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  • Matt Crumpton

Ep 42: Oswald Back in Dallas (Part 4)

Updated: May 7

So far, we’ve covered the major developments in the lives of Lee Harvey Oswald, his wife, Marina, and their baby, June, since they arrived from the Soviet Union in Texas. We’ve also done an in-depth examination of all things George de Mohrenschildt, whose many intelligence connections, are well-documented. And while, there is not a single smoking gun document that proves that de Mohrenschildt was working on behalf of intelligence agencies when it comes to Oswald, he did admit to Edward Epstein hours before his death that he went to meet Oswald after speaking with J. Walton Moore of the CIA office in Dallas. He told Epstein that he thought him debriefing Oswald about Minsk was what Moore wanted and that it would help him get an oil contract in Haiti, that he did, in fact, receive.[1]

 

In this episode, we turn our attention to Ruth and Michael Paine, the married couple who will go on to become central to the story of Lee and Marina Oswald. We’ll cover the circumstances that led to Marina and June living with Ruth, the FBI’s re-opening of Oswald’s file, and the background and personal connections of Ruth and Michael Paine.  

 

Enter Ruth Paine

 

On March 2, 1963, Lee, Marina, and baby June moved to 214 West Neely Street, which was about a block away from their current apartment on Elsbeth Street. The rent was $8 cheaper per month and it had an extra room, which the family would need since Marina was pregnant and her second child was due in the Fall.[2]

 

Shortly after they moved in to Neely Street, Marina received a letter in the mail from Ruth Paine, which had been forwarded from the Elsbeth Street apartment address that Marina gave Paine at Everett Glover’s party, where they first met. In the letter, Paine asked permission to visit Marina. Marina responded that Ruth was welcome to come by and provided the address to their new duplex.[3]

 

Ruth first visited Marina on Tuesday, March 12. During that visit Marina confided in Ruth that she was pregnant. Ruth responded by telling Marina that she needs a friend.[4] Eight days later, Ruth stopped by Neely Street to visit Marina for the second time.

 

The following week, Ruth’s third post-Glover Party interaction with Marina was when she picked up Marina and June in her car and took them to see the Paine’s house in Irving – about 13 miles north.[5] Ruth and her husband, Michael, had recently separated with Michael moving out of the house, leaving Ruth to care for the couple’s two children, Lynn who was 4 years old and Christopher who was 2.

 

On April 2, Ruth invited the Oswalds over for dinner. Despite the separation, Michael Paine, picked up the Oswalds at their Neely Street home. Michael Paine told the Warren Commission that the date of this dinner party was April 10, which if true, would give Oswald an alibi for the General Walker shooting that he is accused of.[6] We’ll cover the Walker Shooting on an upcoming episode.

 

Ruth continued to pursue the friendship with Marina, inviting Marina, Lee and June to have a picnic in the park on April 20th, with Ruth’s two small children. A few days later, on April 23, Lee bought a greyhound ticket to New Orleans for a bus that departed the next day. When Ruth Paine dropped by unannounced at Neely Street on April 24th, she noticed that the Oswalds bags were packed.

 

The plan was for Lee, Marina and June to all move to New Orleans together while Lee looked for work. Since Ruth was already there and had a car, Lee asked her if she could give the family a ride to the bus station, and she did. At that point, Ruth invited Marina and June to stay at her house while Lee was in New Orleans looking for work. Marina accepted her offer. Lee then got a refund on Marina’s bus ticket. And Ruth Paine took Marina and June back to her house in Irving to live with her.

 

Here’s how Paine described her relationship with the Oswalds in a television news interview from two days after the assassination:

 

Mrs. Paine, how did you first become acquainted with the Oswalds? I met them through a friend at a party last winter. And then saw more of Marina later. I was interested in talking with her because I was trying to learn the language. Then, later, they had financial difficulties when he lost his work. That eventually led to my inviting her to live with me in Dallas while she was waiting for her baby who was born in October. And to stay on a couple of months with me, just as one woman with another can help when babies are small. They expected to get an apartment together when they could afford it. Say, after Christmas, sometime.[7]

 

So, after Ruth Paine met Marina and Lee at Everett Glover’s party, she had only five interactions with Marina. Still, she invited Marina, who Ruth knew was pregnant, and her baby June, to come live with Ruth and Ruth’s two small children. Much like George de Mohrenschildt, one can question Ruth Paine’s motives because it seems implausible that she would invite a pregnant unemployed stranger to live in her small home, where she already had two kids living with her, unless she was just a really nice person who was looking to help others in need. But, like de Mohrenschildt, I wasn’t able to find any other documented instances of Ruth or Michael Paine ever having similar charity cases with any other people.

