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Oswald's 30-minute phone call


Ron Ecker
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Researchers are rightly curious about the “Raleigh call” that Oswald tried unsuccessfully to make from jail to a John Hurt in Raleigh, NC around 10:45 pm on Saturday, November 23, 1963. But there is a perhaps more significant call that Oswald made around 8 pm that evening, because that call apparently went through: Oswald talked to someone for about 30 minutes. Who did he talk to, and why have the records of this phone call been suppressed?

On page 74 of Chief Curry’s book Retired Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry Reveals His Personal JFK Assassination File, there is a notarized “Affidavit of Any Fact” signed by Thurber T. Lord and dated August 20, 1964. It reads as follows:

“May (sic) name is Thurber T. Lord. I entered the Dallas Police Department on November 11, 1942. I was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant of Police and assigned to the Service Division as Jail Lieutenant on March 29, 1960. I was on duty in this capacity on November 22, and 23, 1963, working 2:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. About 4:00 p.m. on November 23, 1963, Detective M.G. Hall of Homicide and Robbery Bureau called me and stated that Lee Harvey Oswald had requested permission to use the telephone and told me it would be o.k. I called J.L. Popplewell who was on duty on the fifth floor and told him to put Oswald on the phone. Popplewell called back within twenty or thirty minutes and said that Oswald had not been able to complete his call. He said Oswald told him that his party would not be in until later in the evening. I relayed this information to Detective Hall, who asked that Oswald be allowed to use the phone again at that time. I went to the fifth floor about 8:00 o’clock and told Popplewell to let Oswald use the phone again if he wanted to use it. Popplewell put Oswald in the telephone booth and was standing near by. I called to Popplewell and told him that Oswald was entitled to make his call privately. Popplewell was advised to keep Oswald in view but to stay back a reasonable distance. Oswald was in the telephone booth about thirty minutes, making his call and then talking to his party. After Oswald completed his call he was returned to his cell by J.L. Popplewell.”

I have been unable to find this Lord affidavit anywhere in the online Warren Commission volumes. I also did not find it in the DPD online JFK collection. On the Nook of Eclectic Inquiry website, there is a list (link below) entitled “Warren Commission, Dallas Police Department Documents,” which identifies the affidavit of Thereby (sic) T. Lord as CD No. 1444d. There is also a J.L. Popplewell affidavit identified as CD No. 1444g. Where are these documents? Also listed are affidavits by Arthur E. Eaves (CD 1444e) and Buel T. Beddingfield (CD 1444f). Both the Eaves and Beddingfield docs relate to phone calls that Oswald made or attempted to make earlier in the day, and both are found online in the WC materials. But what happened to the Lord and Popplewell docs relating to the 8:00 p.m. call? Also listed as CD 1444c is “Telephone sheets on prisoner’s telephone calls for November 22, 23, and 24, 1963.” Where is this document?

Doc list:

http://www.jmasland.com/cd-n.htm

On page 930 of his book Harvey and Lee, John Armstrong states, “At 8:00 pm Oswald was again allowed to use the telephone. He spoke for about 30 minutes while officer J.L. Popplewell stood nearby. Curiously, there are no DPD telephone logs to identify the telephone number which Oswald called or the party with whom he spoke for 30 minutes.”

Armstrong’s source on the 8:00 pm 30-minute phone call is cited (footnote 247) as the WC testimony of DPD officer Richard Sims. But there is no reference at all to such a call in the testimony of Sims, who did not see Oswald after 4:15 pm that day. Not only did Armstrong apparently make a mistake in his cite, but nowhere does he cite what must be the primary sources, the Lord and Popplewell affidavits. Did Armstrong not find them? And if he didn’t, what was his source? The copy of the Lord affidavit in Curry’s rare book? (Hopefully Jack White can find out Armstrong’s source if he doesn’t know, as he proofed Armstrong’s book.)

