MYSTERIOUS DEATHS AND THE JFK ASSASSINATION
by Mae Brussell [Transcription of her radio broadcast on October 6, 1978.)
There has been an escalation of deaths since the Senator Church Committee on the Assassinations. Witnesses have died strangely or violently. What they would have told us about the assassination could have been very valuable and we must make the effort to surmise their roles in these pivots of history.
For example: The House Select Committee sloughed off the notion of Oswald's "double" just because there were six signatures that matched each other, therefore they're finding were no doubles. There were two Oswald's in the Texas School Depository. Sheriff Craig saw one in the front of the building. He admitted he saw that person in the afternoon in Captain Fritz's office. He talked with James Hosty and recognized him as the FBI man. And he mentioned Ruth Paine, whom he lived with. Mr. Worrell saw another one, from the back of the building. James Worrell died shortly after that. Sheriff Craig died also. One Oswald was supposed to have taken a bus and a taxi cab and gone to the rooming house. The bus driver, the taxi cab driver, and Earlene Roberts at the rooming house are all dead! So how would anyone know who was at the rooming house? Or was one flown out of town? What would these witnesses have said from their vantage points? Those who write these reports from the Senate or elsewhere cannot claim to have the last word on this and other issues because the bodies are piling up.
The last hearing on the assassinations had a woman on very quickly the day before the end, who rushed off for 17 minutes the deaths of some witnesses who had died--only up to 1967. She gave their names and put down Penn Jones (JFK assassination researcher) whose 1967 book said that people like Earlene Roberts could have a heart attack, and she said calcium deposits weren't a suspicious cause of death. What they didn't say was that Earlene Roberts' sister Bertha Cheek, was at Jack Ruby's home three weeks before the assassination, loaning or giving him about $17,000. Bertha Cheek is dead. Passed off very quickly was the fact that a great many witnesses have died since 1967. Not mentioned, but very important were Dr. Gregory-- who was necessary to describe the wounds in Connelly's wrist and Dr. Morton Helpren, the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City, who wrote a section of Where Death Delights (1967) blasting the Warren Commission--a critique of the methods and doctors of the Kennedy autopsy. He was replaced by Dr. Michael Baden who was then used to testify about the bullets and wounds for the House Select Committee. Sounds very similar to Los Angeles where there was the effort to discredit Thomas Noguchi, who was fired and replaced because a coroner, who later turned out to be a fraud, was clearing justifiable homicide on cadavers that were in fact murders and Noguchi exposed him. Note that it was doctors or lawyers that claimed "justifiable homicide." Likewise. Dr. Helpren would have some very pointed things to say, were he alive.
The secretary of the Embassy in Mexico--the Cuban Embassy--was killed in a car crash. She was replaced by a suspected CIA agent, Silvia Duran. When Oswald goes to Mexico, Sylvia is there to say he's been at the Agency. Here's a witness who says that it was absolutely Oswald, not a double. Two days after the JFK killing, Sylvia was removed and held in protective custody by Mexican police.
Lyndon Johnson was informed of the plot to kill Fidel Castro, the use of organized crime and the CIA. And when Lyndon Johnson said we have a "murder Incorporated in the Caribbean" he sealed his death. Three months later he was dead. With him at that time was Mike Howard, the secret service agent who was with Marina Oswald at the time of the assassination and took care of her.
Homer Clark--a big part of the hearings involved him--wrote for the National Enquire, which is owned by a man from the CIA (Pope). Clark is dead. The story, according to Castro, was planted as a provocation to blame him for the assassination of John Kennedy.
When Richard Helms, former CIA chief, was questioned about Oswald's Navy Intelligence work, he said, "Why ask me? Call Navy Intelligence." And he threw out the name Rufus Taylor. And he mentioned that Taylor just died last week. He was a very important witness who died a week before Helms was to testify. Rufus Taylor, Annapolis graduate, studied in Japan from 1938 to 1941, was a native of St. Louise, Missouri, and was with General Macarthur after the war in Japan. Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence for the entire Pacific fleet, he was in Japan from 1941 to 1959 and in Navy Intelligence at the time that Lee Oswald was over there in 1959 in the Philippines, at the Atsugi Air bases and was involved with the U2. Oswald served in the Marines with top secret security clearance at the time that Rufus was Pacific Intelligence Chief. Oswald went to the Soviet Union and Rufus went to Washington, D.C.
Oswald said, "I'm going to give away radar secrets." Rufus then became the Director for Foreign Intelligence in the Soviet Union. Rufus was the Director of Navy Intelligence in 1963 up until the time Kennedy was killed - from 1963 to 1966. During 1967 through 1969, Rufus became the Deputy Director of the CIA--the number two post under Helms. These were the years that Permindex and the international cartels were working along with the Solidarists--the White Russian communities-- the Syndicate, gaming interests, the FBI and the Pentagon (Division 5, FBI) which were described into the Torbitt Document as being behind all these assassinations. The fact that Rufus was not called until he was dead is baiting the issue a little too much. These murders are concealed, not for the shame or disgrace of what transpired, but because of the future plans that would be spoiled.
Thomas Karamessines--another important man, he died on Labor Day just before his name was mentioned in the September section of the Select Committee. At Senator Church's Committee on Intelligence activities, his name comes up under the opening of the mail sections. He had legal training, and was Chief of the Clandestine Service when Oswald was in the Soviet Union. The committee asked him why he didn't tell the Justice department or the FBI about opening mail. (The FBI is in charge of domestic security, and the CIA is not supposed to be opening the mail.) But the CIA didn't tell the FBI that they were opening the mail or why.
Thomas Karamessines died in Canada and there wasn't any mention of it in the papers. Yet he was responsible for the mail openings while Oswald was a defector in Russia.
Doctor Milton Helpren tells in his book Where Death Delights about performing about 60,000 autopsies-- 10,000 gunshot wounds. And he talks about Commander Humes who had only done medicine in peacetime, about Boswell who had no expertise in forensic pathology, and about Colonel Finke who said he only did 200 autopsies for Germany, two of which were bullet cases. And present at the autopsy were the Surgeon General, Admiral Galloway, Commanding Officer of the Navy and Captain John Strober, of the Navy medical school.. No one probed manually for a bullet that was in JFK. They didn't use the X-rays or the photographs, and that there was secrecy is a truism. In 1967 there was secrecy on the X-rays and the pictures and it still goes on. Doctor Helpren died March 28, 1878 while lecturing in San Diego.
Homer Clark, writer for Enquirer, was another death of import. His quote from Fidel Castro, "It's possible that I could have saved Kennedy, I might have been able to, but I didn't. I never believed the plan would be put into effect. I thought Oswald must have been a nut." The implication here is that Castro knew beforehand that Kennedy was going to be killed. Then the House Select Committee answers back, with Mr. Blake saying that "This article is not without some substance. Clark may never have interviewed Castro as claimed, but the subsistence is supported by highly confidential but reliable sources available to the U.S.. government." (From the Defense Industry Security Command, ORNSA, CIA, DIA).
Allan Blanchard died in Washington D.C. at the time of the hearings, September 18, 1978. He was 49, from Detroit, chief of the Washington bureau of the Detroit News. He had a good nose for news, at the right place, at the right time--in the South for civil rights, the Dominican Republic, the trial of Jack Ruby, an award-winning journalist. He died of Legionnaire's disease! Only known person to die of that disease in Washington, D.C.
THE LIST GOES ON. 123 PEOPLE DIED WHO WERE DIRECTLY CONNECTED WITH JFK. Anyone who died in 1976, 1977 and 1978 is a primary witness because the decision to open the hearings regarding the assassination of JFK occurred in 1976.
Manuel Artime. Dead1977. A member of the CIA assassination teams, worked closely with anti-Castro Cubans, Sturgis, Howard Hunt.
Charles Batchelor. Assistant Chief of Police in Dallas, escorted Oswald down the ramp when he was killed.
Allan Belmont. Dead August 1977. Former Assistant to J. Edgar Hoover (FBI). He worked with the Warren Commission and his name came up at the recent Committee.
Eddie Benavides. His brother was witness to the police officer Tippit murder. He was shot in the head. The killer was never found.
Guy Banister. An FBI partner of Robert Mayhew in Chicago, went to New Orleans to set up office back behind where Oswald worked. (Note: Banister worked for the FBI in the Tacoma, Washington region during the time of the Mary Island incident, along with Jim Garrison.)
Jack Beers. He took the picture of the tramps at Dealey Plaza. The question of whether or not they are E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis has not been resolved.
Mary Bledsoe. The woman on the bus with Oswald after the killing, also rented a room in her house to him previously.
Allan Blanchard. Newsman who covered the Ruby trial.
Albert Guy Bogard. A witness to the JFK assassination, a man from he Lincoln-Mercury car agency who said Oswald had been there and wanted some kind of car of a getaway type.
Hale Boggs. Of Louisiana, died on a plane in Alaska, a member of the Warren report, putting together pieces of the Watergate-Kennedy assassinations.
Lee Bowers. A witness from the over pass and grassy knoll area of the JFK kill.
Babushka Woman's Husband. She was a witness on the grassy knoll. Her husband was a part of the Crime Syndicate in Texas.
Daniel Burros. Head of the Nazi party in the U.S. (with Rockwell.) His name was in Oswald's notebook.
Joe Cooper. Writer for the Tattler, now out of print, made important links of the JFK-Baton Rouge connections to Navy Intelligence.
Roger Craig. He saw Oswald leave in Michael Paine's car in Dallas at the front of the book building.
Fred Lee Crisman. Dead 1975. From the CIA, a defense agent disguised as a priest on the grassy knoll, his picture was recognized at the House Select Committee. Home base was the Boeing Aircraft Company in Seattle.
Austin Cook. Minute man ran a drive-in in Dallas, familiar with officer Tippit.
