Drexel Gibson and the Berlitz School

“One such American prisoner is Drexel Gibson, an American businessman who was arrested in Cuba on April 19, and since that time has been imprisoned….The latest information I have received is that the Swiss Embassy in Havana, through which discussions with the Cuban Government are taking place, reports that Mr. Gibson is being investigated for “activities against the state.””

Monday, June 26,1961 (1)

Who was Drexel Gibson?

Drexel Gibson
‘What a nightmare!’ Says American in Cuban Jail (3)
Drexel Gibson was the owner of the Berlitz School of Languages in Havana, Cuba.  He had been operating the school for a little over two years.  His wife and son resided with him in Cuba until July of 1960, at which time his wife and son returned to the United States because of an existing medical condition in his son, that required multiple surgeries. (2)  He had returned to Havana to get his affairs in order as he intended to move back to the United States.  All of this changed on April 17, 1961 when the failed Bay of Pigs invasion took place.


The Imprisonment of Drexel Gibson

On April 19, 1963 Drexel Gibson arrived to find Cuban G-2 Agents, tearing apart his office.  He was promptly arrested and detained by the government. Many Americans were arrested as a result of the failed invasion. (4) Gibson was subjected to intense interrogation, as he was accused by the Castro government of working as an intelligence agent on behalf of the FBI, not the CIA.  His interrogations lasted for more than one month as they attempted to break him.  They wanted him to identify his “network” of spies and his methods for communicating with the FBI. (5) Gibson explained that he was subjected to psychological torture.  He was not fed, slept on a floor, and over his six interrogation sessions subjected to over one hundred hours of interrogation.  While there he suffered a broken finger that was not treated, resulting in his finger being permanently paralyzed. (6)

Was Drexel Gibson working for the FBI?

Gibson claimed that the entire focus of his interrogation was around the FBI.  After his month of interrogation he was moved to a prison.  There he was interrogated as well.  He was offered deals to cooperate, for example, medicine that he needed to treat an ulcer.  He did not confess.  Gibson had a theory about why the Cuban’s thought he was working for the FBI.

When Gibson returned home to be with his son in March of 1961 during his surgery, Gibson went to meet with the president of the Berlitz schools.  It was in this meeting that Gibson explained that there were some strange goings on at his school.  He was concerned with the growing number of employees that were Castro sympathizers.  It was on his advice that Gibson contacted the FBI and provided them with information on his employees. (7) Gibson believed that somehow, because of this meeting with the FBI, G-2 found out about it, and this was why they were interrogating him.

Cuban Intelligence interest in the Berlitz School Employees

Berlitz School of Languages (9)
Gibson reported to the FBI that there were a growing number of Castro sympathizers associated with his school. Not only did the FBI have an interest, but when he was interrogated by the Cuban Government during his incarceration, they too questioned him extensively about his employees.  (8) Gibson reported on the following employees and their associates to the FBI, Harold Spencer, Martha McCurdy, Iilah Warner, Claudia Beck, Angela Motsis, Rosanna Carfagno, and Christine Olson de Urriutia.  Some of these individuals had ties to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.  Others had ties to Cuban intelligence, or worked for the Castro government. One had a relationship with Fidel Castro himself.  The Berlitz School was quite an interesting place, and Gibson had reason to be concerned.

Harold Spencer – Fair Play for Cuba

The Times (Hammond, Indiana) July 21, 1963  (10)
In the CIA files on the Fair Play for Cuba Committee is potential verification that Gibson did report his concerns. One American that Gibson reported on was attorney Harold Spencer, who was from Chicago.  Spencer’s American wife was also employed by the Cuban government in the Ministry of Arts.  He was a leader of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in Havana, an organization that had some of the Berlitz school employees. (11)

Spencer was described by one American newspaper as the

NARA Record Number: 1993.08.03.17:13:42:400063 INDEX CARDS
INDEX CARDS for CIA file  100-300-011 (13)
leader of over 150 American supporters of Castro in Cuba.  He hosted an English speaking radio show and was described as having a “squeaky” voice.  In the CIA files is file number 100-300-011 which was a file called the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC).  It consisted of 987 documents. The bulk of the documents were generated from the FBI and other agencies.  Inside of this file is information about Harold Spencer.  The information about Harold Spencer was placed into the CIA file after the interview with Gibson. This file also contained an FBI report about Lee Harvey Oswald being arrested in New Orleans for his activities involving the FPCC.   (12)

Ilah Werner and Berlitz School employee Martha McCurdy along with Harold Spencer celebrate July 4th in Havana while Drexel Gibson was imprisoned.
Ilah Werner and Berlitz School employee Martha McCurdy along with Harold Spencer celebrate July 4th in Havana while Drexel Gibson was imprisoned. (16)

