Estes and JFK Part 1
Posted 25 November 2004 - 03:35 PM
The suggestion that LBJ was directly or indirectly involved in the assassination of President Kennedy has been raised in books and discussions for decades; it has even been presented in the (in the play McBird among others). However, the only place where it has been presented in any sort of legal context was to a Texas grand jury investigation in 1984. The grand jury itself had nothing to do with the Kennedy murder nor with Lyndon Johnson; it had been seated to re-examine the death of Henry Marshall. Marshall’s death had originally been declared a suicide in 1961 and that verdict was confirmed by a follow-on grand jury in 1962. Both the original verdict and the first grand jury process left a great many open issues, issues which were widely challenged both within Texas and by the McClellan Congressional sub-committee which was investigating the Billie Sol Estes scandals.
The second grand jury hearing in 1984 received testimony that Lyndon Johnson had been the driving force in Marshall’s murder and that Johnson had also been involved in other murders in Texas, including that of President Kennedy. This hearing and testimony provides us with a concrete starting point for examining the allegation that a Vice President of the united States was involved with the murder of President Kennedy. It also provides an introduction to some of the individuals who were named as co-conspirators with him. The 1984 grand jury concluded that there was sufficient evidence to reclassify Marshall’s death as a murder. It recorded (and sealed) testimony that the motive in the murder related to the threat of Henry Marshall testifying in a federal government investigation of “influence peddling” involving Billy Sol Estes, Cliff Carter and Lyndon Johnson. However, as with the findings of the House Select Committee, no local, State or Federal agency initiated a follow-on action to initiate a criminal or further examine the suspects presented to the 1984 grand jury.
The transcripts and findings of this grand jury were sealed as a matter of routine. However, media coverage of the hearing surfaced many of the basics including the names and identities of the alleged co-conspirators; only in 2003 did researchers manage to find and make public tape recordings of the actual hearings. (1)
West Texas, Robertson County, March, 1984 (2)
For four hours, Billie Sol Estes, just released from his latest time in a federal penitentiary, talked to a Grand Jury convened to reconsider the death of agricultural agent named Henry Marshall.
Marshall had died over two decades before in 1962. The grand jury also took extensive testimony and evidence from U.S. Marshall Clint Peoples who had devoted a good number of years to the investigation of Henry Marshall’s death.
At the time of Marshall’s death in 1961, the local community and law enforcement were not aware that Henry Marshall would have been a major figure in the investigation of a series of agribusiness scandals and would have given key testimony to both State and Federal inquiries. These business scams would later explode in the national press as the “Estes Scandal”. By spring of 1962, Estes was under investigation by both Senate and House Committees, by Texas Federal and State grand juries and the Texas State Attorney General. Estes and eventually several Agricultural Department employees were also under investigation by the Department itself.
On May 7, 1962, over a year after Marshall’s death, Secretary of Agriculture Orville L. Freeman would state during a press conference that the reason it was so hard to get to the bottom of Estes’ dealings in cotton allotments was because “the key figure in the case is not alive.” The name of this key figure was Henry H. Marshall. Marshall headed the Texas Agricultural Stabilization Service and was a 25 year department veteran at the time of his death. He had been the first senior state staff person to recognize the Estes scam as well as the one to actively mobilize local department officials to recognize and move against Estes.
During the spring of 1961, Henry Marshall met with Estes’ lawyer John Dennison and with the manager of Billie Sol Estes Enterprises, A.B. Foster Jr. Marshall made his position perfectly clear on both the Estes violations and on his lack of interest in a promotion to Washington. According to his last boss, W. Lewis David, Marshall had been offered a series of promotions to headquarters in Washington which would have removed him from the Estes affair. However, Marshall “refused these offers because he liked to live in Bryan and liked his work at College Station.”
One week following the fruitless approach by Estes’ lawyer to Henry Marshall, the manager of Billie Sol Estes Enterprises, A.B. Foster, wrote a letter to Cliff Carter in Vice President Johnson’s office. The letter concluded with a request for Carter to “investigate this and see if anything can be done.”
Certainly a letter from Estes’ business manager to Cliff Carter was not out of line as Estes and Carter had been corresponding for some time. Earlier, Estes had written Carter recommending a friend for an Agriculture Department job; Carter had replied on December 27, 1960, acknowledging the recommendation and signing himself as “Cliff”. In fact on April 25, 1984, during coverage of the Grand Jury proceedings in which Estes finally testified, the Dallas Morning News reported that Vice President Johnson or his staff had written over 20 letters to Billie Sol Estes in the months and years preceding the scandal. Carter’s letters to Estes end with remarks such as “Please call me when we can be of service” or in the 1960 reply to Estes a postscript – “Am moving my family to Washington this week so call on me in the vice president’s office as we can serve you.” Carter’s correspondence and offers of assistance to Estes were also very understandable given Estes’ high profile within Texas Democratic politics as well as his history of political support and donations to LBJ’s campaigns.
Henry Marshall had mounted a campaign against the Estes cotton scam, traveling over West Texas, explaining the regulations to county committees, exposing a sample Estes’ type contract and instructing office managers to be on the watch for similar applications. However, within two months, on the first weekend in June and after dropping off his ten-year-old son to spend a day with his wife’s brother L. M. Owens, Marshall was found dead beside his pick-up in one of his own pastures. Owens had planned to take the boy along on his DR. Pepper truck to service a local family homecoming.
