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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

A Wrap-Up of the Richard Case Nagell Story

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

Over the past two weeks I have systematically debunked the Richard Case Nagell story. There is absolutely no underlying evidence to support any of it. He had no foreknowledge of the JFK assassination. He wasn't hired to kill Oswald. In fact, he never met Lee Harvey Oswald. He wasn't CIA and he wasn't KGB.

Who was Richard Case Nagell? He was a war hero who suffered brain damage in a plane crash in 1954. He was never the same, and his family and friends realized that he needed help. Unfortunately, despite his pleas for help -- and the shoot-up in the bank in El Paso was a plea for help -- Richard Case Nagell never got the help he needed and the help he deserved.

And that's the Richard Case Nagell story. He wasn't the man who knew too much; he was the man who needed help. And he turned into the man who loved to entice.

Conspiracy theorists have turned him into a QAnon icon; only they can decipher his cryptic messages.

The first edition of Dick Russell's book, The Man Who Knew Too Much, is over 800 pages and is chock full of ridiculous material. There are so many silly stories that I could blog for another month.

For instance, shortly after Nagell's second trial in 1966, he told his sister to get in touch with Mark Lane. Fortunately for us, he was out promoting his book Rush to Judgment. Otherwise, he might have fallen for the Nagell story, and he would have turned it into a very public circus.

What did Nagell want his sister to tell Lane? Well, if Lane would represent Nagell, he could tell his sister about "a location where I have photographic evidence relating to the Main Topic." (page 640). A standard Nagell ploy.

Nagell then wrote to Richard Popkin, and then he got in touch with Jim Garrison. He was on his way.

Nagell needed someone to help him with his writ of habeas corpus and what better hook than to tell a JFK conspiracy theorist that he had some incredible evidence -- be it a tape recording of the conspirators or perhaps some photographs. It was always too good to be true. He always knew what buttons to push.

And Nagell was an excellent student of the assassination. When he first met William Martin, the Assistant District Attorney from Jim Garrison's office, Nagell wanted to hear his theory of the assassination. Only then would he talk about some of what he knew.

And it was the same with Dick Russell: (page 32 in the second edition)

"I also sent Nagell a detailed outline of what I believed to be the "highlights" of his relationship to Oswald and the assassination, which he returned to me with typewritten corrections"
"Incidentally have you seen the message from Nagell that confirms that Oswald was a FBI informer with number 179?"

Clearly Nagell got that from a public source. An FBI informant's number would not be known to the informant, or anybody outside the FBI. In this case, we know that the story of S-179 was made up by Lonnie Hudkins after a phone call with Hugh Aynesworth.

Nagell knew how to play these people and strung them along, first for some legal help, and second, for god knows what. Perhaps he just wanted some attention, or perhaps he wanted some meaning to his life. Since he was a very disturbed man, we will never quite understand his motivations. He had been on his way to a successful career in counterintelligence but the brain damage damaged him permanently.

Nagell promised Dick Russell that "the truth will come out if I die, and the government is well aware of that." But nothing ever came out. Nagell's supposed evidence never turned up. He had decades to produce it and all he could do was promise was that it would appear after he was dead. Some people are still waiting.

At the end of the second edition of The Man Who Knew Too Much, Dick Russell recounts a conversation he had with Nagell in 1978: (page 466)

"So I'm still hanging in there, with no guarantee, only this faith that there've got to be some people in this world who won't just let me fade away."

Nagell's faith was justified. Conspiracy theorists will never let him fade away. If Nagell were still alive, I think he'd be thrilled that he is the talk of the town in conspiracy land.

Here is a handy guide to the Nagell story:

Previous Richard Case Nagell Blog Posts

The Importance of Richard Case Nagell to Some Conspiracy Theorists

Jim Garrison and a few conspiracy theorists think Nagell is a very important witness. But is he really?

Genesis of the Richard Case Nagell story

David Kroman met Richard Case Nagell at the Springfield Medical Center for Federal Prisoners. Stephen Jaffe, a Garrison volunteer, wrote a memo, relating Nagell's story through the eyes and ears of David Kroman.

Nagell was convicted of armed robbery and was sentenced to ten years, but his conviction was overturned because of startling new evidence.

Richard Case Nagell and the JFK Assassination

There is no credible evidence that Nagell had any foreknowledge of either Lee Harvey Oswald or the JFK assassination.

Nagell claims he met Oswald in Japan, Texas, Mexico City, and New Orleans. There is no credible evidence that he ever met Oswald.

Nagell went to Cuba and met with Fidel Castro and even played ping-pong with the man.

Insane Conspiracy Theories about Richard Case Nagell

Richard Case Nagell said that he knew the two Oswalds - Lee Harvey and Leon. Some conspiracy theorists believe this madness.

Combine one part crazy and one part ridiculous and what do you come up with? An early attempt at a unified conspiracy theory of the JFK assassination.

Two Smoking Guns of the Richard Case Nagell Story

Nagell sent conspiracy theorist Dick Russell one page of a military intelligence file which seemed to indicate that he was monitoring Oswald and his wife on behalf of the CIA. But does the whole document really show that?

Did Richard Case Nagell had an Oswald Military ID in his possession when he was arrested in September 1963?

Richard Case Nagell and Jim Garrison

Richard Case Nagell believes that he wasn't called to testify at Clay Shaw's trial because his testimony would have blown up Jim Garrison's case.

At a conference in September 1968, Garrison and his investigators discuss his face-to-face meeting with Nagell in New York City.

William Martin, an Assistant District Attorney working for Jim Garrison, tried to retrieve a tape that Nagell said contained the voices of three JFK assassination conspirators.

Richard Popkin, author of "The Second Oswald," writes Jim Garrison about Richard Case Nagell. Garrison staffer Tom Bethell thought the Nagell lead was useless.

Richard Case Nagell's Mental Health

Nagell won a full disability pension in 1982 and the 60+ page court case provides complete details on his mental problems.

Richard Case Nagell told a psychiatrist why he shot up the bank in El Paso in 1963.

The FBI spoke to Nagell's ex-wife, his mother, his sister, and one of his friends. They all agreed that Nagell had significant mental health problems.

Nagell visited the American consulates in Zurich and Barcelona in 1969. He was a deeply disturbed man.

Richard Case Nagell's Evidence

None of the so-called evidence that Nagell promised would materialize on his death has shown up. Did this evidence ever exist?


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