Part Two: Jackson
Copyright © 2000 by David Reitzes
At the 1969 trial of Clay Shaw, Jackson, Louisiana barber Edwin Lea McGehee testified about an incident he said had occurred "in the last of August [or] the early part of September," "along toward the evening." "I had my door open, the air-conditioning was off and it was rather cool," McGehee recalled.(1) He testified that "an old," "battered," "dark colored car" drove up, and Lee Harvey Oswald stepped into his shop for a haircut.(2)
The car "might have been dark green -- but the make of it I just couldn't remember, it was an old car, real old." It "resembled a Kaiser or a Frazer or an old Nash." "There was a woman sitting on the front seat," he recalled, "and in the back seat" he noticed what "looked like a [baby] bassinet."(3)
McGehee remembered Oswald repeatedly staring at a picture on the wall, "a big picture of Martin Luther King at a Communist training school."(4) According to McGehee, Oswald "started asking him questions about East Louisiana State Hospital and wanted primarily to find out what kind of a hospital it was." "Oswald seemed surprised when he told him that East Louisiana State Hospital was a mental hospital."(5)
McGehee said he suggested that Oswald pay a visit to a friend of his, State Representative Reeves Morgan, who himself worked as a guard at the hospital, as well as McGehee's friend Henry Earl Palmer, the local Registrar of Voters in nearby Clinton.(6)
Reeves Morgan followed McGehee on the witness stand. He testified that Lee Oswald had visited him at his home outside Jackson for about twenty or twenty-five minutes one evening. According to a 1967 NODA interview, "Oswald told Mr. Morgan that he could do anything in the way of electrical work and that he could handle any job in the hospital in the electrical department. Mr. Morgan said that he remembers Oswald bragging very much about his ability as an electrician."(7)
Morgan said the meeting occurred in either late August or early September 1963.(8) It "wasn't cold weather and it wasn't hot weather," he said, "because when Oswald came to my house that evening I was burning the trash out of my fireplace and it didn't feel too bad." "It just felt good sitting there by it, and we both sat there and watched it burn."(9)
The weather would become a slight issue when US Weather Bureau meteorologist Rex L. Kommer testified for the defense and presented documentation showing that the average high temperature in Clinton for August 1963 was 93.3 degrees and the low was an average minimum temperature of 69.3 degrees, and for the first fifteen days of September 1963 the average high was 93.1 degrees and the average low was an estimated 68.1 degrees. The readings were made at 5:00 PM daily.(10)
We know that the Jackson incidents could not have occurred later than September 25, 1963, when Lee Harvey Oswald is believed to have left New Orleans, bound for Mexico City, then Dallas, Texas.(11) But few would discard the testimony of several seemingly credible witnesses on the basis of this one point.
Not called to testify was Morgan's daughter Mary, a student at Louisiana State University in 1967, who told the NODA that "when Oswald was in the house talking with her dad, she happened to walk towards the screen door and went onto the porch and just casually noticed that there was a dark colored car parked under the tree in front of the house." It was "an old car and the model was somewhere in the Fifties." She remembered "seeing a woman in the car."(12)
Lee Harvey Oswald, it is believed, did not drive a car, and neither did his wife. They couple did not own a car or a baby bassinet, and 18-month-old June Oswald would have been a little big for one. Neither Marina nor June ever accompanied Oswald to Jackson or anywhere else by car.
