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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Did Clay Shaw Know David Ferrie? Part Two

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

Right at the end of the Clay Shaw trial, two surprise witnesses came forward for the prosecution. Nicholas and Mathilda Tadin took the stand on February 27, 1969. They had just come forward that very day with their story.

New Orleans Times-Picayune, February 28, 1969

They testified that their oldest son, who was sixteen in 1964, took flying lessons from David Ferrie. They claimed to have seen Ferrie at the airport with Clay Shaw. Here is some testimony from Nicholas Tadin:

Note the dialogue - Tadin says when seeing Clay Shaw - "Oh, Christ, look at this." His wife replied, "what is the matter?" And, Mr. Tadin then said, "Clay Shaw over there." As Vincent Bugliosi notes in his book, Reclaiming History:

"In 1964, Clay Shaw was not a suspect in the Kennedy assassination and was not a controversial figure in any way. In an obvious slip, Tadin was talking as if he had seen Shaw with Ferrie at some time after he became a suspect in the assassination. If Tadin were telling the truth about seeing Shaw with Ferrie, there was nothing about Shaw in 1964 that could reasonable have caused Tadin to say to his wife, "Oh, Christ, look at this."

New Orleans States-Item, February 28, 1969

Mr. Tadin had also seen Clay Shaw riding around town in his Thunderbird.

The only problem is that Shaw's Thunderbird was black.

Mrs. Tadin took the stand after her husband, and she commented to her husband after seeing Clay Shaw at the airport.

James Kirkwood was immediately suspicious about the Tadin's son, who was supposedly taking flying lessons from David Ferrie (page 418 in American Grotesque). Their son was deaf, and it was highly unusual in 1964 for deaf people to pilot planes. Not so much today - there is even a deaf pilots association. To show how rare it was, check out this story from the Brattleboro Reformer of May 23, 1964:

This is from the Austin American of September 17, 1964:

And yet, it was true. Here is a picture of Noel Tadin with David Ferrie in the Clarion Herald on August 26, 1965:

However, there are some real issues with the testimony of Mr. and Mrs. Tadin.

First, here is the statement that Mrs. Tadin gave to the D.A.'s office earlier that day:

Now. how would Mr. Tadin know in 1964 that Clay Shaw was a "notorious degenerate?"

Secondly, Nicholas Tadin said he decided to testify because he was angry that Clay Shaw denied knowing David Ferrie. So, why did the Tadins only speak out at the end of the Clay Shaw trial? Why did they wait so long? Nicholas Tadin admitted that he had known about Clay Shaw's denial that he knew David Ferrie two years earlier, following the preliminary hearing.

Ok, so they didn't want to get involved in 1967, So why now?

Well, right after the trial, Irvin Dymond, Edward Wegmann and Clay Shaw visited the FBI to make a civil rights complaint against Jim Garrison. I'll be posting the entire memo in an upcoming post. But, here is the page about the Tadins (FBI# 44-41824-2; RIF #124-10089-10001, courtesy of Jerry Shinley).

And you can see there was some anger when Dymond cross-examined Tadin - at the end of his testimony, he asked him if he ever lied:

Because there was no discovery in Louisiana courts, Shaw's defense team was blindsided by the Tadins. They had no time for any investigation of their story, and no time to prepare for cross-examination.

After the trial, James Kirkwood talked to Judge Haggerty who told him, when speaking about the Tadins, that "But the jury, I asked one of them, they said they couldn't buy that because he waited too long." (page 635)


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