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The Library of Congress
Congressional Research Service

Washington, D. C. 20540

ANALYSIS OF REPORTS AND DATA BEARING ON CIRCUMSTANCES

OF DEATH OF TWENTY-ONE INDIVIDUALS CONNECTED WITH THE

ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY

Thomas H. Neale

Analyst, American National Government

Government Division

June 5, 1978

The Library of Congress

Congressional Research Service

- Washington, D. C. 20540

 


ANALYSIS OF REPORTS AND DATA BEARING ON CIRCUMSTANCES OF DEATH

OF TWENTY-ONE INDIVIDUALS CONNECTED WITH THE ASSASSINATION OF

PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY

Scope and Limitations

This report responds to the request by the House Select Committee on Assassinations that the Congressional Research Service research and analyze the circumstances of the deaths of 21 persons identified by various authors as connected in some way with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In fulfilling the assignment, the Service relied primarily on sources within the Library of Congress supplemented by inquiries to relevant newspapers in the country. Accordingly, it should be understood that the summaries provided are based on an examination of secondary source material and inquiries conducted in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.. No field investigation was undertaken, which necessarily limits any conclusions that might be drawn from this report.

The format for presenting the summaries for each death is:

  • -- name of deceased;

  • -- summary of perceived connection to the assassination;

  • -- date of death, if known;

  • -- place of death, if known;

  • -- circumstances of death;

  • -- jurisdiction within which death occurred, if known; and

  • -- local governmental office from which death records can be obtained, if known.
CRS-2

Death #1

Name: Edward/Eddie Benavides

Assassination Connection: Edward Benavides' brother, Domingo, was an eyewitness to the murder of Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit. The two brothers were said to strongly resemble each other.

Date of Death: "Mid-February, 1964" (See circumstances of death for clarification).

Place of Death: Dallas, Texas

Circumstances of Death: According to Penn Jones, Jr., and other advocates of the conspiracy theory, Eddie Benavides was murdered because he bore a strong resemblance to his brother Domingo, who was an eyewitness to the murder of Officer J.D. Tippit. The conspiricists explain the murder of Eddie Benavides by claiming that Domingo described the murderer of Tippit as a man who did not resemble Lee Harvey Oswald. David Welsh, writing in Ramparts Magazine's November, 1966 issue ("The Legacy of Penn Jones Jr.") maintains that:

Although he later said the killer resembled newspaper pictures of Oswald, he described the man differently:...

David Martindale, in the March, 1977, edition of Argosy ("The Bizarre Deaths Following JFK's Murder.") states:

When first questioned by the authorities, he said he did not think that Oswald was the Killer.

Penn Jones, dean of the conspiracy advocates maintains in volume II of Forgive My Grief that:

Benavides described a man other than Oswald as the killer. During his testimony before Attorney David W. Belin Benavides told Belin: "He looked like you."

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While there is an element of uncertainty in Benavides' testimony before the Commission, (see Hearings Before the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, volume VI, pp. 444-454) the accounts of Martindale, Welsh and Jones make extremely broad interpretations of the testimony in order to buttress their own theories. In addition, Penn Jones is apparently guilty of a misquotation: Benavides is not recorded as testifying to Assistant Counsel David W. Belin "He looked like you" in describing Tippit's murderer. He did, however, describe the man as being of roughly the same height, build, complexion and hair color as Mr. Belin.

The accounts of the conspiricists also fail to specify the date on which Edward Benavides died. Martindale, Welsh, Jones and Sylvia Meagher, writing in Accessories After the Fact, all place the date of death sometime in mid February, 1964. The researcher was unable to locate such a notice in the editions of the Dallas Morning News anytime between February 10 and February 20 of 1964.

Richard Warren Lewis, writing in The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Report, a book critical of conspiracy advocates, maintains that

He (Eddie Benavides) was shotgunned to death by a crazed crapshooter in a Dallas tavern.

Lewis does not, however, offer any documentation in support of his allegation.

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The problem faced by the committee in the case of Eddie Benavides is one of securing an accurate account of his death, including date and circumstances. It would prove far more difficult, however, to confirm or deny the highly questionable allegations of conspiracy advocates.

Jurisdiction: Either the City of Dallas or Dallas County, Texas

Records Available From:

City of Dallas Health Department
Office of Vital Statistics
1936 Amelia Court
Dallas, Texas 75235

or, in the case of Dallas County:

Office of the Dallas County Medical Examiner
P.O. Box 35728
Dallas, Texas 75235

CRS-5

Death #2

Name: Albert Guy Bogard

Assassination Connection: Albert Guy Bogard worked as an automobile salesman at Downtown Lincoln-Mercury in Dallas, Texas. Penn Jones, in volume II of Forgive My Grief, states that:

On Nov. 9, 1963 salesman Bogard showed a new Mercury automobile to a man using the name of Lee Oswald. The two took a demonstration drive with the prospect at the wheel.... The prospect said that he would not have the money for a couple of weeks, but he would then pay cash for the car. Bogard had to ask twice before the man said his name was Lee Oswald.

We believe the men in this group who have met with either shooting or death were seeing a false Oswald."

Date of Death: Stated by Penn Jones to be February 14, 1966.

Place of Death: Stated by Penn Jones to be Hallsville, Louisiana.

Circumstances of Death: Penn Jones states in volume II of Forgive My Grief, that Bogard had testified before the Warren Commission, and, according to Jones, he was found so badly beaten some time later that he required hospitalization. Bogard later left Dallas and returned to Louisiana, his home State. Jones states that:

Bogard was from Hallsville, Louisiana. He was found dead in his car at the Hallsville Cemetery on St. Valentine's Day, 1966. A hose had been connected to the exhaust end and the other end inside the car with the windows up. The ruling was suicide.

The researcher was unable to locate any town in Louisiana of that name in any standard atlas of the United States. There is, however, a town of Halls Summit in Red River Parish, in northwestern Louisiana. This may be the location mentioned by Jones, as it is not far from Shreveport, the home of Bogard's wife. There is a Haynesville, Louisiana in Claiborne Parish. It also could be the Hallsville to which Jones refers.

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The death of Albert Guy Bogard may warrant further investigation by the Committee in light of the fact of its circumstances. In addition, the site of his death should be determined for the sake of the accuracy of historical records.