Armstrong also states that “According to DPD telephone operators, two unidentified men were eavesdropping on Oswald’s conversation in the next room.” What is his source for that? I believe Armstrong is simply assuming this because the later “Raleigh call” was monitored by two unidentified men according to operator Treon. It may well be true about the 8:00 pm call as well, since the records of it have apparently been suppressed, but it’s an educated guess, not a known fact.

In any case, Armstrong goes on to state the importance of the 8:00 pm call: “A 30 minute phone call by the accused assassin of the President of the United States could have been extremely important. It appears the people monitoring, and perhaps recording, Oswald’s phone call wanted the identity of the caller and the substance of the conversation kept secret. What happened to the police logs of this call, and who did Oswald talk to for 30 minutes?”

I also wonder why Chief Curry chose to publish an apparently suppressed document in his 1969 book. (The caption says, “An affidavit indicating that Oswald was allowed to use the telephone several times at his request.”) I wonder if Curry was trying to tell us something. If so, the HSCA apparently did not pick up on it. I know of no interest that the HSCA showed in Oswald’s 30-minute phone conversation with a party or parties unknown.

Ron

Edited by Ron Ecker
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Researchers are rightly curious about the “Raleigh call” that Oswald tried unsuccessfully to make from jail to a John Hurt in Raleigh, NC around 10:45 pm on Saturday, November 23, 1963.  But there is a perhaps more significant call that Oswald made around 8 pm that evening, because that call apparently went through: Oswald talked to someone for about 30 minutes. Who did he talk to, and why have the records of this phone call been suppressed?

On page 74 of Chief Curry’s book Retired Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry Reveals His Personal JFK Assassination File, there is a notarized “Affidavit of Any Fact” signed by Thurber T. Lord and dated August 20, 1964. It reads as follows:

“May (sic) name is Thurber T. Lord. I entered the Dallas Police Department on November 11, 1942. I was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant of Police and assigned to the Service Division as Jail Lieutenant on March 29, 1960. I was on duty in this capacity on November 22, and 23, 1963, working 2:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. About 4:00 p.m. on November 23, 1963, Detective M.G. Hall of Homicide and Robbery Bureau called me and stated that Lee Harvey Oswald had requested permission to use the telephone and told me it would be o.k. I called J.L. Popplewell who was on duty on the fifth floor and told him to put Oswald on the phone. Popplewell called back within twenty or thirty minutes and said that Oswald had not been able to complete his call. He said Oswald told him that his party would not be in until later in the evening. I relayed this information to Detective Hall, who asked that Oswald be allowed to use the phone again at that time. I went to the fifth floor about 8:00 o’clock and told Popplewell to let Oswald use the phone again if he wanted to use it. Popplewell put Oswald in the telephone booth and was standing near by. I called to Popplewell and told him that Oswald was entitled to make his call privately. Popplewell was advised to keep Oswald in view but to stay back a reasonable distance. Oswald was in the telephone booth about thirty minutes, making his call and then talking to his party. After Oswald completed his call he was returned to his cell by J.L. Popplewell.”

I have been unable to find this Lord affidavit anywhere in the online Warren Commission volumes. I also did not find it in the DPD online JFK collection. On the Nook of Eclectic Inquiry website, there is a list (link below) entitled “Warren Commission, Dallas Police Department Documents,” which identifies the affidavit of Thereby (sic) T. Lord as CD No. 1444d. There is also a J.L. Popplewell affidavit identified as CD No. 1444g. Where are these documents? Also listed are affidavits by Arthur E. Eaves (CD 1444e) and Buel T. Beddingfield (CD 1444f). Both the Eaves and Beddingfield docs relate to phone calls that Oswald made or attempted to make earlier in the day, and both are found online in the WC materials. But what happened to the Lord and Popplewell docs relating to the 8:00 p.m. call? Also listed as CD 1444c is “Telephone sheets on prisoner’s telephone calls for November 22, 23, and 24, 1963.” Where is this document?

Doc list:

http://www.jmasland.com/cd-n.htm

On page 930 of his book Harvey and Lee, John Armstrong states, “At 8:00 pm Oswald was again allowed to use the telephone. He spoke for about 30 minutes while officer J.L. Popplewell stood nearby. Curiously, there are no DPD telephone logs to identify the telephone number which Oswald called or the party with whom he spoke for 30 minutes.”

