by David B. Perry
In issue number 9 of Probable Cause, there appeared an article by Ralph D. Thomas entitled "The Strange Story of Rosco White - Information, Disinformation or Misinformation." What is intriguing about the piece is that includes all three aspects of the White saga. That is, there is some information, some disinformation and lots of misinformation.
Australia is a long way from the United States both in distance and time so unfiltered details of Kennedy assassination related events are probably hard to come by. I feel it incumbent, because I have researched the White episode for over four years, to provide those of you interested in the story additional details, which for some reason, Thomas neglected to put in his account.
Mr. Thomas previously marketed this article as a chapter in his Missing Links In The JFK Assassination Conspiracy. Missing Links was published as "a collector's edition imprint" by Thomas Investigative Publications, Inc. in 1992. In the three post publication years more has been uncovered and several principals have passed away including Geneva White - February 13, 1991, Joe West - February 13, 1993 and Larry Howard - January 8, 1994.
I intend to cover many of the points contained in "The Strange Story Of Rosco White" and provide up to date investigative results. I have submitted copies of some of the documents mentioned to both Steve Gerlach and Mr. Thomas. If the reader wishes to view or obtain duplicates of this material Steve is the closer and less expensive conduit.
"A photograph has been published by assassination researchers for years of a group of Marines in Japan in front of a tent. Oswald is in the photograph and so is a person who looks just like Rosco White. According to the White family, it's Rosco."
Assassination researchers have not published the photograph. The rights to the photograph belong to former Marine John Marckx. Marckx permitted Edward Epstein to use the photograph in his book Legend - The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald. It also appeared in Time magazine of November 28, 1988 on page 36 and Life of February 21, 1964 on page 75.
Marckx did not take the photograph in Japan but on the northern end of the Philippine archipelago. Oswald's radar unit was involved in a practice exercise, Operation Strongback.
The photograph does not show a group of Marines in front of a tent. The group is sitting in an open clearing waiting to board the USS Terrell County.
The only members of the White family who have identified the Marine in the background as White are Ricky and Geneva. Those that fail to see any resemblance, because the bill of a baseball type cap covers the face of the Marine in question, include his sister - Linda Wells, mother - Merle Rogers, as well as Ora Lowery, Mary Tyndall and Benny Toland, respectively Geneva's sisters and brother.
"The only people who read the diary were:
Geneva White (Ricky's mother)
Tricia White (Ricky's wife)
Denise Carter (a family babysitter)"
There is confusion surrounding this claim. In the very next paragraph Thomas states: "According to the JFK Assassination Information Center, Ricky White was the only known person to have read the November 63 accounts although many others can testify to the existence of the diary."
On page 166 of the Texas Monthly article Ricky claimed "The only people who say they have SEEN THE JOURNAL (emphasis mine) are Ricky, his mother, his wife, and a woman named Denise Carter, who read parts of the journal while babysitting with Ricky and Tricia's two children."
Based on the evidence at hand it seems only Ricky and Denise Carter read any of the diary entries.
"Records show that Rosco White obtained employment with the Dallas police... about seven weeks before the assassination, as a clerk and photographer."
The records of the Dallas police department released to the public on January 27, 1992 show White was employed October 7, 1963 as an Apprentice Policeman. There is no record showing he joined the force as a clerk and photographer.
"White's personal file contained no references."
Not true. The Dallas police in their September 25, 1963 employment background check indicate they contacted the following references: J.M Langford of Corvair Corp. of Fort Worth, Texas. White worked there from May 8, 1956 to July 28, 1956. Mr. A.L. Fletcher, Manager of American National Insurance Company of Dallas, Texas. White had been employed as an agent since December 17, 1962. Mr. O.P. Pool, Manager of Farmer's Insurance Company of Dallas, Texas. Roscoe had been employed as a part time agent since August 13, 1963. The record indicated he was also employed by Roadway Express Company of Dallas.
The report includes a notation which corroborates White's military record in that he "...received an honorable hardship discharge due to his wife's health." On December 4, 1962.
"Rosco White was assigned to the identification section."
