Perry Raymond Russo, Grand Jury testimony
March 22, 1967
ORLEANS PARISH GRAND JURY
MARCH 22, 1967
MESSRS. ALVIN V. OSER AND JAMES ALCOCK
Assistant District Attorneys
[JIM GARRISON, District Attorney]
MEMBERS OF THE ORLEANS PARISH GRAND JURY
PERRY RAYMOND RUSSO
Maureen B. Thiel,
Orleans Parish Grand Jury
[Webmaster's note: All ellipses as in original.]
PERRY RAYMOND RUSSO, being duly sworn in by the Foreman of the Orleans Parish Grand Jury, was questioned and answered as follows:
BY MR. ALVIN OSER:
Q. Give us your full name, please?
A. Perry Raymond Russo.
Q. Where do you live?
A. 311 East State St., Baton Rouge.
Q. What is your occupation?
A. I work in sales for the Equitable Life Assurance Society.
Q. Did you know Dave Ferrie?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. When did you first meet him?
A. About 1960-61, during that period of time.
Q. Here in New Orleans?
A. In Kenner -- which is New Orleans to me.
Q. What was your occupation during that time?
A. A student.
A. I was beginning at Tulane in September 1959.
Q. Do you know what Ferrie's occupation was at this time?
A. Well, Al told me he was an Eastern Airlines pilot.
Q. Who is Al?
A. Al Landry -- that is how I met him -- I used to play baseball and basketball with Al over at High School in the backyard, where there was a big open field behind the School, and we used to play a lot of ball, and he talked about this guy for weeks.
Q. Dave Ferrie?
A. Dave -- I did not know him -- and Al built him up high -- he was a leader of an Air Patrol Unit, or a group, and he said why don't you come out and see him. I kept putting him off -- and would say OK, I will next week or the week after that, or tomorrow, maybe -- I kept putting him off, and I went over one night to see Al, and his family told me about Dave -- they kept saying Al was running away from home -- he turned out to be a bad bad [sic], he really wasn't -- Al was a pretty good guy, except that he was confused. That's the way I took it. And I would say, well, if he wants to run, he will always come back, or he will tell me where he is. I said, well, I'll call you all, but keep it in strict confidence, because Al won't like this, but I will let you know, so I went out to Dave's house -- I took the next invitation, and went out to his house in Kenner.
Q. This was when Dave lived in Kenner?
Q. Do you recognize this picture?
A. That is Dave.
Q. David Ferrie?
Q. How many occasions did you go to Dave Ferrie's apartment?
A. Out there in Kenner?
A. Once that I can remember -- I don't think I went out there again, because I just don't think I went out there again, maybe I did, but I don't think so.
Q. Describe for the jury just what type individual Dave Ferrie was, as you saw him and as you knew him. How was he?
A. Dave wanted praise -- he wanted people to think he was a great guy, and he had all this stuff behind him, and he could do things that other people couldn't, and when I went out to Kenner, all the stuff that Al had told me, he went to great length to prove to me, because Al had told him about me, as I was a little bit skeptical -- and I didn't like people to be built up big like that. And Al for weeks had talked about him for so long, and so I was looking for ways to shoot him down, ways to pick at him. So I went out there, and when I left, I was impressed -- he showed me five degrees, I was just getting started in college, and two of them were doctorate degrees, and right then I began talking to him at the meeting, and he sorta [sic] took me and some other friends of mine apart to try to impress me, I guess, I don't know what his reasons were, and we talked, and I told him some of the things I believed in politics -- you know, stuff about Chep Morrison, and how I felt about New Orleans, and stuff like that. That was the last real time we had any kind of discussion, because he tells [sic] me . . . I would say, Dave, I read somewhere that such was the case in the past, or something about Eisenhower or Morrison or somebody, and he would say, oh, no, he would say, go look at the Library and get this book, and he would say, make sure it's the second edition, published in 1947 -- I am just picking out a date -- and you look in that book and turn to page 350 -- I never did do that, but if a man has done that, he is way out on a limb -- 'cause all you have to do is go look it up -- agriculture, you know . . .
Q. In your opinion, Dave Ferrie was a well read individual?
A. Absolutely. He could cite chapters of verse [sic] on anything. He later on told me he could cure leukemia, he could cure cancer -- we didn't talk much about that, because my mother had died of cancer, and he told me he could cure all these diseases. He said they wouldn't let him in a hospital. He said he could commit the perfect murder -- and he said he knew all about autopsies, he could inject chemicals -- that is why I did not believe he died accidentally. I am not saying he didn't, but he said he could inject a chemical right in the bottom of the ankle, in some big vein or something, and this chemical would then work its way eventually up to the brain -- the same thing he died of, he said he could do that. And he said it would clot, and either make a man a vegetable, or it would kill him. And if it killed him, they would have to do an autopsy within 24 hours, and if they didn't, then the chemicals would dissipate . . . He hypnotized Landry the first night -- you know, the first time I had ever seen him, he hypnotized Al, and with just . . . like that -- I knew a little about hypnosis -- but he hypnotized Al the first night, and stuck pins in him -- stuck the protractor [sic] in, and he just stuck that through his hand here, no blood, you know, that is pushing. To me -- that was to sit back and listen.