Marie Callas. Opera singer, died September 1977. She was going to write a gook to "tell everything I know about Onassis." Onassis had links to German Nazis, reported to have a blueprint for the assassinations. The whole Onassis family-- Aristotle, Alexander and Rincallah died because of what they knew about JFK.
Charles Cabell. Former CIA official, dead 1971. He was in charge of the Bay of Pigs, went to the hospital for a routine check and died. He had been fired along with Allen Dulles from the CIA by President Kennedy. Cabel's brother was killed.
Rose Cherami. Employed by Ruby who hinted there was a conspiracy, dead from a terrible automobile accident.
James Candigan. Firearms expert who testified before the Warren Commission.
Henry Carter. He knew of Ruby's connections in Dallas-Fort Worth and was close to Hank.
James Chaney. He escorted JFK to Parkland Hospital. He was a Dallas police officer, saw Kennedy struck in the face, but never was called as a witness.
William Chesher. He had information on Oswald and Ruby.
Bertha Cheek. She offered Ruby money, was the sister of the landlord of the rooming house where Oswald stayed. The landlord is also dead.
Dr. Nicholas Chetta. He did autopsies in New Orleans on David Ferrie, Robert Perrin (another victim) gave truth serum to Perry Russo, Garrison's witness after he arrested Clay Shaw.
John Crawford. He was a close friend of Ruby and Gil Frazier who drove Oswald to the Texas Book Depository the morning of the assassination, and was instrumental in getting the job for Oswald.
Professor H. De Laune. He was the brother in law of Dr. Chetta in the New Orleans Coroner's office, who had information on the assassination and died a suspicious death.
Eladio Del Valle. He was a friend of David Ferrie who also worked with anti-Castro Cubans, and the CIA. The same day Ferrie died in New Orleans, Valle die din Miami.
George De Mohrenschildt. Dead March 1977. Contacts with the CIA< DIA, the Nazis, the Rockefellers, was Oswald's control agent, the "China Man."
Donald Donaldson. Dead December 1977, an associate of George DeMohrenschildt. He had information about the plot supposedly linking it to the Rockefeller connection.
Sheffield Edwards. Dead 1977, after appearing before the Senator Church Committee.
J.M. English. He headed the FBI'S Forensic Science Lab in 1966 and in 1963. Dead in 1977, so new experts could be brought in.
Clayton Fowler. Ruby's defense lawyer, present at Ruby's polygraph test, died.
David Ferrie. Del Valle and Victor Marchetti; CIA
Carlo Gambino. Dead 1975. Syndicate family worker, military CIA gunrunner.
Earl Wayne Garner. Suspected witness of Tippit murder, threats on his life by Dallas police officials, dead 1970.
Maurice Brooks Gatlin. CIA, FBI, Guy Banister, Permindex, he was familiar with people named in plans to kill Kennedy and de Gaulle. Fell out of a sixth story window in 1964.
Sam Giancana. Part of the CIA team with Robert Mayhew assassination team, died just before he was to be called before Senator Church's Committee.
David Goldstein. He was the man who traced the weapon used to kill J.D.Tippet. Dead 1965.
Jesus Gonzales Carta. He worked with anti-Castro Cubans, was given $200,000 to kill the President of Costa Rica, part of the assassination team.
Alexander Guterma. Dead 1977. A white Russian exile involved with the Gehlen operation and George DeMorehnschildt.
Bill Hunter. A reporter in Ruby's apartment as there November 24, 1963, dead.
Ron Howard. Ruby's first attorney., He was seen in the basement when Oswald was shot.
William Harvey. CIA provided the weapons for killings of the assassination teams. Connection links with Sheffield Edwards to organized crime and the CIA.
Milton Helpren. Exposed the JFK autopsy.
Lisa Howard. A diplomatic go-between for Castro and Kennedy.
Marguerite Higgins. Accused the U.S. of complicity in killing Diem, a writer and before the JFK killing was aware of joint conspiracies.
Jimmy Hoffa. He had links to the JFK killing, had hatred of the Kennedys and was close with Sam Giancana and Marcello.
S.M. Holland. A witness to the JFK killing on the grassy knoll.
Walter Headley, Jr. He hade tapes while police chief in Miami on the details of the JFK killing three weeks before JFK died. Plants involved Joseph Milteer.
Hobart Higgins. A pilot who flew private planes to South America, he could have been involved in a getaway of the Oswald double, and had links to Ruby.
J. Edgar Hoover. Dead May 1972. The White House plumbers had poisoned him. He knew too much, says Phillip Deago. Certainly he would have the information on William Sullivan's Division Five and the assassinations.
Mrs. Dorothy Hunt. E. Howard Hunt's wife, was killed in a plane crash in Chicago, at a time when the White House was talking about Watergate going back to the Bay of Pigs, which was a code name for the JFK kill.
Hiram Ingram. Friend of Roger Craig.
Rev. Clyde Johnson. A key witness to the Clay Shaw trial, he made connections of Oswald to Shaw, attending parties where Ferrie, Oswald and Jack attended, and was to testify before Jim Garrison but Ferrie never made it.
Lyndon B. Johnson. Dead January 1973., He did in fact know about out the assassination teams of organized crime and the CIA.
Thomas Karamessines. Chief of CIA Clandestine Services. Dead September 1978.
Dorothy Kilgallen. She was about to break the story of the JFK killing. Shaw was with Ruby. There's an entire book coming out about her.
Hank Killam. His wife worked for Ruby and a close friend of his lived with Lee Oswald at the rooming house on Beckly Street.
ADDITIONAL DEATH LISTS RE: JFK ASSASSINATION WITNESSES COMPILED BY OTHER AUTHORS
by Penn Jones, Jr. [November 22, 1983, The Rebel.]
Shortly after dark on Sunday night, November 24, 1963, after Ruby had killed Lee Harvey Oswald, a meeting took place in Jack Ruby's apartment in Oak Cliff, a suburb of Dallas, Texas. Five persons were present. George Senator and Attorney Tom Howard were present and having a drink in the apartment when two newsmen arrived. The newsmen were Bill Hunter of the Long Beach California Press Telegram and Jim Koethe of the Dallas Times Herald. Attorney C.A. Droby of Dallas arranged the meeting for the two newsmen, Jim Martin, a close friend of George Senator's, was also present at the apartment meeting.
This writer asked Martin if he thought it was unusual for Senator to forget the meeting while testifying in Washington on April 22, 1964, since Bill Hunter, who was a newsman present at the meeting, was shot to death that very night. Martin grilled and said: "Oh, you're looking for a conspiracy."
I nodded yes and he grinned and said, "You will never find it."
I asked soberly, "Never find it, or not there?"
He added soberly, "Not there."
Bill Hunter, a native of Dallas and an award-winning newsman in Long Beach, was on duty and reading a book in the police station called the "Public Safety Building." Two policemen going off duty came into the press room, and one policeman shot Hunter through the heart at a range officially ruled to be "no 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 change his story. He finally said he was playing a game of quick draw with his fellow officer. The other officer testified he had his back turned when the shooting took place.
Hunter, who covered the assassination for his paper, the Long Beach Press Telegram had written:
"Within minutes of Ruby's execution of Oswald, before the eyes of millions watching television, at least two Dallas attorneys appeared to talk with him."
Hunter was quoting Tom Howard who died of a heart attack in Dallas a few months after Hunter's own death. Lawyer Tom Howard was observed acting strangely to his friends two days before his death. Howard was taken to the hospital by a "friend" according to the newspapers. No autopsy was performed.
Dallas Times Herald reporter Jim Koethe was killed by a karate chop to the throat just as he emerged from a shower in his apartment on Sept. 21, 1964. His murderer was not indicted.
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 question, since the Warren Commission has made its final report, and the House Select Committee has closed its investigation.
Dorothy Kilgallen was another reporter who died strangely and suddenly after her involvement in the Kennedy assassination. Miss Kilgallen is the only journalist who was granted a private interview with Jack Ruby after he killed Lee Harvey Oswald. Judge Joe B. Brown granted the interview during the course of the Ruby trial in Dallas -- to the intense anger of the hundreds of other newspapers present.
We will not divulge exactly what Miss Kilgallen did to obtain the interview with Ruby. But Judge Brown bragged about the price paid. Only that was not the real price Miss Kilgallen paid. She gave her life for the interview. Miss Kilgallen stated that she was "going to break this case wide open."
She died on November 8, 1965. Her autopsy report took eight days. She was 52 years old. Two days later Mrs. Earl T. Smith, a close friend of Miss Kilgallen's, died of undetermined causes.
Tom Howard, who died of a heart attack, was a good friend of District Attorney Henry Wade, although they often opposed each other in court. Howard was close to Ruby and other fringes of the Dallas underworld.
Like Ruby, Howard's life revolved around the police station, and it was not surprising when he and Ruby (toting his gun) showed up at the station on the evening of the assassination of President Kennedy. Nor was it unusual when Howard arrived at the jail shortly after Ruby shot Oswald, asking to see his old friend.
Howard was shown into a meeting room to see a bewildered Ruby who had not asked for a lawyer. For the next two days -- until Ruby's brother, Earl, soured on him, and had Howard relieved -- he was Jack Ruby's chief attorney and public spokesman.
Howard took to the publicity with alacrity, called a press conference, wheeled and dealed. He told newsmen the case was a "once-in-a-lifetime chance," and that "speaking as a private citizen," he thought Ruby deserved a Congressional medal. He told the Houston Post that Ruby had been in the police station Friday night (Nov. 22, 1963) with a gun. Howard dickered with a national magazine for an Oswald murder story. He got hold of a picture showing the President's brains flying out of the car, and tried to sell it to LIFE magazine. Ruby's sister, Eva Grant, even accused Howard of leaking information to the DA. It was never quite clear whether Howard was working for Ruby or against him.
On March 27, 1965, Howard was taken to a hospital by an unidentified person and died there. He was 48. The doctor, without benefit of an autopsy, said he had suffered a heart attack. Some reporters and friends of Howard's were not so certain. Some said he was "bumped off."
