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Will Fritz

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I know Chief Curry wrote a book, but have the other "higher ups" of the Dallas Police Department and/or the Sheriff's office spoken about their views of the investigation? Has Curry gone beyond his book?

I'm particularly interested in what they had to say once the FBI took over the investigation, and what they had to say once the Warren Report came out.

Do any Forum members have knowledge of what these men may have said?

I'm sure that since Will Fritz was "in charge" of the investigation in the beginning, he would have been able to give some valuable insight, in the years that followed...

The same goes for Decker too.


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The following from the link above:

FRITZ, JOHN WILL (1895-1984). John Will Fritz, head of the police investigation of the Kennedy assassination,qv was born on June 15, 1895, in Dublin, Texas. He spent much of his boyhood on a ranch near Lake Arthur, New Mexico. As a young man he traveled throughout West Texas and New Mexico, making his living as a horse and mule trader. He served a brief stint in the army during World War Iqv and returned to Texas in his early twenties to enroll in Tarleton State College (now Tarleton State University) in Stephenville, where he sold three horses to pay for his tuition.

Fritz joined the Dallas Police Department as a beat officer in 1921 and soon became a detective. He advanced through the ranks and was promoted to captain in 1934, when he organized the department's homicide and robbery bureau. Though he was made inspector of detectives in 1935, he voluntarily returned to being a captain in 1944. In 1947 he received the special title of senior captain, and later he reportedly refused the opportunity to become police chief. During his leadership of the homicide and robbery bureau, Fritz gained a reputation as an effective interrogator. In one ten-year period the homicide division reported 98 percent of the murders in Dallas cleared by arrest.

His career spanned some of the most violent times in Dallas history as well as some troubling times for the police department. Fritz gained nationwide attention when he headed the investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He was the first person to question suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswaldqv just hours after Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963. Though he did not get a confession, Fritz said he had all the proof he needed to convict, and before midnight he formally charged Oswald with the president's murder. Under the direction of Dallas police chief Jesse E. Curry, Fritz helped plan the transfer of Oswald to the county jail and was present when Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Rubyqv during the move two days later. For years after the assassination Fritz rarely spoke of the case and turned down repeated offers for books and articles. In November 1969 he was appointed night commander of the criminal investigation division, an appointment that some interpreted as a demotion. He retired three months later, on February 27, 1970.

The self-educated investigator, one of the most colorful figures in the Dallas Police Department, sometimes brought vagrants to the jail and saw that the "suspects" received a shower and a hot meal before they were released. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and an occasional escape to a pasture where he kept a few cattle and horses. He lived alone for much of his life, though he was married to a woman named Faye and had a daughter. Fritz was afflicted with heart disease and cancer; he died on April 19, 1984.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Dallas Morning News, April 20, 1984. Carlton Stowers, Partners in Blue: The History of the Dallas Police Department (Dallas: Taylor, 1983).

Carlton Stowers


Considering Fritz's high level of success as a homicide investigator, I find it unbelievable that he thought Oswald was the (only?) guilty one...

I wonder why he would not open up about the questions and unresolved issues regarding this case? Wouldn't everyone be better off if it was all cleared up?

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Fritz never "talked" publically, but according to the

late Mary Ferrell revealed to some close to him that

the interrogation room had a hidden microphone for

taping ALL suspects...but that he would never make

the LHO recordings public.

He also testified that he KEPT no notes of the LHO

questioning, which implies that he did TAKE notes.

The WC did not push him on this, knowing that

LHO probably revealed "national security" secrets.

Jack :D

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He also testified that he KEPT no notes of the LHO

questioning, Jack B)

This particular peice of testimony turned out to be untrue. As most forum members probably know, Fritz's interrogation notes finally did surface during the AARB inquiry.

As far as I can discover, Fritz refused to give interviews about the assassination and maintained this refusal until the day he died. I am pasting here an article by a Dallas newsman who got the bum's rush when he tried to question Fritz about the rumored phone call from LBJ. (I say "rumored" because thats all it appears to be)

August 22, 2003


By Bob Sirkin

In September of 1977, I was preparing to leave WFAA-TV in Dallas for a new position as a Correspondent for ABC News, based in Atlanta. I had a final task to complete before leaving town. I needed to arrange a meeting with a legendary, retired Dallas Police Captain; the first man to interrogate Lee Harvey Oswald following his arrest on November 22, 1963, for assassinating the President of The United States.

I met Captain Will Fritz for breakfast, at a small, shabby downtown Dallas cafe. Fritz was old, frail and in failing health. But his mind was razor sharp. Fritz lived nearby, at a residential hotel, not far from Dallas Police Headquarters; the place he worked for the better part of his life. We took a booth toward the rear of the cafe.

