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Naming the Dallas Deputies (Part 5) -- Roger Craig

Let's take an impartial look at the WC testimony of Dallas Deputy Roger Craig, a 27 year old Dallas Deputy. He had served in the US Army for 2 years, and did mostly odd jobs before becoming a Deputy. For clarity, I present his WC testimony in two parts.

Part 1 covers the hour between approximately 12:30 and 1:30 PM. It mostly matches the testimony of the other Deputies we have considered so far -- but it shows Craig was more active, and it diverges sharply because he claims to have seen Lee Harvey Oswald running from the TSBD into a Nash Rambler station wagon. (No other WC testimony mentions this sighting.)

Part 2 covers the hour between approximately 5PM and 6PM, when Roger Craig went to Captain Will Fritz' office, and he positively identified Lee Harvey Oswald as the running man, and spoke with Oswald about that "station wagon". (Captain Will Fritz later told the WC that Roger Craig must have invented this story, and denied the whole event.) Here is a very approximate timeline of Roger Craig's WC testimony:

PART ONE (Times approximate)

. 12:30 PM . On 11/22/1963, Deputy Roger Craig was on duty, and at this moment he was outside the Sheriff's office, on the sidewalk, one block south of the TSBD, among the crowd. He was waiting for the JFK motorcade along with other Deputies. He did not name them. He watched JFK's car pass, and prepared to return to his desk.

. 12:31 PM . Suddenly, everybody heard shots. At the second shot, Deputy Craig ran with several other Deputies across Houston Street, across the park, across Elm Street and, into the railroad yard where they started to search. Lots of spectators came into the railroad yard, too, and as many Deputies tried to drive the crowd away -- Deputy Craig began to question some.

. 12:35 PM . Craig asked a young woman getting her car about the shots, and she said she was standing on the Grassy Knoll at the time, and the sound was so loud that she felt certain the shots came from around there. Craig took this woman to Deputy Lemmy Lewis for a statement, and then returned to ask other spectators about the shots.

. 12:40 PM . Craig encountered Arnold Rowland who said that around 12:15 PM, he had seen two men walking back and forth near the West window on "the second to the top floor" of the TSBD. One man had a rifle with a telescopic sight. Arnold had watched them for about five minutes. He thought they were Secret Service Agents, so he didn't report it. Arnold said they were both white, and one of the men wore khaki trousers. Arnold's wife, Barbara, said she had forgotten her glasses, so she saw nothing.

. 12:44 PM . Craig took the Rowlands to Deputy Lemmy Lewis for a statement. He asked more witnesses about the shots, and none mentioned the TSBD building. Police were not yet interested in the TSBD, and it was not sealed off yet.

. 12:45 PM . Craig saw Deputy Buddy Walthers helping a witness whose face had been nicked by a bullet that ricocheted off the south curb of Elm Street near the triple underpass. Deputies Roger Craig and Lemmy Lewis walked from the Grassy Knoll across Elm Street, and toward the triple underpass to help Buddy Walthers.

. 12:46 PM . Suddenly, Craig heard someone whistle sharply over by the TSBD. Craig turned around and saw a man running down the hill on the north side of Elm Street, from the west corner of the TSBD, across the grassy area, toward Elm street.

*** The running man was whistling at a light-colored station wagon, driving very slowly, westerly on Elm. The driver leaned to his right, looking up the hill at the man running down.

*** The station wagon stopped almost directly across from Craig, and the running man jumped into the station wagon. Craig tried to cross Elm to stop them and question them, but the traffic was too heavy, and they drove away.

*** Craig recalled that the man running so hurredly toward the station wagon was a white male in his twenties, 5'9", about 140, with medium brown sandy hair -- wind blown -- with medium blue trousers and a light tan shirt.

*** Craig said that the man driving the car appeared at first glance to be a Negro -- very dark complexion, very dark, short hair, wearing a white, short, thin, windbreaker type of jacket, with a collar that came out over the shoulder. However, Craig noticed him less than the running man.

*** Craig said that the station wagon was off-white; perhaps a Nash Rambler because it had a built-in luggage rack on the top. The license plate color was Texan.

. 12:48 PM . Craig walked to the front of the TSBD and noticed that it was now sealed off. There was a policeman with a shotgun standing guard at the doorway; with several officers crowded around.

