An enduring yet presently unproven claim is the assertion that Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby knew each other. Magician and ventriloquist Bill DeMar propagated among the first known assertions regarding connections between Oswald and Ruby. The Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed DeMar and presented a photograph of Oswald, DeMar "said he believes this is the man he saw seated among the patrons of the Carousel Club 'one night last week'. DeMar advises he works seven nights each week and, therefore, is unable from his recollection to determine which particular night of the week he observed Oswald..."i DeMar's hazy recollections do not make for a compelling start.
Following his Dallas Police Statement on November 24, 1963 DeMar told the Associated Press he observed Lee Harvey Oswald at Jack Ruby's Carousel Club.ii Other media outlets seized upon this unverified claim and disseminated to the American public. The US Secret Service interviewed members of the press handling the story that included DeMar's friend Dave Hoy. Hoy states "DeMar told him it was his boss (Jack Rubenstein) who killed Oswald." DeMar according to Hoy states "...he asked DeMar whether he was sure that Oswald had been in the Carousel Night Club and DeMar replied he was quite sure, although he would not stake his life upon it." Ironically, DeMar could not recall the item purportedly "...mentioned by Oswald on the evening..." during his memory routine.iii
The Federal Bureau of Investigation took statements from several Carousel Club workers regarding the Oswald and Ruby matter. Cigarette girl Becky Jones offered Master of Ceremonies (Bill DeMar) made a statement "...that he had seen Lee Harvey Oswald in the Carousel Club strictly for publicity reasons...no one else in the club has said they saw Oswald there."iv Karen Karlin was one of the Carousel Club's exotic dancers with a minor connection to Ruby's later murderous actions. Ruby sent her rent money at the Western Union office and strolled a block to murder Oswald. "Mrs. Karlin pointed out that it is very difficult to identify anyone in the club from the stage due to the lighting arrangements."v DeMar's claims have seeming problems.
Carousel Employee Bonnie Kelly "...stated that everyone at the Carousel Club knows that the Master of Ceremonies (Bill DeMar), lied when he said he had seen Lee Harvey Oswald at Carousel Club. She said that if Oswald had ever been at the club one of the waitresses would have remembered him; also that from the Master of Ceremonies position on the stage, one cannot see into the audience, due to the lighting arrangements in the club."vi Server and dancer Marilyn Moone also never saw Oswald at the Carousel Club and that its lighting system prevents made identifying crowd members "very difficult"vii
Karen Williams additional stated that she never observed Oswald in the club and that "...it is almost impossible to recognize anyone in the audience due to the brightness of the lights on the stage."viii Joyce McDonald told the Bureau she never observed Lee Harvey Oswald in the club and "...doubted very much if...Bill DeMar, had ever seen Oswald there as it is very difficult to distinguish faces in the club due to the lighting arrangements." Dancer Nancy Powell was "...positive that she had never seen Oswald in the Club Carousel."ix
Marilyn Owens a former server and dancer at the Carousel stated being "...positive there was no association between Oswald and Ruby."x Delores Silva was another Carousel dancer who "...denied knowing Oswald or that anyone resembling him had ever been at the Carousel Club. She claimed no knowledge of any connection between Oswald and Ruby."xi Every prior Carousel employee observed a picture of Lee Harvey Oswald and each affirmed never seeing him at the Carousel Club or associating with Jack Ruby. It is unlikely Lee Harvey Oswald went to the Carousel Club and remained unobserved by so many employees. Yet DeMar was not the only person claiming to have seen Oswald at the Carousel Club.
Wilburn Litchfield asserted first to the Dallas Police and then to the FBI that "Sometime within the first two weeks of November, 1963, on either a Tuesday or Thursday night, I cannot recall the exact date. It was the night that a photographer for a National magazine was at the Carousel Club...Ruby was not there when I arrived and the doorman informed me there were three people already waiting...Ruby then invited the young man in a white sweater to come in..." He described the man as "5'7 -5'9; and very slender...wearing a v neck white sweater, gray slack, his hair was not combed...He had acne pock marks on the right side of his face." Litchfield claims, "I did not think anything of the young man in the white sweater until after the assassination of President Kennedy...From the pictures on television and then the picture in the Times Herald newspaper I remembered I had seen a young man who closely resembled Oswald at the Carousel Club..."xii
Despite the obvious inference Litchfield was making subsequently he offers, "I cannot positively say that the photograph of Oswald is identical to the young man in the white sweater at the Carousel Club but the photograph does closely resemble the young man..." Litchfield further affirms, "I have never known Ruby to be associated with or acquainted with Lee Harvey Oswald." Regarding his prior statement to Dallas police he confirms the prior statement is wholly accurate "...except the last paragraph wherein I made a positive identification of the individual I saw at the Carousel Club, being identical with Lee Harvey Oswald. I wish to state at this time that I cannot make a positive identification of said individual as being identical..."xiii Other corroborating evidence supports Litchfield prior claims were incorrect.
