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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Why was Elmer Renfroe Scared of Jim Garrison?

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

Elmer Renfroe was a gay man who lived in the French Quarter in New Orleans and once, while drunk, told stories to a confidential informant of Aaron Kohn, head of the Metropolitan Crime Commission:

The informant spoke again to Renfroe a few days later:

Investigators for Clay Shaw spoke to Renfroe in March, 1967:

Renfroe was interviewed again in April:

It appears that Richard Townley, a local reporter, might have been the confidential informant.

What is interesting is the fact that Renfroe was scared of the District Attorney's office, and that he was a victim of a frame-up in 1965. The first Aaron Kohn memo quotes Renfro as saying "that silly bastard [Garrison] is liable to want everybody in jail." The D.A.'s office was picking up anybody who knew Russo, Ferrie or Shaw.

In September 1967, Garrison's office received a letter about a prisoner in Atlanta who possibly knew something about Clay Shaw and Lee Harvey Oswald. They got in touch with Edward Girnus and he sent them this letter:

Garrison sent James Alcock to Atlanta in December 1967 to interview Girnus. You can read his memo here. Here is a paragraph from that memo:

That paragraph led them to Elmer Renfroe:

Some comments on this memo:

  1. Renfroe "is a classic example of a homosexual, he expressed some contempt at being questioned since he had been nabbed by the Vice Squad for an attempted crime against nature. This eventually cost him about $1500.00"

  2. I would imagine that there were a number of people who were gay, short, fat and bald. Did Garrison bring them all in for questioning?

  3. The "only person he had ever heard of in the gay world of the quarter named CLAY, was CLAY SHAW."

  4. The investigator, Gary Sanders, thought that "the origin of SHAW's whips (Mexico?) might be interesting, since it might lead to some of SHAW's connections outside the U.S."

  5. Garrison put a lot of pressure on the gay community.

At one point, Jim Garrison sent William Gurvich to San Francisco to investigate. Here is an excerpt from Gruvich's deposition in the Novel libel case against Garrison and Playboy Magazine:

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