When Marshall did not return as scheduled to pick the boy up, Owens started searching for Marshall, eventually finding him lying in the grass near the left side of his truck. Marshall had bruises on his face, hands and arms. There was a fresh dent on his truck and blood was splattered on both sides and in the rear of the pick-up. Inside the truck, placed neatly on the seat, were the contents of Marshall’s pockets – his wallet, eyeglasses and case, watch, a pencil, a half-empty box of raisins and an unused single edged razor blade.
Owens returned to town and immediately informed Robertson County Sheriff Howard Stegall. Before going to the scene, Stegall called the local justice of the peace, reportedly telling him that they “had a man out in a field that had killed himself.” Perhaps the Sheriff’s remark explains why no pictures were taken at the scene, no blood samples taken of the stains (before the truck was washed the next morning), no checks were made for fingerprints on the rifle or pick-up nor was the site roped off?
The Sheriff’s opinion also managed to stand in the face of the fact that Marshall would have had to commit suicide by shooting himself “five” times with a bolt action rifle held at arms length, working the bolt action in between each time he fired into his side!
Marshall’s family did not believe the suicide verdict that the justice of the peace had recorded for the Sheriff - nor did the undertaker, who had considerably more experience than the justice of the peace, who actually had none.
West Texas, Robertson County, May 21, 1962
The first grand jury in the Marshall death was convened in the wake of Secretary Freeman’s disclosure that Henry Marshall was the “key figure” in the mushrooming Billie Sol Estes scandal. Marshall’s wife and attorneys had tried for months to contest the suicide verdict but they were continuously told that local authorities “were definitely satisfied that the cause of death was suicide.” Only the pressure from the Estes scandal had forced the convening of a local grand jury, a grand jury that was formed in such haste that one of the members, Ralph McKenney, recalled a deputy sheriff running downstairs in the courthouse and finding them in their office and telling them “Y’all need to be up in the courtroom in three minutes because no one else is available.” The final jury contained three members from the Agriculture Department. It also contained the son-in-law of the Sheriff who had failed to conduct any criminal investigation and immediately labeled the death a suicide.
In conjunction with the grand jury, the body of Henry Marshall was exhumed and an autopsy performed, the preliminary examination given to the jury was that the medical examiner did not believe it was a suicide.
This grand jury seemingly could not have avoided the possibility of a relationship between the Marshall death and the Estes scandal. However, locals such as FBI agent Tommy McWilliams steadfastly refused to consider foul play; McWilliams told reporters there was no sign that “Marshall and Estes even knew each other” and he went on to theorize that Marshall shot himself five times, “didn’t realize he was dead” and then tried to breathe carbon monoxide to kill himself. The medical examiner disagreed, stating that “if in fact this is a suicide, it is the most unusual one I have seen during the examination of approximately 15,000 deceased persons”. He continued on to totally refute all the other elements of the FBI agent’s bizarre suicide theory.
Authors note: Apparently the FBI investigators were indeed “baffled” as described in a Dallas Morning News article of June 20, 1962. The article states that the Federal investigators found it hard to believe that Marshall could have committed suicide by shooting himself five times with a bolt action rifle but as they moved into the case they were unable to find any motivation for murder. At first this statement sounds simply incredible but, if as lead agent McWilliams describes, they refused to acknowledge any possible connection between Marshall and the Estes scandal, it becomes understandable if slightly mind boggling. The FBI’s position is especially difficult to understand in light of the wide spread media discussion of the connections between Marshall’s death and the Estes scandal. (3) (4)
During the grand jury hearings, Billie Sol Estes flew in for two hours of testimony during which he invoked the Fifth Amendment almost continuously. After this and further testimony from FBI agent McWilliams, the grand jury was continuing to take evidence. However, with no apparent warning to the Country Attorney, the Judge informed the jury that the investigation was complete. Dallas Morning News reporter, George Kuempel described the fact that the 1962 grand jury investigation had been “abruptly halted without explanation.” Jurors stated that additional witnesses had been called at the time Judge Barron informed them that the investigation was complete. County Attorney Bryan Russ “threw up his hands as if he could do nothing about it” when Judge Barron told them the hearings were done and they were dismissed.
According to jury member McKinney, the sheriff’s son-in-law had “used every influence he possibly could against the members of the jury to be sure that it came out with a suicide verdict.” In an interview with the Dallas Morning News in 1984, the son-in-law stated that he didn’t “consciously” try to lobby anyone.
Authors note: It may be pure circumstance, but the foreman of this grand jury, Eddie Gaylon Rinehart, was appointed Postmaster for Franklin County not much more than a year following the ruling supporting suicide. The appointment was obtained through Lyndon Johnson, and as with all Texas patronage positions during that period, coordinated by Cliff Carter. The appointment is found in the Postal Records for the Franklin Post Office.
Based on information made available during the second grand jury in 1984, we now know that both the Texas Department of Safety and the Chief Medical Examiner in Houston had filed very strong letters with Judge Barron stating their conclusions for murder rather than suicide. They also presented extensive evidence to support the conclusion of murder. We do not know whether or not Judge Barron actually submitted the Texas Department of Safety report or the letter from the Chief Medical Examiner to the first grand jury nor whether it was a factor in his apparent surprise cessation of the hearings.