Dallas police Captain Fritz advised "Wilburn Waldon Litchfield...also known as Robert Litchfield and Bob Litchfield...Fritz stated that he knows Litchfield from past handling of him and Litchfield has the reputation of being a confidence man. Captain Fritz stated he would not place any credence on anything Litchfield might say."During a subsequent prison interview conducted by DPD Lieutenants Revill and Cornwall, Jack Ruby identifies the man in the white sweater. His actual name according to Ruby and officials was Edward Rocco, an employee of Cabaret Magazine.xiv Litchfield's assertion by even his own final admission was unproven. Yet still more associated Oswald and Ruby claims would emerge.
A letter from Armour E. Kreischer to the FBI claimed "Mrs. Dan H. Foley...informed her daughter Kathy...that she knew a woman, a close friend (unidentified by Kathy), who did actually operate a boarding house where Oswald was in residence, and that the woman had confided that Oswald...was known to have been employed (exact capacity unknown)...for one Jack Rubenstein, alias Ruby." The FBI subsequently interviewed Kathy Foley and this interview revealed the story was not firsthand but emerged according to Kathy's memory from a man "...who repaired her family's automobile at the Pittman Street Garage...Miss Foley was rather vague about the matter." Kathy's mother Mrs. Foley told the Bureau agents the information had come from their neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Happy Brockman. Mrs. Brockman later told Mrs. Foley "...the information had originally started with an employee of a Humble service station..."xv
Less than two weeks later, the FBI interviewed Mr. Gerald A. Duncan, the manager of the Humble Service station referred to prior. When officials explained the claims regarding Oswald and Ruby Duncan stated "...he was the original source of that information and that it was entirely erroneous. He stated he was talking to a customer just a few minutes after Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald...He said his customer told him that Ruby worked at the Carousel Club and that she had seen him on many occasions and knew him. Duncan said that he was under the impression that when this customer referred to 'him' he himself thought the customer referred to Oswald while in fact he later realized she was referring to Ruby. He said he quickly 'put two and two together'..." Yet that was following his well-intentioned report "...to the Dallas Police Department before he had the facts straight..."xvi
Among those who might have noticed previous associations between the men do not support the existence of such a relationship. Members of Oswald's family in New Orleans never observed Ruby near Oswald until the shooting at Dallas City Hall.xvii Mr. George Bouhe had met Oswald through his wife Marina who hailed from his hometown in Russia. Bouhe stated in his contacts with the Russian colony in Texas, he had never heard the name Jack Ruby mentioned. Additionally, Ruth Paine whose Oswald's family lived with in Texas "...stated she did not know Ruby and had never heard the Oswalds mention Ruby."xviii
In 1964, reporter Walter Winchell claimed that "R.P of a Dallas suburb" "...could substantiate the rumor that Oswald and Jack Ruby were associated in some manner." The story appeared in the New York Journal and Winchell's claim drew the attention of the Bureau. Assistant Director Alan Belmont states that the allegation "...was originally put forth by New York Attorney Mark Lane." While Lane may have later supported the claim or mentioned the R.P. alluded to, he was not the original source of the Ruby and Oswald tales. Belmont speculates the R.P. might be Ruth Paine who he states never made the alleged statements Winchell offered in repeated past interviews.xix
In 1976, FBI Headquarters received an unsigned letter claiming various people could substantiate a prior relationship between Oswald and Ruby.xx The Bureau launched another investigation seeking to identify the various claimed figures named by alias in the letter. A second former Carousel Master of Ceremonies Wally Weston attempted to support the letter's claims. Yet in his 1963 interview, Weston denied the original Ruby and Oswald allegation made by Bill DeMar.xxi Several additional witnesses interviewed failed to confirm the letter's claims and without verifiable evidence or a named source for the information, it was reasonably set aside.xxii xxiii xxiv xxv xxvi
The Central Intelligence Agency's Acting Deputy Director for Plans Thomas H. Karamessines conducted a search of its files for connections between Oswald and Ruby. The reply he sent to J. Lee Rankin lead counsel of the President's Commission states "We also have no indication that Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald ever knew each other, were associated, or might have been connected in any manner whatsoever."xxvii In this instance, the Agency's assessment matches the independent evidence and most witness testimony.
