This is a story of false identification and the fact that many people, in any large investigation, come forward with stories that are just not believable. In this case, a Mr. Cedric Rolleston told Garrison investigators that he saw Clay Shaw with Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963. Clay Shaw's legal team had to run down the lead and eventually Mr. Rolleston recanted. Yet, even today, conspiracy books don't quite tell you the whole story about Mr. Rolleston.
Mr. Rolleston enters our story in 1963 when he contacts the FBI regarding Lee Harvey Oswald.
Here is the FBI report which is included in Warren Commission Document 205 - they unfortunately spelt his name wrong which makes it hard to find.
But, in 1967 Rolleston contacted Jim Garrison's office.
Garrison sent Andrew Sciambra to Alexandria to investigate.
Despite finding no evidence to corroborate their story, he still flew the Rollestons to New Orleans to be interviewed. This short piece is from the Emporia Gazette of July 19, 1967.
Here is the statement Rolleston gave to Garrison:
Apparently, he told Garrison a lot more than this statement. Here is an excerpt from Hugh Aynesworth's book, JFK: Breaking The News:
Clay Shaw's defense team had to run down the lead. Edward Wegmann sent a letter to Hugh Aynesworth:
Here is the reply from Aynesworth:
Clay Shaw had an alibi - he was in New Orleans.
A week after the Martin Luther King assassination, William Gurvich, an investigator for Garrison, contacted the FBI because he believed that Rolleston had been in Memphis.
Ultimately, Rolleston had a change of heart and said that Shaw was not the man with Oswald. This is from the Opelousas Daily World from June 13, 1968.
Mr. Rolleston had a lengthy history of impersonation. This is from Madison Capital Times from March 2, 1950.
And, then there is this from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of February 25, 1952:
Well, Rolleston kept on going. Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article from October 20, 1975. The article about about growing criticism of the Warren Report, and the movement for a new inquiry.
The sentence above reads, "Mr. Von Rolleston was wearing a large red button in his lapel with the legend "I believe in elves."
So, how do conspiracy authors treat Rolleston? Joan Mellen tries to use Rolleston as a corroborating witness to either multiple Oswalds or the real Oswald being in Alexandria.
Mellen doesn't tell you that Rolleston WAS unreliable.
And, of course, Garrison wanted Oswald in Alexandria. It would help with the Clinton witnesses. In the summer of 1967, Garrison was interviewed by Playboy Magazine. He couldn't have all of his "evidence" in print, and so privately informed Eric Norden, the Playboy interviewer, of other important information in his possession. Norden wrote a couple of memos to Playboy about this information. Here is one of them:
Edward Jay Epstein believed that Rolleston was one of those witnesses described in point 2.
And, James DiEugenio uses Rolleston as a foil to bash reporter Hugh Aynesworth.
No mention that Rolleston might be unreliable.
Don Carpenter writes in his book, Man of a Million Fragments, that Rolleston "wrote a bizarre letter" to the HSCA "with yet another story about the assassination." Unfortunately, he died soon after.