OGDEN — A former top aide of the late Howard Hughes says the handwritten will secretly placed in LDS Church offices by Melvin Dummar cannot possibly be legitimate.

James Whetton of Ogden worked for Hughes for more than 20 years starting in 1953, eventually becoming his chief of staff. He said his experiences with Hughes led him to discount the will.

The will is called the "Mormon Will" because it named The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as one of the beneficiaries. It also gave money to Dummar, a Willard resident, and to some of Hughes' personal aides — including Whetton.

"I liked the Mormon Will," Whetton said. "I was in it for about $25 million."

Hughes died in 1976. When the supposed will was found in the church offices, Dummar, who was to receive $156 million, claimed to have no knowledge of it — until his fingerprint was found on the envelope. His fingerprint also was found on a library book on forged Hughes documents. The book included samples of Hughes' handwriting.

A court ruled that Hughes had died without leaving a will, and his estate was divided among a number of relatives.

Dummar filed a lawsuit in federal court this week claiming that he is entitled to $156 million and that the trial in which the will was held to be a forgery was unfair because of lies told by witnesses.

Whetton told the Standard-Examiner in Ogden that he finds three main faults with the will.

First, it left a percentage to Hughes' cousin, William Lummis. Whetton said Hughes never associated with family.

He said that one time he received a phone call from an uncle of Hughes, and when he attempted to pass along the message, Hughes "was silent for 30 seconds or so. You could hear him tapping his fingers on his desk. Then he said to me, 'As far as I'm concerned, I don't have a living relative on the face of the Earth, period.' "

Second, he said, the will refers specifically to the Spruce Goose, a name given by the media to Hughes' enormous H-4 Hercules flying boat. Hughes hated the nickname.

Whetton said a lawyer from Long Beach, Calif., where the plane was stored, visited Hughes about renewing the lease on the storage pier. The man was introduced to Hughes and asked about the money for the Spruce Goose.

"Hughes had these deep, penetrating eyes," Whetton said. "He just stared at the attorney until I escorted him out. I told him he'd have to send someone else because Mr. Hughes would never talk to him again."

The third problem with the will, Whetton said, is that it named Noah Dietrich as executor.

"In the mid-'60s, Hughes fired Dietrich," Whetton said. "He called us in and told us Dietrich was gone and we were to change the locks on every door in the building. We changed all the locks. Dietrich was gone, period."

Whetton said Hughes would not have named Dietrich as executor.

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Whetton maintained that Hughes was not wandering around the Nevada desert in December 1967, which is when Dummar claims to have given him a ride to Las Vegas.

Hughes occupied the ninth floor of one of the Desert Inn buildings, and his aides and staff were on the eighth floor, Whetton said.

"There was no way Mr. Hughes could leave the hotel without us knowing it," Whetton said. "He also had physical problems at that time, which made it hard for him to leave."

Dummar's lawsuit claims a relative of Hughes and a former Hughes executive got witnesses to lie when they said Hughes never left the hotel.

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