Bob Lazar: Red Flags

16 min readMay 30, 2023


This is the fourth installment in a series of articles resulting from over fifty interviews conducted with people who either know or knew Bob Lazar, have had a role in his stories or claims, or would have knowledge relevant to Bob’s stories or claims if they are true.

This article follows the events of Bob Lazar’s life following his termination at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which occurred sometime between October 1982 and February 1983. This includes some history of Bob and Carol’s photo shops, Studio West and Film West; the Honeysuckle Ranch brothel Bob and his first wife, Carol, claimed to have run; the criminal history of Bob’s second wife, Tracy, and the reason for her assuming a false identity—a matter relevant to Bob’s claim to have obtained, just a couple of years later, a security clearance “38 levels above the Q clearance.”

Photo Shops

By October 1983, Bob and his first wife Carol had opened a one-hour photo processing shop located at 941A 18th St. in Los Alamos, later adding UPS and Federal Express shipping services.

The first advertisement I identified for the photo shop appears in the Los Alamos Monitor on October 28, 1983.

Studio West Advertisement (Los Alamos Monitor, October 28, 1983.)

Sometime prior to May of 1985, Bob and Carol had opened a second, sister shop called Film West, located at 118-C Longview Drive in the nearby town of White Rock .

Film West listing in the May 1985 Sante Fe, NM White and Yellow pages.

There is little information about Studio West itself.

Tom Mahood was contacted by one customer of the shop, a man named Brian Boyer, who gave a brief description:

As for Bob himself, a man named Brian Boyer, from the Brookhaven National Laboratory in upstate New York, contacted Mahood after seeing him talk about Lazar on TV. Boyer said that as a summer student (and amateur photographer) at Los Alamos in 1984–1985, he had had his film developed by “a slim goateed guy who had a rocket Honda, wore T-shirts from a Vegas brothel, and had photos of rather uninhibited bikini-clad women visible in the shop.” After studying the photographs on Mahood’s Blue Fire Website, he confirmed that his photo developer had indeed been Bob Lazar.

Excerpt from “Area 51: The Dreamland Chronicles” by David Darlington.

The Honeysuckle Ranch

Honeysuckle Ranch T-shirt. (Image courtesy of Allan Rothberg)

As early as 1984, Bob had claimed to those around him that he invested in — or in other tellings — owned a legal brothel in Nevada, called the Honeysuckle Ranch.

“We were doing well financially. We’d even invested in a legalized brothel in Las Vegas that was taking in $100,000 a month at the time we purchased it for a million dollars. The Honeysuckle Ranch had been in business for more than thirty years, had a solid management team in place, and with Carol doing careful oversight of the operation, we expected the wheels to keep on turning and the money to keep rolling in.

Excerpt From “Dreamland: An Autobiography” by Bob Lazar.

I contacted the relevant government body in each county where brothels were legal in this time period and none had any record of a Honeysuckle Ranch ever having been in operation.

Bob Lazar’s apparent explanation for the lack of records, as relayed to John Lear by Gene Huff in a 2018 email, is that the license was under the brothel’s previous name. In another exchange with Tom Mahood, Huff suggests that a moratorium on brothels — in response to the AIDS epidemic — shut the Honeysuckle Ranch, and that the brothel operator’s license had to be in the name of a female. I was not able to find evidence supporting either claim. Contemporary media reports of Nevada’s response to AIDS with respect to brothels makes no mention of a moratorium.

Jan MacKell Collins, author of multiple books that detail the history of brothels in Nevada and other states, responded to my query asking her if she had ever come across a Nevada brothel operating under the name Honeysuckle Ranch.

Her response, “I’ve never heard of the Honeysuckle Ranch”.

Susan Haack, Carol Lazar’s daughter, shared with me what she had learned from Carol’s family regarding Bob and Carol’s aspirations to own and operate a legal brothel. [Dean is Carol’s cousin, who she was quite close with.]