There is no evidence supporting this statement. His employment record shows he was hired as an apprentice patrolman on October 7, 1963, promoted to probational patrolman on October 7, 1964 and patrolman on January 7, 1965.
(Rev.) "Shaw has stated that Rosco told him he didn't think that the fire was an accident."
Partially true - Reverend Shaw did make this statement at the press conference held at the JFK Center on August 6, 1990. However, he was interviewed on February 20, 1992 for the Dallas CBS affiliate, television station KDFW by investigative reporter Richard Ray. Shaw recanted many of his original assertions claiming "everything I heard came from Geneva."
Shaw claimed Roscoe made several admissions as he lay on his deathbed at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. It appears neither the JFK Center or Shaw realized another victim of the explosion and fire, Richard Adair, was in the bed next to White during the period of hospitalization.
I interviewed Adair on September 12, 1990. He told me nobody had a private visit with Roscoe. Also, Roscoe's sister and mother told me visitors were not allowed in the room alone. Even the immediate family, because of Roscoe’s condition, was obliged to enter the room in pairs.
Since I was involved in the KDFW interviews I asked Richard Ray to notify Shaw of the results of my investigation. When Ray did so, Shaw admitted that he "heard everything from Geneva."
Adair told me the fire was indeed accidental. "In the past I had warned Roscoe not to weld near stored cans or containers because we didn't always know what was in them." Court records show welding slag from White's torch fell on the metal top of a can containing a solvent used to clean cement trucks. When the slag burned through the cover an explosion ensued.
(Rev.) "Shaw has stated that Rosco told him that he saw a man running from the fire."
True - but there are no sinister implications. The explosion occurred in a vehicle repair bay of a converted Texaco gasoline station. White and Adair were fabricating a replacement part for a Clark fork lift in the bay closest to the office. The running man was the representative from Clark Fork Lifts, Inc. who fled the office after the explosion.
"Rosco told him (Rev. Shaw) that he was troubled as he had lead a double life, had killed people in the past and that he felt that his family was in danger."
Another, statement Shaw rescinded claiming "everything I heard came from Geneva."
"The day of Rosco White's funeral a man who's name has only been given as 'Bill X' by the White family, delivered a package of photographs."
True as far as it goes. Many of us wondered why Ricky, Geneva and the JFK Center would keep the name of a corroborating witness under wraps. We soon discovered that the Assassination Archives and Research Center in Washington, D.C., the parent of the JFK Assassination Information Center in Dallas, was concerned the Roscoe White story was a hoax.
The AARC had a private investigator interview "Bill X." He is in reality a man named Philip Jordan. The AARC’s investigator interviewed Jordan on July 29, 1990. Jordan revealed "Ricky White is likeable and obsessed with proving his father killed J.F.K. and that he make a movie or book and money on the story."
"In 1975, Geneva White's house was burglarized and the package containing the photographs was taken."
Not true - By the mid-seventies Geneva had remarried and was living in Paris, Texas. Fellow researcher, Gary Mack, found the Paris, Texas police department has no record of any burglary, robbery or attack at her home in 1975. They have records of burglaries in February, 1974 and January, 1976. The 1974 report mentions a "strong arm robbery" and theft of jewelry. Neither report mentions the theft of photographs.
"According to a letter Geneva obtained from the Senate Committee, the men (burglars) were to have been tried in Dallas, Texas."
If such a letter exists I'd like to see it. The March 19, 1976 issue of New Times reports, "Some months ago, the widow surrendered the pictures to a pair of would-be con artists. Schweiker's staff was tipped to the case by a Texas law enforcement official and managed to track the con men --and the pictures-- down."
In this case the con-artists would have been tried for a crime that never seems to have taken place. The police have no record of any such 1975 event.
"John Stockwell, a former CIA task force chief, looked at the cables and stated he thought there was a 90 to 95% probability that they were genuine."
Just so the record is clear, it is true that John Stockwell is a former CIA task force chief but he was station chief in Angola, Africa.
During 1992 John and I frequently corresponded about the White case. At the time, he was working on a manuscript for a book with the intention of disclosing what was going on "Inside the Ricky/Geneva/Roscoe White Story." Stockwell's comment about the cables was based upon the fact that although he "observed that they were NOT formal Naval Intelligence or CIA cables, NOT the work of career case officers...[he] had seen comparable documents in the correspondence between...mercenary operatives."