Reeves Morgan said he told Oswald "that he would look into the job at the hospital but that if there was an opening he felt obliged to try to get it for one of his constituents before he would try and get it for Oswald. Oswald" -- that civic-minded young scholar -- "asked Mr. Morgan what a 'constituent' was and Mr. Morgan told him it was a person who was registered in his parish and was on the voting rolls." At trial Morgan added that he'd mentioned to Oswald that "it wouldn't hurt if he was a registered voter up there."(13)
As discussed in part one of this article, when Oswald allegedly showed up in Clinton to register, Registrar of Voters Henry Earl Palmer said that he "asked Oswald if he knew the Business Manager at the hospital or the Mayor of Jackson or Reeves Morgan the State Representative and Oswald said he did not know any of them."(14) Of course, barber Edwin Lea McGehee also said it had been his idea for Oswald to visit both Morgan and Palmer.(15)
State Hospital employee Mrs. Bobbie Dedon testified that she'd spoken briefly with Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963 and had directed him to the personnel office in the facility's administration building. She placed this encounter at lunchtime.(16)
Dedon's recollections of Oswald were vague at best. Defense counsel Irvin Dymond asked her, "Do you recall how he was dressed that day?"
"No, I don't."
"Do you recall his general appearance, that is, whether he was neat looking or sloppy looking or generally how he looked?"
"Did he impress you as a neat individual or as a disheveled individual?
"I didn't really -- I didn't pay that much attention to him."
"Did he have a beard on?"
"I don't remember."
"You don't remember whether he had a beard?"
Maxine Kemp, a secretary in the State Hospital's personnel office, testified that one day in September 1964 she found in the personnel files an application filled out by a "Harvey Oswald." In 1967, personnel chief Aline Woodside and her staff conducted an exhaustive but fruitless search for the application, after being paid a visit by investigators Lt. Francis Frugé and Anne Hundley Dischler on behalf of the New Orleans DA's office.(18)
The visit from Dischler and Frugé was the first that Woodside or any member of her staff had heard anything at all suggesting that the accused assassin of John F. Kennedy had ever been to the hospital. Following the assassination, neither Mrs. Dedon nor Mrs. Kemp mentioned to any of their co-workers that Lee Harvey Oswald had been there in search of a job.(19) This seems especially odd in view of the fact that a patient brought into the hospital shortly before JFK's death, one Melba Christine Marcades, is alleged to have made some remarkably provocative statements about the assassination. We'll come back to Ms. Marcades momentarily.
Patricia Lambert asked State Hospital personnel chief Aline Woodside if anyone in personnel besides Kemp remembered Oswald or the alleged application. "No," said Woodside. "We didn't think she saw it."(20)
By a strange coincidence, Mrs. Kemp's husband Billy, a pilot, had come forward after the assassination claiming that on November 20, 1963, a Kent Whatley of Garland, Texas, offered him $25,000 to fly two people to South America on November 22nd, no questions asked. Whether for lack of credibility or lack of interest, the story was never pursued.(21)
The Billy Kemp story seems to have reached the Garrison office via an informant named Tom Williams, who also told an odd story about a Jackson resident named Gladys Fletcher Palmer. According to Williams, Palmer's ex-husband Matt said his ex-wife had been employed by Jack Ruby in Dallas, and that two weeks before the assassination, she had arrived in Jackson, driving a black Lincoln Continental, then checked into the State Hospital for treatment of alcoholism. Two hours before John F. Kennedy was killed, Gladys Palmer was alleged to have stated, "This is the day of the president's assassination."(22)
The black Lincoln Continental seems to parallel the black Cadillac we encountered in part one of this article, while the story about Gladys Palmer rings an uncomfortably familiar chord as well. By another strange coincidence, Matt Palmer happens to have been the nephew of Clinton Registrar of Voters Henry Earl Palmer, whom we also met in part one.
In retrospect, East Feliciana Parish seems like uncommonly fertile ground for all sorts of curious stories to take root.