Authors note: These investigations and the evidence supporting a conclusion of murder were presented to the 1984 grand jury and will be reviewed shortly; for reference (see Notes 6 and 7)
“….this cotton allotment matter has already caused the death of one person….do you know Henry Marshall?”
The officials out in Robertson County studiously avoided all the evidence that suggested Marshall’s death was anything other than a very conveniently timed suicide with no evident motive. They avoided the issue of the actual crime scene evidence and lack of a criminal investigation at the time of death. They also managed to avoid connecting the death to the Estes scandal with the FBI agent appearing before the jury telling them “as far as I know they never even heard of each other.” Billie Sol himself avoided any comment on the subject by repeatedly using the Fifth Amendment.
However, there was plenty of evidence that the two men knew each other, that Estes and his lawyers knew how significant Henry Marshall would be in any investigation of Estes cotton allotments and that Estes himself had reason to think that Marshall’s death was related to the scandal.
The first indication was in one of those spur of the moment remarks that we have seen before – something said in the heat of the moment, before someone who at the time probably had no idea of the real implications. In this case, it was a remark made during a visit by Estes and his lawyer John Dennison to the Agriculture Department in Washington D.C. Estes had gone there on October 18, 1961, demanding that the department cease its investigation into his cotton allotments (the formal Department investigation had started only a month after Marshall’s death).
Wilson C. Tucker had actually testified before the McClellan sub-committee that Estes “without any preliminary conversation told him that he had not done anything wrong, that the reputations of his friends were at stake and that something had to be done immediately.” Estes appeared highly nervous, threatened to embarrass the Kennedy administration and apparently as an afterthought mentioned to Tucker that the affair “had caused the death of one person”, then asking him if he knew Henry Marshall? This remark was made six months before any public question had been raised about Marshall’s death.
Much later, Senator McClellan asked Tucker whether he regarded the statement as any sort of implied threat, that one man had already lost his life. Tucker replied that he didn’t really think about it. When McClellan suggested that most people would have demanded an explanation or challenged Estes’ motives, Mr. Tucker stated that he “just didn’t know what he (Estes) meant.”
Whatever Estes knew in 1962 he kept to himself and did so for the next 22 years - with one exception. That exception was a conversation with Texas Ranger Clint Peoples. Peoples was a legend in the Rangers, he spent 60 years in Texas law enforcement and worked his way up through the Ranger ranks between 1947 and 1974 retiring as Senior Ranger Captain.
Estes’ remarks to Peoples emerged during the second grand jury hearings in 1984, hearings called because word was passed to a young Robertson County attorney that Billie Sol Estes was going to honor a pledge he had made to Clint Peoples as Peoples transported him to Federal prison. Estes was finally willing to talk about the death of Henry Marshall – which takes us back to where we began, the 1984 grand jury.
West Texas, Robertson County, March, 1984
Mr. Peoples was called to the stand to testify as an expert witness. The following information is taken directly from the abridged 13 pages of his testimony. (5) At the time, Peoples was United States Marshall for the Northern District of Texas.
Authors note: The reader should compare Clint Peoples’ experience and credentials as a U.S. Marshall to that of Cliff Carter – Carter was appointed Marshall for the Southern District of Texas by Lyndon Johnson. Peoples had been in law enforcement for 55 years as of 1984 and held nine different titles ranging from deputy sheriff to Ranger Senior Captain in 1969 before his Presidential appointment to the position as U.S. Marshall.
Cliff Carter was appointed U.S. Marshall for the Southern District in 1949 based upon Johnson’s political recommendation. He was confirmed by the Senate in July 1949 and served for five years until 1954. He had no law enforcement experience prior to his appointment; at the time he was operating a 7-Up bottling plant. However, he had helped Johnson as his 6th District campaign manager in the election that gained Johnson his Senate seat. Carter would be serving as U.S. Marshall in 1951 at the time of another very significant murder trial which we will study in detail later, a trial with one of the most unusual verdicts ever rendered for 1st Degree Murder.
In his grand jury appearance, Peoples noted that he had begun his investigation of the death of Henry Marshall in 1962, assigned because of the pending McClellan Committee investigation of the death as related to the Estes scandals. Initially, he spent two months and took in a team of four Rangers. At that point he “determined that there was something very definitely wrong” about the death being recorded as a suicide.
Peoples testified that in his opinion local law enforcement had misdiagnosed the death, primarily because there had not been any actual investigation of the crime scene nor an autopsy.
The area was not secured nor searched, there was no suspicion of Marshall’s belongings and glasses being neatly laid out on the seat, there were no photographs of the scene or the truck, no fingerprints, no ballistics tests, paraffin test or even collection of shells.
Peoples also stated that the death should be listed as a murder based on the physical evidence. This included the way Marshall was shot in the side and all of the things that happened in and about the pick-up truck including the belongings arranged on the seat, the blood on the truck, dents on the truck, and the plastic bag found by Peoples himself which could have been used in an attempt to suffocate Marshall with carbon dioxide. The bag had been taken some hundred yards into the bushes and stuffed under a bunch of bushes – without doubt, placed there by someone other than Marshall.
Peoples’ assessments and statements were actually supported and presented to Judge Barron at the time of the first 1962 grand jury hearing. In a strongly worded letter to Judge Barron, Homer Garrison, Director of the Texas Department of Safety submitted the results of the investigation led by Ranger Captain Peoples.
