Lee Harvey Oswald:  The Legend and the Truth

by James Norwood

Part I:  Peeling Away the Layers of the Legend

The documentary record of Lee Harvey Oswald’s life may be categorized in three chronological periods:

#1: The first stage of the documentary record runs from his birth until late 1962.  The surviving records point to a composite identity of two young men whose life stories were merged into a single biography of a young man for purposes of the “Oswald Project." 

Jim Wilcott was a CIA finance officer in the 1950s, who testified before the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s of his knowledge of the funding of the so-called Oswald Project.  Wilcott's testimony was the first to indicate that Oswald was specially recruited by the CIA with the express purpose of a double agent assignment in the U.S.S.R.  But the HSCA failed to follow through in investigating Oswald's ties to intelligence.  It was not until the publication of Harvey and Lee in 2003 that the extent of the Oswald Project was exposed.

The goal of this top-secret project was the successful planting of a Russian-speaking spy in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.  In light of this evidence, the lives of two boys were conflated into the single “legend” of Oswald as a truant, a high school dropout, and a Marxist sympathizer.  One of the boys, Lee HARVEY Oswald, had a strong facility with the Russian language and would be sent to the Soviet Union in the guise of LEE Harvey Oswald, the son of Marguerite Oswald and Robert E. Lee Oswald.  This legend was carefully crafted for years in the period leading up to the Oswald defection in 1959.1

#2 The second stage of the documentary record begins sometime between the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962 and President Kennedy’s American University Address on peace on June 10, 1963. 

The last will and testament of the presidency of John F. Kennedy occurred on June 10, 1963, when he delivered the commencement address at American University.  In this remarkable white paper, JFK articulated a virtual summary of the social, political, military, and environmental issues of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.  In the first part of the speech, JFK praised the Russian people for their courage.  In the next portion, the president proposed a test ban on nuclear weapons as an initial step to world peace.  He framed the issues in both human and spiritual terms, shaping a vision for ending the Cold War, as opposed to winning it.  Today, historians uniformly praise this speech as that of a visionary statesman.  But rarely do those same historians acknowledge that JFK was despised for this speech by his antagonists in the national security network in 1963.

It was at some point during this period that a sophisticated plan was formulated for a coup d’état that would include the murder of the president and the framing of Lee HARVEY Oswald as the assassin.  The legend established in stage #1, namely, a high school dropout, a malcontent, Marxist, and defector, was embellished in this period with phony evidence that portrayed Oswald as a violent misfit, seeking to kill the president and flee to the Soviet Union. 

Almost instantly after Oswald's arrest on November 22, 1963, the American public began to learn of his subversive activities in New Orleans during the previous summer.  Incriminating evidence like the New Orleans arrest photo on the left began to depict Oswald as a committed Marxist and champion of Fidel Castro.  An even greater body of phony evidence suggested that Oswald had visited Mexico City prior to the assassination, with the intent of planning a return to the Soviet Union via Cuba, based on his alleged visits to the Soviet and Cuban consulates.  The photo on the right purportedly captured Oswald on camera during his shenanigans in Mexico City.  But the man bears no resemblance to Oswald.   There has never been hard evidence definitively placing Oswald in Mexico City in the late summer of 1963.  New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison coined the colorful term "sheepdipping" to describe the process of making Oswald the scapegoat in the JFK assassination.

The arrest of Oswald in New Orleans following a scene of agitprop theater staged by the CIA and Oswald’s alleged trip to Mexico City late in the summer of 1963, which was also the handiwork of the CIA, were the crowning narratives of disinformation used to frame Oswald after the assassination.

