FULL CIRCLE – New Orleans – Chicago – Dallas – New Orleans
JFK Countercoup, August 3, 2012
Rather than eyewitness reports, true crime homicide investigators prefer hard evidence they can follow that leads them to the perpetrators of the crime, especially if it was a planned covert conspiracy designed to protect those actually responsible.
Fingerprints, ballistics, automobile license plates and telephone records are all considered hard evidence, and in the investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy, there was one telephone record that really stands out and worthy of more intense inquiry.
While Jack Ruby’s telephone records were extensively reviewed and provided many significant leads, the single most significant telephone call was made by Ruby’s Chicago friend Lawrence Meyers, ostensibly to his girlfriend Jean Aase. This phone call is mentioned by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison in his book “A Heritage of Stone,” and recounted in “On the Trail of the Assassins,” which was used as the basis for Oliver Stone’s movie “JFK.”
“On the Trail” (p. 126-130), in which Garrison checks out the records of David Ferrie’s phone calls from the office of attorney G. Ray Gill, where Ferrie worked on the case of the deportation of New Orleans Mafia don Carlos Marcello. Garrison wrote:
When I showed up at the Pere Marquette Building, Wray Gill came out to his waiting room to meet me. One of the city’s best trail lawyers, Wray bowed and extended a welcome in his ornate fashion all the way back to his private office, which looked down on the winding Mississippi River, 18 floors below. I was there because David Ferrie had worked as a part-time investigator for Gill in 1962 and 1963.
In Gill’s office I waved the small talk aside, “Wray,” I said, “I need a favor of you.”
“No problem,” he replied.
“My intuition tells me that David Ferrie might have charged some long-distance calls on your phone when he was around here.”
His white eyebrows rose up. “Some long distance calls? God Almighty! The man almost bankrupted me.”
“Can you give me copies of his calls?” I asked
He sent his secretary to search the bills for 1962 and 1963.
“This is what we have, Mr. Gill,” she said when she returned. “You let him go in January 1964, remember?”
“How can I ever forget?” he muttered. He put his finger on the bill for that month. “I told Dave adios. I told him I could put up with his eccentricities, but not his long distance calls.”
Gill instructed his secretary to draw a penciled line through every call made by the office, leaving exposed the calls made by Ferrie. “They’re easy to pick out,” he said. “Those cities there didn’t have a damned thing to do with this office. You know better than anyone that about ninety percent of my business is right here in New Orleans.”
In the course of striking through the office calls, the secretary discovered that the bills for November 1963 – the month of President Kennedy’s assassination – were missing. She had no idea who had removed them but pointed out that Ferrie still had access to the office files then.
That night I began going through Ferrie’s long-distance bills for 1962 and 1963. The first thing I noticed was there remarkable diversity. The calls were not only to many domestic cities but to such distant locals as Guatemala, Mexico and Canada. Just whom he was calling could have been discovered in short order by a federal agency such as the F.B.I. with its resources and authority. But it had become apparent that no such agencies were going to be willing to help out.
We had neither the telephone company connections nor the investigative staff to undertake the kind of broad-based, logical approach I would have chosen. Instead, I painstakingly collected and correlated all of the Warren Commission exhibits listing phone calls made by, to or otherwise connected with witnesses encountered by the federal investigation.
After many evenings of comparing Ferrie’s long-distance calls to those in the Commission exhibits, I made a connection. The local telephone bill indicated that one of Ferrie’s calls had been made from New Orleans to Chicago on September 24, 1963. This was, according to the Warren Commission’s later conclusions, the day before Lee Oswald left New Orleans. The number Ferrie called in Illinois that day was WH 4-4970. The local phone bill did not identify the recipient. Was Ferrie calling, perhaps, to report to some intermediary that the sheepdipping job had been completed or that “the kid is leaving New Orleans” or something of the sort?
In Commission exhibit number 2350 (page 335 of volume XXV) I found a call made to exactly the same number: WH 4-4970 in Chicago, Illinois. Under Additional Information in the commission volume was listed “Person call (sic) at 9:09 a.m. credit card used, Kansas City Missouri to Miss A. Asie Room 1405.” The exhibit did not identify the caller. However, now at least I had someone’s name to connect with the number Ferrie had called.
Some night later I located Miss Aase – now spelled Aase – in Commission exhibit number 2266. There an F.B.I. report identified her more fully as “JEAN AASE” of Chicago, Illinois. The F.B.I. report, dated December 4, 1963, described how she had accompanied “LAWRENCE V. MEYERS” on a business trip to Dallas, Texas, where they arrived the evening of November 20, 1963 – two days before President Kennedy’s assassination. They checked into the Ramada Motel, the report continued, where they spent the night. On November 21 they moved to the Cabana Motel.
