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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Who was Leon Oswald?

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

Richard Popkin's The Second Oswald and Harold Weisberg's Whitewash presented the theory that somebody was impersonating Lee Harvey Oswald in order to incriminate him in the assassination. How else to explain Oswald popping up in so many locations?

Richard Case Nagell claims to have talked to both of the Oswalds!

Here is an excerpt from the first edition of Dick Russell's The Man Who Knew Too Much: (page 443)

"Oswald was certainly of a physical "type" for which others might be mistaken (George de Mohrenschildt even told this writer, much to my dismay, that I bore a resemblance to Lee Harvey Oswald.) And, in the summer of 1963, Nagell says there was someone else -- a Leon Oswald -- who showed up on the periphery of the burgeoning conspiracy.
"I knew both of them, " Nagell told me in 1975. "I have been trained in observation, and there is no mistaking who is who. The other Oswald was working with anti-Castro Cubans. He was not pro-Castro. This Leon Oswald, the second Oswald, allegedly registered at hotel in Mexico City where I had once registered under a different name. Don't ask me the date, but it was sometime between July 4 and September 20. I told Popkin he ought to check with the State Department, because somebody's got a picture of him. But Leon Oswald, in my opinion, did not resemble Lee Harvey Oswald. He was somewhat taller, and not as articulate or intelligent. I have no idea whether or not he was personally acquainted with Lee Harvey Oswald."

Unfortunately, according to Nagell, "The second Oswald, Leon, apparently was eliminated by mistake." Dick Russell believes that since Nagell's orders to eliminate the real Oswald came from the KGB, that "it would make sense it was the Soviets' mistake."

James DiEugenio also believes that there was a Leon Oswald. Here is an excerpt from his book, Destiny Betrayed: (all DiEugenio references are from page 248)

"But the point is that the man Russo identified was Leon Oswald, not Lee Harvey Oswald. And, in fact, the evidence today is pretty much decisive that there was a Leon Oswald in New Orleans around this time."

What is this decisive evidence? Let's go through DiEugenio's witnesses one-by-one.

"For instance, Sylvia Odio, one of the best and most important witnesses in this case, said that two Cubans came to her house in late September with a Caucasian man they called Leon Oswald."

Yes, but she identified the man as Lee Harvey Oswald. Is DiEugenio now ready to throw that out because they said his first name was Leon?

Of course, DiEugenio uses Nagell as one of his bits of compelling evidence:

"Richard Case Nagell also said he knew a Leon Oswald in that summer of 1963. Nagell said that this Leon Oswald was meant as a Second Oswald and was working with the anti-Castro Cubans, he was not at all pro-Castro."

Whatever Nagell says, DiEugenio believes!

Next up is Raymond Broshears:

"Raymond Broshears, a friend of Ferrie's, also spoke about a Leon Oswald. He described him as resembling Oswald."

I have written several blog posts about Broshears, who was a fabulist of the highest order:

Broshears told Garrison's investigators a lot of stuff about Oswald, Ferrie and the assassination. This got him a free ticket to New Orleans to talk to Garrison and his Assistant D. A.'s. He spoke to them for several hours and told them many stories - none of them believable. Broshears also spoke to the HSCA and told them even more stories.

DiEugenio's source is Dick Russell (page 367) who quotes Broshears:

"I myself met a person who was introduced to me as Leon Oswald. A very fleet passing meeting. I had sex with him. He looked a helluva lot like him, but it's highly unlikely to me this was the same Lee Oswald."

Of course, Broshears had sex with Leon Oswald.

Next up for DiEugenio is Michael Kurtz:

"Michael Kurtz interviewed rightwing witnesses in Baton Rouge who recalled meeting an Oswald who was introduced to them as Leon Oswald in July and August of 1963. This happened more than once, and on his last visit to the area, Leon Oswald was accompanied by two Latins."

DIEugenio's source is an article "Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans: A Reappraisal" by Michael Kurtz in the Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association from Winter 1980. Here is the relevant paragraph:

"One feature of Oswald's five-month sojourn in New Orleans that has never been revealed is the fact that he made several trips to Baton Rouge in the summer of 1963. According to witnesses, Oswald accompanied a prominent leader of the White Citizens' Council and of other segregationist organizations to Baton Rouge six or eight times in July and August. These witnesses met Oswald, who was introduced to them as "Leon" Oswald. Oswald's companion, who was a personal friend of two of these witnesses, stated that he had was employing "Leon" to do construction work for him. Oswald, however, was not dressed in work clothes; he was wearing what appeared to be "dressy clothes." Furthermore, Oswald and his companion engaged in discussions which included criticisms of American foreign policy as being "soft on Communism," and of United States civil rights programs. On their last visit to Baton Rouse, the two men were accompanied by two "Latins," neither of whom said anything to them."

Kurtz's sources for this paragraph are "confidential interviews." Over the years, Michael Kurtz has made a variety of claims in his book and articles that he has never backed up with any evidence, and many of which contradict each other. A fellow critic, Pat Speer, has written an article about Kurtz's credibility. Here is what Speer had to say about the above paragraph:

"Well, then, what about Oswald in Baton Rouge? Strangely, in Crime of the Century [Kurtz's book from 1993], there is no mention of Oswald visiting Baton Rouge in the company of a prominent leader of the White Citizens' Council. There is this, however. On page 203 of the 1993 edition, Kurtz reported: "Accompanied by two 'Latins,' Ferrie and Oswald were observed in Baton Rouge, where they openly denounced Kennedy's foreign and domestic policies." Kurtz's source? His 1980 article, Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans, which said nothing about Oswald and Ferrie being spotted in Baton Rouge. So, yikes, it looks like Kurtz somehow switched Ferrie into the role formerly played by the prominent leader of the White Citizens' Council."

