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  • Matt Crumpton

Ep 40: Oswald Back in Dallas (Part 2)


 

In the last episode, we left off with George De Mohrenschildt stopping by unannounced at Lee and Marina Oswald’s apartment so that he could introduce himself. The question of what spurred this introduction remains widely disputed. There is some evidence that De Mohrenschildt just wanted to help a young family from Russia with financial problems, but there is also evidence that he was asked to meet Oswald by J. Walton Moore of the CIA. The extent of De Mohrenschildt’s CIA connections may be disputed, but the fact that he had them is not.

 

In this episode, we continue looking at Lee Harvey Oswald’s life in Dallas in late 1962 and early 1963, including his map making job at Jagger Chiles Stovall, whether Lee physically abused Marina, the 1962 Thanksgiving Reunion of Lee and his half-brother John Pic, and the introduction of the Oswalds to Ruth Paine.

 

JCS

 

Oswald moved from Fort Worth to Dallas on October 9th, 1962 - probably because he believed there may be better job prospects there. On the same day, he rented post office box 2915 at the Dallas Post Office. This is the PO Box the Warren Commission says Oswald used to have the infamous Manlicher Carcano rifle shipped to him.[1] (We covered the details of Oswald’s alleged rifle ownership and the transaction in Episode 7.)

 

The next day, October 10th, Oswald met with Helen Cunningham at the Texas Employment Commission. She then reviewed the file that was sent over from the Fort Worth Employment Commission. Oswald had previously applied there to get his job at Leslie Welding, where he worked for about 4 months.[2]

 

The same file that Cunningham was looking at is in the Warren Commission volumes as Cunningham Exhibit 1. On that document, it lists the employment aptitude tests that were taken by Oswald in Fort Worth. Mysteriously, the notation on the file says that Oswald took these tests in April of 1962.[3] But that date can’t possibly be correct, since Oswald was still in the Soviet Union at that time. If you’re keeping score at home, this is one more instance of an inconsistency in the records. Was the date just written down wrong or is there more to it? Why does this keep happening?

 

On October 12, 1962, Oswald applied for a job as a photo print trainee with Jaggers-Chiles-Stovall (or JCS).[4]JCS did local commercial printing and developing work, but they also handled top secret projects for the Navy and the Army Mapping Service. Specifically, JCS set type for the maps of foreign countries, including Cuba.

 

Not only did JCS do work on Cuba, Oswald himself did work for the Army Mapping Service related to Cuba while he was at JCS according to his time cards! This is especially interesting given that the Cuban missile crisis began on October 16 (4 days after Oswald started) and went until October 29.[5] Even though it was the height of the Cuban missile, at JCS, Oswald spoke Russian and brought Russian newspapers to work, as well as let his co-workers know about his sympathies for Cuba.[6]

 

So, the FBI and CIA did nothing to stop a former defector to the Soviet Union who previously threatened to share state secrets from working at a map making company for the Army during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Whether the agencies were silent because they weren’t worried about Oswald, or whether the agencies were just negligent, this scenario does not inspire confidence in the intelligence agencies, when it comes to keeping threats away from sensitive information.

 

It’s not exactly clear how Oswald got this job at JCS, but we have a pretty good idea. When Oswald visited the Employment Office looking for better jobs, the counseling card from his meeting with Helen Cunningham noted the position that Oswald ultimately took at JCS.[7] Cunningham wrote at the bottom of the counseling card that Oswald had been referred to her by personal friends: Teofil and Anna Meller, who were active members of the Dallas White Russian community.[8]

 

Katya Ford, one of the White Russians who knew the Oswalds, told the Warren Commission that George Bouhe or Teofil Meller found Oswald the job at JCS.[9] Peter Paul Gregory told the Secret Service that Bouhe found Oswald the job at JCS.[10] We don’t really know if “finding Oswald the job” means getting him that specific job at JCS or just referring him to Helen Cunningham so that he could get some sort of job. It looks most likely that the Employment Commission had the JCS job listing and Cunningham simply gave that option to Oswald after her friends referred him to the Employment Commission.