Jurisdiction: Halls Summit is located in Red River Parish, Louisiana.

Death Records Available From:

Louisiana Department of Health
Bureau of Vital Records
P.O. Box 60630
New Orleans, Louisiana

CRS-7

Death #3

Name: Hale Boggs (U.S. Representative, 2nd District of Louisiana)

Assassination Connection: Representative Boggs served on the Warren Commission, and is alleged in an article appearing in Argosy Magazine, March, 1977, to have publicly voiced skepticism about the Warren Commission and to have called for a new investigation into President Kennedy's death a week before his disappearance and presumed death.

Date of Death: Presumed to be October 16, 1972.

Place of Death: Presumed to be somewhere between Anchorage and Juneau, Alaska.

Circumstances of death: Representatives Boggs and Nick Begich of Alaska were traveling together on a campaign tour in Alaska in October, 1972.

The two Representatives chartered a light plane to carry them from Anchorage, Alaska, to Juneau, a flight of 560 miles, largely over water.

The plane failed to arrive in Juneau, and on October 17, a search was initiated. Weak radio signals were monitored by members of the rescue team on October 17 and again on October 26, but no trace of the plane or its occupants was ever found. On November 24, 1972, the U.S. Air Force announced that the search would be ended. On November 29, a petition requesting a presumptive death hearing was filed in Alaska, and on December 29, Judge Dorothy Tyner issued presumptive death certificates for Rep. Begich, pilot Don E. Jonz and co-pilot Russell L. Brown.

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Similar action was not undertaken in the case of Representative Boggs because Louisiana lacked a presumptive death law. On January 3, 1973, however, the U.S. House of Representatives declared his seat to be vacant, and his widow, Mrs. Corinne C. Boggs was elected to fill it.

Flying conditions between Anchorage and Juneau are frequently poor, and on October 16, 1972, they were worse than usual. Under such conditions, aviation accidents and disappearances of light aircraft are not infrequent in the area. The Argosy article implies that Representative Boggs was possibly killed to prevent him from making public new information on the Kennedy assassination he was alleged to have gathered. To prove that Representative Boggs met with foul play, the wreckage of the plane would probably have to be found, which appears to be a most difficult, and perhaps impossible task.

Authoritative reports on all aviation accidents occuring within the United States are conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board. An avenue of further investigation by the committee would be to obtain a copy of the pertinent report. Inquiries should include all available information on the accident, and should be directed to:

National Transportation Safety Board
Public Inquiries Section
Accident Inquiries Bureau - A.D. 46
Attention: Mr. King
800 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20594

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Jurisdiction and Death Records Availability: Not applicable.

Attachments:

3-a "Boggs, Begich Disappearance: No Trace in 4 Days" -- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, October 21, 1972, pp. 2774-2775.

3-b "Special House Elections" - Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, January 6, 1973,p.8.

CRS-10

Death #4

Name: Lee Bowers, Jr.

Assassination Connection: Lee Bowers, Jr. was an eyewitness to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. At the time of the murder he was employed by the Union Terminal Company of Dallas as a tower man in the rail yards close to the route taken by the presidential motorcade. When summoned to testify before the Warren Commission, Mr. Bowers stated that some sort of commotion in the vicinity of the "grassy knoll", near the Texas School Book Depository, had attracted his eye. He further stated that two men were standing on the knoll at the time of the assassination.

At a later date, Mr. Bowers elaborated his testimony in an interview conducted by Mark Lane, a chief proponent of the conspiracy theory as part part of his documentary film, Rush to Judgement. At that time he said that the commotion he noticed might have been a flash or a puff of smoke, such as would come from the discharge of a firearm. Penn Jones, Jr. maintains that this statement was the likely cause of Bower's death.

Date of Death: August 9, 1966

Place of Death: Dallas, Texas, after involvement in a motor vehicle accident near Midlothian, Texas, in Ellis County.

Circumstances of Death: The Dallas Morning News printed a routine account of Lee Bowers, Jr.'s death on August 10, 1966. (See attachment 9-a) . He died from injuries suffered when his car went out of control and struck a bridge abutment on Highway 67, two miles west

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of Midlothian, Texas. Richard Warren Lewis, in The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Report states that the injuries sustained included "a crushed chest, two broken legs, one broken arm and multiple head and internal injuries."

Lewis and Penn Jones, Jr. differed in their accounts of Mr. Bower's death. Jones maintains in volume II of Forgive My Grief that Bowers was killed in an "unusual one car accident", characterizing Bowers as one of the people "who paid with their lives for their pitiful efforts to tell the story" of the conspiracy allegedly responsible for the death of President Kennedy. Jones further states that the Midlothian physician who attended Bowers remarked that the injured man was in some sort of "strange shock."

Lewis interviewed Dr. Roy Bohl, the doctor who rode in an ambulance with Bowers as it took the dying man to Methodist Hospital in Dallas:

Dr. Roy Bohl ... later told Jones that Bowers, while in shock was sweating "like a coronary." Says Bohl: "I made mention to Jones that Bowers was sweating a lot. He was wringing wet when he came in and I wondered because of this whether he had a coronary. The man was in a state of severe shock, the kind of shock you could expect from the type of accident he was in. He was dying."

In view of the existing available facts, in particular the Lewis interview of Dr. Bohl which appears to refute Penn Jones' allegations, the case of Lee Bowers does not seem a particularly promising route for investigation by the committee.

Jurisdiction: The subject died in Dallas, Texas, as a result of injuries sustained in an accident in Ellis County, Texas.

CRS-12

Records Available From:

City of Dallas Health Department
Office of Vital Statistics
1936 Amelia Court
Dallas, Texas 75235

Attachments:

4-a Executive Dies After Car Wreck. Dallas Morning News, August 10, 1966, p. 6-a.

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Death #5

Name: Bill Chesher

Assassination Connection: The only information readily available on this subject was a brief entry in Sylvia Meagher's Accessories After the Fact, in which Mr. Chesher was described as "believed to have information about a Ruby/Oswald link."

Date of Death: Described by Meagher as March, 1964.

Place of Death: Unknown

Circumstances of Death: Described by Meagher as a heart attack.

Jurisdiction and Availability of Death Records: Neither available given existing information.

