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  • Fred Litwin

Did Clay Shaw's Maid Know He was Clay Bertrand?

Updated: Mar 4

Clay Shaw's maid, Virginia Johnson, worked for him for eight years. Did she perhaps know that he was Clay Bertrand? Did she see mail at Shaw's residence addressed to Clay Bertrand?


James DiEugenio, in his book Destiny Betrayed, writes that "Virginia Johnson had been Shaw's maid for several years, until 1965. A man who stayed with Shaw on several occasions told her that Shaw had used the name Bertrand." (page 387)


His source is a memo dated March 22, 1967. Here is that memo:


Virginia Johnson refers to Mr. Formadol - who is really William Formyduval - one of Clay Shaw's closest friends.


While she heard the name Bertrand from Formyduval, the memo states that "When asked if Mr. Formadol referred to Mr. Shaw as Bertrand, she stated no, but she heard the name from him." Further, "Officer Navarre was unable to pin her down on any specific point in reference to the name "Bertrand."


She also said she did not see Lee Harvey Oswald or David Ferrie at Shaw's apartment, and that she made the black hood for his Mardi Gras costume. Notice there was a lot of kidding at the fabric shop about the case.


Mrs. Johnson was interviewed a second time in January, 1968:

The underline above regarding Jack Spencer had a notation on the side (unfortunately cut off in this version of the document) that says "Kerry Thornley's landlord at time of the assassination." Maybe that is important because of propinquity?


Again, she reiterated that she had seen no mail addressed to Clay Bertrand. This time, she said that "she had never heard the name Bertrand."


It's interesting that she notes the gossip going on at the fabric store. It's right in line with thinking that New Orleans was a hotbed of rumors and gossip.


At the end of the memo, it appears that Gary Sanders is almost anxious to see if they could get Shaw on an illegal tax deduction.


Why not? They had nothing else!


But wait, there's more. Joan Mellen, in her book, And Justice For All, add this juicy tidbit: (page 119)

Now, where did Mellen get this from? Johnson said nothing about this in the above two memos. Well, she got it from two sources. First, this letter sent to Jim Garrison:

Garrison's notation is from 1977 - and indeed he sent this lead off to the HSCA, He wrote: "NOTE: Long shot, but strong if it comes thru. Morgan should be contacted so that the lead can be followed up. JG P.S. The writer of this letter took the trouble to get Penn Jones to pass it on to me to be sure we'd get it. Doesn't sound like a crackpot letter."


And, indeed here is an excerpt from a leads memo that Garrison sent to the HSCA on September 12, 1977:

Oops, he farmed it out to his staff and they didn't follow through! I wonder whether the HSCA followed-up this lead.


Mellen's other source is an internal Life Magazine memo:

This is Mellen's source? Does this look like proof that Virginia Johnson revealed there had been a killing in Clay Shaw's house?


How many readers would actually check Mellen's sources?




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