Q. Perry, did he ever talk about aphrodisiac in different type chemicals?
A. He never had a roommate -- this was when he moved -- and nobody ever lived with him.
Q. When was this?
A. During the times I knew him in 1962-63. He had his mother living with him in Kenner, so he said -- I met her once. So he talked about -- he came over one night to my house -- and he said he had concocted this new drug, and said this drug had real great results, and he went through a long story of what aphrodisiacs and Spanish flies were, and he said there were no such things for human beings, because they work on a different level. You know, sex excitement on different levels -- and he said he had tried it -- had tried it on his roommate. You know I had -- been up there -- and nobody had been around -- and all of a sudden he had a roommate. Now, he never said anything about homosexual stuff -- but I just got the idea he had to be a homosexual, too. But he did not say anything about this. He never talked about Landry ever again after that. He said that he had tried the drug on him and his roommate woke up the next day and didn't remember anything, didn't remember anything he had done that whole night. He said that it would be a great thing -- you know, if you would get it into parties -- well, at that time, I was always having young people around the house, they'd run up to the house, and maybe we'd run up to Tulane and play some more basketball -- baseball in the afternoons and basketball at night. And he wanted to use it on them, and I said no, stay away from that -- you know, my mother died of cancer, and she never took anything except when her doctor, Dr. Michel, just ordered her to. She was kinda [sic] funny about drugs, because of pain, probably -- she had a rough time the last month -- she did take a few things -- but not all they told her to. I said, no, if they want to do it, you take them over to their house and do it -- start around here with that stuff, and then everybody would start saying I am a drug addict or something. He asked me if I wanted to take it, and I said no.
Q. Perry, when was the first time that you saw Lee Harvey Oswald at Ferrie's apartment?
A. Sometime in September about the middle of 1963 [sic].
Q. What was the occasion for first seeing Oswald?
A. Well, Dave came down to my house, or called me up and said, are you coming up, and I said yes, and so I just said I'll be over, and he said, I'll give you a ride, because I did not have a car at that time. We drove up, and I didn't know anything about a roommate -- and he came up, and this guy was sitting on the porch -- somebody was sitting out on the porch, and he said he likes to sit out on the porch, and he said he just sits out there and thinks a lot -- with no lights on -- and in the dark -- and I just figured he didn't work or something. He must have seen us, because he then went inside -- the lights turned on in the front room, and so we had to come up the stairway, and we came in the front room, and he introduced us. He was sitting down about as far as this table from us, and he was either polishing or cleaning or doing something with a rifle. Dave said he was kinda [sic] funny, never did elaborate because, you know, a guy sitting out on the porch in the dark -- and Dave said he did that a lot -- Dave just said he was kinda [sic] funny.
Q. Were you able to strike up a friendship with Oswald?
A. No. I walked in there, and he was sitting down about twenty feet away in an old, raggedy old chair, half sofa, and he was sitting down, and I walked in, and Dave said, this is a friend of mine from Elysian Fields, he goes to school, or something to that effect, and Dave told me that this Leon Oswald was a friend of his -- so then he said, you bring another one of these pricks up here? So I said, listen, Dave, as far as I'm concerned, I don't want to come here anyway -- said I would rather go home, because he had to give me a ride, so I said I would just rather go home. That eased out and finally his roommate, Oswald, said, I am going out, I will see you later, or something to that effect.
Q. This roommate was introduced to you by Ferrie as being Leon Oswald?
Q. What was his description when you saw him?
A. He had a polo white shirt, but it was not a T-shirt, it was some kind of dirty knit shirt, but it was white, and it was dirty, and he had a full week's growth of beard, or maybe five days, just depends . . . and he was real dirty. And he had a real nasty attitude.
Q. Do you recognize that picture?
A. That is the same guy.
Q. This is the guy that you were introduced to as Leon Oswald [sic] by Dave Ferrie in Ferrie's apartment?
Q. Can you describe the gun that Leon Oswald was fooling with in the apartment, as best as you can recall it?
A. It was a rifle. I had a .22 rifle my father had given me -- I never did really go hunting, but it was a bolt action. I knew what bolt actions were -- I don't know if it was a ,22 or not, and it had a telescopic sight on it, which I figured was for hunting. It was a fairly . . . dirty brown stock, and could have been real good plastic, or it could have been wood -- I just didn't get real close to it -- he offered to show it to me. You know, his prize. A few minutes later I sat at one end of the room and he sat at the other, and Dave went into the bedroom, and he said he was going to leave.