Martha McCurdy and Illah Warner

The report of the interview with Gibson contained information about multiple Americans and Cubans employed by the Berlitz School.  Gibson reported that Martha McCurdy, one of his teachers since 1958, was a member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. She was still in Cuba and lived with another American, Illah Warner, also a member of the committee. (14) In a newspaper editorial about Americans who went to Cuba to support Castro, the two ladies were described as “veteran” Castro supporters who worked for the cause in Miami and fled to Cuba in 1959. (15)



Claudia Beck & Angela Motsis

Another American that Gibson had employed was Claudia Beck.   She was no longer employed by the school, but was currently employed in the Cuban Ministry of Education.   One of his teachers, Angela Motsis, was married to a “Greek who was deported from the US and who now works in the Cuban G-2 as a technician.” Again, it is curious to see that there was such a close tie to the Cuban intelligence world working for his business. (17)

Rosanna Carfagno

Another employee of interest was Rosanna Carfagno, who was from NY.  She was arrested  at the same time as Gibson, but according to Gibson, she was released because friends of Castro had intervened on her behalf.  She most certainly did have important friends, Fidel Castro being one of them.  He met her in 1959 during his “Meet the Press Interview” in April of 1959. They spent time touring New York together and then on her Christmas vacation she went to Cuba, spent time with Castro, and was seen holding hands with him.  (18) Eventually she would move to Cuba and be employed by Drexel Gibson at the Berlitz School.

Christine Olson de Urriutia

Gibson informed the FBI about Christine Olson de Urriutia, who was married to the former president of Cuba under Castro.  Gibson states she was one of the best teachers he ever had, did not think she was active in groups, but was probably for Castro.  One of her close friends was married to Lorna Pinero.  Her husband, Manuel Pinero, worked for the Ministry of the Interior and G-2. Another employee with ties to the Cuban intelligence agency.  (19) Another employee with multiple connections to Castro and the Cuban government.

Was Drexel Gibson allowing the Berlitz School to be used to train anti-Casto rebels?

The document that contains the CIA interview with Gibson would indicate that he was not working with the CIA.  There are only two documents in the archives related to the Berlitz School and Gibson.  One document is an interview conducted by the Domestic Contacts Division of the CIA.  It was conducted after multiple interviews Gibson gave to the press.

Imigration Paperwork
Passenger List, October 31, 1961 (21)
Gibson was released on September 5, 1961.  He arrived back in Miami from Cuba with help from the Swiss government on October 31, 1961, yet there was no interview of him for months.The CIA did not interview him until December 23, 1961.  (20)This lack of interest and the fact that Gibson had been talking to the press prior to any contact by the CIA with him would mean that he was not of interest to the CIA.


Records show researcher Gaeton Fonzi never saw the CIA Gibson document.

The only person from the HSCA to review this document was Leslie Wizelman of the HSCA.   She saw the document as part of the review of the CIA files on John Martino. (22) At the time of her review of the document, the only part not redacted was one paragraph. The document had been redacted in 1962 to remove 3rd party information.  (23)

This redaction from 1962, is further proof that the CIA was not interested in the Berlitz School.  They were interested in the prisoner

Drexel Gibson Redacted
Gibson Redacted File viewed by HSCA (24)
with whom Drexel Gibson had been imprisoned with, John Martino. The rest was considered third party information.  According to this report, Gibson was not questioned at all about any sensitive materials, documents, or information that could have been found at the Berlitz School.  If there were training in the use of explosives conducted here, where was the evidence?  If the G-2 had searched his property fully and found something surely Gibson would have been executed as other Americans trying to overthrow Castro had been.


Ms. Wizelman would not have seen the information in 1978 about the Berlitz School based on the redactions.  According to the record sheet, this document was never seen by famed researcher Gaeton Fonzi, who was investigating leads in connection to the Berlitz School. The full document was released in 1993.  Gaeton Fonzi never wrote about Drexel Gibson in his book, The Last Investigation.  Nor was Gibson ever questioned by the HSCA in their investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy.

Additionally, the June Cobb file reviewed by HSCA staffer Edwin Lopez, contained information about Castro’s girlfriend and Berlitz Employee, Rosanna Carfagno.  There was nothing in the file that would indicate that Carfagno went on to work at the Berlitz School in Cuba.  If Lopez had made the connection, it would certainly been passed on to Gaeton Fonzi as he conducted his research into the alleged CIA connections with anti-Castro Cubans.

Unanswered Questions

One has to wonder if Gaeton Fonzi did know about Gibson, what information could have been gained in his quest for the truth?   What could have been learned if this lead had been followed? The questions that I am left with are more than when I started and it frustrates me as a researcher.  The answers that I am seeking are not here and they may have passed us by as Drexel Gibson passed away in 1998. (25)   The questions that remain in my mind continue to challenge me.

Would the CIA have used the Berlitz School to train anti-Castro revolutionaries  if there were so many people working there who were pro-Castro?

Why didn’t Cuban intelligence accuse Gibson of working for the CIA?  If they had evidence that Gibson was working for the US government, why was he allowed to leave Cuba, when so many other were not?  Does this alone mean that he was NOT working for the United States Government?