 

FBI Case Reopened

 

In episode 39 we talked about how retiring FBI agent, John Fain, closed the FBI’s file on Lee Harvey Oswald on August 30, 1962. From that date until March 14th, there was no file open on Lee, but Marina remained on a pending inactive file, which meant that the Bureau took no action on Marina’s file for 6 months. The reason the FBI was interested in Marina in the first place is because she came to the US from the Soviet Union. In March, the end of the six month inactive period was up. This meant that it was time for Agent Hosty to interview Marina.

 

When Agent Hosty went to do the interview, he learned that the couple had recently moved from Elsbeth and that they were having marital problems. For this reason, Hosty decided to wait for awhile to speak to Marina. But, Hosty did go ahead and do a routine check on Lee’s file (which somehow continued to accumulate information even though it had been closed). When Hosty checked the file, he found that Lee had made contact with the Daily Worker magazine in New York, according to the FBI’s New York office. Hosty told the Warren Commission that he decided to go ahead and re-open Lee’s file because of this magazine subscription.[8]

 

So, the FBI re-opened Lee Oswald’s file for the thought crime of subscribing to a particular magazine. This is important because with the file re-opened, the FBI would continually monitor and be aware of Oswald’s activities from mid-March 1963 up through the day of the assassination – November 22. There are dozens of FBI reports on Oswald during this window of time, which shows the FBI was serious about keeping up with Oswald.[9] The implication of this revelation that Oswald was actively being watched in the lead up to November 22 means that either the FBI was grossly negligent in failing to stop Oswald from killing President Kennedy OR the FBI could have been monitoring Oswald as a potential informant.

 

In April of 1963, about a month after Lee’s FBI file had been re-opened, Oswald wrote an undated letter to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee headquarters in New York, requesting that they send him more pamphlets to his P.O. Box 2915 (after he had handed out all the ones he had). Fair Play for Cuba (or FPCC) was a pro-Castro organization that advocated for American non-intervention in Cuba. Basically, it was a pro-Cuban anti-war group. The only way that we know about Oswald sending this letter to the FPCC is because FBI Informant T2, who we later learned was Postal Inspector, Harry Holmes, was reading Oswald’s outgoing mail. Holmes told Agent Hosty about Oswald’s FPCC letter.[10] Holmes monitoring of Oswald’s mail raises the question of how could Harry Holmes not know about Oswald receiving a rifle in the mail a few weeks earlier if Harry Holmes was monitoring Oswald’s outgoing mail.

 

Paine Ties

 

One of the most difficult parts of analyzing the JFK Assassination is being able to sort through real connections that may be relevant to the case versus interesting coincidences that are not really a big deal. When it comes to Ruth and Michael Paine, there are many of these ties and connections that could just be incidental, or when you put them all together, they could also be seen as not just random, but part of a larger plot. The question for us is whether these connections can shed light on the motives of Ruth and Michael Paine.

 

According to a declassified CIA memo, Ruth’s father, William Avery Hyde, was under consideration for a covert use by the CIA in Vietnam in 1957, but Hyde was not actually used by the Agency.[11] Hyde had previously worked for the Office of Strategic Services during World War 2, which was the predecessor to the CIA.[12]That same year, Hyde wrote a letter to an affiliate of the International Cooperation Administration and asked for an assignment that would allow him to use his time QUOTE “more adventurously.” Paine added QUOTE “and if your international contacts tell you of any opportunities abroad that could use a man who has been long immersed in insurance and consumer cooperation, I would be interested in hearing of them.”[13]

 

In Episode 39, we talked about George de Mohrenschildt’s work for the ICA. Technically, William Hyde’s work was with the Cooperative League of the US, which was an affiliate of the ICA; while de Mohrenschildt worked directly for the ICA. But, both of them were working with the ICA in 1957.

