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"The Bastard Bullet" by Raymond Marcus

Denny Zartman

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Hi everyone,

I'm making hard copies of rare essays and articles, and today I printed out Raymond Marcus's "The Bastard Bullet" from a PDF I found online (and can't remember where right now.)

Anyway, in reviewing it, I see that the PDF seems to be missing pages 36 and 37. Also, the main text ends mid-sentence on page 67.

I was wondering if anyone happens to know of a copy online that has the missing pages or of any other way I could obtain them.

I'm also curious if it was ever officially published, and what people think of the work in general.

Thanks very much!

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  • 2 months later...

A fascinating article. The analysis showing how the Warren Commission were starting from a conclusion  (as opposed to seeing were the evidence went) is telling. CE399 was conclusively a plant, but what type of plant isn't clear. I am convinced that a bullet was found on a stretcher at Parkland. I am not convinced that bullet was CE399.

The distinction may matter; since if that bullet was CE399, then the cover-up was planned prior to the assassination. If that bullet was not CE399 then why plant a bullet unhelpful to your conclusion?

David Phillips was alleged to have stated Oswald made 'a mistake'. Did he take the wrong rifle to work?

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Robert Easterling's account of the origin of the pristine bullet was shared recently by Ernie Lazar:


Quoted from the article below...

"When they returned to the bar, Easterling said, he was told details of the assassination plan. The box with the Czech rifle hidden inside would be placed where the assassination would take place. Someone else would have the other rifle, the Mannlicher-Carcano. The president would be killed with the Czech rifle, using cartridges that would disintegrate upon contact. The gun would then be smuggled out. Three shell casings from the Mannlicher-Carcano (presumably the ones fired into the water barrel) would be left at the scene (the book depository) and a slug from it (one of those fired into the water barrel) would be left (at Parkland Hospital) where the police could find it. The man with the Mannlicher-Carcano was to be set up to take the blame."

On 2/26/2018 at 12:16 PM, Ernie Lazar said:

While doing research for another matter, I came across this February 1986 Chicago Sun-Times article which might be of interest -- about a "confession" by Robert Easterling.


A startling confession and how it casts doubt on the accepted version of JFK's assassination
Chicago Sun-Times  - February 9, 1986,  page 25,  by Jim Quinlan

In a 26-volume report, the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, chaired by U.S. Chief Justice Earl Warren, reached the following conclusions 10 months after the death of JFK in 1963:

Lee Harvey Oswald alone killed the president.
Jack Ruby, acting alone, killed Oswald.
There was no credible evidence of any conspiracy.
Three shots were fired at the president's car. One went through his neck, then through the chest and wrist of Texas Gov. John Connally.
Another shot hit the President's head. Another shot missed.
All the shooting was from the sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository building.

Investigative reporter Henry Hurt has spent more than four years searching for a solution to one of history's greatest mysteries: Who murdered President John F. Kennedy?

In the introduction to his book, Reasonable Doubt: An Investigation into the Assassination of John F. Kennedy (Henry Holt & Co.; $19.95), Hurt identifies himself among the 80 percent of Americans who polls say seriously doubt the Warren Commission's official explanation for Kennedy's tragic death in 1963.

"In my quest to understand the case, I was not burdened by any preconceived notion, beyond a general feeling that the official version seemed illogically simplistic, that it seemed virtually impossible that Lee Harvey Oswald had done what the government had said that he had done," Hurt said.

Reasonable Doubt is a thorough reconstruction of most of the evidence that has accumulated over the decades. It is a meticulous examination of virtually every detail of the assassination story, including a right-wing Cuban plot engineered by Fidel Castro to kill the president, the bungled JFK autopsy, the rushed Warren Commission report, the public expressions of doubt at every level, Oswald's intelligence connection, the "other" Oswald, the "magic" bullet, suppressed evidence, and dozens of other mysteries and bizarre characters connected with the case.

In the end, after countless hours re-examinIng the mountain of material, Hurt concludes, just as many governmental investigations and countless private ones before him, "a powerful case can be made that Oswald did not kill Kennedy." 

Although Reasonable Doubt agrees with the conclusion of the 1978 House Select Committee on Assassinations that John Kennedy's death was the result of a conspiracy, it stands apart from other works on the subject by offering what could be the missing pieces of the JFK murder puzzle.

