Oswald's Wallet

by John Armstrong

In November, 1997, I gave a presentation at the JFK Lancer conference in Dallas entitled "Harvey and Lee." I briefly mentioned an Oswald wallet found at the scene of the Tippit murder:

"Dallas Police Captain Westbrook found Oswald's brown wallet next to where Tippit had fallen and showed it to FBI Agent Barrett. It seems unbelievable that a man would leave his wallet next to a policeman he has just shot. But Barrett insists Oswald's wallet was found at the Tippit murder scene. If Tippit's assailant was the man who impersonated Harvey Oswald for the previous two months, then the wallet was intentionally left at the scene of the Tippit shooting. Perhaps this was Lee Oswald's last act of setting up Harvey as a "patsy." If so, it left Lee with no identification."

A new book written by Dale Myers, "With Malice," focuses on the Tippit murder. Myers' work relating to the wallet found at the Tippit murder scene is a vast improvement to the limited comments I presented, which were made by former FBI agent James Hosty.


Myers wrote: "In March, 1964, agent Bob Barrett returned to the scene of the Tippit shooting to take photographs and conduct additional interviews. During these additional contacts with eyewitnesses, Barrett heard something that re-enforced his belief that police had recovered Oswald's wallet at the scene. Barrett stated that according to a witness, the gunman handed something through the open passenger-side window to Tippit inside the car. "I heard this later', Barrett explained. 'Somebody told me that they saw him reach in and hand something to Tippit through the window. I don't know who said it, and can't verify it, but it would follow that's how the wallet got there. And, the wallet was there. There's no getting around that. Westbrook had the wallet in his hand and asked me If I know who these people were. I don't think Westbrook would have been asking me questions about something unrelated to the situation and he had the wallet with those names in it. Later, I remember seeing photographs of the contents of the wallet: in which those two names were in it.'" Myers wrote, "Barrett has always believed that Tippit met his death because of the wallet he was handed. Upon seeing the two identifications, Barrett believes, Tippit emerged from the car to question Oswald further and was shot.

"Photographer Ron Reiland, of WFAA-TV, was the only newsman at the Tippit scene who shot a motion sequence. Reiland exposed approximately two minutes of silent footage that covered the search for Tippit's killer, and the arrest of Oswald. The initial footage shot at Tenth and Patton correlates to police returning to the Tippit shooting scene following the investigation of a suspect at the Jefferson Branch Library. The opening sequence shows police gathered around Tippit's squad car questioning eyewitness Helen Markham. The officers depicted include Patrolman Joe M. Poe and Leonard E. Jez, Reserve Sergeant Kenneth Croy, and Sergeant Calvin 'Bud' Owens. Within seconds, crime scene search Officer W.E. 'Pete' Barnes and Detective Paul Bentley arrive at the scene. The arrival of Barnes and Bentley pins the time frame of these sequences to 1:42 pm--about eight minutes before Oswald's arrest at the Texas Theater....

"Sergeant 'Bud' Owens is seen holding Tippit's service revolver in his left hand and a man's leather wallet In his right. Owens shows the wallet to Captain George Doughty, who is standing to his left. As Owens hold the wallet open, Doughty runs his finger along one of the celluloid photo slips which usually hold photographs or identification cards. As Doughty studies the item in the plastic sleeve, a third person approaches from Doughty's left. Doughty pulls his hand back and a plain clothesman reaches into the frame. Owens holds the wallet out toward the third man. Here, the tantalizing footage ends. Barrett, who was unaware of the existence of the footage at the time of our initial interview, confirmed that he spoke to Westbrook about the wallet near the front of Tippit's patrol car--where news film shows the men examining the wallet. Barrett said, 'It hadn't been very long when Westbrook looked up and saw me and called me over. He had this wallet in his hand. I presumed that they had found it on or near Tippit.' Westbrook asked me, 'Do you know who Lee Harvey Oswald is?' And, 'Do you know who Alek Hidell is?' And I said, 'No, I never heard of them.'"