Earlene Roberts was the plump widow who managed the rooming house where Lee Harvey Oswald was living under the name O.H. Lee. She testified before the Warren Commission that she saw Oswald come home around one o'clock, go to his room for three to four minutes and walk out zipping his light weight jacket. A few minutes later, a mile away, officer J.D. Tippit was shot dead.
Mrs. Roberts testified that while Oswald was in his room, two uniformed cops pulled up in front of the rooming house and honked twice -- "Just tit tit," she said.
The police department issued a report saying all patrol cars in the area, except Tippit's were accounted for. The Warren Commission let it go at that.
After testifying in Dallas in April 1964, Mrs. Roberts was subjected to intensive police harassment. They visited her at all hours of the day and night. Earlene complained of being "worried to death" by the police. She died on January 9, 1966 in Parkland Hospital (the hospital where President Kennedy was taken). Police said she suffered a heart attack in her home. No autopsy was performed.
Warren Reynolds was minding his used car lot on East Jefferson Street in Oak Cliff in Dallas, when he heard shots two blocks away. He thought it was a marital quarrel. Then he saw a man having a great difficulty tucking "a pistol or an automatic" in his belt, and running at the same time. Reynolds gave chase for a short piece being careful to keep his distance, then lost the fleeing man. He didn't know it then, but he had apparently witnessed the flight of the killer (or one of the killers) of patrolman Jefferson David Tippit. Feeling helpful, he gave his name to a passing policeman and offered his cooperation. Television cameras zeroed in on him, got his story, and made him well known. Warren Reynolds, the amiable used car man, was making history.
Reynolds was not questioned until two months after the event. The FBI finally talked to him in January l964. The FBI interview report said, ". . . he was hesitant to definitely identify Oswald as the individual." Then it added, "He advised he is of the opinion Oswald is the person."
Two days after Reynolds talked to the FBI, he was shot in the head. He was closing up his car lot for the night at the time. Nothing was stolen. Later after consulting retired General Edwin Walker (the man Oswald allegedly shot at before he assassinated President Kennedy), he told the Warren Commission Counsel that Oswald was definitely the man he saw fleeing the Tippit murder scene.
A young hood was arrested for the murder attempt. Darrell Wayne Garner had called a relative bragging that he shot Reynolds. But Garner had an alibi. Nancy Jane Mooney, alias Betty McDonald, said Garner was in bed with her at the time he was supposed to have shot Reynolds. Nancy Jane had worked at Jack Ruby's Carousel Club. Garner was freed.
Nancy Jane was picked up a week later for fighting with a girlfriend. She was arrested for disturbing the peace. The girlfriend was not arrested. Within hours after her arrest, Nancy Jane was dead. Police reports said she hanged herself with her toreador pants.
Reynolds and his family were harassed and threatened. But upon giving the Warren Commission a firm identification of Oswald as being the Tippit murder fugitive, he said, "I don't think they are going to bother me any more."
Hank Killam was a house painter who lived at Mrs. A.C. Johnson's rooming house at the same time Lee Harvey Oswald lived there. His wife, Wanda, once pushed cigarettes and drinks at Jack Ruby's club.
Hank was a big man, over six feet and weighing over 200 lbs. After the assassination federal agents visited him repeatedly, causing him to lose one job after another.
Killam was absorbed by the assassination, even obsessed. Hours after the event, he came home, "white as a sheet." Wanda said he stayed up all night watching the television accounts of the assassination. Later he bought all the papers and clipped the stories about Kennedy's death.
Before Christmas, Killam left for Florida. Wanda confessed where he was. Federal agents hounded him in Tampa, Florida where he was working selling cars at his brother-in-law's car lot. He lost his job.
Killam wrote Wanda that he would be sending for her soon. He received a phone call on St. Patrick's day. He left the house immediately. He was found later on a sidewalk in front of a broken window. His jugular vein was cut. He bled to death en route to the hospital.
There is no mention of Killam by the Warren Commission. A number of FBI documents on Killam relating to the assassination were withheld, along with documents prepared by the CIA. What is clear is that somebody considered Hank Killam a very important guy.
William Whaley was known as the "Oswald Cabbie." He was one of the few who had the opportunity to talk alone with the accused killer of President Kennedy. He testified that Oswald hailed him at the Dallas Greyhound bus station. Whaley said he drove Oswald to the intersection of Beckley and Neches -- half a block from the rooming house -- and collected a dollar. Later he identified Oswald as his fare in a questionable police line-up.
Whaley was killed in a head-on collision on a bridge over the Trinity River, December 18, 1965; his passenger was critically injured. The 83-year-old driver of the other car was also killed. Whaley had been with the City Transportation Company since 1936 and had a perfect driving record. He was the first Dallas cabbie to be killed on duty since 1937. When I went to interview the manager of the cab company about Whaley's death, he literally pushed me out of the office. "If you're smart, you won't be coming around here asking questions."
Domingo Benavides, an auto mechanic, was witness to the murder of Officer Tippit. Benavides testified he got a "really good view of the slayer." Benavides said the killer resembled newspaper pictures of Oswald, but he described him differently, "I remember the back of his head seemed like his hairline went square instead of tapered off . . ."
Benavides reported he was repeatedly threatened by the police who advised him not to talk about what he saw.
In mid-February 1964, his brother Eddy, who resembled him, was fatally shot in the back of the head at a beer joint on Second Avenue in Dallas. The case was marked "unsolved."
Benavides' father-in-law J.W. Jackson was not impressed by the investigation. He began his own inquiry. Two weeks later, J.W. Jackson was shot at in his home. As the gunman escaped, a police car came around the block. It made no attempt to follow the speeding car with the gunman.
The police advised that Jackson should "lay off this business." "Don't go around asking questions; that's our job." Jackson and Benavides are both convinced that Eddy's murder was a case of mistaken identity and that Domingo Benavides, the Tippit witness, was the intended victim.
Lee Bowers' testimony is perhaps as explosive as any recorded by the Warren Commission. He was one of the 65 witnesses who saw the President's assassination, and who thought shots were fired from the area of the Grassy Knoll. (The Knoll is west of the Texas School Book Depository Building.) But more than that, he was in a unique position to observe some pretty strange behavior in the Knoll area before and during the assassination.
Bowers, then a tower man for the Union Terminal Co., was stationed in his 14 foot tower directly behind the Grassy Knoll. He faced the scene of the assassination. He could see the railroad overpass to his right. Directly in front of him was a parking lot and a wooden stockade fence, and a row of trees running along the top of the Grassy Knoll. The Knoll sloped down to the spot on Elm Street where the President was killed. Police had "cut off" traffic into the parking lot. Bowers said, "so that anyone moving around could actually be observed."
Bowers made two significant observations which he revealed to the Warren Commission. First, he saw three unfamiliar cars slowly cruising around the parking area in the 35 minutes before the assassination; the first two left after a few minutes. The driver of the second car appeared to be talking into a "mike or telephone;" "he was holding something up to his mouth with one hand and he was driving with the other." A third with out-of-state license plates and mud up to the windows, probed all around the parking area. Bowers last remembered seeing it about eight minutes before the shooting, pausing "just above the assassination site."
Bowers also observed two unfamiliar men standing on the top of the Knoll at the edge of the parking lot, within 10 or 15 feet of each other. "One man, middle aged or slightly older, fairly heavy set, in a white shirt, fairly dark trousers. Another man, younger, about mid-twenties, in either a plaid shirt or plaid coat or jacket." Both were facing toward Elm and Houston in anticipation of the motorcade. The two were the only strangers he remembered seeing. His description shows a remarkable similarity to Julia Ann Mercer's description of two unidentified men climbing the Knoll.
When the shots rang out, Bowers' attention was drawn to the area where he had seen the two men; he could still make out the one in the white shirt: "The darker dressed man was too hard to distinguish from the trees."
Bowers observed "some commotion at that spot . . . something out of the ordinary, a sort of milling around . . . which attracted my eye for some reason which I could not identify." At that moment, a motorcycle policeman left the Presidential motorcade and roared up the Grassy Knoll, straight to where the two mysterious gentlemen were standing. Later, Bowers testified that the "commotion" that caught his eye may have been a "flash of light or smoke."
On the morning of August 9, 1966, Lee Bowers, vice president of a construction firm, was driving south of Dallas on business. He was two miles south of Midlothian, Texas when his brand new company car veered from the road and hit a bridge abutment. A farmer who saw it, said the car was going about 50 miles an hour, a slow speed for that road.
Bowers died in a Dallas hospital. He was 41. There was no autopsy and he was cremated. A doctor from Midlothian who rode to Dallas in the ambulance with Bowers noticed something peculiar about the victim. "He was in some strange sort of shock." The doctor said, "A different kind of shock than the accident victim experiences. I can't explain it. I've never seen anything like it."
When I questioned his widow, she insisted there was nothing suspicious, but then became flustered and said, "They told him not to talk."
Harold Russell was with Warren Reynolds when the Tippit shooting took place. Both men saw the Tippit killer escape. Russell was interviewed in January 1964, and signed a statement that the fleeing man was Oswald.
A few months after the assassination, Russell went back to his home near David, Oklahoma. In July of 1965, Russell went to a party with a female friend. He seemingly went out of his mind at the party and started telling everyone he was going to be killed. He begged friends to hide him. Someone called the police. When the policemen arrived, one of them hit Russell on the head with his pistol. Russell was then taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead a few hours later: cause of death was listed as "heart failure."
Among others who died strangely were James Worrell, who died in a motorcycle accident on November 9, 1966. He saw a strange man run from the back door of the Texas School Book Depository shortly after the assassination.
Gary Underhill was shot. This death was ruled suicide on May 8, 1964. Underhill was a former CIA agent and claimed he knew who was responsible for killing President Kennedy.
Delilah Walle was a worker at Ruby's club. She was married only 24 days when her new husband shot her. She had been working on a book of what she supposedly knew about the assassination.