The letter describes a serous brain injury and cut over the eye causing it to protrude, severe bruises on the back of the hands, blood on both sides of the pick-up and an absence of blood inside the truck, a dent in the truck from some sort of instrument and the fact that due to the prior injury it would have been impossible for Marshall to have operated the rifle and trigger with his left hand. It reinforces this with a statement that it was completely impossible that Marshall could have shot himself due to a variety of facts.
These included the absence of blood on the ground where the body was found, the subsequent autopsy which found three of the bullet wounds were each incapacitating and the fact that Marshall died quickly form internal hemorrhaging, making it impossible to have fired the shots accurately under the influence of carbon monoxide as well as committing the other acts and return to the spot of his death. (6)
The report from the Texas Department of Safety was also strongly supported by a letter from Dr. Joseph Jachimcyzk to Judge Barron. Doctor Jachimczyk refuted, point by point elements which had been used to support the contention of suicide including the claim that Marshall was in a depressed mental and emotional condition. His conclusion is that the death should be investigated as a “murder case”. (7)
The conclusion seems clear that there is little doubt that Henry Marshall was violently, brutally and sloppily killed by someone who did an extremely poor job of making it look like a suicide. There is also certainly nothing about the murder to indicate that it was the work of a professional killer.
Looking in the Right Direction…
When Clint Peoples had escorted Billie Sol Estes to Federal Prison in 1979, Peoples was still frustrated by the lack of a criminal investigation in what he knew to be the murder of Henry Marshall. During the drive to the prison, Peoples talked to Estes about it and Estes told him that Peoples and the others had been looking in the wrong direction. When asked where he should look, Estes made his second public remark about the Marshall murder.
He told Peoples to concentrate on “the people that had the most to lose.” When asked if that meant looking in the direction of Washington, Estes replied “You are now very definitely on the right track.” At that point, Estes said that supplying any details would have to come in the future but he promised Peoples that he would talk once he was out of Federal prison. (8)
Of course one key question that must be asked is whether Estes is a viable source for direction, especially given that he is without doubt guilty of fraud, deceit and lying in regard to his business affairs and served prison time for such behavior. Another question is whether or not Estes would have a vested interest in diverting attention from himself as a suspect. This is important given that absolutely no one was able to develop any motive for Marshall’s murder (not just murder but murder disguised as suicide) other than as it might relate to the Estes scandal. These two questions need to be addressed independently before evaluating Estes’ actual statements and the suspects he identified when he finally did decide to give testimony to the 1984 grand jury.
As a source, Billie Sol Estes is no better and no worse than any other criminal. Obviously, Clint Peoples was fully aware of that; few crimes get solved without one or more of the parties involved giving information. The use of “informants” is common practice in criminal investigations where the information provided is evaluated and corroborated (or not) independently of its source. Estes’ behavior in providing or offering to provide information is as follows:
1. Estes provided no information at the time of Marshall’s death when any
investigation of murder could easily have turned to Estes as a suspect.
2. Estes provided no information to the first grand jury in 1962 at a time when
Estes had been convicted of no crimes, even fraud, but when an investigation of murder could again have turned to him as a suspect – he “took the Fifth”.
3. Estes did make a slip indicating that he was well aware that the Marshall death
was indeed connected to the Estes scandals; he made it under stress and spontaneously in an effort to stop the Department of Agriculture’s investigation.
4. In his remarks to Clint Peoples before entering Federal prison, Estes made it
clear that it was not a time for him to talk and that if he did he would be at risk from the individuals involved.
5. Estes did go on record after his release but only under a grant of immunity
from prosecution. However, as we will see, he was unable or unwilling to provide the grand jury with documentation supporting his testimony. It should be noted that in his testimony he was also implicating himself as an accessory to murder. Any evidence produced would have been evidence offered against himself and subject to use in any investigation or prosecution outside the scope of the Marshall grand jury hearings.
6. Following his grand jury testimony, Estes (through his lawyer Douglas Caddy) approached the United States Justice Department with an offer to provide information for a criminal investigation.
7. In exchange, he wanted several things from Justice including “pardon for offenses for which he has been convicted and immunity from further prosecution among other things.” Among the items of note in the Justice reply to Estes are the conditions that Justice would make no specific promises to Estes outside that of confidentiality until such time that they had fully evaluated his sources, claims and documents. Justice did assign investigators to work with Estes but at that point, Estes declined to meet with them and any potential Justice Department initiative was aborted.
We have no reason for Estes’ decision; however, it seems unlikely that Justice could have given Estes all that he asked for, especially given that some of the crimes in which he was going to implicate himself as an accessory would have been in a variety of local and state jurisdictions and outside of Federal jurisdiction. (9)
Billy Sol’s information is clearly stated both in his 1984 grand jury remarks and most precisely stated in his letters to the Justice Department:
“Mr. Estes was part of a four member group, headed by Lyndon Johnson, which committed criminal acts in the 1960’s. The other two besides Estes and LBJ, were Cliff Carter and Malcolm Wallace.”
Estes went on to list a series of murders including other individuals associated with the Estes scandals and ending with the murder of President John F. Kennedy. He stated that Johnson had authorized the murders, Cliff Carter had communicated instructions to Malcolm Wallace and that Wallace was personally involved in committing the crimes. At the time of his statement, all parties named were deceased except Estes himself.