Officials interview Jack Ruby on December 25, 1963 inside the Dallas County Jail with Ruby's attorneys. Ruby stated "...the first time that he had ever seen him" (Oswald) was at the Dallas Police Station following Oswald's arrest. "Any rumors that Oswald was ever at any of Ruby's clubs are wrong because Ruby had never seen Lee Harvey Oswald at any place before he saw him with Captain Fritz at the Dallas Police Department the night of November 22, 1963. Any rumors that Oswald was at the Carousel Club are absolutely untrue. Ruby has since heard reports that his master of ceremonies...Bill DeMar, has reported Oswald was at the Carousel Club...Ruby said that this is absolutely false, because Oswald was never there."xxviii
Based on a significant amount verifiable evidence Ruby and Oswald had never feasibly met. Over a dozen witnesses of varying familiarity with Ruby or Oswald never saw them interact or mention each other. Ruby himself states that he never met Oswald before the day of President Kennedy's assassination. Oswald does not call out his assassin's name following the deed; he does not speak during his final moments of any Jack Ruby. It is likely he could not identify him because they had never met.
i. President's Commission Document 205, Federal Bureau of Investigation Report of 23 Dec re: Oswald, Statement of Bill DeMar, November 24, 1963 p. 1
ii. President's Commission Document 87, Secret Service Report of 08 Jan 1964 re: Oswald , Bill DeMar says Oswald was a Patron of Jack Ruby Night Club, November 25, 1963, pp. 1-2
iv. President's Commission Document 205, Federal Bureau of Investigation Report of 23 Dec re: Oswald, Statement of Becky Jones, November 27, 1963 p. 1
v. Ibid, Statement of Karen Karlin, November 27, 1963, pp. 1-2
vi. Ibid, Statement of Bonnie Kelly, November 28, 1963, p. 1
vii. Ibid, Statement of Marilyn Moone, November 28, 1963, p. 1
viii. Ibid, Statement of Karen Williams, November 27, 1963, p. 1
ix. President's Commission Document 4, FBI Clements Report of 30 November 1963 re: Ruby, Section G, Night Clubs, Dallas, Statement of Nancy Powell, p. 3
x. Commission Document 1150, FBI Letterhead Memorandum of 25 Jun re: Ruby, June 19, 1964, p. 1
xi. Ibid, p. 2
xii. President's Commission Document 205, FBI Report of 23 Dec 1963 re: Oswald, Statement of Wilburn Waldron Litchfield II, December 3, 1963, pp. 1-4
xiii. Ibid, p. 5
xiv. Pres. Com. Doc. 205, FBI Report of 23 Dec 1963 re: Oswald, Report of Special Agents Bookhout and Carlson, 1963, p. 1
xv. Ibid, Summary report of related witness interviews, p. 463
xvi. Ibid, p. 464
xvii. Ibid, Statements of Marilyn Murret , Charles Murret, and John Murret, pp. 430-432
xviii. Ibid, Statement of George Bouhe, p. 397
xx. FBI file, HSCA, Administration Folder H6: Assassination Matters Volume VII, Anonymous Letter, August 9, 1976, National Archives and Records Adminstration Identification Number: 124-10370-10033
xxi. Ibid, p. 10
xxii. Ibid, Statement of Joe Mulhollan, August 5, 1976
xxiii. Ibid, Statement of Charles Moore, August 5, 1976
xxiv. Ibid, Statement of Abe L. Weinstein, August 5, 1976
xxv. Ibid, Statement of Richard D. Leonard, August 5, 1976
xxvi. Ibid, Statement of Maxine Joy Williams, August 5, 1976
xxvii. HSCA, Segregated CIA file, Information concerning Jack Ruby (asa (sic) Jack Rubenstein) and his associa, Box 51, September 10 1964, National Archives and Records Adminstration Identifier Number: 1993.07.27.12:07:43:650630
xxviii. FBI Ruby Headquarters file, Section 36, Interview of Jack Ruby, December 25, 1963, p. 5
Edited: December 2017