William "Bill" Waters died May 20, 1967. Police said he died of a drug overdose (Demerol). No autopsy was performed. His mother said Oswald and Killam came to her home before the assassination and her son tried to talk Oswald and Killam out of being involved. Waters called FBI agents after the assassination. The FBI told him he knew too much and to keep his mouth shut. He was arrested and kept in Memphis in a county jail for eight months on a misdemeanor charge.
Albert Guy Bogard, an automobile salesman who worked for Downtown Lincoln-Mercury, showed a new Mercury to a man using the name "Lee Oswald." Shortly after Bogard gave his testimony to a Commission attorney in Dallas, he was badly beaten and had to be hospitalized. Upon his release, he was fearful for his safety. Bogard was from Hallsville, La. He was found dead in his car at the Hallsville Cemetery on St. Valentines day in 1966. A rubber hose was attached to the exhaust and the other end extending into the car. The ruling was suicide. He was just 41 years old.
Jack Ruby died of cancer. He was taken into the hospital with pneumonia. Twenty-eight days later, he was dead from cancer.
David Ferrie, of New Orleans, before he could be brought to trial for his involvement in the Kennedy assassination, died of a brain hemorrhage. Just what caused his brain hemorrhage has not been established. Ferrie was to testify in the famous Jim Garrison trial, but death prevented him.
Dr. Mary Stults Sherman, age 51, was found stabbed and burned in her apartment in New Orleans. Dr. Sherman had been working on a cancer experiment with Ferrie.
Another Ferrie associate, Eladio Cerefine de Valle, 43, died on the same day as Ferrie. His skull was split open; he was then shot. DeValle had used Ferrie as a pilot. DeValle had been identifying some men in a photo taken in New Orleans for Jim Garrison. One of the men in the photo was Lee Harvey Oswald.
Paul Dyer, of the New Orleans Police force, died of cancer. He was the first police officer to interview Ferrie. Dyer got sick on the job and died a month later of cancer. He had just interviewed David Ferrie.
News reporters were not exempt either. Two lady reporters died strangely. Lisa Howard supposedly committed suicide. She knew a great deal about the "understanding" which was in the making after the Bay of Pigs, between President Kennedy and the Cubans.
Marguerite Higgins bluntly accused the American authorities of the November 2nd, 1963 killing of Premier Diem and his brother Nhu. A few months after her accusation, she died in a landmine explosion in Vietnam.
On Saturday, November 23, 1963, Jack Zangetty, the manager of a $150,000 modular motel complex near Lake Lugert, Oklahoma, remarked to some friends that "Three other men -- not Oswald -- killed the President." He also stated that "A man named Ruby will kill Oswald tomorrow and in a few days a member of the Frank Sinatra family will be kidnapped just to take some of the attention away from the assassination."
Two weeks later, Jack Zangetty was found floating in Lake Lugert with bullet holes in his chest. It appeared to witnesses he had been in the water one to two weeks.
Lou Staples, a radio announcer who was doing a good many of his radio shows on the Kennedy assassination, lost his life sometime on Friday night, May 13, 1977. This was near Yukon, Oklahoma. He had been having radio shows on the assassination since 1973 and the response to his programs was overwhelming.
Lou's death was termed suicide, but the bullet ending his life entered behind his right temple and Lou was left-handed. He joined Gary Underhill, William Pitzer and Joe Cooper whose "suicides" were all done with the "wrong hand" shots to the head.
Lou had been stating that he wanted to purchase some property to build a home. He was lured out to a wheat field and his life ended there. I have been to the spot where Lou died.
Karyn Kupcinet, daughter of Irv Kupcinet, was trying to make a long distance call from Los Angeles. According to reports, the operator heard Miss Kupcinet scream into the phone that President Kennedy was going to be killed. Two days after the assassination, she was found murdered in her apartment. The case is unsolved. She was 23.
Rose Cherami, 40, was an employee of Jack Ruby's club. She was riding with two men on a return trip from Florida carrying a load of narcotics. She was thrown from the car when an argument began between her and one of the men. She was hospitalized for injuries and drug withdrawal. She told authorities that President Kennedy was going to be killed in Dallas. After her release from the hospital, she was a victim of a hit-and-run accident on Sept. 4, 1965 near Big Sandy, Texas.
Robert L. Perrin was a gun runner for Jack Ruby. His wife, Nancy testified before the Warren Commission that Robert took a dose of arsenic in August 1962.
Guy Bannister was a private detective who was closely involved in the Jim Garrison trial. Guy and his partner Hugh Ward, died within a 10-day period as the Warren Commission was closing its hearings. Guy supposedly died of a heart attack, but witnesses said he had a bullet hole in his body.
George de Mohrenschildt was another man who was to give testimony but never made it. De Mohrenschildt, in his final days, became suspicious of everyone around him, even his wife, and was nearing a nervous breakdown some thought. He died of gunshot wounds. The verdict was suicide. But de Mohrenschildt was a member of the White Russian society and very wealthy. He visited Lee Harvey Oswald and Marina Oswald when they lived on Neely Street. Marina visited the de Mohrenschildts when she and Lee Harvey Oswald were having some of their disagreements.
Cliff Carter, LBJ's aide who rode in the vice president's follow up car in the motorcade in Dealey Plaza where President Kennedy was gunned down, was LBJ's top aide during his first administration. Carter died of mysterious circumstances. Carter died of pneumonia when no penicillin could be located in Washington, D.C. in September 1971. This was supposedly the cause of death.
Buddy Walthers, Deputy Sheriff, was at the kill site of President Kennedy. He picked up a bullet in a hunk of brain matter blown from the President's head. Walthers never produced the bullet for evidence. Walthers was also at the Texas Theater when Oswald was arrested. In a January 10th, 1969 shooting, Walthers was shot through the heart. In a shootout Walthers and his companion Deputy Alvin Maddox, were fired upon by Cherry, an escaped prisoner they were trying to capture. Walthers' widow received $10,000 for her husband dying in the line of duty.
Clay Shaw, age 60, died five years after he was charged by Jim Garrison for his involvement in the Kennedy assassination. Some reports have it that he had been ill for months after surgery for removing a blood clot. Other newspaper reports of his death stated he had cancer. It was revealed that Shaw was a paid contact for the CIA. A neighbor reported that an ambulance was seen pulling up to the Shaw home. Then a body was carried in and an empty stretcher brought out. A few hours later, Shaw was reportedly found dead in his home. Then he was given a quick embalming before a coroner could be notified. It was then impossible to determine the cause of death.
On May 15, 1976, Roger Dean Craig died of a massive gunshot wound to the chest. Supposedly, it was his second try at suicide and a success. Craig was a witness to the slaughter of President Kennedy. Only Craig's story was different from the one the police told.
Craig testified in the Jim Garrison trial. Before this, Craig had lost his job with the Dallas Police Dept. In 1961, he had been "Man of the Year." Because he would not change his story of the assassination, he was harassed and threatened, stabbed, shot at, and his wife left him.
Craig wrote two manuscripts of what he witnessed. When They Kill A President and The Patient Is Dying.
Craig's father was out mowing the lawn when Craig supposedly shot himself. Considering the hardships, Craig very well could have committed suicide. But no one will ever know.
John M. Crawford, 46, died in a mysterious plane crash near Huntsville, Texas on April 15, 1969. It appeared from witnesses that Crawford had left in a rush. Crawford was a homosexual and a close friend of Jack Ruby's. Ruby supposedly carried Crawford's phone number in his pocket at all times. Crawford was also a friend of Buell Wesley Frazier's, the neighbor who took Lee Harvey Oswald to work on that fatal morning of Nov. 22, 1963.
Hale Boggs was the only member of the Warren Commission who disagreed with the conclusions. Hale Boggs did not follow Earl Warren and his disciples. He totally disagreed. Hale Boggs was in a plane crash lost over frozen Alaska.
Nicholas J. Chetta, M.D., age 50, Orleans Parish coroner since 1950, died at Mercy Hospital on May 25, 1968. Newspaper reports were sketchy. It was said he suffered a heart attack. 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 attorney went into federal court only after Dr. Chetta was dead.
Dr. Martin Luther King was murdered, then his assassin not captured until over a year later. Dr. King was the only hope this country had for bringing about equality.
The death of Robert Kennedy, only shortly after Dr. King's death on June 5th, 1968, was a brazen act which gave notice to this entire nation. It became imperative, when Senator Kennedy became a threat as presidential candidate, that he had to be killed.
There is evidence that two persons, a man and a woman, were with the accused killer, but authorities have found no trace of them. Coroner, Dr. Thomas Noguchi told the Grand Jury the powder burns indicated the murder gun was fired not more than two to three inches from Kennedy's right ear. Witnesses testified that Sirhan was never closer than four or five feet to the Senator.
I have not, by any means, listed "all" of the strange deaths. I have a complete list in my books. I have listed the most significant ones that occurred after the assassination. The strange deaths after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, in my estimate, number over 100, but I am certain I know of only a fraction.
Many strange deaths occurred after the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. No one knows the exact number.
(Penn Jones, Jr. resides in Waxahachi, Texas, publishes a monthly newsletter on the assassination of JFK, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and is the author of numerous books on the subject.)
Following is a brief list of 40 of the many witnesses and participants in the JFK Assassination who died untimely deaths after the assassination (Original source: "High Treason", Robert J. Groden and Harrison E. Livingstone)
Edward Benevides - Feb. 1964. His brother, Domingo, witnessed officer Tippit's murder and had been threatened.
W. Guy Bannister - Former FBI agent with possible links to Oswald and anti-Castro groups died a few days after the Warren Commission completed its investigation.
Albert Guy Bogard - Employee at the Downtown Dallas Lincoln-Mercury auto dealership. Claimed that Oswald test drove a car on Stemmons Freeway at speeds exceeding 75 miles per hour (Oswald had only taken a few lessons from Ruth Paine and did not drive). The Warren Commission places Oswald in Irving, TX, the day this allegedly happened. Bogard's cause of death is listed as suicide by car exhaust, Feb. 14, 1966.
