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Florence Pritchett: The Forgotten Witness

John Simkin

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John Kelin: I am very interested in the research carried out by Penn Jones. He seems to have come up with information that has not been duplicated in other books by JFK researchers. For example, this is what he wrote in the Midlothian Mirror on November 25, 1965:

I have a concern for the strange things happening in America in recent months. With the passing of the second anniversary of the murder of President Kennedy, we take not of some of the strange things which continue to plague those around the principals.

Miss Dorothy Kilgallen joins the growing list of persons who have died after a private interview with one of the two members of the Jack Ruby-George Senator team. We have printed the strange deaths of Bill Hunter and Jim Koethe after they had a private interview with George Senator and Ruby’s attorney, Tom Howard. Hunter and Koethe were murdered. Lawyer Tom Howard died under strange circumstances...

Now Miss Kilgallen dies under clouded circumstances. During the Ruby trial in Dallas, Judge Joe B. Brown granted Miss Kilgallen a privilege given no other newsman. She had thirty minutes alone in a room with Jack Ruby. Even the guards were outside the door. Miss Kilgallen told some of what went of during the interview in her columns. But was someone afraid she knew more? Is she another victim of possibly knowing the secret that still moves in the troubled mind of Jack Ruby?...

What is happening in our land? How many murders of persons connected in some way with the assassination principals can go unnoticed by our people? How many lies must we prove on The Warren Commission before a demand for reopening becomes a commanding one?

In his book, Volume II: Forgive My Grief (1967), Penn Jones added more to this story:

Shortly before her death, Miss Kilgallen told a friend in New York that she was going to New Orleans in 5 days and break the case wide open. Miss Kilgallen 52, died November 8, 1965, under questionable circumstances in her New York home. Eight days after her death, a ruling was made that she died of barbiturates and drink with no quantities of either ingredient being given.

Also strangely, Miss Kilgallen’s close friend, Mrs. Earl E.T. Smith, died two days after Miss Kilgallen. Mrs. Smith’s autopsy read that the cause of death was unknown.

Many skeptical newsmen have asked: “If Miss Kilgallen knew anything, surely as a journalist wouldn’t she have left some notes?” This is a legitimate question. Possibly Mrs. Smith was the trusted friend with the notes. No one will ever know now.

I have discovered that Mrs. Earl E. T. Smith was Florence Smith who was a journalist who was generally known as Florence Pritchett. What is really amazing about this is that JFK was involved in an affair with Pritchett that lasted from 1944 up until his death in 1963.

In June, 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower appointed her husband, Earl Smith as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Cuba. FBI files reveal that over the next two years John F. Kennedy made more than a dozen visits to Cuba in order to meet Florence. Florence also met Kennedy in Miami and Palm Beach, where their homes were conveniently adjoined. Earl Smith held right-wing views and later accused the CIA of helping Fidel Castro to gain power in Cuba.

I believe it is highly possible that Kilgallen got secret information about JFK’s foreign policy via Florence Pritchett/Earl Smith. For example, she wrote about the Mafia/CIA plots on Castro in the New York Journal American as early as July 1959.

In your research on Penn Jones did you discover if he identified who Mrs Earl Smith was? Did you get the chance to read Jones’ unpublished papers during your research?

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