#3 The final period of the documentary record occurred in the aftermath of the murder of Lee HARVEY Oswald on November 24, 1963.  This was the critical stage that would establish the Oswald legend for posterity.  It was at this precise moment when the alleged assassin was permanently silenced that the FBI commandeered the complete body of evidence collected by the Dallas police, flew it to Washington, D.C., rearranged the evidence through addition and subtraction of materials, and then sent the new collection back to Dallas.  With no transparency or accountability, the FBI then re-collected and selectively submitted the evidence to the Warren Commission, never providing the committee members with the full body of evidence that would have exposed the history of the two Oswalds:

Any student of the JFK assassination must come to terms with the chain of events that led to the formation of the Warren Commission, as well as the contents of its final report and the twenty-six volumes of hearings and exhibits.  For the capital crime of the assassination of a president, the typical investigative and judicial machinery in America was suspended and replaced by a state-sponsored inquest.  Today, historians almost universally accept the Warren Commission's findings as the primary source for understanding the assassination.  But the astute student of the JFK case will study the wealth of evidence contained in the Commission's hearings and exhibits.  That body of evidence frequently refutes the conclusions reached by the committee.

The result was a sanitized set of evidentiary materials that would culminate in the Warren Commission’s definitive conclusion about Oswald:

“Oswald was moved by an overriding hostility to his environment. He does not appear to have been able to establish meaningful relationships with other people. He was perpetually discontented with the world around him. Long before the assassination he expressed his hatred for American society and acted in protest against it. Oswald’s search for what he conceived to be the perfect society was doomed from the start. He sought for himself a place in history—a role as the ‘great man’ who would be recognized as having been in advance of his times.”2

Attorney John Hart Ely, who later became one of twentieth century’s great constitutional authorities, obviously sensed that the FBI was withholding information on Oswald from the Commission.3  

In this explosive memorandum of Warren Commission attorney Albert E. Jenner, Jr., we learn that the committee felt compelled to suppress evidence concerning Oswald.  Writing of the research conducted into the youth of Oswald, as prepared by attorney John Hart Ely, Jenner indicates that "there are details in Mr. Ely's memoranda which will require material alteration and, in some instances, omission."  Why would the details of Oswald's life story prior to enlisting in the Marines need to be withheld from the American public?  The answer to that question is unfolded in Harvey and Lee.

But Ely and his colleagues were powerless in standing up to Hoover.  For over fifty years, the Warren Commission’s biographical profile above has been used as the basis for historians to assess the life of Lee Harvey Oswald.

In failing to sort out the three stages described above, some of the finest minds in the JFK research community have failed to come to terms with the evidence.  The shocking implication of the true story of “Lee Harvey Oswald” is the degree to which power was wielded by the United States government to fabricate the life story of a human being and to suppress the truth to the public.

The idea for Orwell's famous concept of "Big Brother" was inspired by his impressions of Joseph Stalin at a time when Orwell was a journalist and combatant in the Spanish Civil War.  The novel 1984 offers a chilling and prophetic vision of the totalitarian state in which history is conceived through the control of information and uses of propaganda.  When the truth becomes inconvenient to the power elite, the evidence is peremptorily destroyed.  In the aftermath of the JFK assassination, the key individual who was controlling information was FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.  FBI official William Sullivan, who was once the head of the FBI's intelligence operations, observed that "if Hoover decided there were documents that he didn't want to come to the light of the public, then those documents would be destroyed and the truth would never be known." In other words, the writing of the history of the JFK assassination was being handled by Hoover in the same way that history was fabricated by the Ministry of Truth in 1984.

The falsification of the historical record in the case of the two Oswalds might even shock George Orwell, whose novel 1984 depicts the totalitarian powers of the state to control information and limit the freedom of the individual.

One of the few researchers who clearly understood how Oswald was being manipulated and framed is the author James Douglass.  In his book JFK and the Unspeakable, Douglass presents the thesis that both President Kennedy and Lee HARVEY Oswald were sacrificial pawns in the ideological aims of the Cold War. 