In Reasonable Doubt, Hurt offers answers to the questions: "who were the conspirators?" and "how did they manage to kill the president before our eyes and escape justice?"

According to Hurt, the center of this historical storm was Robert Easterling, "a multiple felon, an ex-convict, a raging alcoholic, a diagnosed psychotic and schizophrenic" who came forward with a confession because he believed he was dying and wanted to clear his conscience.

In so doing, Easterling gained the unique distinction of being the only person to offer a "full, detailed" confession to the crime of the century, according to Hurt.

Unlike the FBI and others who chose to ignore Robert Easterling's confession, Hurt spent more than 100 hours interviewing the brutal ex convict. Where others chose to pass up any investigation of Easterling because they claimed he couldn't identify or locate the people he named as co-conspirators, Hurt listened. If Easterling's story is true, then Hurt has succeeded in explaining many of the questions that have plagued this numbing tragedy for more than two decades.

Hurt said Easterling repeatedly attempted to contact the FBI with his story. Following the 1975 attempt on the life of President Gerald  Ford, Easterling tried again, this time with the Secret Service.

Although the Secret Service was interested in Easterling as late as 1982, there is no evidence any governmental agency took him seriously, Hurt said.

That's probably because it wasn't possible to verify Easterling's story in "traditional fashion," Hurt said. In the early '60s, Easterling lived at the Windmill Trailer Court in Marrero, La., near New Orleans. An oil company worker, he frequented the Habana Bar in New Orleans. The Habana Bar was a haven for Cuban exiles at the time. Hurt identified Orest Pena, the bar's owner, as a leading member of the Cuban Revolutionary Council. He was also called an FBI and CIA source.

It was in the Habana Bar in February, 1963, that Easterling claims he was enlisted in the conspiracy to kill the president, Hurt said.  Nicknamed "Hardhat" because of the white construction hat he wore, Easterling spent the fateful night in the bar becoming reacquainted with a man named Manuel Rivera, a man he first met in 1960 when Rivera was running numbers for organized crime in New Orleans. 

Nicknamed "Hardhat" because of the white construction hat he wore, Easterling spent the fateful night in the bar becoming reacquainted with a man named Manuel Rivera, a man he first met in 1960 when Rivera was running numbers for organized crime in New Orleans. Easterling said Rivera told tales of having worked both for and against Castro, and of having been trained in Russia in sabotage and assassination techniques.

Easterling said that standing at the bar with Rivera was David W. Ferrie, a pilot who had just flown him to New Orleans from Cuba, and a man identified as Clay Shaw.

Ferrie, a violent anti-communist, religious zealot and "New Orleans styled mad genius," was thought to be a CIA contact in the Cuban community. In February, 1967, when New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison announced he had solved the Kennedy assassination, the name of Ferrie surfaced as one of the suspects. During the course of Garrison's investigation, six witnesses claimed Ferrie, Oswald and Shaw, a prominent New Orleans businessman, met together in Clinton, La., a small town 150 m iles from New Orleans. Five days after Garrison's announcement, Ferrie was found dead. Despite a suicide note, the coroner said he died of a brain hemorrhage.

Easterling told Hurt that during the bar meeting they examined a rifle that was there when he arrived. The rifle was later identified by Rivera as a Czech-made 7-mm. automatic rifle with a special design. It had a box on the side to catch used cartridges.

After the others left, Rivera and Easterling continued their talk. It was during this conversation that Rivera told Easterling of the plan to kill  the president. Easterling said Rivera asked him to help, with the promise of good pay.

Hurt said he talked with Pena, who confirmed that Ferrie and Shaw were customers. Although Shaw had an office near the bar, Pena said he may have confused Shaw with a man named Guy Bannister.

Bannister, a former FBI agent, was once head of the Chicago office. An avid anti-communist and John Birch Society member, he supervised a small group of right- wing radicals who carried out various missions for U.S. intelligence from an office in New Orleans. Bannister died of a heart attack in June, 1964.

Easterling said Rivera stored the Czech rifle in his car along with another rifle he described as a Mannlicher-Carcano, the same model that Oswald allegedly used to kill Kennedy.

