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Eugene Thane Cesar: Did he do it?


John Geraghty
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Several witnesses in the kitchen where Robert Kennedy was shot have identified Ace security guard Eugene Thane Cesar of shooting Robert Kennedy while Sirhan caused a distraction.

Cesar is still alive and if i am not mistaken Mel Ayton has spoken with him and is sure that he did not shoot Kennedy (I could be wrong on Mel meeting him).

Cesar told the LAPD that he had worked for the Ace Security Company for 6 months before the shooting, whereas in reality he had only worked three jobs for them before the ambassador and never before in that particular hotel, as he told the investigation.

He was also in possession of a .22 calliber gun at the time of the killing. He has stated that he sold the gun before the assassination but the buyers receipt clearly shows the sale happened some months after the assassination, the gun was later stolen and never seen again.

Are we to believe Cesar? Is is possible to build a case against him if he is guilty of the murder?

John Geraghty

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Cesar gave an interview in 1987 or so where he admittted that he had his gun out and was immediately behind Robert Kennedy at the time of the shooting. This ties in with the wounds.

I always found it strange that Cesar lived to to tell this and that nothing has come of this information. Of course Cesar also said he did NOT fire his weapon.

Dawn

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I believe Cesar's gun was recovered somewhere in the last ten or fifteen years. The teenagers who stole it from Cesar's friend came forward as adults and retrieved it from the woods where they'd left it many years before. My recollection is that the FBI tested it and compared it to the bullets taken from Kennedy and the tests were inconclusive.

Dan Moldea, who found and interviewed Cesar, mentioned in his book that Cesar was a long-time resident of Simi Valley, where my girlfriend lives and from which I'm writing. I probably passed him on the street about an hour ago.

And John, I believe Mel said he'd written a book on JFK and that there was no conspiracy, he'd written a book on RFK and that there was no conspiracy, and had written a book on MLK and that there was no conspiracy. It seems he specializes in telling everyone that there are no conspiracies and that the government doesn't make mistakes. Like a minor league Posner.

I asked Mel to read my seminar and get back to me and tell me where I'm wrong. He never came back. So much for those brave lone-nut theorists who are wiilling to admit when others have a point.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest Stephen Turner
There are those who see conspiracies where they do not exist.  But there are also thise who cannot see conspiracies which clearly exist!

Well said Tim and Pat. Mel is yet to respond to the thread on the assassination of MLK, I will email him and ask him to join the debate.

John, you can email him till the cows come home,he wont respond, I have tried on three seperate occasions, no reply, he's one gone dude B)

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  • 5 weeks later...
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  • 4 weeks later...
Cesar gave an interview in 1987 or so where he admittted that he had his gun out and was immediately behind Robert Kennedy at the time of the shooting. This ties in with the wounds.

I always found it strange that Cesar lived to to tell this and that nothing has come of this information. Of course Cesar also said he did NOT fire his weapon.

Dawn

Dawn, you mentioned that Cesar "admitted" having his gun out. If I am remembering correctly, the LAPD ( in 1968) said that no guns were drawn. Do you know if this was the case? I am one who has always thought that this was in fact a "LONE NUT", but never could fit it into my thinking just how Sirhan could have possibly known that RFK would pass through that kitchen area. Also, any idea how this guy got into that closet without an employee not seeing him? Plus,I assume that he would have been waiting for some time for the Senator to pass in front of him, why was he not detectedRegards,

Terry

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Guest Stephen Turner

Cesar gave an interview in 1987 or so where he admittted that he had his gun out and was immediately behind Robert Kennedy at the time of the shooting. This ties in with the wounds.

I always found it strange that Cesar lived to to tell this and that nothing has come of this information. Of course Cesar also said he did NOT fire his weapon.

Dawn

Dawn, you mentioned that Cesar "admitted" having his gun out. If I am remembering correctly, the LAPD ( in 1968) said that no guns were drawn. Do you know if this was the case? Terry

Terry, Cesar, a recently hired 26 year old, stood to the Senators right as the group passsed into the pantry. Cesar admitted to police that at the time of the assassination he was standing behind, and was in contact with Kennedy, and that when the shooting started he dropped down into a crouching position, and pulled out his gun. This , by his own admission, puts him in a much better position to have caused the upward angle of the wounds than Sirhan. The trajectories of these two bullets were nearly vertical, and the shot fired into Kennedy's brain was, at most, from a couple of inches behind him. A neat trick, considering Sirhan was firing at Kennedy from the front. Oh these magic bullets, is there nothing they cant do :unsure:

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Cesar gave an interview in 1987 or so where he admittted that he had his gun out and was immediately behind Robert Kennedy at the time of the shooting. This ties in with the wounds.

