The (ex) spy among us: Christopher Boyce carves out new life in Oregon

Chris Boyce at the time of his arrest in 1977 on suspicion of espionage, Jim Caldwell Redondo BeachBy Sheila G. Miller
The (Bend) Bulletin

On crisp fall days so common in Central Oregon, Chris Boyce likes to take his falcon out to open lands and watch him soar.

After spending more than two decades surrounded by the concrete of prison walls, you would forgive the 60-year-old for wanting a little space around him.

“When I go out there on the grasslands and I put that falcon up into the air and watch it climb up into the clouds, I’m forever grateful,” Chris said. “I love it here. I love flying falcons here. I love our little house. I love working in the yard and our flower garden. … I’ve found a peace here in Central Oregon.”

It’s a life Chris only dreamed of during his days of solitary confinement in federal prison.

Once the most wanted fugitive in America, his life was chronicled in a best-selling book and a movie, both titled “The Falcon and The Snowman.”

Chris Boyce is the Falcon.

The basic story: Two young Californians, Christopher John Boyce and his friend Andrew Daulton Lee, worked together to sell secret information about U.S. satellites to the former Soviet Union. The pair, friends since childhood and former altar boys at St. John Fisher Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, were caught and sentenced to hard prison time. That’s where the book and the movie end.

But it’s not where Chris Boyce’s story ended.

In fact, he’s living the sequel in Central Oregon.

And now, Chris and his wife, Cait Boyce, along with freelance writer Vince Font, have broken their silence for the first time since 2003, with interviews on CNN and other media and in a book telling their side of the story. “The Falcon and The Snowman: American Sons” was just released in paperback on and is available in e-book format.

Sentenced in 1977 to 40 years in prison for selling secrets to the Russians, Chris was sent to Lompoc Federal Correctional Institution, where he broke out in 1980 by hiding in a hole, cutting through barbed wire and climbing over a wall with a homemade ladder. He remained a fugitive for 19 months, living in Idaho and Washington and robbing a series of banks to pay for his life on the lam.

Caught while eating a hamburger in his car in Port Angeles, Wash. (a deputy marshal famously told him to “Drop the hamburger!”), he was sent back to prison and sentenced to stay there until 2046, locked up among criminals like Timothy McVeigh and Ted Kaczynski.

And that’s where Cait comes in.

Cait Boyce, a longtime paralegal, first took an interest in Lee’s case. Lee, who served as the courier of the secret documents, was sentenced to life in prison, in part because of his criminal history as a drug dealer. Beginning in 1980, Cait visited Lee at the prison in Lompoc, and began crafting arguments for his parole. It took a couple decades, but in 1998, she was successful.

During that same period, Cait started corresponding with Chris in an effort to build Lee’s case.

“We corresponded a lot,” she said, laughing. “Like every day. And then he would call me, every day.”

Chris was released from prison in September 2002.

They married the following month, and shortly thereafter discovered Central Oregon on a fishing trip with the Boyce family to the Metolius River. His parents lived in the area for a decade. Chris’ father, an FBI agent before working as the security director for McDonnell Douglas, an aerospace manufacturer and defense contractor, dedicated much of his retirement to fly-fishing.

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About jw60sea

Jim Caldwell has over 26 years of experience in the public safety sector in occupations ranging from professional ski patrol, and ocean lifeguard to firefighter. Jim has worked for the Redondo Beach Fire Department for the last 22 years holding successively higher positions of responsibility. For the last six years, Jim has held the rank of Engineer with responsibility for driving and operating the Department’s Engines and Tillered Aerial Ladder Truck. Throughout his career, he has shown a dedication not only to public safety but also community service.
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