Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Two Marguerites Part 2

Despite what John Armstrong would have you believe, three people who knew Marguerite Oswald as far back as the twenties offer powerful evidence refuting his theory of two Marguerites. One of the most egregious misrepresentations of evidence by Armstrong concerns the testimony of Myrtle Evans. Armstrong says that Evans knew the “real” Marguerite and not the impostor. To make his case Armstrong states on page 118 of his book:

Following the assassination Myrtle and Julian Evans saw this woman on television. When deposed on April 7, 1964 by Warren Commission Attorney Albert Jenner, Myrtle Evans said, "When I saw her on TV, after all that had happened," Myrtle Evans told the Warren Commission, "she looked so old and haggard, and I said that couldn't be Margie." … Neither Julian nor Myrtle, who had known the real Marguerite Oswald since 1935, recognized the heavy-set, shabbily-dressed woman they saw on television.

A reader who has not studied the full testimony of Myrtle Evans might believe Armstrong. But look at the full quote to see what Armstrong left out:

A very good housekeeper, very tasty; she could take anything and make something out of it, and something beautiful. She had a lot of natural talent that way, and she was not lazy. She would work with things by the hour for her children, and she kept a very neat house, and she was always so lovely herself. That's why, when I saw her on TV, after all of this happened, she looked so old and haggard, and I said, "That couldn't be Margie," but of course it was (emphasis added), but if you had known Margie before all this happened, you would see what I mean. She was beautiful. She had beautiful wavy hair.

The reality is that Myrtle Evans recognized Marguerite and flatly said so. Myrtle had known Marguerite since at least the mid-thirties and was understandably surprised by the changes that had taken place. Her husband Julian echoed her statements saying “she [Marguerite] has really aged… she really looks old.” But under oath neither made any attempt to say this was not the woman they knew, only that she had changed over the years due to the aging process. Marguerite was a smoker and this may have contributed to her premature aging. But Armstrong’s assertion that neither of the Evans’ recognized Marguerite is completely without merit. But don’t take my word for it. I advise readers to study the full testimony of Julian and Myrtle Evans and see for yourself.

Marguerite Circa 1935

A witness who knew Marguerite even before Myrtle and Julian was Clem Sehrt who was a friend of Marguerite’s family, the Claveries, as far back as the twenties. Sehrt, who was an attorney, also handled some legal matters for Marguerite in the early 1940’s. After the assassination, Sehrt saw Marguerite’s photo in a magazine. Did he fail to recognize her as the person that he had known? This is from his statement to the FBI:

Mr. Sehrt stated that he has not seen or heard of Marguerite Claverie in over twenty years and it was not until he saw her photograph in a magazine that he recognized her as the person he had known in his youth and as a young practicing attorney.

So, after seeing Marguerite’s photo in a magazine circa 63-64, Sehrt didn’t suggest to bureau agents that a horrible fraud was being perpetrated on the American public. He had no problem recognizing Marguerite as the woman he had known for 40 years and said nothing about two Marguerites. And Armstrong can’t comfortably add Sehrt to his list of plotters since he uses him on page 14 of his book to refute Marguerite’s allegation that the reason for her breakup with Eddie Pic was that he didn’t want children. Similarly, Armstrong used Myrtle and Julian's testimony throughout his book to promote various theories. Despite his attempts to mislead readers, it looks like Armstrong is stuck with the statements of these three witnesses who all recognized the one and only Marguerite as the person they had known for many years.

Amazingly, at one point in the book, Armstrong suggests that the "fake" Marguerite kept a low profile after the 1959 defection to avoid being detected.

After Harvey's "defection" the short, dumpy, heavy-set "Marguerite Oswald" imposter kept a low profile and avoided interviews with the press, for fear that people who had known the real Marguerite Oswald might realize that she was a different person. She soon left Fort Worth and began to work in small towns in north Texas. NOTE: If a photograph of the "Marguerite Oswald" imposter had appeared in Fort Worth newspapers following his "defection," then anyone who had known the tall, nice-looking Marguerite Oswald in Dallas during the past few years would have realized she was a different woman.

Completely defying all logic, Armstrong apparently believes this situation would have only existed in 1959 and that by 1963 sufficient time would have elapsed for people to forget. This is nonsense, of course, and anyone who had known the “tall, nice-looking Marguerite Oswald” at any time in her life through 1958 when she supposedly disappeared would have come forward when they saw the “impostor” on TV or in the newspapers during her extensive media appearances and reported that this Marguerite was a phony. The fact that this never happened is powerful evidence against the H&L theory.

No doubt there were dozens, if not hundreds, of people who knew the “real” Marguerite. Besides those already discussed, here is a partial list of those who testified before the Warren Commission or gave FBI statements:

· Edward Pic

· Dr. Bruno Mancuso

· Viola Peterman

· Dr. Cuthbert Brown

· Mrs. Oris Duane

· Edward Aizer

· Herbert Farrell

· Mrs. Benny Commenge

· Mrs. Harry Bodour

· Otis Carleton

Part 3 of the series is here.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Harvey & Lee: Who Was Involved in the Plot?

Supporters of the lone assassin version of events in the JFK case have long maintained that any theory of an assassination plot that described who did it and how in detail would involve dozens if not hundreds of individuals. The following would necessarily have been involved for the plot as described in the book Harvey & Lee (which does meet the above criteria) to have been successful. The list does not include necessary subordinates of the plotters (this list is a work in progress):

Note: An asterisk denotes those involved in the creation, planning and execution of the plot.


James Angleton*

Bernard Barker

George H.W. Bush

Charles Cabell

Ann Goodpasture

Richard Helms*

E. Howard Hunt*

David Phillips*

Ray Rocca

Sergio Arcacha Smith* (assassin)

Frank Sturgis

Dallas Police

Jesse Curry

Gus Rose

Captain W.R. Westbrook

Gerry Hill

Kenneth Croy


C.D. DeLoach

J. Edgar Hoover

James Hosty

Gordon Shanklin


Cliff Carter

Malcolm Wallace


Hugh Aynesworth (CIA asset)

Priscilla Johnson McMillan (CIA asset)

Oswald Family & Friends

Charles (Dutz) Murret

Lillian Murret

Marilyn Murret

Marguerite Oswald “Historic”

Marguerite Oswald “Imposter”

Marina Oswald (KGB)

Robert Oswald

Vada Oswald

Michael Paine

Ruth Paine

American Embassy Moscow

Richard Snyder (CIA asset)

John McVickar (CIA asset)


Allen Dulles*

Gerald Ford

Earl Warren

The following people did not actively participate in the plot, but were aware that there were two Marguerites and said nothing.

Edward Aizer

Mrs. Harry Bodour

Dr. Cuthbert Brown

Otis Carleton

Mrs. Benny Commenge

Mrs. Oris Duane

Julian Evans

Myrtle Evans

Herbert Farrell

Dr. Bruno Mancuso

Edward Pic

Viola Peterman

Clem Sehrt

The following people who attended the exhumation of LHO must have also been in on the plot and instructed to fake the exhumation and stay silent about it. I say this because the exhumation disproves the H&L theory and Armstrong offers no explanation whatsoever for the exhumation findings.

Dr. Linda Norton

Dr. Vincent DiMaio

Dr. James Coffone

Dr. Irwin Sopher

William Dear (Security)

John Cullins (friend of Marina)

Hampton Hall (filmed exhumation)

Several other assistants of the doctors

The Two Marguerites Part 1

John Armstrong’s theory of “Harvey and Lee” postulates two Oswalds as most researchers know. But he also maintains there were two Marguerite Oswalds. Here is how Armstrong described them in his book (Harvey & Lee: How the CIA Framed Oswald).

The tall, nice-looking, well-dressed Marguerite Oswald, the mother of Lee Oswald, appears as a quiet, pleasant, hard-working woman who got along reasonably well with co-workers. She was about 5'7" tall, average build, had dark hair with streaks of gray, did not wear glasses, and dressed well. The FBI never once interviewed the real Marguerite Oswald, but thoroughly investigated her work and family history from the early 1940's thru the mid 1950's. They obtained payroll information and interviewed employers and employees who worked with her in retail clothing shops beginning with Princess Hosiery in New Orleans in 1943 and continued with stores in Fort Worth, New York and New Orleans through 1956.

The short, dumpy, heavy-set "Marguerite Oswald" impostor appears as a talkative, annoying, opinionated, and offensive woman. She was about 5 foot-tall, heavy-set, had gray hair, wore glasses, and was a very sloppy dresser. This woman worked for years as a practical nurse and caretaker in Fort Worth, at bars in New Orleans, and in other positions where little or no personal information, work history, or payroll tax information was required. Her reluctance to furnish personal information was demonstrated when she refused to fill out insurance forms at Dolly Shoe Company in 1955 and, as a result, was fired. Beginning in mid-1958, after assuming the identity of the real Marguerite Oswald, FBI reports and witness testimony allows us to follow the employment and residences of the "Marguerite Oswald" imposter. This woman was never able to hold a job for more than a few months, moved continuously, and had no close friends.

This is the first in a series of articles that will look at the sub-theory of two Marguerite Oswalds. I will refer to the “tall, nice-looking, well-dressed” Marguerite Oswald as the “real” Marguerite and the “short, dumpy, heavy-set” woman as the “fake” Marguerite or “the impostor” for the purposes of discussion throughout this series.

For some time, Armstrong and associates have been misreporting the height of some of the principals in the case. For example, they do their best to make Ekdahl over six feet, the “real” Marguerite 5' 7" inches, Marina very short (5'1") and the impostor a veritable midget (5 feet even). This is done so their various scenarios will appear at least plausible. Armstrong and his followers like to use photo comparisons to try and prove a point. They pretend to not understand that the only way to accurately determine the relative height of individuals is to have them stand indoors on a flat surface wearing the same type of footwear, assuming the same posture, and standing next to a visible measuring device. In other words, using controlled conditions which, of course, describes none of the photos they promote. This article by Peter Vronski explains the subject using a “controversial” photo of LHO and Marina:

With the caveats provided by the above article in mind, I’ll look at some of the photos Armstrong uses to make his case. Before I can do that, some baseline facts are needed.

Height of Principals

Edwin Ekdahl

Much of the Armstrong Harvey & Lee theory uses the statements of witnesses as fact. For example, Armstrong uses the statement of John Pic to make the claim that Ekdahl was at least 6 feet tall.

His home was in Boston, Massachusetts. I think he was over 6 feet. He had white hair, wore glasses, a very nice man.

Of course, Pic was just a boy at the time he knew Ekdahl and was merely estimating his height. Edwin Ekdahl was born in Boston on September 26, 1995. The fact is, he was no taller than 5' 11". Shown here are his passport applications from 1919 and 1920 when he was 24 to 25 years old. One document shows a height of 5' 10 1/2" and one shows 5' 11". Since men tend to exaggerate their height and it is not known if he was measured or reported his height orally, it is possible he was 5' 10" or even slightly less. In any case, he was not six feet tall as Armstrong maintains. Researcher Greg Parker first located these documents and anyone can still obtain them from (after registering) or from other online sources.

Marina Oswald

Marina Oswald was 5' 3" tall not 5' 1" as Armstrong claims. Here is the passport that shows her height:

Another document says 150 centimeters (probably a typo for 160 centimeters or 5’ 3”) which would make her 4' 11". But Armstrong doesn’t mention this document because it would make Marina shorter than the “fake” Marguerite and he argues the opposite.


Marguerite Oswald was 5' 2 and 1/2" on a 1965 passport when she was about 58 years old. There is also a driver's license that lists her height as 5' 3", but I'll use the passport to be fair to the other side.

Research shows that women can lose up to two inches of height by age 70 about (men lose less because of greater muscle mass). Additionally, Poor posture due to loss of muscle mass and osteoporosis can give a person the appearance of being shorter than they are. It is reasonable to estimate that Marguerite could have lost one to one and a half inches by age 58 and that would make her about 5’ 3 ½ to 5' 4" in 1945 at age 38 before the “shrinking” effect starts at about age 40. At the Education Forum, researcher Sandy Larsen arrived at the same 5’ 4” figure independently (“Jim Hargrove: Are these photos of the tall, attractive Marguerite Oswald, or the short, dumpy Marguerite imposter?”, page 5).

Analysis of Photos

Marguerite married Ekdahl on May 5, 1945 when she was about 38 years old and he was about 50. Armstrong uses their wedding photo and John Pic’s testimony to place Ekdahl at six feet in height (or more) and the “real” Marguerite at 5’ 7”.