Rivera then asked Easterling to help him find a barrel of water and a place to fire the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. Easterling said Rivera wanted both the spent slugs and their shell casings intact.

Easterling accommodated Rivera the following day, taking him to the field behind his trailer where the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle was fired and the slugs and casings were retrieved.

Easterling said Rivera held up one of the slugs afterward and told him it would someday be famous.  Weeks later, Easterling said, he was in the bar again with Rivera discussing the assassination plan when he was told a photo was going to be taken of him and the others involved. Easterling said he was blindfolded and driven with two other men to a place where the picture was taken. He said Rivera told them it was necessary to keep such a record for historical purposes.

It was at this time that Easterling was shown a rectangular, wooden box with a false bottom. The secret compartment was to be the hiding place for the Czech rifle, Easterling said.

When they returned to the bar, Easterling said, he was told details of the assassination plan. The box with the Czech rifle hidden inside would be placed where the assassination would take place. Someone else would have the other rifle, the Mannlicher-Carcano. The president would be killed with the Czech rifle, using cartridges that would disintegrate upon contact. The gun would then be smuggled out. Three shell casings from the Mannlicher-Carcano (presumably the ones fired into the water barrel) would be left at the scene (the book depository) and a slug from it (one of those fired into the water barrel) would be left (at Parkland Hospital) where the police could find it. The man with the Mannlicher-Carcano was to be set up to take the blame.

Since only three spent cartridges were found by the window in the Texas School Book Depository where the commission claims Oswald fired at the president, it was their official conclusion that only three shots were fired.

In its report, the commission said one shot shattered the president's head, a second shot missed and the third, referred to as the "magic" bullet, hit the president's back and exited through his neck. The bullet then struck Texas Gov. John Connally, who was seated in front of the president, at the rear of his right armpit. Before it exited Connally's chest it "pulverized" his fifth rib. Finally, the bullet, according to the Warren Commission, struck the governor's right wrist and entered his left thigh.

A bullet that would be ballistic ally connected to the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle was later discovered in "nearly perfect condition" in a Parkland Hospital corridor after the assassination. There was no visible blood or tissue on it. It was following this amazing account of its destructive path that critics dubbed it "magic."

Easterling described for Hurt the first time he saw Lee Harvey Oswald. It was in the Habana Bar in 1963, he said. Oswald came in with a young Cuban. It was memorable because Oswald ordered lemonade. After getting his drink, Oswald complained about the price and then threw up all over the table where the two men were sitting.

Hurt said the incident was remembered by those present that night and the description given of the man with Oswald fits the description Easterling gave of Rivera.

Later, Rivera told Easterling that Oswald was to be the dupe in the assassination and would later himself be killed. Since Easterling was supposed to pick up Oswald following the assassination and drive him to Mexico, he began to fear for his own life. Easterling believed he, too, was marked for death.

Later in that summer of 1963, Easterling recalled doing a favor for a wealthy businessman. Although the favor was a small one, he came in contact once again with two men, one of whom he identified as Clay Shaw, whom Hurt believed was Guy Bannister. The other was Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby. Both men were doing favors for organized crime in the area.

Easterling said the businessman told him Shaw and Ruby were involved in a plot to kill the Kennedys. Hurt said he confirmed the association but would not name the businessman.

Jack Ruby gunned down Oswald before a live television audience two days following JFK's death. With the killing by Ruby, the chance to discover firsthand whether Oswald was guilty or not, a conspirator or not, was lost forever.

The Warren Commission concluded Ruby acted alone and out of grief over the death of Kennedy. Ruby died of cancer in prison. In September, 1963, two months before the assassination, Easterling was notified he was to assist in removing Oswald, who Rivera believed was being watched by the FBI, from New Orleans. Oswald had been involved in at least two street brawls that had been reported to New Orleans police. He was also active in a Fair Play for Cuba Committee, a pro-Castro group federal officials were watching. To cover Oswald's departure from New Orleans, Easterling said, a diversionary fire was set the day Oswald was to be driven to Houston. Hurt said he followed up Easterling's account by checking times and places with official New Orleans Fire Department records. Hurt said the records all but confirmed Easterling's memory of the fire and its location, a building the FBI said Oswald had frequented in the past. The last time Oswald was seen in New Orleans was Sept. 23, just as Easterling said.

