the director of school safety!!
Question #9 Wolfgang Halbig MUST answer:
How did that student get his hands on your firearm? You’re a director of security for the school system and you let a student got ahold of your weapon?
Why didn’t you stop him? Who does that??
Question #10 Wolfgang MUST answer:
What was the nature of your professional relationship with Mr. Marcum?
Were you guys just really good friends? Who likes to make money together?
Did he give you a cut after you got the district to create a job for you?
Did you sell any services to his district after you left to go into the private sector?
Did you disclose any of this information to the district when you were signing all those contracts?
Were you surprised when someone finally called you out on all these conflicts of interest, and you subsequently lost that contract in Maryland?
Question #11 Wolfgang MUST answer:
Why didn’t you, a former Florida state trooper, explain to your son that drunk driving is illegal and dangerous?
You were a driver’s-ed teacher too, did you teach all those students as poorly as you raised your son?
Why didn’t you instill in him any respect for safe driving, given the horrors you supposedly witnessed on Florida’s roadways?
Why would you allow your son to repeatedly violate the law like this, and endanger innocent people?
Question #12 Wolfgang MUST answer:
Why did you keep hurting yourself on the job when you worked for various school districts in Florida?
Aren’t you a “national expert” on school and workplace safety? Your workplace is a school, and you can’t seem to keep even yourself safe there.
You’ve said many times over the years that districts should hire you because“teachers don’t know how to break up a fight,” but most of the injuries you filed for seem to involve you kicking your own ass in that process. How can you have done a job for that long and actually get worse at it?
Question #13 Wolfgang MUST answer:
What exactly was your job in February 2005?
Are you a district employee, or a contractor?
Why were you bizarrely referred to as “the man running the safety program” but who is also “not allowed to speak on camera?”
Why weren’t you allowed to appear on television, anyway? It was okay in 1996, what happened?
What radio show did you appear on? Why don’t you talk about that ever?
Question #14 Wolfgang MUST answer:
What exactly is going on with you and your wife in summer of 2005? Why did you both quit your jobs?
Did your wife’s new position, with Lake County, turn out to be a more effective avenue into county tax coffers than yours had been?
Question #15 Wolfgang Halbig MUST answer:
How is it that you were in charge of school safety when you let a student get your gun, AND you were in risk management when BOXES of your vital documents were left out for anyone to find?
Honestly, was this a joke or something?
How do you even find time to embarrass yourself this frequently?
Question #16 Wolfgang Halbig MUST answer:
Why did you list on your 2012 resume under Lake County Public Schools “Director of Risk Management, 2005 – Current” when your contract was terminated in 2009?
Obviously, you’ve updated your resume after that, since it includes an entry for a corporation you didn’t even establish until 2012. So why didn’t you correct this part?
Question #17 Wolfgang Halbig MUST answer:
How could you send those children into those filthy schools in Lake County, knowing about the toxic mold?
Why did you run away from the hazard without even telling anyone about it, rather than doing your job and protecting the students at staff at your school?
Where are the work orders you should have submitted to address this potentially very serious safety issue?
January 2015: William Shanley’s trillion-dollar lawsuit is dismissed (though he goes on to file several more, with similar results):
March 13, 2015:During an appearance on The Richie Allen Show,” Wolfgang Halbig announces that he is possession of a firearm, and has trained to use it. [LINK]
“There are things happening which caused me to go out and buy a handgun. And, I am taking precautions: I went back to the range, I’m qualified. I’m a sharpshooter. So, it’s sad I have to do these things.”
March 14, 2015:Jim Fetzer posts excerpt from an Alex Jones interview with Wolfgang Halbig.
HALBIG: “Well, you know what? They need to get ready, Alex, I’m coming. If you could be in my office right now today, beyond a reasonable doubt, we have all the evidence. People that anonymously have now come forward from Newtown. We now have documents that will, without a doubt, show that that school did not exist, it was not in operation.
Jones: “Well, You’d better release them as soon as possible or that’d end up, you know what happens to people. They’ll claim you suicided yourself or probably take some of your family out, claim you killed them and demonize you. That’s how they do it now — they kill you and your family.”