Estes stated that his knowledge of these events was obtained from conversations with all three individuals but most specifically from his personal and telephone conversations with Cliff Carter and Malcolm Wallace. In a conversation with Cliff Carter in 1971, Carter actually discussed and listed more murders than those with which Estes was familiar. Estes also states that all of the details he might offer as to the murders would be second hand from either Carter or Wallace.
The only actual detail provided by Estes on any of the murders listed for the Justice Department was given by Estes to the 1984 grand jury and were in regard to the Marshall murder, supposedly as related to Estes by Malcolm Wallace himself. He described Wallace’s plan to kill Marshall and make his death appear as a suicide involving carbon dioxide, Wallace’s struggle with Marshall and his attempt to put a plastic bag over Marshall’s head and use the exhaust from the truck to kill him as well as Wallace panicking at hearing a car in the area which caused him to shoot Marshall and hurriedly leave the scene.
“You can’t do that 23 years later.” D.A. John Paschell, 1984
The 1984 grand jury did conclude that Henry Marshall had been murdered. It found elements of Estes’ information of interest, especially in light of the fact that three additional individuals associated with the Estes scandal - George Krutilek (Estes accountant), Harold Orr and Howard Pratt who were all found dead with indications they had all died of carbon monoxide poisoning. However, as District Attorney Paschell stated, to solve the Marshall crime, a fully fledged criminal investigation would be required, something he just didn’t feel could be done after 23 years, especially with all the named suspects deceased. On top of that, Estes had offered no documentary proof other than his personal testimony and that by itself was insufficient to go any further with the Marshall murder.
Authors note: The Senate Investigating Committee, under Senator McClellan, proposed an inquiry into the death of George Krutilek. Krutilek was an accountant for several large landholders and farmers in the Pecos, Texas area who had dealings with Billie Sol Estes. His body was found on April 4 in a car near Clint, Texas. Pathologist Fred Bornstein ruled the death as heart failure but stated that the body was so badly decomposed that a definitive autopsy was impossible. (10)
Despite a negative report on carbon dioxide poisoning, Krutilek’s body was found in his car seated under the steering wheel and with a hose running from his car exhaust and stuck into the vehicle’s window. In May, 1962, Howard Pratt, the Chicago office manager for Commercial solvents was found dead and police said he had killed himself. Pratt’s body was found in his car and had died from carbon monoxide poisoning. He and his firm had been under scrutiny in the Estes scandal. (11)
Harold Orr, an associate of Billie Sol Estes was found dead in his carbon monoxide filled Amarillo garage two days before he was scheduled to report to prison. Orr had been convicted of conspiracy and fraud as part of the Estes fertilizer tank scandal. (12)
At a minimum, four men died in association with the Estes scandal within a twelve month period: Marshall, Krutilek, Pratt and Orr. Of these the Marshall and Krutilek deaths both tied directly to the cotton allotment scandals and are the most suspicious. (13)
However, a fifth name might be added to his list. Most of Estes’ grain storage facilities were built through contract with Coleman Wade of Altus, Oklahoma. In early 1963 following a business trip to Pecos in his own plane, Wade crashed in the Kermit area. His unexplained plane crash and death apparently had a major effect in closing off remarks from Estes’ normally talkative personal pilot Douglas Lewsader. Interestingly enough when Lewsader was called to testify on who Estes had paid to fly where and what he might have heard relative to the scandal, Lewsader had begun to talk openly about interesting Estes contacts including those with Teamster Union employees.
However, Lewsader’s new attorney cut that sort of thing off quickly. Lewsader was represented in his court appearances by the very successful and very expensive, John Cofer. (14) Cofer was a long time lawyer for Lyndon Johnson and we will see his name unusual defense tactics emerge again in the Malcolm Wallace murder trial.
Comments from long-time Johnson associates on Estes allegations were relative predictable. Orville Freeman described Estes as a “congenital liar” (Freeman had dismissed several employees of his own department for taking bribes and improper conduct as related to Estes). Johnson aide Walter Jenkins describe the accusation as “so far fetched it’s sick” (Jenkins had been fired from the Johnson administration after a scandal over his homosexual activities which Johnson had tried mightily to cover-up using his Presidential clout) and Lady Bird Johnson stated she simply does not respond to “scurrilous attacks”.
What we can do 40 years later….?
As John Paschell said in 1984, doing a true criminal investigation at this distance in time is improbable if not impossible and using Billie Sol Estes as the sole witness to officially support calling for such an investigation would have been unrealistic. However, treating Estes as a source, a criminal informant, a “direction giver” is a different story entirely. Clint Peoples with his decades of law enforcement experience and personal association with Estes and the Marshall case was clearly willing to do that and he was willing to investigate Malcolm Wallace, Cliff Carter and potentially Lyndon Johnson for their involvement in the Marshall murder.
With the sources available to us after 40 years and the work of a number of very good researchers we can do the same. We can investigate Malcolm Wallace to see if his background and activities make him a candidate for the murder of Henry Marshall and we can go further than that. We can also determine if there is anything that might make him a “person of interest” in the murder of President Kennedy.
We can evaluate Cliff Carter to see if he served Lyndon Johnson in the sorts of activities Estes describes. We can also determine if there is any evidence that Carter himself had “guilty knowledge” of the Kennedy assassination, knowledge which might explain or confirm his reported communications to Estes and we can further examine Lyndon Johnson and his personal activities and associates to see if they support any elements of the claim for his being involved with conspiracy related to the assassination of President Kennedy.