Armstrong’s source on the 8:00 pm 30-minute phone call is cited (footnote 247) as the WC testimony of DPD officer Richard Sims. But there is no reference at all to such a call in the testimony of Sims, who did not see Oswald after 4:15 pm that day. Not only did Armstrong apparently make a mistake in his cite, but nowhere does he cite what must be the primary sources, the Lord and Popplewell affidavits. Did Armstrong not find them? And if he didn’t, what was his source? The copy of the Lord affidavit in Curry’s rare book? (Hopefully Jack White can find out Armstrong’s source if he doesn’t know, as he proofed Armstrong’s book.)

Armstrong also states that “According to DPD telephone operators, two unidentified men were eavesdropping on Oswald’s conversation in the next room.” What is his source for that? I believe Armstrong is simply assuming this because the later “Raleigh call” was monitored by two unidentified men according to operator Treon. It may well be true about the 8:00 pm call as well, since the records of it have apparently been suppressed, but it’s an educated guess, not a known fact.

In any case, Armstrong goes on to state the importance of the 8:00 pm call: “A 30 minute phone call by the accused assassin of the President of the United States could have been extremely important. It appears the people monitoring, and perhaps recording, Oswald’s phone call wanted the identity of the caller and the substance of the conversation kept secret. What happened to the police logs of this call, and who did Oswald talk to for 30 minutes?”

I also wonder why Chief Curry chose to publish an apparently suppressed document in his 1969 book. (The caption says, “An affidavit indicating that Oswald was allowed to use the telephone several times at his request.”) I wonder if Curry was trying to tell us something. If so, the HSCA apparently did not pick up on it. I know of no interest that the HSCA showed in Oswald’s 30-minute phone conversation with a party or parties unknown.

Ron

Hi Ron,

here's the affidavit of Popplewell:

AFFIDAVIT IN ANY FACT

My name is J.L. Popplewell. I entered the Dallas Police Department January

11th, 1957. I have worked the fifth floor jail most of this time. The 23rd day

of November, 1963, at 3PM, I was assigned to guard the area in front of Lee

Harvey Oswald's cell, watching all of his movements to see that he didn't hurt

himself. At about 4PM Lt. Lord called on the jail phone and instructed me to

put Oswald on the phone. Oswald asked the operator for two telephone numbers -

then asked me for pencil and paper while in the telephone booth. I tore a small

piece of plain paper, about two by three inches from the telephone record sheet

that hung outside the telephone booth; then handed this piece of paper and my

pencil to him. Oswald wrote a number on this paper and then returned my pencil

to me. Then he asked if he could call later. Oswald did not get his call

through at this time. I called Lt. Lord and informed him that Oswald did not

get his party and wanted to call again later. About 8PM Lt. Lord came up to the

jail and told me to let Oswald use the phone. I was instructed to step back

away from the booth so the phone call could be private. From this location I

watched the prisoner talking to someone. He used the phone about thirty

minutes. I asked Oswald if he got his call through and he answered, yes. I then

returned him to his cell.

About four months ago on a Monday, I received a call from an FBI agent who

wanted to know about a slip of paper with a phone number on it. This was

supposed to have been in Oswald's pocket when he died. The agent asked if we

allowed prisoners to keep phone numbers on their person. I said that if a call

wasn't completed the first time, we could let them write the number down and

keep it for a later call. The agent asked me the size of the paper I might have

given Oswald to write on. I told him it was probably torn off of a telephone

record sheet hanging outside the telephone booth; that the paper was plain,

unmarked, about two by three inches. The telephone sheet is usually used for

writing names of prisoners who use the phone, but due to the large volume of

prisoners that weekend, it was possible I missed writing Oswald's name down on

it. I have been unable to locate a sheet with his name on it.

Subscribed and sworn August 20th, 1964

Here's a picture of Thurber T. Lord.

Both he and his wife Dahlia are deceased.