After non-destructive tests of the cables by The Northern Arizona Forensic Laboratory showed the documents to be "the enabling products of a hoax", John revealed he had been skeptical. He confided his feeling, however, that if he walked out on the project he "might never have been able to see the documents."
John was not alone in his skepticism about the authenticity of these controversial "cables." So to was John's associate, Admiral Bob Inman former head of the CIA, as well as the BBC film crew on site to document the press conference. More importantly Bernard "Bud" Fensterwald Jr. the President of the AARC, who at the time had a half financial interest in the JFK Center, expressed not only doubts about the cables but the entire story!
"Gary Shaw, director of the JFK Assassination Research Center in Dallas stated that Ricky White was given both a polygraph test and PSE test and passed both."
Well maybe. PSE's are not, as yet, admissible in United States' courts. The polygraph examination was conducted by The Integrity Center of Dallas. The company was selected by J. Gary Shaw based upon a review of the business pages of the local telephone book.
On November 26, 1990, I called The Integrity Center and spoke with the examiner, Billy Wingo. He commented, "Joe West had about twenty questions, but some were duplicates. We threw out the duplicates and re-phrased some, so the questions were set up correctly for the polygraph. In the end there were only fifteen questions. Joe West and I put them together."
I provided two ex-law enforcement officers experienced with the administration of polygraph examinations, copies of the exam. Both concluded the questions were poorly framed. "It's as if the next question was never asked. Instead of asking Ricky if the FBI took the diary, they asked if he knew where the diary was. We can't consider this a competent exam. It's totally unacceptable."
On February 14, 1991, I again contacted The Integrity Center to ask Billy Wingo some additional questions. I was curtly told, "Wingo no longer works here."
Some of us working with Oliver Stone's staff later discovered, that during discussions between the JFK Center and Stone's producer, Alex Ho, the Center admitted that Ricky had in fact failed the test.
"Geneva White went to work for Jack Ruby as a hostess for a few weeks just before the assassination."
Mr. Thomas probably secured this information from the Center's press kit. On page three of the synopsis we find "GENEVA WHITE, Roscoe's wife, was employed by JACK RUBY at his Carousel Club for several weeks in September 1963." '
Not true. I've interviewed her two sisters and brother. All three indicate the first they ever heard she worked for Ruby was when Ricky mentioned it in early 1990. All three discounted Ricky's claim and felt he was trying to make money from a story which, with respect to their brother in law, Roscoe, was untrue.
Their recollections are confirmed by White's September 25, 1963 Dallas police pre-employment background check. "The applicant's wife has been working as a waitress at the Cattleman's Restaurant in Preston Center. In August, 1963 while at work, she fell and received a head injury. She has not been able to work since then, but stated she thought she would be able to go back to work soon."
"A photograph of herself (Geneva White) with Jack Ruby was published in a 1988 edition of Time Magazine."
True but with some modifications. Neither Ricky White nor the JFK Assassination Information Center revealed the photograph was from Time magazine. The Center's press kit issued August 6, 1990 states only that "Roscoe photographed Geneva and Ruby together."
Since Roscoe took the photograph many investigators including this writer asked to see the original. Neither Ricky, Geneva nor the Center could produce it. At that point I noticed the 8x10 press kit photo was a half-tone. I went to the Dallas Public Library and after four hours of searching discovered the photo in the November 28, 1988 issue of Time.
"According to Geneva, Rosco took the photograph."
If Roscoe took the photograph why did Time magazine give Jimmy Rhodes the credit line? Simply because it was Rhodes and not White who took the picture. Rhodes was Ruby's favorite photographer and he used him extensively. The negative and photograph captioned "Ruby with stripper" rest not with the Whites or the JFK Center, but in the archives of Life Picture Sales, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 2858, New York, New York 10020.
There is no question the photograph taken by Rhodes is of Geneva and Ruby. Because of Rhodes caption "Ruby with stripper" some of us believe it was a photo Rhodes took during an attempt by Ruby to have an amateur strip night.
