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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

The Search for Clay Bertrand

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

Clay Bertrand supposedly called lawyer Dean Andrews, who was in the hospital with double pneumonia, on November 23, 1963 and asked if he would go to Dallas to represent Lee Harvey Oswald. In 1966, Jim Garrison decided that Clay Shaw was the elusive Clay Bertrand. What few people realize is that the FBI, the Secret Service, and the New Orleans Police Department made a concerted effort to find Clay Bertrand in 1963 with no luck. Here are some excerpts from a variety of Warren Commission documents:

Warren Commission Document #87 (this section on Tulane University)

Clay Bertrand could not be found - most probably because he was a figment of Dean Andrews' imagination.

Now, fast forward to 1966-1967, and Garrison is once again looking for Clay Bertrand. You can read about the search in his book, On The Trail of The Assassins: (page 86)

"Gradually, my men began encountering one person after another in the French Quarter who confirmed that it was common knowledge that "Clay Bertrand" was the name Clay Shaw went by. However, no one would authorize the use of his name or even sign a statement to be kept confidential. No one wanted to get involved. This was quite curious considering Shaw's reputation throughout the city as a man of decorum and distinction."

But, is that what really happened back in 1966-1967? Dean Andrews refused to identify Clay Bertrand - but was quite adamant that he wasn't Clay Shaw. Garrison had his investigators comb through the French Quarter. And, guess what? Once again, the elusive Clay Bertrand couldn't be found.

I talked to Alcock today; he seems to be the most intelligent, and the most communicative person in the office. He said several things, some of them astonishing. First, he told me that Gene Davis had called Dean Andrews at the Hotel Dieu. I asked him how he knew that and he said that Davis had called him and admitted it. It now begins to look as though Gene Davis really is Clay Bertrand, inasmuch as anyone is. Alcock suggested that Dean might have just made up the name Bertrand. He said there was a rumor that there had been a nurse at the Hotel Dieu while Andrews was there named Clare Bertrand, and that as far as he knew nobody checked this out.
Alcock repeated what Garrison had already said to Epstein and myself in June–that Shaw became the suspect because they were looking for Clay Bertrand and Clay Shaw had the same first name; also Clay Bertrand was presumed to be a homosexual. Thus Shaw came to light. Garrison had said earlier to Epstein and myself that Sciambra had "squeezed the quarter" looking for Clay Bertrand, but that he could not be found.
Giant says Andrews now tells him there is no such man as Clay Bertrand . . .

They also went to speak to Eva Springer (see above), Dean Andrews' secretary, on April 13, 1967. Here are two excerpts from her interview:

And, how about this memo?

Garrison's notation reads as follows:

"Lou Ivon also has tape in which confidential informant (ML) is advised by Prentiss Davis that Bertrand apparently did not exist - that Andrews really made no effort to locate him (+ Davis, his investigator, would have known.)"

And, when Dean Andrews testified before the grand jury, he said that the phone call in the hospital came from Gene Davis (who he sometimes referred to as Clay Bertrand):

A few minutes later, he added:

Of course, Gene Davis would not admit to being Clay Bertrand - and he wasn't. But, he did call Dean Andrews on the afternoon of November 23, 1963.

And, at the Dean Andrews trial for perjury, here is some testimony that might be closer to the truth:

Davis called Andrews. Andrews then made up the story of being asked to represent Lee Harvey Oswald, and said that Clay Bertrand called him.

Perhaps David Ferrie said it best when asked about Clay Shaw and Clay Bertrand (his interview with Andrew Sciambra on February 18, 1967):

"Dean Andrews might tell you guys anything. You know how Dean Andrews is."

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