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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Did Kerry Thornley Lie About Oswald's Height?

Updated: May 29, 2023

Here is a note that Jim Garrison sent to Gaeton Fonzi:

For some strange reason, Jim Garrison believed that he was on to something. Here is what Thornley said about his height to the Warren Commission:

Only Jim Garrison could feel that this exchange was suspicious. Here is what he wrote in his book, On the Trail of the Assassins: (page 73)

One of the reasons I had developed an interest in Thornley was that I suspected he could have been the man who used the name "Oswald" at the Bolton Ford Company in January, 1961. He had to have been one of the few men in the world who was in New Orleans around the time, who knew Lee Oswald, and who knew Oswald was in Russia. In addition, Thornley bore a striking resemblance to Oswald. There were of approximately the same height and slight build, both brown-haired and had similar facial features.
I recalled Thornley's testimony concerning their respective heights. Warren Commission counsel Albert Jenner had asked how tall Lee Oswald was. Here is the colloquy that resulted:
MR. THORNLEY: I would say he was about five-five maybe. I don't know.
MR. JENNER: How tall are you?
MR. THORNLEY: I am five ten.
MR. JENNER: Was he shorter than you?
But Oswald had been the taller of the two! Why, then, had Thornley described his friend Lee as six inches shorter than he really was? Was Thornley, perhaps, fearful that someone might believe that he had been the young man who acted out the role of Lee Oswald in the early 1960s ... at Bolton Ford in New Orleans ... then in Dallas ... and then in New Orleans ... and then in Mexico ... and then in Dallas, again?

This is all completely insane.

Of course, Oswald was shorter than Thornley. He was actually 5'9". This is all a complete red herring. Thornley, when asked about height, at first said 5'5" and then added that he didn't know. Any sane person would have stopped right there. But not Jim Garrison.

Garrison discussed this further with the HSCA. Here is an excerpt from the transcript: (23:54)

Jim Garrison: But one of the most significant lies is Thornley’s description of Oswald’s height in his Warren Commission testimony. And this is very significant. They’re both close to 5’11”, to make that point. But, it is almost impossible for a person who is 5’11” to think of another person who is 5’11” as being six inches shorter than him, needless to say. Yet in his description before the Warren Commission, he has Oswald as small as five feet five. He’s asked by Jenner, was Oswald shorter than you? Oh, yes. Well, I suggest that that is clearly an attempt to disassociate himself from something and what will he be disassociating from himself from here? From possible identification as the second Oswald. That, if he were for example, that would be his chief concern, having to surface and testify. He wouldn’t want that possibility to arise. Anyway, I compare their heights by ... Cliff, do you have this, and I won’t have to go through the whole thing. Okay, I just scan some of the things.

HSCA [25:25]: I don’t think we have that I have this one, but I don’t really have that one.

Jim Garrison: In cases like this, I’ll just summarize but I’ve given exact citations one after the other. So, in order to show you I’m not speculating that Oswald was 5’11”. One record after the other shows that he’s 5’11”. Then somewhere along the line back in the 60s, in the preparation for questioning him before the grand jury, we had sent for his driving license in California. And we learned from the driving license that he’s 5’11”. So, from the driving license of Kerry Thornley, we learned that he’s approximately 5”11” and 150 pounds, and from the different Marine examinations and passport documents and so forth. Lee Oswald, we learned, he is approximately five feet eleven and 150 pounds. About as too close, about as close as two different people can be

Several minutes later, Garrison was again trying to convince the HSCA that something was very suspicious: (32:29)

Jim Garrison: But the point is, if you had played a systematic role in setting him up, now you’re testifying before the Presidential Commission, that’s looking into the murder of the president, and the subsequent removal of his alleged assassin, Oswald. If they suddenly asked you, well Cliff, how tall are you? And you say 5’11”, and then suppose they said, how tall was Oswald? What do you think, in terms of probability, what do you think you would probably reply? Would you say, oh he was only exactly the same height I was ... do you really think so? Huh? You know you wouldn’t.

HSCA: Well, that’s debatable because ...

Jim Garrison: You would either make him to be 6’3” or 5’5”.

HSCA: The reason I say that, I'll tell you why I say that. They know.

Jim Garrison: Remember he’s allowed to give an impression. They’re not going to, it’s not like he’s a doctor, who measured him and he’s going to be held to account for getting the wrong height.

HSCA: Right, but like I’m egotistical to the point that I would like to be as accurate as possible. Just for myself.

Jim Garrison: Are you suggesting ...

HSCA: Excuse me, I think that Jim’s point is that if Thornley was in fact impersonating Oswald, I know he was trying, what would his reaction be, if someone asked him to describe Oswald? And he would like to give an answer that was 180 degrees from the truth. The truth, in fact, would be well Oswald was about my height, he looks something like me.

HSCA: Yeah, I get it.

Jim Garrison: He can’t even suggest that for this reason, from his point of view. Remember, the vulnerability, what he’s talking about is not a stolen car case. He doesn’t even one person, one person, one person to be aroused by the suggestion that goes, my God, this is the murderer of President Kennedy, and the subsequent butchery of Oswald is, no matter what his ego, cause if I’m asking, he’s got to disassociate at this point, from the second Oswald role he played.

Does any of this make any sense?


Previous Blog Posts Regarding Garrison-HSCA Interviews

Exclusive: Jim Garrison Tells the HSCA that Kerry Thornley Impersonated Lee Harvey Oswald... Garrison tells the HSCA all sorts of stories about Kerry Thornley

Yes, Garrison believed that Fred Crisman was one of the tramps.

Garrison only has one witness that places Oswald in Banister's office and even he is not too sure about his credibility.

Garrison tells the HSCA that Kerry Thornley might be the body in the backyard photographs.

Other Kerry Thornley Blog Posts

Why was Kerry Thornley arrested in 1962?

The first writings from Thornley on November 27, 1963, about Oswald.

Jim Garrison was convinced that Thornley was the only Marine to describe Oswald's left-wing politics.

Sylvia Meagher was a big supporter of Kerry Thornley and here is some of their correspondence.

Garrison writes a memo to the HSCA alleging that Thornley was the second Oswald.

An interview with another prisoner is more evidence to Jim Garrison that Thornley is the second Oswald.

Was Kerry Thornley gay?


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