 

The fact that de Mohrenschildt and Ruth Paine’s dad both were involved with the ICA at the same time doesn’t prove that they knew one another. But, then we also have the House Select Committee on Assassinations testimony of Joseph Dryer, who worked with de Mohrenschildt in Haiti. When Dryer, was shown names of potential associates of de Mohrenschildt by the HSCA and asked which ones he recalled de Mohrenschildt interacting with, Dryer selected only William Avery Hyde and one other person from the list.

 

So, according to Joseph Dryer, Ruth Paine’s father did know George de Mohrenschildt.[14] And that would make sense because in 1962 and 1963, Hyde was working for the Agency for International Development, which, in the 1960s and 70s maintained a close working relationship with the CIA, and CIA officers often operated under USAID cover.”[15] In fact, former director of USAID, John Gilligan said QUOTE “At one time many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA.”[16]

 

Ruth Paine testified in the Clay Shaw trial that her father, worked for Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio, but was sometimes on loan to the International Cooperation Administration, and after that, to USAID.[17]

 

Ruth’s brother-in-law, John Hoke, also worked for the sometimes-CIA connected USAID. But, maybe even more significant than that, a 1993 declassified CIA security document establishes that Ruth’s sister, Sylvia Hyde Hoke, was employed directly by the Central Intelligence Agency for many years, including before and after the assassination of President Kennedy.[18]

 

So, when it comes to Ruth Paine, she has a father who worked with OSS, the CIA’s predecessor, who was considered by the CIA for a covert role, who personally knew George de Mohrenschildt according to Joseph Dryer, and who then went on to work for USAID, which sometimes served as a CIA cover. Her sister was employed by the CIA and her sister’s husband worked with her dad at USAID.

 

What about Michael Paine? Does he have any ties that could potentially raise questions? Well, maybe a few.

 

Michael Paine is a descendant of Robert Treat Paine, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.[19] His mother, Ruth Forbes, was from the Boston Brahmin Forbes family. When he met Oswald, Michael Paine was working for Bell helicopter in Fort Worth. Not only did Michael work there, he had a high level security clearance because his step-father, Arthur Young, was the inventor of Bell Helicopter.[20] Bell Helicopter would go on to become a huge enterprise after the Huey helicopter was heavily used by the American military during the Vietnam war.

 

But far more important than any of those links, is Michael Paine’s mother’s best friend, Mary Bancroft, whose affiliations are sure to get your attention. Bancroft was an officer in the OSS during World War 2 (just like Ruth Paine’s dad). During that time, Bancroft began an affair with Allen Dulles, who was looking for spy recruits in Europe.

 

According to Bancroft’s obituary in the New York Times, during their second meeting, Allen Dulles said QUOTE “It should work out very well. We can let the work cover the romance and the romance cover the work.” The remark might have seemed startling considering that the subject of romance had not been mentioned, but Mr. Dulles was as perceptive as his recruit. The logic appealed to her, and so did he,” the Times concludes.[21]Dulles and Bancroft stayed in touch after World War 2, though Bancroft may have been closer with Dulles’s wife, Clover, whom she admitted the affair to, than with Allen.[22]

 

It’s a close call as to who has more intelligence connections between Michael and Ruth Paine. Michael’s status as a high level military industry contractor, who’s close family friend had indisputable ties to the very top of the CIA, probably gives him a slight edge. Either way, with all of these uncanny links you can see why people jump to the conclusion that Ruth and Michael Paine were both some sort of assets of the CIA.

 

We have to remember that the mere connection to these people does not prove anything other than that they knew one another. It proves opportunity, but not means or motive. So, what else do we know about the background of Ruth and Michael Paine?

