Evidence and the Big Easy

view from the Street of the New Orleans Mint’s Main Facade on Espalande Avenue During the Summer of 1963

view from the Street of the New Orleans Mint’s Main Facade on Espalande Avenue During the Summer of 1963

New Orleans lies beneath the heavy shroud of time and the city has been the site of various notorious crimes, disasters, and myths. The Big Easy was the birthplace of Lee Harvey Oswald and home to members of his family. Lee Harvey Oswald's uncle Charles and Aunt Lillian Murret had two daughters (Marilyn and Joyce) and the Murret family possessed deep roots in New Orleans. Due to President Johnson's renewed investigation of defectors in nineteen sixty-four, Oswald's cousin Marylin Dorethea Murret is a noted figure. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation states Murret had traveled and temporarily resided in England, France, Germany, Holland, Japan, Pakistan, and India prior. Reporters Robert Allen and Paul Scott claimed Murret to have "defected" similar to Oswald, and they alleged she had Communist ties as well.i  Further Bureau investigation did not yield evidence of value regarding Communism.ii  One Central Intelligence Agency files claims she was a "defector or potential defector" and yet the evidence offers that Murret legally traveled and she never defected.iii Renewed official interest in Marylin's travels recurs when she travels to Haiti and Santo Domingo in nineteen sixty-six.iv In nineteen seventy-two, schoolteacher Marylin Murret traveled to England, France, and Russia, following confirmation of her visit to Soviet territory a Bureau official again requested authority to conduct an interview with her. The Special Agent in Charge of the New Orleans office chided, "The fact that she is a cousin of Lee Harvey Oswald is not in itself enough to justify an interview because of her visit to a Communist country. You should supply justification according to the criteria set out in the Manual of Instructions..."v  

Lee Harvey Oswald arrived in New Orleans April 24, 1963 and called his extended family the Murrets from the bus station. He asked if his Aunt Lillian "could 'put him up' a few days." Despite the assertions of some, much of Oswald's time in New Orleans in nineteen sixty three was spent doing everyday tasks and he fails to obtain a printer job because he lacked the proper skills.vi Oswald's Aunt Lillian Murret was in contact, hosted, and visited with the Oswald family multiple times during this portion of nineteen sixty-three. He borrows fifty dollars from his Uncle Charles Murret for an apartment and he remained at the Murret house nearly a week and spent "all day" job hunting. Oswald then found employment at his alternate choice, the Reilly Coffee Company. This is notable because while some might claim this job was important, based on evidence it was not and was not even Oswald's first choice.vii viii He went apartment hunting and obtained his Magazine Street dwelling the same day as his new job. 

Lee harvey Oswald's Magazine Street Residence Circa 2009

Lee harvey Oswald's Magazine Street Residence Circa 2009

Federal Bureau of Investigation files state Oswald began his employment at the Riley Coffee Company May 15, 1963 and Oswald terminates his employment at Reilly July 19, 1963. Oswald's tells the New Orleans Police following his arrest that he left Reilly's July 17, 1963 and he worked there for just over two months.ix x It remains very unlikely that any extraneous unnoted people were frequently around him. However, even more unlikely are persons claiming they escaped all notice of the historical record and every verifiable witness. 

Oswald told his Aunt Lillian he needed "a nice apartment for a short time because the woman with whom his wife had been living in Texas had been very nice to them and that she would probably bring his wife to New Orleans and might stay for a day or two." This would be Ruth Paine, the Oswald's Texas associate. Oswald later brought his family to go "crabbing" during one visit with Marilyn Murret and Charles Murret states the Oswald family visited them "on about three occasions."xi xii Murret transported the Oswalds in his car multiple times and each day of work, visiting, trips, and the prior extended stay consumes time from the brief months he resides in New Orleans.

After Oswald's 1963 arrest in New Orleans for disturbing the peace, another cousin "Joyce O'Brien was instrumental in securing his release on parole through a friend of the family."xiii Joyce undertook multiple visits to the New Orleans Police Department and was not eager to pay for Oswald's release. She was disinclined after reviewing the Fair Play for Cuba literature he previously distributed. A police officer suggested that Joyce not pay the bond and the officer advised she instead contact an official who could release Oswald on parole without paying his bail. Murret family friend "Emile Bruneaux" (sic) (Bruno) contacted someone who had Oswald paroled.xiv xv    

Another occasion served for a family trip including the Oswalds and Murrets to Mobile, Alabama during the summer of nineteen sixty-three. Oswald made a brief speech to the gathered Jesuits at his cousin's school. Mr. Murret financed the entire trip because Oswald did not have the means to do so.xvi Lillian Murret stated to the Bureau that Oswald "did not appear to have very much money."xvii Oswald and the Murrets visit at least two additional times, once on Labor Day, and once after his aunt's scheduled operation.xviii  He is concerned with his wife, family, new job, disruptive political activities, and had little time for much else. He visited his aunt then faces arrest later the same day. 

