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Ruby's Motive for Murder

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This is a question I have been closely examining for the past several months. I recently read the late Seth Kantor's book, Who Was Jack Ruby?. I believe Kantor's allegation that Ruby was in fact at PMH just before the announcement of the president's passing. Why would Ruby lie about this?

We know where Ruby was up until 1:10 pm on the day of the assassination. This was the last time a witness could place Ruby at the Dallas Morning News, and almost exactly the same time that a civilian transmitted the news over a police radio that an officer have been shot near the intersection of 10th and Patton streets.

If Ruby had heard this transmission while at the DMN, (most news paper offices have police band radios), perhaps this drew him to PMH. After all, Ruby did like to be where the action was. It certainly would not be out-of-character for him. But again, why would he lie about it?

We know that on the evening of Friday 11/22 Ruby attended the so-called midnight press conference posing as a reporter. Prior to Oswald's brief interview it was none other than Ruby himself who corrected Henry Wade when Wade made the mistake of referring to Oswald's membership in the "Free Cuba Committee". In light of this fact and other comments made to the press by Oswald himself, ("I was taken in because of the fact that I lived in the Soviet Union"), it would seem logical then that Ruby was aware of Oswald's background.

Yet in the early morning hours of Saturday 11/23 Ruby embarked on a frantic search for a connection between Oswald, a self-professed Marxist and communist sympathizer, and a man that Ruby would later implicate in his Warren Commission testimony as being a leader within the John Birch Society, Ret. Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker. A man, according to the history books, that Oswald has also been accused of attempting to assassinate. What was Ruby's train of thought? What could possibly have connected these two very different men?

If we look closely at Ruby's WC testimony Ruby states his fear of the JBS. Yet prior to the assassination Ruby went out of his way to endear himself to the DPD, a police department having wide-spread membership within right-wing organizations such as this. Why suddenly did Ruby have cause to fear them? And why did he name Edwin Walker specifically?

Perhaps the answers to the questions I have raised can be traced back to the night of April 10, 1963. If we accept that Oswald was in fact the person responsible for the attack on general Walker there is one aspect of this crime that has perplexed even members of the Warren Commission. Where was Oswald between the hours of 9pm and 12am? Oswald had no vehicle. Marina testified that her husband stated he had ridden a bus home. Even if this is true, it does not account for the approximate three hour time gap. Where could Oswald have spent those three hours in Dallas on that late evening without drawing attention to himself?

Looking at a map of 1963 Dallas, Texas, with particular attention to the Walker crime scene, one will notice that only seven blocks away from Walker's home there once stood a night club. It certainly was close by. Being a night club I'd imagine it was dimly lit. What more perfect place could there be for someone to hide at this time of night in Dallas? The night club was Jack Ruby's Vegas Club.

If Oswald was holed up in the Vegas Club during this time period, was Ruby aware of his presence? Was Ruby part of the plan? Being of Jewish descent I can't imagine Ruby would have been terribly upset over someone taking a pot shot at someone like Walker. If Ruby had participated in this plan to eliminate Walker it would certainly have supplied him with a motive for silencing Oswald.

I've been asked why Ruby would commit murder only to cover an attempted murder. This is a fair question that deserves a fair answer. I would speculate that Ruby feared that Oswald would be implicated in the attempt on Walker as well as the Tippit murder, and the assassination of the president. Indeed, it took little time for the authorities to do just that. If Oswald then implicated Ruby in the attempt on Walker, Ruby and his family would have conceivably been in grave danger. But if Ruby murdered Oswald that threat would die with Oswald. He might even have be viewed as a hero, (Ruby received praise from some very prominent Dallasites for his action).

After being convicted of murder with malice by a Dallas jury and receiving the death penalty Ruby had little to loose by telling the whole story. He certainly gave more than just hints at his being, "used for a purpose". He simply couldn't do it in Dallas.

Ruby pleaded with Earl Warren to be taken to Washington. When pressed by chief justice Warren as to why Ruby feared for his life and that of his family's, Ruby stated, "There is an organization here, Chief Justice Warren, if it takes my life at this moment to say it, and Bill Decker said be a man and say it, there is a John Birch Society right now in activity, and Edwin Walker is one of the top men of this organization--take it for what it is worth, Chief Justice Warren."


Craig C.

Edited by Craig Carvalho
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Is it possible that Ruby was directed from elsewhere to - in between stalking Oswald in custody - go on a well-witnessed wild goose chase of newspaper ads and billboards sponsored by the Birch Society and other right-wingers in an attempt to blame the assassination on the JBS, and justify his own murder of Oswald as the paranoia of a persecuted minority? Ruby dragged George Senator and others into his anti-right midnight rambles, but didn't bring them near Oswald.