Hale Boggs - Congressman from Louisiana, plane crash in Alaska. One of the seven Warren Commissioners, he expressed strong doubts about the 'single bullet theory'.
Lee Bowers, Jr. - Worked in the railroad tower behind the grassy knoll fence. He testified to the Commission that he saw men behind the fence at the time of the assassination, and even reported a "puff of smoke". Died in a car crash August 9, 1966.
Rose Cheramie - Thrown from a moving car while traveling from New Orleans to Dallas before the assassination, she tried to warn of the assassination. She claimed Oswald and Ruby knew each other. Killed in a hit and run accident, 1965.
Bill Chesher - Heart attack, March 1964. Allegedly had information linking Ruby and Oswald.
Nicholas Chetta - Heart attack, May 25, 1968. New Orleans coroner and key witness for Jim Garrison's trial of Clay Shaw. Served at the death of David Ferrie and performed autopsies on other key witnesses in Garrison's case.
Roger Craig - Deputy Sheriff, Dallas. Saw "Oswald" run out of the Depository, get into a Rambler station wagon and leave the scene. Claims Oswald told him the Rambler was Ruth Paine's and to "leave her out of it". (Oswald left Dealey Plaza on foot and caught a taxi cab a few blocks away.) Craig was shot at, threatened, and eventually killed himself.
Dr. Henry Delaune - Brother-in-law of Nicholas Chetta who assisted the coroner at times. Murdered Jan. 26, 1969
Aladio Del Valle - Close friend of Ferrie's, killed in Miami at almost exactly the same moment Ferrie died in New Orleans, Feb. 22, 1967.
David Ferrie - Linked to both Oswald and Marcello, died during Garrison's investigation to drug overdose and brain aneurysm, Feb. 22, 1967..
David Goldstein - "natural causes", 1965
Thomas Hale Howard - Ruby's lawyer, was at Ruby's apartment the night he shot Oswald. Heart attack.
William Hunter - Ruby crony, shot to death in a police station in Long Beach, CA, April 24, 1964.
Hiram Ingram - Dallas Sheriff's deputy, claimed to have knowledge of a conspiracy, died of cancer, April 4, 1968. Close friend of Roger Craig's.
Clyde Johnson - Beaten the day before he was to testify in Garrison's trial and murdered not long after.
Dorothy Kilgallen - Nationally known columnist who attended Ruby's trial. In November 1965 she mentioned to a friend that she had information to "break the assassination wide open". Five days later she died. Official cause was "suicide".
Thomas Killam - Husband of Wanda Joyce Killam, one of Ruby's strippers. His throat was cut in March of 1964. Shortly before that he had told his brother he was a "dead man".
Jim Koethe - Ruby associate, died from a karate chop to the throat as he stepped out of the shower, September 21, 1964.
Karen Kupcinet - Had foreknowledge of the assassination and was overheard talking about it. Daughter of one of Ruby's childhood friends. Died November 24, 1963.
FNU Levens - "natural causes", November 5, 1966. Employed some of Ruby's strippers.
Betty Mooney MacDonald - Stripper for Ruby's club, was once at a private party with Oswald and de Mohrenschildts. Provided alibi for Darrel Wayne Garner (the man accused of shooting Warren Reynolds). Arrested in February 1964 and an hour later found hung in her jail cell.
Capt. Frank Martin - Dallas Police officer, refused to testify to the Warren Commission. Died of Cancer, June 1966.
George McGann - husband of Beverly Oliver ("The Babushka Lady"), murdered in the home of Ronny Weeden. Weeden knew Charles Harrelson (alleged to have been one of the tramps in the railroad yard behind the grassy knoll).
Teresa Norton - Another Ruby stripper and a police informant. Shot to death in Houston, August 1964.
Lee Harvey Oswald - Killed two days after the assassination by Jack Ruby, a reputed mobster.
Robert Perrin - Died of arsenic poisoning, husband of Ruby employee Nancy Perrin Rich, another of Garrison's witnesses. She testified that Ruby was involved in Cuban arms smuggling.
Lt. Cmdr. William Bruce Pitzer - Found shot to death in his office, Bethesda Naval Hospital, Oct. 29, 1966. Death was ruled a suicide. According to Pitzer's friends, Pitzer had filmed the Kennedy autopsy and was an X-ray technician.
Warren Reynolds - survived a gunshot to the head in January, 1964. A witness to the Tippit shooting who swore the killer was not Oswald. Prime suspect in shooting was Darrell Wayne Garner (See Betty Mooney MacDonald, above).
Earline Roberts - Oswald's last landlady. Heart failure, Jan. 9, 1966.
Jack Ruby - Killed Oswald, known mob ties. Cancer, January 3, 1967.
Harold Russell - Witnessed escape of Tippit's killer. Died February 1967 after being struck by a policeman.
Dr. Mary Sherman - Shot in bed and set on fire. Connected to Ferrie.
Mrs. Earl T. Smith - Close friend of Kilgallen's, died 2 days after Kilgallen of "indeterminate causes".
Gary Underhill - former CIA operative, fled Washington shortly after the assassination and claimed the Far Eastern group in the CIA was involved. Shot in the left side of the head. Though he was right-handed, death was ruled a suicide.
Marilyn April Walle - Dancer in Ruby's club, planned a book on the assassination. Shot to death Sept. 1, 1966. Her husband was convicted of the murder.
Buddy Walthers - Deputy Sheriff, Dallas. Found a bullet in the grass beside Elm St. shortly after the assassination and gave it to the FBI. Shot through the heart during a police shootout, 1969.
William Whaley - Cab driver who drove Oswald away from Dealey Plaza after the assassination. Car accident, December 1965.
James R. Worrell - Claims he saw the assassin run from the Depository and heard a fourth shot. Died in a car accident, Nov. 9, 1966.
|Date||Name||Connection with case||Cause of death|
|11/63||Karyn Kupicinet||TV host's daughter who was overheard telling of JFK's death prior to 11/22/63||Murdered|
|12/63||Jack Zangretti||Expressed foreknowledge of Ruby shooting Oswald||Gunshot Victim|
|2/64||Eddy Benavides||Look-alike brother to Tippit shooting witness, Domingo Benavides||Gunshot to head|
|2/64||Betty MacDonald||Former Ruby employee who alibied Warren Reynolds shooting suspect.||Suicide by hanging in Dallas Jail|
|3/64||Bill Chesher||Thought to have information linking Oswald and Ruby||Heart attack|
|3/64||Hank Killam||Husband of Ruby employee, knew Oswald acquaintance||Throat cut|
|4/64||Bill Hunter||Reporter who was in Ruby's apartment on 11/24/63||Accidental shooting by policeman|
|5/64||Gary Underhill||CIA agent who claimed Agency was involved||Gunshot in head ruled suicide|
|5/64||Hugh Ward||Private investigator working with Guy Banister and David Ferrie||Plane crash in Mexico|
|5/64||DeLesseps Morrison||New Orleans Mayor||Passenger in Ward's plane|
|8/64||Teresa Norton||Ruby employee||Fatally shot|
|6/64||Guy Banister||x-FBI agent in New Orleans connected to Ferrie, CIA, Carlos Marcello & Oswald||Heart attack|
|9/64||Jim Koethe||Reporter who was in Ruby's apartment on 11/24/63||Blow to neck|
|9/64||C.D. Jackson||"Life" magazine senior Vice-president who bought Zapruder film and locked it away||Unknown|
|10/64||Mary Pinchot||JFK "special" friend whose diary was taken by CIA chief James Angleton after her death||Murdered|
|1/65||Paul Mandal||"Life" writer who told of JFK turning to rear when shot in throat||Cancer|
|3/65||Tom Howard||Ruby's first lawyer, was in Ruby's apartment on 11/24/63||Heart attack|
|5/65||Maurice Gatlin||Pilot for Guy Banister||Fatal fall|
|8/65||Mona B. Saenz||Texas Employment clerk who interviewed Oswald||Hit by Dallas bus|
|?/65||David Goldstein||Dallasite who helped FBI trace Oswald's pistol||Natural causes|
|9/65||Rose Cheramie||Knew of assassination in advance, told of riding to Dallas with Cubans||Hit/run victim|
|11/65||Dorothy Kilgallen||Columnist who had private interview with Ruby, pledged to "break" JFK case||Drug overdose|
|11/65||Mrs. Earl Smith||Close friend to Dorothy Kilgallen, died two days after columnist, may have kept Kilgallen's notes||Cause unknown|
|12/65||William Whaley||Cab driver who reportedly drove Oswald to Oak Cliff (The only Dallas taxi driver to die on duty)||Motor collision|
|1966||Judge Joe Brown||Presided over Ruby's trial||Heart attack|
|1966||Karen "Little Lynn" Carlin||Ruby employee who last talked with Ruby before Oswald shooting||Gunshot victim|
|1/66||Earlene Roberts||Oswald's landlady||Heart attack|
|2/66||Albert Bogard||Car salesman who said Oswald test drove new car||Suicide|
|6/66||Capt. Frank Martin||Dallas policeman who witnessed Oswald slaying, told Warren Commission "there's a lot to be said but probably be better if I don't say it"||Sudden cancer|
|8/66||Lee Bowers Jr.||Witnessed men behind picket fence on Grassy Knoll||Motor accident|
|9/66||Marilyn "Delila Walle--||Ruby dancer||Shot by husband after 1 month of marriage|
|10/66||Lt. William Pitzer--||JFK autopsy photographer who described his duty as "horrifying experience"||Gunshot ruled suicide|
|11/66||Jimmy Levens||Fort Worth nightclub owner who hired Ruby employees||Natural causes|
|11/66||James Worrell Jr.||Saw man flee rear of Texas School Book Depository||Motor accident|
|1966||Clarence Oliver||Dist. Atty. Investigator who worked Ruby case||Unknown|
|12/66||Hank Suydam||Life magazine official in charge of JFK stories||Heart attack|
|1967||Leonard Pullin||Civilian Navy employee who helped film "Last Two Days" about assassination||One-car crash|
|1/67||Jack Ruby||Oswald's slayer||Lung cancer (he told family he was injected with cancer cells)|