If the height of one person in a photo is known, it is possible to calculate the height of a second person if they are about the same distance from the camera. Although it is obvious that the top of the head is one reference point when making measurements, an initial concern was what reference point to use at the feet of the two individuals. To resolve this issue, I did a series of three calculations using a different reference point for each. I found that it didn’t matter what reference point was used at the feet because the critical measurement is the difference between the top of Ekdahl’s head and the top of Marguerite’s head (I measured to the top of her hair). Using the 5’ 11” height for Ekdahl, I divided 71 inches by his actual height in the wedding photo in inches using Photoshop. This provides a ratio that can be multiplied by Marguerite’s height in the wedding photo to arrive at her actual height. The following is one of the three “data runs” I performed with the same result:

· Ekdahl’s Height-71 inches

· Ekdahl’s Height as Measured in Photo-2.537 inches

· Ratio-27.98

· Marguerite’s Height as Measured in Photo-2.37 inches

· Marguerite’s Actual Height-66.3 inches (a little over 5’ 6”)

The 5’ 6” doesn’t allow for two additional factors. In the wedding photo, Marguerite is wearing heels and has a “perm” hairdo. Heels could add two inches to her apparent height and since I measured the top of her hair, so could the perm which puts us at 5’ 2”. But adding just an inch apiece for both the “perm” and the heels is a good compromise and places us near our original estimate of the 1945 Marguerite’s height-5’ 4”. And If Ekdahl was actually 5’ 10 ½” that provides another half inch of leeway. My conclusion is that what is seen in this photo is consistent with the documented heights of Ekdahl and Marguerite when all factors are considered and does not support Armstrong’s assertion of a “tall” Marguerite.

Another photo of Marina and Marguerite walking is used by the Armstrong camp to show the “fake” Marguerite was much shorter than Marina.

Applying the above methodology using Marguerite’s 1965 height of 5’ 2 and 1/2", we arrive at a figure for Marina of 5’ 7”. There is no evidence that Marina was this tall and, as mentioned, Armstrong says she is 5’ 1”. But if you look closely, Marina is wearing heels while Marguerite has sneakers. Also, Marguerite is carrying a baby and her head is bowed and her posture somewhat stooped. It is reasonable to assume that the 4-inch difference can be accounted for by these factors since we know Marina was not 5’ 7” but was actually 5’ 3”.


  • The heights of Ekdahl, Marguerite and Marina are documented and do not correspond with those used by Armstrong in his book.

  • The 1945 wedding photo is consistent with the known height of the 1965 Marguerite when all factors are considered.
  • Photos of Marguerite and Marina are consistent with their documented heights when all factors are considered and do not support the two Oswald theory.

Part 2 of the Series:

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Truth About Harvey & Lee

John Armstrong spent about ten years developing a grand theory to explain the JFK assassination. His 2003 book Harvey & Lee: How the CIA Framed Oswald outlined his beliefs. However, as author and researcher Jeremy Bojczuk has said, "John Armstrong’s ‘Harvey and Lee’ theory had been conclusively refuted two decades before Harvey and Lee was published."

This article is a quick summary of the scientific evidence refuting the theory

The most compelling proof is the 1981 exhumation of Lee Harvey Oswald which was done to refute a similar conspiracy theory from author Michael Eddowes. According to Armstrong’s theory, “Harvey” is supposed to be buried in the Fort Worth grave while “Lee” may be “very much alive”. Unfortunately, “Harvey” had a mastoid operation from 1946 that “Lee” was supposed to have (Norton Report). A document from “Harvey’s” medical treatment (CE 985, 18 H 455) in the Soviet Union again shows he had the mastoid scar. Another document that mentions the scar is found in “Harvey’s” Marine Corps enlistment papers (WC Donabedian Exhibit No. 1).

Armstrong associate Jim Hargrove has recently made the first attempt I am aware of to address the mastoidectomy. Hargrove now says that "Harvey" may have undergone a mastoid operation at Jacobi Hospital in New York in 1953 when the Oswalds lived there. This is based on the statement of Marguerite's housekeeper Louise Robertson, who said Marguerite told her LHO had come to the big apple for "mental tests." But as Greg Parker first pointed out and Wikipedia confirms, Jacobi didn't open until 1955. Hargrove replies by saying that Robertson must have gotten the name of the Hospital wrong.

Another powerful argument for rebutting the Armstrong theory is made by the HSCA handwriting analysis. The HSCA panel examined 63 handwriting samples when conducting their study. I reasoned that, by classifying these samples as “Harvey” and “Lee”, I could check for any discrepancies. I found many such discrepancies and selected six samples (three of each man) as the basis for my article Harvey & Lee: The Handwriting is on the Wall which was published in the Kennedy Assassination Chronicles in 2001.

Jim Hargrove has maintained that the HSCA study was flawed because some of the documents used were copies and that forensic document examiners prefer originals. While it is true that document examiners prefer to work with originals, it is a fact that most of the documents reviewed by the forensic panel were indeed originals. More importantly, all the documents selected for my article were originals. The bottom line is that the handwriting experts found that the same individual wrote most of the samples that should be either “Harvey” or “Lee”.

A comprehensive photo analysis, also done by the HSCA, is another solid proof that the Armstrong theory is bogus. Unfortunately, most of the photos selected for analysis by the committee were of “Harvey” since their work was not done to specifically refute Armstrong. However, a December, 1956, photo which is supposed to be “Lee”, per Armstrong, was compared with several photos of “Harvey” and the HSCA photo panel proved using morphological data that the photos were of the same individual. (HSCA Photo Analysis)

As Bojczuk perceptively noted, the Harvey & Lee theory was refuted before it was even created.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Palmer McBride

Palmer McBride inhabits a special place in the research of John Armstrong as it was his 1963 statement to the FBI (FBI 105-82555 Oswald HQ File, Section 11, pp. 2-5) that eventually initiated the Harvey & Lee double Oswald theory. Armstrong explains all this beginning on page 3 of his book (Harvey & Lee: How the CIA Framed Oswald) in a section titled "The Beginning of My Project." McBride recalled that he had worked and socialized with Lee Harvey Oswald (LHO) in New Orleans in 1957 and 1958, a period when records show he was in the Marine Corps.

Instead of accepting the obvious, that McBride was mistaken, Armstrong used his statement as the catalyst for the theory that McBride knew "Harvey" while "Lee" was in the service. Using the work of noted researchers, this article will examine McBride’s assertions. I will explain why he was honestly mistaken regarding the dates he knew LHO and Armstrong’s theory is therefore invalid. I will also discuss Armstrong’s successful effort to convince McBride that he was correct about the dates in his original statement and McBride’s subsequent appearances at conferences to promote the Harvey & Lee theory

McBride’s 1963 FBI Statement and the Evidence He was Mistaken

There is no doubt that McBride knew LHO and associated with him both at work and elsewhere because other individuals confirm many of his claims. The problem with McBride’s statement is the dates, which he was trying to recall from memory and without documentation. McBride stated that he met LHO in “about December, 1957” while both were employed by the Pfisterer Dental Lab and that LHO visited his home in “late 1957 or early 1958.” McBride also believed that he attended a meeting of the New Orleans Amateur Astronomy Association with LHO in early 1958.

However, incontrovertible evidence shows that LHO was in the service during the whole of 1957 and 1958, and for most of that time was overseas (for a summary see the Warren Report, 682-685). Additional evidence refuting McBride’s assertions came from the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) in the nineties. A tax return was made public that showed LHO was employed by Pfisterer in 1956, not 1957 as McBride recalled. Additionally, a Warren Commission document confirms LHO’s employment at Pfisterer in 1956 during the first and second quarters of the year only (CD 353, 2). Indeed, by July 1, 1956, LHO and his family had left New Orleans and moved to Fort Worth (CD 8, 2; CE 2239, 25 H 139; CE 1873-I, 23 H 670).

Pfisterer employees who remembered LHO from the year 1956 were Lionel Slater (CD 75, 18; CD 320, 42) and Paul Fiorello (CD 75, 17; CD 320, 42). John Ulmer could only say that a photo of LHO “resembled a messenger who was employed in 1956” (CD 75, 25). Several other Pfisterer employees could not remember LHO at all (CD 75, 13-25). Additionally, William Wulf, who knew LHO trough the Astronomy Club, told the Warren Commission that he met LHO in “September or August” of 1955 (8 H 16). Years later Armstrong would interview Wulf and Fiorello and they would change their minds about when their experiences with LHO occurred.

Further evidence that McBride was mistaken comes from author and researcher Greg Parker, who has done some good work debunking the Harvey & Lee theory. In McBride's statement to the FBI, he reported:

In April or May, 1958 Oswald stated he was moving to Ft Worth ... in about August 1958 I got a letter from him saying he had gotten mixed up in an anti-Negro or anti-Communist riot on high school grounds in Ft Worth, Texas.

But as mentioned, LHO and his family moved to Fort Worth two years previously in 1956. And as Parker points out, there are no news reports of riots in Fort Worth in 1958, but there are indeed reports from 1956 and in his 2015 book, Parker provides a scan of a typical article from the period (Parker, Greg R. Lee Harvey Oswald’s Cold War Vol. 2).

In an Internet forum post, author and researcher David Lifton confirmed Parker’s information stating that in 1994 he had a researcher locate a newspaper article confirming the 1956 riots. Additional validation of the riots comes from the late Gary Mack, a noted researcher and curator of the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. Mack told Lifton in a 2015 email message that news footage of the 1956 riots had been used within the past few years in a story by KXAS-TV (Education Forum, “Who Wrote the Walker Letter?”, April 21, 2015, p. 6).

Details related by McBride near the end of his FBI statement have puzzled researchers for years and are mentioned here in the interest of completeness:

Upon hearing the name [of LHO] I recalled my association with a LEE OSWALD in New Orleans, and upon seeing a full face photograph of LEE HARVEY OSWALD in the November 23, 1963, issue of The Miami Herald newspaper I am now quite certain that they are one and the same individual. I particularly recall the large ears, the mustache, and the receding hairline (emphasis added).

LHO never had a mustache and could not be said to have had large ears. His hairline had receded very slightly by 1963 but hardly to the point of justifying McBride’s language. Since many of the statements made by McBride are known to have merit, these could be attributable to a miscommunication between McBride and the FBI agents.

The Lifton Interview-October 2, 1994

In his book on page 3, Armstrong asks:

Why did the Commission ignore Palmer McBride's statement? Why was McBride never interviewed?

The Commission did not ignore McBride. They were aware of his FBI statement and he was on a list of people to be interviewed (John Hart Ely Memorandum, March 30, 1964). But LBJ wanted the Commission’s investigation wrapped up before the November, 1964 election and they did not have the luxury of unlimited time. It was apparently decided that because of the extensive evidence that McBride was wrong about the dates he knew Oswald and because he was on record with his FBI statement, it was not necessary to have him testify before the Commission. The Commission couldn’t predict that Armstrong would someday create a double Oswald theory out of a simple misremembrance.

What Armstrong and other critics fail to realize is had McBride testified before the commission, he almost certainly would have been confronted with the documentation that showed his timeline was in error and he would have retracted his statement. I say this because that is exactly what happened when David Lifton interviewed McBride on camera and showed him the documentation. This is a short excerpt from that interview obtained from an Internet forum:

Lifton: OK. In this (FBI) statement, you also write, “during his first visit to my home, in late ’57 or early ’58. . . “
McBride: No, that’s not right. It’s gotta be ’56. It’s gotta be ’56. It can’t be ’57…
Lifton: I want you to go through this. Do you have any theory as to why you were confused, why you thought it was ’57 or ’58 back when you made the statement?
McBride: No. I can’t figure it out as to why I thought it was ’58. If he was already in the Marines in ’56, he sure as hell wasn’t at Pfisterer.

It would seem that the Palmer McBride matter was finally settled by Lifton’s interview. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

McBride Meets Armstrong

In 1996, Armstrong found McBride and began what David Lifton refers to as a “witness recruitment program.” As Lifton explained in a post at the Education Forum (Education Forum, “The Two Oswald Phenomena Explained”, December 24, 2011, p. 8):

It’s my opinion that John Armstrong "sold" a number of witnesses on the "historical importance" of his hypothesis, and that, as a consequence, they modified their accounts to be part of something that they believed was "important." Unfortunately, that's how he went about some of his "research" for HARVEY AND LEE and why we have the "filmed record" of these witnesses that are on the Internet today.