 

In Oswald’s address book, alongside the address and phone number for JCS, it says QUOTE “Topography, Microdot.”[11] Oswald’s co-worker, who knew how to speak some Russian, was Dennis Ofstein. When Ofstein spoke to the Warren Commission, he told them that Oswald explained to him what a Microdot was. Ofstein said QUOTE:

 

He asked me one day if I knew the term “microdot”. And I told him no, I wasn’t familiar with it and he told me that that was the method of taking a large area of type or a picture and reducing it down to an extremely small size…and he said that is the way spies sometimes sent messages and pictures of diagrams and so on. [They would] take a microdot photograph ... and place it under a stamp and send it. I presumed that he either read this in a book or had knowledge of it from somewhere, but where, I didn’t know.”[12]

 

I could not find any evidence that JCS actually did any work related to microdots.[13] Ofstein goes on to tell the Warren Commission that Oswald never mentioned anything about Marxism and that he didn’t take issue when Ofstein said derogatory things about Fidel Castro.[14] Oswald told Ofstein about his travels in the Soviet Union. Ofstein told the Commission QUOTE “I got the impression that possibly, he had been an agent, [which] was a fleeting impression.”[15]  This was because Oswald shared details with Ofstein about Soviet military positions around Minsk, which made Ofstein wonder why Oswald was paying such close attention to those details.[16]

 

Lee’s job at JCS, in conjunction with the note in his address book about microdots, and the Commission testimony of Dennis Ofstein, are often used to say that Oswald had a high level security clearance, which means he must have had intelligence connections. Yes, I do think it is weird that he was potentially working on maps of Cuba, and that he was at JCS during the Cuban missile crisis, but we have a clear paper trail for Oswald getting the job with a trainee position.

 

I don’t see a guiding hand of some third party putting Oswald in place at JCS. This is another scenario where it is possible that there is something going on behind the scenes, but there is just not enough evidence to state definitively that Oswald was working at JCS for any reason other than to make money to support his family.

 

Eventually, on April 6, 1963, Oswald lost his job at JCS due to poor performance and because he couldn’t get along with his peers, partially because he would bring in Russian language newspapers to read, which didn’t go over well with his fellow after the Cuban Missile Crisis.[17]

 

Lee’s Abuse of Marina

 

A recurring theme in popular books defending the Warren Report’s finding that Oswald acted alone is that Oswald was beating his wife, Marina. If true, this shows violence on Oswald’s part, which makes it more likely that he could have committed a violent act. If true, it also serves to take away any sympathy one might have for Oswald, even if he really was just a patsy. Then again, it is possible that Oswald was a patsy and that he also did beat his wife.

 

We have multiple witnesses to support the idea that Lee hit Marina on several occasions. According to Priscilla McMillan (who wrote her book with Marina Oswald), Lee slapped Marina in the face for the first time after they had an argument on June 24, 1962.[18]

 

Later, in the Fall of 1962, George de Mohrenschildt told his daughter, Alexandra, that she should meet the Oswalds. So Alexandra and her husband then arranged to visit with the Oswalds, De Mohrenschildt, and George Bouhe. It is during this visit that Marina first complains to others that Oswald is beating her. She then moves in with White Russian, Elena Hall, who had previously helped Marina get the dental work that she needed, but couldn’t afford. Hall let Marina and baby June stay at her house for a few days.[19]

 

It's also true that the physical abuse went both ways. Marina hit Lee on several occasions. Jeanne De Mohrenschildt once saw a cigarette burn on Marina’s shoulder that Marina said came from Lee. Jeanne asked him why he did such a terrible thing to his wife and he said QUOTE “Well, she smoked against my orders. But she enjoys brutality, look at me I am all scratched up. Man, that woman loves to fight.”[20]

 

Warren Report critics have argued that Marina was trying to get Lee to hit her and that she was provoking him by hitting him and by smoking, which she knew that he hated. They say that her purpose in doing this would be to easily get a divorce after people saw her with bruises.[21] This is also consistent with the warning that Thomas Casasin tried to give Oswald about the Soviet honeypot program where Soviet women marry foreigners and divorce them in their home countries once they have legal status. But to me, this feels like the old argument of the drunk abuser who says “look what you made me do.” There’s no excusing Lee’s physical violence against Marina, regardless of what she did to him.

