Don Bolles daughter rejects claims from family of convicted killer

Diane Bolles said Max Dunlap’s two murder convictions speak for themselves- that the courts got it right. But she does believe others were involved.
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 8:04 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 25, 2023 at 8:23 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Last week the daughter of the man convicted twice in the 1976 Don Bolles murder spoke on television for the first time in an Arizona’s Family exclusive and claimed her dad, Max Dunlap, was framed for the murder of the Arizona Republic journalist.

One of Don Bolles’ daughters reached out to Arizona’s Family after she saw the interview and wanted to share her side of the story. She believes the Dunlap family is in denial. Don Bolles daughter, Diane, said Max Dunlap’s two murder convictions speak for themselves- that the courts got it right. But she does believe others were involved who were never charged.

Diane Bolles is hard of hearing, so her husband sat down with her from South Carolina for Arizona’s Family’s interview, only the second time in her life she’s ever talked to the media about her dad. She was daddy’s little girl, just six years old, in 1976. “I remember him very well. I get a lot of flashbacks,” said Diane.

Her father, Don Bolles, is most well-known for writing about organized crime in Arizona, but in 1973 he testified in front of the legislature to get a bill passed that required public schools to offer special education, inspired by his daughter Diane, who was born hard of hearing. “Oh, he was a great dad. He was the best. He used to come home, and we would run to him. We were so happy to see him,” said Diane.

Her life changed forever on June 13, 1976. “The Arizona Republic had assigned Bolles to the state legislative beat after his research on organized crime made him the most celebrated investigative reporter in the state. It had also made him a target,” an ABC report said at the time. “They told us he was in a car accident. Like an auto mobile accident. But it was bad,” Diane said. A bomb went off under Don Bolles’s car, and he died 11 days later.

Before he passed, Don Bolles said the words “Emprise, Mafia, and John Adamson.” Adamson had set up the meeting for Bolles that day at the Hotel Clarendon, saying a source would have info for a possible story on land fraud. Emprise was the partner of the Funk family, who ran a dog racing track in Phoenix. Bolles had reported on the company’s suspected ties to the mob. John Adamson was arrested for the murder. He then told authorities the mastermind behind the crime was Phoenix contractor Max Dunlap, claiming Dunlap coordinated the hit at the request of his friend Kemper Marley, who resigned from the Arizona racing commission after Bolles wrote a series of articles about him.

Dunlap’s daughter Karen Graham recently went public trying to clear her dad’s name, saying when Dunlap brought money to Adamson’s attorney, he did not know it was for the Don Bolles hit. But Max Dunlap was convicted of Bolles’s murder twice, and Diane Bolles said she has no doubt Max Dunlap was involved.

“I think that they’re in denial,” said Diane. “The prosecutors showed them all the evidence. They had all of the evidence and they showed how he transferred money.” But as a daughter who lost her dad, she can understand where Karen is coming from. “I’m sorry she lost her dad too, but I do think he was guilty. That’s my opinion,” said Diane.

Diane said something has bothered her for years, though- she does believe the mafia was working with Kemper Marley and believes Marley was involved and got off without ever facing any charges. “Oh, I was mad. I was very angry, but you know, what can you do?” Diane said. “I do. He was the mastermind, I think.”

It’s been 46 years without her father. Don Bolles only knew Diane as a young six-year-old girl, but now as an adult, this is what she would want him to know. “I would tell him I love him,” Diane cried. “I would thank him for everything. Thank him for all the hard work he did.”

Diane said none of her family lives in Arizona anymore. Still, she said even after all these years, the lead investigator on her dad’s case from the Attorney General’s office still keeps in touch with their family, which means a lot to her.