Indeed, Armstrong’s methodology was to approach the witness with a preconceived conclusion and then try and convince the witness of the validity of that conclusion. This is in opposition to the role of a journalist who tries to ascertain facts with objective questions. In the case of McBride, there was a powerful incentive to go along with Armstrong. McBride could convince himself he was right about his remembrances of Oswald after all and, as Lifton says, become a part of history. Armstrong’s version of the interview is found on page 6 of his book:

I finally located McBride in Sun Valley, California and spoke with him at length… It didn't take long to realize that McBride was very intelligent and possessed a superb memory. He remembered dates, times and places from the 1950's and 1960's better than I could remember events from last year.

In response to my questions about Oswald, McBride carefully reconstructed his life in the mid-1950's, his work at the Pfisterer Dental Lab, and his association with Oswald. McBride was absolutely certain that he met Oswald shortly after the Russians launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite on October 4, 1957.

First, Armstrong is trying to convince the reader that McBride is a person with a remarkable memory. McBride had a passion for the space program as many Pfisterer employees confirmed in their FBI interviews. Naturally, he would have a good grasp of facts related to the US-Soviet space race. However, there is no evidence that McBride’s memory for everyday events was any better than the average person. Armstrong says that McBride “carefully reconstructed” events from the mid-fifties. But Lifton did the same thing with McBride including reconstructing his employment history with a much different result.

In the Armstrong interview, McBride was “absolutely certain” that he met Oswald shortly after the Soviets launched Sputnik. But in his FBI interview, McBride said nothing about the Russian satellite. Rather he spoke of “Russian successes” at the time of his Oswald experiences. As Greg Parker says at his website:

It was by no means impossible to talk about "Russian success" in space PRIOR to Sputnik. The newspapers of the day were continually hammering away at how the US was falling behind the successful Russians.

Parker found two news stories from 1956 to bolster his assertion (Parker, op. cit.). The headlines are:

SOVIET SPACE SHIP IN ’56 ENVISIONED; London Red Paper Reports Moscow May Be Ready to Launch Craft before U.S. Race Disclaimed by U.S.


Indeed, McBride confirmed to Lifton that Sputnik was not even a part of his conversations with LHO:

Lifton: Let me ask you something. Was Oswald at Pfisterer when Sputnik went up?

McBride: Oh no, no, he’d left in 1956.

Lifton: So he was not there?

McBride: No. The whole thing with Sputnik was October 1957.

The length of time McBride knew LHO and the extent of their relationship outside the workplace varied significantly between the Armstrong version of events and the FBI statement. According to Armstrong:

[McBride] said they worked together every day for 7 months, went on dates with girls, went to the movies together…

Later in the book, the amount of time McBride knew LHO increased:

... another person who was with Harvey Oswald nearly every day for 8 months [was]-Palmer McBride.

But in his FBI interview, McBride said he knew LHO for no more than 5 months. The record shows that, in this case, he was correct since LHO started work at Pfisterers no sooner than the end of January, 1956 and had left Texas by July 1. CD 353 confirms that LHO worked at Pfisterers only during the first two quarters of the year.

In his FBI interview, McBride stated that he invited LHO to his home “two or three times.” McBride went on in his statement to describe one meeting of the Astronomy Club and one visit to William Wulf’s home. If one takes McBride’s FBI statement literally, that makes a total of five times he socialized with LHO away from the workplace. This creates the possibility that McBride was expanding his story and telling Armstrong what he wanted to hear. An additional McBride embellishment concerns a visit to the opera:

McBride liked to visit the Opera House where his father worked part time and remembered that on one occasion he and Oswald attended the opera "Boris Godounov." During the 1950's "Boris Godounov" played only twice in New Orleans, on October 10 and 12th, 1957.

First, it is surprising that McBride would not tell the FBI about a significant event such as the opera performance. Secondly, a logical assumption is that since McBride was recalling a previously unrelated event from 40 years earlier, it could have been a different friend other than LHO that he was remembering. Indeed, Greg Parker found that Armstrong’s source for the date the opera played in New Orleans was a single brochure from the New Orleans Historical Society. Through an Internet search, Parker found another reference to a New Orleans performance on October 15th, which refutes Armstrong’s assertion (Education Forum, “The Two Oswald Phenomena Explained”, December 24, 2011, p. 6).

The Astronomy Club

LHO likely attended a meeting of the New Orleans Amateur Astronomy Association (NOAAA) as a guest of Palmer McBride. Armstrong tries to use the original statements of club members and interviews conducted 30 plus years after the assassination as confirmation of McBride’s mistaken recollections.

William Wulf was President of NOAAA and testified before the Warren Commission (8 H 15). One thing is immediately apparent on reading Wulf’s testimony-his memory of LHO was not that vivid, especially regarding dates. Wulf stated that although he first believed LHO had contacted him by phone in 1953, it was “probably… September or August in 1955.” In fact, it was only after the FBI contacted Wulf and he asked them if LHO had worked at Pfisterers that he made the connection to the NOAAA. Wulf went on to diminish the value of his own testimony by saying “I really did not think the little knowledge I had would be important.” Wulf also thought that he met McBride in March or April of 1955. Nothing in the timeline Wulf presented during his Warren Commission testimony helps Armstrong’s theory. The Commission’s main interest in Wulf was his memory of LHO being thrown out of his house by Wulf’s father after delivering a diatribe on the virtues of communism. Wulf was another witness whose memory “improved” years after the fact and told Armstrong a story that was favorable to his theories, saying that he met LHO in “’57 or ’58.”

Walter Gehrke is another NOAAA member who Armstrong tries to use to place LHO in New Orleans after 1956. In Armstrong’s book on page 185 we find:

McBride told the FBI, "In early 1958 I took Oswald with me to a meeting of the New Orleans Amateur Astronomy Association at the home of Walter Gehrke ..... When interviewed by the FBI Gehrke confirmed McBride's memory of meeting Oswald in 1958 when he said, "None of the meetings of the NOAAA were held at my house until 1958."

But Gehrke also told the FBI that he had “never heard of” LHO before the assassination and “could not recall” him attending “any meetings” of the NOAAA (CD 75, 499). Since it is likely that Gehrke would have remembered LHO coming to his home, a reasonable assumption is that McBride was simply mistaken about not only when but where the meeting took place. The record shows that the meetings took place in at least two other locations in addition to Gehrke’s home.

Other NOAAA members who Armstrong tries to use to bolster his theory but had no memory of LHO at all during FBI interviews include Ralph Hartwell, Joseph Eustis and James Vance. Armstrong implies in his book that investigators ignored the NOAAA members and failed to seek documentation about the club. But the FBI conducted numerous interviews including one of the above-mentioned Hartwell who was Vice President of the club. Hartwell reviewed records and could find no mention of LHO either as a member or in the club minutes. Of course, the FBI could not have envisioned that Armstrong would appear years later with a double Oswald theory and therefore did not bother to establish details such as where and when specific meetings took place and so on.

The Tax Documents

In the mid-nineties, Armstrong developed another theory in an attempt to validate McBride’s observations. Armstrong found that although the FBI microfilmed LHO’s possessions that were taken into evidence on November 26 and 27, 1963, some items were omitted by the bureau. Among those items were three tax forms from the years 1955 and 1956. Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry wrote to the FBI in December, 1963 and asked them to microfilm the remaining items, which they did.

However, Armstrong believed that in the interim the tax records had been forged to conceal the fact that LHO (Harvey in Armstrong’s theory) had worked at Pfisterers in 1957-58 as McBride believed. To test his theory, Armstrong had Linda Faircloth, a Pfisterer employee who became of his followers, write to the IRS in 1995. Faircloth asked the IRS when the Employee Identification Number (EIN) on LHO’s records had been created. An employee representing the IRS replied that the number was created in January, 1964 and Armstrong believed he had the “smoking gun” that would finally prove his double Oswald theory.

But Doug Horne of the ARRB looked into the issue after Armstrong and associate Carol Hewitt wrote to the review board and reported their concerns. Horne contacted the IRS and found that the while the employee who had replied to Faircloth was acting in good faith, they were mistaken about the records being created in 1964 due to a misinterpretation of the database information. The official IRS report to the ARRB verified the tax records as genuine and the EINs as being created before 1964. Horne filed a memo that addressed Armstrong’s assertions in detail:

As previously mentioned, LHO’s 1956 tax return also showed LHO was at Pfisterers in 1956. When confronted with the return, Armstrong did what he had to do. He said it was forged as a part of a conspiracy (which included the Warren Commission, the FBI and the now the ARRB) to cover up “Harvey” Oswald’s presence in New Orleans in 1957-58.

McBride Becomes a Celebrity

Palmer McBride attended the "November in Dallas" JFK conference in 1997 as an invited speaker. McBride repeated his claims of knowing LHO in 1957 and 1958 despite the irrefutable evidence to the contrary. McBride’s motivation seems to have been threefold. First, he was told he was a part of history, which would be a powerful incentive for anyone. Second, it probably became apparent to McBride that he could gain a certain notoriety from relating his story. Finally, McBride could assure himself that his original recollections were correct after all.

One has to ask why didn’t McBride provide documentation to support his claims about the dates he worked at Pfisterer? The Social Security Administration sends out periodic summaries of a person’s work history listed by year. Even if McBride had not received such a summary, he could have easily requested one. Although Armstrong had Linda Faircloth contact the IRS, he apparently did not see the necessity of McBride contacting Social Security for confirming documentation.

Summary and Conclusion

· We know LHO worked at Pfisterer in 1956 and not 1957 because of the ARRB tax records.

· CD 343 confirms LHO worked at Pfisterer in 1956 and not 1957.

· We know Palmer McBride could not have known LHO in 1957-58 since he was in the Marines.

· Other Pfisterer employees remembered LHO working there in 1956.

· In an interview with David Lifton in 1994, McBride recanted his assertions about knowing LHO in 1956 and about Sputnik.

· The riots LHO mentioned in a letter to McBride occurred in 1956 not 1958.

· The ARRB investigated and refuted Armstrong’s claims about the tax records.

In conclusion, the starting point and foundation of John Armstrong's research is Palmer McBride. Unfortunately for Armstrong, McBride's assertions are demonstrably incorrect.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Oswald's Trigger Films

The idea that LHO was at least partly motivated to kill JFK by movies he saw prior to the assassination is not new and has been mentioned, albeit occasionally, in conspiracy literature. But three films in particular, We Were Strangers, The Manchurian Candidate and Suddenly, the latter two starring Frank Sinatra, may have provided a “psychological trigger” for his actions against both JFK and General Walker. Author John Loken, whose book Oswald’s Trigger Films explores this interesting possibility, discovered that The Manchurian Candidate was playing in Dallas in November and December, 1962 when LHO was living there and had access to the relevant theatres. Loken also points out that Time magazine published a favorable review of the film in its November 2, 1962 issue and that LHO subscribed to that publication (Loken, 6-17). Finally, Loken says that given LHO’s psychology, he would have been attracted to the film with its themes of politics, intrigue and violence (Loken, 5).

The evidence that LHO saw Suddenly comes solely from Marina’s reports to the Secret Service and the Warren Commission and later to her biographer Priscilla Johnson McMillan. Marina told the Secret Service that LHO saw an unnamed film that depicted an assassin’s attempt to kill the President from a house near a railroad station, which, as the Secret Service reported, sounds like the plot of Suddenly (CE 1790, 23 H 403). She also told the Warren Commission that LHO had seen both Suddenly and We Were Strangers although commission attorney Rankin had to remind her of the titles (1 H 71, WCT Marina Oswald). McMillan’s book, Marina and Lee, reports that LHO saw both Suddenly and We Were Strangers on television the same night, October 19 (McMillan, 380). The problem with this scenario is that the newspaper listings do not mention Suddenly on that day or anytime in late 1963 for that matter, although it is possible it could have been a last-minute replacement (Loken, 25).

The evidence is substantial that LHO saw We Were Strangers twice on the weekend of October 12-13, 1963. Loken studied newspaper listings and confirmed that the movie indeed played on Saturday and Sunday that weekend. Marina described the film to the Secret Service saying that LHO saw it twice which jibes nicely with Loken’s research. In summary, Loken is convinced that LHO saw We Were Strangers and probably saw The Manchurian Candidate, although the evidence is circumstantial for the latter. However, the case for Suddenly is less convincing per Loken. Whether the films did provide a psychological motivation is, of course, an open question.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Siegel Exhibit 1

Webmaster’s Note

The report of social worker Evelyn Strickman Siegel is one of the most perceptive assessments of the psychology of Lee Harvey Oswald and his mother Marguerite ever produced. The report was prepared by Siegel as a part of LHO’s treatment program after he was remanded to Youth House in New York City for truancy in 1953. Siegel was particularly critical of Marguerite who she found to be a “defensive, rigid, self-involved person.”