Q. During this time, or at any time, did Ferrie make any comment about Leon Oswald liking guns, or anything like that?
A. About liking guns?
Q. Yes, Oswald?
A. He said he was a bug about guns. But I think he told me that downstairs. He may have said it in the apartment -- he said he was a bug -- said he was kinda [sic] peculiar -- he wasn't old, looked to me about 25, maybe even younger than that -- lots of guys at Tulane had whiskers on like this. Said he read a lot and would think a lot. Said he would sit on the porch at night after finishing reading and just sit and think.
Q. Did you see Oswald with any other type of gun?
A. A pistol once - but I don't know if these were his, now.
Q. You saw him with it?
Q. How many times did you see Oswald in Ferrie's apartment?
A. About four times.
Q. This was the first time?
Q. When was the second time?
A. Three or four days later.
Q. In Ferrie's apartment?
A. Yes -- just barged in, you know, me and some others -- there was a gang of people around, because Ferrie associated with some real quacks, I thought; everybody was drinking, joking, listening to the record player and just talking, and he was there, too -- dressed the same way.
Q. When was the third time?
A. I saw him toward the end of the month, just for a few minutes.
Q. Where was this?
A. Up at Ferrie's house.
Q. Will you explain to the jury what type of relationships were going on -- by relationship, I mean everybody going to each other's houses and this type of thing?
A. Well, I had my own baseball team, but it wasn't organized -- for the last three or four years I had an organized team -- with uniforms and everything like that -- but in these years, I had a team and we had played McDonogh and any team that wanted to play us; I had another team we called the Mau-Maus, they were the Franklin Ave. boys, and they would come over and we would play them, but anyway, occasionally everybody would come over to my house, or we would go to some other people's houses for maybe five or ten minutes, or maybe we would all go out to the Lake Front and go swimming or whatever we wanted to do, or go up to Tulane, and most of the time we went up to Tulane and would drop by Dave's house, and Dave went to great lengths to make friends, I thought. He said we just come in at any time. I had a feeling that although I wasn't seeing Al at this time, I think he was in the Air Force, that Dave's Civil Air Patrol had busted up. So he went to great lengths to cultivate a friendship, and we had had bad words the first time, and he did a lot to try and repair us. He could not afford to antagonize me. I was through with him the first time, and I just said, well, now Al has broken up with Dave, that was 1961, I guess, now they split up, and Mrs. Landry and them like me, so we had some bad words then, and he went to great lengths to become friends. I was a little bit suspicious, because he wanted some kind of outlet, because Al told me that he always denied it up to the point he broke up with Ferrie, because he said that Ferrie was hypnotizing these guys in the Civil Air Patrol, and was having sexual relations with them. Now . . . back to our normal activities, we had parties, by that I mean anybody dropped by, three or four people, that was a party to me, it was just a talking party, lots of times I would read if it was an intellectual crowd, if it was baseball, well, I used to read all the baseball books, and I would -- and there was this friend of mine, Peterson, and I would sit and argue for hours and hours on all sorts of teams, and everybody would run to everybody's place, now Peterson had a place -- he moved around lots -- but he had a place, Niles Peterson, called "Lefty," now Lefty had a place that we would always go visit, he lived alone, had no family, except his brother in New Orleans, and his mother died a long time ago, his father disappeared or something like that -- and we would go to his place, because nobody caused him problems and nobody would get mad at us or anything like that. Whenever we finished playing basketball or up at Tulane for swimming, we would come on over and drop in at David's -- sometimes only for a few minutes -- and David . . .
Q. Well, now, let's get down to the middle of September 1963; did you have occasion to drop in David's apartment while a party was going on?
A. Yes, that was the second time I was . . . I saw Oswald.
Q. Second time you saw Oswald?
Q. Who all was there when you went to this party, and what do you mean when you say a party?
A. Well, a party, just everybody just sitting around and talking and maybe drinking a drink and shoot [sic] the breeze about one thing or another, then it was a party. Nothing very formal, because we have parties in Baton Rouge the same way -- everybody just sits around and talks, and that was the case. I just barged in. Dave had taken great pains never to antagonize me -- he did it once, and we had words about that on Bourbon St. So even we were not invited [sic], we were. He could not ask me to leave, he knew that because I had never -- he would come over at 3:00 o'clock [sic] in the morning sometimes over at the apartment, and I have never put anybody out. He would come over there, and we would sit and shoot the breeze a while, and then I would start, I am a little tired and want to go in, and he would leave. He never would put me out, I knew that. So we just barged in. I was with Peterson and Sandra Moffett, and we just came on in, and everybody was just sitting around -- Spanish guys, his roommate was there, Shaw was there, but that wasn't his name, and Ferrie, and they had these two young boys, a couple of young boys . . .