Author James Douglass captures a moment when Lee HARVEY Oswald let down his guard during a speech he delivered for a group of seminarians at the Jesuit House of Studies in Mobile, Alabama in 1963.  Based on Oswald's notes (published by the Warren Commission) in which he ostensibly was to speak about his experience in the Soviet Union, he instead expressed concern about the potential for "a military coup" in the United States.  Drawing upon the testimony of CIA finance officer Jim Wilcott, Douglass argues that Oswald, apparently disgruntled because his cover had been blown in Moscow, had become a liability after returning from the Soviet Union.  He then carefully traces the evidence and concludes that Oswald thereby became the ideal scapegoat for the president's assassination.  "From the standpoint of the assassins, Dallas eliminated two Cold War security risks, Kennedy and Oswald, in the same weekend, blaming the second for the murder of the first." (p. 368)

The chapters in Douglass’s book alternate between the activities of Oswald and President Kennedy during the year leading up to the assassination.  Douglass lucidly describes the period of stage #2 (described above) between the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the events of November 22-24, 1963.  Douglass even acknowledges that two different Oswalds were apprehended in the Dallas Theater on the afternoon of November 22.4   While he does not go far enough in pinpointing the broader story of the two Oswalds, Douglass nonetheless has a keen grasp of how Oswald was manipulated and scapegoated, a realization that seemed to be slowly appearing to Lee HARVEY Oswald himself, when he proclaimed to reporters on November 22 that “I’m just a patsy.”

Part II:  The Limitations of Photographic Evidence

Due in part to the internet and the easy accessibility of images related to the JFK assassination, photographic evidence is all-too-often studied at the exclusion of more substantial evidentiary resources.  At the close of John Armstrong’s essay on “The Two Marguerites,” he raises a long list of questions, and not a single one of them pertains to the photos.

Rather, all of the essential questions relate to data from (a) documentary records and (b) eyewitness accounts.  This persuasive body of evidence alone makes the case for the Two Oswalds and the Two Marguerites incontrovertible.

  • Imagine if the FBI had given the Warren Commission (WC) Oswald's Stripling JHS records from 1954 to compare with his Beauregard JHS file
  • Imagine if the FBI had given the WC Oswald's unaltered NYC school file, to compare with his truancy and time spent at Youth House
  • Imagine if the FBI had given the WC HARVEY Oswald and LEE Oswald's Beauregard School records to compare for the 8th grade in the Spring of 1954
  • Imagine if the FBI had given the WC Tarrant County tax records which showed Marguerite Ekdahl's purchase of 101 San Saba on July 7, 1947
  • Imagine if the FBI had given the WC rental records from 4936 Collinwood and 3830 W. 6th during 1956-58.
  • Imagine if the WC had interviewed Palmer McBride, Walter Gehrke, members of the New Orleans Amateur Astronomy Association re: meeting Oswald in New Orleans in 1957-58.
  • Imagine if the WC had supboened employment records of the Pfisterer Dental Lab which showed HARVEY Oswald's dates of employment in 1957-58.
  • Imagine if the WC had brought the Marguerite Oswald impostor face to face with Edward John Pic (husband of Marguerite Claverie) during his WC testimony.
  • Imagine if the WC had brought the Marguerite Oswald impostor face to face with Julian and Myrtle Evans during their WC testimony.
  • Imagine if the WC had asked Robert Oswald where he was living, and who he was living with in 1956, when he drove his mother and brother from New Orleans to Fort Worth.
  • Imagine if the WC had properly examined the Marine Corps Unit diaries (HARVEY in Taiwan) and LEE Oswald's numerous hospital visits in September, 1958.
  • Imagine if the WC asked Ed Voebel about his friendship with HARVEY Oswald in the spring of 1954, and later with LEE Oswald in the 1954-55 school year.
  • Imagine if the WC asked New Orleans Realty for the 1954-56 rental records for 126 Exchange Place, where both Oswald families had lived.
  • Imagine if the WC questioned Mrs. Logan Magruder or Mrs. Oris Duane about their contact with Marguerite Oswald in 1960-61 in New Orleans.
  • Imagine if the WC asked for the employment records of Marguerite Oswald, 1958-1963, from Kriegers, Holmes, and Goldrings Dept Stores in New Orleans.
  • Imagine if the WC asked the Marguerite Oswald impostor about 2220 Thomas Place in 1947, 1954, and 1963.
  • Imagine if the WC asked for records from the Hotel Senator (New Orleans) in 1957 and 1958 for "Marguerite Oswald."
  • Imagine if the WC, or John Hart Ely, had seen the photograph of Marguerite Claverie Oswald at Paul's Shoe Store at Christmas, 1957.
  • Imagine if the WC took testimony from Frank Kudlaty, Fran Schubert, Doug Gann, Jackie/Bobby Pitts regarding LHO at Stripling in 1954.
  • Imagine if the WC, after hearing testimony from Robert Oswald that his brother attended Stripling JHS, they asked the FBI for those records.
  • Imagine if the WC had requested payroll tax information from the State of Louisiana for Marguerite Oswald and Lee Harvey Oswald.
  • Imagine if the WC asked the Texas Dept of Public Safety for a copy of LHO's drivers license.
  • Imagine if the WC had reviewed HARVEY's medical records for Oct, 1958 at Santa Ana, CA, and reviewed LEE Oswald at Atsugi, Japan on November 2.