I always found it strange that Cesar lived to to tell this and that nothing has come of this information. Of course Cesar also said he did NOT fire his weapon.

Dawn

Dawn, you mentioned that Cesar "admitted" having his gun out. If I am remembering correctly, the LAPD ( in 1968) said that no guns were drawn. Do you know if this was the case? Terry

Terry, Cesar, a recently hired 26 year old, stood to the Senators right as the group passsed into the pantry. Cesar admitted to police that at the time of the assassination he was standing behind, and was in contact with Kennedy, and that when the shooting started he dropped down into a crouching position, and pulled out his gun. This , by his own admission, puts him in a much better position to have caused the upward angle of the wounds than Sirhan. The trajectories of these two bullets were nearly vertical, and the shot fired into Kennedy's brain was, at most, from a couple of inches behind him. A neat trick, considering Sirhan was firing at Kennedy from the front. Oh these magic bullets, is there nothing they cant do ;)

Are you sure? Without having my books handy, I thought that it was a newsman standing behind Cesar who said Cesar had pulled his gun. I don't remember Cesar admitting to pulling his gun. If he did, which gun was it? A lot of the focus fell on Cesar, as I remember, after he admitted that he had a gun like the one taken from Sirhan, but said he'd sold it before the shooting. When someone followed up on it, however, they found he'd sold it just AFTER the shooting. When they talked to the man who bought it from Cesar, he said the gun had been stolen. In recent years, I believe, one of the kids who stole the gun learned of its importance, and arranged for its return. It was tested but the tests were inconclusive. What I remember Cesar admitting to is that he had an active dislike of the Kennedys. I suppose I need to dig out my moldy Moldea, and re-read the interview.

While some have tried to make something of Cesar's short employment at Lockheed Skunk Works, I've always considered that a non-issue. I grew up in an area (The San Fernando Valley) that was the home to thousands of Skunk Work employees, of all stripes (groan) and sizes. Two of these employees were my step-father (who helped build and paint the planes) and the father of one of my girlfriends (an engineer who helped develop stealth technology).

P.S. I spend most of my time these days in Simi Valley, a community where Cesar was living at the time of his Moldea interview. Evidently, he lived here awhile. If anyone can figure out his former address, I might just go over and talk to his neighbors to see what kind of guy he really was. Does anyone here know Dan Moldea?

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Cesar gave an interview for a magazine in the mid 80's. Something to the effect of "Regaldies" was the magazine's title (I used to have it but can't seem to locate it at the moment) and in this inteview he said he'd had his gun out but was quick to say he did not fire it. Dan Moldea may have been the iterviewer.

Perhaps someone here remembers this interview. I was quite surprised that he was located, and more so that he agreed to an interview.

I just looked thru Phill Melanson's book on RFK thinking I might see a reference to this interview there,

but did not. (Tho he does mention an unpublished interview Moldea did of Cesar in 87).

Sorry this is not more helpful, trying to remember it from 20 years ago.

Dawn

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Guest Stephen Turner
are you sure? Without having my books handy, I thought that it was a newsman standing behind Cesar who said Cesar had pulled his gun. I don't remember Cesar admitting to pulling his gun.

From an interview given to police officers at rampart station shortly after the shooting..

Cesar, "Just as he (Kennedy) got to the steam table, I was up to him where I had ahold of his arm here. I was pushing people away with the other arm."

Officer " You were on which side of him?"

Cesar "I was on his right side, and the moment when we got on the edge of the steam table, he had reached out and sort of turned to shake hands with someone."

Officer " Turned to his left?"

Cesar " Well he was walking this way )East) and he turned just like this (North) and when he did, my hand broke loose, sort of away from his arm. and, of course I GRABBED IT AGAIN, because people were all over the place

Officer " People were pressing in prety close?"

Cesar " Right, now, at the time, I just happened to look up, and thats when I seen- all I could see was an arm, and a gun. And I REACHED FOR MINE, but it was too late.

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I have just recently acquired a copy of Cyril Wecht's CAUSE OF DEATH, and seem to find proof that Sirhan could not have fired the fatal shot. Mr Karl Uecker, the hotel Maitre d, said that he had hold of both RFK and Ethel Kennedy as they moved through the kitchen. Mr Uecker said he saw Sirhan and thought that he was a houseman, an employee of the hotel. He said that the Kennedys were one step behind him and that Sirhan was ALWAYS in front of him, in fact he said that after the shooting started, he instinctively jumped FORWARD and grabbed the man with the gun by the neck. He further stated that he was between the two of them (RFK and Sirhan) the entire time, and that his eyes were on Sirhan the whole time, saying that Sirhan's gun never got closer to Senator Kennedy than a couple of feet. Some people have speculated that RFK was shoved by the crowd directly into Sirhan. This was physically impossible, IMO based on what Mr Uecker stated.

