Previously posted on this site in 2007, with a reference to a 12:45 p.m. 11-22-63 KRLD-TV (Dallas CBS affiliate) report
that a Secret Service agent had been killed along with the President.
The "Dead" Secret Service Agent Saga
and the Agent(s) on the Knoll
by Vince Palamara
This article by DPQ Associate Editor Vince Palamara originally appeared in the October 1997 issue of JFK Deep Politics Quarterly. Used by permission of the author.
All rights reserved.
In the July, 1997 JFK Deep Politics Quarterly article "Jim Fox and the Dead Secret Service Agent Story," Mark Crouch raised some fascinating possibilities. In fact, I was so inspired by that article that I finally decided to do something I should have done a long time ago: namely, detail every scrap of data concerning this mystery, as well as the one concerning the "agent(s)" of unknown repute spotted in Dealey Plaza immediately after the assassination.
First things first, however -- here is every known reference to the dead agent I could find as reported in the media on November 22, 1963. Eddie Barker, KRLD-TV, a CBS affiliate, noted, "The word is that the President was killed, one of his agents is dead, and Governor Connally was wounded." ABC News in Washington reported, "A Secret Service agent apparently was shot by one of the assassin's bullets." ABC's Bill Lord report included, "Did confirm the death of the secret service agent... one of the Secret Service agents was killed...Secret Service agents usually walk right beside the car." ABC Washington also noted, "One of the Secret Service agents traveling with the President was killed today."
The Associated Press (AP) was quoted on WFAA (ABC):"A Secret Service agent and a Dallas policeman were shot and killed some distance from where the President was shot." At 12:45 p.m. CST, KRLD-TV, a CBS affiliate, reported that a Secret Service agent had been killed along with the President.
At 1:23 pm, CST, CBS's Walter Cronkite reported, "A Secret Service man was also killed in the fusillade of shots." Seth Kantor, a reporter for Scripps-Howard, would write in his notebook, which was published by the Warren Commission [20H 410] "They even have to die in secret." At 2:14, the AP again made note: "A Secret Service Agent and a Dallas policeman were shot and killed today. The Dallas Police radio, channel two, also carried the story: (2:40 p.m.) "One of the Secret Service men on the field--Elm and Houston, said that it came over his Teletype that one of the Secret Service men had been killed." The Dallas Times Herald , dateline November 22, 1963, added, "From the Secret Service office in Dallas--a spokesman could neither confirm or deny the report: 'All I've heard is the same reports you've heard [sic]'." At 3:40 p.m. Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Robert A. Wallace reported, "No Secret Service man was injured in the attack on President Kennedy," a denial of sorts, but it does not indicate if one was killed, or if there was violence away from "the attack on President Kennedy."
Beyond this, several authors, this one included, have come upon information that, in one way or another, appears to corroborate the story to a certain extent. What follows is a listing of these findings. In High Treason 2 (p. 439), DNC advance man Marty Underwood said to Harry Livingstone-- "There were a couple of suicides in the thing, with the Secret Service and everything..." Livingstone: "Do you remember who committed suicide?" Underwood: "I don't remember. I think there were a couple...." [He is then cut off by Livingstone.]
Secondly, inthis author's book The Third Alternative (p. 36): "While all three major television networks reported that "A Secret Service agent and a Dallas policeman were shot and killed' on 11/22/63, only to be officially corrected later by Secret Service officials, this author learned from Crouch, [Mark Crouch,friend and confidante of PRS agent/photographer James K. "Jack" Fox] that Agent Fox stated that the story was true!! According to Crouch, Fox was working in theExecutive Office Building on 11/ 22/63 (where
the PRS office was), when he was asked by SAIC of PRS Robert Bouck to get ready a detail of four to six agents to assist in retrieving the body and casket of the unnamed Secret Service agent. Fox told Crouch, "We lost a man that day- our man ,' and qualified his remarks by stating that he was not referring to JFK! This was a deathbed confession of sorts, -- Fox died not long after telling Crouch this in the early 1980's [ed. note: Fox died in 1987]. (Interestingly, although having heard the news reports that stated that the President's limousine raced to Parkland Hospital after the shooting, Mrs. Bill Greer thought for several hours that her husband had perished that day! Since she knew that Greer was the driver of JFK's car, this appears to be a strange admission. See Death of a President, p. 354, 1988 edition; interview of Richard Greer, 10/7/91)";
Third, from Richard Trask's Pictures of the Pain, (p. 50): Mrs. Cecil Stoughton had similar concerns about her husband to those of Mrs. Greer cited above, no doubt due to these same reports.
