Joyce Horman

For 40 years Joyce Horman has pressed the United States government, the Chilean government, and legal authorities in both countries to investigate and resolve the wrongful death of her husband Charles in the aftermath of the September 11, 1973, military coup. 

Horman went to Chile with her journalist filmmaker husband in the spring of 1972.  A week following the coup, Charles was kidnapped from their home, interrogated and executed in Chile’s National Stadium by Pinochet’s military.  The Oscar-winning movie, MISSING, directed by Costa-Gavras and starring Jack Lemmon as Edmund Horman, Charles’ father, and Sissy Spacek as Joyce, tells the story of Charles’s disappearance and death. The film also depicts Joyce and Ed’s unsuccessful search for Charles in Santiago in the weeks following his disappearance.

In October 1977, after a defecting Chilean intelligence agent sheltered in the Italian Embassy in Santiago, confessed that high military officials had decided to make Charles disappear because “he knew too much” presumably about the U.S. role in the coup, the Horman family and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a civil suit against Henry Kissinger and other State Department officials alleging U.S. complicity in the wrongful death of Charles Horman.  The suit generated renewed public attention to U.S. intervention in Chile at the time of the coup, and U.S. support for the Pinochet regime despite its murder of two U.S. citizens, Charles, and a colleague, Frank Teruggi.

In the ensuing years, Joyce Horman has become an international spokesperson for justice for the victims of human rights atrocities in Chile.  After MISSING was released in 1982, she and Ed Horman spoke on college campuses across the nation to answer questions after screenings of the movie.  In 1998, after Pinochet was arrested, Horman traveled to London to protest the initial ruling by the law lords that the general had sovereign immunity from prosecution, and push for Pinochet’s extradition to Spain to stand trial for crimes against humanity. Horman also traveled to Washington where, along with Peter Kornbluh, she lobbied Clinton administration officials, Senators and Congressmen for a broad declassification of U.S. documents on Chile, and a full investigation of Charles Horman’s death.

In December 2000, Horman traveled to Chile to formally file a legal complaint against Augusto Pinochet for the unresolved murder of her husband. She retained human rights lawyers Fabiola Letelier and Sergio Corvalan. The case was originally assigned to investigative judge, Juan Guzman, who interrogated former U.S. officials as well as issued a formal request to Washington for Henry Kissinger to answer questions. After more than a decade of investigation, in November 2011 another Chilean judge indicted a Chilean intelligence officer, Brigadier General Pedro Espinosa, and the former head of the U.S. military group, Captain Ray Davis in the deaths of Horman and Teruggi. On October 18, 2012, the Chilean Supreme Court approved a formal request to the United States for the extradition of Captain Davis.

Joyce Horman serves as board chair of the Charles Horman Truth Foundation, and executive producer of the September 9, 2013, “Tribute to Justice.” The “Tribute” is intended to recognize the important contributions to the arrest and prosecution of General Augusto Pinochet, and to inform the public of the importance of Universal Jurisdiction in legally confronting the impunity of power.  Under her direction, the Charles Horman Truth Foundation intends to produce annual conferences on the international pursuit of justice against human rights violators in the future.


Return to Tribute to Justice: Remembering 40 years September 9th 2013.