DiEugenio's next source is David Lewis:

"David F. Lewis, who once worked for Banister, said that he was introduced to a man named Leon Oswald by Sergio Arcacha Smith's right hand man Carlos Quiroga at Mancuso's Restaurant in late 1962. It is doubtful this was the real Lee Harvey Oswald since he was still living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at the time. All of this testimony strongly suggests that there actually was a Leon Oswald who resembled Oswald"

DiEugenio's source for this is Paris Flammonde's book, The Kennedy Conspiracy. (page 23 - 24) Flammonde's source is the book Plot or Politics by Rosemary James & Jack Wardlaw. (page 49). Here is the relevant paragraph:

"The Lewis story is that in late 1962, he was drinking coffee with Banister's secretary, Delphine Roberts, in Mancuso's Restaurant, when Carlos Quiroga, a Cuban exile, came in with a fellow he introduced as Leon Oswald. They all had coffee together. A few days later, as Lewis was leaving Banister's office, he passed Quiroga, Ferrie and Leon Oswald. Lewis was working for Banister at the time. Then, a few days later, Lewis entered Banister's office and there was a meeting in progress of Banister, Quiroga, Ferrie, Leon Oswald, and another person. Lewis was told to leave. Lewis told Chandler that it wasn't until Garrison's office started talking to him three years later after the assassination that he came to the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald might be the same person or recalled any of the above incident."

I have already posted material about the credibility of David Lewis. He was an early Garrison witness but he quickly disappeared from the scene and was not called to testify. The affidavits that he filed with Jim Garrison do not mention Leon Oswald.

Here is an excerpt from David Lewis' statement of December 15, 1966:

No mention of Leon. And from the same document, here is his description of that meeting in Banister's office.

I think Rosemary James mistakenly attributed Russo's description of "Leon Oswald" to David Lewis. David Chandler was actually in the D.A.'s office and watched David Lewis provide his statement:

Again, no mention of Leon Oswald.

DiEugenio's last witness is Niles Peterson:

"Niles Peterson, who was a friend of Russo's and briefly attended the gathering, told William Davy and Peter Vea that there was a Leon Oswald there. This author believes that it was this man -- not Lee Harvey Oswald -- who was at Ferrie's the night of the gathering described by Russo."

Niles Peterson always denied that Oswald was at the party. He never said anything about a Leon Oswald. DiEugenio may infer that he did - because he did see a roommate of Ferrie's who had a beard - but that stretches logic to the breaking point.

There is a much simpler solution to all of this nonsense. There was no assassination planning party at David Ferrie's apartment. No Oswald, Leon or Lee Harvey, was there. Making up a fictitious Leon Oswald to fit Russo's poor description of Lee Harvey Oswald is a solution only a conspiracy theorist could embrace.

Richard Case Nagell Blog Posts

The Importance of Richard Case Nagell to Some Conspiracy Theorists

Jim Garrison and a few conspiracy theorists think Nagell is a very important witness. But is he really?

Genesis of the Richard Case Nagell story

David Kroman met Richard Case Nagell at the Springfield Medical Center for Federal Prisoners. Stephen Jaffe, a Garrison volunteer, wrote a memo, relating Nagell's story through the eyes and ears of David Kroman.

Nagell was convicted of armed robbery and was sentenced to ten years, but his conviction was overturned because of startling new evidence.

Richard Case Nagell and the JFK Assassination

There is no credible evidence that Nagell had any foreknowledge of either Lee Harvey Oswald or the JFK assassination.

Nagell claims he met Oswald in Japan, Texas, Mexico City, and New Orleans. There is no credible evidence that he ever met Oswald.

Nagell went to Cuba and met with Fidel Castro and even played ping-pong with the man.

Insane Conspiracy Theories about Richard Case Nagell

Richard Case Nagell said that he knew the two Oswalds - Lee Harvey and Leon. Some conspiracy theorists believe this madness.

Combine one part crazy and one part ridiculous and what do you come up with? An early attempt at a unified conspiracy theory of the JFK assassination.

Two Smoking Guns of the Richard Case Nagell Story

Nagell sent conspiracy theorist Dick Russell one page of a military intelligence file which seemed to indicate that he was monitoring Oswald and his wife on behalf of the CIA. But does the whole document really show that?

Did Richard Case Nagell had an Oswald Military ID in his possession when he was arrested in September 1963?

Richard Case Nagell and Jim Garrison

Richard Case Nagell believes that he wasn't called to testify at Clay Shaw's trial because his testimony would have blown up Jim Garrison's case.

At a conference in September 1968, Garrison and his investigators discuss his face-to-face meeting with Nagell in New York City.

William Martin, an Assistant District Attorney working for Jim Garrison, tried to retrieve a tape that Nagell said contained the voices of three JFK assassination conspirators.

Richard Popkin, author of "The Second Oswald," writes Jim Garrison about Richard Case Nagell. Garrison staffer Tom Bethell thought the Nagell lead was useless.

Richard Case Nagell's Mental Health

Nagell won a full disability pension in 1982 and the 60+ page court case provides complete details on his mental problems.

Richard Case Nagell told a psychiatrist why he shot up the bank in El Paso in 1963.

The FBI spoke to Nagell's ex-wife, his mother, his sister, and one of his friends. They all agreed that Nagell had significant mental health problems.

Nagell visited the American consulates in Zurich and Barcelona in 1969. He was a deeply disturbed man.

Richard Case Nagell's Evidence

None of the so-called evidence that Nagell promised would materialize on his death has shown up. Did this evidence ever exist?

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