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When They Kill a President, by Roger Craig PART 2

 


This was to be the beginning of the never-ending cover up. Had
I known then what I know now, *I* would have personally questioned
the woman and impounded and searched her car. I had no way of
knowing that an officer, with whom I had worked for four years, was
capable of losing a thirty year old woman and a three thousand
pound automobile. To this day Officer Lewis does not know who she
was, where she came from or what happened to her. STRANGE!
Meanwhile, back at the parking lot, I continued to help the
Dallas Officers restore order. When things were somewhat calmer I
began to question the people who were standing at the top of the
grassy knoll, asking if anyone had seen anything strange or unusual
before or during the President's fatal turn onto Elm Street.
Several people indicated to me that they thought the shots came
from the area of the grassy knoll or behind the picket fence. My
next reliable witness came forward in the form of Mr. Arnold
Rowland. Mr. Rowland and his wife were standing at the top of the
grassy knoll on the north side of Elm Street. Arnold Rowland began
telling me his account of what he saw before the assassination. He
said approximately fifteen minutes before President Kennedy arrived
he was looking around and something caught his eye. It was a white
man standing by the 6th floor window of the Texas School Book
Depository Building in the southeast corner, holding a rifle
equipped with a telescopic sight and in the southwest corner of the
sixth floor was a colored male pacing back and forth. Needless to
say, I was astounded by his statement. I asked Mr. Rowland why he
had not reported this incident before and he told me that he
thought they were secret service agents--an obvious conclusion for
a layman. Rowland continued. He told me that he looked back at
the sixth floor a few minutes later and the man with the rifle was
gone so he dismissed it from his mind.
I was writing all this down in my notebook and when I finished I
advised Mr. and Mrs. Rowland that I would have to detain them for a
statement. I had started toward the Sheriff's Office with them
when lo and behold I was approached by Officer C. L. (Lummy) Lewis,
who asked me "What ya got"--a favorite expression of most
investigators with Bill Decker. I explained the situation to him
and told him of Rowland's account. Being the Good Samaritan he
was, Officer Lewis offered to take the Rowlands off my hands and
get their statements. This worked out a little better than my
first arrest. The Warren Commission decided not to accept Arnold
Rowland's story but at least they did not lose them. Hang in
there, Lummy!
The time was approximately 12:40 p.m. I had just turned the
Rowlands over to Lummy Lewis when I met E. R. (Buddy) Walthers,
a small man with a very arrogant manner. He was, without a doubt,
Decker's favorite pupil. He wore dark-rimmed glasses and a small-
brimmed hat because effecting them meant that he would resemble
Bill Decker. Walthers had worked for the Yellow Cab Company of
Dallas before coming to the Sheriff's Office, about a year before I
began working there. His termination from the cab company was the
result of several shortages of money. He came to the Sheriff's
Department as a patrolman but because of his close connection with
Justice of the Peace Bill Richburg--one of Decker's closest allies
--Buddy soon was promoted to detective. He had absolutely no
ability as a law enforcement officer. However, he was fast
climbing the ladder of success by lying to Decker and squealing on
his fellow officers.
Walthers' ambition was to become Sheriff of Dallas County and he
would do anything or anybody to reach that goal. It was very clear
Buddy enjoyed more job security with Decker than anyone else did.
Decker carried him for years by breaking a case for him or taking a
case which had been broken by another officer and putting Walthers'
name on the arrest sheet. Soon after he was promoted to detective
he became intimate with such people as W. 0. Bankston, the
flamboyant Oldsmobile dealer in Dallas who furnished Decker with a
new Fire Engine Red Olds every year and who was arrested several
times for Driving while Intoxicated but never served any jail time.
Buddy's acquaintances also included several independent oil
operators throughout Texas, several anti-Castro Cubans and many
underworld characters--especially women! He was frequently
crashing parties which were given by wealthy friends of Decker's--
of course while he was *on* duty. He often became drunk and
belligerent at these parties and at one point, when asked to leave,
he threatened to pull his gun on the host. This information can be
verified by Billy Courson, who was Buddy's partner at that time.
Walthers hit the big time when, in 1961, two Federal Narcotics
Agents came to Decker's office with charges that Buddy was growing
marijuana in the back yard of his home at 2527 Boyd Street in the
Oak Cliff section of Dallas. This could be considered conduct
unbecoming to a police officer--but not for Buddy! After a secret
meeting between the Federal Agents, Decker and Buddy, the matter
was dropped and--needless to say--covered up, thus enabling Buddy
to continue his career as Decker's Representative of Law and Order
in Dallas County.
However, the Dallas Police began receiving complaints that Buddy
was shaking down underworld characters for loot taken in several
burglaries and selling the stuff himself. After several reports
the Dallas Police began to investigate and, finally, obtained a
search warrant for Buddy's home. Their BIG mistake was securing
the warrant from Judge Richburg--which was bad enough--but Buddy's
wife also worked for Richburg and this made matters worse.
Strangely enough, they did not find anything. However, a few weeks
later they were a little more careful and made a surprise visit to
Buddy's home, where they indeed recovered such things as toasters,
clothing and various items--just as their informers had said. It
would seem they had him *this time*, wouldn't it? But not so.
Buddy explained that he had recovered the merchandise from where it
had been hidden and had not had time to make a report on them and
turn them in to the Property Room! The Dallas Police didn't buy
