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Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans



David Feldman, our guide on the JFK/Oswald Conspiracy Theory Tour, provides us with some of the facts surrounding Lee Harvey Oswald’s time in New Orleans before the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. For an even more in-depth foray into this mystery, and to walk in the steps of Oswald, join David on his unique New Orleans walking tour every Friday at 10am.

The connections of New Orleans to the assassination of President Kennedy have never been fully investigated. Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin, spent almost 6 months in The Crescent City less than two months before Kennedy was killed in Dallas. What was he doing during all that time? With whom was he associating? Why does the address 544 Camp Street appear on the “HANDS OF CUBA” leaflets Oswald handed out. The building at that address also housed the offices of Guy Bannister, ex-FBI agent and virulent anti-Communist, segregationist and right wing agitator. 544 made for strange bedfellows.  It was not the only strange and incongruous association. 


On April 25,1963 Lee Oswald returned to New Orleans, the city of his birth, on a bus from Dallas . (He was never called Lee Harvey Oswald until after the assassination of President Kennedy after which the media referred to him only as Lee Harvey Oswald.) He remained in New Orleans until September 25,1963, less than two months before the assassination. He was in New Orleans for a total of 153 days.


On November 29th, one week after the Kennedy assassination and the subsequent murder of Oswald by Jack Ruby two days later, President Lyndon Johnson appointed a Commission, nominally led by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren,  to investigate the assassination. Nine months later, after compiling some 24 volumes of testimony, the Commission issued an 888 page final report. The Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he assassinated President Kennedy. They further concluded that Jack Ruby and Lee Oswald did not know each other; that Ruby had no ties to organized crime in either Dallas or New Orleans; and that Ruby had acted alone, not as part of a conspiracy,  when he shot and killed Lee Oswald.


Included in the 24 volumes of evidence is a timeline of Oswald’s activities in New Orleans between April 24—Sept. 25, 1963. the timeline only accounts for activities on parts of 32 of the 153 days that Oswald was in New Orleans.


In 1976 the US House of Representatives, appointed a House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) to further investigate the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King. They issued their final report in 1978.


“The Committee (HSCA) concluded that the FBI’s investigation was seriously flawed…deficient in the areas — organized crime, pro- and anti-Castro Cubans, associations of individuals from these areas with Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby.”


Further, the HSCA concluded that the work of the Warren Commission was less than complete in a number of areas including “Oswald’s activities and associations during the periods he live in New Orleans.”


Had the FBI been more thorough, or perhaps more interested, they might has found it strange that Lee Oswald found employment with the Reily Coffee Company where he worked from May 10, 1963 until June 19th. Reily was a very conservative business. William Reily was a charter member of The Information Council of The Americas, INCA, a well funded anti-Castro, anti-Communist group that produced “Truth Tapes” for distribution throughout  Latin and South America. Reily Coffee required background checks and credit reports on all employees and customers.  A divorce or low credit score might bar a candidate from employment.


Yet Oswald, a high school dropout, twice courtmartialed in the Marine Corps, a defector to the Soviet Union, repatriated to the US with his Russian wife and young daughter, recently fired from his last two jobs in Texas, living on unemployment checks, is hired by Reily. And hired by one William Monaghan, VP at Reily, ex-FBI agent and future head of the Metropolitan Crime Commission in New Orleans.


Certainly the FBI would have been interested in a job application Oswald submitted much earlier to another company listing one Jack Ruby as a reference. 


In fairness, the intent and scope of the FBI’s investigation and, for that matter, The Warren Report, might well have be framed by two memos  rediscovered by the House Select Committee on Assassinations.


The first, dated November 24. the day Ruby killed Oswald was sent from FBI Director J Edgar Hoover to Bill Moyers, Special Assistant to President Lyndon Baines Johnson. It reads in part:


“The thing I am concerned about, as so is Mr. Katzenback [Asst. Attorney General] is having something issued so that we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin….” (HSCA Report, appendix vol.3, page 472)


The second memo, dated Nov. 25, is from Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach himself to Bill Moyers. It reads in part:


“The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that the evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial…we need something to head of public speculation or Congressional hearings of the wrong sort.” (FBI HQ, JFK Assassination File 62-109060-18)


The key to unlocking the mystery of Lee Oswald’s involvement in the Kennedy assassination may well be right here in New Orleans. To learn more, sign up for our JFK/Oswald Conspiracy Theory Tour.