Lately I’ve been wondering about some marginal questions in the JFK assassination, e.g. the paper trail linking Lee Harvey Oswald (LHO) and the rifle found on the 6th floor of the TSBD building, forty-five minutes after the murder of JFK.
That paper trail is weak.
LHO had a rifle. That was undisputed by Marina Oswald. The question is whether or not the TSBD rifle was his. In this post I’ll argue that the Dallas Right Wing, starting November 1st, conspired to obtain and use that rifle or another rifle to “find” on the 6th floor of the TSBD building -- as a trap for LHO.
First, however, some background...
As soon as he set foot on Fort Worth soil on June 14, 1962, LHO was a target of suspicion by the Dallas Radical Right led by resigned General Edwin Walker (the only US General to resign in the 20th century).
LHO had defected from the Marine Corp to the USSR and had returned to the Dallas/Fort Worth area with an undesirable discharge from the Marines, a Russian wife, and a baby. “They might be Russian spies,” warned General Walker. People close to Walker, like Dallas FBI agent James Hosty, took this to heart. In his own book (Assignment Oswald, 1996) James Hosty repeated his suspicion that Marina Oswald might be a Russian spy.
In my opinion, General Walker convinced James Hosty to secretly join the Radical Right, and also to secretly spy on LHO from 1962 through 1963. This was not through official FBI channels, since during 1963 James Hosty had often asked FBI headquarters to reopen the LHO case file, but FBI headquarters denied his requests.
Yet Hosty had many friends among Dallas officials, e.g. Dallas Postal Inspector Harry Holmes. This was useful, because Harry Holmes could track every item in LHO’s Post Office box.
In my opinion, LHO got his Mannlicher Carcano rifle from somewhere (and in Texas, rifles were sold as easily as bicycles are sold today). Also, in my opinion, LHO actually did try to shoot General Walker with that rifle on April 10, 1963.
Two weeks after shooting at General Walker, LHO moved to New Orleans. He quickly got a job as a machine greaser at Reily Coffee Company at 640 Magazine Street, about four miles east of LHO’s seedy duplex at 4905 Magazine Street. Reily’s was also across the street from 544 Camp Street -- the notorious clubhouse of Radical Right wingers Guy Banister, David Ferrie, Clay Shaw and Carlos Bringuier.
The-secret mission of the New Orleans Radical Right was to whack Fidel Castro. They got lots of cash from many sources to explore ways to do this, including from the Mafia and from covert government sources. Note that Guy Banister and his team weren't CIA agents, although they got some money from the CIA to seek ways to whack Fidel Castro. Lots of Cuban exile groups got money from the Mafia, and from the CIA, to try to whack Fidel Castro. That didn't make them CIA agents -- but we can easily imagine how they could boast to girlfriends and teenagers that it did.
Evidently, David Ferrie knew the teenage LHO, and now invited LHO to New Orleans for some possible money for special mercenary work -- as a double-agent. Evidently, too, David Ferrie pretended that he and Guy Banisters crew were in the CIA, to tempt LHO into secretly joining the New Orleans Radical Right.
During his six months in New Orleans, 1963, LHO would also show off his rifle to his friends at 544 Camp Street. Banister, Ferrie, Gerald Hemming, Loran Hall, Larry Howard, Clay Shaw, Fred Crisman, Jack Martin, Carlos Bringuier and many others, all saw the rifle, or touched it or even fired it. They knew the make, model and how much it was worth. They knew what kind of ammunition it required. LHO’s rifle was a known item among the New Orleans Radical Right at 544 Camp Street.
LHO was evidently unaware that Guy Banister, David Ferrie and Clay Shaw were good friends with General Walker. LHO didn’t make the connection in 1963, but Dr. Jeffrey Caufield documented this connection in his book, General Walker and the Murder of President Kennedy: and Extensive New Evidence of a Radical Right Conspiracy (2015).
LHO also didn’t know that Dallas FBI agent James Hosty found out on April 14, 1963 from Russian exile Natasha Voshinin that LHO’s friend, George De Mohrenschildt, told her that LHO was probably Walker’s shooter on April 10, 1963. James Hosty quickly told General Walker. Walker told Guy Banister and David Ferrie. Ferrie then invited LHO to New Orleans for a “big opportunity.” As we’ve seen in previous blog posts, we have documented evidence that General Walker knew that LHO was his shooter “within days” of the shooting.
For the next six months, LHO was part of a team in New Orleans to train Cuban exiles for a new invasion of Cuba. LHO’s role was to go deep undercover as a secret agent, no, a double agent. He would pretend to lead his own chapter of the FPCC. LHO would get in the newspapers, in police records, on the radio and on TV as chairman of the FPCC in New Orleans.
