In this report I will not delve into Beverly's claims of being the “Babushka Lady” seen in some film and photographs taken near the Grassy Knoll that day or how she was discovered by pro-conspiracy author J. Gary Shaw in 1970. What I will review are two of her claims. The first, that she took a home video somewhat similar to the Nix film, that the camera she used was a Yashica experimental movie camera given to her by Larry Ronco1 and that the film was subsequently confiscated by a government agent never to be returned.2 Secondly that she was introduced to Lee Oswald by Jack Ruby while in Ruby's Carousel Club in downtown Dallas.
Part 1 the Camera:
Beverly Oliver Massegee appeared at an Assassinations Record Review Board hearing in Dallas, Texas on November 18, 1994. Her testimony from pages 42 to 43 is as follows,
Mr. Joyce: Do you have any documentary evidence that this film was taken by the FBI?
Ms. Massegee: No, because I was only 17 years old and I wasn't smart enough to ask for a receipt. This is a man representing my government. If he had asked me for my soul, I would've tried to give it to him. Also, there are ulterior motives, and I would go ahead and tell you that before someone else does. Laying next to the camera in my makeup kit was a Prince Albert can of marijuana, and I would have done anything to keep him from looking into my makeup kit. But also let me share this with you, I no longer use marijuana or anything else. I am a born again Christian and I am married to a preacher and have been for 23 years.
Dr. Graff: Ms. Oliver, were these still photographs?
Ms. Massegee: No, they were a movie camera.
Dr. Graff: It was a movie camera?
Ms. Massegee: Yes it was an 8 millimeter.
Dr. Graff: Eight millimeter movie camera?
Ms. Massegee: Yes, I have been accused of saying it was a Super 8, but I don't recall that, and to the House Select Committee investigator Jack Moriarty I, in 1977, March the 12th, told him it was a movie camera, not a Super 8 movie camera. I just recently got my typed deposition. I was glad to see that.
Mr. Marwell: Had you gotten the film developed
Ms. Massegee: No, I had not. It was an experimental camera that a friend of mine named Lawrence Taylor Ronco, Jr. had given me, and I had to send the film – and I don't recall why, but I had to send it to Rochester, it was in a magazine, and that may be why.
In her testimony she didn't identify the manufacturer of the camera but indicated it was an experimental 8 millimeter movie camera. Additionally, she said she had been “accused” of claiming it was a Super 8 model.
Accused is off the mark. In 1970 she described the camera to assassination researcher J. Gary Shaw. She indicated it was “a Super 8 Yashica movie camera with zoom lens.” 3
In her book Beverly indicated she was dating Larry Ronco, Jr. He gave her a experimental Yashica movie camera. The film was loaded via a cartridge or magazine. Ronco told her,
“The hard part will be waiting for the film to be developed. Until the camera is widely distributed, you'll have to send it back to Rochester for developing.”4
To amplify the fact that the camera was experiential,
“Larry eventually handed it to Jack (Ruby) and he started admiring it.
'Larry how much do you want for this camera? What do you say? How much?'
'Jack, I told you this camera was a present for Beverly. Like I said, if I could get my hands on another one I would be happy to give it to you, but it's not even on the market yet.'”5
Oliver claimed that Ronco was,
“. . . from New York and a representative of Eastman Kodak. It was his responsibility to manage the Kodak displays and keep the (Six Flags amusement) park stocked with plenty of film.” 6
Six Flags was and is located outside Dallas.
This begs several questions. The headquarters of Eastman Kodak is located in Rochester, New York. How did a Kodak employee working in Dallas obtain an experimental Yashica camera? Did he get it from Eastman Kodak? And if so who in the company would allow him to turn an experimental camera over to a 17 year old singer working at Six Flags amusement park and a Dallas strip club?
What is needed is a review of movie camera technology.
Yashica 8 millimeter camera:
The history of the 8 millimeter movie camera shows it was developed by Kodak in 1932. The first Yashica 8 mm camera was displayed at Photokina held in Cologne, Germany in July of 1958. Two models, the 8S and 8T2, were released to the U.S. Market that same year. Both had turret lenses and used film spools not magazines or cartridges.7 If it merely was an 8 mm camera and Ruby wanted one he could have purchased it at a local photography store. The camera was released 5 years prior to the assassination.