  • Imagine if the WC had read the FBI interview of Major William P. Gorsky, Assistant Provost Marshal of MCAS, El Toro, and questioned him about Oswald's discharge from the Marine Corps at El Toro in March, 1959. How could Lee Harvey Oswald be discharged from the Marine Corp at El Toro, CA in March, 1959 and then be discharged from the Marine Corp at Santa Ana, CA in September, 1959? Only if there were two Lee Harvey Oswalds (click here to see a report of the FBI interview of Major Gorsky).
John Armstrong's set of twenty-four questions serves as a capsule summary of the entire story of the Oswald Project.  As a useful reference point for understanding the complex identity of Oswald, it is instructive to point out how few biographies of Oswald have ever been published in the mainstream press or undertaken by private investigators.  Any biographer seeking to tell the story of Oswald will eventually be confronted by a mind-boggling puzzle of contradictory evidence.  The only way to come to terms with the trajectory of Oswald's life story is to confront the evidence of the two Oswalds.

When I read Harvey and Lee, my main attention was on the two-pronged approach of the documents and the eyewitness testimony.  The photos were interesting, but of secondary importance. 

The best way to study Harvey and Lee is to read the book in conjunction with documents from the Warren Commission's twenty-six volumes of hearings and exhibits.  By examining entire documents and testimony from the Warren Commission, the diligent reader will see John Armstrong's findings corroborated by primary source materials.  It is also highly recommend to follow up on points developed in Harvey and Lee by consulting the enormous archive of materials left by Mr. Armstrong at the Baylor University library.  Every scrap of research data has been scanned and is accessible online at this site:

The beginning student of the JFK case who seeks quick answers from examining photos will be frustrated until all of the evidence has been considered.

One of the most interesting points made by Mr. Armstrong in “The Two Marguerites” is as follows:

“The Bureau convinced the Warren Commission to accept photographs in lieu of physical evidence. This gave the FBI the opportunity to alter original evidence, such as HARVEY and LEE Oswald's school transcripts, employment records for HARVEY, LEE, and records relating to the two Marguerite Oswalds and then give the WC photographs of the altered documents.”

From the inception of the Warren Commission hearings, photographic evidence has been used to sow dissent and confusion for JFK researchers. 

One of the notorious "backyard photos" was shown to Oswald by Captain Will Fritz.  According to Fritz, Oswald replied that the photo was a composite of his head superimposed onto another man's body and that, based on his expertise in photography, he would eventually demonstrate how the photograph had been altered.  But after Oswald's death, the use of one of the backyard photos on the cover of Life magazine served to convict Oswald in the mind of the public.  Even before the Warren Commission had completed its deliberations and published its report, the caption used alongside one of the backyard photos for the cover of Life on February 21, 1964, read as follows:  "Lee Oswald with the weapons he used to kill President Kennedy and Officer Tippit."

Mr. Armstrong is absolutely correct in suggesting that we need to approach all photographs with a healthy skepticism.  The unreliability of the pictorial evidence should alert students of the JFK case to the danger of over-reliance on photographs—both of documents and images of people.