Susan Haack: I later learned from Dean’s wife that Bob Lazar and Carol tried to contact Dean [Carol’s cousin and a chapter president of the Hells Angels], or did contact Dean and tried to get him to invest some money in different businesses, one of them being a brothel. And Dean wasn’t interested in pairing up with them in that way. So they wanted information from him about the best way to do it. And I was told that once Dean said, do everything legit — do it legitimately, get a license, do everything you’re supposed to — that they were no longer interested in doing that.

Author: And do you know the outcome of, or what they did after they had been told to do everything legitimate?

Susan: I think they tried to go off on their own and do it in an illegitimate way, but from what I was told, nothing ever really took off.

Author: Did you hear that specifically in reference to the Honeysuckle Ranch, or did they not know the name?

Susan: No, nobody in the family ever mentioned a name to me. It didn’t seem like it was anything concrete that it ever came about. It just seemed like it was a fly-by-night harebrained idea of theirs. And because Dean didn’t know Bob and felt he was creepy, he wasn’t about to get involved in anything with him.

Carol’s cousins, Don Lenihan and Renee Wakefield, were able to give more information on why Bob and Carol would have sought out Dean’s guidance and involvement in their brothel venture.

Don Lenihan — Dean’s brother and Carol’s cousin:

Author: There was a point where Bob, and I don’t know if Carol had also said this, but Bob had said that they had bought or invested in a legal brothel in Nevada.

Don Lenihan: Yeah. Yeah. I would go for that. I believe that.

Author: Did you hear anything about that from Carol or your family?

Don: No, but my brother, bless his soul, he — that was what the Hells Angels did. When he was in California, when he was president out here. And he got him — basically, my brother was a businessman, always was. And he got them, instead of dealing illegal drugs and stuff, they got ’em all investing in massage parlors, legal whore houses basically. And then when he went to North Carolina, they were way behind times back then when it came to that. And he got them all legal and pretty much rich, between the dealing and the massage parlors. And then he ended up getting busted for — it all came about was, what it broke down to what the only thing they could get him for was income tax evasion. But the case all started with illegal firearms, had hand grenades and stuff.

Renee Wakefield — Dean and Carol’s cousin:

Renee Wakefield: So I can tell you where that comes from. And he’s just bragging about shit that happened in my family, not to him.

My Hells Angels cousins had the Chicken Ranch [corrected later by Renee to the Mustang Ranch] for a while in Nevada, but not for long. Bunch of crap went down on that too, and there was arrests. And I mean, yeah, that’s a story from our family from a long line ago. And I don’t know if Bob Lazar was around at that time, but it was…

Author: Do you know when that would have been?

Renee: Again, it’s really hard for me to pick dates and stuff with them guys. I think it would’ve been ‘77–’78–’79 era. But don’t quote me on it. Cause I don’t know for sure. But I know the stories. And that had to do with, I know Dean left California right around ‘79 I think, or maybe he visited in ‘79 and left a little earlier than that. But it was before that time. And I remember the stories about the [Mustang Ranch] in Nevada and how the Hells Angels were involved with it. And that was partially with Dean. And I think it was Sonny Barger [a founding member of the Hells Angels] and my cousin Dean.

The history of the Mustang Ranch brothel, and the The Old Bridge Ranch located yards away, is a long and complex story. What is apparent is that the Hells Angels had significant involvement in both brothels. David Burgess, nephew of the former owner of the Mustang Ranch brothel, lost his own brothel operator’s license as a result of his being a member of the Hells Angels.

[David] Burgess’ brothel license has been yanked because members of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang are hanging around and allegedly have criminal connections. (Las Vegas Sun, June 9th 1998)

While serving a federal prison sentence on a child pornography conviction, David Burgess published on online blog detailing his life experiences in the Hells Angels.

In “Issue #27", he writes a post memorializing the death of Garry “Lurch” Burkett — the man convicted alongside Bob’s first wife, Carol, for the 1974 murder of Dennis Passaro.