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Death #6

Name: Nicholas J. Chetta, M.D.

Assassination Connection: Dr. Chetta was linked with the Kennedy assassination by Penn Jones, Jr., in volume III of Forgive My Grief. In it he writes:

Nicholas J. Chetta, M.D., Orleans Parish Coroner since 1950, died at Mercy Hospital at 10:20 P.M., Saturday, May 25, 1968. ...

In our opinion, this is one of the key murders of the continuing Kennedy assassination conspiracy and coverup.

Dr. Chetta was the coroner who served at the death of David Ferrie. Dr. Chetta was the key witness regarding Perry Russo against Clay Shaw. Shaw's attorneys went into federal court only after Dr. Chetta was dead.

(Forgive my Grief, v. III, p. 28)

Date of Death: May 25, 1968

Place of Death: New Orleans, Louisiana

Circumstances of Death: As a prominent public official in New Orleans, Dr. Chetta's death was amply covered in the local press (see attachment). He suffered a coronary infarction (heart attack) on the afternoon of May 25, 1968, was admitted to Mercy Hospital in New Orleans at 5:00 P.M that evening, and died at 10:20 P.M. Penn Jones points out in his account that Dr. Chetta's whereabouts at the time he suffered the heart attack were not reported; this allegation is borne out in the attached press items. Jones's obvious implication that Chetta's heart attack was induced by some extraordinary means in order to cause his death must be considered an unproved supposition in the absence of substantiating evidence.

CRS- 15

Jurisdiction: City of New Orleans, La.

Records Available From:

Orleans Parish Coroner's Office
2700 Tulane Avenue
New Orleans, La. 70119

Attachments:

6-a "Dr. Chetta, 50, Taken by Death" - New Orleans Times - Picayune, May 26, 1968, pp.1,22.

6-b "Requiem Today for Dr. Chetta" - New Orleans Times - Picayune, May 27, 1968, p. 22.

CRS- 16

Death #7

Name: David Goldstein

Assassination Connection: The only information readily available on this subject was a brief entry in Sylvia Meagher's Accessories After the Fact, in which Mr. Goldstein was described as having helped the F.B.I. trace the revolver used in the murder of Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit.

Date of Death: Described by Meagher as 1965.

Place of Death: Unknown

Circumstances of Death: Described by Meagher as "natural causes." The use of the term "natural causes" by Sylvia Meagher, a prominent advocate of the conspiracy theory seems to indicate the author's opinion that there was no occurrence of abnormal or unusual circumstances in the death of David Goldstein.

Jurisdiction and Availability of Death Records: Neither available given existing information.

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Death #8

Name: Thomas Hale (Tom) Howard

Assassination Connection: George Senator, alleged by Penn Jones, Jr., to be Jack Ruby's roommate, retained Tom Howard, a well known and controversial Dallas attorney, to defend Ruby shortly after he was taken into custody following his attack on Lee Harvey Oswald on November 24, 1963. Mr. Howard later disagreed with Melvin Belli, Joe Tonahill and Phil Burleson, attorneys who had also been retained to defend Ruby, and eventually withdrew from the case. Penn Jones, in volume II of Forgive My Grief states that:

... we have learned that Tom Howard had very important additional information which he did not tell the authorities. In view of this knowledge his death becomes more understandable. The information is to be printed by another author in the coming months.
Howard was also present in Ruby's apartment on November 24, 1963, along with several other men, including Senator and Bill Hunter (see Death 9). Jones considers this gathering to have been a meeting of figures connected with the alleged conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy.

Date of Death: March 27, 1965

Place of Death: Dallas, Texas

CRS- 18

Circumstances of Death: As a well-known Dallas attorney, Tom Howard's death was amply covered in the Dallas Morning News (see attachment 9-a), and, due probably to his connection with the Ruby trial, the Associated Press filed a report on his death which was printed in the New York Times (see attachment 9-b). Penn Jones states in volume I of Forgive My Grief that Mr. Howard died "under strange circumstances." This inferral that he died an unnatural death is not borne out by the attached press items, which state, that Howard had been ill for several days. Further, Richard Warren Lewis, in his book The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Commission, states that:

Colley Sullivan, Howard's former law partner ridicules any thought of foul play, explaining that the forty-eight year-old Howard had been ill for some length of time and complained of chest pains. A known diabetic and hard drinker, Thomas Hale Howard died at Methodist Hospital in Dallas on March 27, 1965, one hour after having suffered a heart attack in the apartment of his girl friend, Mrs. Betty Reib, who drove him to the hospital. The death certificate was signed by Dr. Lindsey Elder. He listed the cause of death as "myocardial infarction", (coronary heart attack) and listed contributing factors as diabetes and a generalized hardening of the arteries.

In view of this account, which appears to confirm the available press reports, and Penn Jones' failure to substantiate either his charge that Howard had additional knowledge about the Kennedy assassination or that he died under mysterious circumstances, the case of Thomas Hale Howard does not on its face, appear to be one which warrants further investigation by the committee.

CRS-19

Jurisdiction: Dallas, Texas

Records Available From:

City of Dallas Health Department
Office of Vital Statistics
1936 Amelia Court
Dallas, Texas 75235

Attachments:

9-a "Ruby's First Lawyer, Tom Howard, Dies" - Dallas Morning News, March 29, 1965, p. 3, sec. 4.

9-b "Tom Howard, Lawyer for Ruby Who Quit in Dispute, Dies at 48" - The New York Times, March 29, 1965.

CRS-20

Death #9

Name: William (Bill) Hunter

Assassination Connection: Bill Hunter was present in Dallas on November 24, 1963, covering the Kennedy assassination for the Long Beach, California, Independent. In volume I of Forgive My Grief Penn Jones described his involvement as follows:

Shortly after dark (on November 24) a meeting took place in Ruby's and Senator's apartment in Oak Cliff. George Senator and Attorney Tom Howard were present and having a drink in the apartment when two newsmen and two attorneys arrived. The newsmen were Bill Hunter of the Long Beach (Cal.) Press Telegram [sic] and Jim Koethe of the Dallas Times Herald. Attorney C.A. Droby of Dallas arranged the meeting for the two newsmen.