David Ferrie held his hand every step of the way, and LHO smiled for the cameras. At the end, they composed several pages of a “Communist resumé” for LHO to take to Mexico City to see if he could get an instant Visa to Havana with it. LHO tried, but of course, he failed to get the Visa. The Radical Right, however, did succeed in getting LHO photographed and documented at the Soviet embassies there.
LHO finally returned to Dallas in early October 1963 and got a job at the TSBD. One month later, Dallas FBI agent visited Ruth Paine at her home in Irving, claiming it was to meet Marina Oswald, but it was really to track LHO again. He asked Ruth Paine where LHO worked, and Ruth told him.
By the way, I spoke with Ruth Paine personally during the fall of 2015 in the context of a history class I was taking at UT Austin. Ruth told me that she respected the FBI and the Police and though she was pensive that the FBI asked questions about LHO, she wasn’t going to lie for LHO. During the first week of November 1963, as she admitted to me, Ruth told Dallas FBI agent James Hosty that LHO was working at the TSBD.
In early November 1963, also, the Dallas Radical Right had a firm plan in place to assassinate JFK when he came to Dallas. Dallas Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels provided JFK with the standard celebrity parade route except for that turn into Dealey Plaza -- the stomping grounds for Dallas Deputies and Police. It was also the site of the Dallas County Jail, where capital punishment had been executed for decades. Behind the picket fence of the Grassy Knoll was the parking lot for Dallas Deputies and County Jail staff.
That original plot (I surmise) was to kill LHO on sight anywhere in Dallas after the JFK assassination. This was plausible because LHO had been so well framed in New Orleans as a Communist -- beyond any reasonable doubt.
LHO was the planned patsy for months. Guy Banister, David Ferrie and their crew had photographs, radio program recordings and TV film of LHO extolling Karl Marx and Fidel Castro. As a cherry on top they added a Mexico City visit to the Cuba Consulate and the Soviet Embassy there. So, even without the TSBD angle, LHO could easily be shot on any Dallas street, and blamed for JFK Assassination.
But Ruth Paine’s admission to James Hosty was a stroke of luck. LHO was working at the TSBD building, and the TSBD was in Dealey Plaza -- where JFK was to be executed for “Treason.” This stroke of luck was too good to pass up. They hatched a new plan to “find the murder weapon” on the TSBD 6th floor.
It was a game-changer. The JFK plot could be improved now, by placing any rifle that looked like LHO’s rifle at the scene of the crime. And forging a paper trail to it -- and seal a case, air-tight, against LHO and the Communists.
Of course, if the Radical Right could actually obtain LHO’s rifle -- that would be even better. So that is what they tried to do -- and I think that they succeeded. (Whether they succeeded in getting LHO’s rifle or not will make little difference to my argument).
HOW DALLAS DEPUTIES OBTAINED OSWALD’S RIFLE
In my opinion, Dallas Deputies probably did obtain LHO’s very own rifle. They didn’t steal it, either. The clue came from Gerry Patrick Hemming’s interview with A.J. Weberman in 1978, when Hemming suggested that somebody he knew offered LHO double the price of his rifle if LHO would bring it to the TSBD that morning, and hand it off to somebody that LHO trusted.
Hemming also explained to Weberman that one cannot “set up people to take a fall” unless one is “dealing with them personally.” This means that LHO was acting in concert with people that he trusted without question.
I will speculate here, and name Loran Hall as the one whom LHO trusted for this. I agree with Harry Dean who claims that Loran Hall was the driver who drove LHO to Mexico on September 25, 1963. LHO evidently perceived Loran Hall as a friend of Guy Banister and David Ferrie, and so someone he could trust.
Loran Hall was once a member of Interpen and fought with Gerry Patrick Hemming against Fidel Castro. Hall was a ferocious anti-Communist, a hater of Fidel Castro, and a combat veteran. Hemming also told Weberman that Loran Hall was in Dallas on the day JFK was killed. Loran Hall had Hemming’s rifle on that day, and that very afternoon the FBI seized that rifle. I never found out what clues motivated the FBI to seize that rifle.
Anyway, I propose that LHO trusted Loran Hall as a member of Banister and Ferrie’s crew, and so, upon request and a good offer of money, LHO took his rifle to Loran Hall just outside the TSBD, pending payment. LHO didn’t suspect that Loran Hall would simply hand that rifle over to criminal Dallas Deputies.