(Siegel Exhibit No. 1)


BRONX 5/7/53

Case No. 26996
Date of Admission 4/16/53
Age 18 October 1939
Address 825 East 179th Street, Bronx, N.Y.
Father Lee (Dec)
Social Worker Evelyn Strickman
Mother Margarite [sic]


Lee Oswald is a seriously detached, withdrawn youngster of thirteen, remanded to Youth House for the first time on a charge of truancy. There is no previous court record.

Laconic and taciturn, Lee answered questions, but volunteered almost nothing about himself spontaneously. Despite the fact that he is very hard to reach, Lee seems to have some ability to relate which in view of the solitary existence he has been leading, is somewhat surprising. There is a rather pleasant, appealing quality about this emotionally starved, affectionless youngster which grows as one speaks to him, and it seems fairly clear that he has detached himself from the world around him because no one in it ever met any of his needs for love.

Lee said he was at Youth House for truancy and that his truancy was caused by his preference for other things, which he considered more important. Questioning as to what these things were elicited the answer "Oh, just things" but it was finally learned that Lee spent all of his time looking at televisioin and reading various magazines. He said his truancy never became serious until he moved up here from Fort Worth, Texas, about five or six months ago. He never liked school, however, and never formed close relationships with other people.

By persistent questioning, the information received from Lee was as follows: his father died before he was born and he doesn't know a thing about him. He has no curiosity about his father, says he never missed having one, and never thought to ask about him. His mother was left with three children, John, 21 in the Coast Guard and stationed in New York for the last two years; Robert, 18, a pilot in the Air Force Marines and Lee. Lee said his mother supported them by working as an insurance broker and she was on the go all day long. He doesn't remember anyone else taking care of him and he thinks she either left him in the care of his older brothers or else that he shifted for himself. She would leave early in the morning and come home around seven or eight at night after a hard day's work. Occasionally he went with her, but found her frequent stops to sell insurance boring, while he waited for her in the car.

Lee ate lunch in school and often made his own meals at night. When his mother did make meals, he was often dissatisfied with them, and complained to her that she just threw things together. Her answer was that she was too tired after a hard day's work to feel like fussing.

Lee saw little of his brothers, partially because of the difference in their ages and partially because the older boys were either working or going out with their own friends, so that they didn't want Lee tagging after them. Lee spent very little time with the boys in his neighborhood, and preferring to be alone when he came in from school would watch television or read magazines. It was during this period that he was already experiencing, difficulty in school. He said it wasn't because he couldn't do the work, but he never felt like it or thought it was very important. He learned to read adequately but felt he had trouble in English grammar and arithmetic. He denied any feelings of inferiority in relation to the other boys in his class.

After Lee's brothers entered the service and John was stationed in New York, his mother decided to come here to be near John. They drove up five or six months ago, and moved into John's apartment in Manhattan. Questioning revealed that while Lee felt John was glad to see them, his sister-in-law, Marjorie, was unhappy about their sharing the apartment until they could find a place of their own and she made them feel unwelcome. Lee had to sleep in the living room during this period although there was five rooms in the apartment and he admitted that this made him feel as he always did feel with grownups - that there was no room for him. His face lost its usual impassive expression for a moment when he talked about John's baby, however and he said he had a good deal of fun playing with it.

Lee's mother finally found an apartment of her own on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and she also found a job as an assistant manager in a woman's clothing shop. This meant that she was away from home all day. Lee made his own meals and spent all his time alone because he didn't make friends with the boys in the neighborhood. He withdrew into a completely solitary and detached existence where he did as he wanted and he didn't have to live by any rules or come into contact with people. He stayed in bed until eleven or twelve, got up and made himself something to eat and then sat and looked at magazines. When they first came to New York, his mother enrolled him in a private Lutheran Academy because he thought he would like this. He was then transferred to a public school in the Bronx which point he stopped going to school altogether.

When questioned about his mother's reaction to this he said she told him to go to school "but she never did anything about it." When he asked if he wished that she would do something he nodded and finally emerged with the fact that he just felt his mother "never gave a damn" for him. He always felt like a burden that she had to tolerate, and while she took care of his material needs, he never felt she was involved with him in any way or cared very much what happened to him. When Lee and his mother are home together, he is not uncomfortable with her, but they never have anything to say to each other. She never punishes him because she is the kind of person who just lets things ride. It was hard for him to say whether she acted the same way towards his brothers, because he never noticed. Although his brothers were not as detached as his mother was, he experienced rejection from them, too, and they always pushed him away when he tried to accompany them. They never met any of his needs. He said he had to be "my own father" because there was never any one there for him. His mother bought his clothes without consulting him (which he didn't mind too much) and gave him an occasional quarter, but she was completely detached from him and they had little communication with each other. He felt that she was very much like him, in a way, because she didn't talk much. She has a few friends who visit occasionally, but she is equally silent with them. Lee feels that his mother has always left him to shift pretty much for himself and showed no concern about him whatsoever.

Lee was able to respond to expressions of understanding for his lonely situation, but he denied that he really felt lonely. Questioning elicited the information that he feels almost as if there is a veil between him and other people through which they cannot reach him, but he prefers this veil to remain intact. He admitted, however, the tearing aside of the veil is talking to a social worker was not as painful as he would have anticipated. He was not comfortable in talking but he was not as disturbed in talking about his feelings as he thought he might be. When this was used as an opportunity to inquire into his fantasy life, he responded with a reminder that "This is my own business". He agreed to answer questions if he wanted to, rejecting those which upset him and acknowledged fantasies about being powerful, and sometimes hurting or killing people, but refused to elaborate on this. None of these fantasies involved his mother, incidentally. He also acknowledged dreaming but refused to talk about the dreams other than to admit that they sometimes contained violence, but he insisted that they were pleasant. Lee's developmental history was negative except for a mastoid operation and a tonsillectomy when he was about seven. He remembers that the operations frightened him, but nothing else about them.

Talk about future planning produced the fact that Lee wanted to return home, and his assurance that he would run away if he were placed in a boarding school. Being away from home means a loss of his freedom and privacy to him, and he finds it disturbing living with other boys, having to take showers with them and never being alone. He was away to camp several times during his life and he enjoyed it, but it was very different than his present experiences. He was willing to acknowledge that home offered him very little but he said he wanted it this way. If he could have his own way, he would like to be on his own and join the Service. While he feels that living that close to other people and following a routine would be distasteful he would "steel" himself to do it. Since he rejected placement, the possibility of a return home with casework help was broached. Lee finally decided that although he didn't really want help, and would prefer to remain as solitary as he has always been if it came to a choice between placement and going to a caseworker, he would choose the latter. He said, too, that if it were a choice between placement and going back to school, he would make an effort to return to school and go regularly.

Observation of Lee's relationship with other boys during his stay at Youth House showed that he detached himself completely, and repulsed any efforts at friendship by others. Although he reacted favorably to supervision and did whatever was asked of him without comment when on his floor he sat by himself and read. At 8:15 every evening he asked to be excused so that he could go to bed. The other boys appeared to respect his seclusion and didn't force themselves on him. He did not encourage conversation with anyone, and when asked questions was very terse in his replies. He was very neat and clean and always finished his work before going out to the floor.

In the recreation area he was usually quiet and withdrawn sitting by himself. If he did become involved in any minor altercation he was very hostile and belligerent and somewhat defiant of supervision. He seemed to be respected by group members who left him alone.

This pattern was some very minimal movement in his relationship with his social worker, although it was so small as to be almost not noticeable. Ordinarily when approached he remained polite but uncommunicative but when he was shown some special attention and concern when he had an earache, he responded somewhat. He never sought his caseworker out, and asked for nothing, nor did he volunteer anything further about himself.

Mrs. Oswald, Lee's mother was seen for an interview at Youth House. She is a smartly dressed, gray haired woman, very self-possessed and alert and superficially affable. Essentially, however, she was revealed as a defensive, rigid, self-involved person [illegible] in accepting and relating to people. One of the first things Mrs. Oswald demanded to know was why Lee was at Youth House but she gave no opportunity to explain the purpose of his stay here and instead wanted to know if he had received a complete physical examination. She had not been satisfied with a recent examination particularly with the genitalia. When she was told that our examination had revealed nothing unusual, she looked at once relieved and disappointed.

Mrs. Oswald gave what she termed her "analysis" of the situation as the move from Fort Worth to New York as being the reason for Lee's truancy. She herself had been very discomfited by the change, and said she was sorry she came, since she is finding it difficult to adjust to New York. At home where she was also a manager in women's shops, she had found her "help" with whom she made it a point never to mix, very respectful but here she complained of their arrogance. Furthermore, she found living conditions difficult. After her confidence was gained somewhat Mrs. Oswald said that she had come from Fort Worth to be near John, because Lee was left so much alone after Robert joined the Service. Her eyes filled with tears as she said there had been an exchange of letters and telephone calls with John anxious for her to come, only to find out on arrival that her daughter-in-law was extremely cold. The daughter-in-law is only 17 and went out of her way to let Mrs. Oswald know she could not stay with them permanently. Mrs. Oswald said she had had no such intention, although she did expect her daughter-in-law to put her up until she could find an apartment and a job. She was so uncomfortable there, however, that she took Lee and moved into a very inadequate basement apartment, where Lee seemed to become very depressed. As soon as she could she found an apartment in the Bronx and he seemed to perk up considerably.

According to Mrs. Oswald, she never had any difficulty with Lee in Fort Worth and she disclaimed any knowledge of his truanting there. She said he had always been a very quiet boy, as was John and she felt they were like her, while Robert was like their father. Even when Lee was little, he never mixed freely with other children and she wanted it this way because she had always been a working woman who didn't want to have to worry about his wandering off or associating with other children. She instructed him to stay in the yard and he always did so. If other boys came to play with him that was all right, although when other boys did approach him to play, he usually preferred to be by himself. She thought this was in his nature and that one couldn't change a person's nature. She didn't see anything strange about his seclusiveness and said she was not a gregarious person herself and she had never felt the need to make friends.

Questioning revealed that Mrs. Oswald had lost her husband when she was seven months pregnant with Lee. He died suddenly one morning of a heart attack and in a burst of confidence she confided that since then, she has not spoken to his family. He died at 6 A.M. and she wanted him buried the same day because her thought was for herself and the child she was carrying and she didn't think she could do her husband any good by an elaborate funeral or a wake. His family was horrified and said they never saw anything as cold as this. They have avoided her since and she had to rely on neighbor's help when Lee was born. She justified herself at great length as not cold but "sensible."

When it was offered that it must have been difficult for her to be both parents as well as the breadwinner, proudly she said she had never found it so. She felt she was a very independent, self-reliant person, who never needed help from anyone, and who pulled herself up by her own bootstraps. Her mother died when she was only two, and her father raised six children with the help of housekeepers in a very poor section of New Orleans of mixed racial groups. She always had "high-falutin" ideas and managed to make something of herself. After her husband died, Mrs. Oswald stayed at home for two years, taking care of the children and living on the insurance her husband left. When this ran out, she placed the two older boys in a Lutheran Home and moved in with her sister who took care of Lee while she worked. At one point, Mrs. Oswald moved out and took a furnished room because she felt she had to have a free mind to work, and couldn't be bothered with a child. When her sister began to complain, however, since she had a houseful of children of her own, Mrs. Oswald placed Lee in the Lutheran Home for three or four months too and then brought all the children home again.

After she reconstituted the family she left the boys pretty much to their own devices since she was working all kinds of hours and did not get home until late at night. All the boys were extremely quiet, rather withdrawn children who made little demand on her and played by themselves. Of this she was very proud. Lee had a completely uneventful development except for the mastoid operation when he was five, but he was a very stoical child, who never complained of pain. Mrs. Oswald bathed all the children herself until they were 11 or 12, when, she said in an embarrassed manner, they got a little too old for "me to look at".

