Did David Kroman Crack the JFK Assassination Conspiracy?
Updated: Mar 16
There's been no shortage of people coming forward who claim to have inside information about the assassination of JFK. Two of these people contacted the Garrison investigation in 1967 - Richard Case Nagell and David Kroman. Nagell would go on and become a staple of conspiracy theorists while Kroman has been largely forgotten. But their stories intertwine, at least at the beginning.
Garrison's office received an intriguing letter in March of 1967:
You can see Garrison's notation on the right regarding Long Beach: "1. To which Harry Olsen moved 2. which Darryl Garner recently visited 3. where reporter friend of Ruby was killed. (Question: What is significance of Long Beach?)"
On the bottom Garrison wrote: "Question: Considering that Olsen the reporter + Garner all were friends of Ruby's - review Ruby L/D calls to see who he knew in Long Beach."
The office attempted to put an ad in the Berkeley Barb, but they even had a problem with that. William Martin was an Assistant District Attorney and he would ultimately become the initial contact with Richard Case Nagell.
Eventually, the ad was placed.
Ad from the September 22-28, 1967 issue of the Berkeley Barb. The same ad ran a week later as well.
So, who was Don Morgan? Gary Schoener, a JFK researcher, who at the time was a clinical psychology graduate student in Minneapolis, believes that he was David Kroman. I spoke to Schoener and he was pretty certain. Kroman was committed to the Springfield Medical facility at the end of March 1967, and Richard Case Nagell was there as well.
Here is an article from the New York Times about Kroman. The Don Morgan letter is dated March 27, 1967 - the same date Kroman was committed. However, we don't know when the letter was actually sent. So, it is quite possible Kroman met Nagell on arrival and then wrote Garrison.
Here is the FBI report from the local Minnesota office which has a lot of details about Kroman:
Another FBI report took exception to Kroman's story of being assaulted:
Dick Russell, author of the book The Man Who Knew Too Much, believes that Don Morgan was actually Vaughn Marlowe, the owner of a left-wing bookstore in Venice, California.
I find it strange to want to sign a letter as Gordon, but you end up typing and signing it as Morgan.
It's interesting to note that after the ad was placed in the Berkeley Barb, the Garrison office then made contact with Kroman. They were already speaking to Nagell in April.
Here is the first Garrison memo, written by Steve Jaffe, about a meeting with David Kroman's lawyer. This has to rank as one of the silliest Garrison memos out there.
Oh my god, the Federal Reserve stabilized the currency after the assassination! What a horrible thing to do.
Steve Jaffe then went and talked to David Kroman's brother:
Now, this memo states that Kroman was first brought to Jaffe's attention via a telephone call during a Mort Sahl radio show. That could be true - there were several people interested in Kroman.
I asked Gary Schoener what happened in the Garrison office after the ad in the Berkeley Barb appeared. He didn't know the answer.
Steve Burton, a volunteer who helped Jim Garrison and was head of the Citizen's Committee of Inquiry in Los Angeles, ran into David Kroman in December 1967 and here is his memo:
Stephen Jaffe then flew out to Minneapolis to meet David Kroman. Here is his memo:
You can always count on Stephen Jaffe to believe almost anything. In this case, he finds Kroman to be "sane and reasonable." In a document from 1969 about a meeting between Stephen Jaffe and Fred Newcomb, there was this paragraph:
Gary Schoener spent a lot of time working on David Kroman and found out lots of interesting details. Here is a letter he wrote to Paul Rothermel (head of security for H. L. Hunt) in 1969:
Here is Rothermel's reply:
Rothermel took an interest in Kroman because he accused H. L. Hunt of being involved in the assassination.
David Kroman was never brought to New Orleans. I asked Gary Schoener about that and he replied, "Garrison was fixed on his belief about the assassin team (I think it was Alpha 66 or some derivative of that group) and I was unable to engage him in discussion of what I had brought down in terms of knowledge, questions, or the materials I brought."
However, Richard Case Nagell is another story. Ultimately, Garrison would go to New York City and talk to Nagell for three hours in Central Park. He then spent six hours with Nagell at his hotel the next day.
David Kroman and Richard Case Nagell were never considered viable witnesses for the Clay Shaw trial.
Stay tuned, there will be future posts on Nagell coming up.
After posting this piece on David Kroman, Gary Schoener sent me the following in e-mail. Here is his message verbatim:
This is far more than I have seen about Kroman
he was some sort of operative, for lack of a better word. First of all, he created a company which became the focus of an insurance fraud case -- the American Allied case. He ended up ruining the career of an up and coming politician, and had created a manuscript which attacked the liberal wing of the Democratic Farmer - Labor Party, entitled "The House that Hubert Built" (referring to Hubert Humphrey). he was clearly very immersed in things connected to Minnesota politics. I never got to read any of it but he claimed he had a lot of dirt in it. He was of interest to some legislators who were investigating him and the fraud.
Secondly, he was engaged in some undercover work. I followed him one evening and found that he was doing work as a night janitor at a local psychiatric hospital. He told me he was photographing records -- took the camera in inside a lunch box. I could never find out which records he was looking at. Local psychiatrists who had examined him could not believe that he would work at that hospital since they would have recognized him, but turns out he managed shifts when they would not be there.
Thirdly, at a time when I was recovering from a beating and loss of vision in any eye, he threatened me and told me it would be best if I got out of the case. The woman who was with me (I had to be driven places due to my physical situation) told me that she believed he had clearly threatened me.
The lawyer Jerome Daly was a real crazy. He was one of those people pushing the theory that the US currency was fraudulent because there was not gold to back it up.
By the way, after being released from prison and meeting with Garrison, I believe that Nagel ended up shortly afterwards in E. Berlin and was told that he was grabbed by the Stazi and then came back to the US as part of a spy swap. I cannot remember the source for this but I heart it from more than one.
I have never taken Nagell at face value, but also do not have a theory about him (e.g. Douglas in JFK and the Unspeakable and some others do). Kroman was a bad actor, but I have no theories about him except that somehow he was involved in this case very early (e.g. well before me).
As much as I believed both needed to be investigated I also believed that they were some sort of distraction or misdirection.