From The Fourth Decade: A Journal of Research on the John F. Kennedy Assassination (Jerry D. Rose, ed., January 1996, vol. 3, no.2), © State University College 1996. p. 5-9. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission.
ON NOVEMBER 25, 1963, information was provided to Orleans Parish assistant district attorney Herman Kohlman by a private investigator named Jack Martin suggesting a close link between Lee Harvey Oswald and David W. Ferrie. Consequently, Ferrie was questioned by the District Attorney's office, shortly after he returned from an impromptu trip to Houston and Galveston, Texas. Later that day Kohlman contacted Secret Service agent John W. Rice in New Orleans, who, along with SAIC Anthony E. Garrets, questioned Ferrie in regard to Jack Martin's allegations (as well as interviewing Martin four days later.) In the course of the interview, Ferrie was asked if he had been to Dallas recently, and in response he "...emphatically denied that he had been in Dallas for about the last eight to ten years." (1)
The following essays are also by Peter Whitmey:
Given the fact that Jack Martin subsequently "admitted' to making up his allegations when interviewed by the FBI on Nov. 26, as well as to the Secret Service on Nov. 29, interest in David W. Ferrie as a possible accomplice in the assassination of President Kennedy quickly evaporated. It wasn't until New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison re-opened the case in the fall of 1966 that the general public became fully aware of the suspicious activities of David Ferrie for the first time. (Although he was referred to in several reports and interviews published in the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission, Ferrie was not mentioned in the Warren Report itself.)
Since Ferrie had worked as an investigator in 1962 and 1963 for New Orleans lawyer G. Wray Gill (whose more prominent client was Carlos Marcello), it occurred to Garrison that Ferrie might have made long distance phone calls from Gill's office, which certainly turned out to be the case. Gill's secretary went through the phone bills, drawing a line through those most likely made by Gill himself; at that time, it was discovered that the November, 1963 bill was missing (2) (although there is no indication that Garrison's office attempted to obtain a copy from the phone company.)
I was able to obtain my own copy of G. Wray Gill's 1962 and 1963 phone bills from researchers Jeff Caufield and Larry Haapanen, and have assembled Ferrie's voluminous and widespread calls in chronological order. (3) According to Garrison's account in his 1988 book On the Trail of the Assassins (4), Gill was shocked to discover how much Ferrie had charged to his account, but given that such calls were made from Dec. 1961 to Dec. 1963, it is hard to believe Gill's secretary would not have brought this matter to his attention, even if some of the calls were related to genuine investigative work.
It is conceivable that Gill was completely aware of Ferrie's activities, and simply lied to Garrison. Keep in mind that Gill worked for Carlos Marcello, who has long been suspected of being behind the assassination. Coincidentally, Gill's office was in the same building as another lawyer, Clem Sehrt (5), who also had close connections to Marcello. In addition, as author Peter Noyes discovered (6), Eugene Hale Braden, a.k.a. Jim Brading, who was arrested but released in Dealey Plaza shortly after the assassination, had spent several months working for an oil company in the fall of 1963, located on the very same floor as Gill's law office.
Readers can examine a transcription of Ferrie's phone records, prepared by Whitmey.
As Garrison briefly alluded to, Ferrie made numerous calls to such places as Guatamala [sic] City (possibly related to Marcello's on-going immigration problems after his return from Guatamala [sic] in early 1961), Mexico City and Toronto (apparently related to his religious interests), and to many cities in the United States, including: Washington D.C., Bethesda, Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Augusta, Las Vegas, Jackson (Miss. and Tenn.), Memphis, Nashville, Louisville, Jacksonville, Opa-Locka, Miami, Sacramento, San Francisco, Birmingham, (MI and AL), Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Wichita, Detroit, Carson City, Reno, Gainesville, Denver, Little Rock, Kansas City, St. Louis, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Cleveland (his hometown), Cincinnati and Columbus.
In addition, he made numerous calls to various places in Texas including: Corpus Christi, Houston, Galveston, San Antonio, Bay City, Tyler, Lubbock, Brownsville, Beaumont, West Columbia, Breckenridge, Port Arthur, Aransas Pass, Waco, Texarkana, Orange, Abilene, Marshall, Ft. Worth, Irving, and Dallas. Ferrie's first call to Dallas (7) was on Feb. 4, 1962 (listed to Andy Lancaster on Engle Ave., which he called again on Feb. 9.) On Feb. 6, he called a number in the Kirby Building listed to John K. Powell, Beverly Roberts and Mass. Mutual Life, and the next day called a number in Dallas not listed on the phone bill. On March 12, 1962 he called an unidentified number in Ft. Worth, and on April 28, 1962 called Carl and Jimmy Saddler on Schley St. in Dallas. Ferrie again called an unidentified number in Dallas on May 11.