West Texas agricultural agent Henry Marshall was brutally murdered in the spring of 1961. In the preceding months he had been personally and actively involved in investigating, documenting and combating a series of cotton allocation frauds within his jurisdiction.
He had examined documents, interviewed farmers and agricultural personnel. A year later, Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman would name him as the key man who would have been necessary for the Department to investigate and document the Estes cotton allotment fraud.
However, by that time Marshall was a year dead and the cotton scandal was never fully resolved even though several Department personnel were dismissed for taking money and other improper activities. In confirmation of Marshall’s key role in the allotment investigation it should be noted that no charges nor conviction were ever filed on Estes over the allotments; he went to jail for conspiracy and fraud related to fertilizer tank leases. (15)
Marshall’s death was immediately listed as a suicide with no criminal investigation or autopsy, including no investigation of the crime scene or numerous indications of foul play. When Marshall’s key role in the Estes scandal surfaced a year later, a local grand jury was very hastily assembled and validated the suicide verdict.
The jury process was challenged with accusations of internal agendas and an early dismissal; the jury was either not presented with or failed to respond to official findings of murder from the Chief Medical Examiner and the Texas Department of Safety. In addition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation totally failed to investigate or report to the grand jury any connection between Marshall and the Estes scandals.
In 1984, another grand jury was convened to consider new evidence to be offered by Billie Sol Estes himself. Estes testified at length before the grand jury, offering an explanation for Marshall’s death, details on the a murder itself and the names of three other individuals who had been involved in the Marshall murder, other murders in Texas and elsewhere and in the assassination of President John Kennedy. (16)
The 1984 grand jury officially overturned the listing of suicide in Henry Marshall’s death and replaced it with one of murder. However, the Country Attorney was unwilling to proceed with follow-on criminal action due to having only Billie Sol Estes as an uncorroborated witness, the fact that all the listed suspects were deceased and the difficulty of being able to conduct a true criminal investigation 23 years after the murder.
Our challenge is to determine whether Estes’ direction serves any value from a research perspective. It may just be that even after forty years there is something more to add to the story that begins with the death of Henry Marshall.
1. William Reymond, JFK, The Last Witness, Flammarion 2003
2. Unless otherwise noted, the information about both the initial suicide finding as well the first and second grand jury hearings is taken from “The Killing of Henry
Marshall”, an article by Bill Adler, funded in part by a grant from the Texas
Investigator’s Fund. The Texas Observer, November 7, 1986.
3. “U.S. Agents Baffled Over Marshall Case”, The Dallas Morning News, June 20, 1962.
4. Marshall Grand Jury Recesses Amid Rumors, Rift, Dallas Morning News, June 7, 1962
5. Peoples – by Mr. Banks, Donald Marshall vs. The State Department of Health and Through the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Case No. 377.991, 52nd Judicial District, Travis Country, Texas, Abridged Testimony of Henry Marshall.
6. Letter to Judge John Barron from Col Homer Garrison, Texas Department of Public Safety, July 18, 1962.
7. Letter to Judge John Barron from Dr. Joseph A. Jachimcyzk, Chief Medical Examiner, August 14, 1962
8. “Taking care of business”, Dallas Times Herald, March 23, 1984.
9. The letters exchanged between Estes and Justice as well as remarks from his lawyer can be found in The Men on the Sixth Floor, Glen Sample, edition 3, 2001, pages 159-177.
10. “Deaths of 2 Texans Who Dealt With Estes Probed”, Fort Lauderdale News, May, 9 1962 Exhibit 21-1
11. “Estes Link is Denied In Suicide”, Chicago dateline, Fort Lauderdale News, May 23, 1962 Exhibit 21-2
12. “Probe Ordered in Death of Estes Crony”, Chicago Sun-Times, March 1, 1964.
13. “1962 Death of Estes Accountant to be Probed”, Dallas Morning News, March 29, 1984. Exibit 21-3
14. A Texan Looks At Lyndon, pp. 125-141, J. Evetts Haley, Palo Duro Press, 1964
15. Judge Sentences Estes to 15 Years, The Tyler Morning Telegraph, April 15, 1963.
16. Estes claims LBJ had slush fund, sources say. Dallas Morning News, March 14,
1984 Exhibit 21-4
Posted 25 November 2004 - 07:16 PM
A few questions:
(1) Did you manage to interview Billie Sol Estes? I know he is still alive and his own website. I have tried contacting him but so far he has not responded.
(2) Did you get a chance to talk to William Reymond? He made contact with me about a year ago after he found my website on Billie Sol Estes. Although he provided a few corrections he was unwilling to give me a great deal of information about his interviews with Billie Sol Estes. I was trying to get him a publishing deal in the UK (apparently no one would publish the book in America although it did appear in France). All of sudden he stopped replying to my emails. This was surprising as I had found some interesting information about another project he was working on. Is he ok?
(3) William Reymond is a well respected investigative journalist in France and the UK. If he is convinced by Billie Sol Estes story, I am surprised he could not get a publisher for his book (Last Man Standing).
(4) Billie Sol Estes claims he has some tapes that prove that Johnson was involved in these murders. I believe William Reymond and another man has heard these tapes. I don’t suppose you know what has happened to these tapes. If these tapes existed, would it not be Billie Sol Estes’ interests to publish them. I would have thought this would have got him the publishing deal he wanted. Why did he not publish it privately?