After Rivera, Oswald and Easterling reached Houston they made contact with another man, one who looked "strikingly" like Oswald, Easterling said. The man, who Easterling believed spoke little English, was identified only as "Carlo." Carlo would later figure prominently in the assassination plot.

In an effort to evaluate Easterling's confession, Hurt said he tracked down as many of the principals as possible. Orest Pena, owner of the Habana Bar, told Hurt he heard people in his bar talking about killing the president but said he heard no one plot a conspiracy. He confirmed that David Ferrie and Clay Shaw were patrons of the bar.

Hurt said Ruby visited New Orleans in June, 1963. Although he denied any connection to a conspiracy, the wealthy businessman named by Easterling as doing business with Ruby admitted to knowing Easterling, Hurt said.

As the days grew closer to Kennedy's arrival in Dallas, Easterling said he became more frightened. He was certain he would die like Rivera said Oswald would. Rivera told him his job was to come to Dallas after the assassination, pick up Oswald, then drive to Mexico. Hurt said Easterling made a desperate attempt to warn the FBI of the assassination plan. Hurt said the FBI denied it had any relationship with Easter ling. According to an official bureau statement, there is "nothing in FBI files to substantiate Mr. Easter ling's claim that he called the FBI on the night of Nov. 21, 1963," one day before the assassination.

Hurt said that in spite of the FBI's denial, most of what happened next to Easterling can be verified. Easterling said that as a means of covering for himself and avoiding any possible connection to the assassination, he planned to commit a burglary on Nov. 22. Early in the morning of the assassination day, he broke into store in Baton Rouge and after encountering the watchman escaped in his car. He had no intention of going to Dallas and picking up the doomed Oswald.

After a narrow escape from the police, Easterling went to Jackson, Miss., where he heard the first news accounts of the assassination. He watched the television coverage and the murder of Oswald by Ruby the following morning.

Easterling assumed a new identity and financed the next few months with a series of burglaries. By early 1964, Easterling was picked up by the FBI on a fugitive warrant and returned to Baton Rouge, where he was charged with the break-in on Nov. 22, 1963. He was sentenced to five years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. He served three years.

It was not until 1974 and a chance encounter with Francisco Rivera, the younger brother of Manuel, that Easterling learned what the alleged conspirators say really happened in Dallas the day Kennedy was killed. Francisco told him in detail. Hurt writes:

"Shortly before the motorcade was due to arrive in Dealey Plaza, Rivera took advantage of the gathering crowd to slip into the Book Depository. Presumably it was not his first visit. He made his way to the sixth floor, overlooking the spacious plaza area below. He located his special box, even though there were dozens of other boxes of varying descriptions in the cavernous, warehouselike room.

"Carlo, the Oswald look-alike, was already in the building. Numerous people saw him and later remembered him. Like the real Oswald, he kept to himself and said little. Since mid-morning, the real Lee Harvey Oswald had been at the bus station a few blocks away, waiting to be picked up by Robert Easterling.

"During the minutes before the arrival of the motorcade, Rivera and Carlo made their preparations. They made sure the Mannlicher-Carcano - the Oswald rifle - was stashed between some boxes at the other end of the {book depository} room. Francisco claimed that they then took three empty cartridge shells that had been fired earlier from the Oswald rifle and placed them on the floor beside the assassin's window. Rivera removed the Czech rifle from the special box and checked it over. All was ready.

"Rivera stood back from the window as he watched the presidential motorcade approaching his position. He could see the tanned and smiling face of John F. Kennedy, the president of the United States, as he waved to the cheering crowds. As the president's limousine made the turn from Houston onto Elm Street, just below him, Rivera stepped to the window and crouched.

"The head of President Kennedy filled the rifle scope. Rivera took a deep breath, expelled it slowly, then squeezed the trigger. With stunning speed and accuracy, he fired three times in 5.6 seconds to strike his moving target. His firing time had been been better on the coconuts, but this got the job done. Rivera waited a fraction of a second after the last shot to see if another was needed. But he could see that it was not necessary. He had blown apart the president's head.