If the eyewitness testimony is true and reasonably accurate, Oswald must have been in the Clinton-Jackson area for at least three days. Author Bill Davy proposes the following scenario: "Oswald first arrives in Jackson in the early evening . . . The following day Oswald et al arrive in Clinton and stay all day. A third day is required for the return trip to Jackson." Davy writes that by "noting the days of the week [Henry Earl] Palmer kept the registrar's office open -- Thursday, Friday, and a half-day Saturday, it is possible to pinpoint the days of the week" the Jackson and Clinton sightings took place." "By working back from this point, it becomes clear that Oswald's visit to the Jackson hospital was on a Friday (assuming their personnel department was not open on Saturdays). Therefore, the Clinton visit took place Thursday and the arrival at McGehee's and Morgan's on Wednesday."(23)
Jackson is 120 country miles from New Orleans, roughly a two-and-a-half-hour drive each way. Marina Oswald testified at the Shaw trial that Oswald was never away from home for any extended length of time that summer, and was home every evening except that of August 9, 1963, when he spent the night in jail.(24)
In interviewing a number of Jackson residents in 1993-94, author Patricia Lambert found that invariably no one she spoke with in the small community had ever heard about Oswald's alleged appearance in town until after the Garrison investigation began.(25) The only people who ever claimed otherwise were the witnesses themselves. While it certainly is possible that appearances by the accused assassin of John F. Kennedy might have somehow failed to cause a stir, it seems especially strange given reports of another peculiar occurrence in this otherwise sleepy little town.
On February 23, 1967, shortly after the Garrison investigation hit the headlines, the New Orleans District Attorney received a most intriguing tip. Louisiana resident A. H. Magruder alerted the office that he had recently gone on a hunting trip with Dr. Victor J. Weiss of the State Hospital and, over a "big bull session," was told by Dr. Weiss that several days prior to the Kennedy assassination, "the Louisiana police had picked up a woman on Highway 190 near Eunice, Louisiana, and that she had apparently been thrown out of an automobile from her physical appearance. The police thought that she was psych[ot]ic so they took her to the East Louisiana State Hospital. Dr. Weiss gave her a thorough physical and psychiatric examination and determined that she was a narcotic addict and was having withdrawal symptoms. She told him that she worked as a dope runner for Jack Ruby. I believe she also mentioned that she worked in the night club for Ruby and that she was forced to go to Florida with another man whom she did not name to pick up a shipment of dope to take back to Dallas, that she didn't want to do this thing but she had a young child and that they would hurt her child if she didn't. She and this male companion of hers got into some kind of argument or fight and he beat her up and pushed her out of the car. She also told Dr. Weiss that the President and other Texas Public officials were going to be killed on their visit to Dallas. Dr. Weiss said that he didn't really pay much attention . . . until after the assassination occurred at which time he . . . had further conversation with her. Now this was also after Ruby had killed Oswald and she did say that she had seen Oswald sitting at the same table at Ruby's club but didn't elaborate any further."(26)
Detective Frank Meloche set out to verify the information in Magruder's provocative statement. He ascertained that a woman named Rose Cherami(27) had been picked up by Lt. Francis Frugé of the Louisiana State Police on Highway 190 after reportedly having been thrown from a vehicle by two white males, and brought to the Moosa Hospital in Eunice "for treatment and then returned to the Eunice jail where she was suspected of having narcotics withdrawals. Assistant Coroner of St. Landry Parish Dr. F. J. DeRouen was called in and he gave Rose a sedative and later had to be called again when she became violent, stripped herself of her clothing, and cut her ankles." Dr. DeRouen committed Cherami to the State Hospital in Jackson, where she remained until November 26.(28)