Part III: The Multiple Residences of the Oswald boys in the 1940s and ‘50s

When visiting Texas, most JFK researchers will make a beeline for Dealey Plaza, 10th & Patton, and the Texas Theater. 

This panoramic view of Elm Street was captured from the exact spot where Dallas dressmaker Abraham Zapruder filmed his home movie during the assassination. While Zapruder's film footage has achieved iconic status and has been scrutinized frame-by-frame for decades, the fact remains that the film only depicts the reactions of the shooting victims, President Kennedy and Governor Connally.  It does not clearly depict any shooter or shooters.  In a case that has been studied so minutely, one area that remains virtually untouched is the greater area of Fort Worth, including the residences and school records that still may include new details about young Oswald.

But how many students of the assassination take the time to visit Fort Worth?  In the summer of 2014, I spent a day driving around Forth Worth and photographing the known residences of the Oswalds in the period of the late 1940s and ‘50s. 

On November 15, 1951, Marguerite Oswald purchased a small home at 4833 Birchman in Fort Worth.  By this time, her young son Lee had spent three consecutive years attending Ridglea West elementary school.  Was the purchase of the new home, which was located within walking distance of Stripling Junior High, intended to once again create confusion in changing schools and school districts?  It turned out that Marguerite never occupied the Birchman home, packing up and moving to New York in 1952.  If anything is clear about the purchase of Birchman, it is that this was not intended as an investment property for Marguerite.  The tiny, 664-square-foot home was purchased for $4,190, a staggering sum for such a small home in 1951.  This home was never listed by the Warren Commission as one of the properties purchased by Marguerite.  And, today, the beautiful tree-lined Birchman street includes a vacant lot at the location of 4833.

It was apparent to me that the overwhelming number of times that Marguerite moved her family is worthy of our attention as JFK researchers.

Following the death of her husband, Robert E. Lee Oswald, in 1939, Marguerite was virtually destitute.  Her precarious financial situation led her to place her young son Lee in an orphanage in 1942. 

On the day after Christmas, 1942, Marguerite Oswald chose to place her three-year-old son Lee in an orphanage.  A similar form to the one above indicates that Marguerite withdrew Lee from the New Orleans orphanage on January 29, 1944.  Inexplicably, in the years immediately following World War II, Marguerite had sufficient discretionary income to purchase properties.  Yet in multiple instances, she chose not to live in the homes.  A number of researchers of the JFK assassination have sought to understand the psychological trauma that young Oswald may have suffered through the period of separation from his mother.  But not enough studies have focused on Marguerite herself and how her fortunes changed after the war.

Yet by the late 1940s, her situation had turned around so completely that she was now residing in middle-class neighborhoods and was even purchasing properties solely in her name. In July, 1947, Marguerite purchased a small house at 101 San Saba in Benbrook; in August, 1948, she purchased a new home at 7408 Ewing in Fort Worth; and in November, 1951, she purchased a small house at 4833 Birchman in Fort Worth.  During the period of 1947-51, there were three purchases of homes and a grand total of six different addresses at which Marguerite was residing. It is no small accomplishment to be a homeowner in the early twenty-first century.  But it was also difficult in the post-Depression years of the 1940s.  So, what explains Marguerite’s change in fortunes?

The change may be explained by the Oswald Project.  In allowing the government to use the name of one of her boys for a surrogate “Lee Harvey Oswald,” as well as her own name that would be shared with another woman, Marguerite Claverie Oswald likely made a Faustian bargain, first with the OSS and subsequently the CIA.  To a large degree, her life and the lives of her children were controlled by the government undoubtedly in return for monetary compensation.