If the government were interested in Drexel Gibson and concerned about the implications of his arrest and imprisonment in relation to CIA covert operations, why did they wait over three months to interview him after his release from Cuban prison?  Is this not a sign that he and the school were not part of any operations against Castro?

Are any of the employees still alive?  Can they be tracked down to provide insight into the work that was happening at the Berlitz School?

When I have finished researching in the past, I have always felt a resolution in my work. In this case, I am feeling empty and unsatisfied.  I am upset, because I have seen the documents by the HSCA requesting information on this topic, and it is obvious to me, that this information never made it into the hands of the investigators charged by Congress to leave no stone unturned.

Matt “The Hitman” Scheufele


(2) IBID

(3) ‘What a nightmare!’ Says American in Cuban Jail, The Pittsburgh Gazzette, November 26, 1961,  George Clifford

(4) IBID

(5)JOHN MARTINO: OS/SAG FILES PROVIDED TO THE HSCA, pg 9  NARA Record Number: 1993.07.21.09:15:26:960620

(6)  ‘What a nightmare!’ Says American in Cuban Jail, The Pittsburgh Gazzette, November 26, 1961,  George Clifford

(7) JOHN MARTINO: OS/SAG FILES PROVIDED TO THE HSCA, pg 9  NARA Record Number: 1993.07.21.09:15:26:960620

(8) JOHN MARTINO: OS/SAG FILES PROVIDED TO THE HSCA, pg 10  NARA Record Number: 1993.07.21.09:15:26:960620

(9) Berlitz School of Languages, Calle 23 No. 171, Vedado. (Today the Ministry of Sugar) http://www.bc.gob.cu/english/financial_institutions.asp

(10) The Times (Hammond, Indiana) July 21, 1963, Page 21

(11) JOHN MARTINO: OS/SAG FILES PROVIDED TO THE HSCA, pg 11  NARA Record Number: 1993.07.21.09:15:26:960620

(12) [RESTRICTED] (Deposition of Mrs. Ann Elizabeth Goldsborough Egerter)NARA Record Number: 180-10131-10333

(13) INDEX CARDS, NARA Record Number: 1993.08.03.17:13:42:400063

(14) JOHN MARTINO: OS/SAG FILES PROVIDED TO THE HSCA, pg 10  NARA Record Number: 1993.07.21.09:15:26:960620

(15) Americans Join Castro’s Ranks, Fulton Lewis Jr Lakeland Ledger – Dec 26, 1961, pg 4  

(16) “Americans in Cuba Celebrate July 4”, The Militant, July 10 and 17, 1961.

(17) JOHN MARTINO: OS/SAG FILES PROVIDED TO THE HSCA, pg 11  NARA Record Number: 1993.07.21.09:15:26:960620

(18) Reel 11, Folder B – CIA/DO/LA FILE ON VIOLA JUNE COBB AS REVIEWED BY ED LOPEZ. pg. 60  NARA Record Number: 1994.03.08.13:30:54:000007

(19) JOHN MARTINO: OS/SAG FILES PROVIDED TO THE HSCA, pg 11  NARA Record Number: 1993.07.21.09:15:26:960620

(20) IBID

(21) Florida Passenger Lists, 1898-1963 for Drexel Gibson A3995 – Miami, Florida, 1957-1963

(22) JOHN MARTINO: OS/SAG FILES PROVIDED TO THE HSCA, pg 5 NARA Record Number: 1993.07.21.09:15:26:960620

(23)  JOHN MARTINO: OS/SAG FILES PROVIDED TO THE HSCA, pg 8 NARA Record Number: 1993.07.21.09:15:26:960620

(24)  JOHN MARTINO: OS/SAG FILES PROVIDED TO THE HSCA, pg 5 NARA Record Number: 1993.07.21.09:15:26:960620

(25) Ancestry.com. Florida Death Index, 1877-1998 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: State of Florida. Florida Death Index, 1877-1998. Florida: Florida Department of Health, Office of Vital Records, 1998.


The Use of Business Contacts in Intelligence Operations

The Barbara J

The Cold War led the United States to battle the spread of Communism into the  hemisphere.   When the Cold War erupted after World War II, the United States tapped into the unsung soldiers of the victory over the AXIS  from the OSS, to become the foundation of the CIA .  These behind the scenes intelligence operatives formed the backbone of the United States operations against the spread of communism into our hemisphere.

To fight this battle, the newly formed agency needed to penetrate foreign countries and get boots onto the ground.  To do this, a marriage began between the corporate elite in the United States, who were threatened by everything that Communism stood for, and the Central Intelligence Agency.  Corporate America was eager to join in support of this endeavor.  They had everything to gain by favorable relationships with dictators in the region, through imbalanced agreements that made dictators wealthy and corporations increase their profits.  They  had everything to lose from the spread of communism.  It was only natural, that the CIA would enter into relationships, providing their agents cover and their operations a place to launch(1).

