Dallas Homicide Bureau Captain Will Fritz took a clear leadership role after the JFK shooting and during the entire weekend. His close, personal contact with Lee Harvey LHO during LHO’s final days is crucial to our understanding of the JFK conspiracy in Dallas.
Since Fritz's testimony of April, 1964 (55 years ago) is the longest testimony of any Dallas Police officer, my post today will only summarize it. Even so, this will be a long post. I will interpret Fritz’s WC testimony with my conspiratorial twist in my next post.
DPD Captain Will Fritz was at the Trade Mart with his two aides, Officers Boyd and Sims, waiting for JFK’s arrival. They heard firm news about the shooting about 12:35 and they sped directly to Parkland Hospital. They arrived around 12:45, but they didn’t get out of their car because Chief Curry said there was nothing for them to do there. Curry told them to go to Dealey Plaza to help there.
On their way to Dealey Plaza, they heard over the DPD radio they heard that police were gathering at the TSBD, so they headed there. They arrived exactly at 12:58, and some officer said the suspect might still be up there, so Fritz, Boyd and Sims got their shotguns and headed up for a manhunt. Somebody asked Fritz if he wanted the building sealed, and Fritz yelled, “Hell, yes!”
They went up the stairs, floor by floor, and after they got to the 7th floor, officers called to them that Deputies had found spent shells on the 6th floor. That was about 1:10pm. They rushed down and Fritz ordered them not to touch anything until the Crime Lab got there to take pictures. They continued the search for clues as Lieutenant Day and his team arrived to take photographs and dust for fingerprints.
About 1:22pm somebody found the rifle. Lieutenant Day took pictures and dusted it for fingerprints, then he held it out to Fritz who ejected a single shell and noticed it was a 6.5 shell. Fritz later gave the shell to the Crime Lab.
At about 1:23pm, news came to Captain Fritz that Tippit had been murdered in Oak Cliff.
About that moment, Roy Truly brought Fritz the name and address of Lee Harvey Oswald (LHO) and said he expected LHO to be with his team but he wasn’t. Fritz decided to research LHO in DPD HQ records right away – but first Fritz had to speak with Sheriff Decker at his office. (Fritz did not say why.)
Around 2:15 PM, Fritz arrived at DPD HQ, planning to get two more men so the five could visit LHO’s Irving address. But the DPD told Fritz they already had LHO in custody for the Tippit murder, with several eye-witnesses. So immediately Fritz considered LHO a suspect in both murders. Fritz assigned Boyd and Sims to guard LHO as he built a case for the JFK murder. He sent Stovall, Rose, and Adamcik to the Irving address.
Fritz ordered a line-up to be arranged as soon as possible, and he got LHO in the interrogation room instantly. It was 2:20pm. Somebody had told Fritz that LHO kept a room on North Beckley, so Fritz asked LHO and LHO gave Fritz the exact address – 4096 North Beckley. Fritz sent Potts and his boys out to check it out.
Then the Dallas FBI phoned Fritz, insisting that FBI agent James Hosty attend all LHO interrogations. Fritz agreed.
To prevent unauthorized visitors, Fritz assigned two men at the elevator and the stairs, checking ID’s so that only DPD officers or news media could enter.
Fritz claims that he got along well with LHO – but that LHO was angry with James Hosty for talking to his wife in early November without LHO being present. LHO refused to answer Hosty’s questions about Mexico City.
LHO admitted to Fritz that he’d lived in Russia for three years. LHO told Fritz his wife and babies were living in Irving with Mrs. Paine, and that he was living in a room but trying to save enough to support his family. He visited the Irving address on weekends.
Fritz’ men had previously searched LHO and brought Fritz the contents of his pockets: his .38 pistol, his billfold, a bus transfer and some .38 shells. LHO said he wanted a specific lawyer – John Abt from New York who represented people regarding the Smith Act. If he couldn’t get Abt he would take a lawyer from the ACLU, but he wanted Abt first. Fritz explained to LHO how to use the prison phone, and LHO thanked Fritz for that.
The first line-up was at 4:45pm, for Helen Markham, an eye witness to the Tippit killing. Fritz asked for police to be in the lineup with LHO, fearing for the safety of LHO. That line-up lasted about 20 minutes. She picked LHO out for a positive ID, saying: “that is the man that I saw shoot the officer.”
Fritz continued questioning LHO. LHO told Fritz that Mrs. Paine had helped him get the job at the TSBD, by recommending him. When JFK was killed, said LHO, he was eating his cheese sandwich and Coke with Junior and one other employee. Fritz told LHO that Officer Marrion Baker claimed he met LHO in the TSBD lunchroom, and he held his gun on him, and then let him go. LHO admitted all that.
Fritz asked LHO why he left the TSBD, and LHO said there was so much excitement, “I didn’t think there would be any work done that afternoon and they don’t punch a clock and they don’t keep very close time on their work so I just left.”