Her feeling was that New York City laws were in a large measure responsible for Lee's continued truancy and that if they had left things to her to handle, she could have managed him. John also had been a truant and she let him go out to work until he decided that he wanted to go back to school. At first she had not been aware that Lee was truanting, since he dressed and left every morning, but when she found out, she talked to him and made several visits to the school, but got nowhere. She warned him that he could be put away, but Lee didn't believe her. She thought the biggest mistake was the way the Bureau of Attendance approached the boy, and said they were making a "criminal out of him". She wanted to be able to raise her own child the way she saw fit. She agreed that if truancy were carried to a certain extent it could be a problem. She wound not agree that Lee's seclusiveness was a problem, although she finally admitted that there was something not quite right about the fact that he was entirely alone. She wouldn't be worried if he saw boys in school during the day and then wanted to be alone, but if he was alone all day and half the night it didn't look so good. She listened attentively to the possible alternatives the court might order to solve the problem, but she was angry at the idea of probation saying that this wasn't a "real chance". She also felt that involvement with a social worker was "talking to a stranger" and she didn't think this was a "real chance" either. She thought that he ought to have a chance to see if he could go to school without any probation officer or social worker to interfere and then, if he played hooky for even one day, he ought to be put away in a home. Her plan seemed to be more of an expression of her need to assert her own volition against authority than any understanding of Lee. She didn't seem to see him as a person at all, but as an extension of herself.

[conclusion] Lee Oswald is a seriously withdrawn, detached and emotionally isolated boy of 13, who is at Youth House for the first time on a charge of truancy. Lee came here from Ft. Worth, Texas with his mother, about six months ago and he has been unable to make an adjustment in New York. The root of his difficulties which produced warning signals before he ever came here, seems to lie in his relationship with his mother. Lee feels that while she always cared for his material needs she was never really involved with him and didn't care very much what happened to him. There was no one in his family who could meet his needs for love and interest since his father died of a heart attack two months before he was born and two older brothers now 21 and 18 were involved with their own friends and activities and repulsed his advances. Lee became a seclusive child who was thrown upon himself and his own resources and he never made friends with other children. His mother who worked and who, when he was an infant, demonstrated her need to shift responsibility for him by leaving him with her sister and then placing him for a while in a Home, appears to be a rigid, self-involved woman with strong ideas and she has little understanding of this boy's behavior nor of the protective shell he has drawn around himself in his effort to avoid contact with people which may result in hurt for him. It is possible that her own negative attitude about casework help and probation officers may communicate itself to Lee, interfering with his chances for help. On the other hand there would be little accomplished by placing him in the impersonal setting afforded by an institution without seeing, first, if he can be reached in therapy. Despite his withdrawal, he gives the impression that he is not so difficult to reach as he appears and patient, prolonged effort in a sustained relationship with one therapist might bring results. There are indications that he has suffered serious personality damage but if he can receive help quickly this might be repaired to some extent.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

So What?

A gem from the archives of the old Dellarosa forum finds a surprising statement from Armstrong associate Jim Hargrove. On July 5, 2001, Hargrove responded to Dennis Bartholomew in a discussion about HSCA documents. Bartholomew said:

As an aside, I’m always astounded by the new information that John Armstrong keeps finding.

Hargrove responded:

Me too, and I’m his biggest fan. Amazing how many people (and groups) are gunning for him. I mean, if his conclusions about two Oswalds are wrong, which I doubt, so what?

Where to start?

First, it is interesting that Hargrove is willing to entertain the idea that Armstrong could be wrong about his Harvey & Lee theory. You would think that someone who has worked as hard as he has for as many years as he has would have an unshakeable belief in the validity of the premise. Instead, it seems Hargrove is prepared to accept that the theory is bogus and possibly even sees that as inevitable considering the mounting evidence.

To answer his question-so what?

A lot of people would have paid good for money for nothing. I believe the original price of the book was $39.95 and is currently $80 with shipping. Unless you are independently wealthy, that is quite a bit for a book that is full of bad information. And many folks have paid more than that on the used market, at least those who are not aware of the free PDF floating around on the Internet.

How much time has been wasted both by people promoting the theory and those refuting it? Of course, debunkers like myself believe refuting the theory is a necessary evil. Supporters of the theory will point out that even if it is false Armstrong has found many new documents and that is worthwhile. But if locating and making documents available becomes the primary goal, why didn’t he just put them in one big oversize volume or series of volumes as Jerry Robertson did? I would wager that he could have sold more of that type of book than he did Harvey & Lee since researchers of all stripes would be potential buyers.

Finally, how much damage has been done to the research community? Many will say it is books like Harvey & Lee that are the problem with research today. That is, they are irresponsibly promoting a demonstrably false narrative using a philosophy of the end justifies the means. And if even a few of the reckless ideas found in the book are accepted as fact by some, then researchers are further from the truth in this case instead of closer.


On March 8, 2017, Jim Hargrove said the following at the Education Forum:

I don't remember saying anything like that, and assume you are misstating something I said.

Here are the screengrabs from the old JFK Research Forum that show exactly what I said they did-a wide view of the entire post and a close-up of the relevant quote.

Orvie Aucoin

Thanks to the late Gary Mack for this information, which first appeared on the Internet in 2015.

On page 575 of Harvey & Lee, John Armstrong makes the following statement:

It is worth remembering and repeating that everyone associated with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee leafletting incident on August 9th and 16th, and Oswald’s radio interviews of August 17th and 21st, were connected to intelligence agencies-everyone including Oswald.

Armstrong then has a list of individuals to back up his claim. Included in the list is:

WDSU-TV cameraman Orvie Aucoin, an active FBI informant, filmed Oswald as he passed out leaflets.

But it is well known that the cameramen who filmed Oswald passing out leaflets were Johann Rush from WDSU-TV, the local NBC affiliate, and Mike O’Connor from CBS affiliate WWL-TV. Aucoin didn’t even work for WDSU, but rather for WVUE-TV the local ABC affiliate which ignored the event. As is often the case in Armstrong’s book, no citation is given either here, or on page 564 where the claim is repeated.

On page 572 we find:

That evening (Charles) Steele’s girlfriend, Charlene Stauff, told Steele that she saw pictures of him on WWL television handing out leaflets with Oswald.

So, Armstrong contradicts his own assertion by correctly stating that WWL-TV had film of the event.

In a similar vein, on Page 571 we find:

Delores (Neeley) saw her friend, Johann Rush, standing near the entrance to the Trade Mart taking pictures of two young men as they passed out leaflets.

Again, Armstrong has contradicted his own assertions.

When this information was posted at the Education Forum Jim Hargrove responded:

John did NOT make an error in his write-up, but this minutia about cameramen and witnesses is minor stuff.

I also asked Hargrove to provide a citation for Armstrong’s original claim as well as one for the assertion that Aucoin was an FBI informant and he has not responded.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Hoaxster and the Conspiracy Theorists

The story of Stephen Harris Landesberg is one of the strangest in all of JFK assassination literature. Through the years, conspiracy theorists have pointed to Landesberg as an example of Lee Harvey Oswald's association with someone on the political right. But in a statement to the FBI, Landesberg recanted his allegations about Stephen L'Eandes, Earl Perry and Oswald (inferentially) and admitted that he was L'Eandes and had carried out political activities using that alias.

This article will examine Landesberg's life and history of mental problems in detail. It will also study the work and methodology of a group of researchers led by John Armstrong as it relates to the Landesberg case. Finally, I will look at Armstrong's treatment of Landesberg in his 2003 book Harvey and Lee.

First, a review of the Landesberg case is necessary.

James F. Rizzuto

On November 22, 1963, radio personality Barry Gray of WMCA in New York received a call from a man who identified himself as James F. Rizzuto and stated that he had information about Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of the President. Rizzuto said that he was acquainted with a man named Stephen L'Eandes [1] who was a known associate of Oswald. Gray knew L'Eandes and had interviewed him on his show about two years before, and arrangements were quickly made with agents of the New York office of the FBI to interview Rizzuto and record his story. [2]

Rizzuto, who agents noted was visibly nervous during the interview, said that he had met L'Eandes and Oswald while serving in the Marine Corps at Camp Le Jejune, North Carolina in the summer of 1956. In 1960 after leaving the service, Rizzuto received cards from places such as Moscow, Leningrad and Stockholm which were from L'Eandes, who reported that Oswald and a fellow marine named Earl Perry were traveling with him. Rizzuto also thought that he had heard Oswald was considering becoming a Russian but L'Eandes said only that he liked to travel and wanted to see Europe.[3]

Rizzuto added that he next saw L'Eandes at a hotel in Florida in 1961 while the latter was looking for work in the area. L'Eandes, who was originally from Wiggins, Mississippi, said that by then Oswald had gone back to Texas. Rizzuto and L'Eandes next met in New York in October, 1961 at a Mark Lane Rally after L'Eandes had appeared on the Barry Gray radio program. At the rally, a girl who was working with L'Eandes continually disrupted the meeting and finally the police were called. Rizzuto said the heckling was done for the benefit of the "States Rights Party". [4]

In early 1962, according to Rizzuto, L'Eandes attended a rally of the American Jewish Congress and caused such a disturbance that someone struck him. Oswald was also at this rally and photographed the proceedings. Although he was not at this meeting, Rizzuto said that he had heard that Earl Perry may also have been present. At about this same time, L'Eandes was staying at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York with a man named Regan, who Rizzuto described as about 6' 4" tall and weighing around 250 pounds. Regan, who was from Memphis and worked for an ultra-right-wing organization, was in fact paying L'Eandes to create disturbances at the rallies that he attended, according to Rizzuto. [5]

In the Spring of 1963, Rizzuto heard that L'Eandes had said that an NAACP leader named Aaron Henry was going to be shot in Mississippi. When Medgar Evers was shot instead, L'Eandes was upset because he feared a loss of credibility over his failed prediction. Within the last month, Rizzuto had heard L'Eandes say that they were getting ready to lynch a white priest who was teaching black students in Selma, Alabama. L'Eandes added the chilling prophecy that this might, "be a big Christmas party." [6]

Rizzuto next saw L'Eandes on November 19 at the 9th Circle Bar in New York, at which time he mentioned that Oswald and Perry were back in Texas and Perry was working for an organization that dealt in anti-Mexican propaganda. He also said that Perry, who was from El Paso, Texas, was well known as an individual who worked for radical groups. Finally, he saw L'Eandes again the next day at a bar near Columbia University where he also met a girl named Linda Halpern who was a student at City College of New York. Halpern said that L'Eandes wanted to take her to a theatre matinee, which was out of the norm because he usually didn't have that kind of money. [7] Rizzuto described L'Eandes as 5' 10" in height, with a muscular build and weighing about 165 pounds. He also had blue eyes, black hair, a handlebar mustache and occasionally wore eyeglasses. Rizzuto then provided the names of nine other people who might have additional information on L'Eandes or know where he was. [8]

It was quite a story, and one that the FBI would certainly want to verify. Even at this early stage of the investigation, it was known that Oswald had been to the Soviet Union, that he had been a political agitator of sorts and that he had served in the US Marine Corps. [9] Rizzuto's story could prove to be an important conformation of parts of Oswald's developing biography.