Aase then stated, according to the F.B.I. report, that on the evening of November 21, Meyers took her to the Carousel Club, where he introduced her to Jack Ruby and “the three of them sat at a tale near the doorway and chatted.”
Considering that Lee Oswald’s New Orleans friend David Ferrie had called her Chicago number, I wondered if Miss Aase was later curious when Jack Ruby, her partner in casual conversation, killed Oswald three days later…..
Garrison also writes (p. 238-239) about Jim Braden being taken into custody as a suspicious person at Dealey Plaza during the dragnet in the aftermath of the assassination noting, “Another man was arrested at the Dal-Tex Building. According to Dallas law enforcement authorities, he gave his name as Jim Braden and was released after being checked out. Astonishingly, this time the federal government offered a considerable amount of information about the suspect. His real name, it was said, Eugene Hale Brading, and he was an ex-convict with a history of several dozen arrests. In the several months before the assassination he had begun using the name Jim Braden, under which his oil business in Los Angeles was listed. He explained to authorities that he had been in Dallas on business, with the approval of his parole officer. Only a few days earlier, he had had an appointment with one the sons of H.L. Hunt, the oil billionaire. Braden ha been in the Dal-Tex building at the time of the assassination, he claimed, because he wanted to make a phone cal. When he discovered the pay phone there was out of order, he walked out to find himself arrested.”
Although Garrison doesn’t put them together, both Lawrence Meyers and Jim Braden spent the night before the assassination at the Cabana Motel, actually a large hotel owned by Hollywood actress Doris Day and the Teamsters. Meyers later said that he had earlier been in Dallas specifically to attend the gala grand opening of the Cabana.
While there is no indication that Meyers and Braden knew each other, they both frequented the Cabana’s Bon Vivant bar, possibly at the same time, as Meyers’ testimony and Braden’s credit card receipts indicate.
Los Angeles TV journalist Peter Noyes wrote a book “Legacy of Doubt” (Pinnacle, 1973), which details the intriguing background of Jim Braden, the gambler, con-artist and oil man who was taken into custody as a suspicious person at Dealey Plaza. Although the Warren Commission only published his statement, Richard Sprague, the first chief counsel to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) had has staff read Noyes’ book and sought to obtain his testimony.
By the time Braden was located and questioned in secret executive session before the HSCA, Sprague had been replaced by G. Robert Blakey, and organized crime expert who also thought Braden’s testimony was important. But after finishing his final report, Blakey had the HSCA records sealed and locked away for 50 years, including the tapes and transcripts of Braden’s two days of testimony.
It took nearly fifteen years, but in 1992 Congress passed the JFK Act ordering the release of HSCA records to the public, at which time we learned a lot more. In the course of his testimony, Braden acknowledged that while Peter Noyes was wrong to peg him as a criminal or involved in a conspiracy to kill the President, he was right about his eventual destination after leaving Dallas following the assassination.
In his book “Legacy of Doubt” (p.157-158, Chapter XII – The Proximity Factor), Noyes wrote, “Eugene Hale Brading was no stranger to New Orleans. Federal parole records show he began traveling frequently to Louisiana in August 1961…However, there is one crucial bit of evidence that does provide a proximity factor. David Ferrie worked out of Room 1707 in the Pere Marquette Building in New Orleans – the office of Marcello’s attorney G. Ray Gill. A check of federal records and correspondence showed that in addition to his office in Beverly Hills, California, Brading also shared office space on occasion in the Pere Marquette Building, a few doors away from Ferrie in Room 1701. Is this just one more coincidence? Room 1701 was the office of an oil geologist, Vernon Main, Jr. Brading received mail at that address, and at one time notified parole authorities that he would be working out of Main’s office while he was in New Orleans….The parallels between the two cannot be ignored….”
In his HSCA testimony, Braden said that he flew to Dallas by private plane with other business partners. While they visited Hunt on oil business, he checked in with a parole officer at the Federal building, watched the motorcade go past there and then walked to Dealey Plaza, which was in chaos as a result of the assassination. He went into the Dal-Tex building looking for a telephone to call his mother and tell her about the assassination and was taken into custody (by Dallas Sheriff’s deputy Lummie Lewis) because an elevator operator said he was a stranger in the building.