One such example of a company that was used in this capacity was Zapata Oil.  Zapata Oil was founded by George H. W.  Bush with the help of a “former” CIA Staff Employee Thomas James Devine (2).   There have been many allegations that Zapata Offshore Company was involved in supporting the operations for the Bay of Pigs invasion(3).  The Zapata Oil Company was building rigs forty miles off of the coast of Cuba during this time period (4).  During the late 1950’s the CIA attempted to use assets in the petroleum industry to use to launch attacks on Cuban petroleum assets (5).

It appears that the CIA in its “Offical History of the Bay of Pigs: Part III” found such ventures to be less than successful.  One such mission against the Cuban petroleum industry was conducted by one of the ships used in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Barbara J , in its attack on a refinery at Santiago de Cuba.  This attack was considered to be one of the more successful attacks, but it managed to only stop production for less than 48 hours(6).

Richard M. Bissell Jr.
Richard M. Bissell Jr.

In reviewing this document, an interesting statement appears.  It certainly demonstrates that someone outside of the CIA had made contact with Joseph Caldwell King, the Chief of the Western Hemisphere in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Richard M. Bissell, the Deputy Director of Plans, wanted this contact developed as seen below.

In a discussion of planned para-military operations against Cuba, it was reported that on 14 July 1960,Chief, Western Hemisphere Division was approached “by [ 29 ]. He [Chief, WH/D] indicated that [ 29 ] will be willing to cooperate, perhaps even carry the ball on certain selected [sabatoge] targets. DD/P gave permission to push this contact immediately.” (7) 

Many have taken circumstantial evidence about the Bay of Pigs to tie it to George H. W.  Bush.  It is easy to draw such conclusions, since the Operational name for the Bay of Pigs was Operation Zapata, the name of his company.  In addition, he had a habit of naming his aircraft and his boats after his wife, Barbara.  Another ship used in the Bay of Pigs was Houston, the home for his company.  Again,this is all circumstantial.  However, one must wonder who the redacted name [ 29 ] is since this document was released in 1998.  It clearly would mean that it is someone still alive at the time.  Many CIA agents are not redacted in the document, including David Atlee Phillips and the entire group of CIA staff that worked under him in preparation for the Bay of Pigs.  With the use of the ship Barbara J one begins to wonder if the this person, [ 29 ],  was either George H. W.  Bush or maybe Thomas James Devine.   In any case, the circumstantial evidence, while plentiful, is not concrete evidence, despite what many hypothesize.

Thomas James Devine is one of the biggest pieces of solid evidence that the CIA was involved in the Zapata Oil business (8).  A CIA memorandum of 1968 (9) indicates that when Devine left the CIA in 1953, as he joined Zapata Oil, to go into private business.  When the Zapata Oil operations were sold, Thomas Devine was cleared to become a “cleared and witting commercial asset under project WUBRINY on June 12, 1963.  While he was cleared in June, he was operational two months earlier.  WU/BRINY 1 (10) who researchers have identified as Thomas Devine, met with George De Morenshidlt and Clemard James Charles  and on Thursday, April 25 (11) and on Friday, April 26 (12)with at the Knickerbocker Club, in NYC .  WU/BRINY1 reports in on meeting with them again on Monday, April 29.  WU/BRINY 1 appears to have had a chance meeting with DeMorenshidlt and Charles,  at the National Airport (NARA Record Number: 104-10164-10088) in Washington, DC , on May 9.  On May 15,   another meeting with DeMorenchidlt occurred in  presence of two other CIA assets WU/BRINY 2 and Frank Stone who oversaw the operation (13), at the Sheraton East hotel on May 21, 1963.



Thomas Devine met again met with DeMorenshidlt May 21, 1963 alone (14) at the offices of WUSALINE (Train, Cabot and Associates) (15), an investment banking firm a known CIA front involved heavily in Latin America.  The point of all of this is to demonstrate the use of the business cover for many of its operatives in Latin America, and that on paper people may have left the CIA on paper, they were also operating for the CIA in business capacities as well.

Many have hypothesized that all of the contacts with DeMorenshildt in this time period have sinister implications around the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  DeMorenshidlt had been in contact with Lee Harvey Oswald for six months prior to his first contact with Thomas Devine.  The attempted assassination of General Edwin Walker on April 10, 1963 allegedly by Lee Harvey Oswald, was two weeks prior to the first meeting with Devine on April 25.  DeMorenshildt admitted to discussing the attempt on General Walker with Lee  in his testimony before the Warren Commission(16).