Regards,

Terry

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I have just recently acquired a copy of Cyril Wecht's CAUSE OF DEATH, and seem to find proof that Sirhan could not have fired the fatal shot. Mr Karl Uecker, the hotel Maitre d, said that he had hold of both RFK and Ethel Kennedy as they moved through the kitchen. Mr Uecker said he saw Sirhan and thought that he was a houseman, an employee of the hotel. He said that the Kennedys were one step behind him and that Sirhan was ALWAYS in front of him, in fact he said that after the shooting started, he instinctively jumped FORWARD and grabbed the man with the gun by the neck. He further stated that he was between the two of them (RFK and Sirhan) the entire time, and that his eyes were on Sirhan the whole time, saying that Sirhan's gun never got closer to Senator Kennedy than a couple of feet. Some people have speculated that RFK was shoved by the crowd directly into Sirhan. This was physically impossible, IMO based on what Mr Uecker stated.

Regards,

Terry

Dan Moldea researched Cesar's background and interviewed him a number of times. He also got Cesar to take a polygraph (yes, I know there will be some forum members who reject polygraphs).Moldea exhonerates Cesar.Furthermore, it should also be remembered that Cesar volunteered his statement to police - he volunteered handing over his handgun to police.They ignored him.There is nothing in Cesar's background to warrant irresponsible charges against him.The statement about when he sold his .22 is a red herring.At any time during the investigation the police could have demanded to see Cesar's other guns. He had the .22 for quite some time following the assassination - a rather strange thing to do if you are involved in a conspiracy.

As Kennedy was led through the pantry by Ambassador hotel maitre’d , Karl Uecker, ‘Ace’ security guard Thane Cesar was waiting at the double swing doors.Uecker led Kennedy by the right wrist through the crowd which filled the pantry passageway.Cesar held RFK’s upper right arm.Kennedy moved through the pantry shaking hands with excited supporters and hotel workers occasionally breaking loose from his guides.Uecker said, “I took the Senator behind the stage.I was going to turn left to go to the Ambassador Ballroom and somebody said, ‘No.We’re going that way.We’re going to the press room (Colonial Room)’.I said, ‘This way, Senator….’ It was a last-minute decision.I don’t know who made it…The Senator was really happy, and he stopped again and again to shake hands…I got his hand, his right hand and I said ‘Senator. Let’s go now’. (A split second later I) felt something, somebody, moving in…the next thing I heard was a shot.It sounded like a firecracker.Then I heard a second shot.Senator Kennedy’s right arm flew up and he was TURNING (emphasis added)…it looked like the Senator saw what had happened.” The shot that killed Kennedy was fired from a distance of approximately one inch.

In front of Kennedy there were about 20 people.Kennedy was in the midst of about 50 people.As Cesar approached Kennedy when he came through the pantry doors people began pushing and shoving towards the Senator.Cesar began to push them away as Kennedy had difficulty moving forward.

Just before Uecker, Cesar and Kennedy reached the ice machine a couple of meters from the swinging doors.Cesar took Kennedy’s right arm at the elbow as Uecker kept hold of Kennedy’s right hand.Cesar let go as Kennedy began to shake hands with kitchen workers who were standing behind the serving tables.Cesar’s account is crucial because he was certain about how Kennedy was standing at the moments shots rang out. Cesar told Dan Moldea, “A lot of people testified that (Sirhan) was standing this way (with Kennedy facing his assailant).I know for a fact (that’s wrong), because I saw him (Kennedy) reach out there (to shake hands with a busboy) and which way he turned.And I told police about that.”

Although Cesar did not see Kennedy hit or fall he knew the Senator’s head had been turned away from Sirhan’s gun exposing the right rear of his head, the part of his body hit by the fatal bullet .Cesar did not draw his gun until both he and Kennedy had fallen to the floor (Cesar dropped to the floor to avoid being hit by bullets).Cesar’s gun was only out of his holster for about 30 seconds and was not drawn until he began to stand up.

Cesar was in shock.He also had powder burns in his eyes.He immediately ran out of the pantry when he saw Sirhan had been struggling with Kennedy’s aides and returned immediately with other Ace guards, Jack Merrit and Albert Stowers, who had been in the Embassy Room.Merrit entered the pantry with his gun drawn.