 

There is an FBI report from Frederick Osborn, Jr. and his wife Nancy, which is in support of the Paines’ character. It turns out that Osborn’s father was a close associate of Allen Dulles. They graduated from Princeton together and co-founded Crusade for Freedom, which was similar to Radio Free Europe and ultimately merged with it. There are numerous letters in Frederick Osborn, Sr.’s files at Princeton to and from Allen Dulles.[23]

 

On October 23, 1964, about a month after the Warren Report was released, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote a letter to Warren Commission counsel J. Lee Rankin urging him to not release FBI memos and reports related to Michael or Ruth Paine, or George or Jeanne de Mohrenschildt” because QUOTE “making the contents of those documents available to the public could cause serious repercussions to the Commission.”[24]

 

A few years after the assassination during the trial of Clay Shaw,  New Orleans district attorney, Jim Garrison tried to subpoena the tax returns of Ruth and Michael Paine. Garrison was not successful in obtaining their tax returns. When he tried to get them, he was denied access because he was told that Ruth and Michael Paine’s tax returns were classified.[25]

 

Garrison also subpoenaed Marina Oswald to testify. Marina was asked whether she still saw Ruth Paine now that it had been several years since the assassination. Marina responded  that she was advised by Secret Service to avoid Ruth Paine because she was affiliated with the CIA.[26]

 

There’s one more piece of background information to consider. Roy Frankhouser claimed that he worked as an undercover agent. He told the HSCA that he had met Michael and Ruth Paine in 1960 when he infiltrated the Socialist Workers Party. Frankhouser said that he, Ruth and Michael Paine were all undercover agents.[27]

 

This sounds like a slam dunk to tie it all together and establish conclusively that Ruth and Michael Paine were undercover CIA assets! But, it turns out that Roy Frankhouser is an extremely questionable witness. Before the HSCA, he was the Grand Dragon of the Pennsylvania Ku Klux Klan.[28] He told the HSCA that he was infiltrating the Socialist Worker’s Party on behalf of the Governor of Mississippi. He also claimed that Ruth and Michael Paine tried to recruit him to a paramilitary leftist organization that wanted to assassinate Birmingham, Alabama Police Chief Bull Connor and president Dwight Eisenhower.[29] I went down the Frankhouser rabbit hole to try to find any corroborating facts or witnesses, and while he may be saying some things that end up being true, I don’t believe anything Roy Frankhouser is saying about working with the Paines. For such an iffy witness, we need to see some level of independent corroboration, and with Frankhouser there is none.

 

Still, even if we completely throw out Frankhouser’s HSCA testimony, which is what we should do in my opinion, the associations of Ruth Paine with intelligence agencies through her dad, her sister, and her brother and law, combined with Michael Paine’s high security clearance at Bell Helicopter and his mom’s best friend’s connection to Allen Dulles, plus the memo from J. Edgar hoover and the classified tax returns, means that we have to consider the possibility that the Paines were not just your average suburban couple.

 

NEXT TIME ON SOLVING JFK: We turn our attention to the infamous backyard photograph. Was it real? Was it faked? Was it someone else? And why does it matter?   

 


[2] Gerald Posner, Case Closed, at 102.

[3] Id. at 102-103.

[4] Id. at 103.

[5] Id. at 106.

[6] Warren Commission Testimony of Michael Paine at 393; https://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh2/pdf/WH2_MichaelPaine.pdf

[8] Warren Commission Testimony of James Hosty at 441-442 - https://history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh4/pdf/WH4_Hosty.pdf

[9] John Armstrong, Harvey & Lee, at 436.

[10] Commission Document 11, Report of SA Hames Hosty, 9/10/63.

[12] James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed at 196.

[13] https://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/FalseMystery/WmAveryHyde-B.LaMonica.pdf (citing FB1105-1716-18,2/28/57, letter from William Avery Hyde to Jerry Voorhis dated Febuary 23, 1957)

[16] James Douglass, JFK & the Unspeakable at 170.  

[18] DiEugenio at 197.

[20] DiEugenio at 195-96.  

[22] Id.

[23] DiEugenio at 196.

[24] J. Edgar Hoover letter to J. Lee Rankin, October 23, 1964, FBI Record 124-10147-10006, Agency File Number 105-126128-1st NR 120.

[26] Probe Vol. 7 No. 3, p. 3

[27] Armstrong at 524 (citing HSCA Interview of Roy Frankhouser).

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