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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

A Summary of the Clinton/Jackson Witnesses

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

Here is a summary of my 19 posts on the Clinton/Jackson witnesses.


The Witnesses


Part One: The witnesses testify at the trial of Clay Shaw.


Part Two: A response to the allegations made by the Clinton/Jackson witnesses.


Part Five: None of the Clinton/Jackson witnesses came forward in 1963-1964.


Part Eleven: Reeves Morgan claimed he called the FBI right after the JFK assassination. But did he really?


At the beginning of the Clay Shaw trial in February 1969, several witnesses from Clinton and Jackson, Louisiana were called to testify. Their stories of seeing Clay Shaw with David Ferrie and Lee Harvey Oswald in the summer of 1963 shocked the trial -- these were new stories that had not been told before.


The scenario described by the witnesses implies that Lee Harvey Oswald was in Clinton/Jackson for three days and two nights:


  • Evening 1: Oswald goes to Jackson for a haircut. Barber sends him to the house of Reeves Morgan. Oswald goes there and visits with Morgan.

  • Next day: Oswald drives to Clinton with Shaw and Ferrie and stands in line most of the day to register to vote.

  • Next day: Oswald goes to the East Louisiana State Hospital in the late morning to apply for a job.


Because there was no discovery in Louisiana courts in 1969, Clay Shaw's attorneys did not have access to Garrison's investigative reports on the Clinton/Jackson witnesses. So, they were not aware of the various inconsistencies these reports (see below). However, they were able to show exactly why it was extremely improbable that Clay Shaw was in the Clinton area in late August or early September of 1963.


The late summer and early fall of 1963 was an extremely busy time for Clay Shaw. His team was finalizing leases for the new International Trade Mart -- the only way they could float some bonds to finance the building was to have the leases in place for the New York investment bankers.


Shaw did not have time to take off one day, let alone three, to drive Oswald and Ferrie to Clinton and Jackson.


None of the Clinton/Jackson witnesses came forward in 1963 - 1964. And yet they were supposedly talking amongst themselves about the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald had been in Jackson/Clinton.


And there were several groups of people who were supposedly aware of his presence:


  • McGehee and his friends in Jackson, Louisiana.

  • A variety of people at the East Louisiana State Hospital.

  • Black people in CORE.

  • Palmer and Manchester's KKK crowd in Clinton.

Nobody came forward -- not the witnesses, and not their friends and family.


Reeves Morgan claimed he called the FBI, and they told him they already knew Oswald had been in the area. Had the FBI really thought that Oswald had been in Jackson/Clinton, they would have talked to hundreds of people, and yet there is not one example of a Jackson/Clinton witness being interviewed by the FBI in 1963 -1964.



The Local Environment


Part Three: A look at racism and the politics of the early 1960s.


Part Four: Many of the witnesses were either members of the KKK or sympathizers.


Clinton is in East Feliciana Parish. East and West Feliciana made up the 20th Judicial District which was served by one judge, John Rarick, and one district attorney, Richard Kilbourne. In 1960, Clinton's population was just 1,568, and by 2020, the population had actually declined to 1,340.


To fully understand the Clinton/Jackson witnesses, you must look at the situation of West and East Feliciana Parish in the early 1960s. This was KKK territory and black people were actively kept off the voting rolls. But the black community was getting organized, and the status quo was being challenged by voter registration drives throughout the area.


The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was founded in 1942, "to bring about equality for all people regardless of race, creed, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or ethnic background." In the summer of 1963, CORE made the Sixth Congressional District its "chief project."


The Justice Department's announced that "since 1956 1,550 Negroes and 895 whites have been removed from East Feliciana voter rolls by various challenges, many instituted by the segregationist White Citizens Council. Since these purges, the department said, 756 whites and only 20 Negroes have been registered."


People like Judge John Rarick, District Attorney Richard Kilbourne, and others did everything they could to link CORE with communism. A CORE connection to Lee Harvey Oswald, right after the assassination of JFK, would have cemented the link and would have come at an opportune time when they were still fighting CORE in the streets and in the courts. And yet there was no mention of Oswald being in Clinton/Jackson until mid-1967.


It is clear just how the racists of Clinton and Jackson treated strangers. Michael Lesser was thrown in jail and others were not so lucky. And yet, we are supposed to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald, a total stranger, was welcomed, told to go to the registrar's house at night, and given tips on getting a job at the hospital in Jackson.


Lots of strangers were in Clinton and that included FBI agents, journalists from the print and television media, and observers from the Department of Justice. There was probably no shortage of strange cars and the likelihood of people remembering strangers' faces several years later seems remote.


The Origin of the Stories


Part Six: Just where did the Clinton/Jackson witnesses come from?


Part Nine: Lee McGehee, the barber in Jackson, claimed that the racist newspaper The Councilor wrote about the Clinton/Jackson witnesses in 1966. No one has been able to find the article.


An article in the Baton Rouge State Times Advocate, from January 13, 1968, gives a clue as to the origin of the Clinton/Jackson stories. The importance of this article is that it gives us some insight into what people in the town of Clinton were whispering. One woman, now dead, thought that Oswald was in Clinton during voter registration.


Now this is not that unusual. There were lots of reports, after the assassination, of people reporting they had seen Lee Harvey Oswald. There were even reports of Oswald being in my hometown of Montreal, Canada. He was also seen in Alice, Texas, looking for a job. What I find interesting about this rumor is that only one woman saw Oswald, not that several people saw him, and not that he tried to get a job at the East Louisiana State Hospital.