Officers returned from North Beckley and reported to Fritz that LHO was registered there as “O.H. Lee.” Fritz asked LHO why he used this other name, and LHO answered that the lady didn’t hear very well, and she wrote his name down that way, so he just left it.
Officers showed Fritz some Communist papers that they confiscated from LHO’s room, so Fritz asked LHO about his political beliefs. LHO said he was a member of the FPCC, and a Secretary of the FPCC in New Orleans, and also a member of the ACLU.
The Paines, Marina Oswald and her babies arrived in a different interrogation room. Fritz let Mrs. Paine interpret for Marina at first, to make everybody comfortable. Fritz asked for the rifle to be shown to Marina, and Marina said she thought it could be LHO’s. Fritz then returned to LHO and asked him if he ever owned a rifle. LHO said no, but he saw a rifle at the TSBD earlier in the week in the hands of Roy Truly and some other men.
Fritz asked LHO what he did after he left the TSBD, and LHO told Fritz that he caught a bus and rode it to North Beckley near his room. Then he changed clothes and got his pistol and went to a movie. Fritz asked LHO why he took his pistol and he said, “No reason.” Then Fritz asked if he killed officer Tippit. LHO said, “No, the only law I violated was that I hit an officer at the show; then he hit me in the eye; so I guess I deserved it.”
At about 6:30pm a line-up was arranged for witnesses Ted Callaway (used car dealer), Sam Guinyard (car dealer employee) and Cecil McWatters (bus driver). Callaway and Guinyard identified LHO, but McWatters wasn’t certain.
At 7pm Fritz went to the first arraignment of LHO with Dallas Assistant District Attorney Bill Alexander, to explain the DPD case. At 7:10pm, LHO arrived, guarded by Boyd, Sims and Hall. Judge Johnston arraigned LHO. LHO was sarcastic to the Judge. After the arraignment, Fritz let FBI agent Manning Clements take a personal history of LHO in his office, with Boyd and Sims guarding. (This was when LHO told the press, “I’m just a patsy!”)
At 7:50pm where was a third line-up of LHO, as Barbara Jean Davis and Virginia Davis positively identified LHO as the man who reloaded his gun as he ran across their lawn.
Around 8:30pm, Fritz asked LHO again if he kept a rifle in the garage at Irving. LHO said no. Fritz asked if he had one in New Orleans. LHO said no. Fritz said people at the Paine residence said he kept a rifle there, wrapped in a blanket. LHO denied it.
Around 8:55pm, police fingerprinted in Fritz’s office, including a paraffin test of his hands and face.
Late Saturday night, Fritz talked with teenage Irving resident, Wesley Buell Frazier, who had regularly driven LHO back and forth from work to Irving on weekends. Wesley told Fritz about a package that LHO had carried into the TSBD that morning. LHO had told Frazier it was curtain rods. Fritz gave Frazier a polygraph test and he passed it. Fritz asked Mrs. Paine about those curtain rods, and she knew nothing about it. LHO denied the story, and insisted that he had carried his lunch. But Frazier said that LHO told him he would buy his lunch that day.
One last thing. Fritz denied that Deputy Roger Craig was ever in his office on Friday, or ever asked LHO about any station wagon.
Sometime after midnight, Chief Curry decided that he wanted the news-media to see that LHO was being treated fairly. The police brought LHO down for a news conference, but the room was too crowded for Fritz to get in. After the news conference, police checked LHO back into jail at 1:10am.
At 1:35am on Saturday morning, Captain Fritz took LHO to another arraignment near the jail cells, to charge LHO with the JFK murder. Bill Alexander and Henry Wade of the District Attorney’s office, Judge Johnston, Chief Curry, and three other officers were there.
At 8am on Saturday morning, Fritz questioned LHO about his alias, Alek Hidell. LHO told Fritz that Alek Hidell was an alias that he picked up in New Orleans, and would say nothing more about it.
A Dallas officer told Fritz about an affidavit from cab driver William Whaley, claiming that he had given LHO a short ride to his Oak Cliff street on Friday afternoon. LHO admitted this, and then he changed his story about the bus. Actually, he rode the bus only part way, but the traffic was too heavy, so he got out and took a cab. LHO added that a lady also wanted that cab, but the cab-driver told LHO to tell the lady to catch the cab behind him. LHO told Fritz that he rode that cab slightly past his room, and paid 85 cents. All this news matched the cab drivers affidavit exactly.
Fritz asked LHO why he changed visiting the Irving address from Friday night to Thursday night. LHO told him it was because someone else was going to be over there on the weekend.
Fritz asked LHO where he got his pistol, and LHO told him that he got it in Fort Worth, several months previously. Then LHO refused to say more.
On Saturday, 10:25am, in Captain Fritz’s office, Dallas FBI agents interrogated LHO, but LHO was sarcastic to them.