Meloche interviewed Dr. Victor Weiss, who confirmed some of A. H. Magruder's statement: "Weiss stated that during her stay at Jackson, Rose had told him that she knew both Ruby and Oswald and had seen them sitting together on occasions at Ruby's club." Meloche asked Dr. Weiss about the statement that Mr. A. H. Magruder had made, that Cherami had informed Weiss "that the President and other Texas public officials were going to be killed on their visit to Dallas. Dr. Weiss states that he doesn't recall whether this was told to him before or after the assassination."(29)
Meanwhile, back at the New Orleans District Attorney's office, big plans were afoot. DA Jim Garrison had just placed New Orleans businessman Clay L. Shaw under arrest for conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy, and Garrison was elated when a subsequent search of Shaw's home turned up whips and a sinister-looking robe that Shaw's friends would recall as a leftover from Mardi Gras.(30)
Two days later, Garrison had the entire assassination plot figured out. "I'm now convinced it was a sadist plot," he told Life magazine's Richard Billings. "I've read the Marquis de Sade. Sadists escalate from whipping to killing," he explained, "and Shaw is a Phi Beta Kappa sadist." He declared that an understanding of the infamous Leopold-Loeb murder was the key to understanding the assassination of JFK. "I am going to talk to a good psychiatrist and I will make sadism relevant," he promised. "I'll develop expert testimony that a sadist would have motivation for a Presidential assassination."(31)
In addition to this, Garrison told Billings that he had just spoken with Dallas Morning News reporter Hugh Aynesworth, who "knows a lot about Dallas. He knew Ruby for ten years, and he gave me information that [Ruby] was a fagot [sic] and that his name among fagots [sic] was Pinky."(32)
The DA said much the same thing a few days later to Saturday Evening Post reporter Jim Phelan. The conspirators "had the same motive as Loeb and Leopold when they murdered Bobbie Franks in Chicago back in the twenties," Garrison said. "It was a homosexual thrill-killing, plus the excitement of getting away with a perfect crime." "Look at the people involved," he continued. "Dave Ferrie, homosexual. Clay Shaw, homosexual. Jack Ruby, homosexual."
"Ruby was a homosexual?" Phelan asked.
"Sure, we dug that out," Garrison said. "His homosexual nickname was Pinkie."(33)
In late February, Lt. Francis Frugé was brought on board the NODA's investigation and he discussed his recollections of the Cherami incident with Detective Frank Meloche. He said that he had flown to Houston with Cherami along with Captain Ben Morgan, and that Cherami had given them "some information about a narcotic ring working between Louisiana and Houston" that turned out to be "true and good information."(34)
"While in flight," the memorandum continues, "Rose Cherami picked up a newspaper with headlines of Ruby killing Oswald and further on down in the newspaper it stated where Ruby denied ever knowing or seeing Oswald in his life. Rose Cherami laughed and stated to Lt. Frugé that Ruby and Oswald were very good friends. They had been in [Ruby's club] together," and "Ruby and Oswald were bed partners. Upon arrival in Houston she again repeated this story to Captain Morgan. When asked to talk to the Federal authorities about this, she refused and stated that she did not want to get involved in this mess."(35)
On March 6, Meloche and Frugé tracked down Cherami's sister, who informed them that Rose was dead, having been hit by a car on September 4, 1965, on a small side road off Highway 155 in Texas.(36)
On April 4, 1967, Francis Frugé wrote up a report about Cherami's death for the NODA. In this document he included two items of information he had not shared with Frank Meloche the previous month: that Rose Cherami had stated that she worked for Jack Ruby as a stripper, which Frugé added "was verified," and that in addition to the information that Oswald and Ruby were "bed partners," he also reported that Cherami had "referred to Ruby as alias 'Pinkey.'"(37)
Strangely, not a single scrap of paper has yet been found to verify Frugé's claim that Cherami's alleged employment with Ruby had been somehow verified. The House committee did not cite any such document when they reported Frugé's claim, and none has yet been uncovered by any independent researcher.
Frugé added, "Other statements made by subject [Cherami] relative to your inquiry are hear-say, but are available upon your request."(38) This seemingly innocuous sentence would take on a fair amount of significance in 1978, when Francis Frugé told the House Select Committee on Assassinations a slightly different tale than he had related previously.