 

On the other hand, aside from Marina, none of the White Russians who were interviewed by the Warren Commission ever actually saw Oswald hit Marina.[22] Their testimony was second hand as to the abuse – although several of them did say they saw Marina with bruises. There is one person, Alexander Kleinlerer who provided an affidavit saying that he saw Lee hit Marina on one occasion. But, for whatever reason, Kleinlerer was never interviewed by the Warren Commission.[23] We also know that none of the White Russians ever contacted the police to let them know about this allegedly recurring domestic violence. In my view, the evidence shows that Oswald very likely did hit Marina and put out a lit cigarette on her skin, but it’s quite possible that the White Russians who testified to the Warren Commission about second hand knowledge likely exaggerated the extent of the abuse.

 

Ultimately, on November 3, Marina and June moved back in with Lee to his new apartment in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas at 604 Elsbeth Street.[24] Three days later, Marina spoke to the landlord of the apartment, Mrs. Tobias and her friend Mrs. Jurek. Mrs. Tobias introduced Mrs. Jurek to Marina by saying that the Oswalds were from Czechoslovakia. Jurek spoke Czech and asked Marina to say something to her. This is when Marina told the women in English, QUOTE “No, we’re not Czech, we’re Russian, but my husband doesn’t want us to say that because people will be mean to us.”[25]  Mr. Tobias also heard Marina speak English. He told the Warren Commission QUOTE “She knew more English than she let on she did. She would come over there and sit and the wife would talk to her (in English).”[26]

 

When Lee found out about Marina’s interaction with the Landlord and her friend, he was mad at Marina for speaking to them, which resulted in another argument, with Marina and baby June once again leaving the apartment that they had just moved into. Marina called her friend and White Russian, Anna Meller (the same one who referred Lee to the job at JCS) and asked her to come pick them up so they could stay with her.[27]

 

On November 11, Marina and June left the Meller home and moved in with Katya Ford in Dallas. Katya confirmed to the Warren Commission that she did see bruises on Marina’s face when Marina arrived to her house. As a quick sidebar, Katya Ford also told the FBI that Marina said Lee Oswald was sent to Russia because he worked for Rand Corporation and helped set up the American exhibit at the World Trade Exposition in Moscow.[28] This is a big deal because it basically confirms that Marina did meet Robert Webster. How else could she make up a story about meeting Lee that was the exact story of her meeting Robert Webster? It sounds like Marina confused how she met American defector Robert Webster with how she met American defector Lee Harvey Oswald![29]

 

About a week after Marina and June moved with Katya Ford, Marina once again reconciled with Lee and she and June moved back in to the apartment at Elsbeth.[30] By late 1962, most of the White Russians, with the exception of George De Mohrenschildt, were no longer on good terms with the Oswalds because of Lee’s treatment of Marina and because Marina refused to leave Lee and kept returning to him.[31]

 

Thanksgiving 1962 with John Pic

 

Lee Harvey Oswald had not seen his half-brother, John Pic, in over 10 years when Pic and his family attended Thanksgiving Dinner at Robert Oswald’s house on November 22, 1962 – exactly one year before the assassination.[32] Robert invited Marina, Lee, and June along with John Pic and his family. Pic had just been transferred from Japan to an air force base just a few hours south in San Antonio. This Thanksgiving Dinner would be the last time that Pic would ever see his half brother, Lee.

 

John Pic’s testimony to the Warren Commission about this Thanksgiving Dinner is revealing and has fueled much speculation about exactly what he meant. Here’s the relevant exchange:

 

WC:       How did Oswald look to you physically as compared with when you had seen him last?

 

Pic:        I would have never recognized him, sir. He was much thinner than I remembered him. He didn’t have as much hair… His face features were somewhat different, being his eyes were set back maybe, you know like in these army pictures, they looked different than I remembered him.