Edited by David Andrews
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You raise an interesting possibility. I would wonder who directed him, and what leverage they may have had over Ruby that forced him to commit murder.

It is total speculation on my part, but I do suspect that if there was a conspiracy involved in the attempt on Walker's life it may have trickled down from the highest offices within our government, following many of the same back channels as the previous attempts made on Castro, (POTUS/AG - CIA - Mafia). In short I believe that one conspiracy gave rise to another.

One might argue that Oswald and Ruby were "unfit" for such an operation(s), but the upside far outweighs the downside when all is said and done... Oswald and Ruby are easily made to look like "lone nuts".

I do find your angle on this to be quite interesting especially when studying the bulk of Ruby's WC testimony. This reply is merely an initial reaction. You've given me food for thought. Thanks.

P.S. The one thing I have always wanted to study but have never been able to get my hands on is a transcript of Ruby's trial.

Edited by Craig Carvalho
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David J.,

Very informative article. While I've had the opportunity to touch on most of the topics discussed, I've never seen this type of in-depth detail. One aspect I find of particular interest is the tentative relationship between Ruby and the U.S. government.

If the article's author is correct and the CIA was behind the assassination I don't suppose we can rely on any information that agency has made public, (at least not most of it). The Warren Commission failed in many ways. Even the HSCA's integrity has come into question. One agency that seems to me to have been brushed aside from the very start was the FBI. Hoover issued an official report on the assassination that was all but ignored.

At least the FBI was on the right track IMO. In the months and weeks leading up to the assassination SA James Hosty had two individuals high on his list of priorities... Edwin Walker and Lee Harvey Oswald. Is it really just another coincidence then that Jack Ruby had these same two individuals in mind only hours after the assassination?

I'd like to think that we can always learn something from each of these sources regardless of whether or not we trust or agree with their conclusions.

I've bookmarked the article in your link David. I have so many now I really need to start cataloging them properly. Thanks so much.

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Back in 2004 I posted this about Ruby's movements:

A few weeks ago I began a Topic about the two "reporters" with Jack Ruby
at the DPD the night of the assassination. As of this time I have had no response but thought I would provide this additional information.

What are your thoughts about these portions of the Warren Report. I heard a great deal of the newsreel tape was distroyed but I have never seen the two men with "badges," such as are discribed by John Rutledge.

"At 9:00 p.m. he (Ruby) telphoned Ralph Paul but was unable to persuade Paul to join him at synagogue services." (WC Report, Pg 338)

"From his apartment, Ruby drove to Temple Shearith Israel, arriving near the end of a 2-hour service which had begun at 8 p.m." (WC Report, Pg 339)

"Ruby is known to have made his way, by about 11:30 p.m., to the third floor of the Dallas Police Department..." (WC Report, Pg 339)

'I saw Jack and two out-of-state reporters, whom I did not know, leave the elevator door and proceed toward those television cameras, to go around the corner where Captain Fritz's office was. Jack walked between them. these two out-of-state reporters had big press cards pinned on their coats, great big red ones, I think they said "President Kennedy's Visit to Dallas-Press", or something like that. And Jack didn't have one, but the man on either side of him did. and they walked pretty rapidly from the elevator area past the policeman, and Jack was bent over like this-writting on a piece of paper, and talking to one of the reporters, and pointing to something on the peice of paper, he was kind of hynched over." Newsman John Rutledge (WC Report Pg 340)

"Detective Augustus M. Eberhardt, who also recalled that he first saw Ruby earlier in the evening, said Ruby carried a note pad and professed to be a translator for the Israeli press." (WC Report Pg. 342)

He accompanied the newsmen to the basement to observe Oswald. His presence at the midnight news conference is established by television tapes and by at least 12 witnesses." (WC Report Pg. 342)

When questioned about his (Ruby) lie detector test this information is gleaned from the administrator of the test:

(Testimony of Bell P. Herndon)
Mr. Specter.
Will movement or speaking cause a variation in the tracings ordinarily, Mr. Herndon?
Mr. Herndon.
Yes. Body movements or speaking any phrase or sentence would certainly cause changes in the physiological patterns as displayed on the polygraph. <span style='color:red'>I made notation of that, however, and that explains the changes On question No. 2, Mr. Ruby did show a significant drop in the relative blood pressure. This question pertained to: "Did you go to the Dallas police station at any time on Friday November 22, 1963, before you went to the synagogue? I asked him about this question later when he responded "No," and I noticed a physiological change. He advised that there was some man by the name of John Rutledge, and he made an association with proceedings at the trial which I have reason to believe this gentleman, John Rutledge, differed with what Ruby stated as to when he went to the synagogue.</span><span style='color:blue'>Due to the nature of this change, however, it is possible that it was caused by a body motion that I failed to detect during the actual response.</span>
I notice that the cardio pen dropped all the way down and hit what we call the limit screws. This frequently is caused by a sudden rapid shift in his body position, and this change could have been caused by a body movement.
With regard to the other relevant questions in this series, question 4, question 6, and question 8, there was no significant deviation from his normal physiological patterns. (Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. XIV - Page 594)

It seems Jack Ruby may have been nervous about answering questions that delt with Rutledge's, who identified him with the "two out of state" newsmen, testimony and his trip to the synagogue. This particular question created a "a physiological change" or was it just body motion that Herndon, " failed to detect during the actual response"?

