Mystery Surrounds Death of Snack Chip Heir


The grandson of Golden Flake snack chip founder Leo E. Bashinsky has been found dead, and a note taped inside his abandoned vehicle provides no answers as to the cause of his death.

Major Bashinsky, 65, disappeared in early March. His Toyota Camry was found near downtown Birmingham, AL by his adult daughter, but it was another week before his body was discovered in a golf-course pond.

An angry letter was found taped inside Bashinsky’s car, criticizing family members for taking dividends out of the Golden Flake company and putting the companys 800-plus workers at risk. Since the family itself is the largest shareholder through an investment company chaired by Bashinsky’s stepmother, Joann F. Bashinksy, and is entitled to dividends—which would also benefit employees, as they are the second-largest shareholder—the note does not make a lot of sense, say relatives. Additionally, since Major Bashinsky’s mother and father are both deceased, and Joann Bashinsky inherited almost all of her late husband’s stock upon his death, Major Bashinsky might not even have any stock left, according to a family member.

Also found taped inside the car was a bag of Golden Flake chips. The company, which was founded in 1946, makes potato chips, tortilla chips and numerous varieties of pork rinds. The Bashinsky family was close to University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, and sponsored his television football show for years.

Investigators are uncertain what message the letter and snacks were meant to send, nor whether they were placed there by Bashinsky himself or by someone else.

Bashinsky’s body bore some unspecified signs of injury, and detectives searching the pond where golfers found his body did discover evidence, reportedly his wallet. The pond itself is located in a residential area, where authorities say it would be difficult for someone to leave a body without being seen.

Bashinsky, an attorney who was not involved in the company’s business, had refilled a prescription for cholesterol medication the morning before his disappearance.

The letter found inside Bashinsky’s car said that the dividend paid by the snack food company “force us to act with urgency,” but did not specify any actions that had been taken or make any demands. Similar letters have been sent to other Bashinsky family members in the past.

A coroner’s report is expected later this week, and may help investigators determine whether or not the death was a homicide or suicide.


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