 

                  His face was rounder. [My cousin, Marilyn Murrett] described him to me when he went in the Marine Corps as having a bull neck. This I didn’t notice at all.[33]

 

Another thing that stood out to Pic was that Lee introduced Pic to White Russian Peter Gregory as Lee’s “half brother.” Gregory met Pic when he was called to give the Oswald’s a ride home from Thanksgiving dinner at Roberts house. Pic says that he and Lee had always considered themselves brothers and never referred to themselves as half-brothers. The fact that Lee introduced him that way, irritated Pic.[34]

 

Probably the most often cited line from Pic during his Warren Commission testimony is QUOTE “The Lee Harvey Oswald I met in November of 1962 was not the Lee Harvey Oswald I had known 10 years previous.”[35] When you just look at that quote, it sounds like Pic is literally saying that this was a different person. But, Pic invited Oswald to visit him in San Antonio. And Oswald, who wrote his name as “Harvey” also gave Pic his address. I don’t believe Pic would invite Oswald to visit if he really thought he was an imposter. Perhaps Pic wanted to try to gather more information about the man before making a conclusion.

 

The John Pic testimony can be viewed as Pic genuinely not recognizing his half brother after 10 years. It does make sense that a 13 year old would look a lot different from a 23 year old. And maybe the difference would be so much that it wouldn’t even look like the same person. But, it’s also true that, if there is some elaborate play with two Oswalds, then thee testimony from John Pic could perhaps be the key. We know that something is going on with an Oswald imposter, given the numerous Oswald impersonations and records showing him in two places at the same time. Researcher John Armstrong reached out to John Pic in the 90s, but Pic refused to speak to Armstrong in depth and told him “I said everything I had to say about it to the Warren Commission.”

 

While I am leaning towards Pic not actually believing that Lee Oswald was a different person, it’s also true that the Warren Commission immediately shut down Pic’s interview right after he gave his showstopping statement that the Oswald from 1962 Thanksgiving wasn’t the same person he knew growing up. So, I am keeping an open mind on what John Pic’s testimony means.

 

Oswald Meets Ruth Paine

 

Lee Oswald was on the outs with the White Russian community during Christmas of 1962 because of his abuse of Marina. Three days after Christmas, Katya Ford, the woman Marina and June had previously stayed with, had a Christmas party at her house attended by about 20 people, almost all of whom were native Russians.[36] Notably, seven of the attendees at that party were asked to testify before the Warren Commission. All of them said that Oswald had surprisingly excellent command of the Russian language, which, is incongruent with the idea that he didn’t speak much Russian, if any, when he was in the Soviet Union.[37] 

 

On February 22, 1963, Marina and Lee were invited to watch their friend George De Mohrenschildt’s home movies of walking through Latin America. This time De Mohrenschildt’s home movie show and tell was held at a party at the home Everett Glover.[38] There were several other guests at the party, most notably, Glover invited Ruth Paine, who he had met through the local Unitarian Church. We’ll be talking about Ruth Paine a lot over the next few episodes. Everett Glover knew that Paine studied Russian and may have an interest in interacting with people who were Russian speakers and had just been to Russia – like the Oswalds.[39]

 

Ruth Paine studied Russian for 3 years at the University of Pennsylvania. She then went to Middlebury College in Vermont and graduated from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH – incidentally, the same college whose alumna represented 3 of 30 graduating students one year at Albert Schweitzer college.[40]

 

According to George De Mohrenschildt and Ruth Paine, it is at Everett Glover’s February 1963 party where Paine is first introduced to Marina and Lee Harvey Oswald. Glover had met the De Mohrenschildt’s ice skating. All three of them were members of the Dallas Figure Skating Club in the late 1950s and frequently played tennis together in 1962 and 1963.[41]

 

During this party at Glover’s house, Ruth Paine asked Marina for her address so that she could build her skills talking to Marina in Modern Russian. When the Warren Commission asked her why she got Marina’s address that night, Paine said QUOTE “She is very hard to find, a person speaking modern Russian, and in fact I know of no other, and this was an opportunity for me to again practice in the language, a rather unusual opportunity, and I was interested in meeting her and getting to know her.”[42]

 

As you may recall, Marina Oswald and her children lived with Ruth Paine at the time of the assassination in November 1963 – 9 months after this party at Everett Glover’s house. There is also a lot of evidence that looks bad for Oswald that comes solely from Ruth Paine. So, if Oswald did not act alone, or if he was being set up as a patsy, Ruth Paine is a prime suspect for being involved in some way. On the other hand, if Oswald acted alone, Ruth Paine is a nice old lady who just happened to have a crazy brush with history. We’ll come back to Ruth Paine’s developing relationship with the Oswald’s, in particular, Marina Oswald, later. 

