Perry Russo Talks - in Baton Rouge, Part One
Updated: Oct 11, 2021
Just after David Ferrie died, Perry Russo called the media in Baton Rouge to talk about his experiences with the man. But he did not mention Clay Shaw, Lee Harvey Oswald, or any party where the assassination was discussed. Let's have a look at what he said.
First, he gave an interview to WAFB on February 24, 1967:
Some comments on this interview:
David Ferrie talked in a joking way "that it could be done." And that was the entire conversation during the summer.
No conversation with David Ferrie about Lee Harvey Oswald, and Russo had never heard of Oswald until the assassination.
No mention of Clay Shaw or Clay Bertrand.
He said Ferrie talked about how Castro was getting a bad deal, and that Castro was a good thing in Cuba.
Ferrie had a roommate who was "sterile" as regards to politics.
Russo "forgot" about his conversations with Ferrie after the Warren Report came out.
The Baton Rouge State-Times Advocate also ran an article about Perry Russo on February 24, 1967:
Russo said Ferrie talked about the "ease with which a President could be assassinated" but that it was just a "general conversation" No party, no meeting and nobody else was there.
The Baton Rouge Advocate ran an article on February 25, 1967:
Russo did not take Ferrie's comments "seriously" until he saw Ferrie's picture in the newspapers upon his death. Even after JFK was assassinated, Russo did not think of this conversation with David Ferrie.
One of Russo's friends also made the Baton Rouge State-Times Advocate on February 25, 1967.:
So, how do conspiracy theorists treat the story told by Perry Russo in Baton Rouge?
Here's Jim Garrison from On The Trail of The Assassins: (page 151)
"When he [Russo] heard about our investigation, Russo wrote us a letter, but we never received it. Later he met a reporter from the Baton Rouge State-Times and in an interview the morning of Friday, February 24, he told him about a meeting he had attended at Ferrie's apartment at which the assassination of President Kennedy had been discussed."
Garrison doesn't just ignore Russo's Baton Rouge story - he just changes it.
James DiEugenio makes it seem like Russo had the same story from day one. Here is an excerpt from his book, Destiny Betrayed: (page 217)
"In February of 1967, Perry Russo was a young insurance salesman living in Baton Rouge. He had also been a former friend of David Ferrie. Russo had written to Garrison when he became aware of his investigation, but the letter was never delivered. Russo then gave interviews to both a local TV station and a reporter from the Baton Rouge State-Times. When the interviews appeared, Garrison immediately sent Andrew Sciambra, a young assistant DA, to take a deposition from Russo in Baton Rouge. Russo said he had known Ferrie fairly well and had attended a gathering at Ferrie's apartment in mid-September of 1963. He revealed that, late in the evening, after most had left, he, Ferrie, two of Ferrie's friends, and several Cuban exiles remained. Russo had brought two friends to Ferrie's that night, Sandra Moffett and Niles Peterson. Both left early, but Peterson later remembered a man named Leon Oswald. By the time the discussion took place, both of Russo's friends were gone. Almost everyone else had left except Ferrie, Leon Oswald, and a tall, distinguished, white-haired man named Clem Bertrand."
DiEugenio continues for several paragraphs and repeats the Russo story told in New Orleans after the hypnosis and sodium pentothal. He makes it all sound seamless - that Russo told one consistent story from the start.
When first edition of Destiny Betrayed came out, James Phelan sent a letter, on October 9, 1992, to Ellen Ray, co-owner of Sheridan Square Press, publisher of Destiny Betrayed and On The Trail of the Assassins:
"DiEugenio uses a different tactic. He falsified what Russo said when initially interviewed. See pages 143-145 in his book. He takes what Russo said under hypnosis in New Orleans, and moves it back a week to Baton Rouge. He thus falsely transforms Russo to a consistent witness who told only one story. This requires him to censor extensive passages of the trial record and eliminate the cause of Garrison's court disaster."
I don't know if Ellen Ray sent a copy of the letter to James DiEugenio. What I do know is that DiEugenio did not change his text from the first edition of Destiny Betrayed to the second.
Tomorrow: Another look at Perry Russo and his interview with James Phelan in Baton Rouge.