Townley, who is currently a part of the U.S. government's witness protection program, worked as a weapons manufacturer for Pinochet's nefarious Directorate of National Intelligence (DINA). According to declassified FBI documents, Townley had ties to Italian terrorists and is suspected of playing a role in the disappearances and murders of several of the Chilean regime's opponents.
Townley was also described as a double agent working for the CIA by Manuel Contreras, DINA's director (who is unrelated to Eduardo Contreras). But that characterization served a political purpose, according to John Dinges, a Columbia journalism professor who covered the region during those years and wrote several books about Chile.
"This is a story that Manuel Contreras has been putting out consistently since the death of Letelier: that Townley was not working for DINA but for the CIA," Dinges told the AP. "And the left falls into the trap again and again, because they want to throw mud at the CIA."
Moreover, according to Dinges and other experts, several documents show that Townley was in the U.S. when Neruda died, so it is highly unlikely that he is the mysterious Dr. Price.
Hopp's and Jurgensen's cases are tougher to dismiss. A third source, an anonymous doctor who reportedly worked in the clinic at the time, corroborates what Reyes and Contreras have said about their likeness to the portrait of Dr. Price and both men have extensive criminal records.
Hopp, 68, is a German doctor who was the second in command at Colonia Dignidad, now known as Villa Baviera, a cult-like commune located in central Chile. Founded in 1961 by Paul Schäfer, a Wehrmacht doctor with ties to the Nazi party who fled to South America in 1959 after being accused of child abuse, Colonia Dignidad housed hundreds of German immigrants. It also served as a jail and torture center for political prisoners throughout Pinochet's dictatorship. Hopp was convicted of child abuse and sentenced to prison in 2011, but he fled to Germany, where the government has refused to allow his extradition to Chile.
Jurgensen was a well-known doctor who was stripped of his degree after it was revealed that he was an agent for the Central Nacional de Informaciones, an intelligence organ created by Pinochet. Jurgensen allegedly helped to torture prisoners in secret detention centers and he was involved in the death of Federico Alvarez Santibáñez, a 32-year-old chemistry professor who was disappeared in 1979. So far, the case against both men is wholly circumstantial: There is no evidence to suggest that they were present at the Neruda's hospital or that they were charged with a mission to kill the poet.
The investigation is still ongoing, and the Chilean people are still waiting for an answer. The dictatorship created a divide among the population that hasn't disappeared; for the left, Neruda has become an important symbol of resistance and greatness, like Federico García Lorca in Spain.
Neruda, whom famed author Jorge Luis Borges called a "very fine poet" and a "very mean man," was a staunch supporter of communism in Latin America. He opposed U.S. involvement in the continent's politics and used his position as one of the world's leading literary figures to advance his beliefs. Revealing a conspiracy behind his death has become a calling for groups like the Chilean Communist Party.
Neruda's body was exhumed last April from its resting place in Isla Negra. The remains were sent to the U.S., and the first test results are already in. Thus far, they have confirmed only one thing: that Neruda was indeed suffering from advanced prostate cancer.