. 12:50 PM . Craig went up to the 7th floor of the TSBD (he does not say why) where many Deputies had already gathered. The Deputies asked for volunteers to go get some flashlights from the Sheriff's Office, so Craig volunteered, along with Deputy Boone.

. 1:00 PM . When he returned to the TSBD, he heard many police outside say that they were certain that the shots came from the 6th floor, so Craig went there.

. 1:05 PM . At the 6th floor, Craig heard that somebody had just found three spent shells. Craig went to look, but only saw at a distance. Those standing there, recalls Craig, were Deputies Mooney, Boone and some DPD officers that Craig didn't know. He could recall no more.

. 1:10 PM . Craig joined the general search for the murder weapon on the 6th floor.

. 1:12 PM . JC Day and Lee Studebaker, the Crime Lab ID men, arrived to dust for fingerprints and take official photographs.

. 1:22 PM . Craig was on the Northeast side of the TSBD 6th floor, only 8 feet away from Deputy Boone, who hollered out, "Here is the rifle!" Craig went over to look -- and there it was. Officer Mooney rushed over, along with several DPD officers, Captain Will Fritz and his homicide investigators.

. 1:23 PM . J.C. Day from the Crime Lab began to to take pictures. After taking pictures, Day handed the rifle to Captain Fritz.

. 1:24 PM . News arrived that J.D. Tippit was shot in Oak Cliff. Nobody in the TSBD spoke of any missing employee. No description of the Tippit shooting suspect had gone out at this time.

. 1:25 PM . Craig returned to the Sheriffs office and wrote up his daily chronology.

PART TWO (Times approximate)

. 5:00 PM . Craig heard that the DPD was holding a suspect in Tippit's shooting, and that he might also be JFK's assassin.

. 5:01 PM . Craig called Captain Fritz' office to report that he had seen a man running from the TSBD to a station wagon. Craig spoke to a detective and asked if the suspect they held in the Tippit shooting was a white male in his twenties, 5'9", about 140, with medium brown sandy hair. The detective invited Craig to speak to Captain Fritz himself.

. 5:30 PM . At the Dallas Police Station, Craig told Captain Fritz what he saw. So, Captain Fritz took Craig to his office, and asked him if this was the man that Craig saw -- and Craig said, "Yes."

. 5:31 PM . Captain Fritz then asked Lee Harvey Oswald, "What about this car?" Oswald exclaimed, "That station wagon belongs to Mrs. Paine! Don't try to tie her into this. She had nothing to do with it!"

. 5:32 PM . Captain Fritz calmly explained, "All we're trying to do is find out what happened, and Deputy Craig saw you leave the scene!" Oswald leaned way over the desk, looked directly into the face of Captain Fritz and sternly said, "I told you people I did!" Then he sat down and said softly, "Now everybody will know who I am."

. 5:33 PM . Craig left Captain Fritz' office. The FBI and Secret Service men outside the office asked for details, but Craig said nothing further to anybody. Captain Fritz was the main person to receive his report.

*** At the end of his testimony, Roger Craig noted that Deputy Buddy Walthers returned from the Paine house late that evening, and Walthers confirmed that Mrs. Paine did own a light-colored station wagon, and that it did have a luggage rack on top. So, this raised a suspicion for Roger Craig that perhaps Mrs. Ruth Paine was somehow involved with the escape of Lee Harvey Oswald.

That's all there is to the testimony of Deputy Roger Craig. Before I offer my personal opinion and interpretation, here is my standard disclaimer. I emphasize that I have no animosity toward Roger Craig; he was evidently a good family man and a patriot, and his participation in the JFK plot was strictly volunteer -- not for money. He truly believed he had done the right thing.

I notice first that the WC testimony of Roger Craig harmonizes fairly well with the WC testimonies of Deputies Luke Mooney, Eugene Boone and Seymour Weitzman. All four cover the same hour, from about 12:30 to about 1:30 PM at Dealey Plaza, with very similar steps -- from the County Jail to the Grassy Knoll to the TSBD 6th floor.

Yet we can see that Roger Craig was more active, and added more steps than anybody else so far. In particular, his sighting of Lee Harvey Oswald is startling, and it is more startling that nobody else would vouch for his story. So, here's my opinion of Roger Craig's role in the JFK Assassination.