Q. This man you were introduced to, called Shaw, how were you introduced to him?
A. Well, Ferrie introduced me to everybody -- Shaw was sitting there -- he might have said something like, Perry Russo is a student, and all that stuff, right down the line, and this is so-and-so . . .
Q. What did he call Shaw?
A. Well, he called him Clem Bertrand.
Q. Clem Bertrand?
A. Clem Bertrand.
Q. At any time did you know the person you now know as Shaw -- did you know him as any other name, other than Clem Bertrand?
A. Not until March 1.
Q. Until the day of his arrest?
A. Well, Andy [Sciambra] told me his real name.
Q. Up until that time, you always knew this individual as Clem Bertrand?
Q. You want to look at this photograph?
A. That is the same man --
Q. And you knew him as Clem Bertrand?
Q. Before this night, how many times have you seen Clem Bertrand, who is Clay Shaw, before this?
A. Before the party?
Q. How many times after this party you are talking about?
A. Well, I saw him a few times over here on Dauphine St., once at the service station, and I saw him at the trial.
Q. Let's go back -- take the first time you saw the man you knew as Clem Bertrand, who is Clay Shaw, when was the first time you saw him?
A. I saw him at Nashville Wharf when I went to see President Kennedy speak.
Q. When was this?
Q. How do you remember him?
A. Well, I thought I was late -- Kennedy was late getting there to make a speech -- I was running and rushing, and trying to get over there from school, I had to wait until class got over -- I had seen Eisenhower long time ago [sic] -- think it was the Sesquicentennial or something, I think he had a bubbletop, and I didn't get a good look, but this time I wanted a look at the President -- so I went there, and got there a little late -- and all a sudden I hear the sirens coming, and everybody runs for the sides to see President Kennedy, so he came and went up to make his speech, and I was halfway listening, as I was looking at him more, really, and then I got tired of it, not really tired, I had seen him and that was good -- I could always say I had seen the President -- so I was in the back of the group -- as I got there a little late and people were jammed in and I had noticed this guy -- standing there with another guy -- both dressed real good -- and he had something on, like corduroy material, but with stripes in it -- real rich looking -- corduroy looks like paper, but it didn't look like paper, something like that. The President was up there talking, like at this ashtray [?], and there was about 600 or 800 people right here, then I got in late and everybody ran over to the side of the Hangar, and they looked out the side, and President Kennedy drove up and he got out the front and jumped up there and automatically you could feel it was him -- I think he wore a blue suit or something -- I am not sure of that -- he had a real suntan -- real striking. But anyway, I was in the back, and I have 20-13 vision -- I have been examined -- and I know it. I have real good baseball vision -- I can see things real clearly, and I don't need to stand real close to see a guy, that's for sure. Now, in front of me were these two guys. He [Shaw] was one of them, and I don't know who the other guy was. He [Shaw] wasn't watching the President, and I thought he has to be a Secret Service man, for he was watching everything but the President. I made that remark to whoever I was there with -- because he was watching everything but the President -- I said I never saw a President in reality before, but he was watching everything but.
Q. What was your impression besides his being a Secret Service man?
A. He looked everything below the belt -- he was moonlighting a little bit -- you know, he was looking everything below the belt -- he was sizing up the guys -- I was with Lefty -- he met me there -- and I was with a guy from Loyola, but I don't recall his name, and he was just looking below the belt, and he put you at unease, you know, just kept staring down like that, and then these two young boys back there about my age, I guess, but young men, and he got into a conversation with one of them -- one of them was away -- and the other one came back, and then they evidently decided they wanted to leave, and he went back to his buddy, and was standing there and talking to him, and he kept looking around, looking at all the people, he looked below the belt, and I got the impression that he was homosexual.
Q. When was the next time you saw him?
[Line of text missing?]
Q. When was the next time you saw him after this?
A. I saw him at a service station that Ferrie was working in.
Q. Tell the jury the facts of your seeing him at the service station?
A. I was having trouble with my car at that time -- I had some old $50.00 automobile -- it was the second semester of the '63-64 school year. I was in a rush and having trouble with the car, and I was mad and everything else, and I hadn't seen Dave for about eight months now, or seven months, or something like that, and I drove in there and these two young boys come [sic] out, and they said, what's wrong with the car. I think it was a tire or the battery, or it might have been both -- but I told them it wouldn't pick up on me -- and they said, move it out of the way of the pumps -- so I pulled it over a little bit -- and before I pulled it over, somebody tapped me on the back and said, sure, long time no see. I turned around and it was Dave Ferrie, and I said, what you been doing, and he said, nothing much. You know, that kind of stuff. And he said, you still on Elysian Fields, and I said yes, and I said, well, I'll see you later, I'm in a little bit of a rush, Dave. So they, or I pulled the car over to get out of the way of the pumps, which were -- I think there were two sets, but I don't exactly remember that. So I pulled over there, and Dave was at a car right next to me. About five feet apart, about twice the width of this -- I just happened to pull it over there, no other place to put it. And he just went back to the car, evidently he was talking there before, I don't know. So I had occasion to -- I'd make a couple of remarks about Dave, you know, I knew the guy and would say a few things to him -- and he was with this buddy who was sitting in the car with him, but he was sitting -- Bertrand was sitting at the driver's seat, and Ferrie was sitting in the front seat next to him, and I was sitting over here in my care with the door open, smoking a cigarette or doing something, and everything once in a while [sic] I would say, Dave, what's been going on, something like that, and Dave would have to turn around like this, because his back was to me, and when he did, Bertrand was sitting like this in the car -- I don't know if he had his legs crossed, but he was sitting in this position, and I was over there about ten feet away in my car, and Dave would turn around and say something back.