 

Warren Report critics look at this Everett Glover party with suspicion because George De Mohrenschildt and Ruth Paine are such pivotal characters in the story of Lee Harvey Oswald. We know that De Mohrenschildt had ties to the CIA through his numerous meetings, including dinners at his home, with J. Walton Moore. We also know that De Mohrenschildt said he met the Oswalds at the request of J. Walton Moore in exchange for an oil contract in Haiti. But the idea that De Mohrenschildt is the one who connected the Oswalds to Ruth Paine is undercut by De Mohrenschild’t Warren Commission testimony where he says he didn’t know Ruth Paine before Everett Glover’s party.[43]

 

The party at Everett Glover’s house was one of the last times that George De Mohrenschildt would see the Oswalds. The very last time he saw them was around Easter 1963. After that, the De Mohrenschildts moved to Haiti to work on the oil contract that he had been awarded.[44]

 

At the same time that the Oswalds stopped hanging out with the De Mohrenschildts, the White Russians’ pity of the family was seeming to run out. It’s at this time in the weeks after the party at Glover’s house that Ruth Paine - nefariously or not – pursues a relationship with Marina, ostensibly to become a better Russian speaker. Warren Report critics see this period of time as a handoff of responsibility for keeping an eye on the Oswalds from George De Mohrenschildt to Ruth Paine.

 

So, the Everett Glover party was either a big nothing burger OR, for many Warren Report critics, it’s an intentionally designed meeting to give Paine the chance to get to know Marina. Looking at the surface level information, it’s plausible that this was an innocent get together. The question is whether there is more beneath the surface. 

 

NEXT TIME ON SOLVING JFK: We’ll continue following the Oswalds, as they transition from their closest friendship being with George De Mohrenschildt to a new relationship with Ruth and Michael Paine. 

 


[1] Cadigan Exhibit 13, Cunningham Exhibit 2, Holmes Exhibit 3.

[3] Id.

[4] Commission Document 5, p 275-276.

[6] John Armstrong, Harvey 7 Lee, at 416.

[7] Cunningham, Exhibit 4.  

[8] Warren Commission Testimony of Helen Cunningham,

[10] CE 1792, at 4; Secret Service Report by Leon Gopadze, 11/26/63.

[12] Warren Commission Testimony of Dennis Ofstein, at 208 - https://history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh10/pdf/WH10_Ofstein.pdf

[13] Gerald Posner, Case Closed, at 91.

[14] Id. at 212.

[15] Id.

[16] DiEugenio at 153.

[18] Posner at 80.

[19] Armstrong at 413.

[20] Id. at 433.

[21] Id. at 433.

[23] Id.

[24] Posner at 93.

[26] Id.

[27] Armstrong at 421.

[28] Commission Document 5, p 259, FBI Interview of Katherine Ford by SA James Hosty, 11/24/63

[29] Id.

[30] Id. at 258.

[31] Posner at 96.

[32] Id.

[34] Id. at 59.

[35] Id. at 81

[36] Warren Commission Testimony of Katherine (Katya) Ford -  https://history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh2/pdf/WH2_KatherineFord.pdf

[37] Armstrong at 426.

[38] Id. at 432.

[39] Posner 99-102.

[40] Armstrong at 433.

[42] Warren Commission Testimony of Ruth Paine - https://www.jfk-assassination.net/russ/testimony/paine_r1.htm

[43] Warren Commission Testimony of George de Mohrenschildt at 257 - https://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh9/pdf/WH9_GeorgeDeMohren_2nd.pdf

[44] Warren Commission Testimony of George de Mohrenschildt at 266 - https://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh9/pdf/WH9_GeorgeDeMohren_2nd.pdf

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izraul hidashi
izraul hidashi
6 days ago

George De Mohrenschildt's connection to Oswald was about as coincidental as his connection was to Abraham Zapruder. And both of them were well acquainted with the Paine's. All of them connected to each other as tentacles of the same CIA octopus.

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