OK, that’s the background -- now back to the theme....
DEPUTIES “FIND” RIFLE #C2766 ON THE SIXTH FLOOR
Dallas Deputies found a Mannlicher Carcano (MC) rifle, serial number #C2766, on the 6th floor of the TSBD building 45 minutes after the JFK assassination. They presented it as the JFK assassination weapon. It had a serial number of #C2766. They quickly found that #C2766 came from Klein’s Sporting Goods in Chicago. They found Klein’s purchase clipping in a magazine.
FBI agents immediately seized a mountain of sales and shipping records to trace #C2766 from the importer to the warehouse to the technician to the trucker to the retailer, Klein’s. It was just too much sales and shipping data to process in a few hours.
From that clipping, the FBI that afternoon (11/22/1963) leaked to the press that LHO had purchased rifle #C2766 from Klein’s for $12.78 and used it to assassinate JFK. The alleged $12.78 rifle was reported nationwide on TV for seven solid days. Yet the rifle that Klein’s sold for $12.78 had no scope, while the rifle at the TSBD had a 4x18 power scope. So, during the assassination weekend, the FBI realized that they needed to explain how and where a scope was installed on this $12.78 mail order rifle, #C2766.
At 10:30 AM on Monday, November 25, FBI agent Emory Horton called local gunsmiths. He contacted and interviewed gunsmith Dial Ryder at his home in Irving, Texas. Horton showed Ryder photos of LHO and #C2766 and asked if he remembered either. Ryder said no, LHO didn’t look familiar. Also, Ryder hadn’t worked on an Italian rifle in a long time.
Later that morning, however, Ryder went to work and found a work order on his Irving Sports Shop work bench, with the name of a customer, “Oswald,” and instructions: “drill and tap $4.50; bore sight $1.50; Total $6”. This was a work order to mount a scope, with the name “Oswald” on it! The work order had no full name, no address, no phone number and no date, and Ryder said that no other employees knew about this work order. Ryder’s memory was that he did this work between November 1 and 15 at the Irving Sports Shop -- but not on an Italian rifle.
Ryder’s boss and owner of the Irving Sports Shop was Woody Greener. FBI agents and Greener telephoned every “Oswald” in the Dallas and Irving phone directories to locate the “Oswald” of this work order. They found nobody. Still, FBI agents filed a report that Oswald probably had a rifle scope mounted on his rifle at the Irving Sports Shop in early November, for $6. Dial Ryder would eventually testify for the WC to stand by his story. FBI agent Emory Horton believed he had found something interesting. But FBI headquarters would not stay interested long.
THE $21.45 RIFLE AND ITS MONEY ORDER (CE-788)
Different FBI agents had sought another angle. Klein’s price for the Mannlicher Carcano rifle (MC) with a mounted scope was $19.95 plus $1.50 postage; total $21.45. They turned to Klein’s to search for a transaction in that amount. Klein’s identified a $21.45 deposit as one entry in their deposit slip of $13,827.98 to the 1st National Bank of Chicago (Waldman Exhibit 10) dated February 15, 1963. This was not mid-March when LHO allegedly bought #C2766 with a Money Order.
Despite this fumble, the FBI kept running with it. FBI agents demanded all records for rifle #C2766 from any company that stood anywhere between Crescent Firearms and Klein’s. FBI agents visited CF’s rifle storage warehouse; CF’s contract rifle repairman; the trucking company that delivered rifles from the repairman to Klein’s. FBI agents confiscated their original records and never returned them. Those originals cannot be found even today. Only photos were shown to the WC and only photos remain at NARA today.
Finally – Robert Jackson of NARA in Washington DC, at about 8 PM on November 23, 1963 told Secret Service agent John Grimes that he finally located a $21.45 MO dated March 12, 1963, in the Arlington postal storage facility. The MO was filled out to Klein’s and signed by A. Hidell. NARA provided photographs of this MO. The FBI agreed – here was the actual Post Office Money Order that LHO used in order to purchase rifle #C2766.
Here is a link to that MO found at NARA:
Three major problems arose quickly.
(1) In 1963, every US Postal MO was deposited at a bank, date stamped and endorsed, routed through the Federal Reserve Bank, date stamped and endorsed again, sent to a Postal MO center (either Kansas City or Arlington); date stamped and endorsed a 3rd time, and then stored. That’s 3 endorsements for each cashed MO. Yet the NARA photo of this MO that allegedly bought #C2766 had no date stamps and no endorsements at all. Not at all. Check it and see.