Q. That was the same man?
A. Yes, that was the same guy.
Q. Now, let's go back to the party -- what you called the party -- in 1963. You went up there with other people?
A. Peterson and Sandra Moffett, yes.
Q. Ferrie was there, Leon Oswald was there, Clem Bertrand was there, who else was there? That you can recall?
A. I remember these two Spanish guys because I had seen them, I think, before. (Inaudible) was his name, his last name, he was one guy, and the other guy, Manuel, but I don't know the last name.
Q. Was this the party where you heard them sit down and talk about the President?
A. Afterwards -- yes. You see, in other words, this was a party, and they were listening to records.
Q. How did that come about?
A. I was -- Lefty just sorta of [sic] drifted out of the picture -- in other words, he left, you couldn't count on Lefty -- you didn't know if he would leave or stay -- I figured he was coming right back, so I just stayed -- and Sandra went out talking to some one of the boys [sic] in there and they left -- pretty soon everybody just started filtering out -- then there was left Ferrie, Oswald, Bertrand, and me. So that didn't make any difference, maybe the party was dying -- that didn't make any difference, I was looking for a ride. Ferrie had to either give me a ride or I would get a ride with Lefty. So I just stayed -- I didn't push myself and say give me a ride, so I would, every once in a while, get up, and Oswald didn't like me -- and I didn't like him either -- and Bertrand had been introduced to me -- he always dressed good, I mean . . .
Q. He was dressed well this night?
A. Oh, yes, he always stuck out like a sore thumb -- everybody else -- I don't even remember what I was wearing, but I sure remember what he was wearing. Ferrie always wore these baggy pants and dirty old white shirts with short sleeves, and these Spanish guys -- they wore jeans and khakis, stuff I would play ball in, the two young boys were dirty, and Oswald was always dirty . . .
Q. Now, it boils down to the four of you in the room of Dave Ferrie's apartment?
A. Yes, in the living room.
Q. Before the conversation got started was there any conversation about you?
A. Well, Oswald said -- first they started looking at me. I felt a little conspicuous about that -- then I would get up every once in a while -- and Ferrie would start talking, and there would be some hesitation -- stuff like that -- then I would go outside on the porch and look around to see if Lefty was around -- I wanted to go home. And I would go back in, and then Oswald asked Ferrie what the h--- [sic] is he doing here, or something to that effect. And Ferrie said, he is all right, he doesn't know anything, just a student, and that kind of stuff. Then Bertrand looked at me real bad, and I had said something to him when I walked in, I said, I remember you, and he said he did not remember me, and he might not have remembered me, but I don't forget faces. I walked in the court, and they had this big, heavy sheriff, and I pointed at him and said, I know you from somewhere, and said, let me think about it, and said baseball, and he said something about umpire for a league, and I said you got a real loud mouth, I didn't mean it in a bad way, so after I walked in and shook hands with this guy, I said, I know you from somewhere, don't I, and then I said, you went to the Nashville Wharf, and he looked at me, but I don't remember what he said, then I said, I thought you were a Secret Service man, then he laughed, and I thought, no Secret Service man could be in this dump. So he said, no, I couldn't be a Secret Service man, and that killed that idea. That was all for that.
Q. What was Dave Ferrie doing at this time?
A. Well, Ferrie was trying to calm everybody's nerves about me being there, and pacing up and down -- he would always pace up and down when he got excited.
Q. Did he have anything in his hands?
A. He had these clippings, a bunch of clippings, of Kennedy. I could see two or three of them -- Kennedy's name in headlines, they were cut out of the paper, and maybe the seventh or eighth clipping, I could see a picture of Kennedy down below. Of course, all of them were about Kennedy. But, of course, I wasn't real sure of that.