Dallas Police dispatches at 1:23 and 1:32 stated, "...wearing a white jacket, white shirt and dark slacks." A police dispatch at 1:46 states, "...suppose to be hiding in the balcony [Texas Theater]." As police converged on the theater they were directed to the balcony by Julia Postal. As officers were questioning patrons in the balcony, Barrett, Westbrook, McDonald, Hutson, Hawkins, and Walker entered the theater from the alley. As Lt. Cunningham, Det. Taylor and Det. Toney began questioning a young man in the balcony they heard someone shout 'here he is" from the lower level. Police in the balcony descended to the lower level to assist in the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald. The arrest occurred about 1:50 pm. Oswald was the transported to DPD headquarters acompanied by five Dallas police officers--Detective Bob Carroll, Sergeant Gerald Hill, Detective K.E. Lyons, Charles T. Walker and Detective Paul Bentley. Sergeant Gerald L. Hill is the first person on record talking about the wallet removed from Oswald's pocket en route to the Police Station. During a television interview recorded by NBC News within hours of the arrest, Hill stated "the only way we found out what his name was to remove his billfold and check it ourselves; he wouldn't even tell us what his name was." Later in the interview, Hill was asked what name was on the billfold to which he replied "Lee H. Oswald. O-S-W-A-L-D." The following day, Detective Paul Bentley gave WFAA-TV a similar account during a live interview. Bentley said, "I removed his wallet from his back pocket and obtained his identification." The Dallas Police now had two wallets each, containing identification for Lee Harvey Oswald and Alek J. Hidell.

Myers wrote, "Ultimately, three wallets were catalogued by the FBI as being part of Oswald's property. The three wallets include a brown billfold (FBI exhibit 114), a red (plastic) billfold (FBI exhibit 382) and Oswald's arrest wallet (FBI exhibit B-1). Photographs taken by the FBI of all three exhibits were located at the National Archives and compared with frames from the WFAA-TV news footage. Permission was obtained from the National Archives to have the original Oswald arrest wallet brought out of storage and re-photographed from a variety of viewpoints, including several that match the angle at which the wallet is seen in the WFAA film. The resulting photographs show that the Oswald arrest wallet is not the same billfold seen in the WFAA news film." If not Oswald's wallet, then whose wallet was it? Westbrook, after handling the wallet found at the Tippit shooting scene had asked FBI Agent Barrett if he knew who these people were. Barrett said, "I remember seeing photographs of the contents of the wallet; in which those two names were in it." Barrett's opinion was that "Tippit met his death because of the wallet he was handed.... Upon seeing the two identifications, Tippit emerged from the car to question Oswald further and was shot." Barrett's opinion may or may not be correct. But Barrett's and numerous DPD officers account of an Oswald wallet at the scene of the Tippit murder, with Oswald and Hidell identifications is indisputable.

Dale Myers finishes chapter 9 by writing, "There are some assassination stories that stretch credulity. This is one of them. There is little that is believable and little reason to believe what remains." I appreciate and understand the frustration of Mr. Myers and other researchers who try to retrace the origin and disposition of Oswald's possessions, including these wallets. In most cases documentation exists that allows researchers to follow Oswald's possessions from the time they were confiscated by Dallas Police to their eventual placement at the National Archives. Oswald's possessions can normally be traced by reviewing the following documents:

--Items confiscated by Dallas Police (handwritten inventory list can be obtained from Dallas Archives)

--Typewritten inventory at DPD headquarters (WC exhibit--"Stovall A & B" Warren Volume #21, pages 596-598)

--Items photographed by the Dallas Police (microfilm available from Dallas Archives)

--Items turned over to the FBI on 11/26/63 (WC #2113)

Some of Oswald's possessions, such as the Minox camera, do not follow this simple paper trail. A "small German camera" was listed on the DPD handwritten inventory list and the DPD typewritten list. Three days later the "small German camera" was listed as "Minox Camera" (item #375) on joint DPD/FBI inventory list. When the DPD film of Oswald's possessions was developed at the FBI laboratory in Washington, DC a few days later, the Minox camera had "disappeared." The FBI then announced they had received a "Minox light meter" instead of a "Minox camera" and pressured the Dallas Police to change their inventory list from a camera to a light meter. This is a classic example of manipulating evidence--in this case by the FBI.