(2) Notice on the NARA photo that the ink on the front has bled over into the back, and the ink of Klein’s official initials on the back (dated 11/23/1963) also bled over to the front. Yet genuine US Money Orders in 1963 were made from heavy card stock, like index cards, so that ink did not bleed through them. When historians asked FBI headquarters for the original MO, they claimed that it was lost. The FBI had only these copies which they showed to the WC, and we see the same copies at NARA today.
(3) LHO’s own, regular, 1962 MO’s to pay off his State Department debt showed that the downtown Dallas PO in 1963 had sold the public an average of 1,200 MO’s weekly. That meant that any MO sold on March 12, 1963 should have had a serial number less than 2,202,012,000. Yet the serial number on the MO in the NARA photo was 2,202,130,462 -- more than 118,000 digits higher. A MO with that serial number would have normally sold in January 1964, not in March 1963.
Despite these questions, the FBI insisted that the MO in the NARA photo was the MO used by LHO to purchase rifle #C2766. Actually, without original records it’s probably impossible to trace #C2766 from the importer to Klein’s to LHO. So, the documents that link LHO to his MC rifle are notoriously weak.
The WC dubbed the NARA Money Order, “CE 788”. Attorney David Belin and Klein’s VP William Waldman handed this photograph CE 788 back and forth during Waldman’s WC testimony. They read words and numbers from it -- but they never mentioned that it lacked date stamps and endorsements by any financial entity. They never mentioned that the ink had bled through, back to front. They never mentioned that the serial number was out of sequence for its date.
It was a forgery; but why would the US Government go to such great lengths to forge a Money Order?
I don’t blame the FBI for the JFK Assassination; I blame the Dallas Radical Right. However, I do blame the FBI for the cover-up. Further, I excuse the FBI for the cover-up -- it was during the Cold War with the USSR, and planet Earth hung in the balance. It was a matter of national security.
In my opinion, Dallas Deputies and Policemen who belonged to the Dallas Radical Right killed JFK. This was the truth that could never be brought out during the Cold War. That’s the problem.
The question for history then becomes: exactly how did the forgery happen?
In my opinion, Dallas Postal Inspector Harry Holmes lent his official PO Stamp to the FBI, which also employed its own hand-writing experts and forged a Money Order dated March 12, 1963, made out to Klein’s and signed by A. Hidell. Then they handed it over to NARA to “find.” After it was “found,” the FBI had three Klein’s official sign and date it: 11/23/1963.
But if LHO actually had a rifle -- and if the Dallas Police now had possession of his rifle -- then why bother forging a paper trail?
1. One explanation says that LHO really did buy his rifle from Klein’s, and Dallas Postal Inspector Harry Holmes had long known about it because he saw the order and the shipment. Holmes was the first to notice the name, “A. Hidell.” Why would Holmes bother to look? Because he’d read about LHO in the newspapers and he knew that his friends, General Walker and Dallas FBI agent James Hosty, were closely watching LHO. So, he did, too.
If this is correct, then “time pressure” was the reason for the paper trail forgery. The FBI had lots of microfilm and paper records. They were certain that the actual MO and sales invoices were in there somewhere, but it was virtually impossible to find them in only one night. So, the FBI forged this paper trail as a practical way to portray a future truth.
2. Another explanation says that LHO was smart enough to buy his rifle for cash at a pawn shop or a local garage sale, so there would never be a paper trail linking LHO to his rifle.
If so, then a “careful framing” was the reason for the forgery. The forgery was quick and dirty, so that’s why we can see the flaws in it 55 years later.
Both opinions are plausible and acceptable to me. Either way, we will never have a viable paper trail between LHO and his rifle. Even if LHO foolishly bought it from Klein’s by using the Post Office, the original microfilm and MO and invoices are lost forever.
The JFK Kill Team (namely the Dallas Radical Right) had one goal -- to blame the Communists (including LHO) for their assassination of JFK, to enrage the USA. That way, the USA would invade Cuba and depose Fidel Castro. There were many Communist shooters at JFK, they said, not just one.
Guy Banister, David Ferrie, Gerry Patrick Hemming, Loran Hall and Larry Howard operated in New Orleans within the same organization that General Walker and Robert Alan Surrey operated in Dallas throughout 1963, namely, the Minutemen. In 1963 the KKK, the National States Rights Party, the White Citizens Council and the John Birch Society joined the Minutemen in their adoration of General Walker.
In my opinion, the problems of the paper trail linking LHO to his rifle are a sideshow in the larger scope of the assassination of JFK. The bogus paper trail tells us who covered up the crime – not who committed the crime.