Droby insists that he only arranged the meeting. He says he did not accompany the other five men on a tour of the apartment, nor did he hear any of the conversation which went on. But the lives of three who accompanied Senator about the apartment have been taken.

Date of Death: April 1, 1964.

Place of Death: Long Beach, California.

Circumstances of Death: Bill Hunter was shot in the Long Beach Public Safety Building by an off-duty police officer. Penn Jones writes in volume I of Forgive My Grief that:

Two policemen going off-duty came into the press room and one shot Hunter through the heart at a range officially ruled to be 'more than three feet'. The policeman said he dropped his gun, and it fired as he picked it up, but the angle of the bullet caused him to have to change the story to one of quick draw with his fellow officer. The other officer testified that he had his back turned when the shooting took place."

CRS-21

Richard Warren Lewis, writing in The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Commission states that:

... a jury ruled that Hunter was shot accidentally, by a detective he had known for years and was subsequently convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
The researcher engaged in an extensive discussion with the Librarian of the Long Beach Independent/Press Telegram, who confirmed that the shooting had, taken place, and that the officer who had fired the shot had been tried, but was unable to locate any items in the Library confirming the verdict of involuntary manslaughter.

Examination of the newspapers themselves by the researcher was not undertaken due to the fact that the Library of Congress does not retain issues of either paper beyond one month. The following rough citations were, however, provided by the Library of the Independent/Press Telegram:

April 23, 1964 - both a column and editorial appeared in the Long Beach Independent concerning the death of Hunter.

April 26, 1964 - notice of burial appeared in the Long Beach Independent.

June 19, 1977 - a retrospective article on Hunter, his life and death appeared in the Long Beach Independent.

Considering the circumstances of Bill Hunter's death, and especially the trial that followed, the Committee might wish to consider further investigation, including field research in Long Beach.

Jurisdiction: Long Beach, California

Death Records Available From:

Los Angeles County
Chief Medical Examiner -- Coroner's Office
1104 North Mission
Los Angeles, California 90033

CRS-22

Death #10

Name: Clyde Johnson

Assassination Connection: Johnson's link to the assassination is mentioned both in volume III of Pardon My Grief, and "The Bizarre Deaths Following J.F.K.'s Murder" by David Martindale, which appeared in Argosy Magazine, in March 1977. Both authors reveal that Johnson was to have been one of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison's star witnesses in the trial of Clay Shaw for his alleged role in the murder of President Kennedy. Jones states that Johnson was prepared to testify as to the "personal relationship" between Shaw and Lee Harvey Oswald. Martindale, describing Johnson as "an admitted homosexual," states that he was prepared to testify that he "attended parties at which Shaw, Ferrie, Ruby and Oswald were present."

Date of Death: July 23, 1969

Place of Death: Greensburg, Louisiana

Circumstances of Death: The circumstances of Clyde Johnson's death as related by both Jones and Martindale are incomplete. Both state that he was shot to death near Greensburg, La., but fail to relate that the shooting occurred on the doorstep of Johnson's wife's second cousin, Ralph McMillan, and that McMillan was taken into custody at the time. The implications of existing press coverage (see attach- are that Johnson and McMillan were involved in a family quarrel.

CRS-23

Jurisdiction: Saint Helena Parris (County), Louisiana

Death Records Available From:

Clerk of Court
Saint Helena Court House
Greensburg, La. 70441

Attachment:

10-a "Clyde Johnson Killed, Report" - New Orleans Times - Picayune, July 24, 1969, Sec. 2, P. 3.

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Death #11

Name: Dorothy Kilgallen. This report was forwarded, with attachments, under separate cover at an earlier date.

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Death #12

Name: Thomas Henry (Hank) Killam

Assassination Connection: Hank Killam. worked as a house painter in Dallas at the time of President Kennedy's assassination. Penn Jones maintains, in volume II of Forgive My Grief, that Killam was connected with both Lee Harvey Oswald and his murderer. First, his wife, Wanda Joyce Killam, worked for Jack Ruby as an exotic dancer in one of his clubs for two years prior to the assassination. Second, Killam was acquainted with and occasionally worked on painting assignments with a man named John Carter, who resided in a rooming house located at 1026 North Beckley, in Dallas, where Lee Harvey Oswald also lived.

Date of Death: March 17, 1964

Place of Death: Pensacola, Florida

Circumstances of Death: Penn Jones gives a detailed account of Killam's death in volume II of Forgive My Grief:

Hank had moved from town to town after the assassination and then from state to state in an effort to avoid the continual questioning of "Federal agents." According to Hank's wife... Hank was "hounded from job to job" by these Federal agents.

Before his death in Florida, Hank told his brother, Earl Killam: "I am a dead man, but I have run as far as I am going to run."

At 4 A.M. in the morning of March 17, 1974, while asleep in his mother's home, Hank was called to the phone. He dressed and left the house. A car door was heard to slam, according to his mother, although Hank did not own a car.

A few hours later he was found dead on the street in Pensacola, Florida, with his throat cut. Since he was lying near a pile of broken glass, the papers said he either jumped or fell into a plate glass window.

CRS-26

The Pensacola police ruled the death suicide. The local coroner ruled the death accidental. Neither of these parties knew of the conflict in their rulings until early 1967 when brother Earl Killam asked that the body be exhumed in an effort to determine the exact cause.

The circumstances surrounding this death have proved difficult to pursue from Washington, due to the fact that the Library of Congress does not permanently retain issues of the Pensacola Journal. A related item (see attachment 12-a) did appear, however, in the New York Times on February 23, 1967, when it was learned that Earl Killam had requested exhumation of his brother's body. This piece, in fact, was printed at the same time and on the same page as notice of David W. Ferrie's death. No follow up article subsequently appeared in the Times. Judging from the conflicting evidence at hand, the Committee may wish to resolve the circumstances of Killam's death, and the nature and extent of his connection with figures involved in the assassination of President Kennedy and the murder of Lee Oswald.

Jurisdiction: Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida

Death Records Available From:

Department of H.R.S. -- Vital Statistics
P.O. Box 210
Jacksonville, Florida 32231

Attachment:

12-a "Ruby Case Death Sifted in Florida" - The New York Times, February 23, 1967, p. 22.

