One Day In Dealey Plaza


“When you cry wolf once too often, When you cry wolf,

No I won’t come knockin’, when you cry wolf I won’t hear you any more.”[1]


It is November and again we approach the anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Once more two individuals who express knowledge of Lee Harvey Oswald have surfaced with “what really happened” tales. James Files’ means of expression is an article in the November 2010 issue of Playboy and the other, Judyth Vary Baker, through the release of her book Me & Lee. One claims Lee Harvey Oswald a friend, the other a lover but their conclusions about Oswald’s purpose are dissimilar. Additionally, both have been revising their independent version of the facts for years but their often personalized accounts have mostly fallen on deaf ears. That is with the exception of their advocates and those who believe any theory, no matter the flaws, must have some kernel of truth.


For those not conversant in the subject, here are their stories in a nutshell:


Jim Files a.k.a James Sutton claims he was the assassin who felt killing John Kennedy “was like taking out the garbage.”[2] Files “stayed in a courtyard motel on the western outskirts of Dallas and met with Lee Harvey Oswald, who took him downtown to point out the best escape routes from the city.”[3] [4] Oswald also took Files “to an abandoned field, where Files test fired guns hidden in the trunk [of a 1963 Chevrolet “work” car].”[5] Before the assassination Files alleges he took mobster John Roselli to a pancake house in Fort Worth, Texas where Roselli got “last minute change in the motorcade route” plans from Jack Ruby. On November 22, 1963 Files shot Kennedy in the head from the infamous “Grassy Knoll.”[6]


Judyth Vary Baker’s story is a bit more convoluted. She alleges to have been Oswald’s mistress while she and Oswald lived in New Orleans both locked into unhappy marriages. Baker claims she, working with Dr. Alton Ochsneand Lee Harvey Oswald, “soon found that, instead of working to find a cure for cancer, she was actually helping to create a super-cancer virus for the purpose of killing [Cuban dictator] Fidel Castro.”[7]  The project failed because Hurricane Flora was ravaging Cuba while Oswald was trying to deliver the deadly concoction to Castro’s purported assassins in Mexico City.


She also reports after that failure Oswald volunteered for a group trying to prevent the Kennedy assassination in Dallas. In the end he was unsuccessful, had the tables turned, and was accused of the crime.


Baker also claims New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who unsuccessfully prosecuted businessman Clay Shaw for Shaw’s involvement in some sort of military industrial complex assassination conspiracy, “finally concluded that Lee Oswald believed he was penetrating a plot to assassinate the President and described him as ‘a man who genuinely was probably a hero.’"[8]


Over the years we have bombarded with hundreds of books and a multitude of solutions to the Kennedy assassination. Authors have named over 20 individuals as actual assassins. While the public believes in conspiracy they have to be confused as to who was involved. In all these cases there is a lot of circumstantial evidence, character reference, and conjecture but real proof always seems to be lacking.


For example the prime mover of the Files’ story, the late Joe West, just a few years earlier was one of many touting deceased Dallas police officer Roscoe White as the assassin.[9] It’s as if when that scenario didn’t work West merely pulled White from the grassy knoll and replaced him with Files. West’s main players including mobsters John Roselli and Charles Nicoletti were still there but put an X through Roscoe White’s name. Jim Files is the main man now.


In his “confession” Files has claimed both he and Oswald worked for the Central Intelligence Agency and had a common handler, David Atlee Phillips. He asserts he met Oswald months before in Clinton, LA and they became friends. And although Oswald didn’t know the details Files says, as mentioned above, Oswald helped him check escape routes.


The huge hole in the Files’ version of events – the last minute change in the motorcade route. There was no last minute change. The details were published in all the local papers starting on the Tuesday before the assassination. For years historians have used this very point to show those making the claim are ignorant of the facts.


Can we conclude Files’ version of events does square with Baker’s claim that Oswald was there to prevent the assassination? Maybe but Oswald could have better served his elusive “handlers” by notifying them of his concern right after the weapons test outside Dallas. Oswald could have given Files false information about escape routes from the city.


It would probably be best to get Files and Baker together to resolve this and other important discrepancies within and between their claims. It will never happen. Jim Files is in prison in Illinois for attempted murder and Judyth Vary Baker “has been forced to live in exile in Europe.”[10]


So what is the next best thing? In my view it would be to empanel the people who have dealt with them or have intimate knowledge of their history. The panel’s insight might prove relevant and they would have the ability to get back to the two principals to answer questions posed at the conference.


My suggestion for discussing Jim Files’ point of view:


Retired FBI agent Zack Shelton who investigated Files while stationed in Chicago and is mentioned frequently in the Playboy article.


Hillel Levin who is the author of the November 2010 Playboy article “How the Outfit Killed JFK.” Levin is an investigative reporter and author of When Corruption Was King (Carroll & Graf, 2004). The book reveals how Chicago mob attorney Bob Cooley provided the Federal government with information that brought down the Chicago mob.


Jim Marrs is the author of the seminal Kennedy conspiracy book Crossfire. He appeared on Hard Copy[11] as a supporter of Files’ story. At one point Marrs was considering writing a book on Files involvement in the assassination.


My suggestions for reviewing Judyth Vary Baker’s claims:


Author Edward T. Haslam is the author of Dr. Mary’s Monkey (Trine Day Press, 2007) and is the manager of the Judyth Vary Baker website.


Martin Shackelford has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Michigan. He has been researching the Kennedy assassination from his home in Saginaw, Michigan for over 30 years. In January of 2000 he visited Judyth Baker while in New Orleans.


Jim Marrs is the author of the seminal Kennedy conspiracy book Crossfire. He wrote the afterword for Baker’s Me & Lee, as well as, the foreword for Haslam’s Dr. Mary’s Monkey.

[1] Cry Wolf – Laura Branigan – songwriter – Jude Johnstone, 1987

[3] Levin, Hillel - “How the Outfit Killed JFK”, Playboy, November, 2010, p.123.

[4] Curiously this contradicts Files’ statement in his Confession of an Assassin wherein he states he stayed in a motel in Mesquite, TX which is east of Dallas.

[5] Levin, Hillel - “How the Outfit Killed JFK”, Playboy, November, 2010, p.123.

[6] Confession of an Assassin, MPI Home Video, 1996

[7] Me & Lee, Trine Day Press, 09/2010, dust jacket


[9] JFK Assassination Information Center/Ricky White press conference, August 6, 1990


[11] Hard Copy, 09/16/1996 & 09/17/1996