"Moving quickly, Rivera returned the Czech rifle {that fired the exploding bullets} to its hiding place beneath the false bottom of the special box. At that moment, Carlo was dawdling about at the soda machine four floors below. {It appeared Carlo's role was to be seen in the building and mistaken for Oswald so there would be no doubt that the real Oswald had been in the building at the time of the shooting.} Carlo was challenged by a police officer who was rushing past him to reach the uppe r floors of the building. But Carlo remained calm and said nothing. A man who worked in the building told the policeman that Carlo - whom he believed to be Oswald - also worked there. Carlo then slowly made his way out of the building and melted into the hysterical crowds.

"Within minutes, Manuel Rivera had left the building. At the parking lot, he and Carlo got into a car and were on their way home. At some point, a little later, the nearly perfect bullet that had been fired from the Oswald rifle into a water barrel was placed on an unattended stretcher in a public corridor at Parkland Hospital, where the dying president had been taken."

Hurt points out some of the "enduring oddities" of evidence other investigators have pondered for years. The three cartridge shells linked to Oswald's rifle. Shells which were not scattered about in a normal fashion.

"Another curious point is the failure by investigators to find a single Mannlicher-Carcano cartridge other than those, including a live round still in the rifle,  discovered at the scene," Hurt said. "No extra cartridge was ever found on Oswald or in his possessions. No evidence was found that he ever purchased ammunition at all. If he was the assassin, his only ammunition was at the scene - the cartridge shells lined up as evidence in the assassin's lair. There is no official explanation as to where Oswald supposedly got his four cartridges."

Hurt called the alleged assassination weapon, the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, one of the "worst possible" selections for such shooting. Oswald was a marginal marksman in the Marines. "Yet he is credited with a combination of shooting skills on Nov. 22 that has never been  matched in repeated government tests by the most proficient riflemen in the United States," Hurt said.

"Moreover, there is no evidence that the Mannlicher-Carcano was even fired on the day of the assassination." Hurt takes aim at the investigation conducted immediately following the assassination. Although the alleged murder weapon was discovered less than an hour after the shooting, he said, there is no evidence of any further search of the building or its contents. According to the Warren Report, Oswald's clipboard was found 10 days later on the sixth floor. "His jacket was not found until late November."

The litany of clues, claims and coincidences will perhaps haunt the Kennedy assassination story forever. In his conclusion to Easterling's "confession," Hurt returns to much of what has puzzled others before him.

"The case against Lee Harvey Oswald has always been circumstantial at best. No reliable witness ever placed him in the assassin's lair," he said. There were no fingerprints on the rifle and "only the most tenuous evidence" to indicate Oswald took the Mannlicher-Carcano into the building. There is also no known motive, Hurt said. "During his interrogation, Oswald stoutly denied his guilt. `I didn't shoot anyone,' he stated in a corridor encounter with the press. 

"What, then, was Oswald's role?

"He was silenced, of course, before he could give his version of events. However, in one of his last statements on record, Oswald shouted to reporters:

" `I'm just a patsy! I'm just a patsy!' "


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On 12/27/2017 at 3:51 PM, James DiEugenio said:

To my knowledge and I knew Ray, it was not officially published.

It is a really good piece of craftsmanship considering when it was issued.   


Is Ray no longer with us?

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I am not sure if he is.  But if he is still alive, wow, he must be really old, like in his nineties. (BTW, that link above is not to Ray.)

Ray never wanted to write The Bastard Bullet.  He did not think he was skilled enough.  But I think he did a good job.

Thank to Mr. Gordon.

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1 minute ago, James DiEugenio said:

I am not sure if he is.  But if he is still alive, wow, he must be really old, like in his nineties. (BTW, that link above is not to Ray.)

Ray never wanted to write The Bastard Bullet.  He did not think he was skilled enough.  But I think he did a good job.

Thank to Mr. Gordon.

Yeah, I was looking deeper and I cannot connect the two, although the above link for Raymond Marcus (Pen Name) would be 99 YO.

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Bastard wasn't acceptable in the press at the time.  Was this basis for the term "Magic Bullet"?  It turned in the air, shredded through much tissue without losing velocity, cracked and broke bones, left more of itself behind than is missing from it and was found in pristine condition.  Truly Magical.  Amazing article for the time, ignored by the main stream media but maybe the term slipped out. 

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