Let's follow the paper trail of the five Oswald wallets. Perhaps we can determine if there was any manipulation of evidence relating to these wallets.

Wallet #1: November 22, 1963 @ 1:42 pm--wallet found at Tippit murder scene; contained identification of Oswald/Hidell; observed and handled by DPD Captain Westbrook, Officers Owens, and Doughty; observed by FBI Agent Barrett; filmed by WFAA cameraman Ron Reiland. Neither this wallet nor the contents were inventoried, cataloged noted on either DPD or FBI inventory lists or photographed. This wallet was last "seen" at the Tippit murder scene and thereafter disappeared. None of the above named DPD or FBI officers volunteered information to the Warren Commission about this wallet.

Wallet #2: November 22, 1963 @ 2:00 pm--arrest wallet--taken from Oswald's left rear pocket by Detective Paul Bentley in route to DPD headquarters. Four DPD officers--Carroll, Hill, Lyons and Walker accompanied Bentley and Oswald to DPD headquarters. All were aware that Bentley had removed Oswald's wallet and looked at the contents. Neither the wallet nor its contents were catalogued or photographed by DPD upon returning to DPD headquarters. DPD photographed the contents of the wallet on 11/23/63. The FBI designated wallet as exhibit B-1. The origin of the above described wallets is known and verified by witnesses. The following two wallets are in the National Archives--FBI exhibit #114 and #382--but their origin is unknown:

Wallet #3: November 22, 1963--brown billfold; FBI #114

Wallet #4: November 22, 1963--red billfold; FBI #382

Both wallets were allegedly found at the Paine residence. DPD officers Rose, Adamcik and Stovall participated in the search. Neither wallet was listed on the their handwritten inventory list nor on the DPD typewritten inventory list (WC exhibit "Stovall A & B"). Neither wallet can be found in photographs of Oswald's possessions taken at DPD headquarters. There is no evidence either of these wallets were found at the Paine's. These wallets first appear on the joint DPD/FBI inventory list of Nov 26,1963 as items #114 and #382.

They were later photographed by the FBI in Washington, DC and are now at the National Archives. During Warren Commission hearings, no DPD officers were asked about nor volunteered information concerning wallets allegedly found at the Paine house.

A 5th wallet was found in the dresser in Marina's room at the Paine residence:

Wallet #5: November 24, 1963--Marina telephoned Ruth Paine and asked Mrs. Paine to bring some of her clothes, some baby clothes and bottles, her husband's wedding ring and wallet. On Monday, November 25, a Secret Service man brought her the wallet, which contained $180.00.

Identifying the wallets is easy. The difficulty comes in trying to trace the wallets from their origin to the DPD and FBI with an incomplete paper trail.

The problem originated with the two wallets found by the Dallas Police--one at the Tippit murder scene, the other on Oswald's person. If the public became aware that Oswald's wallet was found by police at the scene of the murder and then the police removed a second wallet from Oswald on the way to DPD headquarters, that would be difficult to explain. It would become even more difficult to explain the two identifications, one for Oswald and one for Hidell, found in both of the wallets. Oswald's possessions were secretly taken to Washington DC on November 23rd and returned to the Dallas Police on November 24th. On that day Service Agent Robert Stuart examined the contents of Oswald's arrest wallet and FBI agent Bookhout was furnished DPD photographs of the contents. But the wallet and contents found at the scene of the Tippit murder (#l) were neither inventoried nor photographed by the Dallas Police; this wallet (and contents) disappeared.