A copy of this photograph appears in Texas Monthly but the Rhodes credit line has been removed and replaced by that of The JFK Assassination Information Center! I'm not sure whether this was done intentionally or in error. At any rate, it caused many uninformed researchers to conclude the original was in the possession of Ricky, Geneva or the JFK Center. To date none of the parties have admitted the error nor have they sought to clarify the mistake.
"Rosco White said that Geneva would have to undergo a series of shock treatments to erase memory from her brain."
There is no proof that Roscoe made that statement therefore it is only hearsay. Geneva White did undergo shock treatments but well before she claimed Ruby forced her to have them. They were not administered so she would lose her memory but for depression. Remember Roscoe was discharged from the Marines on December 4, 1962 because of his wife's health.
I have spoken to at least one doctor (Dr. Daniel Pearson of Dallas) who did treat Geneva. He told me to read up on the subject of shock treatments and their use in the 1960's. As the doctor told me, I found shock treatments affect short term as opposed to long term memory and would not have the desired effect Ricky and Geneva claimed Ruby wanted.
"The group of people who had funded Ricky White had to sue West to get the cables back."
Later in his paper Thomas points out that the Center was not out for profit nor is Ricky an assassination buff. If true mention of a "group of people who had funded Ricky" should set off alarm bells for researchers.
The group, functioning under the name Matsu, consisted of several oil entrepreneurs from Midland, Texas. Headed by Gary Bailey, also from Midland, they were since early 1989 out to sell some version of Ricky's "story." This we know because Matsu was incorporated in the State of Texas on January 25, 1989.
It is true Matsu sued Joe West. They wanted the cables returned. Fortunately in the meantime West had contacted People magazine. Kent Demaret, People's Houston, Texas representative managed to get the cables to The Northern Arizona Forensic Laboratory in advance of the suit. The results of the report released on August 17, 1990 were mentioned previously.
As late as September 14, 1994 one of the founders of the JFK Assassination Information Center, J. Gary Shaw claimed he was still unaware of the results of the tests. While being deposed on a different matter he was asked about the authenticity of the cables. His response was "...and I know nothing about the laboratory who did it or the official results."
Thomas points out that many believe that the Center was out to profit from the Kennedy assassination but his "investigation concluded that the center and J. Gary Shaw has never developed any major profits..."
Just because the Center "never developed any major profits" doesn't mean they weren't trying.
In a December 1992 article for the Houston Chronicle, reporter Jerry Urban indicated Alex Ho and the JFK Assassination Information Center had a contract to work on an Oliver Stone project. "...the JFK Center is to receive $80,000 for consulting on a movie about the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination."
If someone wasn't in it for the money then what are we to make of the letter from Larry Howard to, we believe Oliver Stone? Just before the August, 1990 press conference Larry Howard, Ricky White and their wives flew to Stone's home in California. Local researchers understood Larry and Ricky tried to sell the story for close to $750,000.
"In studying Ricky White you will find that he is not an assassination buff."
Quite the contrary. There is a January 25, 1989 Letter of Agreement between Matsu, Andy Austin Burke and the Whites. Ricky was being paid to investigate his father's role in the assassination. One line of the agreement indicates the parties at interest will ". . . CREATE A STORY." Not investigate but create!
Long before Ricky went to the JFK Center he and Andy Burke worked with Matsu and a Dallas writer named Richard Abshire. Abshire using the pen name Dick Anderson prepared a thirty eight-page outline of Ricky's version of events. Sometime in July of 1989 Ricky and Burke were flown to New York City to meet with representatives of Viking Publishing Company. The pair was told the story was inconsistent and Viking wanted no part in the project.
Upon his return, Matsu informed Ricky they wanted him off the venture. As Ricky told researcher Woody Woodland during a taped interview in late September 1990, Matsu brought in a literary agent by the name of Charles Neighbors. Neighbors and Burke were going to rewrite the Abshire synopsis. Ricky called Micala Hamilton of Viking Publishing and warned her Matsu was altering the manuscript.
By January, 1990, as reported in Texas Monthly, Matsu's board of directors began to express doubts over the entire Roscoe white story. As I understand it, Matsu is still trying to recoup their lost investments.