Q. Did Dave get into the conversation?
A. Well, I would keep getting up -- I would walk out on the porch and look around -- and I'd come back in -- and it was getting late -- late for me, it was about 2:00 o'clock [sic]. And I was real tired, and I figured that I might have to catch the bus -- and they ran only once an hour. So they started talking and Ferrie walking up and down, and he was telling when they shoot the President, they're going to have three people -- and he always did this, I can remember this to this day, he had big hands, to me they big hands, and he would stick his fingers up like that, fat fingers, and he would go like that, and he would say when they shoot him, there's got to be three of us, and he would point like this, now one of them is going to have to go, going to have to be the scapegoat in the procedure. The other two -- if this guy is the scapegoat, these guys go free. He says now, if necessary, they might have to use two scapegoats -- because if they have two scapegoats, this one gets to go free, for he says . . . he talked during the summer -- want me to back up a little bit?
Q. Yes. Go ahead. Is this the first time he talked about assassination?
A. Oh, no, he talked about perfect murders, assassination is one of the things he talked about. He talked about . . . he said that in 1956, I don't know if that is right or not, Eisenhower came down in New Orleans and said a woman got real close to his car and opened up a purse, just a woman from the street, on Decatur St., he might have been talking about the Sesquicentennial, I don't know. She got all the way up close to Eisenhower and opened up her purse like this before somebody stopped her -- and now if she wanted to sacrifice herself, she could do it. He talked like that -- I said, well, I am not sure, for they've got all kinds of Secret Service men around. This was during the summer he talked all about that, but he never talked about Kennedy, he just talked theoretically, what was working in his mind and all that. And what you could do, and all that -- he also talked about the President of Mexico, Mataeo, I think, he said that if you got an auditorium or a big gathering place where the President was speaking, said you get the President speaking in Mexico City, and you got 20,000 people out in the group, he said all you need to do is have two people, one of them is going to be the scapegoat, the other guy is not, the first guy just shoots a shot up in the air, and everybody in the group turns around and looks at him, the police start going at him like crazy, and at that split second, you can hear it in your ear, he said, the guy in the front takes a well calculated aim and he shoots him thirty or fifty feet away, and he said you can't miss. He said in the confusion, the second shot is not always audible, everybody is always running and scared, and the police are running, he said the second guy can get away, but the first guy -- that's too bad for him.
Q. Let's go back to the point when Ferrie was talking and using his hand and the three fingers, what did he say about diversionary fire?
A. Well, I may have given a wrong idea at that trial, a diversionary fire did not mean that one guy just shoot [sic] up in the air like the two guys in the Mexico thing, all three of them were going to shoot at the President, but this guy is diversionary in the sense that he is going to take the brunt of all the people who will come at him, and he will let them catch him -- there is nothing he can do. Somebody has got to get caught. And you need ten or twelve men to let the others escape -- and he said that these three would all shoot at the President, the first one is going to try and get him just like the other two are going to try and get him, he says now if the President in the middle of this crossfire, he was talking about Kennedy here, said if President Kennedy is in the middle, at the precise moment all three of them shoot him dead in his tracks, and he said one of them is going to be sacrificed -- and he said this is diversionary man, he is going to tire that diversionary shot, that first shot, and he is going to get caught, and the other two, in the confusion, these two assassins are to do the job if the first one didn't do it. He said no way in the world one shot can kill a President, except you are fifteen feet away from him and blooey . . .
Q. In the discussion, what was said about escape routes?
A. Yes, he talked about this first, I believe -- said -- he started talking about this -- he did most of the talking, said either we could fly to -- the exit would have to be by flying, I am the pilot and know all about flying -- he is the greatest thing who ever flew -- so he said -- and Bertrand had a different opinion, but he said that you would either fly . . . we have two things that we can do, once the assassination is effected, don't get caught, he said, they fly to Mexico and then on to Brazil, no extradition, said they would fly to Mexico, refuel, and stay maybe four or five minutes, whatever it takes, or that is the one route, or fly directly to Cuba, and Ferrie said if you fly Cuba, though, the people might shoot you down, says if they don't know who you are, then Bertrand got in an argument with him . . .
Q. With Ferrie?
A. Yes. Then Bertrand said, no, you can't stop to refuel, in Mexico, under any circumstances, because as soon as the shot is fired, even if they miss, the whole world knows that the President has been shot at. Even if you miss, you cannot stop in Mexico, the authorities will grab you -- anything that looks like it's suspicious, they will grab you.
Q. So he and Ferrie got into an argument, or beef, about the . . . about going to Mexico?
Q. Was there anything else discussed at that time?
A. Well, Oswald got into it too. He jumped on Bertrand, not physically, and said, let him alone, damn it, or words to that effect, he knows what he is doing, he is the pilot -- and Bertrand turned to him and said he was a washed-up son of a bitch, and that was all to that. Then Ferrie, after some argument, said, well, there is an alternative escape, but it wasn't an escape, you know -- which he explained, and he said, we, and I suppose he meant all three of them, I don't know, could be in the public eye on the day of the assassination. And he said just be that way and have all the witnesses listening to you, seeing you, doing things with you, and he said there is no way they can do anything about it -- bunch of rumors, but that is all. He said nothing they can do about it.