Those who would speculate that his meetings with Thomas Devine were positive meetings have not read the contact reports completely.  They are ignoring the fact that Thomas Devine himself, was not impressed with DeMorenshildt.  After his second meeting with George DeMorenshildt  and Charles on April 26th he reported that “both men have an element of bluff in their presentation(17).”  He continues to point out that “deMor was a “paper grabber” stating that every available handout in the office…was sought by deMor…”  The meeting of April 26th triggered a trace report request by Frank Stone who Devine reported to.  If the CIA were actually running George DeMorenshildt or employing him in an operational capacity, they would not have requested the trace.  The trace brought back hits in his 201 file with information filed by WH/Mexico(18).  The contents are further revealed in a contact report filed by Stone when he communicated the information to Devine.  He reports to him that there was a lot of “derogatory information” and that DeMorenshildt had written to the State Department that he was sending a manuscript to Russia about his trip to Mexico that contained “derogatory” information about the United States.  He had apparently offered to remove the objectionable materials.  Devine apparently believed that DeMorenshildt was looking to blackmail with the manuscript, and may be open to selling it.  The contact report ends with Stone informing Devine of this information so he would be prepared should they meet again and that he should “handle himself accordingly(19).”  It cannot be denied that George DeMorenshidlt had made contact with the CIA, it appears to be from these contact reports, that he was not an asset under their control, nor was he viewed in a favorable light.  There is another manuscript that DeMorenshildt would later write about Lee Harvey Oswald.  Seeing Thomas Devine’s interpretation of his propensity to “bluff” and possibly “blackmail” one has to wonder if what he was looking to do with his material on Oswald.

George DeMorenshildt
George DeMorenshildt

George DeMorenschildt would also be in contact with the Department of Defense during this time.  On May 7, 1963 DeMorenschidlt made contact with Dorothe Matlock (20), of the Office of the Army Chief of Staff for Intelligence (21).  She testified to the HSCA that her official title was Assistant Director of the Office of Intelligence.  She was responsible for being the liaison between the Department of Defense and the CIA, as well as being responsible for the debriefing of working with the Interagency Defector Committee with CIA agent Tony Czajkowski (22).  This agency was heavily involved in Cuban domestic contacts, and the debriefing of Cubans who have come to the US.  Some believe that the contact between Mrs. Matlock and DeMorenshidlt, was for him to report on Oswald.  The HSCA did interview her on her interactions with DeMorenshildt.  Based on this report there is evidence that after meeting with DeMorenshildt at this time, that her office wanted to distance themselves from DeMorenshildt and Charles, but recommended that operations be put into contact with them (23).  Matlock also had suspicions about DeMorenshildt to the point that she contacted the FBI about him.

The whole picture of the preceding evidence is one in which multiple intelligence agencies utilized business contacts to accomplish their objectives.  We have evidence of joint relationships between the CIA and Zapata Oil in relation to sabotage of Cuban petroleum facilities,  The Bay of Pigs,   as well as evidence of recommended operational contact with Clemard Charles James and the desire to overthrow Papa Doc Duvalier, something Charles would be arrested for later on.  It is clear that business contacts were very important and were explored.  What is even more clear, is that George DeMorenshildt was not well liked by those in the intelligence circles.  It is also clear, that many who believe he was in on the conspiracy, have used the Haiti meetings to promote that he was a CIA handler for Oswald.  The historical record would indicate that this is not so, based on the manner in which the intelligence circles reacted to his attempts to get support for his Haiti scheme.  These same circles, in particular the propaganda machine set up for the Bay of Pigs, would come into play around the accused assassin and a trip to Mexico City.

Matt “The Hitman” Scheufele


(1) Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation: Volume III, PG 56


(3) The Kennedy Assassination: The Nixon-Bush Connection

(4) King, Nicholas (1980). George Bush: A Biography. Dodd Mead. ISBN 0-396-07919-9.

(5) Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation: Volume II pg. 234

(6) The Official History of the Bay of Pigs: Part III Appendix E Attack on Petroleum Refiner£ at Santiago de Cuba 13-14 March 1961



(9) Memorandum for DO/Security Subject: Thomas James Devine

(10) Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, and the …  By Russ Baker, pg 105


(12) Contact Report WUBRINY Haitian Operation

(13) Contact Report WUBRINY – George DeMorenshildt 15 May 1963

(14) Contact Report George DeMorenshidlt 21 May 1963

(15) Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, and the …By Russ Baker, pg. 106

(16) Warren Commission Hearings, Volume IX Page 249

(17) Contact Report WUBRINY Haitian Operation 26 April 1963

(18) Memorandum for DO/COEO 9 MAY 1963

(19) Contact Report WUBRINY – George DeMorenshildt 15 May 1963

(20) HSCA Report, Volume XII Current Section: V. De Mohrenschildt’s Activities in Haiti

(21) The Dorothe K. Matlack Human Intelligence Training Facility

(22) THE JFK CASE: THE TWELVE WHO BUILT THE OSWALD LEGEND (Part 8: The CIA-Army Intelligence Mambo) By Bill Simpich

Primary Sources Continue to Vindicate Thornley

Well, the “Vindication for Kerry Thornley” post was my most read blog ever! Yet the response to my not-so-simple question remains unanswered:  If Kerry Thornley was in California and Mexico from May 2, 1963 until September 4, 1963, how can he have possibly been seen by Judyth Vary Baker on May 8 and May 28, as well as picking up FPCC leaflets from the Jones Printing Company  on June 4, 1963 as she alleges?  Famed researcher Mary Ferrell, Districy Attorney Jim Garrison, and HSCA investigator Gaeton Fonzi all concluded that he was in California during this time frame.  It was my hope that there would be some primary evidence to disprove what I have learned in my research.