Contrary to his statement to Secret Service, Ferrie appeared to have been in Dallas on May 22, 1962, having made a call to Gill's office. Six days later, he called the Saddlers again from New Orleans, and on June 5 phoned an unidentified number in Dallas. On June 30, he once again called Gill's office from Dallas.
Ferrie didn't call Dallas again until Sept. 5, 1962, this time to a number listed under A.M. Belcher Oil and Mae Belcher on Averill Way. On Sept. 6, Ferrie was again in Texas, calling Gill's office from Abilene and Albany before returning to New Orleans. He phoned the Highlander Hotel on Sept. 10, 1962 (also listed under J.K. McDonough), and again on Sept. 13, as well as an unlisted number on Sept. 14. On Sept. 16 and 17, he made calls to Gill's office from Dallas and Marshall, TX. After returning to New Orleans, Ferrie made a call on Sept. 20 to the U.S. Federal Aviation office in Ft. Worth, and five days later called the Dallasite Motor Hotel (also listed under Harry K. Caughey), which he called again the next day. He also called the Highlander again on Sept. 27 and another number the same day (this time from Kenner, LA). On Oct. 1, 1962, Ferrie called Belcher Oil again, followed on Oct. 3 by a call to an unidentified number (this time from LaPlace, LA).
Ferrie's contact with Dallas/Ft. Worth really picked up in October, 1962, beginning on Oct. 4 when he once again called the Highlander (from Kenner) and another unidentified number. On Oct. 5 he called Belcher Oil and the Highlander, as well as two other Dallas numbers (one from Kenner.) On Oct. 9, Ferrie called a number at the Republic National Bank Bldg. in Dallas listed to John O'Connor (as well as Dresser Industries), and on Oct. 13 phoned Hine Pontiac in Dallas, as well as three other calls to unidentified Dallas numbers from the 14th to the 16th. He again phoned Belcher Oil on Oct. 18 as well as Oct. 22, and phoned Gill's office from Dallas the same day. On Oct. 24, he called a Dallas number from Luling, LA, and six days later called Belcher Oil again, as well as calling the Highlander the next day. On Nov. 7, he made a call to another unidentified Dallas number, followed by another call to the U.S. Federal Aviation office in Ft. Worth the next day. On Nov. 10 and 13 he again called the Highlander, and another number in Dallas on Nov. 15. On Nov. 29, Ferrie called Belcher Oil, and Dec. 4 and Dec. 18 the Highlander. In between, he had called Gill's office from Dallas on Dec. 14.
Ferrie once again returned to the Dallas/FT. Worth area in time for the New Year's Eve celebrations, making a call to Gill's office on Dec. 31, 1962 from Ft. Worth, as well as on Jan. 2, 1963. On Jan. 20 and 21 Ferrie made calls to Gill's office from both Ft. Worth and Dallas, and six days later he again called the U.S. Federal Aviation office. On Jan. 29 he called a railroad company in Ft. Worth, as well as an unidentified Dallas number. The same day he also called Gill's office from Dallas, and on Jan. 31, 1963 he called the Highlander from New Orleans. On Feb. 5 he made calls to two unidentified Dallas numbers.
Although Ferrie continued making numerous calls to and from various parts of the U.S., he didn't make a call to Dallas again until May 20, 1963 (to an unidentified number). By then, Lee Oswald was living in New Orleans, and possibly in contact with Ferrie. The following day Ferrie once again called from Dallas, as well as from Bay City. Two days later, back in New Orleans, he called a Dallas number listed under American Road Insurance Co. and Ford Motor Credit Co., followed on May 25 by a call to Frank D. Jernigan on Belclaire. On May 26 and 27, 1963 he called Gill's office from Dallas, and two days later called an unidentified number in Dallas (the day before he had called a number in Washington D.C. from New Orleans.) On June 21, 1963, Ferrie again appeared to be in Dallas and Bay City, calling Gill's office twice.
