"I Was Offered $25,000 To Kill President Kennedy"
Updated: Feb 5
Front Page, Miami News, March 5, 1968, story by Bill Barry
That is a headline that will catch anybody's eye!
This is the story of James T. Mays who had his moments of fame in March 1968.
He had a story to tell, and he wanted to cash out. Here is an FBI document that goes over the story.
After getting nowhere with Thompson, Mays talked with Bill Barry of the Miami News. He told him that "if Thompson did not have the money, he wanted his letters sent to Jim Garrison." A telephone call was then arranged between Mays and someone in Garrison's office. Here is Mark Lane's memo to Jim Garrison.
You gotta love the instructions on page two - Garrison's representative would be carrying a copy of Rush to Judgment. Garrison sent investigator Bill Boxley to Florida and he first met with Mays and reporter Bill Barry of the Miami News on Saturday, March 2nd. The meeting lasted several hours and Boxley received Mays' social insurance number and his driver's license. Being an on-the-ball investigator, Boxley also took the beer glass Mays had used so he would have his fingerprints. All quotations below are from Barry's two front-page stories in the Miami News (March 5th and March 6th).
"After Mays was dropped off downtown, Boxley considered what he had learned. He did not believe that Mays had told him the whole truth. Some string of items in the story seemed to be plausible but the overall story was too simple. Boxley thought that perhaps somebody had implanted the story in Mays' mind. But he didn't know if the purpose was to perpetrate a con game or some more subtle fraud."
Mays told the story that Oswald offered his friend $75,000 to help kill Kennedy - "Oswald said he was looking for a shooter to back up the main gun - the backup shooter would be paid $25,000." His friend offered Mays the job of the back up shooter behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll - while he would firing from the TSBD. Oswald was supposed to smuggle the gun into the building and then remove the rifle after the shooting. Mays didn't take the offer but decided he now wanted the money he missed out on.
Garrison came to Miami on Sunday, March 3rd. Boxley told him what had happened - and Garrison thought it "sounded like a bunch of garbage. But, he still told Boxley to pursue the Mays story further.
"It was possible that Mays' buddy had actually met a man using the name Oswald. That would fit something in Garrison's puzzle."
On Sunday, March 3rd, Boxley and Mays met again at 4 PM. Mays pressed for an answer from Boxley about the money. Boxley wanted more information. He then told Mays he wanted him to take a lie detector test. Mays then pulled out a subpoena from his pocket - he was a witness in a murder trial that was to begin the next day. Mays promised to call the next day about the test.
Garrison and Boxley flew back to New Orleans on Monday. Mays did not show up at the murder trial and disappeared.
The disappearance worried Boxley, "Every other witness in the case is going to know that he disappeared while he was talking to Garrison's men."
On March 7th, the Miami Herald ran a very good story on James Mays.
Mays was an army deserter, and had been living in a "cheap room in a transient hotel annex." He claimed to be an airplane mechanic for United Airlines but this was denied by the airline.
I don't know what happened to Mays. But, I did find this article in a Las Vegas newspaper from April 27, 1988. I don't know if it is him, but the age is correct.
What to make of this story? Well, I would not have sent Boxley to Miami. The idea of Oswald offering his friend $75,000 for the assassination was preposterous. But not to Mark Lane or Jim Garrison.