In 1978, Frugé claimed that while he drove Cherami to the State Hospital on November 20, 1963, he "asked Cheramie [sic] what she was going to do in Dallas," and "She said she was going to . . . pick up some money, pick up her baby, and . . . kill Kennedy."(39)
"On November 22, when he heard the President had been assassinated, Frugé said he immediately called the hospital and told them not to release Cheramie [sic] until he had spoken to her." "Under questioning, Cheramie [sic] told Frugé that the two men traveling with her from Miami were going to Dallas to kill the President. For her part, Cheramie [sic] was to obtain $8,000 from an unidentified source in Dallas and proceed to Houston with the two men to complete a drug deal.(40) Cheramie [sic] was also supposed to pick up her little boy from friends who had been looking after him."(41)
Frugé told the HSCA that Customs had verified some of Cherami's information on the alleged narcotics ring, however the committee reports, "US Customs was unable to locate documents and reports related to its involvement in the Cheramie [sic] investigation although such involvement was not denied. Nor could customs officials locate those agents named by Frugé as having participated in the original investigation, as they had since left the employ of the agency."(42)
Even more striking, given Frugé's claim that Cherami had provided him with "true and good information" on a narcotics ring operating between Texas, Louisiana and Florida, is Frugé's failure to place any of the individuals involved under arrest -- not even Cherami -- nor were either of her companions arrested on such charges as assault, extortion or kidnapping for their alleged treatment of Ms. Cherami and her child.
Dr. Victor Weiss was also interviewed by the House committee, and his story seems to have undergone some changes as well. In 1967, Weiss stated that he could not verify whether Cherami's remarks about the assassination occurred before or after the event. In 1978, however, Weiss "recalled that on Monday, November 25, 1963, he was asked by another physician, Dr. Bowers, to see a patient who had been committed November 20 or 21. Dr. Bowers allegedly told Weiss that the patient, Rose Cheramie [sic], had stated before the assassination that President Kennedy was going to be killed. Weiss questioned Cheramie [sic] about her statements. She told him she had worked for Jack Ruby. She did not have any specific details of a particular assassination plot against Kennedy, but had stated the 'word in the underworld' was that Kennedy would be assassinated."(43)
Dr. Bowers' name does not appear even a single time in the NODA "Cheramie" file, though a reliable source indicates that it turns up in a 1967 document found elsewhere.(44) The HSCA also displayed a remarkable lack of curiosity about Dr. Bowers, never even so much as learning his first name.
How reliable a witness was Rose Cherami? "Extremely," concludes Jim DiEugenio in a recent Probe cover story on the controversial witness.(45) But DiEugenio has only the HSCA to cite, and the HSCA cites only Francis Frugé's uncorroborated testimony.
FBI files reference the investigation of a tip from Melba Mercades, alias Rose Cherami, in Ardmore, Oklahoma, who reported in 1964 that she was en route to Dallas to deliver $2,600 worth of heroin to a man in Oak Cliff. She was then to proceed to Galveston to pick up a load of narcotics from a seaman on board a ship destined for Galveston in the next few days. She gave "detailed descriptions as to individuals, names, places, and amounts distributed." Investigations were conducted by narcotics bureaus in Oklahoma and Texas and her information was found to be "erroneous in all respects."(46)
In 1965, FBI agents investigated a tip from Rozella Clinkscales, alias Rose Cherami, who claimed that "individuals associated with the syndicate were running prostitution rings in several southern cities such as Houston and Galveston, Tex., Oklahoma City, Okla. and Montgomery, Ala., by transporting hookers, including Cheramie-Clinkscales [sic], from town to town. Furthermore, she claimed she had information about a heroin deal operating from a New Orleans ship. A call to the Coast Guard verified an ongoing narcotics investigation of the ship. Other allegations made by Cheramie-Clinkscales [sic] could not be verified."(47) In none of her contacts with the FBI did Cherami bring up the subject of the Kennedy assassination.
It also should be noted that in her short life, Rose Cherami was arrested over 50 times in ten different states for charges including larceny, auto theft, possession of narcotics, driving under the influence of narcotics, driving while intoxicated, prostitution, arson, vagrancy, drunk and disorderly behavior, and still other charges. She is documented as having used over 30 different names and claiming at least six different dates of birth. She committed at least one documented suicide attempt, in 1947, was "believed to be insane" at that time, and was ruled "criminally insane" in 1961. She was institutionalized several times, with "psychotic" and "psychopathic" behavior noted.(48)
All things considered, it might be wiser to err on the side of caution and describe the extent of Cherami's credibility as unknown.