His time in New Orleans was not the spy novel romance some would claim, Oswald left New Orleans with unpaid bills. Jessie Garner, Oswald's apartment manager states "the subject (Oswald) and his wife vacated their apartment on September 25, 1963...She remarked that Oswald left New Orleans owing her 17.00 rent for the apartment."xix Notable again is Oswald's lack of funds to undertake basic costs and this does not infer he was funded by any outside group in New Orleans. Influenced perhaps, but not funded and he is frequently at home reading on the porch and never gone for long periods.

Oswald briefly discussed his prior claims regarding the Fair Play for Cuba Committee with Charles Murret. Oswald denied being an officer in the group, despite prior assertions he offered to the police and Federal Bureau of Investigation.xx  Lillian Murret disapprovingly stated, "that he was 'stupid' to be used as a 'dupe'."xxi Lee Oswald told her he knew too much to be a 'dupe'." Seemingly, he underestimated his fallibility and the potential consequences. The House Select Committee on Assassinations in a brief statement regarding some of the Murrets states, "They so far have been very uncooperative".xxii
C.A.A. Savastano
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i. President's Commission Document 942, FBI Letterhead Memo Re: Marylin Dorothea Murret, May 7, 1964, pp. 1-3
ii. House Select Committee on Assassinations, Federal Bureau of Investigation Subject files, I-J, Harold Isaacs, No Title, June 1, 1964, p. 1
iii. HSCA, Segregated CIA files, Personality File Action Request Re Marilyn Murret, Box 15, September 17, 1964,  National Archives and Records Administration Identification Number: 1993.07.31.08:46:56:590047
iv. HSCA, Segregated CIA files, Letter to DD/Plans Re Request for info on Marilyn Dorothea Murret, January 17, 1967

v. HSCA, FBI Administrative Folder, Lee Harvey Oswald, Volume XXII, Marilyn Dorothea Murret, February 25, 1972, pp. 1-2, NARA ID: 124-10369-10025
vi. Central Intelligence Agency, Oswald 201 File, Volume 6, CD 6, Part 1, Report of S.A. J. Engelhardt and Ernest C. Wall, December 2, 1963, p. 4
vii. Ibid, Report of S.A. Eugene Bjorn and J. Engelhardt, December 4, 1963, p. 2
viii. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Oswald Headquarters file, Section 232, Special Agent in Charge of New Orleans to Director, March 1, 1967, p. 1
ix. CIA, Russ Holmes Work File,  File: Information in CIA's possession regarding Lee Harvey Oswald prior to November 22, 1963, Report of FBI SA Kaack, p. 6, NARA ID: 104-10423-10253
x. Ibid, Report of FBI SA Kaack, pp. 2-3  
xi. CIA, Oswald 201 File, Vol. 6, CD 6, Part 1, Report of Special Agents E.C. Wall and J.G Engelhardt , pp. 5-6
xii. CIA, Oswald 201 File, Vol. 6, CD 6, Part 1,  Report of S.A.'s E. Bjorn and J. G. Engelhardt, December 4, 1963, p. 2

xiii. CIA, Oswald 201 File, Volume 6, CD 6, Part 1, S.A.'s Wall and Engelhardt, December 2, 1963, p. 7
xiv. CIA, Oswald 201 File, Volume 6, CD 6, Part 1, Report of S.A. J.B. Killgore, November 30, 1963, p. 1
xv. CIA, Oswald 201 File, Vol. 3, CD 75, Part 1, FBI Report of S.A. J. G Engelhardt, November 30, 1963, p. 2
xvi. CIA, Oswald 201 File, Vol. 6, CD 6, Part 1, FBI Report of S.A.'s Wall and Engelhardt, December 2, 1963, p. 6
xvii. Ibid, p. 8
xviii. Ibid, p. 7
xix. CIA, Oswald 201 file, Vol. 53 b, Report by FBI on Oswald admitting being a Marxist to Subve, October 31, 1963
xx. Oswald 201 File, Vol. 6, CD6, Part 1, Report of S.A. Wall and Engelhardt, p. 7
xxi. Ibid

xxii. HSCA, Executive Session, November 9, 1978, p. 7, NARA ID: 180-10124-10043

Edited: December 2017

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