This past Saturday night January 7, 2012 my “Homie” and close Hells Angel Brother passed away. His name is “Lurch”. Lurch got in the Club on November 11, 1967 in San Diego.

Garry “Lurch” Burkett

(Behind the Barbwire, Issue #27)

In other posts, he explains that in 1974 he went to work for his uncle Joe Conforte at the Mustang Ranch, and eventually became the general manager for a period of ten years (1979–1989).

As the former general manager of the world famous Mustang Ranch brothel (10 Years) and a former brothel owner myself, (I owned and operated the Old Bridge Ranch brothel in Mustang Nevada for more then 20 years) I believe my professional opinion on this subject is as close to the truth on the subject as you will ever find.

(Behind the Barbwire, Issue #20)

Leaving Los Alamos

In early April of 1986, Bob Lazar abruptly closed down Studio West.

John Horne, a friend of Bob’s who had loaned him $2000 for the purchase of a jet dragster from Joe Gonzalez, describes the speed of Bob’s departure:

John Horne: Yeah, and he had declared bankruptcy. He skipped out on all his debts in town. He owed probably about $60,000 to Los Alamos National Bank for the photo processing equipment. He just skipped out on that.

Mark Farmer: So, it was a matter of here one day and gone another?

Horne: Yeah. He was gone within — I mean it was overnight. (Los Alamos Interview)

Horne’s recollection was not an exaggeration.

The Los Alamos Monitor published an article about the sudden closure of Studio West on May 2nd, 1986 [reproduced in full below].

Greenwood said he first learned of Studio West’s closing when someone called him to pick up his pictures because the shop was going out of business at the end of the day.

After it closed in early April, about two dozen unsent UPS packages and a couple of trays of processed film were found in the store, Greenwood said.

Greenwood said the EDC is collecting money for the processed film. The money will be turned over to Studio West’s creditors, he said. (The Los Alamos Monitor, May 2nd 1986)

(The Los Alamos Monitor, May 2nd 1986.)

According to Bob’s 1986 bankruptcy filings, he owed approximately $172,000 to various creditors for loans related to the photo shops at the time he left Los Alamos and moved to Las Vegas.


Following the closure of Studio West, Bob Lazar and Tracy Murk were married in Las Vegas on April 19th, 1986. Notably, Bob was still married to his first wife, Carol, at the time he married Tracy.

Strangely, on October 6th, 1986, Bob and Tracy remarried — however, this time Tracy used the alias Jackie Dianne Evans.

The reason for the second marriage under a false name has been shrouded in mystery.

In a September 2021 interview of John Lear, I asked if he knew why Tracy had married Bob using a false identity. John Lear’s recollection is as follows:

John Lear: Yeah, I mean, you know, like I say, my memory isn’t all that great, but it seems to me he changed the name because she was in serious trouble over something. And I don’t remember what it was. Could have been a bank robbery, it could have been missing funds, it could have been — I don’t know what it was, but I think that’s why he changed her name.

Later —while researching Studio West — I was made aware of a blurb in the December 13th, 1985 Los Alamos Monitor that confirmed the outlines of what John Lear had told me.

Tracy Murk arrested and charged with Forgery. (December 13th 1985 — Los Alamos Monitor PoliceBeat)
Listing for Donald Murk, Tracy’s father, in the May 1985 Sante Fe, NM White and Yellow pages. The address matches the PoliceBeat blurb on Tracy’s arrest.

The Bank Crime

In December of 1985, Tracy was working as a teller at Los Alamos National Bank.

Another teller at the bank approached Tracy with a proposition. They could work together to withdraw funds from the account of a wealthy bank customer, under the presumption the customer would not notice the funds were missing, and split the proceeds.

Tracy agreed to take part, and enlisted the help of two of her friends — Perry Handy, and another friend they called “Zoom.”