It was very easy to graft Shaw and Ferrie into this rumor. The one witness was dead, and they could 'come up with' people to confirm the story. Had many people really seen Oswald, the rumor in town would have been a lot different.


Lee McGehee, the barber in Jackson, claimed that there was an article about what happened in Clinton in The Councilor (a racist newspaper out of Shreveport) in 1966. Conspiracy authors often cite this article as proof that these witnesses did come forward before the Garrison investigation, but no one has been able to find the article.


Why did these stories emerge? Some of the backers of Garrison, like Jack Rogers and L. P. Davis, were unhappy that he was blaming the CIA for the assassination. These stories might have been an attempt to steer Garrison towards a conspiracy that would blame the left and smear organizations like CORE.


The Garrison Investigation


Part Seven: Dischler was an investigator for Garrison who was teamed up with Lt. Francis Fruge of the Louisiana State Police.


Part Eight: The evidence that David Ferrie was in Clinton is poor.


Part Thirteen: All the physical evidence that could corroborate the Clinton/Jackson witnesses has vanished. I wonder why.


Part Fifteen: Corrie Collins identified Estus Morgan as one of the people who exited the black Cadillac to go and register. Winslow Foster might have been the other person in the car.


Anne Dischler was one of Garrison's main investigators into the Clinton/Jackson witnesses. She had worked at the State Sovereignty Commission, and she was teamed up with Louisiana State Policeman Lt. Francis Fruge.


There is very little evidence that David Ferrie was in Clinton. In early interviews. witnesses had trouble identifying Ferrie.


Corrie Collins initially told Anne Dischler that two men got out of the black car and that one of them was Estus Morgan. He said nothing about Lee Harvey Oswald. Over time, his story changed dramatically.


All of the physical evidence associated with the Clinton/Jackson witnesses has vanished. Henry Earl Palmer told Dischler that Oswald had signed the voter registration book. He even showed her the page with traces of his signature. When she went back the next day, the book was gone.


Oswald supposedly applied for a job at the East Louisiana State Hospital. That application form was never found.


The New Orleans D.A.'s office thoroughly went through the contents of David Ferrie's apartment and Clay Shaw's house. They didn't find any hotel receipts, maps, matchbooks, gas receipts, anything that would indicate they had been in Clinton or Jackson. There was nothing in Oswald's possessions that indicated he was there.


Inconsistencies in the Story


Part Ten: Corrie Collins continually changed his story about what happened in Clinton.


Part Twelve: Henry Earl Palmer told a ridiculous story about Oswald claiming he was living with a doctor in Jackson.


Part Fourteen: Henry Earl Palmer told Andrew Sciambra that Judge John Rarick was there when the black Cadillac visited Clinton. Author Don Carpentered emailed Rarick in 2007 to ask him. His answer is revealing.


Part Sixteen: Some witnesses saw other people in Clinton that day; Manchester's poor memory; and a look at whether the Cadillac's registration was checked in Baton Rouge.


Henry Earl Palmer told investigators that Oswald claimed he had been living with a doctor in Jackson. That doctor was identified as Dr. Frank Silva. Patricia Lambert interviewed Silva who told her that there indeed was a Marine who was looking for a job at the East Louisiana State Hospital. Perhaps this was yet another true story in which it was easy to graft Lee Harvey Oswald into.


Henry Earl Palmer also said that Judge John Rarick was present when the black Cadillac visited Clinton. Don Carpenter, author of the magisterial biography of Clay Shaw, Man of a Million Fragments, asked Rarick if this was true. Rarick replied that he was indeed there but there was no talk of Oswald, Ferrie or Shaw until the Garrison investigation.


Witnesses identified other people in Clinton that day including Jack Ruby, Thomas Beckham and Gerry Patrick Hemming.


There is some evidence that a "1028" check was run on the registration of the black Cadillac. The car was identified as being registered to the International Trade Mart. The only problem -- the Trade Mart did now own or lease any cars at all.


The HSCA


Part Seventeen: The HSCA investigation of the Clinton/Jackson witnesses was poor and incomplete. The HSCA never even figured out that Anne Dischler was the Garrison investigator that did most of the work in Clinton. She was not called to testify and the HSCA never examined her notes.


Part Eighteen: Corrie Collins was interviewed by the HSCA but was asked very few questions. He was not asked about Estus Morgan, Winslow Foster, and why his story continually changed during the initial investigation.


The HSCA investigation into the Clinton/Jackson Witnesses was deficient. When Lt. Francis Fruge was deposed, most of the questions he was asked was about Rose Cherami. He said nothing about Anne Dischler, his partner in the investigation.


Similarly, Corrie Collins was also asked relatively few questions.


The HSCA was anxious to accept these stories because they provided a link beteen Lee Harvey Oswald and David Ferrie, and thus a link, however tenuous, to organized crime.


Did Lt. Francis Fruge Put the Story Together?


Part Nineteen: Anne Dischler held many secrets about Lt. Francis Fruge


Dischler revealed some secrets about Francis Fruge to Patricia Lambert. Specifically, she had an affair withe Fruge and he admitted that he had faked evidence in a murder investigation. These secrets cast doubt on the credibility of the Clinton/Jackson investigation.



What's Next

I am not finished with the stories of Clinton/Jackson. Future posts will examine conspiracy theorists' claims about these stories, an in-depth look at witness William Dunn, and some further information about Anne Dischler's secrets.


Stay tuned.








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