|2/67||Harold Russell||Saw escape of Tippit killer||killed by cop in bar brawl|
|2/67||David Ferrie||Acquaintance of Oswald, Garrison suspect and employee of Guy Banister||Blow to neck (ruled accidental)|
|2/67||Eladio Del Valle||Anti-Castro Cuban associate of David Ferrie being sought by Garrison||Gunshot wound, ax wound to head|
|3/67||Dr. Mary Sherman||Ferrie associate working on cancer research||Died in fire (possibly shot)|
|1/68||A. D. Bowie||Asst. Dallas District Attorney prosecuting Ruby||Cancer|
|4/68||Hiram Ingram||Dallas Deputy Sheriff, close friend to Roger Craig||Sudden cancer|
|5/68||Dr. Nicholas Chetta||New Orleans coroner who on death of Ferrie||Heart attack|
|8/68||Philip Geraci||Friend of Perry Russo, told of Oswald/Shaw conversation||Electrocution|
|1/69||Henry Delaune||Brother-in-law to coroner Chetta||Murdered|
|1/69||E.R. Walthers||Dallas Deputy Sheriff who was involved in Depository search, claimed to have found .45-cal. slug||Shot by felon|
|1969||Charles Mentesana||Filmed rifle other than Mannlicher-Carcano being taken from Depository||Heart attack|
|4/69||Mary Bledsoe||Neighbor to Oswald, also knew David Ferrie||Natural causes|
|4/69||John Crawford||Close friend to both Ruby and Wesley Frazier, who gave ride to Oswald on 11/22/63||Crash of private plane|
|7/69||Rev. Clyde Johnson||Scheduled to testify about Clay Shaw/Oswald connection||Fatally shot|
|1970||George McGann||Underworld figure connected to Ruby friends, wife, Beverly, took film in Dealey Plaza||Murdered|
|1/70||Darrell W. Garner||Arrested for shooting Warren Reynolds, released after alibi from Betty MacDonald||Drug overdose|
|8/70||Bill Decker||Dallas Sheriff who saw bullet hit street in front of JFK||Natural causes|
|8/70||Abraham Zapruder||Took famous film of JFK assassination||Natural causes|
|12/70||Salvatore Granello||Mobster linked to both Hoffa, Trafficante, and Castro assassination plots||Murdered|
|1971||James Plumeri||Mobster tied to mob-CIA assassination plots||Murdered|
|3/71||Clayton Fowler||Ruby's chief defense attorney||Unknown|
|4/71||Gen. Charles Cabell||CIA deputy director connected to anti-Castro Cubans||Collapsed and died after physical at Fort Myers|
|1972||Hale Boggs||House Majority Leader, member of Warren Commission who began to publicly express doubts about findings||Disappeared on Alaskan plane flight|
|5/72||J. Edgar Hoover||FBI director who pushed "lone assassin" theory in JFK assassination||Heart attack (no autopsy)|
|9/73||Thomas E. Davis||Gunrunner connected to both Ruby and CIA||Electrocuted trying to steal wire|
|2/74||J.A. Milteer||Miami right-winger who predicted JFK's death and capture of scapegoat||Heater explosion|
|1974||Dave Yaras||Close friend to both Hoffa and Jack Ruby||Murdered|
|7/74||Earl Warren||Chief Justice who reluctantly chaired Warren Commission||Heart failure|
|8/74||Clay Shaw||Prime suspect in Garrison case, reportedly a CIA contact with Ferrie and E. Howard Hunt||Possible cancer|
|1974||Earle Cabell||Mayor of Dallas on 11/22/63, whose brother, Gen. Charles Cabell was fired from CIA by JFK||Natural causes|
|6/75||Sam Giancana||Chicago Mafia boss slated to tell about CIA-mob death plots to Senate Committee||Murdered|
|7/75||Clyde Tolson||J. Edgar Hoover's assistant and roommate||Natural causes|
|1975||Allen Sweatt||Dallas Deputy Sheriff involved in investigation||Natural causes|
|12/75||Gen. Earle Wheeler||Contact between JFK and CIA||Unknown|
|1976||Ralph Paul||Ruby's business partner connected with crime figures||Heart attack|
|4/76||James Chaney||Dallas motorcycle officer riding to JFK's right rear who said JFK "struck in the face" with bullet||Heart attack|
|4/76||Dr. Charles Gregory||Governor John Connally's physician||Heart attack|
|6/76||William Harvey||CIA coordinator for CIA-mob assassination plans against Castro||Complications from heart surgery|
|7/76||John Roselli||Mobster who testified to Senate Committee and was to appear again||Stabbed and stuffed in metal drum|
|Date||Name||Connection with case||Cause of Death|
|1/77||William Pawley||Former Brazilian Ambassador connected to Anti-Castro Cubans, crime figures||Gunshot ruled suicide|
|3/77||George DeMohrenschildt||Close friend to both Oswald and Bouvier family (Jackie Kennedy's parents), CIA contract agent||Gunshot wound ruled suicide|
|3/77||Carlos Prio Soccaras--||Former Cuban President, money man for anti-Castro Cubans||Gunshot wound ruled suicide|
|3/77||Paul Raigorodsky||Business friend of George DeMohrenschildt and wealthy oilmen||Natural causes|
|5/77||Lou Staples||Dallas radio Talk Show host who told friends he would break assassination case||Gunshot to head, ruled suicide|
|6/77||Louis Nichols||Former No. 3 man in FBI, worked on JFK investigation||Heart attack|
|8/77||Alan Belmont||FBI official who testified to Warren Commission||"Long illness"|
|8/77||James Cadigan||FBI document expert who testified to Warren Commission||Fall in home|
|8/77||Joseph C. Ayres||Chief steward on JFK's Air Force One||Shooting accident|
|8/77||Francis G. Powers||U-2 pilot downed over Russia in 1960||Helicopter crash (He reportedly ran out of fuel)|
|9/77||Kenneth O'Donnell||JFK's closest aide||Natural causes|
|10/77||Donald Kaylor||FBI fingerprint chemist||Heart attack|
|10/77||J.M. English||Former head of FBI Forensic Sciences Laboratory||Heart attack|
|11/77||William Sullivan||Former No. 3 man in FBI, headed Division 5, counter- espionage and domestic intelligence||Hunting accident|
|1978||C.L. "Lummie" Lewis||Dallas Deputy Sheriff who arrested Mafia man Braden in Dealey Plaza||Natural causes|
|9/78||Garland Slack||Man who said Oswald fired at his target at rifle range||Unknown|
|1/79||Billy Lovelady||Depository employee said to be the man in the doorway in AP photograph||Complications from heart attack|
|6/80||Jesse Curry||Dallas Police Chief at time of assassination||Heart attack|
|6/80||Dr. John Holbrook||Psychiatrist who testified Ruby was not insane||Heart attack but pills, notes found,|
|1/81||Marguerite Oswald||Mother of accused assassin||Cancer|
|10/81||Frank Watts||Chief felony prosecutor for Dallas D.A.||Natural causes|
|1/82||Peter Gregory||Original translator for Marina Oswald and Secret Service||Natural causes|
|5/82||Dr. James Weston||Pathologist allowed to see JFK autopsy material for HSCA||Died while jogging, ruled natural causes|
|8/82||Will H. Griffin||FBI agent who reportedly said Oswald was "definitely" an FBI informant||Cancer|
|10/82||W. Marvin Gheesling||FBI official who helped supervise JFK investigation||"Long illness"|
|3/84||Roy Kellerman||Secret Service agent in charge of JFK limousine||Unknown|
Following names are the recently known deaths, almost all died of natural causes:
|Date||Name||Connection with case||Cause of Death|
|10/92||Jim Garrison||Former District Attorney of New Orleans, only one who sued in the JFK assassination case||Natural causes|
|?/94||Perry Russo||witness who told he had seen Shaw, Oswald and Ferrie talking about the killing of JFK||Unknown|
|01/95||Rose Kennedy||Mother of John F. Kennedy||natural causes|
|01/95||L.C. Graves||wrested Ruby's revolver away from him after shooting Oswald||natural causes|
|2/95||Irving L. Goldberg||Judge who advised L. B. Johnson on transition of power||natural causes|
|3/95||Philip L. Willis||Dealey Plaza Witness, photographer||Leukemia|
|5/95||Evelyn Norton Lincoln||JFK's personal secretary||natural causes|
|5/95||Phil L. Barleson||Defender of Ruby||Heart attack|
|11/95||Richard Case Nagell||CIA agent who claimed he uncovered a "large operation" aimed at killing JFK||heart disease|
|12/95||James W. Altgens||Dealey Plaza Witness, press photographer||natural causes|
|1/96||Ralph W. Yarborough||Dealey Plaza witness, rode in motorcade||natural causes|
|7/96||Melvin Belli||Lawyer of Jack Ruby||Suffering stroke and pneumonia|
|8/96||Charles Brehm||Dealey Plaza Witness||Unknown|
|9/96||McGeorge Bundy||Top aide to JFK and LBJ||Heart attack|
|10/96||Rufus Youngblood||Agent who shielded LBJ during the JFK murder||Cancer|
|10/96||Larry Ray Harris||Researcher||Car accident|
|10/96||Lawrence Brantley||Sold Jack Ruby the gun used to kill Oswald||Complications from surgery|
CONVENIENT DEATHSFrom "CROSSFIRE" by Jim Marrs ISBN 0-88184-524-8 Copyright (c) 1989 by Jim Marrs
First published by Carroll & Graf 1989
In the three-year period which followed the murder of President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, 18 material witnesses died - six by gunfire, three in motor accidents, two by suicide, one from a cut throat, one from a karate chop to the neck, five from natural causes. An actuary, engaged by the London Sunday Times, concluded that on November 22, 1963, the odds against these witnesses being dead by February 1967, were one hundred thousand trillion to one. The above comment on the deaths of assassination witnesses was published in a tabloid companion piece to the movie Execution Action, released in 1973. By that time, part of the mythology of the Kennedy assassination included the mysterious deaths of people who were connected with it. By the mid-1960s, people in Dallas already were whispering about the number of persons who died under strange or questionable circumstances. Well into the 1980s, witnesses and others were hesitant to come forward with information because of the stories of strange and sudden death that seemed to visit some people with information about the assassination.