"Both (Oswald and White) were stationed in the general area of the famous U-2 spy plane base."
Why does Thomas feel the Atsugi U-2 base famous? We know it was one of at least two primary bases with another located at Adana, Turkey. Francis Gary Powers' equally if not more famous mission originated from a secondary base at Peshawar, Pakistan. More than likely Thomas is enamored with Atsugi only because Oswald served nearby.
Some researchers are not familiar with the U-2 undertaking and Oswald's role with respect to it. This leads to much confusion, some of it contradicted by the historical record. For example, J. Gary Shaw who Thomas considers "one of the most well known, respected and honest researchers in the country." Appears perplexed about the U-2 project. As one can see on page thirty four of his JFK Conspiracy of Silence, (co-authored with Dr. Charles Crenshaw) Shaw believes Oswald was "stationed at a top-secret base for the U-2 spy plane operations in the Philippines." On the following page we are informed Powers flew from this same non-existent base instead of Peshawar.
I was provided with a copy of Roscoe White's military record. A duplicate of the records Ricky claimed to have discovered in his father's foot locker in 1982. The military records show both Oswald and White were part of Marine Wing I. However, this Marine wing's operations encompassed extensive territory including Japan, Okinawa, Iwo Jima and Guam. White was part of Marine Observation Squadron-2, Marine Air Group 16. On September 19, 1957 he left Tachkawa, Japan for Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. He-served as an auto vehicle operator. Oswald reported to Marine Air Control Squadron-1, Marine Air Group 11 at Atsugi, Japan on September 13, 1957. He obtained a security clearance and worked on the U-2 project.
Remember Ralph Thomas' claim, probably based upon information provided in the JFK Center's press kit, that Ricky found Roscoe’s military records in his grandfather's footlocker in 1982? I ascertained the grandfather in question was Geneva White's father. I discussed the discovery of the footlocker with Geneva's sisters and brother. All three denied the episode ever occurred.
In February of 1991 I contacted the National Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. I found any soldier who wants his records must sign a release. This meant they would have a record of the date Roscoe White requested his records, the very ones Ricky found in the footlocker.
I applied for this data under the Freedom of Information Act. My original request was denied so I appealed to the Adjutant General of the United States. The appeal was approved and in late 1991 I received the list of all individuals requesting Roscoe White's military records along with the date the records were sent.
Only three names appeared. My own based upon my request of February 28, 1991. Next was that of Attorney Jim Lesar. Lesar, a representative of the Assassination Archives and Research Center, requested his set on August 7, 1990 the day after the press conference. But most revealing was the third name. It was not as I expected Roscoe White but Ricky. Ricky White had requested his father's records on December 2, 1988. This raises four questions:
 Did Roscoe ever have a copy of his records? And if so
 What happened to his original application for these records?
 If Ricky found his father's military records in the foot locker why the need to request another set from the Records Center?
 Why did Ricky refuse to reveal he ordered a set on December 2, 1988 a little over a month before Matsu was incorporated?
In a somewhat related incident Ricky also wrote the Dallas Police Department, on February 3, 1989. Using the Texas Open Records Act as a basis, he requested copies of his father's personnel file for an upcoming "family reunion."
Coupling the statements of Philip Jordan, Roscoe's sisters in law, and brother in law as well as identifying Ricky's working relationship with Matsu and Andy Burke and his applications for his father's military and police records, I think there is more than sufficient proof to counter Mr. Thomas claim that Ricky is "...not an assassination buff."
I hope this paper has served to clear up some of the misconceptions concerning the Roscoe White episode. I have always indicated I would change my opinion when somebody, anybody provides information that refutes the majority of physical documentation accumulated over the years; by myself, Gary Mack, John Stockwell, Jim Lesar, Richard Ray, the Office of the Texas Attorney General, Harold Weisberg, Oliver Stone and many others.
Ralph Thomas indicates he conducted his "own independent investigation and verification of this account." I'm sorry but I find it impossible to accept the opinions and conclusions of a researcher who can't spell the name of the subject of his investigation, Roscoe White, correctly.