They drove into the drive-thru banking line at the bank, and Perry submitted a withdrawal slip to the bank teller they were collaborating with. The teller unexpectedly asked for ID, setting off alarm bells for Perry and Zoom, who then abandoned the transaction and drove away.

Unbeknownst to Tracy, the bank teller who had approached her with the plan was, in fact, an agent working for the bank to investigate theft at the branch.

On December 11th, 1985, Tracy was arrested and charged with Forgery, a felony.

Tracy Lazar declined to comment on this story.

Attempts to locate court records of the case were unsuccessful, as the Los Alamos Magistrate Court does not any retain any records from 1985 or 1986. The Los Alamos Police Department told me they possess only one record (a DUI) from 1985, due in part to flooding at the warehouse that stored their archived records.

I was, however, able to speak to Perry Handy — one of the two accomplices involved in the crime.

Perry agreed to speak with me about his relationship with Tracy, the circumstances of the bank crime, and his knowledge of the reason Tracy changed her name. Portions of two interviews, conducted on May 11th and May 16th 2023, are produced below.

Interview with Perry Handy:

Author: When and how did you first meet Bob and Carol Lazar?

Perry Handy: When they had the photo lab in Los Alamos? First time I remember meeting Carol was when it was in the older location, and then when they moved to the other part of the building is when I think I first saw Bob.

Author: And do you remember your initial impression of Bob and Carol?

Perry: I didn’t really have much impression of Bob just because he was very quiet and I really didn’t interact with him at all. Carol — she seemed polite. Like I said, we were kind of giddy over the picture, the Jet Honda and the fact that it was sort of a local celebrity. So I think she was probably just being friendly around that.

Author: And how did you first meet Tracy?

Perry: Tracy and I were both working at TG&Y and we met, basically, there. It was an old — well, old now, at the time it wasn’t that old — I guess a nickel dime store, kind of like Kmart or Walmart on a smaller scale, local.

Author: And what kind of relationship did the two of you have at the time of the bank crime?

Perry: We were just really good friends, and we were probably wannabe rebels, I guess, about that time. But I mean, we were good friends and I, yeah, pretty much about it. We got together about, the bank. Time was a little bit different. We hung out a lot more during the time we were working together at TG&Y and a little bit after that time period. But basically, because like I said, I went away to college and until we would see each other occasionally. I mean, Tracy came down and spent a night in my dorm room help and then helped me put together a bookshelf and it was pretty much an all guy’s dorm room. So we had a sink in the bathroom and all that kind of crazy stuff. And then, yeah, we — that Thanksgiving, of course, I planned to go up and hang out with my friends and see her and the other people that were still there that we knew.

Author: So with the bank crime, you were involved in that crime, correct?

Perry: Yes.

Author: So how did you come to be involved in the bank crime?

Perry: Tracy called me during Thanksgiving weekend, and like I said, I’m not sure how it came about or really the reasoning for it, but I believe it had to do with the fact that she figured she was going to be let go from Los Alamos National Bank, and we thought it would be cool to try and acquire money from the bank.

Author: Can give me a basic outline of how it was supposed to have worked, and then what actually happened?

Perry: So we were supposed to have been able to do a withdrawal from the bank account of somebody that had a substantial amount of money in the bank, and it probably not be noticed that that money would go missing from their account. And how it actually ended up playing out was that we attempted to go through the drive-through and pass a bad withdrawal slip. And there just was a really bad feeling when the teller was asking for information and identification. And I immediately felt like that was something I was afraid this teller might hold onto, and I wouldn’t be able to get my driver’s license back. And at that point, I was thinking it could be used for evidence. So we didn’t submit my driver’s license and basically canceled the entire transaction and drove away.

Author: Okay. And did you have any interaction with the police or district attorney during the investigation of it?

Perry: Yeah, they called me in to question me.

Author: Were you charged with a crime?

Perry: No.

Author: Was Tracy charged with forgery in December of 1985 for her involvement in that crime?