When Oswald's possessions were again turned over to the FBI, on November 26, 1963, neither the wallet found at the Tippit murder scene nor the wallet taken from Oswald was listed on the joint DPD/FBI inventory (WC exhibit #2113). There were, however, two other wallets listed--item #114 and #382. These wallets supposedly came from the Paine residence, yet neither wallet appears on either of the DPD inventory lists nor was photographed by the DPD. The obvious question is, were these two wallets (#114 and #382) substituted for the wallets found at the Tippit murder scene and the wallet taken from Oswald?

An FBI memo of 11/29/63 states: "The Police Department failed to photograph the contents of the wallet before turning it over to our Dallas Office and requested that they be furnished immediately photographs of these items." We know the Dallas Police provided photographs of the contents of Oswald's arrest wallet to FBI Agent Bookhout on November 24, 1963. Could the FBI memo be referring to another wallet--perhaps the one found at the Tippit murder scene? 0 Did the Oswald arrested by Dallas Police carry two wallets with two sets of identification on November 22nd? Did he pass a wallet, containing Oswald/Hidell identification, to Officer Tippit through the open car window? Did he then shoot Tippit, got arrested at the Texas Theater, and have a second wallet, with Oswald/Hidell identification, removed from his left rear packet by DPD Detective Paul Bentley? Did he own all five wallets?

On November 21, 1963 Oswald spent the evening with Marina and his children at the Paine residence in Irving, Texas. At 9:00 pm, Helen McIntosh answered the door of her friend's apartment. A young man asked if Jack Ruby was in. After checking with her friend, she informed the young man that Jack Ruby lived in the apartment next door. She forgot about the young man until the following day when his picture appeared on television and newspapers identified as JFK's assassin.

At 7:30 am, November 22nd, the owner of the Top Ton Record store, Dub Stark, arrived to find a young man waiting for the store to open. The young man wanted to purchase a ticket. An hour later the young man returned. Later that day Mr. Stark identified the young man from television and newspapers as Lee Harvey Oswald.

At 10:00 am a young man walked into the Jiffy Store on Industrial Blvd., a half mile from Dealey Plaza. As he purchased a bottle of beer from store clerk Fred Moore, he was asked for identification. He presented a Texas driver's license in the name of 'Lee Oswald' with the birth date "October, 1939." Oswald returned a halt hour later and purchased another beer and peco brittle.

At 12:25 pm Lee Oswald was on the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository while Harvey was in the lunchroom. After the assassination Harvey walked out the front door of the TSBD and boarded a bus for Oak Cliff. When the bus became stalled in traffic Harvey left the bus, walked two blocks to William Whaley's cab, and was driven to North Beckley. Lee Oswald left the TSBD and was seen by Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig, Malcolm Robinson and Roy Cooper entering a light colored Nash Rambler station wagon. The car drove under the triple overpass and was last seen heading toward Oak Cliff.

Lee was next seen hurrying past the 10th Street Barber Shop by Mr. Clark (two blocks from Jack Ruby's apartment). Walking west on 10th Street Lee passed William Lawrence Smith who was walking east to the Town and Country Cafe for lunch. Continuing west on 10th Street Lee was seen by Jimmy Burt and William Arthur Smith.

William Scoggins noticed a DPD patrol car slowing crossing Patton Street in front of his cab. Helen Markham was on the opposite side of Patton and was walking south on toward Jefferson. She had to catch a bus at 1:12 pm for her daily ride to downtown Dallas. Both she and Scoggins noticed the officer in the patrol oar had stopped and was talking to the man who had been walking west on 10th St.