Over plates of bacon, eggs and toast, I asked Fritz the burning question: "Captain, would you consider sitting down with me, for an on-camera interview about that phone call you took from the White House on November 22, 1963? With that, Fritz dropped his fork on his plate, raised his head and stared at me long, hard and coldly. "Not now. Maybe I'll write something, someday," Fritz curtly replied. Disappointed, I finished my breakfast, politely said goodby to Fritz and left for my new position in Atlanta.

A few years later, Will Fritz passed away. Here's what Fritz, reportedly, took to his grave: After completing a marathon interrogation of Lee Harvey Oswald, Fritz was told that there was a call holding for him from the White House. On the line, the newly installed President of The United States, Lyndon Johnson.

President Johnson reportedly told Fritz..."You've got your man, now we'll take it from here." A short while later, the FBI seized full control of the most famous murder investigation in U.S. history. The FBI was also about to seize control of the main suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald, before he was fatally shot by Jack Ruby in the basement of police headquarters.

Mary Ferrell of Dallas, perhaps the world's most renowned JFK Assassination researcher and archivist. had petitioned the Warren Commission and House Select Committee on Assassinations to release Will Fritz's testimony. In parts of it, Fritz alludes to the LBJ phone call. But details remain sealed. Mary Ferrell is reponsible for getting thousands of pages of Warren Commission records de-classified under the Freedom of Information Act.

Following his death, some members of Fritz's family told me how despondent he was over the FBI snatching the Oswald investigation from him. Unknown, is whether Fritz, given the opportunity, could have gleaned from Oswald details of the alleged coverup...and could have determined whether Oswald acted alone?

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This might help you:



The Assassination Records Review Board, an independent federal agency overseeing the identification, review, and release of records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, announced today that it has acquired original handwritten notes on the interrogation of Lee Harvey Oswald taken by the late Dallas Police Captain who was in charge of questioning the alleged presidential assassin. This is the second time that the Board has obtained previously unavailable Oswald interrogation notes made by a law enforcement official.

Dallas Police Captain J. W. "Will" Fritz, who headed the homicide and robbery bureau, was the primary interrogator of Oswald while he was in police custody from the afternoon of November 22 until the morning of November 24,1963 when Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas police station. The Board recently acquired the notes along with other papers and photographs found after Captain Fritz's death in 1984. The materials had been in the possession of the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, until they were voluntarily turned over to the Board last month.

"Captain Fritz's original notes on the Oswald interrogations add depth to the primary record of what went on during the hours following the shooting of the President while Oswald was in custody," said Dr. Henry F. Graff, a member of the Review Board. "The notes are important because a stenographer was not present and no audio recording was made during the interrogation sessions."

Fritz told the Warren Commission in 1964 that he took no notes during the Oswald interrogations, but indicated that he later typed a report based on "rough notes" that were made "several days later." These notes are believed to be the ones acquired by the Review Board. They chronicle all of the key points of the Oswald interrogation, including his denials that he shot President Kennedy or owned a rifle, that he said nothing against the President and claimed that a photo of him holding a rifle was a forgery, with his head was superimposed on someone else's body. The notes end abruptly, showing the time of the last interrogation session on Sunday morning, November 24 as "10-11:15." Oswald was shot by Ruby a few minutes later.

The Fritz notes are only the second set of original handwritten notes taken on the Oswald interrogations that have surfaced in the 34 years since the assassination. Earlier this year, the Review Board announced the acquisition of handwritten notes taken during the Oswald interrogation by former FBI agent James P. Hosty, Jr.

The Fritz notes and other materials acquired by the Review Board have been transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration for inclusion in the JFK Collection, which is housed at the National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland. These materials are now available to researchers.

Copies of Fritz's handwritten notes on the Oswald interrogation sessions and a transcription of the notes are available from the Assassination Records Review Board, 600 E Street, NW, Second Floor, Washington, DC 20530; telephone number: (202) 724-0088.

Jim Root

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Harry Holmes also made extensive notes of his participation. What happened to his notes, I don't know. He also expressed a high regard for Fritz. This appears reciprocated. If more information can be found about Harry then quite possibly within it would be things about Fritz.

" I had the radio on all the time but there wasn’t much that I could do. I had called Captain Fritz and told him, “If there is anything I can do, why, I’m available and I’ve got plenty of men available.”

He said, “No, the FBI’s working on it and the Secret Service has charge of it, but I’ll remember, Harry.” I had worked closely with Fritz; he thought that I was a good inspector, and I knew that he was a good investigator. He was one of the best that we ever had here. He was kind of an unsophisticated country-type who had different ways, but nothing got by him."