Ms Baker claims she first met Thornley on May 8, 1963 in New Orleans. (1) Baker indicates in her book that Oswald was surprised to see Thornley there.  Nowhere in Ms. Baker’s account does Thornley mention the book he had written about Oswald. This is strange considering Thornley had modeled the character in his book “Idle Warriors”  after Oswald whom he had not seen since serving with him in 1959.  The encounter includes Oswald taking out his minox spy camera, teaching Thornley to use it, and having him take a picture of the couple.  Lee gets Thornley’s address and moves on. (2)


On May 28, 1963, Baker and Oswald witness Thornley going up the steps of the porch to his apartment at 4905 Magazine St. Lee becomes enraged because he suspects Thornley of having an affair with Marina. (3)  There is no explaining how in twenty days, Thornley goes from not knowing Lee was back from the Soviet Union, to having an affair with an already pregnant Marina who had a small child at home.

Upon reading the endnotes for these claims in Baker’s book, Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald, we come across the following statement:

We believed Marina and Kerry Thornley were having an affair, though Thornley always denied it. (4)

Ms. Baker now says that she never claimed that Thornley and Marina were having an affair!  This is a complete contradiction to what she stated in the endnotes of her book.   Her response below is true, that in the body of the book where she writes about the encounter she does not state that. However, her own endnotes very clearly state it.

JFK Evidence Detection, January 21, 2015: 1:28 AM EST. (5)

Upon reading this, it becomes obvious that her response to my blog Ms. Baker honed in on my statements about the affair. She claims in this response that she did “NOT” claim that Thornley had an affair with Marina.  This is absolutely false as I demonstrated above!  Her book’s footnote clearly states “We believed Marina and Kerry Thornley were having an affair, though Thornley always denied it.”  There is no explanation for her response to my blog, other than a response on January 23, 2015 that states, “Lee and I believed Thornley was messing with Marina, though he denied it.” (6) Remarkably, Ms. Baker in the span of 48 hours, went from stating she did not make the claim, to changing her story to they were messing around.


Ms. Baker is correct, my article does not give credibility to Harold Weisberg.  As addressed in “Vindication for Kerry Thornley“, Weisberg wanted to prove Thornley was involved to the point that he had doctored photographs of Thornley produced to make him look like Oswald.  Jim Garrison, who had used Weisberg to investigate did not find Weisberg credible because he did not prosecute Thornley for perjury for any reason other than Thornley met with Oswald in September, not in May or June as Ms. Baker would have her readers believe.

Weisberg had this to say in 1994 about his chase to prove Thornley was in New Orleans, “In my New Orleans investigations, I got a very, very good reason for looking into Kerry Thornley.  He exaggerated his associations with Oswald.” (7)  So in 1994, it appears that even Weisberg admits Thornley spun stories.  The spreading of these stories by Thornley served a purpose, to stir interest in his book about Oswald.  Unfortunately for Thornley, this led him to perjury charges.


It is absolutely true that Douglas Jones (8) and Myra Silvers (9) employees of the Jones Publishing Company, never identified Oswald as the person who picked up the Fair Play for Cuba Committee pamphlets.  Myra Silver first saw the man who called himself “Osborne” on May 29 when he placed the order.  She saw him again on May 31 when he paid for the order.  Ms. Silver saw “Osborne” once more on June 4 when he picked up the order.

Ms. Baker was asked a very poignant question in her response to the “Vindication for Kerry Thornley” blog.  “Did Lee Harvey Oswald order the pamphlets or did Kerry Thornley?”

Judyth Baker, Facebook, JFK Evidence Detection, January 23, 2015 3:49 AM (10)

This cannot be since Myra Silver has been absolutely clear in all of her statements.  A man calling himself Osborne, ordered, paid for, and picked up the pamphlets.  The man who ordered the pamphlets is the same who picked them up.

When Garrison was following up on the Jones Printing Company leads in 1967, he sent investigator Frank Meloche, Meloche who reports the same story that Silver stated to the FBI on December 4, 1963.  It was the same man all along, but his report contains a new detail that was not in the FBI report.  Baker’s claim that it was Thornley completely falls apart because Silver told Meloche that the person named Osborne, worked at the Riley Coffee Company. (11)  Kerry Thornley did not work at the Riley Coffee Company, but Lee Harvey Oswald certainly DID!