PART ONE (My opinion)

(A) Deputy Roger Craig, on 11/22/1963, was on the sidewalk in Dealey Plaza, watching the JFK parade with the crowd, and other Deputies. He was dimly aware of a Dallas Officers plot to kill JFK, and he knew few details, except that his mentor, Deputy Buddy Walthers, was his leader in the plot.

(B) Hearing the first shot at JFK was the signal. Many Deputies ran from the Dallas County Jail to the Grassy Knoll picket fence as fast as they could. They made it there in 30-40 seconds.

(C) These Deputies knew that there were no Communists shooting from Dealey Plaza. They had no fear of running into a scene of active shooters.

(D) Deputy Craig knew very well that when they arrived at the County parking lot behind the Grassy Knoll picket fence, that they would find only Dallas Deputies and Police there -- and that the actual shooters were well-camouflaged by wearing their Dallas uniforms.

(E) Unlike most others, Deputy Craig used his time productively -- by interviewing eye-witnesses in the crowd, and sending them quickly to Deputy Lemmy Lewis to give a formal, written statement. Given this, Craig was the first Dallas Officer at Dealey Plaza to do this.

(F) Deputy Craig's interview of Arnold and Barbara Rowland was important, and his report was accurate, as shown by the WC testimony of the Rowlands.

(G) Craig gives us a key chronology; after he sent the Rowlands to Deputy Lemmy Lewis for a statement, he noted that the TSBD was not sealed off yet. Dallas Officers were still rummaging around the parking lot and railroad area behind the picket fence of the Grassy Knoll. The time was approximately 12:40.

(H) Craig saw Deputy Buddy Walthers helping James Tague near the triple underpass. He and Lemmy Lewis walked over to help, but before they arrived there, Deputy Craig heard a sharp whistle coming from the TSBD building. He turned around saw something that nobody else saw -- Lee Harvey Oswald being picked up by a Nash Rambler station wagon, and driving away before he could question them. Deputy Craig apparently memorized many details -- like a good detective.

(I) Since Craig reported to the WC so many details about the situation of Deputy Buddy Walthers and James Tague, we must presume that after his "Oswald sighting," that Craig eventually went to the triple underpass to help Walthers.

(J) Sometime after 12:45, Craig walked to the TSBD and noticed that it was now sealed off with a heavy guard at the front door. He doesn't say why he went there. Yet, as we will see in my next entry, Deputy Buddy Walthers took full credit for ordering Dallas Officers to surround the TSBD. So, it is likely that Walthers personally told Craig to go to the TSBD. (Walthers himself stayed away.)

(K) Craig went directly to the 7th floor of the TSBD -- and he doesn't say why he went there. Again, it is most likely that Buddy Walthers personally told Craig to go to the 7th floor, knowing that so many Deputies were going to be there.

(L) Once there, the other Deputies asked Craig and Boone (who were the youngest) to go to the Sheriff's office down the street to get flashlights. In this way, neither Boone nor Craig would see the sniper's nest under construction by the Dallas Deputies.

(M) Returning to the TSBD, Craig heard many police outside say that the shots certainly came from the 6th floor, so he went there, to find a large crowd of Officers already there.

(N) Craig was there before the Crime Lab showed up (1:12 PM) so this helps our timeline. Craig saw the three spent shells at a distance, along with Deputies Mooney, Boone and various DPD officers.

(O) Craig was also there when Deputy Boone hollered out, "Here is the rifle!" (1:22 PM). Craig saw J.C. Day from the Crime Lab hand the rifle to Captain Fritz.

(P) Craig was still there when news arrived that J.D. Tippit was shot in Oak Cliff. That was the last that Craig had to report about the TSBD. Nobody spoke of a missing employee; no description of the Tippit shooter was out yet. Deputy Craig went back to his office.

(Q) Deputy Craig's invented story about seeing Lee Harvey Oswald is the monkey wrench here. What role does it play in the JFK plot? I will try to answer that in the next section.

PART TWO (My opinion)

In my opinion, Deputy Roger Craig took his instructions from his older mentor, Deputy Buddy Walthers. The biggest problem with Craig's sworn WC testimony is that he claimed he was at the office of DPD Captain Will Fritz on 11/22/1963, at around 5:30 PM, with Fritz and Lee Harvey Oswald present, and that they had a specific conversation. Yet, Captain Fritz, under oath, denied all of this.

The key phrase in the alleged scene was the alleged phrase by Oswald, "That station wagon belongs to Mrs. Paine! Don't try to tie her into this. She had nothing to do with it!"