But problems quickly arose when after extensive investigation, the Bureau was unable to verify any of the detailed information Rizzuto had provided, including the names of L'Eandes' alleged associates. The FBI also had to be concerned by Rizzuto's nervous manner and lack of any known address, as well as the fact that he had asked the agents not to contact him again if possible. [10] Early in the investigation, the Bureau contacted Ford O'Neal of the Mississippi Highway Patrol and a lifelong resident of the Wiggins, Mississippi area to verify L'Eandes' residence there. O'Neal related that neither he nor several other longtime residents he had spoken to had ever heard of L'Eandes. [11]

As the investigation continued, the FBI learned through an informant that a man named David Heath had photographed a meeting at which L'Eandes had reportedly caused a disturbance. FBI Agent Joseph Chapman contacted Heath who verified that he had undeveloped color photographs of the meeting. One of the photos showed a bearded man wearing a blue coat and a red scarf. This photo was shown to several of the persons previously named by Rizzuto as possibly having knowledge of L'Eandes. One of those people, Michael Dunn, [12] identified the man in the photo as Stephen Yves L'Eandes, who was his former roommate at West 49th Street from November 29, 1961 through February 8, 1962. [13]

The photograph was then shown to Bureau Agents McCoy and Moore, who had conducted the original interview with Rizzuto, and they identified the man in the photo as the man they had interviewed - James F. Rizzuto. [14] The FBI now knew that the man they interviewed was known to another person as Stephen L'Eandes and that they were apparently victims of an elaborate hoax. [15] On December 5, 1963, Agents finally located "Rizzuto" in an apartment at 66 West 10th Street, where the nameplate on the door read "Stephen H. Landes". "Rizzuto" readily admitted that his real name was Stephen Harris Landesberg and that he had appeared at his previous FBI interview under the name James Rizzuto. He also admitted that he had never met L'Eandes or Earl Perry [16] in the summer of 1956 at Camp Le Jejune nor had he received any cards from them. Perhaps most importantly, Landesberg also confirmed that the actions that he had attributed to L'Eandes were in fact his own actions using the name Stephen Yves L'Eandes. [17]

t one point in the interview, in an obvious attempt to minimize the consequences of his actions, Landesberg "began to state that the information he had furnished to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on November 22, 1963, was furnished to him by someone else" and then became incoherent and began to stutter. After obtaining additional background information on Landesberg the interview was concluded. A search of records at the Veterans Administration Building in New York was subsequently made and details of Landesberg's Marine Corps service were verified. It was determined that shortly after arriving at Parris Island in January, 1961, Landesberg was transferred to the psychiatric unit because of "bizarre and unusual behavior in recruit training". The diagnosis was a schizophrenic reaction for which he later received an honorable discharge. On December 5, 1963, Landesberg was charged with providing false information to the FBI. He was arraigned before US District Court Judge John Cannella and held in lieu of $10,000 bond. He was also committed to Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital for observation and to determine his mental competency and ability to understand the charges against him. [18] A study of Landesberg's life through the time of his false FBI statement reveals a troubled young man in need of help rather that a witness with knowledge of Oswald's "right wing activities" in New York.

Landesberg's Early Life

Landesberg was born September 24, 1940 in Beth Israel Hospital in New York. [19] He was an only child and rarely ill as a youngster except for typical childhood illnesses and outgrew a tendency toward fussy eating. By the age of 20 months he was talking well but developed, in his mother Edna Landesberg's words, "a little stutter" which he had until age thirteen. However, that stutter turned into what the Marine Corps termed "a severe stammering defect" that was with him through at least 1963. He attended speech therapy from about the ages of eight through eleven, but did not like these sessions and seemed to improve when the therapy was discontinued according to his mother. [20]

Landesberg the Student

In spite of his speech problem, Landesberg never hesitated to speak in class, although after he became older he was self-conscious about the problem when applying for jobs. He was a good student and by the sixth grade was placed in a special progress school, advancing to the equivalent of one grade ahead of his age level. In high school, he was in the top ten percent of his class and was described as "a serious conforming child". His mother said that he tended to be a loner and in later years referred to himself as "the lone wolf." Landesberg himself admitted a difficulty in relating to people and although he participated in academic specific extra-curricular activities, he did not take part in regular school activities. He considered himself a "bookworm" and grew to dislike this self-image.

After graduating from high school in June, 1957, Landesberg enrolled at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey [21] where he majored in Philosophy. This also marked the beginning of his use of the name "Stephen H. Landes" which he would also use later to enter the Marine Corps. At first he wanted to become a college professor, but gradually became more and more uncertain about his future. He was asked to join a fraternity but didn't do so until Jews were accepted, a development that he worked to bring about. His mother said that he was always fighting for causes and saw himself as an idealist and that over the past two years he had become very critical of his parent's way of life. She also noted that he was intolerant of others beliefs and he thought that he was right and everyone else was wrong.
He surprised his parents in February, 1960 by dropping out of Rutgers during his junior year, citing a general dissatisfaction with his courses and an uncertainty about his future. Edna Landesberg suggested at that time that he see a psychiatrist, but Landesberg was assured by the college dean that he did not believe the problem to be of a psychiatric nature and that it might be a good idea to take a break from class until he had his problems sorted out.

Landesberg and a roommate left school and hitchhiked to Florida where they parted ways. Landesberg then began working his way from one place to another by taking odd jobs until he had enough money to go to the next destination. He had used this method of travel previously to take vacations even though his parents had asked him not to do so and he had sufficient funds to travel normally. During his travels he kept in contact with his parents, phoning about once a week and occasionally dropping them a card. He seemed in good spirits during these calls and related stories of sleeping in cars and abandoned mines and working jobs such as door to door salesman and migrant worker.

While in Los Angeles, Landesberg lost his money and identification and turned to a community agency for help. When the agency asked for information about his family, he was very reluctant to cooperate and instead disappeared before any arrangements to help him could be made. After changing his mind about a trip to Hong Kong, Landesberg worked his way east, returning home on July 13, 1960 - a little over five months after his departure. He had lost 25 pounds but was otherwise in good health, although he was still unsure about what to do with himself. Gradually, he again became dissatisfied with his life and began to criticize those around him. After seeing two psychiatrists and rejecting their advice to continue psychotherapy, Landesberg enlisted in the US Marine Corps on November 11, 1960 and was assigned serial number 1893702. Seen with the benefit of hindsight, this decision was to be one of the worst of his life.

US Marine Corps and Mental Breakdown

Landesberg arrived at Parris Island Marine Base on January 24, 1961 and just six days later was taken to the Provost Marshal's office after exhibiting "bizarre and unusual behavior" and refusing to obey any rules saying he "knew what was best." During his interview with the Provost Marshall he described a history of "aberrant sexual behavior" and his attitude was so "unusual" that he was remanded to the psychiatric unit before giving his official statement.

During his psychiatric interview, Landesberg "rambled from topic to topic" and "seemed suspicious, vaguely paranoid and somewhat grandiose." He told the interviewer, that he had on occasion "attempted to see the President" and had been a voluminous writer to newspapers whenever he felt his rights were infringed upon. The interviewer further described Landesberg's behavior as "at times quite inappropriate" and noted that he "demonstrated marked difficulty sticking to one topic." Although he was "well oriented" and his memory of recent and past events was accurate the interviewer noted that he had "little insight into his own condition" and his judgment was "markedly impaired."

While under observation at the psychiatric ward Landesberg behaved in a "belligerent demanding manner" and after yelling at staff was sedated with thorazine and placed in a quiet room. He did not react favorably to this change of circumstances and became "more loosened in his associations and far more suspicious." He then began to threaten the examining physician and stated that he would "demand to see the Commandant of the Marine Corps because his rights had been violated." The admission diagnosis was confirmed as "Schizophrenic Reaction N.E.C # 3007, manifested by loosened associations, tangential and concrete thought processes, paranoid ideation, grandiose ideation and a long history of nomadic wandering and poor interpersonal relationships."

On February 1, 1961, Landesberg was transferred to the Naval Hospital at Charleston, South Carolina. Though he was noted to be "alert, well oriented and highly intelligent", his speech was "under great pressure" and he "frequently lost his train of thought." He was described as "courteous and frank" but was still "inappropriate" and "suspicious." It was here that he made the somewhat startling statement that "he knew he could kill a person if he knew them well enough to hate them, but he had joined the Marines to find out if he could kill people he didn't know." [22] While at the South Carolina facility, he was kept in a locked ward where he socialized with patients and staff but remained anxious and somewhat hyperactive. The diagnosis of Schizophrenic Reaction was "maintained" and Landesberg was again transferred, this time to the Naval Hospital at Philadelphia where he arrived on February 11, 1961.

Upon arrival at Philadelphia, Landesberg's condition was predictably no better. The report states, "Psychiatric examination initially revealed a moderately agitated, emotionally labile hypersensitive and frightened youth whose attitude and verbalization were very defensive and guarded. He was suspicious of the physician's motivations and extremely apprehensive." As the interview progressed he became "tearful and assumed an entirely passive - dependent attitude toward the examiner." When asked if he could explain the reason for his hospitalization, Landesberg said, "Well I beat them fair and square down there. (Parris Island) That's how it happened."

Landesberg went on to explain that he believed that his hospitalization was all a misunderstanding. He said that he had been asked to sign a statement which stated that he had read and understood the military code of justice. He refused saying that he didn't understand parts of it, which made him apprehensive that someone would "hold something against him unjustly." He was then taken to the Provost Marshal's Office and asked many questions about his past sexual behavior and when he openly described some unusual sexual practices with women "their first idea was to court-martial me on this female homosexuality charge, and they couldn't do it and that's why I'm here."

As Landesberg's treatment at Philadelphia continued, the report states that tests on March 3, 1961 "revealed considerable evidence of psychosis." The Psychologist stated, "It is felt that the patient is a psychotic of the schize-affective type." However, after about a month of treatment and medications (up to 800 milligrams of Thorazine daily) in a closed ward, Landesberg finally began to show improvement. The report states "During the early part of April, the medications were gradually reduced and finally discontinued." The report continues, "(by mid-April) he was subsequently transferred to an open ward where he made a very successful adjustment, worked well on his detail and handled liberty privileges without incident. The patient expressed the desire to return to college and continue his education."

Landesberg had been to hell and back, but was now seemingly on his way to recovery. [23] However, his diagnosis was "retained as Schizophrenic Reaction N.E.C # 3007, chronic, moderate, in remission." It was recommended that Landesberg appear before a Physical Evaluation Board and he did so on May 26, 1961. The findings of the board were as follows:

· Unfit to perform the duties of his rank because of physical disability Schizophrenic Reaction N.E.C # 3007.
· That such disability was not incurred while entitled to receive basic pay.
· That such disability is not due to intentional misconduct or willful neglect and was not incurred during a period of unauthorized absence.

On June 27, 1961, Landesberg was discharged from the US Marine Corps with severance pay. He was no doubt advised to continue psychiatric monitoring to avoid a relapse. Unfortunately, Landesberg was to later suffer just such a relapse and gain a sort of infamy in JFK assassination lore because of it.
Stephen Yves L'Eandes

After his discharge from the service, Landesberg was back in New York and by July, 1961, was living in an apartment on East 84th Street. In October, he was examined at the New York Veterans Administration. It is unclear if this examination was a routine part of a recommended treatment program, but his condition had apparently worsened since the previous spring. The diagnosis was now "schizophrenic reaction, paranoid type, chronic", [24] with the qualifying words "moderate, in remission" omitted. As evidenced by his subsequent behavior, it is likely that Landesberg suffered another schizophrenic break around this time.

On November 17, 1961, the first documented appearance of Landesberg using the name "Stephen Yves L'Eandes" occurred when Landesberg appeared on the Barry Gray radio program from WMCA in New York. The subject was a panel discussion of "CORE Activities in the South". [25] Landesberg's L'Eandes character was apparently fully formed by the time of his radio debut, complete with a southern accent. The Village Voice would later describe him as, "a handsome Mississippi Creole, dark, with a trim mustache." [26] On November 29, using the L'Eandes alias, he moved to an apartment on East 49th Street with Michael Dunn, and was now living as a right wing extremist from Wiggins, Mississippi who would disrupt political rallies and meetings through the Spring of 1962.