Lee Oswald handed his wallet (with Oswald/Hidell identification and Texas driver's license) to Tippit. When Tippit got out of his car, Lee shot him and quickly left the scene. Lee was wearing a white T-shirt and white jacket (as described by witnesses WL Smith, Burt, Tatum, Callaway, Brock--NOTICE THAT NONE OF THESE WITNESSES DESCRIBED TIPPIT'S ASSAILANT AS WEARING A BROWN SHIRT . Lee later discarded his jacket at Balew's Texaco station. A description of a man wearing a white shirt and jacket was broadcast over DPD radios from 1:23 to 1:33. Lee fled to the Texas Theater and ascended to the balcony--he had no wallet nor identification and was wearing a white T-shirt. DPD radios broadcasted "suspect in balcony of Texas Theater" at 1:46 pm. DPD officers who arrived at the front of the theater ran to the balcony. DPD officers were questioning an unidentified man when they were interrupted by a scuffle on the lower level--Dallas Police officers attempting to arrest Harvey Oswald (WEARING A DARK BROWN SHIRT). After Harvey was removed from the theater, DPD officers were assigned to take down the names and address of all theater patrons. No list of theater pattrons is known to exist.

What is known, yet unquestioned and unexplained, was the removal of an unknown white male (approximately 25 years of age, dark hair, wearing a pull over shirt and dark pants--Les Oswald?) by the Dallas Police out the rear of the theater a few minutes after Harvey Oswald was taken out the front.

Also unquestioned and unexplained was the sudden appearance of a man sitting at the wheel of a 1961 red Ford Falcon with the engine running around 2:00 pm. Mr. T.F. White noticed the car and driver appeared to be hiding behind a large billboard sign in the El Chico parking lot. White, a mechanic at Mac Pate's garage across the street, approached the car and wrote down the license plate number. When the driver saw White approaching he sped off quickly, throwing gravel with his rear tires. He observed the driver who he later told the Dallas Police was "identical" to the Oswald he saw on TV. But the license plate was registered to a 1957 Blue Plymouth--not a red Ford Falcon. The owner of the 1957 Plymouth was Carl Mather, a close friend of JD Tlppit's. Mather was not questioned by the Warren Commission. When called to testify before the HSCA, he refused to answer questions until granted immunity from prosecution. His immunized testimony remains "classified" at the National Archives.

Also known, unquestioned and unexplained, was the sudden appearance of Lee H. Oswald's Texas drivers license at the Department of Public Safety in Austin the week following the assassination. This may have been the same driver's license Lee Oswald used for identification when he purchased beer from Fred Moore at the Jiffy Store on the morning of November 22, while Harvey was working at the Book Depositor.

How Oswald's license got to Austin and in the files of the Department of Public Safety is unknown. The Oswald driver's license, seen and handled by several employees of the TDPS (Bozarth, Frair, Sundy, Bostic, Laake, Scott, Smith, Isaacs), was worn and stained as though it had been carried in a brown wallet (Lee Oswald's wallet found at the Tippit murder scene?). Mz. Bozarth, not questioned by the Warren Commission, was questioned by investigators with the HSCA. She stated that she "categorically knew from direct personal experience that Lee Oswald had a Texas drivers license." Mrs. Lee Bozarth pulled Oswald's TSBD file for her boss at the request of a "government agency." The whereabouts of Oswald's Texas driver's license and file are unknown--as are the whereabouts of the wallet, identification and contents found at the Tippit murder scene.

What does it mean when:

1. Fred Moore, who sold beer to Oswald the morning of November 22 (while Harvey was working at the Book Depository), was shown Oswald's drivers license for identification, yet was not called to testify before the Warren Commission. Fred Moore gave a statement to the FBI regarding his encounter with Oswald. Why was this interview not given to the Warren Commission? Why did the FBI not request (or did they?) Oswald's drivers license file from the Texas Department of Public Safety?

2. A wallet containing identification found at the Tippit murder scene is neither logged in to police inventory nor photographed, and then disappears.

3. The names and addresses of theater patrons witnessing the arrest of an alleged Presidential assassin are missing.

4. An unknown young man is escorted out the rear of the Texas Theater by DPD officers within minutes of Oswald's arrest. Police officers were never questioned about this man by the Warren Commission nor HSCA.

5. A man described as "identical" with Oswald was seen by Mr. TF White driving a car with license plates registered to a close personal friend of DPD Officer Tippit, while Harvey Oswald is in custody at DPD headquarters. Mr. White was not questioned by the W.C 6. The owner of the license plates, Carl Mather (employed by Collins Radio) was not called to testify before the W.C. Mather insisted upon being granted immunity from prosecution before talking to the HSCA.