Why would Deputy Craig testify under oath to the WC that Lee Harvey Oswald said this in the presence of Captain Fritz, unless he strongly believed that Captain Fritz would uphold his story? In my reading, Deputy Craig fully expected Captain Fritz to uphold his story, because he was told by Deputy Buddy Walthers, his mentor, that it was all prearranged.

I also believe that it was prearranged. I believe that Deputy Buddy Walthers along with FBI Agent James Hosty had been spying on Ruth Paine for weeks, under the direction of Ex-General Edwin Walker. I believe that they based their JFK plot on the premise that the Communists would be blamed, and that Ruth Paine was going to be accused of Communism along with Lee Harvey Oswald. That was the original plan, in my reading.

The fact that none of the many other Dealey Plaza witnesses reported anybody running from the TSBD building around 12:45 and jumping into a Nash Rambler to drive away, suggests a made-up story. In my opinion, it was made up by Deputy Buddy Walthers.

Walthers knew (perhaps from James Hosty) that Ruth Paine had a light-colored station wagon, like a Nash Rambler. Walthers also planned to arrest the Paines soon after the arrest (or shooting) of Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald would be accused of Communist ties, and the Paines would also be accused -- and blamed for the JFK Assassination. This was General Walker's key scenario.

What actually happened was that Roger Craig waited until Oswald was arrested, and then by 5 PM he called the DPD offices of Will Fritz, and he was invited over. He did go there. We have a news photograph of Craig standing outside of Captain Fritz's office. But that is all we have.

The detail of the alleged conversation is as pat as any fabrication. The purpose of the fabrication was to get Lee Harvey Oswald on record as mentioning the name of Ruth Paine. The car was surely hers. She was the landlady of Marina Oswald. She was a Quaker, and therefore (to the Radical Right) more likely to be a Communist.

Later, Buddy Walthers would testify -- in writing -- that he found in Ruth Paine's garage "six or seven metal filing cabinets full of letters, maps, records and index cards with names of pro-Castro sympathizers." That was a fabrication -- but it harmonizes very closely with Roger Craig's fabrication about Ruth Paine's station wagon. This was a clear effort to link Ruth Paine with a Communist plot to kill JFK.

To this we must add the tapping of Ruth Paine's home telephone, on or before 11/22/1963, by parties unknown. Then, some anonymous person provided a written distortion of a conversation between Michael and Ruth Paine, which attempted to link them directly to the JFK assassination.

Deputy Roger Craig's story, therefore, was a direct part of that branch of the JFK Assassination that attempted to blame Ruth Paine as part of a plot to blame Lee Harvey Oswald and the Communists for the JFK Assassination.

I present as further evidence that Roger Craig testified that Deputy Buddy Walthers returned from the Paine house late that evening, and he told Craig that Mrs. Paine did own a light-colored station wagon, and that it did have a luggage rack on top. This tidbit indirectly confirms that Buddy Walthers was the source of Roger Craig's knowledge about Ruth Paine's station wagon. It is misleading -- because Walthers and Craig had agreed on the station wagon story days prior to these events. That's my theory.

That, in my reading, was to be Deputy Craig's role in the JFK plot. However, by the end of the day, 11/22/1963, the Communist Plot theory was a dead duck, and the Lone Nut theory of Lee Harvey Oswald became official US dogma.

Sadly, Deputy Roger Craig was left in the dark about this shift in the plot! He was not close enough to the other Deputies to be kept in the loop. He was forgotten by all of them. That is why, when Roger Craig gave his WC testimony -- he included the original fabrication by Buddy Walthers about Ruth Paine's station wagon! He truly thought that Captain Fritz would vouch for him!

Roger Craig didn't know that Captain Fritz was under strict orders from Chief Jesse Curry to stick to the new, "Lone Nut" theory. So, Captain Fritz had no choice but to betray Roger Craig, and basically accuse him of perjury.

That was Craig's undoing. All other members of the JFK plot denied Craig's story. The Warren Commission would not prosecute Craig for perjury, but simply considered him to be a "nut". This would lead to a protracted rebellion of Roger Craig, and his eventual cooperation with Jim Garrison. That, in turn, would get him fired from the Dallas Sheriff's office -- and tragically ruin his life, which ended with great violence. But that is another story.

Best regards,

--Paul Trejo

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