Q. Did Ferrie make any comment?
A. Ferrie told me, or told them, he was going to Southeastern and make [sic] a speech.
Q. That's at Hammond?
A. Yes, Hammond, La.
Q. Did Bertrand make any comment?
A. He said he could arrange to go on business for his company to the west coast.
Q. Did Oswald say where he would be?
A. No, if he did, I didn't hear it. He was kind of detached. He sat there and he would take part there, same way at the party, he did not say one thing to anybody except the Spanish guy, he might have said a few remarks to him. If he is going to go somewhere, he is going to go on his own, you know. He will tell you later or say, I'll let you know, you know, that kind of stuff.
Q. Did you know whether or not Oswald was married?
A. I had the idea because Ferrie was talking about it --
Q. About Oswald's wife?
A. I don't know, now I am just assuming this, but I walked in, it was an afternoon or early evening, and Ferrie and I were standing there, and they had a big beef going on -- and Oswald said, she is all pissed off, and Ferrie said, don't worry about it, I'll handle it, and all that, let it go, I'll handle it. I told Dave, I said, see you later, and left.
Q. What was the fourth time you saw Oswald?
A. Sometime in October.
Q. How was he dressed at this time?
A. He was clean, had a white shirt on, and most of the time he just slouched, but not this day. I was only there a few minutes, he was standing up talking to Dave, and he had his back to me, they were just shooting the breeze and just talking.
Q. Do you know where he had been?
A. Well, Dave, in a conversation, said something about Mexico.
Q. What was the conversation about; what happened?
A. Well, I walked in and evidently he was moving -- that's the impression I got -- he had some bags sitting right here . . .
A. Yes. They were his bags, and Dave said, where you going, somebody going to meet you, and all that stuff. He said to Oswald about Mexico, he had been there, and he did not like it, or he had some trouble, he got into police trouble -- he said something to that effect -- might have been plane trouble, for all I know, or car trouble -- I didn't enter that conversation, I don't enter those kinds of conversation. He was a nut and Ferrie was interesting, but he was a nut, too.
Q. Can you describe Oswald's bags?
A. They were leather -- you know when you are a kid in school, you have these little leather pouches that you put outside your bike and carry your school books in -- this was a big leather, big, big thing like that, and it had all kinds of junk stuffed in it, and on the outside were these two pouches -- looked like stuff that you find in grammar school -- like a kid would have -- I have had them -- some kind of thing like that, and they were made out of canvas, heavy canvas like you would buy in an Army goods store, it was not rich stuff -- you might pay $10.00 -- $15.00 for it. You wouldn't pay any money for it.
Q. Now, you talked about seeing Clem Bertrand at the Nashville Wharf, in Ferrie's apartment, the night they were talking about killing Kennedy, and at the service station -- do you know whose service station it was?
A. Dave & Al's, I think -- but I am not sure.
Q. When was the fourth time you saw Bertrand?
A. I believe it was on Dauphine St.
Q. Was this the day before he was arrested?
A. No -- I think it was -- the day before he was arrested. Because Andy [Sciambra] had asked me, do you think you could make positive identification -- and I said I couldn't forget this guy in a thousand years -- and he said, well, we know where he lives, and I think that is the first time you told me what his name was. His name was Shaw. Because I never asked you -- I didn't care -- I didn't want to know anything about it.
Q. You mean Sciambra told you?
A. Yes, Andy. And so he arranged it, and we went out and we waited at his house on Dauphine St. We just waited there and waited there and pretty soon a friend of his went in.
Q. A friend of who?
A. Shaw -- Bertrand. Went into his house, into his apartment, and then maybe half an hour later, about 12:00 o'clock [sic] -- during the day -- 'cause I know there was a policeman there named McGilla the gorilla -- a detective -- and he had been sitting there for a few hours -- I think we got there about 1:00 o'clock [sic], and finally this man who went in left, and when he did he stuck his head out, like this, outside the door, shake hands, and I'll see you later. We were about fifteen or twenty feet away from the door; he stuck his head out about this much, and I told him, I said, that's him, he's got muscles in his face -- not like anybody else's face -- so I said, no, Andy, that's him. No problem at all. And he said, no, we got to make positive. And I said, I'm positive. And he said, would you mind waiting a little longer -- and I said, no, not really, I wanted to get back to work, to Baton Rouge, so finally we waited around and waited around, and he never came around, he got suspicious, I think, he looked out the bathroom window up there or the kitchen window, he kept looking out there, and finally I said, we had talked about this before, I said, let me go up and knock on the door. If he comes out, I can recognize him, if he doesn't come out, I will ask for the head of the house so I can sell him insurance. Somebody said OK, so I was getting tired -- I had been up five hours. So Andy phoned the DA's office and somebody said OK. So anyway, I knocked at the door, and he answered the door -- but they had a colored maid, because I saw her come out a couple of times -- but he answered the door, and when he did, I pushed a card in front of his face and said I am Adon Williams, that was the card of mine of a friend in Baton Rouge, I said, I am Adon Williams, and I represent Mutual, you know, the big, quick, hard-selling technique -- try and get an interview - and I said we are not out to try and sell you insurance -- all I want to do -- and he stopped me and said, what is your name, and I said Adon Williams. Later on he stopped me again and said the same thing. I pronounced it very clearly and I shoved the card in front of his face, and he could read it, and so I said, I want to get an interview, all I want to do is ask questions about your coverage -- if it's Blue Cross, or words to that effect, and he said, I don't need any now. So that was all to that. We were there about maybe two minutes. He said if you come back next week, perhaps I won't have any friends around and perhaps I could talk to you then. Then he said, what's your name again? And I said Adon Williams. It's a funny name, you know. But I guess it's the man's real name.