Perry: She was charged with something, I don’t know what it was, at least at that time. I did not know what it was. I did not know what charges were filed at that time. I just knew that something had happened and there was some court stuff.

Author: Okay. And what was your understanding of the status of her case at the time that she moved to Las Vegas with Bob?

Perry: So Tracy was doing, she’d moved to Florida and then moved — I kind of — again, I was at school hanging out with new people. So I think it had kind of, we’d gotten a little bit separated that time — and I obviously we’d reach out to each other and, “Hey, how are you?” And I think at that time I didn’t know any of what had happened with the probation stuff. I really, like, I think Tracy kept a lot of bad stuff from me, maybe for my own protection actually. So I didn’t really know, and also having never been in trouble, I was really not familiar with probation, parole, any of the things that might have come along with that. So I think I was a little ambiguous or a little ambivalent ‘til Tracy and Bob kind of were talking, explaining to me the reason that she was getting — the reason her name was changed.

Author: Did you find out later what the status of Tracy’s legal situation was at the time that she moved to Las Vegas?

Perry: Probably after she moved to Las Vegas, because I’m pretty sure that’s when she would’ve told me the reason for her name change, because she would have been in violation of her probation. And I don’t know, I’m assuming they would’ve, I doubt they would’ve dragged her back there, but that’s what we thought.

Author: At the time that Tracy assumed the name Jackie Evans and remarried Bob under that name, did she tell you the reason why she was doing that?

Perry: Yeah. I mean why she was married as Jackie Evans, because of fear of repercussion under her old name.

Author: So she was concerned that the authorities in New Mexico were pursuing her for this bank crime?

Perry: Correct.

Author: Okay. And you were still close friends with Tracy at the time she divorced Bob, is that right?

Perry: Yes.

Author: And at the time that they were divorced in 1990, was she still going by the name Jackie Evans?

Perry: Yes.

Author: And that’s because she believed that the authorities in New Mexico may be pursuing her still for that case?

Perry: Correct.

Red Flags

Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information/Special Access Program (TS/SCI/SAP) security clearance investigations subject the candidate — and their spouse — to intense scrutiny. The spouse of a person seeking such a clearance undergoes identity verification and a criminal background check just as the candidate does.

Bob contends that the intensity of the security clearance investigation he underwent — for a clearance “38 levels above Q clearance,” as he describes it — surpassed that of any standard TS/SCI/SAP clearance. He alleges that the process required him to forfeit his right to a fair trial, and that both his and Tracy’s telephone communications were constantly monitored and recorded by security personnel. Additionally, he claims that agents were positioned outside of his residence, maintaining physical surveillance on them, and that agents would randomly enter his home to search without any forewarning.

Bob has consistently asserted that his eventual separation from his position at S4 was due to security personnel unearthing an affair Tracy was engaged in through the surveillance of her telephone conversations.

Trustworthiness, honesty, and respect for law and order are core characteristics that clearance investigators and adjudicators look for in candidates who are seeking to access the nation’s most closely guarded secrets. Bob’s conscious and active involvement in concealing Tracy’s real identity to protect her from law enforcement — including filing fraudulent marriage documentation with the state of Nevada — suggests a predisposition towards breaking or disregarding legal rules and a clear willingness to aid and abet criminal activity.

Furthermore, were an adversary to unearth Tracy’s precarious legal position, it would introduce an alarming opportunity for manipulation or blackmail. An adversary could exploit this vulnerability by threatening Bob with the possibility of alerting law enforcement, thereby endangering his wife with arrest and prosecution.

Bob’s claim to have pursued such a high-level security clearance while under the belief Tracy was a fugitive is puzzling in and of itself, given that the inevitable scrutiny on Tracy would likely unveil the circumstances surrounding her name change.

All of this is in addition to the impact his having been previously married to a convicted murderer with close ties to the Hells Angels would have on any potential clearance.