These tidbits, seemingly corroborative data concerning this mysterious, unnamed "dead" agent, tantalize us with the sheer volume of their credibility. With this in mind, I decided to "get specific" and try to FIND this deceased Secret Service Agent. Initially, I thought I might have found him: ATSAIC Stewart G. "Stu" Stout , stationed at the Trade Mart on November 22, 1963, died--cause unknown--immediately after Dallas, according to Agents Sam Kinney and Floyd Boring (author's interviews, 1994). In fact, Boring initially doubted that Stout was even in Dallas ("Gee, I don't think so...then again, I guess I should have known he was there because he died shortly thereafter.") Ironically, S/A Stout rode in the hearse [JFK's] (presumably upright, and breathing) from Parkland Hospital to Love Field on November 22, 1963!! [stout had also been involved in protecting Truman at Blair House during the assassination attempt on November 1, 1950 along with Floyd Boring, as well as having been with Vice President Nixon in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1958.] However, three items of data appear to quash this initial identification of the "dead" agent: First, Stout's report of his activities, dated 11/29/63 (18H 785); secondly, Stout's report, dated April 29, 1964, concerning the infamous drinking incident (18H 680); finally, an actual film clip of Stout with LBJ in California in 1964 as depicted in the 1992 PBS video "LBJ." Reports of Stout's demise apparently were, at least initially, exaggerated.
So the use of the word "immediately" by Kinney and Boring appears to be a slight case of hyperbole on their part. So I then focused on the other two agents, Emory Roberts, and Henry Rybka, who always aroused my suspicions in regard to this matter.
Fellow ATSAIC Emory P. Roberts died of unknown causes, the very same time an unnamed agent took his life in the... "Sixties, in Washington, with his own weapon. There were signs he was beginning to buckle," as former agent Chick Rochner explained to fellow former agent Marty Venker ! ("Confessions of an Ex-Secret Service Agent," pp. 216-217) As for Agent Rybka, the only written confirmation of his appearance after November 22,1963, is his alleged report found on 25H 787. However, unlike every other report found in volumes 18 and 25, save Agent Greer's, it is undated. In addition, there is a strange lack of detail and content, and there is no approval stamp by SAIC Behn. Keeping in mind the three documents that place him in the follow-up car on November 22, when he actually was left behind at Love Field (see JFK/Deep Politics Quarterly , October, 1996), something appears to be amiss.
Unfortunately for this specific quest, Roberts and the "unnamed" agent died in the late 1960s, while Rybka's presence as late as November 27 is confirmed by S/A Roy Kellerman in his WC testimony (2H 86), ...so much for that. Still, there HAD to be something to these tales of the "dead" agent; I decided to look still further. After an exhaustive examination of EVERY agent even remotely associated with the Texas trip (using the Warren Report, the 26 volumes, the HSCA materials, newly released interviews, plus Secret Service shift reports as sources), I have come to the conclusion I feel I can state most firmly: the only agent who is a real viable candidate for possibly being the dead agent is Dennis R. Halterman, a White House Detail agent who, as the shift reports bear out, was in San Antonio with the President on November 21 but who, for all intents and purposes, "disappears" from the record after that date. In essence, there is no written record of if, when, how, or where he went after that stop on the Texas tour: to Houston? Dallas? Austin? Washington? Halterman's name was known to me before I obtained the shift reports last year, as he is listed as being a member of the WH Detail in an alphabetical listing provided by Fred Ciacelli of the traveling JFK Museum to me in late 1993. It was also from this list that I asked Sam Kinney if Halterman--along with several heretofore unknown agents of the WHD present on this list--were still alive back in March, 1994. Kinney told me Halterman was deceased, but did not say when or how he died, mainly because I did not ASK him at that time. I have since tried to ask the question to former S/A Kinney, but have not been able to contact him.