Posted 26 November 2004 - 02:19 AM
I talked to William Remond briefly in Dallas two years ago, saw the preview of the Remond/Estes video shown there last year at the conspiracy museum, traded email with William for several months after that and invited him to present at the Lancer conference this year - unfortunately I have had no communication with him for a good six months now.
I have a French copy and English translation of the article that preceeded the book and have seen a French copy of the book; unfortunately I hear that it is to be released in China and Spain with no near term plans for an English version.
Estes offered a witness to the Justice Department who had been present during Carter's confessions; that witness confirms both the personal remarks and the telephone call that was taped. Another individual also confirms the tape itself and has heard it relatively recently. As far as I know Justice never contacted the witness and no one has other than William Remond. He does appear on the video tape confirming Carter's statemetns. Whether William obtained an affidavit from him to that extent is not clear but certainly he is a key witness to Carter and hence to some level of involvement by LBJ.
Posted 29 March 2005 - 09:22 AM
I just finished the first reading your book SWHT. I was left with a renewed desire to dig deeper! The more I learn about this murder, the more I have unanswered and more perplexing questions.
There were a few chapters on the question of LBJ's actual involvement in JFK's death, in addition to the obvious LBJ control of the "cover up". LBJ/Carter/Wallace(Black/Roselli) makes much more sense to me than Martino/Bishop/Philips/Robertson/Morales and the "shadow warriors".
Are these two groups as movers in the assassination somehow connected with LBJ in the center? Could this be the reason for LBJ's friend and neighbor's statement... "If I told you what I really know, it would be very dangerous to the country. Our whole political system would be disrupted"?
I had hoped you would have addressed the LBJ pre-11/22/63 activities more in the book. I may have a few additional comments after I review your Part II on this topic.
(First post, so be gentle...)
Posted 31 March 2005 - 08:21 PM
1) As to Hoover's remark, I think researchers have amassed plenty of evidence to show that Hoover himself believed that Oswald had at a minimum been influenced and associated with others. Hoover implied that to Johnson when he told him Oswald had been impersonated in Mexico City. In addition, people studying the transcripts of various Hoover- Johnson calls have come up with solid indications that portions of their conversations are missing....the transcripts are way to short to match the tape times. Beyond that we know Hoover asked to leave the issue of conspiracy open in the FBI report and Johnson stonewalled him. And beyond that there is plenty of evidence emerging that the FBI managed and manipulated its forensics evidence. That is going to be an important part of the JFK Lancer conference in Dallas this November; the theme of the conference is "Evidence Not Considered". Bottom line, Hoover knew there was more to it than Oswald and knew that Johnson had ordered a cover-up. Knowing that a President had covered up a conspiracy in the death of the man he succeeded would certainly explain Hoover's remark.
2) Actually I spent a lot of time on Johnson's activities prior to November, including day by day study of his Diary, call logs etc. However in truth I really could not find anything I considered suspicious until getting to the events that I relate in October. Not that I haven't missed something but as you have probably noticed, I'm pretty conservative about conspiracy, especially when I'm putting things in print. On the other hand, his behavior in the timeframe of October through January is extremely suggestive and to me it at least implies some level of prior knowledge and some degree of self guilt.
3) Two groups and a connection.....yes, my speculation is that is what happened. I know that Estes says Carter told him differently but I just can't bring myself that Cliff Carter had the skills and contacts to organize a Presidential assassination any more than I can belive Barr M. that Johnson called on a lawyer to do that. And given Malcolm Wallace's horrendously poor track record in one and probably more deaths I can't see Johnson putting his life in Wallace's hands.
Which leads me to belive that some people with a lot more expertise and a lot better track record organized the assassination and brought Johnson (blackmailed Johnson) into some level of involvement to ensure they were covered and to ensure that he wouldn't turn on them. I feel the very sloppy and very much thrown together cover-up (including Johnson's iterative legal strategy - I mean after all, even the Texas AG was suspcious when Johnson's private lawyer turns up in Texas and says the is the President's assassination coordinator)
Posted 03 April 2005 - 02:34 AM
1. The first step would be to corroborate the information Estes says he was given by Cliff Carter, that could be done by his making the tapes available. An interim step would be for the three people who have supposedly heard portions of them to give legal affidavits....that would be particularly important for Kyle Brown. Brown has stated on video that he was present in meetings with Carter and Wallace but has not given any details independently of Estes.
2. The next step would be to somehow determine if Malcolm Wallace was away from work and from his family frequently enough in the fall of 1963 to organized that attack and make the Oswald connection as Estes describes. The problem there is that Glen Sample did make a serious effort to dig into that and he presents all he could find in his book; anything further would require legal authority and some sort of official investigation which seems hard to imagine...although step 1 above would be the first hurdle there I think.
.... one of the real open issues in both Barr's work and Estes story to date is how Malcolm Wallace could have connected with Oswald and the assumption that Oswald was brought in as basically a hired shooter. That's pretty hard for me to buy personally as it seems very inconsistent with Oswald - that's probably the least developed of anything I've seen in the Estes scenario to date.
3. Fingerprint analysis would not rule out the story....Wallace seems to have been terribly sloppy but absense of a Wallace print doesn't mean Estes is wrong. However given the fact that the Houston police are stonewalling any access to the only known primary prints again presumes legal authority for any breakthrough.