Additional Note: The analyst, in attempting to determine from which office death records could be obtained, spoke with Mrs. Sturtevant in the Escambia County Office of Vital Statistics. She stated that no autopsy was performed on the subject at the time of his death as it was ruled to be accidental.

CRS-27

Death #13

Name:Jim Koethe

Assassination Connection: Jim Koethe, a special writer for the Dallas Times-Herald Sunday magazine section, was one of the men present at what Penn Jones, Jr. alleges was a suspicious meeting supposed to have taken place in Jack Ruby's apartment on Sunday, November 24, 1963, the day Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. Jones lists Tom Howard and Bill Hunter (see respectively deaths 8 and 9) as other participants at the meeting. He does not speculate on what took place at the meeting, but there is a clear inference in volume I of Forgive My Grief that it concerned the Kennedy assassination and Ruby's murder of Oswald:

What went on in that significant meeting in Ruby's and Senator's apartment? Few are left to tell. There is no one in authority to ask the questions since the Warren Commission has made its final report and has closed the investigation.

Date of Death: Sometime between September 19 and 21, 1964.

Place of Death: Dallas, Texas

Circumstances of Death: Penn Jones states unequivocally that Koethe was "killed by a karate chop as he emerged from a shower in his apartment in Dallas on September 21, 1964." The available evidence is not as conclusive. The Dallas Morning News reported the death on September 22, (see attachment 13-a) in an article which related that Koethe was found "lying on the floor of his apartment, wrapped in a blanket'." The article went on to state that Captain Will Fritz of the Dallas Police stated that Koethe had apparently been dead since sometime Saturday, September 19.

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Koethe's apartment had been ransacked by the assailant; two rifles and a handgun were reported to be missing, and the victim's wallet had been emptied.

Richard Warren Lewis, writing in The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Report, states that:

Dr. Earl F. Rose, the Parkland Hospital pathologist who performed the autopsy on Koethe, says he died of manual strangulation, based on internal neck damages. ... A week after Koethe's death, an ex-convict named Larry Earl Reno was arrested and charged with murder. Reno admitted being in Koethe's apartment, but insisted he left while Koethe was still alive. A grand jury refused to indict Reno.

Lewis also suggests, without providing evidence to confirm his allegation, that "homosexuality may have been a motive." In making this statement, he draws from an article appearing in Time Magazine, November 11, 1966 (see attachment 13-b) in which the same allegation is reported, also without substantiating evidence.

The case of Jim Koethe is one in which questions remain to be answered. The Committee may wish to investigate further not only the circumstances of his death, but also the validity, if any, of Penn Jones's inferences concerning the alleged meeting in Jack Ruby's apartment on November 24, 1963.

Jurisdiction: Dallas, Texas

Records Available From:

City of Dallas Health Department
Office of Vital Statistics
1936 Amelia Court
Dallas, Texas 75235

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Attachments:

13-a Reporter Found Dead At Home. Dallas Morning News, September 22, 1964, Section 1, p. 14.

13-b The Mythmakers. Time, November 11, 1966, pp. 33-34.

Additional Note: The researcher notes here that according to the staff of the Dallas Times-Herald, none of the deaths of the individuals listed in this report who died in Dallas were reported in that journal. The researcher, however was able to find death reports for most of these individuals in the Dallas Morning News.

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Death #14

Name: Levens (first name unknown)

Assassination Connection: The only information readily available on this subject was a brief entry in Sylvia Meagher's Accessories After the Fact, in which Levens was described as operator of a Forth Worth, Texas, burlesque theatre which employed some entertainers who had also been employed by Jack Ruby at his Carousel Club in Dallas.

Date of Death: November 5, 1966

Place of Death: Unknown, possibly Fort Worth, Texas.

Circumstances of Death: Described by Meagher as "natural causes." The use of the term "natural causes" by Sylvia Meagher, a prominent advocate of the conspiracy theory, seems to indicate the author's opinion that there was no occurrence of abnormal or unusual circumstances in the death of Levens.

Jurisdiction and Availability of Death Records: Neither available given existing information.

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Death #15

Name: Nancy Jane Mooney (also known as Betty McDonald)

Assassination Connection: Nancy Jane Mooney's connection with the assassination is indirect and confusing. On November 22, 1963, Warren Reynolds, a used car salesman whose lot was two blocks from the place where Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit was murdered, heard the shots and subsequently saw a man armed with a handgun trying to escape from the vicinity on foot. Reynolds reported his experience to the Police; subsequently he was interviewed by both the Dallas Police and the F.B.I., and later testified before the Warren Commission.

Accounts by proponents of the conspiracy theories of the January 21, 1964 interview with Reynolds differ. Penn Jones states that it was conducted by Dallas authorities, whereas David Martindale, writing in the March, 1977, issue of Argosy Magazine and David Welsh, writing in the November, 1966 issue of Ramparts Magazine, both maintain that the questioning was conducted by F.B.I. agents. In any event, all three of the authors agree that Reynolds told the investigators that he could not positively identify the man he saw on November 22, as Lee Harvey Oswald.

On January 24, 1964, Reynolds was shot in the head by an unknown assailant in the basement of his office, but later recovered. Shortly thereafter, Darrell Wayne Garner was arrested and charged with the

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crime. David Martindale, describes how Nancy Jane Mooney then entered the case:

... on February 5, Nancy Jane Mooney, 23, signed an affidavit saying that Garner couldn't have shot Reynolds, since she was in bed with the suspect at the time of the shooting. On the strength of her alibi and subsequent polygraph tests, the charges against Garner were dropped. Interestingly enough, Mooney told Detective Ramsey of the Dallas Police she had once worked as a stripper for Jack Ruby.

Date of Death: February 13, 1964

Place of Death: Dallas, Texas

Circumstances of Death: Accounts of Nancy Jane Mooney's death by supporters of the conspiracy theory tally with that published in a routine article by the Dallas Morning News on February 14, 1964. (see attachment 15-b.) Ms. Mooney was booked into the city jail at 2:45 A.M., February 13, on a charge of disturbing the peace after she and another woman were found in a parked car fighting over a boy friend. A jail trustee discovered her body two hours later. Ms. Mooney had "hanged herself" in her cell by knotting one leg of her slacks around a pipe and the other around her neck. Richard Warren Lewis states further, though without providing evidence, in The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Report, that Ms. Mooney had attempted to commit suicide several times in the past.

