Frank Wills was the security guard who alerted the police to a possible break-in at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., leading to the now-historical scandal and resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.
In June 1972, Wills was working as a private security guard at the Watergate office building, the location of the Democratic National Committee headquarters.
The night of June 17 during his first round, Wills noticed a piece of duct tape on one of the door locks. The tape was placed over the latch bolt to prevent the door from locking shut. He removed the tape and continued on his patrol. Half an hour later, Wills came back to the same location and saw more tape on the door. Wills rushed to the lobby telephone and called the police. Five men were quickly found in the DNC offices and arrested. Details that emerged during their questioning and trials uncovered the Watergate scandal.
In the mid seventies, after his moment in the spotlight faded, Wills moved to North Augusta, South Carolina, to care for his ageing mother, who had suffered a stroke. The both lived on her $450 per month Social Security checks. Wills ran into trouble with the law and spent time in jail for shoplifting. He lived subsequent years in poverty and by the time of his mother’s death in 1993, Wills was so destitute he was unable to pay for a burial and simply donated her body to medical research.
Wills lived on quietly with his cats, working his garden and studying at the local library. He died at the Medical College of Georgia hospital in Augusta, Georgia at the age of 52 from a brain tumor.
Musician Harry Nilsson dedicated his 1973 album, “A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night” to Wills, for his role in bringing down Nixon.