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Dave,

Thanks. As I asked also on Lancer, where or how did you find it?

It's interesting that he says he failed to write Oswald down on the telephone log, and that the FBI was interested in knowing about a number found on Oswald when he died.

Ron

Edited by Ron Ecker
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Dave,

Thanks. As I asked also on Lancer, where or how did you find it?

It's interesting that he says he failed to write Oswald down on the telephone log, and that the FBI was interested in knowing about a number found on Oswald when he died.

Ron

Ron,

I just used google, both web search and groups, I am no researcher :-( .

Search for the name of the officer's and put them into " " .

I did also look at the Dallas Municipal JFK collection, but found nothing there.

You may try to contact Matt Allieson (sp) known as altasrcrd or so on usenet,

the affadavit I posted was copied from one of his posts on usenet.

From what I did read, the 2 number's Oswald asked the operator for, could

have been privat/work phone numbers of lawyer Abt.

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Dave,

Thanks. The first thing I did was a Google search after I couldn't find the doc in the WC materials online. I found nothing on the web search. But I didn't know about Google Group search. I used that a few minutes ago and found the usenet post with the affidavit right away.

One learns something new every day. Google Group search is good to know about.

Ron

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Dave,

Thanks. The first thing I did was a Google search after I couldn't find the doc in the WC materials online. I found nothing on the web search. But I didn't know about Google Group search. I used that a few minutes ago and found the usenet post with the affidavit right away.

One learns something new every day. Google Group search is good to know about.

Ron

As I am living in germany, the internet is the only tool I have, apart from book's

and video/dvd, to get info about the case.

The interresting thing is, Oswald asked for 2 numbers and only wrote down one.

Why ?

Most probably there's no answer to that question.

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Ron,

Also listed as CD 1444c is “Telephone sheets on prisoner’s telephone calls for November 22, 23, and 24, 1963.” Where is this document?

I think I saw a telephone log in the LaFontaine's book, Oswald Talked

What follows does not answer your question, but there was a pice of paper in Oswald's pocket when he died with some phone numbers on it.

I, Vincent E. Drain, Special Agent of F.B.I delivered the following above mentioned articles to Captain G.M. Dought, Dallas Police Dept. this date, February 7, 1964. These articles bear my initials as well as Cap't. Doughty's initials. The above items were received from Captain Doughty by Special Agent Drain on 2-2-64.

Among the items listed, such as a t-shirt, a black sweater and gray shirt was a slip of paper found in Oswald's right front pocket bearing these numbers:

OR-9-9450

RI-8-9711

AC-2-4611

CO-7-3110

CH-7 (the last prefix and number were crossed out)

Dallas Police Archives Box 9, Folder#4, Item#10.

http://jfk.ci.dallas.tx.us/box9.htm

Don Roberdeau later told me that:

"The four numbers on the list and their corresponding owners (CE2073):

- RI 8-9711, Dallas jail

- CO 7-3110, John Abt, attorney, business number at the offices of David Freedman and Abraham Unger, 320 Broadway, NY, NY.

- AC 2-4611, John Abt, residence, 444 Central Park West, NY, NY.

- OR 9-9450, The Daily Worker, 23 West 26th St., NY, NY."

Mark Bridger told me that:

"The last one, Lloyd Viles, a fellow employee had the phone number - CH-7-3854. You'd have to find out what prefixes corresponded to what local exchange. I've an idea they were abreviations for longer words weren't they? So CH might be short for CHESTNUT or CHELSEA, for example. I believe in WC testimony quite a few witness phone numbers were at the top of testimonies, especially those given to the FBI and County Sheriffs. Hope this helps? Mark."

I never did learn the identity of that last number CH - 7

Steve Thomas

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I think I saw a telephone log in the LaFontaine's book, Oswald Talked

Steve,

Thanks, I checked but the log shown is for 11/22. In any case, Popplewell basically admits in his affidavit that he didn't write Oswald down on the log for his 11/23 30-minute call, so the log wouldn't show us anything.