HALBIG:[with a big smile]: “Well, Alex, I saw my doctor the other day. I am not suicidal. I told my doctor I’m about as happy as can be. I got three great grandkids. But I’m telling you, the evidence that we have, right now I have an attorney here in Orlando, we filed a lawsuit. The judge here in Orlando allowed us to move forward. She granted me ten subpoenas to be issued two weeks ago, with discovery information. Alex, we are on the move.
March 9, 2015: ESTATE PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION INC, the company against which Wolfgang had filed his second lawsuit for his January 2010 slip and fall, offers Wolfgang a settlement of one hundred dollars.
April 9, 2015: Wolfgang Halbig rejects the $100 settlement from Errol Estates (not accepted within 30 days.) This results in the case moving forward. Several months later, Halbig loses the case, and is responsible for Errol’s court [costs].
April 20, 2015:Wolfgang’s attorney for the FOIA case, Kay Wilson, receives this correspondence advising them that a requested witness will not be attendance at their hearing.
April 23, 2015:The first of Wolfgang Halbig’s FOIA Commission hearings convenes in Hartford, Connecticut. He makes no progress on any of his counts.
June 2, 2015: St. Rose of Lima incident. Wolfgang Halbig is observed by security at Newtown church. Security calls police, telling them “I’ve got two cars here from out of state that are videotaping children as they leave the school and the guy gave me a rough time about leaving.“ Wolfgang promptly leaves, shortly after they arrive on the scene.
June 3, 2015: A Connecticut FOIA Commission meeting is held, the second half of the court’s hearing of Wolfgang Halbig’s complaints against Newtown. Again, no significant progress is made on any of Sandy Hook Justice’s supposed goals, but Halbig latches onto a response from First Selectman Pat Llodra, who had been speculating that a hazard sign seen at Sandy Hook days after the shooting may have been placed there by “homeland security.” Halbig does not specify what this detail supposedly indicates. He merely says “thank you,” and giggles. He then proceeds to go on a donation drive for Sandy Hook Justice, saying “homeland security” as much as possible.
June 11, 2015: During a “Max Resistance Round Table” public online forum and chat,Wolfgang Halbig falsely claims that a man, apparently chosen at random from one of several CSP dashcam videos from 12/14, was in fact a “Connecticut EMS Director Region 1 Director,” publicly naming the official and accusing them of participation in a conspiracy.
The absurd allegation is quickly and soundly debunked , but not before the “EMS Director at Sandy Hook” story is set upon by legions of hoaxers that litter the internet with propaganda memes demonizing two innocent men.
July 1, 2015: The Connecticut FOIA commission releases its report Wolfgang Halbig’s complaint. In the report’s recommendations, set to be heard in a meeting the following week, Wolfgang Halbig is found to have already received every existing document that he requested. All of the Freedom of Information Act proceedings of the past several months thus accomplished nothing of consequence for Sandy Hook Justice.
July 8, 2015: The final meeting for Wolfgang Halbig’s FOIA case is held, and the July 1 recommendations are approved. Wolfgang interrupts the proceedings, loudly storming out and losing all composure.
In the corridor just after the meeting’s conclusion, a sound and video recording captures Halbig threatening Mr. Frank, who is passing by on his way out of the courthouse. Halbig taunts that he is going to “find” Mr. Frank, as well as “find” one of the deceased child victims at Sandy Hook, Avielle Richman:
“We’re going to find Mr. Monte Frank, and Avielle Richman! Guess what there, Mr. Frank, what do you think? You’re protecting all of those people? Are you protecting Avielle Richman? Avielle Richman, you’re in the synagogue!”
July 27, 2015: Paypal, possibly the last remaining online payment system that Sandy Hook Justice can receive donations through, terminatesSandy Hook Justice’s account.
August 11, 2015:Wolfgang Halbig loses in his court battle against one of several anonymous “bloggers,” (see November 19 2014interview) resulting in a judgement of nearly $23,000 against Halbig, who again achieves absolutely nothing toward his goals, professed or otherwise.