James Files - The Early Days?
Below, on the left side of the page, is a scan of a letter sent by James Files to Joe West on July 30, 1992. In light of the claims and counterclaims concerning Files' involvement in the assassination, this letter is rather curious. Assertions were made throughout the mid 1990s that Files was not well read on the facts of the Kennedy assassination and most of what he said came from his own personal experiences. However, this letter seems to contradict those claims. Here is what a review of the text shows:
In the first paragraph Files says he can not "be of some help to you [West]."
In the second paragraph Files affirms what he said in paragraph # 1 and maintains he knows so little about West's inquiry into the Kennedy assassination that his "knowledge of [West's] investigation is not worth the cost of your coming to see me."
Although Files' supporters said he was not well read on the Kennedy assassination, in the third paragraph he admits to seeing movies and reading books about the event. He claims, incorrectly, that Phillips committed perjury. Phillips did what many government officials do to this day - they develop hazy recollections of events, parse their words, or place themselves in a position of plausible denial. This was and is done intentionally to AVOID the charge of perjury. Files then uses the Fallacy of Appeal to Popularity by claiming that West is probably already aware that Phillips is guilty of perjury.
In the fourth paragraph Files suggests "the man in the beat up fedora type hat wearing the old brown leather bomber jacket" looks like Frank [Fiorini] Sturgis. Files spells Sturgis' name incorrectly and never reveals, to West, what personal information led him to his conclusion. Files records "The last I heard, he's [Sturgis] alive and doing well." The fact that Sturgis was "alive and doing well" at the time of Files' letter to West was information available to anyone with an interest in the case. However, sixteen months later Sturgis would be dead of lung cancer. He died on December 4, 1993, just 5 days short of his 69th birthday.
In the last paragraph he wonders "how my name surfaced for your investigation." From an article that appeared in the April 11, 1994 Beaumont [Texas] Enterprise it seems that in April of 1992, a Beaumont FBI agent Zack Shelton, most likely in deference to FBI policy, gave Files' name to Joe West, a private citizen.
One can only wonder how Files went from an unknowing convict who doesn't know how to spell Grassy Knoll, into the "Grass Knoll" [sic] assassin and from obscurity to the subject of a 70 minute "documentary." See Confession of an Assassin. Chicago: MPI Home Video,1996 [ISBN# 1-56278-898-1]
Houston, TX 77055
Dear Mr. West:
In regards to your letter of 24 July, I sincerely wish that I could be of some help to you. But that is not possible. Please forgive me for not calling, but at the present time we are in total lock-down status. One shower, one phone call per week. I use that call, to call home, sorry.
I realize investigations cost money, and my knowledge of your investigation is not worth the cost of your coming to see me.
The two items that I know, outside of the movies and the books are, #1. David Phillips perjured himself while giving his testimony during the, "House of Assassinations Committee." And I'm sure that you already know that.
Item #2, The Grass knoll, the man in the beat up fedora type hat wearing the old brown leather bomber jacket. I AM NOT saying it was Frank Sturgiss, but it sure looked a lot like him. The last I heard, he's alive and doing well. That's all I know.
But I am rather curious as how my name surfaced for your investigation. At that time, I was under a different name, that [man deceased?] in 1964. Sorry that I cannot be of more help.