CH-7 (the last prefix and number were crossed out)

If they were crossed out to the extent that only the CH-7 was legible, then obviously someone (either Oswald or the FBI, who wound up with the list) did not want anyone to know what or whose number it was. This would indicate that this was the party to whom Oswald spoke for 30 minutes, if we are to believe Abt who testified that he was out of town that weekend and did not receive any phone call from Oswald. And this party was in Dallas, as it had the same telephone exchange (CH-7) as TSBD employee L.R. Viles (CH-7-3854), who according to a list of TSBD employees on 11/22 (page 389 in LaFontaine) lived at 3210 St. Croix.

Ron

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If I had to make a guess, I would say he talked to his CIA superior, whom I have no doubt was Phillips. Phillips would then most likely have said: Just say nothing, we'll get you out of there.

But I am admittedly speculating.

Lets look at the facts. Oswald made the call, it was substantive, it went through and lasted about half an hour. If it was tapped (which it probably was) there is no record of what he was saying. Although a major move on Oswald the prisoners part, it is partially covered up in the record. The call wasn't cut off and doesn't appear to be to the press. I agree with Wim, on a strong speculative scenario. Phillips, or the Baron, or Mr. Hunt recieved a call, threatening to blow. Since Oswald was intended to be (and soon would be) a "lost" alleged assassin, some soothing commitments were made, probably a promise to switch him out and fly

him south of the border.

"We've got it under control, we'll get you out of there. Hang tight, little buddy."

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I think it's safe to assume that as a result of this 30-minute call, ending about 8:30 pm and no doubt monitored, the authorities knew who Oswald would try to call later that night (the cut-out John Hurt in Raleigh). Apparently knowing what they needed to know, they accordingly instructed Mrs. Swinney not to complete the Raleigh call, which she didn't.

BTW Oswald had at least two lists of numbers, since the two Hurt numbers were not on the list he was carrying when he died. Where was the other list? He wouldn't throw it away, he would have kept the Hurt numbers until he reached Hurt.

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Ron,

And this party was in Dallas, as it had the same telephone exchange (CH-7) as TSBD employee L.R. Viles (CH-7-3854), who according to a list of TSBD employees on 11/22 (page 389 in LaFontaine) lived at 3210 St. Croix.

I did a mapaquest on this address, it's north of Dallas up towards the Highland Park

I looked up George Bouhe's address and it's in about the same place.

I wonder if this area was the location of the White Russian community in Dallas.

Steve Thomas

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I have been unable to find this Lord affidavit anywhere in the online Warren Commission volumes. I also did not find it in the DPD online JFK collection. On the Nook of Eclectic Inquiry website, there is a list (link below) entitled ?Warren Commission, Dallas Police Department Documents,? which identifies the affidavit of Thereby (sic) T. Lord as CD No. 1444d. There is also a J.L. Popplewell affidavit identified as CD No. 1444g. Where are these documents? Also listed are affidavits by Arthur E. Eaves (CD 1444e) and Buel T. Beddingfield (CD 1444f). Both the Eaves and Beddingfield docs relate to phone calls that Oswald made or attempted to make earlier in the day, and both are found online in the WC materials. But what happened to the Lord and Popplewell docs relating to the 8:00 p.m. call? Also listed as CD 1444c is ?Telephone sheets on prisoner?s telephone calls for November 22, 23, and 24, 1963.? Where is this document?

Doc list:

http://www.jmasland.com/cd-n.htm

Ron

Ron,

The Warren Commission "CDs" are the Commission supporting documents used as you have noted. They are available through Tom Jones' Digital Document Imaging. I have put up a temporary site for him at http://www.jfklancer.com/ddi/

The set is expensive but well worth it. Maybe a few of you could get together and get a set. I have a MAC computer so I can't help you with this.

Best,

Debra

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Debra,

Thanks. Wow, both figures are quite impressive, 50,500 pages of docs, for $400.

I'd certainly be willing to chip in with others for the CD set (e.g., 20 people, $20 bucks apiece), if someone wanted to keep the set and take doc requests. (It's incompatible with Windows XP, so that would eliminate me as the set keeper.)

Ron

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