Jim Root

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I have always been of the opinion that Ruby "stalked" Oswald. The portions of testimony that you have quoted, I believe, supports this theory. I could certainly understand how these types of questions asked of Ruby during his lie detector test could have elicited a notable physiological response.

From everything I have gathered about Ruby, he was not a pious man in the religious sense. His visit to temple that evening has always reminded me of the old saying, "there are no atheists in a foxhole". IMO, Ruby knew, even that early on, what needed to be done.

Shortly after services were over Ruby then drove to a delicatessen and ordered several sandwiches and bottles of soda. After doing so he placed a phone call to the DPD and offered them to the detectives questioning Oswald. They refused them saying that they were "rapping things up for the night".

But Ruby goes to police headquarters just the same. And where does he end up... on the same floor just outside the very room in which Oswald is being questioned. If memory serves I believe Ruby stated in his WC testimony that he was surprised to see the detectives suddenly emerge with Oswald in tow, and move very quickly past him and the reporters in the hallway in route to the basement.

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David et al - who is standing between Prescott Bush and Richard Nixon in the photo of them in the Armstrong article?

If somebody doesn't beat me to it, I can answer that this weekend when I next get near Russell Baker's book.

Unfortunately, I can't locate my copy of Russ Baker's Family of Secrets, where I think that guy standing between Nixon and Prescott Bush is identified in a photo caption. I'd like to say it's the other "Jacob Rubenstein" who "worked for Nixon," but I can't be sure. Can anyone ID this guy for Paul?

Edited by David Andrews
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A few quotes from the Warren Commission about Ruby and his feelings and actions as a person of Jewish descent:

"Jack Ruby's mother, Fannie Rubenstein, was probably born in 1875 near Warsaw, Poland. She followed her husband to the United States in 1904 or 1905, accompanied by her children Hyman and Ann. An illiterate woman, she went to night school in about 1920 to learn how to sign her name. She apparently failed in this endeavor, however, for an alien registration form, filed after about 35 years in the United States, was signed by an "X". Although she apparently learned some English, her speech was predominantly Yiddish, the primary language of the Rubenstein household."

"In 1911, when Jack Ruby was born, his family resided near 14th and Newberry Streets in Chicago, the first in a series of Jewish neighborhoods in which the Rubensteins lived during his childhood."

"Young Jack soon showed the effects of parental discord. On June 6, 1922, at the age of 11, he was referred to the Institute for Juvenile Research by the Jewish Social Service Bureau."

"On July 10, 1923, a dependency hearing involving Jack, his younger brothers Sam and Earl, and his sister Eileen, was held in Chicago's juvenile court. The petition alleged that the children were not receiving proper parental care. They had, until then, been in their mother's custody, living on Roosevelt Road, the border between Jewish and Italian districts. The juvenile court made a finding of dependency. It appointed the Jewish Home Finding Society guardian with the right to place the children in foster homes, and it ordered Joseph Rubenstein to pay the court clerk $4 per week for the support of each child."

"Records of the Institute for Juvenile Research revealed that, as of June 1922, Ruby had no religious education outside the public school system. However, according to their children, Jack's parents made some effort to inculcate in them a desire to adhere to the tenets of Orthodox Judaism. Jewish dietary and festival laws were observed and several of the children accompanied Joseph Rubenstein to the synagogue. Earl Ruby stated that all the boys received some Hebrew school training until the breakup of the Rubenstein home in 1921. However, Hyman Rubenstein testified that the instability and economic necessities of the household and the children's relationships outside the home frustrated the religious efforts of Ruby's parents."

"One friend reported that although Ruby always associated with Jewish people, he never exhibited great interest in religion. Ruby met Virginia Belasco, granddaughter of the prominent playwright and actor, David Belasco, in about 1936 at a dance at the Jewish community center in San Francisco. Miss Belasco stated that while a teenager she saw Ruby socially on several occasions between 1936 and 1941."