But that is it--no other reference is made to Halterman anywhere else, and he is the only agent who could possible be a candidate for the "dead" agent, based on my personal research.
Equally intense was my search for the "agent" of unknown repute who appears in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. Was he real? Was he an illusion? Was it a case of mistaken identity? Was he a fake agent? Was he a real agent? These were the questions I had to answer, or try to, to the best of my ability. As we shall see shortly, I chose the last option as being the correct choice.
As a precondition, we shall discard the problematic "identifications" of Jean Hill, as she testified to being encountered by a Secret Service agent who was most likely Dallas Times Herald reporter Jim Featherstone; equally valueless was the statement of Lee Oswald (see 24H 479), as the "agent" he pointed to a phone booth in the TSBD after the shooting was most likely WFAA newsman Pierce Allman or the more commonly identified Robert MacNeil after all. We do not need to rely on these accounts, as there are other sources. The following people stated that they encountered an "agent" in Dealey Plaza, or they gave information that definitely tends to strengthen the accounts of others on this issue.
Law enforcement officers noted the presence of an agent in the plaza: Joe Marshall Smith, who even saw credentials (7H 535), D.V. Harkness (6H 312), Constable Seymour Weitzman (7H 107), and Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig (cited in Crossfire, 330). Spectators Malcolm Summers (quoted on "Nova," November, 1988), Gordon Arnold, (Dallas Morning News, August 27, 1978), and Ronald Fischer (6H 196), all saw or corroborated other "sightings."
What does the "official" record reveal about these alleged 'sightings'? Yeah, we know...or do we? Going back to the original "official" statement, or party line, was quite an
eye opening experience: "All the Secret Service agents assigned to the motorcade stayed with the motorcade all the way to the hospital. None remained at the scene of the shooting, and none entered the School Book Depository at or immediately after the time of the shooting." (Commission Document 3, p. 44--emphasis added)
So, in actual fact, this statement, drafted by Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon and General Counsel G. d'Andelot Belin, only accounts for the sixteen agents traveling in the motorcade--two in the lead car (Lawson and Sorrels), two in the limousine (Greer and
Kellerman), eight in the follow up (Kinney, Roberts, Hill, McIntyre, Ready, Landis, Bennett, Hickey), one in LBJ's car (Youngblood), and the three in the VP follow-up car (Johns, Taylor and Kivett)!! Discarding the notion that "Lem" Johns was the agent (he was left behind VERY briefly on the ROAD and hitched a ride in one of the camera cars as verified by the film record), and stipulating that the other WHD agents assigned to the Trade Mart, Love Field, Austin, and other places, based on the "official" record, really were there the whole time, what does that leave us with?
For one thing, there were, "officially"speaking, seven agents in the Dallas field office of the Secret Service: SAIC Sorrels, as noted, in the lead car; Robert Steuart and John Joe Howlett, at the Trade Mart; Roger C. Warner, and William H. Patterson, both stationed at Love Field. But, as you note, that is only five of the seven agents. And there's the rub--the Secret Service reports in Volume XVIII alone confirm what five of the seven of the Dallas agents were doing on November 22--what about the other two--Charles E. Kunkel and James F. "Mike" Howard?