Unlike Lee Harvey Oswald's alleged visits to the tiny town of Jackson, however, no one doubts that the story of Rose Cherami has some basis in fact, in that it is certain Cherami said something of an extremely provocative nature. The stir created by Cherami's remarks is documented in numerous hearsay accounts of her story that clearly predated the Garrison probe, unlike the Jackson Oswald sightings that were never reported at all until the middle of 1967.
Ironically, it is the Cherami story that most clearly impeaches the testimony of Jim Garrison's witnesses from Jackson, Louisiana. Given the interest generated locally by the Cherami episode, it seems all but inconceivable that the accused assassin of John F. Kennedy himself could have made an appearance only a few months earlier at the precise institution that had served as host to this most intriguing witness, without having this extraordinary coincidence noted in every telling of the Cherami tale.
The last word belongs to Anthony Summers, who wrote many moons ago that whatever Cherami's "reputation, the alleged fact that she apparently spoke of the President's murder in Dallas in advance is what matters evidentially. Some further research should be done, not least a check with Dr. Bowers . . ."(49)
Alas, while some attempts have been made in this direction, none have yet produced results. As widely as she has been both mythicized in conspiracy literature and compromised by all too easily impeached investigators, Melba Christine Mercades, aka Rose Cherami, remains first and foremost that which she was in 1963 -- a mystery.
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1. Transcript, State of Louisiana v. Clay L. Shaw, February 6, 1969, pp. 31-35.
2. Transcript, State of Louisiana v. Clay L. Shaw, February 6, 1969, pp. 9-12.
3. Transcript, State of Louisiana v. Clay L. Shaw, February 6, 1969, pp. 31-33.
4. McGehee's recollection of Oswald and the MLK picture is drawn from his June 17, 1967, interview with NODA investigator Andrew Sciambra, written up in a Sciambra memorandum to Jim Garrison of June 26, 1967. McGehee reaffirmed this detail in his 1978 interview with the HSCA.
5.Andrew Sciambra, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, June 26, 1967.
6. Transcript, State of Louisiana v. Clay L. Shaw, February 6, 1969, pp. 9-12, 31-33.
7. Andrew Sciambra, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, June 26, 1967.
8. Transcript, State of Louisiana v. Clay L. Shaw, February 6, 1969, pp. 40-45.
9. Transcript, State of Louisiana v. Clay L. Shaw, February 6, 1969, p. 47.
10. Transcript, State of Louisiana v. Clay L. Shaw, February 21, 1969, pp. 68-72.
11. Warren Report, pp. 301, 737-40.
12. Andrew Sciambra, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, June 3, 1967.
13. Andrew Sciambra, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, June 26, 1967.
14. Andrew J. Sciambra, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, June 1, 1967.
15. Andrew J. Sciambra, June 26, 1967, Memorandum to Jim Garrison. Transcript, State of Louisiana v. Clay L. Shaw, February 6, 1969, pp. 9-12.
16. Transcript, State of Louisiana v. Clay L. Shaw, February 7, 1969, pp. 35-37.
17. Transcript, State of Louisiana v. Clay L. Shaw, February 7, 1969, pp. 38-39.
18. Patricia Lambert, False Witness: The Real Story of the Jim Garrison Investigation and Oliver Stone's Film JFK (M. Evans and Company, 1999), p. 188.
19. Patricia Lambert, False Witness: The Real Story of the Jim Garrison Investigation and Oliver Stone's Film JFK (M. Evans and Company, 1999), p. 188.
20. Patricia Lambert, False Witness: The Real Story of the Jim Garrison Investigation and Oliver Stone's Film JFK (M. Evans and Company, 1999), p. 188.