The last recorded phone call made by Ferrie to Dallas was on August 10, 1963, when he phoned a number listed under Charles E. Tobin, L & M Tobin, Albert J. Leviton, and Maxine T. McConnell at 2514 Cedar Springs. On Sept. 10 he appeared to be in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area once again (his 12th time), having phoned Gill's office from a number in Ft. Worth. Although Ferrie didn't make any further calls to or from Dallas/ Ft. Worth after this date, he did call Gill's office from Houston on both Oct. 23, 1963 and Nov. 17, 1963 (this call appeared on the Dec. bill). His next recorded call was from New York to New Orleans on Dec. 2, 1963, with calls from New Orleans to Jacksonville (Dec. 3), Houston (Dec. 7), and Atlanta (Dec. 14) completing the record.
David Ferrie's assertion to the Secret Service that he hadn't been to Dallas in "eight to ten years" was clearly contradicted by G. Wray Gill's phone records, and the disappearance of the November, 1963 phone bill clearly suggests that calls to and from Dallas/Ft. Worth were likely intensified leading up to the assassination. There was also a report published in the Warren volumes (8) provided by an NBC camera operator named Gene Barnes describing a man named "Fairy", whom an NBC reporter from Chicago had spoken to in Dallas shortly after the assassination. "Fairy" was described as "a narcotics addict now out on bail on a sodomy charge in Dallas", who was a private detective, the owner of an airplane, "who took young boys on flights "just for kicks'". He had allegedly told the reporter, Bob Mulholland, that Oswald had been "under hypnosis from a man doing a mind-reading act a Ruby's 'Carousel.'" If this was David Ferrie, then clearly he had gone to Dallas prior to his trip to Houston and Galveston, and was familiar with Ruby's club.
In fact, as reported in the Nov. 25 edition of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS (9) a young performer named William Crowe, who claimed to have seen Oswald talking to Ruby at the Carousel a week before the assassination, included mind-reading and hypnotism in his act.
In addition, a former part-time Dallas taxi driver named Raymond Cummings, who was interviewed by Garrison's staff, was certain he had given Ferrie, Oswald and a third man a ride sometime between Jan. 11, 1963 and Mar. 15, 1963. (10) As I pointed out earlier in this report, Ferrie had made calls to Gill's office from Dallas on Jan. 21 and Jan. 29, 1963, suggesting that he was, indeed, in Dallas during that time period.
Finally, Beverly Oliver, a former nightclub singer and friend of Jack Ruby's, has claimed since the early 1970s that she saw Ferrie so often at the Carousel Club throughout 1963 that she thought he might be the assistant manager. (11)
If Ferrie had, in fact, spent time in Dallas in 1962 and 1963, contrary to the statement he made to the Secret Service, that does not mean it had anything to do with the assassination. However, the fact that he insisted that he hadn't been there in a decade makes one wonder why he couldn't give an honest answer.
1. American Grotesque, (Simon and Shuster: N.Y.) By James Kirkwood, 1970, p. 127.
2. On the Trail of the Assassins, (Warner Books: N.Y.), Jim Garrison, 1988, p. 127.
3. 12 pages in length; see appendix.
4. On the Trail of the Assassins, p. 127.
5. See my article "The Curious Connections of Clem H. Sehrt" in the Jan. 1995 issue of TFD, pp. 46-47.
6. Who's Who in the JFK Assassination, (Citadel Press: N.Y.), Michael Benson, 1993, p. 51.
7. Thanks to Michael Smith at the Dallas Public Library's Texas/Dallas History and Archives for his assistance with specific phone listings.
8. CE 2038; Who's Who in the JFK Assassination, p.30; Legacy of Doubt, (Pinnacle Books: N.Y.), Peter Noyes, 1973, pp. 117-118; Noyes points out in his book that Mulholland had become a major executive with NBC News in New York and "...insisted he had been quoted incorrectly...He said that shortly after the assassination he heard FBI agents mention Ferrie's name and a possible link to Oswald, and he relayed that information to his reporters." Even if Mulholland's statement is true (which is probably not the case), it is certainly interesting to note that Ferrie's name was being discussed by the FBI in Dallas as a possible accomplice. There have also been allegations made that a Secret Service agent had asked Marina Oswald if she had heard of David Ferrie shortly after the assassination.
9. Who's Who in the JFK Assassination, p.94.
10. The Kennedy Conspiracy, (Meredith Press: N.Y.), Paris Flammonde, 1969, p. 182.
11. Who's Who in the JFK Assassination, p. 234.
Peter R. Whitmey
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