Q. Do you think he recognized you?
A. He asked me my name three times; no one ever asked me that before -- I thought he did, and that's why I was scared to go in there. I was afraid he might say yes, you come on in and leave your buddy outside. I wasn't going in under any circumstances.
Q. Is there any doubt in your mind that this picture you identified of Shaw -- that the guy you identified at Nashville Wharf and the guy you saw in the apartment plotting to kill Kennedy, and the guy you saw in the service station talking to Ferrie, and the guy you identified when you were with Sciambra, who came to the door at 1313 Dauphine, is all one and the same guy?
A. Yes, you don't forget his face. I am absolutely sure of that, Mr. Dymond and nobody else can shake me in that -- I told Mr. Garrison the other day, even if they get a guy who looks exactly like him, the man has a certain personality, he has a certain nature about him, he always dressed good, and he talks a certain way, and nobody can fool me that much. They might fool me, but they won't fool me that much -- I am sure it's the same man.
Q. And you knew him as Clem Bertrand?
Q. It was the only way you knew him, as Clem Bertrand?
Q. It was not until Andy told you in the DA's office that his name was Clay Shaw?
A. First time I ever heard that. That name.
Q. Did you have occasion to identify him again in the DA's office after his arrest?
A. Yes, evidently you all had subpoenaed him, and I knew who he was at that time, I think, sometime right around there -- Sciambra and everybody said, we want you to make one more identification -- so maybe five or six guys come parading into this room -- and they come walking in, I look at them all, and they go walking out -- just guys, just walking -- and all of a sudden, he come [sic] walking in, and I told Mr. Joanou, I said, that's the man -- same man on the street the other day -- same man in the service station -- same man I saw at the Nashville Wharf -- he said, are you sure, and I said, I told you this five times, I cannot be more sure than that. He sat there and ate a sandwich, so they asked me if I would discontinue to look at him. Maybe I would see something different -- something that he does that is different that he didn't do before -- he acts the same, he crosses his legs, he is a little bit bigger around here, acts the same. Don't make no difference [sic], he is the same man, he is big. In Baton Rouge they show [sic] me this man here and I say, I know him; he asked me to describe him, and I say this guy is a monster, wide shoulders like this. And Andy said, I thought he was skinny -- and I said, no, he is not skinny, this guy is big, I would not want to tangle with him in a dark alley, you know, that is the way I phrased it up there -- he is impressively big -- I am six foot -- now he is 6'2", but he is wider than I am, thicker, looks stronger and has big hands.
Q. The part about the photograph that you identified as the roommate of Ferrie, Leon Oswald, how did that come about?
A. Well, Andy came up to Baton Rouge and wanted me to talk to him, to see what I knew. I said I knew Ferrie and knew all his friends, knew some of his friends -- I met them a long time ago. Then he started popping pictures in front of me -- I don't know if this is one he popped or not -- I looked at one and I said, that is Dave -- and I knew some other guys he showed me pictures of -- well, anyway, he popped a picture of this guy without -- well, this is the picture right there -- just off the cuff -- after about fifteen pictures he popped this in front of me and I said, oh, yes, I know him as Dave's roommate -- I looked at him again and I blocked out the bottom half of his face, and I said, that's Oswald, isn't it -- and Andy said yes, that is Oswald, because they had nothing written on the back. And I said, well, the guy I knew had light whiskers. Maybe a few days growth -- I said his hair was always messed up, and he always had on dirty clothes. And he said, will you come down to New Orleans, and we will get orders for someone to sketch up someone who closely resembles him, I said OK, so I came down that Monday, which was the 27th, and Charlie Joanou and this other guy started with this picture and got an enlargement and started sketching on it, so I said, that is not anybody; finally they got this one out and ran it on the machine, and I said, this is him, no doubt in my mind, that is the same guy.
Continued . . .
Back to Grand Jury menu
Back to Jim Garrison menu
Back to JFK menu
Dave Reitzes home page