Finally, in the late 1970s, the House Select Committee on Assassinations felt compelled to look into the matter. But aside from discrediting the London Sunday Times actuarial study, the Committee was unable to come to any conclusions regarding the growing number of deaths. The Committee said it could not make a valid actuarial study due to the broad number and types of persons that had to be included in such a study. In response to a letter from the Committee, London Sunday Times legal manager Anthony Whitaker stated: Our piece about the odds against the deaths of the Kennedy witnesses was, I regret to say, based on a careless journalistic mistake and should not have been published. This was realized by The Sunday Times editorial staff after the first edition - the one which goes to the United States... - had gone out, and later editions were amended. There was no question of our actuary having got his answer wrong: it was simply that we asked him the wrong question. He was asked what were the odds against 15 named people out of the population of the United States dying within a short period of time, to which he replied - correctly - that they were very high. However, if one asks what are the odds against 15 of those included in the Warren Commission Index dying within a given period, the answer is, of course, that they are much lower. Our mistake was to treat the reply to the former question as if it dealt with the latter - hence the fundamental error in our first edition report, for which we apologize. This settled the matter for the House Committee, which apparently made little or no attempt to seriously study the number of deaths that followed the JFK assassination.
Jacqueline Hess, the Committee's chief of research for the JFK investigation, reported: Our final conclusion on the issue is that the available evidence does not establish anything about the nature of these deaths which would indicate that the deaths were in some manner, either direct or peripheral, caused by the assassination of President Kennedy or by any aspect of the subsequent investigation. However, an objective look at both the number and the causes of death balanced against the importance of the person's connection to the case, still causes raised eyebrows among those who study such a list. In this section, people who were connected - no matter how tenuously - with the assassination and who are now dead are listed according to date of death. This is dealing only with deaths, not with the numerous persons - such as Warren Reynolds, Roger Craig, and Richard Carr - who claim to have been shot at or attacked.
This chapter has been entitled "Convenient Deaths" because these deaths certainly would have been convenient for anyone not wishing the truth of the JFK assassination to become public. The CIA has gone to some lengths to discredit the idea of mysterious deaths plaguing assassination witnesses. A 1967 memo from CIA headquarters to station chiefs advised: Such vague accusations as that "more than 10 people have died mysteriously" can always be explained in some rational way: e.g., the individuals concerned have for the most part died of natural causes; the [Warren] Commission staff questioned 418 witnesses - the FBI interviewed far more people, conducting 25,000 interviews and re-interviews - and in such a large group, a certain number of deaths are to be expected. Testifying before the Church Committee in 1975, CIA technicians told of a variety of TWEP technology - Terminate With Extreme Prejudice - that cannot be detected in a postmortem examination. One recently declassified CIA document, a letter from an Agency consultant to a CIA officer, states: You will recall that I mentioned that the local circumstances under which a given means might be used might suggest the technique to be used in that case. I think the gross divisions in presenting this subject might be: (1) bodies left with no hope of the cause of death being determined by the most complete autopsy and chemical examinations (2) bodies left in such circumstances as to simulate accidental death (3) bodies left in such circumstances as to simulate suicidal death (4) bodies left with residue that simulates those caused by natural diseases. The letter goes on to show that undetected murders do not have to be the result of sophisticated chemicals. It states: There are two techniques which I believe should be mentioned since they require no special equipment besides a strong arm and the will to do such a job. These would be either to smother the victim with a pillow or to strangle him with a wide piece of cloth such as a bath towel. In such cases, there are no specific anatomic changes to indicate the cause of death...
While it is obvious that the CIA - and hence the mob through operatives who work for both - has the capability of killing, it is less well known that the Agency has developed drugs to induce cancer. Recall that Jack Ruby died of sudden lung cancer just as he had been granted a new trial. A 1952 CIA memo reported on the cancer-causing effects of beryllium: "This is certainly the most toxic inorganic element and it produces a peculiar fibrotic tumor at the site of local application. The amount necessary to produce these tumors is a few micrograms." Local law-enforcement officers and coroners are not equipped, either by training or by inclination, to detect deaths induced by such sophisticated means. They look for signs of a struggle, evidence of a break-in, bruises, or marks on the victim. With no evidence to the contrary, many deaths are ruled suicide or accident. Others are ruled due to natural causes, such as heart attack. It is interesting to note how the deaths are grouped. Many of the earliest deaths came during the time of the Warren Commission investigation or just afterwards. More deaths took place in the late 1960s as New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison was launching his investigation. Other suspicious deaths occurred during the mid-1970s, as the Senate Intelligence Committee was looking into assassinations by U.S. intelligence agencies. And finally, another spate of deaths came around 1977, just as the House Select Committee on Assassinations was gearing up its investigation. These deaths are listed below in chronological order. An asterisk means the death is a particularly suspicious one. They are also grouped according to which investigation was being conducted at the time.
The possibility of convenient deaths leads one into a well of paranoia, yet this long list cannot be summarily dismissed. Obviously, many of these deaths - particularly in recent years - can be ascribed to the passage of time. But others cannot - especially when viewed in the context of the assassination inquiries taking place at the time. Read for yourself and consider... When does coincidence end and conspiracy begin?
List of Deaths
Date Name Connection with Case Cause of Death
11/63 Karyn Kupcinet-- TV host's daughter who was overheard telling of JFK's death prior to 11/22/63, The Warren Commission Investigation. Murdered.
12/63 Jack Zangretti-- Expressed foreknowledge of Ruby shooting Oswald. Gunshot victim.
2/64 Eddy Benavides-- Look-alike brother to Tippit shooting witness, Domingo Benavides. Gunshot to head.
3/64 Betty McDonald-- Former Ruby employee who alibied Warren Reynolds in Dallas jail shooting suspect. Suicide by hanging.
3/64 Bill Chesher--Thought to have information linking Oswald and Ruby 3/64 Hank Killam-- Husband of Ruby employee, Throat cut knew Oswald acquaintance. Heart attack.
4/64 Bill Hunter-- Reporter who was in Ruby's apartment on 11/24/63 by policeman. Accidental shooting.
5/64 Gary Underhill-- CIA agent who claimed Agency was involved. Gunshot in head. Ruled suicide.
5/64 Hugh Ward-- Private investigator working with Guy Banister and David Ferrie. Plane crash in Mexico.
5/64 DeLesseps Morrison-- New Orleans mayor. Passenger in Ward's plane
8/64 Teresa Norton-- Ruby employee. Fatally shot .
6/64 Guy Banister-- Ex-FBI agent in New Orleans connected to Ferrie, CIA, Carlos Marcello and Oswald. Heart attack
9/64 Jim Koethe-- Reporter who was in Ruby's apartment on 11/24/63. Heart attack
9/64 C.D. Jackson-- Life Magazine senior vice president who bought Zapruder film and locked it away. Unknown cause of death.
10/64 Mary Pinchot Meyer-- JFK mistress whose diary was taken by CIA chief James Angleton after her death
1/65 Paul Mandal-- Life writer who told of JFK Cancer turning to rear when shot in throat. Murdered.
3/65 Tom Howard-- Ruby's first lawyer, was in Ruby's apartment on 11/24/63. Heart attack.
5/65 Maurice Gatlin-- Pilot for Guy Banister Fatal Fall 8/65 Mona B. Saenz-- Texas Employment clerk who interviewed Oswald ?/65 David Goldstein Dallasite who helped FBI Natural causes trace Oswald's pistol. Hit by Dallas bus.
9/65 Rose Cheramie-- Knew of assassination in advance, told of riding to Dallas with Cubans. Hit/run victim
11/65 Dorothy Kilgallen-- Columnist who had private interview with Ruby, pledged to "break" JFK case. Drug overdose.
11/65 Mrs. Earl Smith-- Close friend to Dorothy Kilgallen, died two days after columnist, may have kept Kilgallen's notes. Unknown cause of death.
12/65 William Whaley-- Cabdriver who reportedly Motor Collision drove Oswald to Oak Cliff (the only Dallas taxi driver to die on duty)
1966 Judge Joe Brown-- Presided over Ruby's trial. Heart attack.
1966 Karen "Little Lynn"-- Ruby employee who last talked with Ruby before Oswald shooting. Gunshot victim.
1/66 Earline Roberts-- Oswald's landlady. Heart attack
2/66 Albert Bogard-- Car salesman who said Oswald test drove new car 6/66 Capt. Frank Martin Dallas police captain who Cancer witnessed Oswald slaying, told Warren Commission, "There's a lot to be said, but probably be better if I don't say it." Suicide.
8/66 Lee Bowers, Jr.-- Witnessed men behind picket fence on Grassy Knoll. Motor accident.
9/66 Marilyn "Delilah"-- Ruby dancer. Shot by husband Walle-- after one month of marriage
10/66 William Pitzer-- JFK autopsy photographer who described his duty as "horrifying experience". Gunshot, ruled as suicide.
11/66 Jimmy Levens-- Fort Worth nightclub owner who hired Ruby employee. Natural causes.
11/66 James Worrell, Jr.-- Saw man flee rear of Texas Motor accident School Book Depository
1966 Clarence Oliver-- D.A. investigator who worked Ruby case. Unknown.
12/66 Hank Suydam-- Life magazine official in charge of JFK stories, The Garrison Inquiry. Heart attack.
