Did David Ferrie Have a Map of Dealey Plaza in his Desk Drawer?
Updated: May 6
This story starts with an HSCA interview of Thomas Beckham in October of 1977. He was a con man who had conned Jim Garrison (see my book, On The Trail of Delusion, for full details) and he had an amazing story for the HSCA.
You can read more about Beckham on my various blog posts:
Here is what Thomas Beckham told the HSCA:
Now, who in their right mind would believe any of this? Well, the first incarnation of the HSCA did, and they even brought Beckham to New Orleans in May 1978 for a complete deposition. In addition, the conversation above with Beckham was recorded and word got out that there was a "confession" tape. Jim Garrison called radio conspiracy nut Ted Gandolfo in February 1978 and claimed that "I wish I could you the progress they have made. It's past conspiracy. It's past prima facie. It's solid evidence on tape. I mean there's no question about it." In the 1990s, Gandolfo and others charged that the HSCA had covered up the tapes.
The two HSCA investigators, L. J. Delsa and Bob Buras, were intrigued by the package of documents Beckham received from G. Wray Gill. They contacted Garrison and wondered if perhaps he had more information. Here is his reply:
Clara "Bootsie" Gay was a poet and artist. who also worked at a painting supply company in New Orleans, and her lawyer was G. Wray Gill. Harold Weisberg had heard a story about her, and here is the first mention of Bootsie in the Garrison files.
This lead was not followed up. The next mention was after the Clay Shaw trial in one of the Garrison memos regarding new leads:
Then, Fred Soule, head of the Vice Squad, interviewed Al Clark:
Soule then interviewed Bootsie Gay:
Soule sent this undated note to James Alcock. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a copy of the sketch:
Then Soule interviewed some of the other people in Gill's office:
It does seem strange that Bootsie Gay would just walk into Gill's office on the Saturday after the assassination, and go through Ferrie's desk. After all, she was just a client. Joan Mellen claims it was the Tuesday after the assassination - after Bootsie had heard about Ferrie being the subject of attention by the FBI and the Secret Service.
It seems equally ridiculous to think that David Ferrie would leave a map of Dealey Plaza on his desk. My guess is that Bootsie had a good imagination.
Delsa and Buras believed that Bootsie's diagram and Beckham's diagram were the same (really?) but could find no linkage between Beckham and Bootsie.
But guess who takes Bootsie quite seriously? Here is what James DiEugenio, in his book Destiny Betrayed, writes: (page 216)
"When she head about Ferrie being questioned by Garrison's office, she called up Gill and noted the tumult on the other end of the phone. One secretary said words to the effect that Mr. Gill knew nothing about this. She then went to his office. Clara looked over at Ferrie's desk and she saw what looked like a diagram of Dealey Plaza: it was a drawing of a car from the perspective of an angle above, the car was surrounded by high buildings, reminiscent of Dealey Plaza."
Gee, DiEugenio is just a tad more certain about this than I think he should be, no?
It's all not that surprising given that James DiEugenio references all sorts of non-existent evidence. Check out my blog post about Sergio Arcacha Smith and his supposed possession of a map of the Dallas sewerage system - DiEugenio discusses non-existent photos of Dealey Plaza, a non-existent recording, and the non-existent sewer system map. Enough evidence, in his mind, to convict Sergio Arcacha Smith.
But wait, there's more!
DiEugenio writes in his book Destiny Betrayed: (page 294)
"What makes all this violent witness intimidation more startling is what Robert Tanenbaum stated to the author in an interview for Probe Magazine. He said that he had seen a set of documents that originated in the office of Richard Helms. They revealed that the CIA was monitoring and harassing Garrison's witnesses. As Tanenbaum stated it, he had a negative view of Garrison up until the time he became Deputy Counsel of the Housel Select Committee on Assassinations. Then he read "all this material that had come out of Helms's office, that in fact what Garrison said was true. They were harassing his witnesses, they were intimidating his witnesses. The documents exist. Where they are now, God only knows."
In April 2022, I visited Tulane University to have a look at the archives of Congressman F. Edward Hébert. He was friends with Bootsie Gay and she often wrote him letters.
Here is a picture she sent Hébert:
She often visited the law offices of G. Wray Gill who represented her on various cases. She met David Ferrie who impressed her and she wrote Hébert asking for help in his fight against Eastern Airlines for reinstatement.
She wrote this letter to Hébert asking for help for Ferrie:
She writes on the first page, "Eddie, I presume in closing a letter for you to check and forward a file under separate cover in hope you will your useful good self and advise me if there is any way to help my friend."
Hébert answered her:
She then sent another note on April 28, 1963 to Hébert:
I am not sure when this was sent:
This Mr. Ferrie made two trips for me (I was without funds) paid his own expenses -- did not charge for his time and brought about my settlement I'll soon receive from Florida -
He is a good man.
He is honest -
Mr Bel is attorney for Air lines Atlanta Georgia I believe it was he who did the dirty work.
And she enclosed this:
Bootsie Gay's notation is at the bottom. She notes that Mr. Ferrie wrote this...and she asks for Hébert's help.