this story but the pressure was again brought to bear by our
Protector, Bill Decker, and the Dallas Police were left out in the
cold--no charges filed! They were certainly furious but what could
they do? If WE as citizens cannot fight the Establishment, how can
the Establishment fight the Establishment?
It was clear in my mind--and if the people with whom I worked
COULD talk, I am sure they would agree--that Buddy had a powerful
hold on Decker. I base this on the fact that Buddy's popularity
with Decker greatly increased after the assassination. Buddy was a
chronic liar--he was always telling Decker things he thought were
happening in the County which he was checking on. Things which he
was *not* doing. He also told Decker that he was in the theater
when Oswald was captured and that he, in fact, helped the Dallas
Police. This was completely untrue. Buddy never entered the Texas
Theater--his partner, Bill Courson, did.
Buddy also told Decker about a family of anti-Castro Cubans
living in the Oak Cliff area and said that he was watching them.
This part may have been true because we received the same
information from the Dallas Police Intelligence Division. But one
day Buddy made a visit to the house in Oak Cliff and when the
Police and Sheriff's Deputies went to question them a few days
later, they were gone. Did Buddy warn them? After all, he was
very, very close to Jack Ruby. In fact, every time Buddy was in
trouble with one of Jack Ruby's employees--especially Nancy
Perrin Rich--Decker would send Buddy to straighten things out and
put Nancy in her place--with the help of Judge Richburg. Touching
Jack Ruby was a no-no!
There were many other things which made Buddy suspect as a not-
so-law abiding lawman, such as the swimming pool he built in his
back yard (on *his* salary?). The concrete was furnished by a
local contractor free of charge. Buddy used many pills he carried
in the trunk of his unmarked squad car for trading with certain
underworld characters--pills for information. I learned from what
I consider a reliable source that these pills had been confiscated
(although no reports were made nor the pills turned in). Most of
those involved in this exchange were women. It would seem that
Buddy Walthers could not be terminated from the Sheriff's
Department, no matter what.
One incident in 1966 which would have resulted in the firing of
any other deputy occurred when Buddy was sent to Nevada to transfer
a suspect wanted in Dallas. It seemed Buddy was given a certain
amount of travel money which he lost at the gambling table in Las
Vegas. Broke and in trouble, Buddy called none other than W. O.
Bankston, who wired him enough money to bring his prisoner back to
Dallas. Many times I wondered who was REALLY Sheriff but Buddy was
about to reach the end of his rope.
In late 1968, when the Clay Shaw trial was being prepared, there
was talk of bringing Buddy to New Orleans to testify. Well, that
was a blow to the power which ruled Dallas. They could not have
this half-wit on the witness stand. When the word reached Dallas,
Decker was working on a double-murder which occurred in *his*
county and had a lead on the suspect in January of 1969. The Shaw
trial was scheduled for February and Decker sent Buddy and his
partner, Alvin Maddox (who was about as efficient as a nutty
professor), to a motel on Samuell Boulevard in Dallas to question
a Walter Cherry about the killings. Cherry was an escaped convict
and a suspect in the double-murder. Decker sent them to talk to
Cherry without a warrant. When they entered the room at the motel
Buddy was shot dead and Maddox wounded in the FOOT. Coincidence?
Maybe! At any rate Buddy had been silenced. One more point for
Dallas!
Back to November 22, 1963. As I have earlier stated, the time
was approximately 12:40 p.m. when I ran into Buddy Walthers. The
traffic was very heavy as Patrolman Baker (assigned to Elm and
Houston Streets) had left his post, allowing the traffic to travel
west on Elm Street. As we were scanning the curb I heard a shrill
whistle coming from the north side of Elm Street. I turned and saw
a white male in his twenties running down the grassy knoll from the
direction of the Texas School Book Depository Building. A light
green Rambler station wagon was coming slowly west on Elm Street.
The driver of the station wagon was a husky looking Latin, with
dark wavy hair, wearing a tan wind-breaker type jacket. He was
looking up at the man running toward him. He pulled over to the
north curb and picked up the man coming down the hill. I tried to
cross Elm Street to stop them and find out who they were. The
traffic was too heavy and I was unable to reach them. They drove
away going west on Elm Street.
In addition to noting that these two men were in an obvious
hurry, I realized they were the only ones not running TO the scene.
Everyone else was running to see whatever might be seen. The
suspect, as I will refer to him, who ran down the grassy knoll was
wearing faded blue trousers and a long sleeved work shirt made of
some type of grainy material. This will become very important to
me later on and very embarrassing to the authorities (F.B.I.,
Dallas Police and Warren Commission). I thought the incident
concerning the two men and the Rambler Station Wagon important
enough to bring it to the attention of the authorities at the
command post at Elm and Houston.
I ran to the front of the Texas School Book Depository where I
asked for anyone involved in the investigation. There was a man
standing on the steps of the Book Depository Building and he turned
to me and said, "I'm with the Secret Service." This man was about
40 years old, sandy-haired with a distinct cleft in his chin. He
was well-dressed in a gray business suit. I was naive enough at
the time to believe that the only people there were actually
officers--after all, this was the command post. I gave him the
information. He showed little interest in the persons leaving.
However, he seemed extremely interested in the description of the
Rambler. This was the only part of my statement which he wrote
down in his little pad he was holding. Point: Mrs. Ruth Paine,
the woman Marina Oswald lived with in Irving, Texas, owned a
Rambler station wagon, at that time, of this same color.