After giving a statement as to what he was doing there, Braden was free to go, but when he got back to the Cabana Motel, he discovered that his business associates had checked out early, immediately after the assassination, and went to Houston in the plane. Braden said he then flew by commercial airline from Love Field to Houston where he caught up with his associates, and then went to New Orleans where he worked out of the office of oil geologist Vernon Main, Jr. on the 17th floor of the Pierre Marquette Building.
For those who aren’t keeping score here, on September 24, 1963, – the day Oswald left New Orleans for Mexico City, someone in the law office of G. Ray Gill made a long distance telephone call to Chicago – a phone registered to one Miss Jean Aase (aka West), who accompanied Jack Ruby’s fiend Lawrence Meyers to Dallas on the weekend of the assassination.
They visit Ruby at the Carousel Club on the night before the assassination and spend some time at the Bon Vivant Room of the Cabana, where Jim Braden and his associates are also registered, and visit the same bar around the same time, but there is no evidence they ever met or knew one another.
After the assassination Braden leaves Dallas for Houston and then New Orleans, where he visits and shares office space with Vernon Main, Jr., on the same floor and a few doors down the hall from attorney G. Ray Gill, from where the phone call was made to Jean Aase on September 24.
While Garrison accepts Gill’s allegation that it was Ferrie who made the call to Aase’s phone number in Chicago, it could have been anyone in Gill’s office, though Ferrie is certainly a chief suspect.
When Canadian researcher Peter Whitmey caught up with Jean Aase, she said she didn’t know David Ferrie, but she was never properly questioned by the Warren Commission, the HSCA or the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB). She was also offended by Meyers’ description of her as a “dumb but accommodating broad.”
I went to the address listed for the phone on Delaware Avenue in Chicago, which is a small three star hotel owned by the same White Russian family that owned the building in 1963. Aase lived a room at the hotel that was converted into an apartment, and she worked part time there for the hotel manager, a friend of Meyers who introduced them.
Garrison thought it significant that Meyers, a traveling salesman, had a daughter who had a security clearance to work at a Nuclear facility and a son who served in U.S. Army intelligence.
What Garrsion didn’t know at the time was that Meyers had a brother Ed Meyers, who owned a Brooklyn, New York Pepsi Cola bottling Company franchise, who was also in Dallas the weekend of the assassination. While Ed Meyers was registered at the historic Adolphis Hotel, across the street from the Carousel Club, he attended a Pepsi party at the Cabana on the night before the assassination, where Larry introduced him to Jack Ruby.
While the Warren Report says that Ruby then went to dinner at Campisi’s Egyptian Lounge with is business partner Ralph Paul, Beverly Oliver claims to have accompanied Ruby and “Mr. Meyers” to the Egyptian so Meyers could have a real Texas steak and makes some phone calls from Campisi’s office. The Dallas cop who sold Ruby the gun he used to kill Oswald later said that too often used the phone at Campisi’s office – to call Carlos Marcello in New Orleans. Yes, Campisi said, he was good friends with Marcello, met him at a charity golf tournament and sent him home made Italian sausage for Christmas every year.
Did Meyers and Ruby call Marcello from Campisi’s office on the night before the assassination? While the Warren Commission obtained the phone records of Ruby and Meyers, they apparently didn’t obtain the records of phone calls made from Campisi’s office even though the Dallas police had an active investigation of Campisi’s gambling operations.
Possibly even more significant however, is the fact that Lawrence Meyers’ brother Ed had a son Ralph Meyers, who had served in the US Army Security Agency, the code breakers, and was stationed at a U2 base in Turkey where Gary Powers had flown out of.
Ralph had left the Army and worked as a bus driver for the Chicago Transit Authority – with Homero Echeverria – sheep dipped, as Garrison would call it. According to David Kaiser’s “Road to Dallas” (p. 390), “Other evidence suggests foreknowledge of the assassination in Chicago. On November 21, the day before Kennedy was shot, Chicago Secret Service agents heard a disturbing rumor about the DRE from one of their informants, Tom Mosley. He was planning the sale of arms to two Cubans; a local bus driver, Homero Echeverria, and a man from Miami whom the FBI later identified as Juan Francisco Blanco Fernandez, a member of the military section of the DRE.”
Even more intriguing is the fact that after leaving Chicago, Ralph Meyers moved to Mexico City where he worked as a journalist at the time Oswald ostensibly was there. Ralph’s parents had visited him in Mexico City before going to the Pepsi convention in Dallas, and Ralph may have also been in Dallas at the time of the assassination.
Although they have never been properly questioned, G. Ray Gill, Jean Aase and Ralph Meyers remain living witnesses to these events.