In light of the available facts, it is difficult to draw a solid connection between what conspiricists insist was an attempt to murder Warren Reynolds and the subsequent death of Nancy Jane Mooney. In order

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to justify Penn Jones's allegations it would be necessary to first, establish Darrell Wayne Garner as Reynold's assailant; second, Garner's connection to the alleged conspiracy would have to be proven in order to substantiate allegations that he shot Reynolds in order to prevent him from testifying as to the identity of the man he saw fleeing the site of J.D. Tippit's murder. Finally, it would be necessary to prove that Nancy Jane Mooney was, as is inferred by the conspiricists, murdered in her locked jail cell in such a way to make it appear that she committed suicide because, having provided an alibi for Garner, she was considered to "know to much."

Given the sheer time, energy and expense such an investigation would require, and given, further, the relatively minor point that would be proved, in the unlikely case that such an investigation established as fact the three allegations listed above, the case of Nancy Jane Mooney does not appear to merit priority attention by the Committee.

Jurisdiction: Dallas, Texas

Records Available From:

City of Dallas Department of Health
Office of Vital Statistics
1936 Amelia Court
Dallas, Texas 75235

Attachments:

15-a Woman, 23, Hangs Self in City Jail. Dallas Morning News, February 14, 1964, See. 1, p. 8.

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Death#16

Name: Teresa Norton: Penn Jones, Jr., writing in Forgive My Grief, Volume I, claims that Teresa Norton was a name assumed by Karen Bennet Carlin, a dancer employed by Jack Ruby at the Carousel Club.

Assassination Connection: Karen Bennet Carlin, whose stage name was "Little Lynn," was on of the last people to speak with Jack Ruby before he shot Lee Harvey Oswald. On Sunday morning, November 24, 1963, Mrs. Carlin had a telephone conversation with Ruby, in which she asked him for a $25.00 advance so that she would be able to pay her rent and buy groceries. Ruby agreed and volunteered to stop at the Western Union office and send her a money order, as he said he had business in downtown Dallas that afternoon. Ruby drove into the downtown area, parked across the street from the Western Union office, paid for the money order, and then walked the few remaining blocks to the Dallas Police Department, where he shot Oswald.

Date of Death: Questionable; see Circumstances of Death.

Place of Death: Questionable; see Circumstances of Death.

Circumstances of Death: We find no evidence that Karen Bennet Carlin did die, and if she did, it is almost a certainty she did so under different circumstances than those described by Penn Jones, Jr., and other advocates of the conspiracy theory. Jones maintains that:

... Karen Bennett Carlin, "Little Lyn", died of gunshot wounds in the head in Houston. She died under the name of Teresa Norton.

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Jones does not mention the date on which Mrs. Carlin is supposed to have died. Richard Warren Lewis, writing in The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Commission, quotes Edward J. Epstein, author of Inquest, as saying: "He (Penn Jones, Jr.) talks about the death of Little Lynn Carlin. She never died. She testified to the Warren Commission three months after he reported she was shotgunned to death. He had the wrong girl."

Lewis maintains that a domestic worker from Chicago named Teresa Naughton committed suicide in a Houston hotel on August 17, 1964. He implies that this death must have been the inspiration for Jone's Teresa Norton hypothesis. There is no record of death for either Teresa Norton or Naughton in the Houston Post for the week of August 17-24, but the hearings of the Warren Commission do bear out Epstein's claim: Karen Bennet Carlin did give testimony to be used by the Commission twice in 1964, and the second occasion was in Forth Worth, Texas, on August 24, a full week after Teresa Naughton is alleged to have died. (See Hearings Before the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, vol. XIII, pp. 205-221, vol. XV, pp. 656-664.)

Given this evidence, it appears that Penn Jones, Jr., was mistaken in identifying Karen Bennet Carlin as Teresa Norton/Naughton. The eventual fate of Mrs. Carlin remains to be determined, however, and this might prove a moderately fruitful area of further investigation by the committee

Jurisdiction: Not applicable.

Records Available From: Not applicable.

Jurisdiction: Not applicable.

Records Available From: Not applicable.

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Death #17

Name: Earlene Roberts

Assassination Connection: Earlene Roberts managed the rooming house at 1026 North Beckley Avenue where Lee Harvey Oswald lived at the time of the assassination. On November 22, 1963, she saw Oswald enter the house at about one in the afternoon. She testified before the Warren Commission that during the short time Oswald remained in his room -- not more than three or four minutes -- a Dallas Police patrol car pulled up in front of the rooming house. The horn was sounded lightly twice, and then the car drove off. The inference that a signal was passed to Oswald by the squad car's occupants was mentioned by David Welsh, in "The Legacy of Penn Jones, Jr.", which appeared in Ramparts Magazine, November 1966:

...what were policemen doing honking the horn outside Oswald's rooming house 30 minutes after a Presidential assassination? Their swift departure would indicate they certainly were not coming to apprehend him. It is perhaps too far fetched to imagine that they were giving Oswald some kind of signal, although it seems as plausible as any other explanation of this bizarre incident.

Date of Death: January 9, 1966

Place of Death: Dallas, Texas

Circumstances of Death: Although Penn Jones, Jr., leading advocate of the conspiracy theory, states his belief in volume I of Forgive My Grief that Mrs. Roberts had important evidence to contribute, and that she was harrassed by Dallas Police, it is not clear in his writings whether he believes she died a natural death.

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Richard Warren Lewis, in The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Commission maintains that her death was a natural one:

A record of her autopsy is on file at Parkland Hospital. She died of heart failure, brought on by calcium deposits so large that they choked her heart's action. The attending physician also indicated she had a mild case of diabetes, pneumonia, a lung infection, ulcers of her throat and cataracts. He says there is no question about the cause of her death.

Notice of Mrs. Robert's death, published in the Dallas Morning News, January 10, 1966, appears to substantiate Lewis's findings, stating that:

Mrs. Roberts apparently was seized by a heart attack at her home ... She was rushed to Parkland Hospital, where she died at 5:15 A.M.

The Morning News article goes on to mention the coincidence that Parkland Hospital was also the scene of the deaths of both President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald.