The official LAPD version of the shooting concluded that the sequence of shots were as follows:

*The first shot hit Kennedy in the head

*The second bullet went through Kennedy’s shoulder pad, did not harm him, and exited and hit Paul Schrade.

*The third bullet entered Kennedy’s right armpit and lodged in his neck.

*The fourth bullet entered Kennedy’s back and exited through his chest, traveling upwards to the ceiling where it was lost in the interspace.

*The remainder of the eight shots hit the other victims, some as ricochets off the ceiling and walls.

However, as Dan Moldea argued, the reliable witnesses to the shooting all said the distance from Kennedy to Sirhan’s gun was between 1 ½ to 3 feet.Boris Yaro, a photographer for the Los Angeles Times said the gun was within “a foot” of Kennedy’s head. Therefore the first bullet could not have hit Kennedy as his wounds displayed “scorch marks” which could only have resulted from the gun having been placed an inch or so from Kennedy’s head.

And, as Moldea explained, “All twelve of the eyewitness’ statements about muzzle distance is based on – and only on – their view of Sirhan’s first shot.After the first shot, their eyes were diverted as panic swept through the densely populated kitchen pantry.The seventy-seven people in the crowd began to run, duck for cover, and crash into each other.”

One of the most reliable witnesses, Lisa Urso, who was able to see both Kennedy and Sirhan, saw Kennedy’s hand move to his head behind his right ear.As the distance from Kennedy to the gun after the first ‘pop’ was three feet it is likely he had been simply reacting defensively to the first shot fired. Urso described Kennedy’s movements as “…(jerking) a little bit, like backwards and then forwards”.Moldea believes the backwards and forwards jerking, “….came as Kennedy had recoiled after the first shot; he was then accidently bumped forward, toward the steam table and into Sirhan’s gun where he was hit at point blank range.”

Dan Moldea believes the first shot hit Paul Schrade because the Kennedy aide’s last memory was of the Senator smiling and turning toward the steam table.Furthermore, in support of his thesis that the first shot hit Schrade, Moldea quotes ‘key witness’ Edward Minasian as saying, “I saw the fellow (Schrade) behind the Senator fall, then the Senator fell.” Kennedy probably saw Schrade hit because when he himself lay dying on the floor he asked, “Is Paul alright?” If Kennedy had indeed been hit by the first shot he would not have been standing, observing Schrade.The injury to Kennedy’s head was so severe he would not have been able to observe anything once the bullet struck.

Moldea’s thesis is supported by eyewitness Vincent DiPierro who told investigators, “….I stuck my hand out and he shook my hand and I tapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘Congratulations Mr Kennedy’. And I walked with him as far as I could…I stayed as close as I could to him…into what is the kitchen more or less …..and this guy,…he was in a kind of a funny position because he was kind of down…like if he were trying to protect himself from something…he tried to push the people away from his hand…and then he…swung round and he went up on his…tiptoes…and…he shot…and the first shot I don’t know where it went, but I know it was EITHER HIS SECOND OR THIRD ONE THAT HIT MR KENNEDY (emphasis added) and after that I had blood all over my face from where it hit his head, because my glasses…(Martin Patrusky) saw the blood all over my face.”

Moldea’s thesis is supported by one of the key witnesses, Frank Burns, who was identified as one of the five in the group (the others were Karl Uecker, Juan Romero, Jesus Perez, Martin Patrusky) that was closest to the Senator.Although Burns insisted the gun was never less than a foot or a foot and a half from Kennedy he nevertheless described the dynamics of the shooting in such a way to make it entirely feasible that Sirhan’s gun moved to an area inches away from the Senator.Burn’s had suffered a burn on his face which he thought was caused by a bullet passing near his cheek.It was likely a ‘powder burn’ from Sirhan’s pistol.Burns said:

“… I had just caught up with him (in the pantry), and he was a step or so past him.And I’d turned around facing the same way as he turned toward the busboys I was just off his right shoulder, a matter of inches behind him.” After Sirhan fired his gun Burns said, “The noise was like a string of firecrackers going off, it wasn’t in an even cadence.In the process, a bullet must have passed very close to my left cheek because I can remember the heat and a sort of burn.I remember an arm coming towards us, through the people, with a gun in it.I was putting together the burn across my cheek, the noise and the gun and I was thinking, ‘My God, it’s an assassination attempt’.I turned my head and saw the gun and quickly looked back to the Senator and realized he’d been shot because he’d thrown his hands up toward his head as if he was about to grab it at the line of his ears.He hadn’t quite done it.His arms were near his head and he was twisting to his left and falling back.And then I looked back at the gunman, and at that moment he was almost directly in front of me.He was still holding the gun and coming closer to the Senator, PURSUING THE BODY SO THAT THE ARC OF THE GUN WAS COMING DOWN TO THE FLOOR AS THE BODY WAS GOING DOWN.( Emphasis added)”

Burns’ description of the shooting may be the key to an understanding of how the angles of the bullet paths in Kennedy’s body were not consistent with the LAPD’s conclusions that Sirhan’s gun was extended horizontally.