I don't want to be too negative, there are certainly areas on both Carter and Wallace that could be worked for further corroboration but it would require some intense primary research and I don't know how that would happen at this point?
Posted 18 August 2005 - 02:47 PM
Mr. Estes was a member of a four-member group, headed by Lyndon Johnson, which committed criminal acts in Texas in the 1960's. The other two, besides Mr. Estes and LBJ, were Cliff Carter and Mac Wallace. Mr. Estes is willing to disclose his knowledge concerning the following criminal offenses:
1. The killing of Henry Marshall
2. The killing of George Krutilek
3. The killing of Ike Rogers and his secretary
4. The killing of Harold Orr
5. The killing of Coleman Wade
6. The killing of Josefa Johnson
7. The killing of John Kinser
8. The killing of President J. F. Kennedy.
Mr. Estes is willing to testify that LBJ ordered these killings, and that he transmitted his orders through Cliff Carter to Mac Wallace, who executed the murders. In the cases of murders nos. 1-7, Mr. Estes' knowledge of the precise details concerning the way the murders were executed stems from conversations he had shortly after each event with Cliff Carter and Mac Wallace.
In addition, a short time after Mr. Estes was released from prison in 1971, he met with Cliff Carter and they reminisced about what had occurred in the past, including the murders. During their conversation, Carter orally compiled a list of 17 murders which had been committed, some of which Mr. Estes was unfamiliar. A living witness was present at that meeting and should be willing to testify about it. He is Kyle Brown, recently of Houston and now living in Brady, Texas.
Mr. Estes, states that Mac Wallace, whom he describes as a "stone killer" with a communist background, recruited Jack Ruby, who in turn recruited Lee Harvey Oswald. Mr. Estes says that Cliff Carter told him that Mac Wallace fired a shot from the grassy knoll in Dallas, which hit JFK from the front during the assassination.
Mr. Estes declares that Cliff Carter told him the day Kennedy was killed, Fidel Castro also was supposed to be assassinated and that Robert Kennedy, awaiting word of Castro's death, instead received news of his brother's killing.
Mr. Estes says that the Mafia did not participate in the Kennedy assassination but that its participation was discussed prior to the event, but rejected by LBJ, who believed if the Mafia were involved, he would never be out from under its blackmail....
II. The Illegal Cotton Allotments
Mr. Estes desires to discuss the infamous illegal cotton allotment schemes in great detail. He has recordings made at the time of LBJ, Cliff Carter and himself discussing the scheme. These recordings were made with Cliff Carter's knowledge as a means of Carter and Estes protecting them selves should LBJ order their deaths.
Mr. Estes believes these tape recordings and the rumors of other recordings allegedly in his possession are the reason he has not been murdered.
III. Illegal Payoffs
Mr. Estes is willing to disclose illegal payoff schemes, in which he collected and passed on to Cliff Carter and LBJ millions of dollars. Mr. Estes collected payoff money on more than one occasion from George and Herman Brown of Brown and Root, which was delivered to LBJ.
Did you know that E. Howard Hunt phoned Douglas Caddy amost immediately after the Watergate burglars were arrested. Caddy had been the first executive director of the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). This was an organization that Hunt and Charles Colson was involved in forming. Caddy also worked with Hunt when he was part of the Robert Mullen Company (a CIA front). Caddy also worked for John Dean and Gordon Liddy before the Watergate break-in.
You can find a long article by Caddy about Watergate in the Advocate:
Douglas Caddy has his own website here:
Here are the details of Caddy's work for Billie Sol Estes:
Posted 18 March 2012 - 12:16 PM
In answer to your questions:
1) I give great credibility to the accusations made by Billie Sol Estes in the relevant 1984 letter to the U.S. Department of Justice. There were contemporaneous newspaper reports of the untimely deaths of almost all of the persons listed by him in the letter. In addition, Texan historian J. Evetts Haley in his 1964 book, A Texan Looks at Lyndon, wrote in great detail about Estes and the victims.
2) I dont think my having met Estes, which originally occurred in 1983 when I was asked to do so by Shearn Moody, Jr., of the Moody Foundation in connection with a grant request from Estes, influenced my assessment of the accusations one way or the other. This is because there already existed in the public record much evidence to support Estes accusations.
3) U.S. Marshal Clint Peoples, who had closely followed Estes activities for 25 years, told me on several occasions that his research supported Estes accusations. His exact words to me: It is about time that the truth comes out. It was Marshal Peoples who arranged for Estes to testify in 1984 before the Robertson County grand jury. Press reports at the time disclosed that Estes reiterated his accusations in his grand jury testimony.
4) There was no signed and notarized document of Estes dating before I met him that recorded his accusations. He had not determined to tell what he knew until while still in federal prison at Big Spring, Texas, he contacted Shearn Moody, Jr. in 1983 and indicated he was prepared to relate for the public record what he knew.
5) Estes has maintained that he has taped recordings of conversations of the conspirators that support his accusations. I have not heard the recordings and have no knowledge of their whereabouts,
6) He confided in U.S. Marshal Peoples of what he knew. Peoples is now deceased. However, the transcript of Estes testimony before the Robertson County grand jury in 1984, if it were unsealed, would clarify much.
7) At the time of JFK assassination, LBJ was facing criminal proceedings stemming from his involvement in the Billie Sol Estes and the Bobby Baker scandals that were reaching the explosive stage. LBJs involvement in these two scandals certainly adds credence to what Estes has alleged.
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