Yashica Super 8 millimeter camera:
The Super 8 movie camera was developed by Kodak and first released to the public in early 1965; two years after the assassination. Yashica released their first version, the Super 8 30, to the Japanese market late in 1965. The camera used cartridges and had a zoom lens. Yashica could not have developed their own Super 8, even an experimental one, until after Kodak invented it in 1965.
Oliver's claims are refuted by the historical records of Yashica and Eastman Kodak.
The mysterious Larry Ronco:
Apparently the assassination had a dramatic affect on Larry's personality. He became abusive and threatened to kill Beverly. He was so out of control that “she filed a Peace Bond against him.” Later Beverly heard from a pots and pans salesman that Ronco had committed suicide.
I attempted to follow this lead through the Social Security Death Index. The index has 3 Lawrence Ronco's. 1 - Lawrence (1903 to 1971), 2 - Lawrence E. (1926 to 2013) and 3 - Lawrence T. (1935 to 2003). There is no record of a Lawrence Taylor Ronco, Jr. The record for Lawrence T. Ronco is interesting. Ronco was born in August 22, 1935 in Farmington, Maine and died in New Hampshire on January 1, 2003. His obituary makes mention of the fact that,
“After college, he served as a Lieutenant in the United States Army for two years, primarily at Fort Carson, Colo. Upon discharge from the Army, he became an employee of Eastman-Kodak Co. and later was self-employed with a national sales line.” (Emphasis mine)
Based on his date of birth he would have been 27 years old in the summer of 1963.
Part 2 the Introduction:
Without question Beverly Oliver did work at the Colony Club. The Colony Club was located across the street from the Carousel. As proof of employment this from the November 22, 1963 Dallas Morning News,
At some point at Ruby's Carousel Club,
“Beverly looked around and then noticed Jada sitting with Jack and another man at a table near the runway. Beverly made her way over and Jack rose from his chair, motioning to her as if she wasn't already walking his way. Jada smiled.”
“'Beverly. This is my friend Lee Oswald. He's with the CIA.' Jack said, nodding his head toward the man on his right, who was sitting at the table in his own cloud of detachment.”8
Oswald's and Jada's whereabouts can be used to corroborate this story.
“The next week, on Monday, November 18th, Beverly agreed to help Jack (Ruby) host another after-hours party.”9
This would mean Oliver's introduction to Oswald in Jada's presence would take place around November 11th. Oswald had returned from Mexico City by Friday, October 4th. So it is conceivable he could have been there. But what about Jada?
Jada a.k.a. Janet Adams Conforto nee Mole did work as a stripper at Ruby's Carousel Club. They had a volatile relationship.
She did not testify before the Warren Commission but did give a statement to FBI Agents B. J. Rogers and Edmund Flanagan in New York City on December 4, 1963.10
“On October 31, 1963 she went to see Judge RICHBERG and signed a warrant against RUBY. She explained that she merely wanted a restraining order against RUBY and did not want him arrested. However, someone at the court informed her that she could not get a restraining order since she worked in the same building with RUBY. She also had explained the purpose of signing this warrant to Judge RICHBERG.
On Friday night, she went to Judge RICHBERG's court and RUBY was there after apparently having been arrested. In a loud voice, RUBY made accusations against her, accused her of being a prostitute and of entertaining men in her hotel room where she was residing with her son. She does not know the exact outcome of this court action, however, she did not work at the club again and the following Sunday, she went to the club and picked up her gowns.
She had no knowledge of any association between RUBY and LEE HARVEY OSWALD. She had never seen OSWALD in the Carousel Club, or at any place.”
The following Sunday would have been November 3rd. This would be at least a full week before the alleged meeting with Oswald.
She did claim she was in Dallas at the time of the assassination. Dallas police documents show she was involved in a traffic accident. At 10:45 AM on November 22, 1963 she struck a pedestrian, Charles Burns, on his way to work at Texas Instruments. Burns said he didn't require help but she insisted. She called a friend and Burns was taken to Pakland Hospital.
“I was with a friend in a car when an accident occurred on the outskirts of Dallas, and a man was apparently injured. He was taken to Parkland for examination, and I went along. I saw the car arrive with the President and Governor Connally and others.”11
What about the other women working at the Carousel?
"It angered and depressed the girls to keep answering the same questions: 'No, Oswald was never in the Carousel. No, as far as we know. Jack Ruby didn't even know Lee Harvey Oswald. No, we don't think there was any kind of conspiracy. Jack just shot him. We aren't sure why.'"12
It is Beverly Oliver alone who remembers being introduced to Lee Oswald by Jack Ruby in the presence of Jada. That Ruby knew Oswald was something denied by all of Ruby's exotic dancers.