Given the available information it appears that Mrs. Earlene Roberts died a natural death. The Committee might, however, consider obtaining the record of her autopsy mentioned by Lewis as being on file at Parkland.

Jurisdiction: Dallas, Texas

Records Available From:

City of Dallas Health Department
Office of Vital Statistics
1936 Amelia Court
Dallas, Texas 75235

Attachments:

17-b Mrs. Earlene (sic) Roberts, Oswald's Landlady, Dies. Dallas Morning News, January 10,1966, P. 3-b.

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Death #18

Name: Harold Russell

Assassination Connection: Harold Russell was employed at the time of President Kennedy's assassination by Johnny Reynolds Used Car Lot, owned by Warren Reynolds and located at 500 East Jefferson Blvd., in Dallas, a few blocks from the scene of Officer J.D. Tippit's murder. Russell, Reynolds, and several other men saw someone they believed to be the murderer escaping on foot, and Penn Jones, Jr., states in Forgive My Grief, volume II, that, "neither (Reynolds Russell) seemed to think the man leaving the scene was Lee Oswald until later." The Warren Commission however, maintains that:

Harold Russell also saw a man with a gun running south on Patton Avenue and later identified him from pictures as Oswald. (See Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, pp. 652-653.)

Date of Death: July 23, 1965

Place of Death: Sulphur, Oklahoma

Circumstances of Death: Penn Jones, Jr., provides the only readily available account of Harold Russell's death:

A few months after the assassination, Harold Russell went back to his home near Davis, Oklahoma. On July 23, 1965, Russell, 53, went out of his mind while on a party with friends. He was crying and telling his friends that he was going to be killed and that he had to be hidden. People at the party called the police.

A policeman answered the call, he hit Russell in the head with a pistol and Russell died a few hours later in a Sulphur, Oklahoma, hospital.

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The analyst was unable to locate any press accounts of Harold Russell's death after an extensive search in both the Daily Oklahoman, published in Oklahoma City but statewide in scope of coverage and distribution, and the Tulsa Daily World.

Given the lack of documentable fact in this case, the death of Harold Russell could warrant further investigation by the Committee. The allegations to be investigated were printed by Penn Jones in volume II of Forgive My Grief and Mr. Jones offers no documentation to support his thesis. Two questions are raised by this case: first, did Harold Russell, in fact, initially claim that the man he saw escaping from the site of Officer Tippit's murder was not Lee Harvey Oswald? Second, what, in fact, were the circumstances of Harold Russell's death? An investigation of the documents dealing with the death would shed light on the second question. The first question could be pursued if Penn Jones, Jr., were to reveal the evidence that led him to conclude that Russell did not at first, identify the man leaving the scene as Oswald.

Jurisdiction: Murray County, Oklahoma

Records Available From:

Oklahoma Bureau of Vital Statistics
3200 North Eastern
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

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Death #19

Name: Marilyn April Walle, a.k.a. Marilyn Moon, Marilyn Magyar, Delilah

Assassination Connection: Marilyn Magyar worked as an exotic dancer in Jack Ruby's Carousel Club from November 1963 until it closed following the assassination of President Kennedy and the subsequent murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. According to Penn Jones, writing in volume II of Forgive My Grief, she left Dallas after the Carousel Club closed, and appeared at the Roam Room in Omaha, Nebraska and the Sho-Bar in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jones relates that she married Leonard Walle in New Orleans on August 7, 1966, and that the couple then returned to Omaha. Jones also states that she was planning to write a book on the assassination of President Kennedy.

Date of Death: September 1, 1966

Place of Death: Omaha, Nebraska

Circumstances of Death: The circumstances of Marilyn Walle's death as reported by Penn Jones agree completely with an article which appeared in the Omaha World-Herald on September 2, 1966. (See attachment 19-a.) Leonard Walle called a family friend at about 3:00 A.M. on September 1, and informed her that he had shot his wife; the Walles were living at the Hamilton Hotel in Omaha at the time. The friend, Miss Leona Forsberg, subsequently called the hotel clerk who summoned police. Leonard W. Walle was charged with second degree murder. He was convicted in 1967 and sentenced to a 20 year term in prison.

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We found no information to suggest that the murder of Marilyn Walle by her husband was in any way related to her connection with Jack Ruby.

Place of Death: Omaha, Nebraska

Records Available From:

a. Death Certificate:

Omaha Health Department
Bureau of Vital Statistic
(Birth and Death Records)
1600 South 50th
Omaha, Nebraska 68106

b. Autopsy Report:

Office of Davis County Coroner
Civic Center, Room 907
Omaha, Nebraska 68102

Attachment: 19-a Two Shots Struck Dancer's Heart; Mate To Be Charged. Omaha World-Herald, September 2, 1966, p. 8.

Additional Note: The researcher notes here that it is the stated policy of the World-Herald to avoid giving out citations of articles dealing with private citizens. An article did, however, appear in that paper and was independently found.

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Death #20

Name: William W. Whaley

Assassination Connection: William Whaley, a long-time Dallas cab driver, was hailed by Lee Harvey Oswald at the Greyhound Bus Terminal on November 22, 1963, soon after the assassination of President Kennedy. Whaley drove Oswald to an address a short distance away from his rooming house at 1026 North Beckley. The driver later stated that he and Oswald had not conversed during the ride.

Date of Death: December 18, 1965

Place of Death: Dallas, Texas

Circumstances of Death: Penn Jones, Jr., first mentioned Whaley's accident in volume I of Forgive My Grief, in which he relates the bare facts of the death:

... dead of a two car crash on Trinity River Bridge in Dallas.... Whaley had a chance to talk to Oswald alone after the assassination of President Kennedy.

In volume II he expanded his original remarks to include the inference that Whaley's accident was engineered:

Oswald may have told Whaley nothing, but there was a chance. So Whaley, 60, was the first cab driver to die in a wreck while on duty since the mid 1930's. Whaley, hemmed in on the Trinity River bridge in the pre-dawn hours of December 18, 1965, was rammed headon and both drivers died.