Between 1947-51, Marguerite purchased three different homes in the Fort Worth area.  By early 1951, she was apparently making payments on and maintaining the three properties concurrently.  During this period, she also experienced a financial setback from a  divorce in which, according to John Pic's Warren Commission testimony, Marguerite came out on the losing end of the court's decree, despite the alleged philandering and physical abuse of Edwin Eckdahl.  Pic recalled that "I was told by her that she was contesting the divorce so that he would still support her.  She lost, he won." (WCH, XI, 29)  With no monthly payments from Eckdahl, Marguerite was completely on her own in financing the three homes during this four-year stretch.  This raises the concern about how she could have made the down payments, met monthly financial obligations, and sustained the upkeep of the three properties, while continuing to pay rent at other residences.  The timing of the earliest evidence of the two Oswald boys and the two Marguerites during the pre-New York years begs the question of how Marguerite came into the funds to enable her to play Monopoly on this scale.

Part of her bargain was that the family would constantly be on the move. Of course, the purpose of the moving in the 1940s and ‘50s had nothing to do with the JFK assassination.  In this first stage of the documentary record, the goal was to make it difficult for Soviet intelligence to trace the whereabouts of “Lee Harvey Oswald,” once he had defected.

In this regard, three of the most important findings of John Armstrong are as follows:

(1) The significance of 2220 Thomas Place opposite Stripling Junior High School in Fort Worth.5  Over the course of nearly two decades, this was a home base (or “safe house”) for the Marguerite Oswald imposter.

2220 Thomas Place in Fort Worth was a small rented duplex where the stocky woman claiming to be Marguerite Oswald lived off and on from the late 1940s to the early 1960s.  But it turns out that there are too many instances when the occupancy of 2220 Thomas Place by a woman named Marguerite Oswald conflicts with documented residences of Marguerite Oswald at other locations.  In 1947, one Marguerite is residing at 2220 Thomas Place while another Marguerite Oswald is living at 1505 8th Avenue in Fort Worth.  In 1948, one Marguerite is still in residence at Thomas Place while another Marguerite lives at 3300 Willing Street in Fort Worth.  In 1954, one Marguerite is back at Thomas Place while another Marguerite is known to be residing in apartment #6 at 1454 St. Mary's in New Orleans.  In 1955, one Marguerite is back at Thomas Place following a number of months spent in New Orleans; but by the time she has returned to Fort Worth, another Marguerite is residing at 126 Exchange in New Orleans.  At the time of the assassination in November, 1963, the stocky Marguerite imposter is once again residing at 2200 Thomas Place.  The confusion surrounding so many moves and different homes ultimately points to a single conclusion:  there were two women posing as Marguerite Oswald raising two different boys allegedly named Lee Harvey Oswald between 1947 and 1959.

There are too many recorded instances of this woman residing at 2220 Thomas Place at the precise moment when the real Marguerite Oswald was living elsewhere.  Thus, this is one of the key pieces of evidence that identifies the existence of the two Marguerites.

(2) Armstrong’s discovery of the deed of purchase for the property at 101 San Saba in June, 1947.6  Because of the testimony of a neighbor, Georgia Bell, we have evidence of a connection of the two Marguerites living in different places concurrently in 1947. 

Even today, the Benbrook suburb of Fort Worth is a sparsely populated community of slightly more than 20,000.  But in 1947, this area was even more remote, as it was just beginning to be developed when Marguerite Oswald purchased the property at 101 San Saba.  One struggles to comprehend the motivation for both the purchase and the eventual sale of this home by Marguerite, who incurred a substantial loss of her initial investment.  Moreover, she and her three boys apparently only stayed briefly in the San Saba home, according to the testimony of Robert Oswald before the Warren Commission.  As Robert was recounting this part of his life story, Commissioner Allen Dulles called for an adjournment.  When the proceedings resumed, this subject was simply dropped.  The reason that this issue was explosive was that the real Marguerite Oswald and her three boys were residing at 1505 8th Avenue in Fort Worth in the summer of 1947--the precise time when the Warren Commission chronology sought to establish that Marguerite and her children were living in Benbrook.  Of all of the evidence of young Oswald, the story of 101 San Saba may hold the key to understanding the original idea of the Oswald Project.  For the curious student of the JFK case, here is one question to answer about the relatively obscure saga of San Saba in the youth of Oswald:   Why would the FBI feel compelled to interview neighbor Georgia Bell following the assassination, then change her affidavit to reflect a different date she provided about the time of residency of Marguerite Oswald in the house across the street?

