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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Edward Jay Epstein, R.I.P.

Updated: Jan 14

Edward Jay Epstein died today at the age of 88. He was a towering figure in the JFK assassination research community. His 1966 book Inquest paved the way for many other researchers and gave some needed credibility to the critic community.

At first, critics like Sylvia Meagher were intrigued by Epstein. He seemingly had access to the Warren Commission members and had stories that nobody else had. In 1965, Sylvia Meagher had a meeting in her apartment with several Warren Commission critics and Edward Jay Epstein was the star attraction.

I will soon be publishing her memo of that meeting.

But her enthusiasm for Epstein waned when she realized that he thought that Oswald was one of the gunmen. She then nicknamed him Epsteinker, and she cut off relations.

Epstein's best book on the case is his book Counterplot which covers the Jim Garrison affair. I just published this review of Counterplot earlier this week.

Epstein was one of the first to visit Jim Garrison in New Orleans. It didn't take long before he realized that the man was a complete charlatan.

When I read Counterplot, I noticed that Epstein had received documents from Elmer Gertz, the lawyer for Gordon Novel, who was suing Garrison for defamation from his interview in Playboy Magazine. Garrison had provided Playboy with secret information and I knew I had to get those memos.

Fortunately, the papers of Elmer Gertz are in the Library of Congress, and I was able to photograph all of the relevant papers. The links below will take you to those memos.

Here is an excerpt from his 2023 book, Assume Nothing: (pages 94 - 95)

I met Garrison that evening for dinner. He told me he had made progress since the arrest, and release on bail, of Shaw. "I can now prove that Oswald, David Ferrie, and Clay Shaw met at Ferrie's apartment in 1963," Garrison said. "During the meeting, they planned out the assassination."

I asked how Garrison could establish such a meeting took place since two of the alleged participants, Oswald and Ferrie, were dead, and the third, Shaw, categorically denied ever meeting Oswald.

Garrison said there was another witness named Perry Russo, who happened to be in Ferrie's apartment at the time and had overheard the conversation. Unfortunately, Garrison said, Russo had repressed his memory of the assassination meeting when he was initially questioned by Sciambra, so no mention of it was made in Sciambra's memorandum of the interrogation. Garrison then told me he had "reconstituted Russo's memory" by using both sodium pentothal injections and hypnosis. As a result, Russo was able to recall Oswald, Ferrie, and Shaw at the assassination meeting. The problem for Garrison was that the Sciambra memo could be used to discredit Russo's reconstituted memories in court. Therefore, Garrison said, he needed a witness to connect Oswald to Shaw. This made Dean Andrews, in Garrison's view, a key witness, since he might be able to identify Shaw as the Clay Bertrand who had sent Oswald to him.

"Will he?" I asked.

"He will when we press him." Garrison squeezed a lemon over his oysters as if demonstrating his ability to squeeze a witness.

I met Dean Andrews the next day at the Marlboro Club at 4:00 p.m. He was in his late 40s. A plump man with a boyish face, he wore a badly crumpled suit, a loud tie, and round dark glasses. After waving me over with exaggerated hand gestures, he told me he had served as an assistant DA in Jefferson Parish and knew "how the game is played." Andrews had a colorful way of describing people. He called Garrison "a thousand-pound canary."

"Is Clay Shaw the person you called Clay Bertrand?" I asked.

"Absolutely not," he answered. "Shaw is just an unfortunate who was grabbed out of the sky by the jolly green giant, and his wizards and practitioners of voodoo labeled him Clay Bertrand, and bang, he's been tagged 'it' ever since."

Edward Jay Epstein, May your Memory be a Blessing.

Previous Relevant Blog Posts

A good review of Counterplot.

You can see that Ferrie was reading Inquest when he died.

This post has an excerpt from Epstein's Counterplot.

Eric Norden, the journalist who conducted the Playboy interview with Garrison, sent a memo of secret information to the editors.

Garrison also sent a memo to Playboy with information not for print.


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