* * * * * *

II


From the book depository and of course that grassy knoll
And the Dal Tex building's shooter fulfilled his deadly role
The noon day sun was witness as they took their awful toll
His dream goes marching on.


I learned nothing of this "Secret Service Agent's" identity
until December 22, 1967 while we were living in New Orleans. The
television was on as I came home from work one night and there on
the screen was a picture of this man. I did not know what it was
all about until my wife told me that Jim Garrison had charged him
with being a part of the assassination plot. I called Jim Garrison
then and told him that this was the man I had seen in Dallas on
November 22, 1963. Jim then sent one of his investigators to see
me with a better picture which I identified. I then learned that
this man's name was EDGAR EUGENE BRADLEY. It was a relief to me to
know his name for I had been bothered by the fact that I had failed
to get his name when he had told me he was a Secret Service Agent
and I had given him my information. On the night of the
assassination when I had come home and discussed the day with my
wife I had, of course, told her of this encounter and my failure to
get his name.
As I finished talking with the Agent I was confronted by the
High Priest of Dallas County Politics, Field Marshal Bill Decker.
Decker had, apparently, been standing directly behind me and had
overheard what I was saying. He called me aside and informed me
that the suspect had already left the scene. (How did you know,
James Eric? You had just arrived.) Decker then told me to help
them (the police) search the Book Depository Building. Decker
turned toward his office across the street, then suddenly stopped,
looked at me and said "Somebody better take charge of this
investigation." Then he continued walking slowly toward his
office, indicating that it was *not* going to be him.
When I entered the Book Depository Building I was joined by
Deputy Sheriffs Eugene Boone and Luke Mooney. We went up the
stairs directly to the sixth floor. The room was very dark and a
thick layer of dust seemed to cover everything. We went to the
south side of the building, since this was the street side and
seemed the most logical place to start.
Luke Mooney and I reached the southeast corner at the same time.
We immediately found three rifle cartridges laying in such a way
that they looked as though they had been carefully and deliberately
placed there--in plain sight on the floor to the right of the
southeast corner window. Mooney and I examined the cartridges very
carefully and remarked how close together they were. The three of
them were no more than one inch apart and all were facing in the
same direction, a feat very difficult to achieve with a bolt action
rifle--or any rifle for that matter. One cartridge drew our
particular attention. It was crimped on the end which would have
held the slug. It had not been stepped on but merely crimped over
on one small portion of the rim. The rest of that end was
perfectly round.
Laying on the floor to the left of the same window was a small
brown paper lunch bag containing some well cleaned chicken bones.
I called across the room and summoned the Dallas Police I.D. man,
Lt. Day. When he arrived with his camera Mooney and I left the
window and started our search of the rest of the sixth floor.
We were told by Dallas Police to look for a rifle--something I
had already concluded might be there since the cartridges found
were, apparently, from a rifle. I was nearing the northwest corner
of the sixth floor when Deputy Eugene Boone called out, "here it
is." I was about eight feet from Boone, who was standing next to a
stack of cardboard boxes. The boxes were stacked so that there was
no opening between them except at the top. Looking over the top
and down the opening I saw a rifle with a telescopic sight laying
on the floor with the bolt facing upward. At this time Boone and I
were joined by Lt. Day of the Dallas Police Department and Dallas
Homicide Captain, Will Fritz. The rifle was retrieved by Lt. Day,
who activated the bolt, ejecting one live round of ammunition which
fell to the floor.
Lt. Day inspected the rifle briefly, then handed it to Capt.
Fritz who had a puzzled look on his face. Seymour Weitzman, a
deputy constable, was standing beside me at the time. Weitzman was
an expert on weapons. He had been in the sporting goods business
for many years and was familiar with all domestic and foreign