The Dallas Morning News reported Whaley's death in a front pagearticle that appeared December 19, 1965 (see attachment 20-a). The New York Times picked up the report from the Associated Press and printed it that same day (see attachment 20-b. Both accounts confirm the basic facts as stated by Jones. It is useful to note,

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however, that the Morning News ran other stories in the same edition relating that extremely bad weather had accounted for a number of accidents, including fatalities in the Dallas area throughout the weekend of December 17-19, 1965.

Richard Warren Lewis, writing in The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Report goes further than the available newspaper accounts. He paraphrases, without citing, however, an accident report he states is on file in the Dallas County Sheriff's Office:

On the dark and rainy morning of December 18, 1965, around 7:58 A.M., fifty-one-year-old Whaley was driving his 1964 Checker cab across the Hampton Street Viaduct. His headlights were turned on. Heading north in Whaley's southbound lane was a 1955 four door Chevrolet, driven by John Henry Wells, age eighty-three. The headlights in the Wells vehicle were turned off. The two vehicles crashed head on. Both Whaley and Wells were killed. Whaley's passenger, Navy Lieutenant Commander Maurice Barnes, was critically injured but he survived the accident. Wells suffered from cancer and had been involved in three previous accidents.

Judging from these reports, Whaley's death appears to have been due to an unfortunate accident; the committee may wish to consider obtaining, however, a copy of the accident report mentioned by Lewis. The document, if produced, would erode the theory that Whaley's death was planned and executed in order to prevent him from revealing what Oswald may have told him during the cab ride.

Jurisdiction: Dallas County, Texas

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Records Available From: a. Accident Report:

Dallas County Sheriff's Office
600 Commerce
Dallas, Texas 75202

b. Death Records:

Dallas County Medical Examiner
P.O. Box 35728
Dallas, Texas 75235

Attachments:

20-a 2 Car Smashup Kills Oswald Taxi Driver. Dallas Morning News, December 19, 1965, p. 1.

20-b Oswald Figure is Killed. New York Times, December 19 1965, p. 47.

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Death #21

Name: James R. Worrell

Assassination Connection: James Worrell was an eyewitness to the assassination of President Kennedy. Standing close to the Texas School Book Depository Building, along the route of the presidential motorcade he heard the shots that killed the President and wounded Governor John Connally, and later testified before the Warren Commission that he saw the barrel and stock of a gun protruding from the window from which the shots were allegedly fired. Worrell also testified that he saw a man in a dark sport jacket and light trousers leave the Depository approximately three minutes after the shooting and run away from the building Penn Jones, Jr., maintains, in Forgive My Grief, volume II, that, "His view of the killer, in our opinion, is what made it necessary for Worrell to die."

Date of Death: November 5, 1966

Place of Death: Dallas, Texas

Circumstances of Death: Accounts of Worrell's death in articles and books favoring the conspiracy theory are sketchy. The report of the accident in the Dallas Morning News (see attachment 21-a) appears to leave little room for speculation that Worrell might have been murdered:

Accident Investigator J.N. Feinglass said Worrell was headed north on Gus Thomasson in East Dallas when he apparently lost control of the motorcycle cle, a 1966 Honda. It struck the median curb, jumped the median and overturned in the southbound traffic lane. Worrell was thrown against the curbing.

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It should be noted that Worrell was carrying a passenger at the time, Miss Karron Lee Hudgins, who was also killed in the accident.

David Martindale, writing in Argosy Magazine, March, 1977, makes the point implied by the conspiricists:

Worrell told the Warren Commission he saw a man rush out of the side entrance of the Texas School Book Depository shortly after the killing. The man did not resemble Oswald.

In his testimony before the Commission (see Hearings Before the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, v. II, pp. 190-201) Worrell described the man he saw running from the Texas School Book Depository in the following words:

Mr. SPECTER. Okay. Now, describe as best you can the man whom you have testified you saw at point "Z."

Mr. WORRELL. Describe his appearance?

Mr. SPECTER. Yes. Start by telling us how tall he was, to the best of your ability to recollect and estimate?

Mr. WORRELL.To the -- it is going to be within 3 inches, 5-7 to 5-10.

Mr. SPECTER. What is your best estimate as to his weight?

Mr.WORRELL. 155 to 165.

Mr. SPECTER. What is your best estimate as to his height?

Mr. WORRELL. 5-7, 5-10.

Mr. SPECTER. Pardon me, your best estimate as to his age.

Mr. WORRELL.Well, the way he was running, I would say he was in his late twenties or middle -- I mean early thirties. Because he was fast moving on.

Mr. SPECTER. Of what race was he?

Mr. WORRELL. White.

Mr. SPECTER. Can you describe the characteristics of his hair?

Mr. WORRELL. Black.

Mr. SPECTER. Did he have --

Mr. WORRELL. Well, I will say brunette.

Mr. SPECTER. Did he have a full head of hair, a partial head of hair, or what?

Mr. WORRELL. Well, see, I didn't see his face, I just saw the back of his head and it was full in the back. I don't know what the front looked like. But it was full in the back.

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Contrary to Martindale's assertion, this statement by Worrell is a fairly accurate description of Lee Harvey Oswald's general build and coloring. At a later point, Mr. Arlen Specter, the Assistant Counsel conducting the questioning, asked Worrell about the accuracy of an interview conducted by F.B.I. agents shortly after the assassination:

My question, first of all, to you: Did you have a profile view of the man who ran away from the building that you described?

Mr. WORRELL. No, sir.

Mr. SPECTER. The second question is, did you tell the F.B.I. that you had a profile view?

Mr. WORRELL. No sir, I sure didn't.

Mr. SPECTER. Did you tell the F.B.I. agent who interviewed you, that you felt that this person was Lee Harvey Oswald?

Mr. WORRELL. I don't know if I did or not.

It may be this statement by Worell that prompted Martindale's statement that he described a man who did not resemble Oswald.

Given the available information relating to Worrell's death, and the failure of Worrell's testimony to substantiate David Martindale's statement that the man he had seen did not resemble Oswald, this does not appear to warrant priority attention by the committee.

Jurisdiction: Dallas, Texas

Records Available From:

City of Dallas Health Department
Office of Vital Statistics
1936 Amelia Court
Dallas, Texas 75235

Attachments:

21-a Two Killed in Crash. Dallas Morning News, November 1966, p. A-11.

Thomas H. Neale
Analyst in American National Government
Government Division
June 5, 1978


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