Hébert wrote her back
After the assassination of JFK, Bootsie wrote a long letter to Hébert:
Dec 29 -- 1963
Dear Eddie: I perhaps should have written sooner but simply hated to do so for actually I am embarrassed. I feel I have (although innocently) done you a grave injustice. I seem to grow more trusting of people the older I get instead of wiser. It seems the past should have taught me a few thing but it hasn't. I've been taken on so many business deals and run into unscrupulous lawyers etc but this last thing has truly humiliated me beyond measure. As you know Wray Gill and his son have represented me in a civil matter + being a criminal attorney I have in my many visits to his office seen some
Weirdos but naturally did not meet them. One day a while back I encountered a strange looking man + when I asked about him (I thought he was a client) the secretary told me he worked there as investigator + was brilliant [?] + a devoted Catholic etc -- so I ran into him a number of times in Gill's office, quite naturally, He was always saying his Rosary and seemed like maybe a little fanatic re Religion but kind so in the course of my numerous visits
he said. he mentioned you + I were friends (how he knew I do not know) + I said 'yes' I had known you + your family for years so he tells me the story of his being mistreated + could I ask you to help. I asked Mr. Gill + told him I had never asked your help on any matter but he (Gill) seemed so anxious to help this man (Dave Ferrie) supposed to be Dr. Ferrie I believe -- that Gill told me not to hesitate to ask your help so I took
his advice -- only trying to help an employee of Gill's feeling the air lines had done him an injustice (he blamed a young man whom he said was a smart alec + alcoholic who personally disliked him from Atlanta Ga. -- + that it was a thing Dealing in personalities - + Mr. Gill I think even flew to Florida to try to have him reinstated with air line + took a former FBI man Bannister [sic] to help so I assumed he must be a
nice man who had been a victim of circumstances. However, when I got your letter + told Mr. or Dr Ferrie you could not or would not intervene he was furious -- + didn't speak to me again - I thought him rude + strange so woman like I wrote a note + left on his desk + it said "Talking religion is one thing but living it is another" + signed Bootsie Gay. Well - the stenographer told me he went into a fit.
so he hated me then on. I forgot the thing + chalked it off - but lo + behold a few weeks later I look in the paper -- he had been arrested + the notice read the D..A.'s office was holding him for the F.B.I. + Secret Service. I nearly dropped my bridgework. I went to the phone + before I could ask Alice Guidruz or the other lady who works for Gill "she asked me if I had heard about Dave Ferrie + I said I saw paper"
Her reply was it was on T.V. + radio + their office was in a turmoil -- + I was furious that I had been not only introduced to him in their office but allowed to write you re him -- I was told Mr. Gill knew nothing about him -- it was all news to him. Now I have enough sense to know F.B.I. + Secret Service do not pick up people at random -- There must have been smoke there -- so I was called into the office where Mrs. Francevitch
was packing all this man's personal papers etc -- to send to him -- he was told if he walked into the office all would walk out (the female help I mean) I told her she should turn over all his papers to the FBI or secret service (none of my business I guess) but I felt they should have let these men come to office + see if there was anything there of value to them -- or whatever he was picked up for --
I have never found out why they wanted him. I knew better than to ask Gill so I asked Mr. Bernstein (his associate) what should I do -- + he said "Forget it" but I have found I can't + wish to get it out of my system. All I can say is please forgive me for any embarrassment I may have caused you but
I swear on all thats Holy -- I didn't mean to do anything but help someone -- but never again. Is there anything I should do Eddie or say to anyone Please advise me (off record + personally) how I should react. I want to do what is right + I don't want authorities to think I know this man for I don't
He must have done something pretty evil to be wanted by three law agencies -- if I ever knew or felt I knew anything that should he reported to any law officer I would never forget that I am a good citizen + a darn good + loyal American + no one better ever say differently or they have a fight on their hands.
I may be wrong in writing all this + annoying you with it however I do not dare discuss it with anyone else + I wish to get it off my chest -- The thing that has upset me too was the lady in Gill's office said "Mrs. Gay if I were you I wouldn't call Mr. Gill's house for a while for I'm sure his phones are tapped" -- + I told her I didn't care who (law enforcement) listened to any of my conversations to Gill or anyone else -- my
legal business is legitimate naturally so they are all welcomed to listen. I feel I'm no criminal + I'm not implicated in anything other than trying to collect money due me + property (17 yrs. due me) so what do I have to hide -? I thought this was silly. Don't you? I kept the calls up + still do -- for I have nothing to hide -- I surely meet some nice People at times --
If I don't hear from you I'll forget this but If you deem it proper for me to go to the authorities + tell them the truth that I don't know anything just what I've told you and that is it -- I'll do so -- Anyway I wish a prosperous + grand 1964 honey to you, Gladys, Dawn + family.
That's the letter. There is no mention of any map found on David Ferrie's desk. Not a word.
Now have a look at how Joan Mellen, in her book A Farewell to Justice, reports the story: (page 84)
The story about Regina Franchevich picking up a chart is not in Bootsie Gay's letter to Hébert. And so what Joan Mellen is doing is melding together Bootsie's letter and her later story to Jim Garrison. An honest researcher would note that the contemporaneous record does not corroborate her later story about the map.
No serious researcher can give any credence to the story Bootsie Gay told Garrison about a map of Dealey Plaza being found on David Ferrie's desk.