Marguerite bought the San Saba property, and her first “tenant” was the Marguerite imposter with a little boy. This was the beginning of the Oswald Project.

(3) Armstrong’s interview with Frank Kudlaty, assistant principal at Stripling Junior High.7 

In this fascinating interview, Kudlaty was unable to recall whether the trailing records from previous schools existed in Oswald's academic file. Because of all of the moves, it is clear that Marguerite Oswald and the Marguerite imposter were sowing confusion in the educational history and academic progress of the two Lee Harvey Oswalds.  The two women were not merely making the lives of school administrators miserable; they had also thwarted the KGB from detecting the substitution of the Russian-speaking Harvey Oswald for Lee Oswald when their visitor applied for asylum in Moscow in 1959.  The shell game enacted with the school records continued when two Lee Harvey Oswalds enlisted in the Marines.  For a three-year period (1956-59), the Marine records would be juggled exactly like the school histories of the two Oswald boys.

When I made my research trip to Fort Worth in 2014, driving around in 100-degree heat in the Texas summer, it became apparent to me that there was no logic to the repeated moves of the Oswalds in the Fort Worth area from either a business standpoint or the human element.  But the moves made perfect sense as each relocation brought about a change in the school districts that the two boys would be attending, thus sowing confusion for anyone in the future who sought to trace the history of young Oswald.  One of the keys to unlocking the secrets of the two Oswalds is Stripling Junior High School, which appears to be virtually unchanged since the time that Lee HARVEY Oswald attended in 1954.

After the assassination, the FBI was eager to collect Lee HARVEY Oswald's school file in possession of Stripling assistant principal Frank Kudlaty.  While those records have vanished from the documentary record, there were multiple students at Stripling who recalled Oswald as a fellow classmate in 1954-55.  One of those students, Fran Schubert, spoke on camera with John Armstrong, and her video interview is available on youtube and in the Baylor University archive.  Ms. Schubert confidently recalled the academic year of 1954-55 when she remembered her fellow student Oswald.  She was also aware that he resided with his mother across the street from the school at 2200 Thomas Place.  Other Stripling students who remembered Oswald from the 1954-55 academic year include Bobby Pitts, Doug Gann, and, most importantly, Paul Gregory, whose father, Peter Paul Gregory, was an instructor of Russian language.  When he returned from the Soviet Union in 1962, Lee HARVEY Oswald reconnected with the Gregorys.  Paul drove Oswald and Marina to the home of Robert Oswald for Thanksgiving dinner in 1962.  Peter Gregory wrote a letter of recommendation for Oswald.  And, after the assassination, Paul Gregory served as an interpreter for Marina.  The study of Oswald's life is simply filled with interesting coincidences!     

HARVEY’s attendance at this time conflicts with LEE’s school attendance concurrently in New Orleans.  That is why the FBI appeared on the doorstep of Frank Kudlaty, to secure the only copy of young Oswald’s academic file. 

The carefully coordinated moves of both Marguerite and the Marguerite imposter were obfuscated ever further when the FBI selectively provided data to the Warren Commission.  Undoubtedly, both women were receiving instructions on where and when to shift their locations.8  The careful student of this case will recognize that there was no plausible reason for Marguerite to move from New Orleans to New York, just as there was no rationale for the Marguerite imposter to move from Fort Worth to San Diego.  The women were clearly being manipulated and receiving instructions for the moves.

While it is likely that the FBI succeeded in sanitizing most of the school records of the two Oswald boys following the JFK assassination, there is still the possibility that some of the old records might be uncovered to add to the already substantial findings of John Armstrong.  Therefore, the city of Fort Worth should be a new focus of attention for future JFK researchers.