7. Oswald's drivers license and TDPS file disappear.

8. Two wallets of unknown origin (FBI #114 and #382) find their way into DPD files and the National Archives.

It means that government agencies manipulated evidence, excluded witness testimony, withheld evidence and obstructed an official investigation. None of this evidence manipulation would help convict Oswald in the minds of the public. None of these witnesses could help frame or convict Oswald for the murder of JFK or Tippit. Why then was this done? The question is why?

Because there was no choice. This information, similar to statements provided by Frank Kudlaty, Palmer McBride, Laurell Kitrell, Dr. Kurian, Ray Carnay, James Spencer, Robert McKeown, Dr. Luaces and a host of other people had nothing to do with the murder of JFK or Tippit. It was done for the express purpose of hiding and covering up the existence of two Oswalds. If the public became aware of two Oswalds, they would soon ask "who created them" and "why?" Public attention would be focused on the two Oswalds and the agency that created them. A thorough investigation would reveal an intelligence operation that began in the early 1950's by the CIA known as the "Oswald Project"--assigned cryptograph RX-ZIM. Its purpose was to place a spy, who spoke Russian, in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. The Russian speaking person was "Harvey Oswald." When Lee Oswald returned from Japan in December, 1958, Harvey took his place and assumed his identity. He made sure fellow Marines knew he spoke Russian and favored communism. Nine months later Harvey "defected" to Russia.

Lee Oswald, who greatly resembled "Harvey", remained in the US while Harvey defected to Russia. Lee was the "impostor" referred to by J. Edgar Hoover in his June 1960 memo concerning someone using Oswald's birth certificate. Lee associated with Frank Sturgis, Marita Lorenz and their CIA group in Florida in 1960. Lee Oswald was at Bolton Ford in New Orleans (1961), with Ray Carnay in Dallas (1961), with Celso Hernandez in New Orleans (1961), with Dr. Luaces in Havana (1961) and Steve Landesberg in New York (1961/62).

Harvey returned from the Soviet Union with a Russian wife and child in June, 1962. A year later he unknowingly became the designated patsy for Kennedy's assassination. It was Lee Oswald who tried to purchase rifles from Castro's gun runner Robert McKeown, attempted to get a visa to Cuba and Russia, had a scope mounted on a rifle, target practiced at the Sports Drome rifle range, applied for a job at the Allright Parking systems in downtown Dallas, and test drove a Comet at Downtown Lincoln Mercury. It was Lee who shopped at Hutchinson's grocery in Irving and drove a car to get his hair cut at Cliff Shasteen's barber shop. Two days before the assassination, at 10 am, Lee hitched a ride with Ralph Leon Yates from Beckley Street to Elm and Houston. He carried a 4-foot-long package that he told Mr. Yates contained "curtain rods" and showed Yates a photo of himself holding a rifle. The evening of November 21, it was Lee who spoke with Helen McIntosh at the apartment adjacent to Jack Ruby's. It was Lee who purchased beer the morning of November 22nd from Fred Moore and was seen in the 6th floor window prior to the assassination. Lee was seen leaving Dealey Plaza in the Nash Rambler and seen by witnesses on 10th street shooting Officer Tippit. It was Lee's wallet the police found at the Tippit murder scene. It was Lee who hid in the balcony of the Texas Theater and it was Lee who was driving the 1961 red Ford Falcon minutes after Harvey's arrest. It was Lee who was seen at the Lucas B & B Cafe at 1:30 am, November 23rd, with Jack Ruby. It was Lee's Texas driver's license that wound up at the Texas Department of Public Safety in Austin-- a driver's license left in the wallet found by Dallas Police at the scene of Tippit's murder and photographed by WFAA cameraman Ron Reiland.

OCRed and converted by Jerry Robertson 10/27/99