weapons. Capt. Fritz asked if anyone knew what kind of rifle it
was. Weitzman asked to see it. After a *close* examination (much
longer than Fritz or Day's examination) Weitzman declared that it
was a 7.65 German Mauser. Fritz agreed with him. Apparently,
someone at the Dallas Police Department also loses things but, at
least, they are more conscientious. They did replace it--even if
the replacement was made in a different country. (See Warren
Report for Italian Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5 Caliber).
At that exact moment an unknown Dallas police officer came
running up the stairs and advised Capt. Fritz that a Dallas
policeman had been shot in the Oak Cliff area. I instinctively
looked at my watch. The time was 1:06 p.m. A token force of
uniformed officers was left to keep the sixth floor secure and
Fritz, Day, Boone, Mooney, Weitzman and I left the building.
On my way back to the Sheriff's Office I was nearly run down
several times by Dallas Police cars racing to the scene of the
shooting of a fellow officer. There were more police units at the
J. D. Tippit shooting than there were at President John F.
Kennedy's assassination.
Tippit had been instructed to patrol the Oak Cliff area along
with Dallas Police Unit #87 at 12:45 p.m. by the dispatcher. Unit
#87 immediately left Oak Cliff and went to the triple underpass,
leaving Tippit alone. Why? At 12:54 p.m., J. D. Tippit, Dallas
Police Unit #78, gave his location as Lancaster Blvd., and Eighth
St., some ten blocks from the place where he was to be killed. The
Dallas dispatcher called Tippit at 1:04 p.m. and received no
answer. He continued to call three times and there was still no
reply. Comparing this time with the time I received news of the
shooting of the police officer at 1:06 p.m., it is fair to assume
Tippit was dead or being killed between 1:04 and 1:06 p.m. This is
also corroborated by the eye witnesses at the Tippit killing, who
said he was shot between 1:05 and 1:08 p.m.
According to Officer Baker, Dallas Police, he talked to Oswald
at 12:35 p.m. in the lunch room of the Texas School Book
Depository. This would give Oswald 30 minutes or less to finish
his coke, leave the building, walk four blocks east on Elm Street,
catch a bus and ride it back west in heavy traffic for two blocks,
get off the bus and walk two more blocks west and turn south on
Lamar Street, walk four blocks and have a conversation with a cab
driver and a woman over the use of Whaley's (the cab driver) cab,
get into the cab and ride to 500 North Beckley Street, get out and
walk to 1026 North Beckley where his (Oswald's) room was located,
pick up something (?); and if that is not enough, Earlene Roberts,
the housekeeper where Oswald lived, testified that at 1:05 p.m.
Oswald was waiting for a bus in front of his rooming house and
FINALLY, to make him the fastest man on Earth, he walked to East
Tenth Street and Patton Street, several blocks away and killed J.
D. Tippit between 1:05 and 1:08 p.m. If he had not been arrested
when he was, it is my belief that Earl Warren and his Commission
would have had Lee Harvey Oswald eating dinner in Havana!
I was convinced on November 22, 1963, and I am still sure, that
the man entering the Rambler station wagon was Lee Harvey Oswald.
After entering the Rambler, Oswald and his companion would only
have had to drive six blocks west on Elm Street and they would have
been on Beckley Avenue and a straight shot to Oswald's rooming
house. The Warren Commission could not accept this even though it
*might* have given Oswald time to kill Tippit for having two men
involved would have made it a conspiracy!
As to Lee Harvey Oswald shooting J. D. Tippit, let us examine
the evidence: Dallas Police Unit #221 (Summers-refer-police radio
log) stated on the police radio that he had an "eye ball" witness
to the shooting. The suspect was a white male about twenty-seven,
five feet, eleven inches, black wavy hair, fair complexioned, (not
Oswald) wearing an Eisenhower-type jacket of light color, dark
trousers, and a white shirt, apparently armed with a .32 caliber,
dark-finish automatic pistol which he had in his right hand. (The
jacket strongly resembles that worn by the driver of the station
wagon).
Dallas Police Unit #550 Car 2 was driven to the scene of the
Tippit murder by Sgt. Gerald Hill. He was accompanied by Bud
Owens, Dallas Police Department, and William F. Alexander,