In 2012, an eight-foot bronze statue was installed outside the Hotel Texas (today, the Fort Worth Hilton) in downtown Fort Worth.  The sculpture designed by Lawrence Ludtke is surrounded by a tribute memorial with photos and quotes from JFK.  On the morning of November 22, 1963, President Kennedy delivered an impromptu speech outside the Hotel Texas to a large crowd that had gathered in the early morning rain.  The sculpture and tribute are placed in the spot where President Kennedy spoke to the crowd.  After the speech, the president returned to the hotel for a breakfast and delivered the final speech of his life.  Curiously, the media coverage of the breakfast included a lengthy segment scripted for television on the challenges faced by the Secret Service in protecting the president and how the last American president to be assassinated, William McKinley, was shot by a lone nut sixty-three years earlier.  After the breakfast speech, President Kennedy then headed to Dallas.


The culmination of over a decade of research and writing, John Armstrong’s publication of Harvey and Lee (2003) is the closest we have to a full-scale biography of “Lee Harvey Oswald.”  Mr. Armstrong’s book succeeds in presenting a massive body of evidence while offering the big picture necessary to understand this complex story.  He carefully walks the reader through the climate of the mid-twentieth century with multiple references to the burgeoning national security network in our nation during the Cold War.  The conception of the “Oswald Project” and the identity of “Lee Harvey Oswald” pertain directly to what President Eisenhower warned about in the dangers of the “military industrial complex,” as observed in his farewell address on January 17, 1961. 

Rather than seek superficial answers from photographs or micro-analyze details that will never be resolved, the diligent student of the assassination should actually study the climate in America in the Cold War.  A couple of suggested readings are Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes—A History of the CIA (New York: Anchor, 2008) and David Talbot, The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government (New York: Harper Perennial, 2016).  Those works help to amplify the monumental contributions of John Armstrong in understanding both the true identity of Lee Harvey Oswald and the murder of President John F. Kennedy.


1 The evidence is unfolded in John Armstrong’s Harvey and Lee—How the CIA Framed Oswald. (Arlington, Texas: Quasar, Ltd., 2003).  Armstrong’s papers, which include a massive archive of records and a complete research dossier, are available online in the John Armstrong Collection of Baylor University: http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/po-arm

2 Report of the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy (United States Government Printing Office (1964), 423.

3 Without a doubt, there were some good legal minds on the staff of the Warren Commission.  One of the most brilliant was that of John Hart Ely.  Here is an instance of an attorney who was genuinely interested in understanding the life story of Oswald, yet was stonewalled by Hoover and attorneys with greater authority on the Commission.   Ely's obituary published in The New York Times on October 27, 2003, offers a good overview of his career, indicating that he was the youngest member of the legal team serving on the Warren Commission.  There may be a chilling irony in that Ely's greatest contribution in his career was in assessing the notion of judicial review.  Surely, the Warren Commission itself merits judicial review in every sense of that term.   http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/27/us/john-hart-ely-a-constitutional-scholar-is-dead-at-64.html

4 James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable—Why He Died & Why It Matters (Maryknoll, N.Y., 2008), 291-94.

5 Armstrong, 101, 102, 142, 252, 283.

6 Armstrong, 25-30.

7 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCz5_bd3R6g

8 Georgia Bell recalled visits of men arriving by car to the home of the single, stocky woman who claimed to be the mother of young Lee HARVEY Oswald in the fall of 1947 at 101 San Saba in the Benbrook district of Fort Worth.  (Armstrong, Harvey and Lee, 27)  In his book Reclaiming History—The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (New York & London:  W. W. Norton & Company, 2007), attorney Vincent Bugliosi draws upon John Armstrong’s research for the details of Marguerite’s purchase of the property at 101 San Saba.  But Bugliosi chooses not to mention Georgia Bell’s testimony of a single woman and a little boy in residence at San Saba at the exact time that Marguerite Oswald was living in a different district of Forth Worth.  The omission of the key points of the documentary record of Oswald was the principal failing of the Warren Commission.  As a result, the Warren Report perpetuated the legend of Oswald, while never revealing the truth.

JAMES NORWOOD, Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley) taught in the performing arts and humanities at the University of Minnesota for twenty-six years and offered a full semester course on the JFK assassination.