Date Name Connection with Case Cause of Death
1967 Leonard Pullin-- Civilian Navy employee who helped film "Last Two Days" about assassination. One-car crash.
1/67 Jack Ruby-- Oswald's slayer. Lung cancer (He told family he was injected with cancer cells.)
2/67 Harold Russell-- Saw escape of Tippit killer. Killed by cop in bar brawl
2/67 David Ferrie-- Acquaintance of Oswald, Garrison suspect, and employee of Guy Banister. Blow to neck, ruled accidental.
2/67 Eladio Del Valle-- Anti-Castro Cuban associate of David Ferrie being sought ax wound to head by Garrison. Gunshot wound.
3/67 Dr. Mary Sherman-- Ferrie associate working on cancer research. Died in fire.
1/68 A.D. Bowie-- Assistant Dallas D.A. prosecuting Ruby.
4/68 Hiram Ingram-- Dallas deputy sheriff, close friend to Roger Craig. Cancer.
5/68 Dr. Nicholas Chetta-- New Orleans coroner who ruled on death of Ferrie. Heart attack.
8/68 Phillip Geraci-- Friend of Perry Russo, told of Oswald/Shaw connection. Electrocution.
1/69 Henry Delaune-- Brother-in-law to coroner Chetta. Murdered.
1/69 E.R. Walthers-- Dallas deputy sheriff who Shot by felon was involved in Depository search, claimed to have found .45-cal slug 1969 Charles Mentesana Filmed rifle other than Mannlicher-Carcano being taken from Depository. Heart attack.
4/69 Mary Bledsoe-- Neighbor to Oswald, also knew David Ferrie. Natural causes.
4/69 John Crawford-- Close friend to both Ruby and of private Wesley Frazier, who gave ride to Oswald on 11/22/63. Plane crash.
7/69 Rev. Clyde Johnson-- Scheduled to testify about Clay Shaw/Oswald connection. Fatally shot.
970 George McGann-- Underworld figure, connected to Ruby friends; wife, Beverly, took film in Dealey Plaza. Murdered.
1/70 Darrell W. Garner-- Arrested for shooting Warren Reynolds, released after alibi from Betty McDonald. Drug overdose.
8/70 Bill Decker-- Dallas sheriff who saw bullet hit street in front of JFK 8/70 Abraham Zapruder Took famous film of JFK Natural causes assassination. Natural causes.
12/70 Salvatore Granello-- Mobster linked to Hoffa, Trafficante, and Castro assassination plots. Murdered.
1971 James Plumeri-- Mobster tied to mob-CIA assassination plots. Murdered.
3/71 Clayton Fowler-- Ruby's chief defense attorney. Unknown
4/71 Gen. Charles Cabell-- CIA deputy director connected and to anti-Castro Cubans at Ft. Myers The Church Committee Investigation. Collapsed, died after physical.
Date Name Connection with Case Cause of Death
1972 Hale Boggs-- House majority leader, member of Warren Commission who began to publicly express doubts flight doubts about findings. Disappeared on Alaskan plane.
5/72 J. Edgar Hoover-- FBI director who pushed "Lone assassin" theory in JFK assassination. Heart attack. No autopsy.
9/73 Thomas E. Davis-- Gun runner connected to both Ruby and CIA. Electrocuted trying to steal wire
2/74 J.A. Milteer-- Miami right-winger who predicted JFK's death and capture of scapegoat. Heater explosion.
1974 Dave Yaras-- Close friend to both Hoffa and Jack Ruby. Murdered.
7/74 Earl Warren-- Chief justice who reluctantly chaired Warren Commission. Heart failure.
8/74 Clay Shaw-- Prime suspect in Garrison , reportedly a CIA contact with Ferrie and E. Howard Hunt. Possible cancer case.
1974 Earle Cabell-- Mayor of Dallas on 11/22/63, whose brother, Gen. Charles Cabell, was fired from CIA by JFK. Natural causes.
6/75 Sam Giancana-- Chicago Mafia boss slated to tell about CIA-mob death plots to Senate Committee. Murdered.
1975 Clyde Tolson-- J. Edgar Hoover's assistant and roommate. Natural causes.
7/75 Allan Sweatt-- Dallas deputy sheriff involved in investigation. Natural causes.
12/75 Gen. Earl Wheeler-- Contact between JFK and CIA. Unknown.
1976 Ralph Paul-- Ruby's business partner connected with crime figures. Heart attack.
4/76 James Chaney-- Dallas motorcycle officer to JFK's right rear who said JFK "struck in the face" with bullet. Heart attack.,
4/76 Dr. Charles Gregory-- Governor John Connally's physician. Heart attack.
6/76 William Harvey-- CIA coordinator for CIA-mob assassination plans against Castro. Complications of heart surgery.
7/76 John Roselli-- Mobster who testified to Senate committee, was to appear again. Stabbed and stuffed in metal appear drum.
1977 - A Terrible Year for Many
The year 1977 produced a bumper crop of candidates for listing under convenient deaths connected with the JFK assassination - including the deaths of six top FBI officials all of whom were scheduled to testify before the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Topping this list was former number-three man in the FBI, William C. Sullivan, who had already had a preliminary meeting with the investigators for the House Committee. Sullivan was shot with a high-powered rifle near his New Hampshire home by a man who claimed to have mistaken him for a deer. The man was charged with a misdemeanor - "shooting a human being by accident" - and released to the custody of his father, a state policeman. There was no further investigation of Sullivan's death. Louis Nichols was a special assistant to J. Edgar Hoover as well as Hoover's liaison with the Warren Commission. Alan H. Belmont also was a special assistant to Hoover. James Cadigan was a document expert with access to many classified assassination documents, while J.M. English headed the FBI laboratory where Oswald's rifle and pistol were tested. Donald Kaylor was the FBI fingerprint expert who examined prints found at the assassination scene. None of these six Bureau officials lived to tell what they knew to the House Committee. Other key assassination witnesses, such as George DeMohrenschildt and former Cuban president Carlos Prio Soccaras, died within weeks of each other in 1977, just as they, too, were being sought by the House Committee.
The ranks of both organized crime and U.S. intelligence agencies were thinned by deaths beginning in 1975, the time of the Senate Intelligence Hearings, and 1978, the closing months of the House Committee. Charles Nicoletti, a mobster connected with the CIA-Mafia assassination plots, was murdered in Chicago, while William Pawley, a former diplomat connected with both organized crime and CIA figures, reportedly committed suicide. Adding to rumors that "hit teams" may have been at work, a Time magazine article reported that federal agents had initiated a nationwide investigation into more than 20 gangland assassinations constituting what agents believed was an "open underworld challenge to governmental infiltration of Mafia activities." One FBI source was quoted as saying: "Our main concern is that we may be facing a revival of the old `Murder, Inc.' days." A New York News story concerning this official fear of roving assassination squads even mentions the death of Sam Giancana, who was killed one day before he was scheduled to testify about mob-CIA connections and while under government protection. Prior to the House Committee investigation into the JFK assassination, the news media reported the following deaths:
Date Name Connection with Case Cause of Death
1/77 William Pawley-- Former Brazilian ambassador Gunshot, ruled connected to anti-Castro Cubans, crime figures. Suicide.
3/77 George Close-- friend to both Oswald, DeMohrenschildt-- and Bouvier family (Jackie ruled suicide Kennedy's parents), CIA contract agent. Gunshot wound.
3/77 Carlos Prio-- Former Cuban president, Soccaras-- money man for anti-Castro ruled suicide Cubans. Gunshot wound.
3/77 Paul Raigorodsky-- Business friend of George DeMohrenschildt and wealthy oilmen. Natural causes.
5/77 Lou Staples-- Dallas radio talk show host Gunshot to head, who told friends he would ruled break case. Suicide.
6/77 Louis Nichols-- Former number-three man in FBI, worked on JFK investigation. Heart attack.
8/77 Alan Belmont-- FBI official who testified to Warren Commission. "Long illness"
8/77 James Cadigan-- FBI document expert who testified to Warren Commission. Fall in home.
8/77 Joseph C. Ayres-- Chief steward on JFK's Shooting accident Air Force One
8/77 Francis G. Powers-- U-2 pilot downed over Russia. Helicopter crash in 1960 (he reportedly ran out of fuel).
9/77 Kenneth O'Donnell-- JFK's closest aide. Natural causes.
10/77 Donald Kaylor-- FBI fingerprint chemist. Heart attack.
10/77 J.M. English Former head of FBI Forensic Sciences Laboratory. Heart attack.
11/77 William Sullivan-- Former number-three man in FBI, headed Division 5, counterespionage and domestic intelligence. Hunting accident.
1978 C.L. "Lummie" Lewis-- Dallas deputy sheriff who arrested Mafia man Braden in Dealey Plaza. Natural causes.
9/78 Garland Slack-- Man who said his target was fired at by Oswald at rifle range. Unknown.
1/79 Billy Lovelady-- Depository employee said to be the man in the doorway in AP photograph. Complications from heart attack.
6/80 Dr. John Holbrook-- Psychiatrist who testified Ruby was not insane pills. Heart attack, but notes found, pills.
1/81-- Marguerite Oswald Mother of accused assassin. Cancer
10/81 Frank Watts-- Chief felony prosecutor for Dallas D.A. Natural causes.
1/82 Peter Gregory. Original translator for Marina Oswald and Secret Service. Natural causes.
5/82 Dr. James Weston - Pathologist allowed to see JFK autopsy material for HSCA. Died while jogging, ruled natural causes.
8/82 Will H. Griffin-- FBI agent who reportedly said Oswald was "definitely" an FBI informant. Cancer.
10/82 W. Marvin Gheesling--FBI official who helped supervise JFK investigation. Natural causes.
3/84 Roy Kellerman Secret Service agent in charge of JFK limousine. Unknown.