Landesberg's next appearance as L'Eandes happened on December 15 at a rally of 400 people at P.S 41 in Greenwich Village. The rally was organized by students to encourage State Assemblyman Mark Lane to run for Congress. Landesberg, who wore a scarf and red sweater, applauded loudly whenever a southern state was mentioned and announced in a "deep drawl" that he was "from the south." The heckling increased in intensity when Tom Hayden rose to recount his experiences during the recent protests in Albany, Georgia. Landesberg constantly interrupted Hayden declaring, "I want to get the record straight." Several times during the rally he approached the stage to challenge speakers about the south, calling their statements, "lies." Shortly before Lane appeared to thank the audience, two police officers arrived and when Landesberg continued his heckling one took a seat next to him. This quieted his antics and the rally continued without incident until a girl who had supported him nearly came to blows with another audience member as the crowd left. "L'Eandes" told the Village Voice that he was, "a former US Marine who was trying to be heard on vital American subjects." [28]

Landesberg's next adventure as his alter ego was on January 10, 1962 at a meeting at Chelsea Hall in Greenwich Village. The meeting was organized by the American Jewish Congress to protest a recent attack on Rabbi Kurt Flascher in a Village restaurant. Landesberg tried to start an argument with other audience members before the meeting, but was told to "shut up." After the meeting began, he drew the wrath of speakers by laughing loudly and then began taking notes. An audience member who was able to read the notes became so enraged that he attacked Landesberg, inflicting at least some damage. The next day, "L'Eandes" explained his behavior to Village Voice reporters by saying that he thought the meeting was, "an open forum." [29] Also in January, Landesberg (as L'Eandes) appeared at the Voice offices to place an ad commemorating Robert E. Lee's birthday. He gave reporter J.R. Goddard a card that read, "Stephen L'Eandes Your Man on Campus." The card included a Grand Central Station PO Box. He also spoke at that time of a right wing group called the "Magnolia Rifles." [30]

On March 7, 1962, Landesberg made his next appearance as L'Eandes at the "Stand Up for Democracy" rally at the St. Nichols Arena in New York featuring Senator Hubert Humphrey and Lane. This time there were a number of other hecklers and Landesberg may have been disappointed at having to share the spotlight. At one point after Humphrey responded to a female heckler's interruption, he shouted, "Why don't you let her speak?" The Village Voice reported that "L'Eandes", who told reporters to "Call me Steve", was unrecognized by the crowd despite the "interruption of two previous gatherings." He later was heard to ponder, "Why do Jews in New York call themselves a minority?" [31]

Two final incidents marked Landesberg's political activities posing as L'Eandes. [32] In the Spring of 1962, he appeared at the Judson Memorial Church's "Hall of Issues" meeting, apparently without incident. At around the same time, he attended a meeting of the NAACP in New York where his remarks again caused a fight. [33] For reasons unknown, he then dropped out of sight until the night of the assassination. A possibility is that his condition improved and the psychological pressures that caused him to act out eased, only to be rekindled by the trauma of JFK's murder. There is some evidence for this as his mother stated that he "appeared to have been very emotionally effected by the assassination of the President." [34]

The Fourth Decade Researchers

In the mid to late 1990's an informal group of researchers, fueled by the work of John Armstrong, made several appearances in the assassination journal The Fourth Decade weighing in on the Landesberg case. The 1995 publication of Stan Weeber's article, "Stephen H. Landesberg and the Greenwich Village Hoax" marked the initial offering by a member of the Armstrong group. The researchers who either published articles, conducted research or reviewed their peers work were; Stan Weeber, Sheldon Inkol, Jack White, Carlton Sterling, Carol Hewitt, Jerry Rose and John Arneson. Over the years, the group came up with several highly speculative theories. A few examples:

The FBI reported that Landesberg recanted his story and the theorists seem to have accepted that. However, because the report did not specifically mention Landesberg recanting the parts about Oswald, the group believed he had somehow told the truth about the alleged assassin. [35]

Even though Landesberg clearly recanted his story about Earl Perry, the group continued to pursue this angle. One reason for this persistence was an FBI report with a seemingly startling claim. The FBI had tried to track down Earl Perry before the extent of the Landesberg hoax became known. They found an Earl Shelden Perry and sought to get information from his military file but were told a clearance from the Pentagon was needed first. The theorists believed they had hit pay dirt and this indicated that Perry was an intelligence officer who Landesberg could tie to Oswald. But apparently, the not so exciting truth was that this Earl Perry had assaulted a federal officer and therefore his file was withheld, probably for legal reasons. [36]

One of the most speculative theories put forth by the group was that Landesberg (using his Landes alias) loaned "his" social security number to a German-American named Joseph Wiersch. According again to Weeber, "this was in the tradition of American neo-Nazis rendering assistance to Werhmacht (the armed forces of Germany during World War II) veterans." Of course, this would hinge on the fact that Landesberg was a neo-Nazis and was not just play acting due to his condition and that Wiersch was a member of the Werhmacht and Weeber provides absolutely no evidence for either assertion. [37]

The theory was based on an "analysis" by Armstrong's attorney and research group member Carol Hewitt that purports to show Landesberg "received" the number in question between the years 1955-57. It is unclear how Hewitt conducted her analysis, but it is clear that the number in question belonged to Wiersch and not Landesberg since Wiersch died in 1985 and the number is listed in the Social Security Death Index as his. [38] So even if Hewitt is correct and Landesberg used the number at some time, it was likely just another manifestation of his mental illness rather than evidence of a plot.

But the most bizarre theory involved the well-known actor Steve Landesberg of "Barney Miller" fame. It all began on an unknown date, when Armstrong was talking to former Dallas reporter Earl Golz. After Armstrong mentioned Stephen Landesberg, Gloz related a story about seeing the actor Landesberg on a TV interview in which he stated, "I'm sorry I ever got mixed up with Oswald" or words to that effect. [39]

Landesberg the Actor

That was all Armstrong needed to hear. In his mind, this was evidence that the actor Steve Landesberg was somehow involved in the L'Eandes/Oswald incidents, despite the fact that Stephen H. Landesberg admitted to the FBI that he was L'Eandes and that he had committed the acts attributed to L'Eandes. Armstrong did the same thing with Golz's statement that he did with Mrs. Jack Tippit, Palmer McBride, and Aline Mosby. He found a small inconsistency or oddity and created an entire theory out of it.
Armstrong explained his new thesis as follows:

I have been working on 1961/62 period (LHO sightings) and believe I have the Stephen Landesberg thing figured out. It is very similar to Lee Harvey/Harvey Lee; except with different names. Both men are named Stephen Landesberg, both were born in New York City (Queens, Bronx), same height, etc. In 1961/62 one (Stephen Harris Landesberg) used the name Stephen Landes. The other (Stephen Richard Landesberg-now an actor) used the name Stephen L'Eandes (almost the same pronunciation-different spelling). [40]

What was the evidence for this startling theory?

Stephen Richard Landesberg, the actor, was born on November 23, 1936, in the Bronx (birth certificate #13894). His California driver’s license (as of 1994, was N 2344676) listed his birthday as 11/23/36. His father was a grocer-the owner of Abe's Dairy at 2842 Briggs Avenue in the Bronx. There is no record of where Stephen Richard Landesberg graduated from high school, if he served in the military, or if he attended college. In fact, there is no biographical record to establish where he was or what he was doing from 1954 (high school graduation) until 1969 (working at The Improvisation in New York City).
Not a single biography of Landesberg, and I have reviewed many, lists his year of birth correctly. In nearly all cases his birth year is missing and in some cases his birthday is listed as Nov 3 instead of Nov 23. One biography lists his year of birth as 1945, another as 1944, another as 1940 and so on. One biography says "Landesberg grew up in the Bronx where he was born some thirty or so years ago, and after a period of odd jobs following his graduation from high school, entered show business via an open audition for the Tonight Show." This and other biographies avoid any reference to fifteen years of Landesberg's life-from 1954-1969.

Unfortunately for Armstrong, there is a simple explanation for the varying years of birth attributed to Landesberg. In a 1979 Washington Post article in which he refused to give his age, Landesberg was quoted as saying:

Let's just say I started late. It hurts you with casting directors.… If you tell them your age - let's say you're middle-aged - and they've never heard of you, they figure you're no good, or else they would've heard of you already. I tell my (actor) friends not to tell their ages. [41]

So Landesberg simply lied about his age to make himself younger and increase his chances for employment and was certainly not the first actor to do so. As far as the lack of biographical data from his earlier life, it was probably a simple case of not wanting to disclose details that didn't jibe with his later success. But in fact, Landesberg did give a clue about what he was up to in the days before his career took off:

Before that (1969) I worked in a lot of hotels, as an assistant credit manager. That's part clerk, cop and manager. To check out scam artists and bad credit cards, that was my early police training to train for playing a fictional cop. [42]

Back to Armstrong's theory where he provides more details on the origin of his suspicions:

I learned that Landesberg had become famous for his impersonations and especially his southern accent-which he used very effectively in TV commercials aired in Texas in the 1990's. I wondered if he could have used the same southern accent in his radio interviews on the Barry Gray radio program in New York in 1961-62. Whoever Barry Gray interviewed had a convincing southern accent. But this person was a fake-he was not from Wiggins, Mississippi, was not a member of the 'Magnolia Rifles,' was not Stephen Yves L'Eandes, and was probably not a segregationist. Yves L'Eandes was likely a professional aggitator [sic]-an actor playing a part. [43]

The research by Armstrong and his followers seems to have reached its zenith with a letter writing campaign to the actor himself circa 1993-94. Armstrong's own letter to Landesberg lays out his general theory about "Harvey & Lee" and specifically about Stephen H. Landesberg. It also notably contains the following:

I would like to know who Stephen L'Eandes and James F. Rizutto were. I would like to know why you called the FBI on November 23 (emphasis added). [44]

So as unbelievable as it may seem, Armstrong actually wrote a letter to Landesberg that seems to accuse him of phoning the FBI and inferentially of posing as Stephen L'Eandes. Armstrong's lack of discretion may be explained by his relative inexperience as a researcher. At the time the letter was written in 1993, his book was still 10 years away from publication. In any case, the not unexpected response by Mr. Landesberg was documented in "JA's Summaries":

Two researchers, including myself and Jack White of Ft. Worth, Texas, received a curt telephone call from a Mr. Tom Walker, who gave his address as PO Box 552, Bronx, New York 10475. Mr. Walker introduced himself as "the head of security for Mr. Landesberg" and ordered us to stop investigating Landesberg. Walker threatened Jack White and myself and warned us not to publish any information about Steve Landesberg "or else." [45]

It seems the phone call from Mr. Walker had all but killed one conspiracy theory. But before making the decision to finally abort the idea, Armstrong had one final thought:

As I hung up the phone, I wondered if the person I spoke with was really "Mr. Tom Walker." Or had I spoken with Stephen Richard Landesberg, the actor himself, who was using his considerable talents of impersonation to pose as his own "chief of security." [46]

When Harvey and Lee came out in 2003, unsurprisingly Armstrong did not use his theory about the actor Landesberg, which originally consisted of nearly five pages worth of material. He did, however, broadly allude to it in a single paragraph on page 372:

NOTE: The southern drawl used by Steve Landesberg (aka "L'Eandes ") was likely an impersonation, perhaps identical to the trademark southern drawl used by another young man from New York, actor Steve Landesberg, who became famous as Detective Arthur Dietrich on the "Barney Miller" television series. Two "Steve Landesbergs," both from New York, both nearly the same age, and both used southern drawls.

Landesberg in Harvey and Lee

When Harvey and Lee was published in 2003, it was obvious that John Armstrong had invested a great deal of time and money in his research of the Stephen H. Landesberg case. Consider the following:

· Armstrong employed a Private Investigator to search for "any and all" Landesbergs in the United States. [47]
· He traveled to the US District Courthouse in New York in an attempt to find the court records of Stephen H. Landesberg. [48]
· He accumulated other records on the actor Landesberg such as birth records and real estate information. [49]

In the final analysis, what are the facts about the Stephen H. Landesberg case?

· According to FBI reports (and despite some sloppy documentation), Landesberg recanted his allegations about Oswald and Perry and admitted he had posed as L'Eandes. There is no question that the FBI did not believe any part of Landesberg's story since they arrested him for providing false information.
· Parts of Landesberg's story could not have been true, such as knowing Oswald and Perry in the Marine Corps in 1956, since Landesberg did not enlist until 1960.
· There is absolutely no evidence that Landesberg was incarcerated to silence him about his knowledge of "Oswald in New York" as some theories maintain and if such evidence existed, Armstrong would have used it in his book.
· Landesberg suffered from a serious mental disorder as confirmed by an eleven page FBI report based on USMC medical records. Armstrong, to his credit, may have been the first researcher to locate the unredacted version of this crucial document which details the extent of Landesberg's illness.
· Stephen H. Landesberg and Stephen Yves L'Eandes were the same person. We know this because Landesberg admitted it to the FBI, Michael Dunn confirmed that the man he saw in a photograph showed to him by the FBI was known to him as Stephen L'Eandes and FBI Agents identified Landesberg as being identical to the photograph of L'Eandes. No doubt many others (reporters, rally attendees) could have done the same if any further investigation were warranted.
· Research by Armstrong proves that Stephen Harris Landesberg (the hoaxer) and Stephen Richard Landesberg (the actor) were two different individuals. Landesberg the hoaxer was born in 1940, while the actor was born in 1936. [50] There is absolutely no evidence that the actor Landesberg had anything to do with the activities attributed to Landesberg the hoaxer or anything to do with the JFK assassination.

After all the roads traveled by John Armstrong, both metaphorical and real, in his pursuit of knowledge in this case, what allegations did he finally deign to use in his book?

One of the most unusual "sightings" of Lee Oswald (while Harvey Oswald was in Russia) involved a New York man named Stephen Harris Landesberg, (DOB-9/24/40) who suffered from a life-long speech impediment-stuttering and stammering. After graduating from Forest Hills High School in 1957 Landesberg dropped the "berg" from his last name and used the name Steve Landes. He enrolled at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and studied there until 1960 (with fellow classmate James Rizzuto).