21. Claude B. Slaton, "The Tragic Career of William H. 'Joe' Cooper."
22. Claude B. Slaton, "Further Feliciana Research."
23. William Davy, Let Justice Be Done (Reston, Virginia: Jordan Publishing, 1999), 300 fn. 29.
24. Transcript, State of Louisiana v. Clay L. Shaw, February 21, 1969, p. 17.
25. Patricia Lambert, False Witness: The Real Story of the Jim Garrison Investigation and Oliver Stone's Film JFK (M. Evans and Company, 1999), p. 189.
26. Det. Frank Meloche and Sgt. Fenner Sedgebeer, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, February 23, 1967.
27. The "Cheramie" spelling prevalent in conspiracy literature appears to have originated with a Francis Frugé memorandum of April 4, 1967. Police and FBI documents spell the witness' name "Cherami."
28. Frank Meloche, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, March 13, 1967.
29. Frank Meloche, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, March 13, 1967. Acknowledgment to Todd Vaughan for pointing this statement out on the alt.assassination.jfk Usenet forum in early 1999.
30. cf. James Kirkwood, American Grotesque (New York City: Simon & Schuster, 1992), p. 27.
31. Richard Billings, contemporaneous notes on the Garrison investigation, March 3, 1967 (p. 18), dialogue nominally reconstructed: "search of shaw home produces whips, chains, robe, etc. . . . giant [Garrison] now convinced it was a sadist plot . . . has read marquis de sade . . . says sadists escalate from whipping to killing . . . 'shaw is a phi beta kappa sadist,' giant surmises . . . cuban plot now subsidiary . . . but it provided guerrilla team . . . ferrie was a butch fag who hired cubans instead of ex cons . . . whips give away . . . leopold-loeb key to whole thing . . . giant convinced . . . 'i am going to talk to a good psychiatrist -- bob heath -- and i will make sadism relevant . . . i'll develop expert testimony that a sadist would have motivation for a Presidential assassination.' 'he's a sadist, not a masochist . . . the robe and hood prove it . . .'")
32. Richard Billings, contemporaneous notes on the Garrison investigation, March 3, 1967 (p. 18). It is anyone's guess whether Aynesworth passed along this information in earnest or simply noted it as a rumor he had come across. By 1976 Aynesworth was dismissive of conjecture that Ruby had been a homosexual ("The Man Who Saw Too Much," Texas Monthly), though some Ruby acquaintances believe it to have been true (cf. Gary Wills and Ovid Demaris, Jack Ruby; Larry Sneed, No More Silence).
33. James Phelan, Scandals, Scamps, and Scoundrels (New York: Random House, 1982), pp. 150-51.
34. Frank Meloche, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, March 13, 1967.
35. Frank Meloche, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, March 13, 1967.
36. Frank Meloche, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, March 13, 1967.
37. Lt. Francis Frugé, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, April 4, 1967.
38. Lt. Francis Frugé, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, April 4, 1967.
39. House Select Committee on Assassinations, Hearings Vol. X, p. 201.
40. According to Frugé's 1978 account, an eyewitness identified one of Cherami's companions as Justice Department-connected anti-Castro activist Sergio Arcacha Smith, who had resided in New Orleans in 1963. According to both his employer and his wife, Arcacha was in Houston the entire week of November 18-22, 1963. (Calvin Clausel, Letter of June 8, 1967; Mrs. Sergio Arcacha Smith, House Select Committee Statement, undated; David Blackburst, Newsgroup post of November 29, 1997). Arcacha denied any knowledge of Rose Cherami or Jack Ruby, and has never been linked to narcotics smuggling or prostitution in any way. He left New Orleans in October 1962 -- over six months before Lee Harvey Oswald came to town.
41. House Select Committee on Assassinations, Hearings Vol. X, pp. 201-02.
42. House Select Committee on Assassinations, Hearings Vol. X, p. 203.
43. House Select Committee on Assassinations, Hearings Vol. X, pp. 200-01.
44. Confidential source; the document referencing Dr. Bowers exists in a private collection that will hopefully become more widely available to researchers in the near future.