Following the first shot, which hit Schrade, Kennedy was struck by bullets entering his shoulder pad as he was raising his arm to defend himself.Then two shots hit his right armpit – one bullet lodged in the back of his neck.Finally, according to coroner Thomas Noguchi in an interview with Dan Moldea, the fatal head shot occurred.Noguchi said he based part of his explanation on the fact that had Kennedy been hit in the head on the first shot he would not have been able to stand.The head shot would have taken him off his feet immediately. Noguchi told Dan Moldea, “So I believe there were four shots fired at (RFK) at least. The sequence? The shoulder pad shot as he was raising his arm, the two shots to his right armpit, in which one of the bullets lodged in the back of his neck, and , lastly, the shot to the mastoid. This was the shot that was fatal.” (Moldea p312)

Noguchi told Douglas Stein in 1986, “The senator had three gunshot wounds -- a head wound behind his right ear and two through the right armpit. To reconstruct a scenario of the shooting, the gunshot wound to the head wouldn't tell us much, except how close the assailant may have been. We must remember the body is constantly moving, with arms especially changing position. When you examine a body, it's in a horizontal state, so I had to physically and mentally place his body in an upright position to interpret the wound configurations. When a bullet penetrates the skin, it generally leaves a round hole. But the wound to the senator's armpit was not round. To make it round, I had to move the arm fifteen degrees forward after raising it to ninety degrees. I had to do that to understand the relation head wound came from a back-to-front direction; the second wound was on the side, and the third was slightly shifted, indicating he was turning clockwise. ……We know that the three gunshot wounds were at close range.”

Moldea places a lot of misunderstanding about the shooting on the general lack of knowledge about how crowds react during violent incidents.Both conspiracy advocates and official investigators did not understand the dynamics of crowd movement and of how crowds can rapidly change direction and positioning in an instant.This would have been especially true in the Kennedy case, after the first shot when people reacted out of fear, shock and perhaps defensively.People in the pantry were also turning their heads to look for the source of the sounds; on realizing a gun had been fired some would have stumbled, fallen and crashed into objects around them and clashed with others in the crowd.In such circumstances it is easy to see how only a few witnesses placed Sirhan’s gun within a foot or two of Kennedy’s head.It should be remembered that none of the LAPD ‘most credible’ witnesses actually saw Kennedy shot.

Moldea’s conclusions about the movement of the crowd is supported by a statement made by Dr Marcus McBroom to KABC TV Los Angeles reporter Carl George, immediately following the shooting. McBroom said, “I was 5 or 6 people behind him (RFK). He was moving and then stopping. Apparently a little…if I’m not mistaken….a man who was in a work shirt, his hair was all tossled. He sort of approached the Senator from the front and he was sort of smiling and then suddenly it seemed like there was one short and then five shots in quick succession. I do know the crowd panicked and I was thrown back into the ballroom…..”

Furthermore, as Dan Moldea points out, the estimates for the distance of the gun were based on when the first shot was fired.The estimates ranged from 1 ½ feet to 8 or 9 feet.In an instant, following the first shot, the whole dynamics of the crowd changed.As one LAPD detective told Dan Moldea, “…Eyewitness testimony? You talk about 77 people in a room and 12 actual eyewitnesses to the shooting.These are people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.You’re expecting accuracy in their statements? 12 different eyewitnesses will generally give you 12 different versions of a story…eyewitnesses are not trained or experienced or qualified to make judgements about what they see in such situations.” As Thomas Noguchi observed, “…I believe that the Kennedy assassination must go down in the history of forensic science as a classic example of ‘crowd psychology’, where none of the eyewitnesses saw what actually happened.”

It is unlikely that second-shooters in an elaborate conspiracy would have remained undetected.In addition, conspirators could not have known which route Kennedy was to take when he left the Embassy ballroom stage and entered the kitchen pantry.He was directed along that route by an aide.A number of other routes could have been taken.Conspiracy advocates find this fact irrelevant.They believe that multiple assassins may have been waiting at various locations on the possibility that RFK chose another route.However, there is a central weakness in their thesis.There has simply been no evidence which would have supported it.

Mel Ayton

http://crimemagazine.com/05/robertkennedy,0508-5.htm

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