"The evidence indicates that Ruby led a normal social life during these years. Virginia Belasco stated that while Ruby was selling punch boards in New York during November 1941, he entertained her each weekend. Other reports indicate that Ruby fancied himself a "ladies' man," enjoyed dancing, almost always had female accompaniment and was "very gentlemanly" with women. Ruby, with several friends, frequently attempted to disrupt rallies of the German-American Bund. One acquaintance reported that Ruby was responsible for "cracking a few heads" of Bund members. Apparently he joined in this activity for ethnic rather than political reasons. The young men in the group were not organized adherents of any particular political creed, but were pool hall and tavern companions from Ruby's Jewish neighborhood who gathered on the spur of the moment to present opposition when they learned that the pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic Bund movement was planning a meeting. Hyman Rubenstein testified that Ruby would fight with any person making derogatory comments about, his ethnic origins, and others have stated that Ruby would fight with anyone he suspected of pro-Nazi or anti-Semitic tendencies." (Bold and underlining mine)

"Two persons who recalled Ruby while he was in the Army Air Forces asserted that he was extremely sensitive to insulting remarks about Jews. When, during an argument, a sergeant called Ruby a "Jew bastard," Ruby reportedly attacked him and beat him with his fists."

"Following his return from the Army, Ruby was described as ready to fight with any person who insulted Jews or the military. Earl Ruby testified that on one occasion in 1946, Jack returned from downtown Chicago with his suit covered with blood. He explained at that time that he had fought with a person who had called him a "dirty Jew or something like that."

"Reared in the Jewish faith, Jack Ruby was not especially devout. Rabbi Hillel Silverman, whose conservative temple Ruby favored, reported that when Ruby's father died in 1958, Ruby came to services twice daily for the prescribed period of 11 months to recite the traditional memorial prayer. Ruby normally attended services only on the Jewish high truly days and he was quite unfamiliar with the Hebrew language."(Bold and underlining mine)

"Ruby was apparently somewhat sensitive to his identity as a Jew. He forbade his comedians to tell stories directed at Jews or Jewish practices and, on several occasions after 1947, he fought with persons making derogatory remarks about his ethnic origins. The evidence also indicates that he was deeply upset that an advertisement insulting President Kennedy appeared above a Jewish-sounding name."

"In 1951, Ruby attacked a man who had called him a "kike Jew" and knocked out a tooth."

And finally I will add this from my prior post:

'I saw Jack and two out-of-state reporters, whom I did not know, leave the elevator door and proceed toward those television cameras, to go around the corner where Captain Fritz's office was. Jack walked between them. these two out-of-state reporters had big press cards pinned on their coats, great big red ones, I think they said "President Kennedy's Visit to Dallas-Press", or something like that. And Jack didn't have one, but the man on either side of him did. and they walked pretty rapidly from the elevator area past the policeman, and Jack was bent over like this-writting on a piece of paper, and talking to one of the reporters, and pointing to something on the peice of paper, he was kind of hynched over." Newsman John Rutledge (WC Report Pg 340)

"Detective Augustus M. Eberhardt, who also recalled that he first saw Ruby earlier in the evening, said Ruby carried a note pad and professed to be a translator for the Israeli press." (WC Report Pg. 342)

Jim Root

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I took a very close look at detective Eberhardt's W.C. testimony. It's seems that one point that differs greatly between his and Ruby's testimony is time frame between 6-7pm Friday evening. Eberhardt states that during this time Ruby entered the Homicide and Robbery office to say hello. He also goes on to say that Ruby had brought sandwiches for the reporters, and that he was acting as an interpreter for the Israeli press.

Ruby on the other hand states that the first time he visited Dallas police headquarters on Friday was later that evening after attending services at Temple. Ruby seems to have been riding around town checking on which businesses were open.

It is important to note that Ruby's testimony indicates that he purchased large amounts of food from delis twice on Friday. The first time, ($10), was earlier in the afternoon just before visiting his sister Eva Grant. And then again at approximately 10:30pm - 11pm that same night. My guess would be that if Ruby had in fact visited DPH during the time frame Eberhardt suggests, then those sandwiches may have been the result of his first order.

What bothers me about the late night sandwiches is... why would he order them first and then call the DPD to offer them to the detectives on duty? It seems a bit imposing/desperate. Yet, you have to give him credit. If he hadn't been so persistent he never would have gotten the chance to attend Oswald's first and only press conference.

Another interesting aspect of Eberhardt's testimony was the revelation that Ruby was providing information to the DPD. I believe this ties in with Ruby's alleged connections to certain government agencies as an informant. Although I suppose this should not come as a total surprise when you consider that the revolver Ruby used to murder Oswald was purchased for Ruby by a Dallas police officer, (Ruby wanted to save on the sales tax).

I am now in the process of looking into Mr. Rutledge and Ms. Belasco.

Many Thanks

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