Janet Conforto Mole at age 44 was killed on May 9, 1980 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the time she was known as Janet Adams Washington. She was driving her motorcycle when she was struck from behind and run over by a school bus. The bus, driven by Donna Beeman, had no children aboard.
Mole is interred at Lake Lawn Park Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana, at a crypt registered to her son Joseph Conforto.
Beverly's meetings with the infamous in Ruby's Carousel Club didn't stop there. The following is excerpted from a story by Michael Dorman the appeared in Newsday13 .
Prosecutors probe claims by Ray’s lawyers about King assassin.
Memphis prosecutors are investigating claims by James Earl Ray’s attorneys that they have identified the long-sought mystery figure called "Raoul" - the man Ray contends masterminded the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and actually fired the fatal shot.
The prosecutors are also investigating claims by Ray’s lawyers that a witness once saw "Raoul" meeting with Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby in Ruby’s Dallas strip joint. Moreover, they are checking claims by the defense that Ruby - pronounced dead of a blood clot in 1967 while jailed for Oswald’s murder - actually is alive and living in Chicago.
This is not to say the prosecutors are swallowing these claims, but they say they are checking them out for the record.
"Some of this stuff is getting a little far from reality," said John Campbell, the chief prosecutor in the King case. "It’s bizarre. But we have investigators checking out all the leads we get."
The renewed investigation followed repeated court actions and efforts by King’s family to overturn Ray’s 1969 guilty plea and 99-year sentence in the murder. Prosecutors have launched a put-up-or-shut-up attempt to try to bring some resolution to the case. They took the major claims by Ray’s lawyers one by one and sent investigators to check them.
Ray’s chief lawyer, William Pepper, has accused a New York man - not publicly identified - of being "Raoul." Campbell assigned four investigators from a task force to travel to New York recently and check out the claim. They reported finding that employment records showed the man identified as "Raoul," whose first name actually is Raul, was working in a New York factory on April 4, 1968, the day King was killed in Memphis. The man, a retired wine importer, has said he never knew Ray.
Some of the leads were prompted by information Ray’s lawyers said they received from the self-described "babushka lady" from the investigation of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Pictures at the Kennedy assassination scene showed a woman in a kerchief standing on the grassy knoll and appearing to be shooting motion pictures. A woman named Beverly Oliver, who said she had been a strip-club dancer since age 14, claimed she was the "babushka lady" - but no firm identification was ever made.
Oliver made sundry claims about the assassination - among them that her movie camera had been confiscated by the FBI or Secret Service, she couldn’t remember which. Investigation revealed that the camera she claimed to have used did not come on the market until two years after the Kennedy assassination. The House Select Committee on Assassinations interviewed her but decided against calling her as a witness.
She previously had claimed she had seen Oswald with Ruby in Ruby’s club. Now she says "Raoul" was also there. Both the House committee and the Warren Commission concluded there was no evidence Oswald and Ruby knew each other.
As for the claim that Ruby is living in Chicago, the Memphis investigators are checking it, but all evidence reflects that Ruby died behind bars after a long fight with cancer.
1 Oliver, Beverly with Coke Buchanan, Nightmare in Dallas (Lancaster, PA: Starburst Productions,1994), p.91
2 Ibid, p. 132 Beverly indicated it was two men in dark suits. One flashed a badge and introduced himself. She was so shocked she didn't remember his name or who he represented.
3 Shaw, J. Gary with Larry Ray Harris, Cover-Up (Cleburne,TX: J. Gary Shaw,1976), p.51
4 Oliver, Beverly with Coke Buchanan, Nightmare in Dallas (Lancaster, PA: Starburst Productions,1994), p. 91
5 Ibid, p.90.
6 Ibid, p.54
8 Op. Cit., p. 94.
9 Ibid., p. 96.
10 23H297 CE 1561 pp. 297 to 303
11 El Paso Herald-Post, 1 Oct. 1964: p. 21.
12 Anderson, Alice and Diana Hunter with Larry Grove, Jack Ruby's Girls, (Atlanta, GA.:Hallux, Inc., 1970), p. 182.
13 Search for Mysterious ‘Raoul’/Prosecutors probe claims by Ray’s lawyers about King assassin, 12-10-1997, pp. A24