As noted above, Victor Weiss testified that it was not he, but rather an associate, a Dr. Bowers, who had heard Cherami discuss the assassination of JFK prior to its occurrence. According to Weiss, Bowers told Weiss about Cherami's remarks on November 25, 1963.
Dr. Donn Bowers's name was known to Jim Garrison's investigators in 1967, but there is no evidence that the New Orleans District Attorney's Office or the HSCA sought to interview him. Researcher Robert Dorff interviewed Dr. Bowers in 2002, and Bowers wrote a letter for Dorff to read at the JFK Lancer organization's November in Dallas 2003 convention. I quote from it here, transcribed from the DVD of Dorff's November in Dallas Conference presentation.
Referring to Dr. Weiss's allegation that Bowers had told Weiss that Rose Cherami had predicted the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Bowers wrote:
Dr. Weiss’s statement is untrue. I was not at the hospital on Monday, November the 25th. I spent that day working at my regular job at the Baptist Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana. My regular tenure at East Louisiana State Hospital ended in July, 1963, when I moved to New Orleans and commenced work at the Baptist Hospital in that city. I worked weekdays Monday through Friday. On weekends I would drive to Jackson to earn extra money working in the medical division at the East Louisiana State Hospital.
I never saw Rose Cherami and only found out about her allegations on Sunday, November the 24th, 1963, during a dove hunting engagement with Dr. Weiss. It was he who told me what she allegedly told Weiss and possibly others. I was never contacted by anyone from the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
When I began getting telephone calls from assassination researchers informing me about the statements attributed to me, as memorialized [in Weiss's HSCA testimony], I called Dr. Weiss and asked him why he had said these things. Weiss rebuffed my inquiry and flatly refused to discuss it. I found that very odd as I had known and respected him for many years. I still cannot understand why he made those statements.
On mature reflection I recalled that, during our dove hunting foray on Sunday, November the 24th, Dr. Weiss told me about Cherami’s allegations. That was the first time I heard any of this. I remember that incident because, while driving back to New Orleans that day, I heard on the radio that Oswald had been shot in the basement of the Dallas Police Department. Years later I personally reviewed Rose Cherami’s hospital records at the East Louisiana State Hospital and was unable to find any reference to her alleged remarks about an impending assassination of President Kennedy.
I’m sorry I was unable to attend the JFK Lancers [sic] forum in Dallas and hope this letter makes clear that I had no contact with Rose Cherami.
Donn E. Bowers, MD
45. Jim DiEugenio, "Rose Cheramie [sic]: How She Predicted the JFK Assassination," Probe, Vol. 6, No, 5, July-August 1999. Space limitations prohibit a comprehensive response to the speculation and misinformation contained in the DiEugenio article. One example stems from the Madison Capital Times report that LSU intern Wayne Owen and several others "were told of the plot in advance of the assassination." However, the New Orleans Times-Picayune of February 3, 1968, clarifies that Owen and his fellow students had simply heard a hearsay account of the Cherami story from an unnamed professor of theirs at Louisiana State University Medical School. (Joachim Joesten, The Case Against J. Edgar Hoover, self-published, 1969, p. 10; thanks to Jerry Shinley for digging up a copy of the original article.) Another problem is the claim picked up from J. Gary Shaw that Cherami's death certificate indicates a "punctate stellate wound" having been noted on the decedent's head, something that could indicate a gunshot wound. The death certificate says no such thing.
46. House Select Committee on Assassinations, Hearings Vol. X, p. 203.
47. House Select Committee on Assassinations, Hearings Vol. X, p. 203.
48. NODA "Rose Cheramie" file, particularly US Department of Justice Record No. 2-347-922.
49. Anthony Summers, Conspiracy (New York: Paragon House, 1989), p. 592.
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