Frank Wills, was the night watchman who discovered the 1972 Watergate burglary, which ultimately led to President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation. Wills was a 24-year-old security guard at the Watergate office building in Washington working the midnight shift on June 17, 1972 when he discovered tape over a lock on a basement door, and called the Washington police and they toured the building together and discovered five men in the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. That discovery
The five men: Bernard L. Barker, Virgilio Gonzales, Eugenio Martinez, James W. McCord Jr. and Frank Sturgis, received hush money from the White House. But after the men were convicted before Judge John J. Sirica the next January, McCord began talking to prosecutors and told them that Nixon’s campaign committee, the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, had been behind the burglary.
When White House tapes made it clear that Nixon had played a central role in the cover-up effort and he was faced with impeachment and conviction, he resigned on Aug. 9, 1974.
Mr. Wills quit his job soon after the burglary was discovered, believing that he did not get the raise he deserved. As the cover-up was unraveling in 1974, he made a little money talking about his historic moment, although he did better than that when he played himself in the 1976 movie about Nixon’s downfall, ”All the President’s Men.”
Mr. Wills, who struggled with celebrity and joblessness after being hailed as hero, died at age 52 at University Hospital in Augusta, Ga. Friends told The Augusta Chronicle that he had suffered from a brain tumor.