Assistant D.A. for Dallas. Unit #550 Car 2 reported over the
police radio that the shells at the scene indicated that the
suspect was armed with a .38 caliber automatic. 38 automatic
shells and 38 revolver shells are distinctly different. (Oswald
allegedly had a 38 revolver in his possession when arrested?)
After much confusion in the Oak Cliff area the Dallas Police
were finally directed to the Texas Theater where the suspect was
reported to be. Several squads arrived at the theater and quickly
surrounded it. At the back door was none other than William F.
Alexander, Assistant D.A., and several Dallas Police officers with
guns drawn. While Dallas Police Officer McDonald and others
entered the theater and turned on the lights and the suspect was
pointed out to them, they started searching people SEVERAL rows in
front of Oswald, giving him a chance to run if he wanted to--right
into the blazing guns of waiting officers!
This man had to be stopped. He was the most dangerous criminal
in the history of the world. Here was a man who was able to go
from one location to another with the swiftness of Superman, to
change his physical characteristics at will and who pumped four
automatic slugs into a police officer with a *revolver*--indeed a
master criminal!
Well, back to the facts? Oswald was captured by Officer
McDonald, who was out cold from one blow from the suspect and woke
up to find he had arrested the suspect! (Nice going, Mac).
Later that afternoon I received word of the suspect's arrest and
the fact that he was suspected of being involved in the President's
death. I immediately thought of the man running down the grassy
knoll. I made a telephone call to Capt. Will Fritz and gave him
the description of the man I had seen and Fritz said, "that sounds
like the suspect we have. Can you come up and take a look at him?"
I arrived at Capt. Fritz office shortly after 4:30 p.m. I was
met by Agent Bookhout from the F.B.I., who took my name and place
of employment. The door to Capt. Fritz' personal office was open
and the blinds on the windows were closed, so that one had to look
through the doorway in order to see into the room. I looked
through the open door at the request of Capt. Fritz and identified
the man who I saw running down the grassy knoll and enter the
Rambler station wagon--and it WAS Lee Harvey Oswald.
Fritz and I entered his private office together. He told
Oswald, "This man (pointing to me) saw you leave." At which time
the suspect replied, "I told you people I did." Fritz, apparently
trying to console Oswald, said, "Take it easy, son--we're just
trying to find out what happened." Fritz then said, "What about
the car?" Oswald replied, leaning forward on Fritz' desk, "That
station wagon belongs to Mrs. Paine--don't try to drag her into
this." Sitting back in his chair, Oswald said very disgustedly and
very low, "Everybody will know who I am now."
At this time Capt. Fritz ushered me from his office, thanking
me. I walked away saddened but relieved that it was the end of the
day and I could go home, where I could try--at least for a little
while--to put the tragedy and the day's events out of my mind. I
was soon to find out that *my* troubles had only begun--for I had
seen and heard too much that fateful day.
Saturday, November 23, 1963, I spent the day at home talking to
my wife, Molly, about Friday's events and playing with Deanna and
Terry, not knowing that the very next day would bring another
tragic event which would affect not only my job but my entire
future.
Like many other Americans, I was watching television on Sunday
morning, November 24, 1963 when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald.
I would like to clear up one thing at this point concerning Ruby's
access to the basement of the city jail. The Warren Commission
concluded that Dallas Police Officer R. E. Vaughn, through
negligence, let Jack Ruby into the basement. What they did not say
is that Officer Vaughn was questioned extensively after the
shooting and even submitted to a polygraph test, which he passed,
showing that he *did not* let Jack Ruby go down the Main Street
Ramp of the city jail. I have known Officer Vaughn for many years
and feel that he is honest, conscientious and one of the finest
people I have ever known. I feel that he was unjustly accused.
However, bombing Vaughn was the easiest way out for Earl Warren's
Commission.

...PART 1
...PART 2

...PART 3

 

 

 

 

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