Fritz asked LHO what he thought of JFK, and LHO said that JFK had a nice family. Fritz shouted, “You know you killed JFK!” LHO calmly denied it and said that people will forget in a few days and think about the new President. Fritz shouted, “You know you shot Governor Connally!” LHO calmly denied it, without showing any sympathy.
James Hosty cited the letters that LHO had written to Governor Connally in 1962, but LHO wouldn’t listen.
At 11:33am, LHO returned to jail.
At 12:35pm he returned to Fritz’s office for another interview with Mr. Kelley of the Dallas Secret Service. LHO was sarcastic to him.
At 2:15 there was another line-up for two cabdrivers, William Whaley and William Scoggins. Whaley claimed he gave LHO a cab ride to North Beckley. Scoggins claimed he saw the Tippit shooting up close. Both positively identified LHO.
After 5pm, Dallas officers brought Fritz the famous Backyard Photographs of LHO holding a rifle and his pistol. They had recently returned from Mrs. Paine’s garage, and these were the most interesting artifacts. Fritz had them enlarged.
Around 6pm, in the company of Dallas FBI man James Bookhout and Dallas Secret Service man Thomas Kelley, Fritz showed LHO the enlarged picture. LHO accused the news cameramen in the hallways of pasting his face on somebody else’s body. Then Fritz showed LHO the original, and LHO said, “That was just reduced from the big one!”
At 7:15pm, LHO returned to jail. That was the end of his Saturday interrogations.
At 9:30am on Sunday, Fritz interrogated LHO one last time, with Postal Inspector Harry Holmes, SS agents Forrest Sorrels and Thomas Kelley, and FBI agent James Bookhout. They had explored the Neely Street apartment where the Backyard Photograph was made, and LHO denied that he ever lived there. Fritz said they had people who testified that they visited him there. LHO said those people were simply mistaken.
Fritz asked LHO about the paper sack that he put into Frazier’s car on Friday. LHO said it was his lunch, and he had it in the front seat by him. Fritz said two people saw him put it in the back seat. LHO said they must be thinking of some other time.
Fritz showed LHO the city map they found at North Beckley with marks on it around Dealey Plaza. LHO said that those marks represented places where he went looking for work.
Fritz asked LHO about his political beliefs and LHO said that he didn’t belong to any political party; he was a Marxist but not a Marxist-Leninist.
Postal Inspector Holmes asked LHO about his two post office boxes. LHO admitted he had one box, not two, and that he used it to receive mail from Russia.
Fritz asked LHO if he ordered a rifle using one of those box numbers, and he said no. Fritz asked LHO if he ever bought a rifle from Klein’s store in Chicago. LHO said no.
At 11:15am on Sunday, all interviews were over. They took LHO to the garage to transfer him to County Jail. Fritz asked his officers if everything was secure, and two of them said everything was all right. So they came out. Fritz led the way to the car, which was farther away than Fritz had expected. Fritz heard the shot, and Fritz turned just in time to see his officers push Ruby to the pavement, probably eight feet away. LHO was now dead.
Today I will stop here. This is the WC testimony of Captain Will Fritz, and I say it is full of holes.
By way of preview – next week I plan to interpret all these 49 points from the perspective of a homegrown, Dallas conspiracy to kill both JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald on the same day. I’ll present my interpretation in three parts:
PART A. Harry Dean in January 1965 publicly broadcast his claim that in September 1963 he heard Ex-General Edwin Walker tell a select group of Southern California Minutemen and John Birch Society leaders that he had selected Lee Harvey Oswald from the New Orleans FPCC as his patsy in a new plot to assassinate JFK. The audience encouraged him.
PART B. Jeffrey Caufield published his book, General Walker and the Murder of President Kennedy: The Extensive New Evidence of a Radical Right Conspiracy in 2015. This book names members of the Minutemen and John Birch Society in Dallas, including General Walker and H.L. Hunt, with confederates in New Orleans, in a plot to frame Lee Harvey Oswald for their assassination of JFK in Dallas.
PART C. I’ll interpret the WC testimony of Will Fritz in the light of the claims made by Harry Dean and Jeffrey Caufield. I’ll show that Fritz testified to the WC six months after the JFK Assassination – which is plenty of time to concoct and coordinate alibis. I’ll show the absurdity that LHO was nasty to everybody in the DPD except to Will Fritz. I’ll show that all of Fritz’s claims about the words of LHO in custody are merely repetitions of WC testimony given by other WC witnesses from January to April, 1964.
Despite 55 years of urban legend, we really have no idea what LHO said in the custody of Dallas Homicide Captain Will Fritz. Once we recognize the sheer fiction of Fritz’s putting words into the mouth of LHO, the Dallas plot to assassinate JFK and frame LHO will quickly unravel.