Armstrong has admitted that Landesberg is Landes - so far so good. He adds the fact that Landesberg had a classmate named Rizzuto although as is often the case throughout his book, he gives no source. But let's accept the fact that Landesberg knew a Rizzuto. If he did, it would make sense that Landesberg might use the name of someone he knew as an alias. But what is Armstrong's motive for providing this information? Is it in the interest of completeness, or could it be to confuse a less than careful reader and make them believe that there really was a James Rizzuto who was involved in this incident?

Landes dropped out of Rutgers in the spring of 1960 and served in the Marine Corps from November 1960 thru June 1961. After receiving a disability discharge from the Marines he moved to the Greenwich Village area of New York City in the fall. It was there that Steve Landes met Lee Oswald and Stephen L'Eandes in October 1961.

Here, Armstrong takes the position that Landesberg knew a separate person named L'Eandes in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

In December 1961 a rally was held to urge local Democrat Mark Lane to run for Congress. During the rally a girl who was working with L'Eandes caused such a disruption that the police were called. L'Eandes later told Stephen Landes that the heckling was done for the benefit of the States Rights Party. L'Eandes's roommate, who lived with him in late 1961 and early 1962 in an apartment near 8th Street and MacDougal, was Lee Oswald.

Finally we are making progress and Armstrong has provided a citation - a November 30, 1963 article from Newsday. However, in the article (which Armstrong provides on the book's companion CD) there is no mention of L'Eandes and Oswald being roommates at all and the piece says only that L'Eandes was reported to be living "on 8th Street or MacDougal."

These two people's (Oswald and L'Eandes) activities and methods of operation were so similar that it is easy to suspect that both were professional agitators, and employed by the same government agency (CIA).

It probably is easy for Armstrong to suspect this, but there certainly is no evidence of it. There is much support in his book though, for his belief that the CIA was the major player behind the assassination.

Stephen Yves L'Eandes (aka Steve Landesberg), who had recently appeared on New York radio programs to uphold the concept of segregation, was in the audience along with Earl Perry and Lee Oswald, who had a camera.

Remarkably, after previously taking the position on page 371 that Landesberg and L'Eandes were two different individuals, Armstrong is now admitting on page 380 that he has been playing a game with the reader and he knows that Landesberg is indeed L'Eandes. Or is Armstrong reverting to his prized theory that the actor Steve Landesberg was L'Eandes? That is what I thought when I first read this section (because of the use of Steve instead of Stephen), but a check of the index shows reference to the actor Landesberg occurring on page 372 only. Whatever the case, the reader is left to wonder what is going on, and that may again be the ultimate goal.

His source for the allegation that Oswald was present and taking pictures is a January 18, 1962 article from The Village Voice. Such an early report of Oswald in New York with or without a camera would be powerful confirmation of Armstrong's theories. It is not too surprising therefore, that the article contains no mention of Oswald, Earl Perry or a camera. [51]

When his (Landesberg's) notes were read by nearby attendees, who found them very offensive, he was severely attacked. Oswald, standing nearby, took photographs of the fracas and L'Eandes was escorted from the hall.

No citation for this one with good reason - Armstrong has no hard evidence that Oswald was at the meeting. And since he has apparently admitted that he knows Landesberg is L'Eandes what is the point other than to again confuse the reader?

In the spring of 1962 L'Eandes attended a meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in New York City, where he once again created a disturbance that lead to a fight. It is not known if Oswald was with him.

It may not be known to Armstrong whether or not Oswald was with Landesberg, but I think most readers will have a firm opinion by this time.

Landesberg was subsequently accused by the FBI of providing false information to the government, and committed to Bellevue Psychiatric Center in New York. The author traveled to New York City and attempted to acquire the U.S. District Court records of the case, U.S. vs. Steven Harris Landesberg. He met with Rosemary Fugnetti who was then (and remains today) archivist at the Federal District Court House at 4 Foley Square in New York City. Fugnetti discovered that all records of the case, including paper documents and two backup microfilm copies, had disappeared.

I can think of a few reasons why the records were allegedly not there. They could have been misplaced or routinely or accidentally destroyed. Perhaps Ms. Fugnetti didn't want to bother finding them, especially if she became aware of the nature of Armstrong's interest. Of course, Armstrong hopes that the reader will draw the most sinister meaning possible from his allegation that the records are missing. What shocking truth might be in the records that would cause the government to hide or destroy them he doesn't say.

In conclusion, John Armstrong conducted an extensive investigation in the Stephen H. Landesberg case. That investigation, while it provided fodder for conspiracy theories, ultimately proved that Landesberg unfortunately suffered from a serious mental condition in the years leading up to the assassination. It also showed that Landesberg alone, driven by his mental demons, hoaxed the FBI immediately after the assassination. However, there is at least some indication that Landesberg went on to lead a normal life.[52] Armstrong's extensive research turned up a record of a New York Driver's License in the name of Steven Landes. The birth date of September 24, 1940, matches Landesberg's own. The expiration date of the license was 9-24-1995.[53] So maybe there was a happy ending to the story of Stephen H. Landesberg after all.


[1] Stephen Yves L'Eandes was the correct full name. This led to different versions of the name being used on FBI documents and was probably not helpful to the FBI's cause of locating L'Eandes. Some documents even erroneously used what was a phonetic version - "Leandez".
[2] FBI File Number DL 89-43, 1963, Baylor University Poage Library, John Armstrong Collection,
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] This information was available from both television and newspaper sources. For transcripts of TV broadcasts see: NBC Television Network, Seventy Hours and Thirty Minutes (New York: Random House, 1966); See also numerous online sources such as: "David Blackburst Archive: Media Coverage of the Arrest of Oswald,"
[10] FBI File Number DL 89-43 Op. cit.
[11] FBI Document, Baylor University Poage Library, John Armstrong Collection,; A word regarding electronic documents; reference will be made whenever possible to the original document cited rather than the Internet address of the electronic form of the document. If it is unclear what the name of the original source document is, or if the document is a compilation of other documents, the Internet address of the document will be given instead. Many of the electronic documents used in this project come from the John Armstrong Collection at the Baylor University Poage Library.
[12] Rizzuto had given Dunn's first name as Maurice.
[13] John Armstrong, "JA's Summaries,"; This document could be part of a 3000 page manuscript that Armstrong is said to have worked from when writing his book and which has been discussed by Armstrong and his supporters on Internet forums. It could also be a source document that Armstrong used when compiling scripts for his various presentations. In any case, the document is a detailed representation of Armstrong's theory of the Landesberg case, albeit at an unspecified point in time.
[14] FBI File Number DL 89-43 Op. cit.
[15] In an email communication with me, a writer from the website who uses the pseudonym "Hylozoic Hedgehog" made an interesting point: " For me the REAL mystery of Landesberg and the FBI is very simple. The FBI could have called BOSSI (the Bureau of Special Services and Investigations -- the political intelligence wing of the NYPD) and in two seconds they would know about Landesberg. BOSSI agents made a point of keeping track of political disruption types from the far right and the far left. Landesberg had an extensive track record of such disruptions. BOSSI had to have known about him and it may even cultivated him as an informer. So why didn't they exercise minimal common sense when it came to Landesberg? The New York FBI office was one of the most sophisticated ones in America, obviously."
[16] A reasonable person would assume that since nearly everything in Landesberg's story was a lie (as is the case with many lies, there were small kernels of truth), that the part about knowing Oswald was false as well. Indeed, Landesberg was not in the Marines in 1956 and could not have met Oswald or Earl Perry (if he existed) at that time. In fact, it is very possible that Landesberg specifically recanted his Oswald statements but the Agents simply neglected to properly document this. One thing is certain- the FBI did not believe any part of his story. But as we will see, the fact that the report did not specifically mention Oswald will be used to advantage by conspiracy theorists.
[17] FBI File Number DL 89-43 Op. cit.
[18] Ibid.
[19] New York Times, 09/28/40; FBI File Number DL 89-43 Op. cit.
[20] Unless another source is given, all information in the biographical sections comes from FBI File SL: 105-3665, Report of SA Albert J. Rushing Jr., December 6, 1963. The information in this report is taken from USMC medical records, a social services interview of his mother Edna Landesberg and Landesberg himself. The report states the following regarding Landesberg's ability to provide his own biographical details; "The board considers that the patient had the capacity to narrate and recollect in a trustworthy manner and that the past history as recounted by him is reliable rather that a manifestation of his illness."
[21] FBI File Number DL 89-43 Op. cit.
[22] In all fairness, It should be noted that there is no evidence that Landesberg ever committed an act of real violence. The scuffles that he instigated during his later political activities usually ended up with him on the losing side.
[23] In the event the reader should believe that I have overstated Landesberg's mental problems, I would note that the FBI report documenting his condition is 11 single spaced pages.
[24] FBI File Number DL 89-43 Op. cit.
[25] House Select Committee on Assassinations, Administrative Folder F-8, p. 122.
[26] Leonard Rubin, "Young Audience Hails Mark Lane", The Village Voice, March 15, 1962, p. 16.
[27] FBI File Number DL 89-43 Op. cit. His mental problems notwithstanding, why would Landesberg, who his mother had said was "always fighting for causes and saw himself as an idealist" and had rebelled against his parent's presumably conservative values, choose to pose as a right winger? One explanation is that he created an extreme caricature of person on the right to demonstrate the absurdity, as he saw it, of those beliefs.
[28] J.R. Goddard, "Lane Wins Student Plaudits, as Deep South Demurs", The Village Voice, December 21, 1961, pp. 1 and 6.
[29] The Village Voice, January 18, 1962, p. 3.
[30] "Smiling Man From a Dead Planet: The Mystery of Lyndon LaRouche,"
[31] Leonard Rubin, "Young Audience Hails Mark Lane", The Village Voice, March 15, 1962, pp. 1 and 16.
[32] There is at least one other documented instance of Landesberg as L'Eandes. In his book Fug You, Ed Sanders relates that poet Al Fowler told him a story of witnessing L'Eandes create a disturbance at a meeting of the Socialist Labor Party (actually the Socialist Workers Party) at the Militant Labor Forum on University Place. Sanders also quotes Fowler as saying:
"The last conversation I had with L'Eandes prior to the big snuff (JFK assassination) took place in a diner on Sheridan Square. He talked then about Fair Play for Cuba. His whole shuck was that he was a Cajun, and that his whole family, in the main, was around New Orleans. He even gave me a dissertation on the French Quarter." ("Smiling Man From a Dead Planet: The Mystery of Lyndon LaRouche,"
[33] FBI Report of SA Henry A. Welke, November 30, 1963.
[34] FBI File Number DL 89-43 Op. cit.
[35] Stan C. Weeber. "Stephen H. Landesberg and the Greenwich Village Hoax," The Fourth Decade, Volume 2, Number 2, January, 1995, p. 16.
[36] FBI Document, Baylor University Poage Library, John Armstrong Collection,
[37] Stan C. Weeber. "More On Stephen Landesberg," Unpublished draft of May 11, 1998, Baylor University Poage Library, John Armstrong Collection,
[38] Ibid.
[39] John Armstrong, "JA's Summaries" Op. cit.
[40] Ibid.
[41] Keith Thursby, "Steve Landesberg dies; comic actor played intellectual detective on sitcom Barney Miller," LA Times, December 21, 2010,
[42] Ibid. To be fair, this article was published in 2010 at the time of Landesberg's death, while Armstrong's research took place in the nineties.
[43] John Armstrong, "JA's Summaries" Op. cit.
[44] Baylor University Poage Library, John Armstrong Collection,; In this letter which seems to accuse the actor Landesberg of being involved in some way in the Landesberg/L'Eandes hoax, Armstrong makes an error. Landesberg/L"Eandes did not call the FBI, he called Barry Gray and Gray called the FBI.
[45] John Armstrong, "JA's Summaries" Op. cit.
[46] Ibid.
[47] Baylor University Poage Library, John Armstrong Collection,
[48] Ibid.
[49] Ibid
[50] Ibid.
[51]The Village Voice, January 18, 1962, p. 3.
[52] Researcher Stan Weeber developed a theory that Landesberg returned to college, finished his degree and became a successful businessman. Stan C. Weeber. "More On Stephen Landesberg," Op. cit.
[53] Baylor University Poage Library, John Armstrong Collection,
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