There are NO reports from these two men in the volumes (quite a strange departure), and NO testimony was taken from them either (although with no testimony taken from seven of the eight SS agents in the follow up, that should not surprise us). Coincidentally, both of these agents would go on to guard the Oswald family after the assassination and subsequent death of LHO; in fact, good old Marguerite Oswald felt that these agents were involved in the actual conspiracy itself (1H 169-170)! Howard, who would go on to join the WHD onMarch 29, 1964, was interviewed in an AP story related in the "Fresno Bee" on 11/22/93, the 30th anniversary of JFK's murder. Despite the obvious need to focus on the assassination, there was no mention in that interview of where either Howard (or Kunkel..) were during the critical time of the shooting in he middle of Elm Street! Are there any candidates from the WHD who are "eligible" to have been the "real agent" In Dealey Plaza on November 22? Yes, the aforementioned Dennis R. Halterman, and for the very same reasons, another new and obscure name: Ronald M. Pontius. Pontius, in Houston on November 21, also "disappears" from the detailed, written record and, like Halterman, this omission stands out noticeably from the shift reports and other documents--if one applies Peter Dale Scott's "negative template" hypothesis: if something is not there that SHOULD be there, something's amiss. Interestingly, during my interview of Houston DNC advance man Marty Underwood, he mentioned that the one agent I should contact about these matters was none other than Pontius himself, a completely unknown name to be then (Oct., 1992), and still a pretty obscure name now. Finally, as readers of my book, The Third Alternative, know, former agent Abraham W. Bolden, Sr., expressed much suspicion about fellow former agent Harvey Henderson as being a possible candidate for the "agent" in Dealey Plaza. At that time, Henderson was "removed" from the WHD-- if you believe Bolden, because he was extremely bitter towards JFK, and this removal happened shortly before Dallas. I have been unable to confirm or deny the story conclusively, as Henderson passed away in early 1994 just as I was seeking to interview him.
One final clue to both the mystery of the "dead" agent and the "unknown agent" in Dealey Plaza on November 22 may come from the statements of former Dallas agent Robert A. Steuart, as revealed in Bill Sloan's 1993 work, JFK--Breaking the Silence (pp 1-5). Although the agent who spoke to Sloan was unnamed in the book, Sloan confirmed to me the agent's identity based on my firm conviction that this agent HAD to have been Steuart. Why? Because, as I told Sloan, the agent used the identical language with me during my two "attempted" interviews with him in 1992 and 1993; in any event, Sloan confirmed my suspicions. So, just what did Steuart say to Sloan (and me)? Sworn to absolute secrecy about the "Kennedy thing," Steuart went on to say, "I can't talk about it...There are so many things I could tell you, but I just can't... I can't tell you anything... I'd like to, but I can't.... It
was a very heavy deal, and they would know. Someone would know. It's...too dangerous, even now."
This, from a local agent, stationed at the Trade Mart on November 22, 1963.
Were the stories about the "dead" Secret Service agent true? Quite possibly, for there is one viable candidate. What about the "agent" in Dealey Plaza? He most likely was a GENUINE agent, for there are five potential candidates: two local agents, two Washington agents, and one bitter renegade agent, whereabouts unknown, on that fateful day in Dallas. One thing is sure: if the man on the knoll was the renegade, it was one hell of a conspiracy, and if an agent was killed, why the silence?
A special note and addendum from the author (November 28, 1997)
I have received a lot of acclaim for my article in the the October 1997 JFK/DPQ, which is very much appreciated. While I still stand behind all the documentation in the article (and feel especially strong about the agent-in-the-plaza info), one major correction and one addition should be noted. I just returned from the JFK/Lancer conference in Dallas to discover over 300 pages of Secret Service survey reports and many Secret Service agent letters in my mail!
One of the documents, RIF-154-10002-10424, eliminates Secret Service Agent Dennis R. Halterman as being a candidate for the "dead" agent (but not the agent in the plaza, along with the four other candidates). However, while at the conference, researcher John Armstrong gave me a Treasury Department document regarding a U.S. Customs Official's allegations that a "[fnu] Mr. Robertson" of the Secret Service disappeared on 11/22/63 (Robertson was stationed in the Dallas/Fort Worth area). I am currently checking up on this new lead.
Also, Mrs. Hazel Kinney wrote me, telling me that her husband Sam Kinney (the driver of the follow-up car on 11/22/63 and a member of the Secret Service from 1950 to 1967) passed away on 7/21/97 while they were traveling in Iowa. I am the only person to have gotten Sam on the record in detail (even more so than the 1996 HSCA release). I am in the process of developing a list of surviving Secret Service agents to bring to the Review Board; needless to say, this was a great loss. I am forever grateful to the extended time Sam gave me in 1992 through 1994.
Recently, I've received letters from agents Floyd Boring, Bill Livingood, G. d'Andelot Belin, and others; hopefully there's many more to come as the research continues...