What the casual reader of Ms. Baker’s book may not know is that there were other printing companies that Oswald/Osborne used.  John I. Anderson of the Mailer’s Service Company identified Oswald as the person who came in and placed an order to print an application form for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.  Anderson identified Oswald as the person who placed the order and picked it up.  Anderson stated that Oswald used the name “OSBORNE”.  This was at the same time the name was used at the Jones Printing Company.  “Osborne” ordered on June 3, 1963, and picked up the order of applications on June 5th. He returned and placed another order later in the summer. (12) Mr. Joseph Johnson, employee of the James W. Trout Printing, reported that Oswald had attempted to order 300 pamphlets from his company.  The man had not given a name, but he was able to identify Oswald from his photographs in the paper. (13)

So we have three printing companies, at one where Silver identifies the man as working at the Riley Coffee Company using the name Osborne. At the second one, Anderson identifies the man as Oswald and using the name Osborne.  Finally at the third one, Johnson identifies the man as being Oswald. Three printing shops, all with similar stories.  Baker is wrong, Thornley was not there based on any of these witness statements. Looking at the statements of these witnesses there is more than enough evidence that it was Oswald.


In our discussion, it was requested of Ms. Baker to please provide a link to the neighbors’ testimonies that support the endnote below.  To date, Baker has not provided any references to her citations of having witnesses to Thornley being seen around town with Oswald.  Her final sentence that the Garrison investigation confirmed the same point is inaccurate as well. Garrison came to the conclusion that Thornley left town at the end of April 1963(14),and had contact with Oswald only in September 1963 when he returned.(15)

In our dialogue, I asked Ms. Baker for her sources to the following statement in her book:

We believed that Marina and Kerry Thornley were having an affair, though Thornley always denied it.  His denials were so eloquent that Lee gave him a second chance and arranged for Thornley to pick up the pro-Castro flyers Lee had printed.  All was well for another week, until the manager said she saw Thornley with Marina.  Lee then told Thornley to leave town, or make an appointment with a plastic surgeon.  Neighbors testified to the Warren Commission that Thornley was there so often they were unsure as to which one (Lee or Thornley) was really Marina’s husband.  Jim Garrison’s investigation confirmed the same point(16)

As of today, Ms. Baker has not produced any evidence that the manager saw anyone with Marina Oswald.  There has been no evidence linked to the Warren Commission investigation indicating that any neighbor saw Thornley enter the Oswald residence.  In addition, Jim Garrison never came to the conclusion that Ms. Baker states above.  Quite the contrary, he investigated leads, and found that the only credible lead was in September of 1963.

What Ms. Baker does in her response is to quote Joan Mellen’s book, A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK’s Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History,  pages 275-276,  to make her case.  This is a red flag, since Ms. Baker makes her own claims in her own book and instead of providing primary sources she uses another author’s work to respond to my questions.

Judyth Baker, Facebook, JFK Evidence Detection, January 22, 2015; 10:21 PM.(17)

Above, Ms Baker is totally wrong by stating that there is a memo reporting that Mr. Schwegman had seen Thornley at Oswald’s residence. The Schwegmann Memorandum, which is stored on microfilm at the New Orleans Public Library, does not say this. That’s the danger of using another author’s work  to make your case without looking at the source.  This memo is a letter from John Schwegmann Jr., owner of the Win-Dixie grocery store.  His wrote Jim Garrison to inform him that one of his employees, Myrtle LaSavia, claimed to have seen Thornley with Mrs. Oswald at the Oswald residence. (18) It was NOT a statement by Mr. Schwegman claiming to have seen anything or anyone at the Oswald’s residence, as Ms. Baker would have us believe.  It was just him reporting what LaSavia had told him.

The next piece of Mellen’s research that Baker uses to support her claims is Mr. Sciambra’s memorandum to Mr. Garrison regarding his interviews with Mr. Tony LaSavia and Myrtle LaSavia.  Those two memos are not available online.  I have placed a FOIA request from the National Archives, and I will update my blog when they arrive.  At this time, I suspect that these two documents give nothing more than neighborhood gossip on the part of the LaSavias, as Garrison did not use them as potential witnesses against Thornley.

Garrison’s own investigators did not list the LaSavia’s as living anywhere near the Oswald’s residence.  They listed the residents and the visitors to 4905 Magazine Street, but were unable to prove that, contrarily to Ms. Baker’s book, Thornley was seen at the Oswald’s house or with Marina Oswald. (19) (20) (21) In looking through these documents from March 4, 1968, it does not appear that Garrison found what the LaSavia’s reported to be credible, since they are not on the March 4 list as important by his investigator.


Baker makes the following statement directed at me implying that witnesses are being rejected by me.