"That Sunday morning, the 24th, I let my wife and daughter out at church about 9:00 o’clock in the morning and told my wife, “You know, I just think I’ll run down and see if I can help Captain Fritz with anything or if I can be of any use to him.” So I drove on down to City Hall and got off the elevator on the third floor expecting to be mobbed, but there wasn’t a soul in sight; whereas, before, there had been plenty of reporters with their microphones stuck in your face. Everywhere you went they would follow and ask questions. But there wasn’t a soul that Sunday morning. What had happened was that Curry, the chief of police, had promised the press that after they interviewed Oswald they were going to transfer him to the county jail, near the assassination site, which was a safer place for federal prisoners. Curry told them, “We will tell you in plenty of time so that you can photograph it and do whatever you want when we get ready to move him so that you can be part of the move.” That’s the reason there was so much chaos in that basement. They really got publicity but they brought it on themselves. They just had to be in on everything.

Anyway, when I got off that elevator and came around the corner and looked down the hallway toward Fritz’s office, he was standing there motioning to me saying, “Psst! Hurry! Come here, come here!” So I hurried and he said, “You like to be in on an interview with Oswald?”

"There was no tape recording of the interrogation or stenographer or anyone taking notes. That was the way that Fritz operated. The interrogation itself was rather informal with Captain Fritz being in charge. He would ask Oswald various questions and pull out different things such as the map with the X’s on it and the card that had been taken out of Oswald’s billfold that had A.J. Hidell on it and things like that. Then he would say, “Well, Sorrels, do you have anything you want to ask him?” But Kelley and Sorrels had very little to ask; they didn’t have the documentation that I had. We were free to ask or interject anything we wanted. Of course, we were all experienced interrogators, and when you went to trial in those days, especially in federal court, you had to show any notes you took to the defense. So they got to look at every note that you had against their client. But we old-time investigators would just do it by memory. I could still quote nearly every word that boy said to this day and that’s been over twenty years ago. That’s the way I was trained to interrogate anybody, and so was Fritz. If they’re telling the truth, you’d talk to them by the hour, and if they couldn’t tell it the same way twice or a third time, or a tenth time, you’d catch them because you’d know exactly what he had said the first time. You didn’t need notes; you didn’t need a secretary or a stenographer. Of course, you do now, but back then you really had to use your own wits to convict people.

At the time, I spent half the time in federal court, and especially through usage, I always had a good memory. You had to have to get through medical and dental school and work eight hours a days as I did. I would take post office schemes that took an ordinary person 30 to 60 days to learn; I’d learn it in five or six and make a 100 on the test which included 1,000 or 1,200 different addresses. Much of my work dealt with memory, and memory is just training: repetition, do it and practice."

"Though I never tested him, Captain Fritz could have done the same thing. He was a Texan who was crude and had farmerish ways and mannerisms, but as far as I was concerned he was really an outstanding criminal investigator. Fritz abhorred publicity, wanted to get the job done, send the guy to the penitentiary and go on to the next one. He was the pride of the Dallas Police Department; no one need ever sell him short, no matter what the press did. I don’t think this case got the best of him. He was just like me; he just got too old for the job and thought it was time to quit. As far as I know, there was no pressure on him, though there was a lot of criticism, “the stupid Dallas police,” and that sort of thing. Curry, on the other hand, being chief of police, owed his job to public relations. As far as I know, that was the only cross between the two.

Bill Decker was just like Fritz. Nobody questioned anything he did, not even the criminals. When “Old Bill” picked you up, they just said, “Well, you got me, Bill.” He treated them as nicely as he could, and so did I. I’d be very fatherly with them and give them advice and not gloat over the fact that they were a crook and that I was a really smart postal investigator. It just didn’t work that way; Bill Decker and Will Fritz were the same way."

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Thanks Jim and John for your input,

Isn't it funny that items were found 15-30 etc. years after the fact (such as these):

- Fritz's notes

- Abrams, Gedney, Doyle arrest record

- Yet another back yard photo (White copy)

There's probably more, that I don't recall right now.

Hmmm... makes me wonder what we'll see next.

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Harry Holmes also made extensive notes of his participation. What happened to his notes, I don't know. He also expressed a high regard for Fritz. This appears reciprocated. If more information can be found about Harry then quite possibly within it would be things about Fritz.

John, can you cite the source for this lengthy Holmes quotation? Am I correct in thinking he is speaking 20 years after the assassination?

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Harry Holmes also made extensive notes of his participation. What happened to his notes, I don't know. He also expressed a high regard for Fritz. This appears reciprocated. If more information can be found about Harry then quite possibly within it would be things about Fritz.

John, can you cite the source for this lengthy Holmes quotation? Am I correct in thinking he is speaking 20 years after the assassination?

Raymond, yes, closer to 30 years. Not many before his death. (can't find an obituary to confirm date).


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