Judy Baker, Facebook, JFK Evidence Detection, January 25, 2015; 7:38 AM EST (22)

Ms. Baker once again is quoting a document that she has taken out of context.  Doris Dowell was Kerry Thorley’s boss when he moved to Arlington, VA in December of 1963.  Thornley did not know Mrs. Dowell prior to December 1963. Ms. Baker is misrepresenting the memorandum that was written by Scambria.  The memo, when properly quoted, states the following:

MRS. DOWELL said that about one month before THORNLEY left for California he told her that he had been in the Marine Corps with LEE HARVEY OSWALD, and also that they were buddies in New Orleans. He said that he had met OSWALD again in New Orleans, and that they had met at a place in the French Quarter that she would probably not like. She later on said that THORNLEY told her about a place in the French Quarter that he used to constantly go to named the Bourbon House and he described the Bourbon House as a place that she would not like because of the type of people who went there. When she told THORNLEY that she would not brag about knowing LEE HARVEY OSWALD, THORNLEY became very angry and told her that LEE HARVEY OSWALD was misunderstood by everyone, and that nobody really knew him. She said that he insisted that LEE HARVEY OSWALD was not a Communist. (23)

Thornley left Virginia to go to California, which gives the reader the time frame that he made the statement to Ms. Dowell. The memo, when read in its proper context, makes total sense. It does not imply that he was making a statement about knowing Oswald in May of 1963, as Ms. Baker would like us to believe.  So in answer to Ms. Baker’s question, I do value Mrs. Dowell as a witness when she is not taken out of context.  Garrison read the memo correctly as well, as he realized that her complete statement supported his other witness statements about the Bourbon House and an alleged September meeting. (24)

Ms. Baker’s book was published in 2010, and it is amazing to me that despite my repeated requests for primary source documentation to her claims in her book, she turns to Mellen.  Mellen’s book was not published until 2014, and at no time does the author use Judyth Vary Baker as a witness to Thornley being in New Orleans with Oswald in her book. (25)

To date, there is still no documentation by Ms. Baker to substantiate her claims that in the Warren Commission Report the neighbors stated that they saw Thornley at the Oswald’s apartment.  She has provided no evidence that Garrison supported this, when indeed it has been proven that he did not find any credible evidence other than September 1963.  We are left wondering why it is so difficult for Ms. Baker to actually produce the evidence to support her endnote…

Matt “The Hitman” Scheufele

(1) Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald, Trine Day, 2010

(2) IBID

(3) IBID

(4) IBID

(5) Judyth Baker, Facebook, JFK Evidence Detection, January 21, 2015: 1:28 AM EST.

(6) Judyth Baker, Facebook, JFK Evidence Detection, January 23, 2015: 3:49 AM EST.

(7) Harold Weisberg letter to David Saulsbury, August 31, 1994,The Harold  Wesiberg Collection

(8) FBI Report, Douglas Jones, December 3, 1963

(9) FBI Report, Myra Silver, December 4, 1963

(10) Judyth Baker, Facebook, JFK Evidence Detection, January 23, 2015 3:49 AM

(11) Memorandum Frank Roche to Jim Garrison, January 17, 1967 Collection JFKCO:John F. Kennedy Assassination    Records Collection, 12/28/1992 – 09/30/1998 Series:Papers of Jim Garrison, 1965 – 1992 File Unit:Oswald-Lakefront

(12)Warren Commission Hearings, Volume XXII Current Section: CE 1411 – FBI report dated December 3, 1963, of interview of John I. Anderson at New Orleans, La.

(13) Warren Commission Hearings, Volume XXV Current Section: CE 2546 – FBI report dated November 25, 1963, of interview of Charles Hall Steele, Jr., at New Orleans, La. (CD 75, p. 267).

(14) Garrison Manuscript 1984, Source: Collection JFKCO:John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection, 12/28/1992 – 09/30/1998 Series:Papers of Jim Garrison, 1965 – 1992 File Unit:[Garrison-Miscellaneous Reports and Memoranda re: Assassination Investigation]

(15) Press Release New Orleans District Attorney, Perjury Thornley, The Harold Weisberg Collection

(16) Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald, Trine Day, 2010

(17) Judyth Baker, Facebook, JFK Evidence Detection, January 22, 2015; 10:21 PM.

(18) Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Oswald and the Garrison Investigation, Kindle Edition, Adam Gorightly, Feral House 2014, 1530 of 4180

(19) Collection JFKCO: John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection, 12/28/1992-09/30/1998 Series: Papers of Jim Garrison, 1965-1992 File Unit: Misfiled-original location unknown by researcher

(20) Collection JFKCO: John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection, 12/28/1992-09/30/1998 Series: Papers of Jim Garrison, 1965-1992 File Unit: Misfiled-original location unknown by researcher

(21) Collection JFKCO: John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection, 12/28/1992-09/30/1998 Series: Papers of Jim Garrison, 1965-1992 File Unit: Misfiled-original location unknown by researcher

(22) Judy Baker, Facebook, JFK Evidence Detection, January 25, 2015; 7:38 AM EST

(23) Memorandum, Scambria to Garrison, April 2, 1968, The Wesiberg Collection

(24) Memorandum, Scambria to Garrison, April 2, 1968, The Wesiberg Collection

(25) A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK’s Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History,  Skyhorse Publishing; 1 edition (September 1, 2013)