I thought it would be a good break to return at least briefly to the JFK assassination and some loose ends from Dallas.  One of the things that frustrates me a good deal these days is very limited amount of new research that actually goes on in respect to many of the fascinating leads which have turned up in the document releases of the past two decades.  Perhaps its too much work, after all there is so much JFK content (much of it heavily dated and questionable) on the internet that its possible to be immersed in that forever (sort of like becoming addicted to computer games I suppose).

To that end, I’ll offer the following tidbits to those who would like to go off on some less traveled roads.

1)  J.D. Tippet – it would probably be news to most folks that in addition to his security job at the BBQ restaurant, Tippet had worked off duty security at the Stevens Park theater, owned by Manuel Avila.  What makes that especially interesting is that Avila was very much connected to Cuban exile activities at the House on Harlandale. The theater was reportedly a Spanish language show, attracting Latino’s and Cuban exiles as well.  Reportedly in addition to the movies downstairs, a prostitution business went on using facilities associated with the theater. Even more interesting is the apparent rumor that Tippet got into some problems involving one of the girls working that side of the business.

Avila’s activities had included serving as a translator for Cuban exiles in Dallas, apparently including visitors. Amelia Diaz, who had immigrated from Cuba in 1959, worked for Avila, was an active DRE supporter and reportedly moved into the House on Harlandale during the relatively brief period in which it was used by DRE and Alpha 66 members. Victor Murillo, another individual who did volunteer translations, he lived in a house with Domingo Benavides.

Jose Salazar had rented the House on Harlandale, served as vice president of the Dallas Alpha 66 chapter and was a friend of Oswaldo Aurelio Pino – Pino was one of those specifically questioned by the FBI about knowing and possibly visiting Sylvia Odio.  The FBI was particularly interested in Pino as he had been an important figure in Cuba (Chief of the Fuels and Lubrication Department at the Institute of Agrarian reform) following the revolution. He was suspected of involvement with Cuban G-2 inside Cuba and being an informant on anti-Castroites and anti-Communists.  After arriving in the US, the FBI investigated him as a possible Cuban intel agent. He was investigated by Dallas FBI agent Walter Heitman from June 63 to March 64 – the investigation was delayed because Heitman was pulled for JFK assassination investigation work.  If Pino was not a Castro agent, clearly he had become a very dedicated anti-Castro activist.

(side note:   virtually none of Heitman’s pre- assassination reports and files are available; yet he played the main role in FBI subversive investigations focused on Cubans in Dallas.  This is one of the most important and least pursued areas of JFK research…in case anybody is interested).

Pino admitted joining a variety of exile groups in Dallas including Alpha 66 / SNFE / MRP) and being Vice Secretary; this was confirmed by a series of FBI informants.

…….so, it seems rather interesting that J.D. Tippett might have been socially connected to a series of Cuban exile figures extending all the way to the House on Harlandale (where Oswald was reported) and it is also just possible that some of those individuals might have known of information on Tippet, pertaining to the theater, that would have given some access and even leverage over him.

2) Oswald at the El Fenix Mexican Restaurant – everyone knows that Oswald asked to be dropped off the cab a distance away from his apartment.  They should also know about the police report of the suspicious car in the back of that restaurant that left immediately when the occupants realized they were being observed.  It just so happens that Oswaldo Pino had worked at that restaurant, and also as a delivery drive to the restaurant (El Chico Food services) in 1963.

We often talk about an abortive contact at the Texas Theater, but the possibility arises that either  there might have been another potential contact point or that Oswald was being monitored by a variety of individuals, not just including Officer Tippet. There is a lot more to this part of the story.  The license plane noted at the El Fenix restaurant mystery car ties into a close friend of Tippet, who had seen him that morning – and has its own major mysteries related to it.  Indeed the El Fenix car incident – along with the activities at the House on Harlandale – may be one of the hottest loose ends remaining.  There is much more to be said about the House on Harlandale, and about FBI agent Heitman’s exile work – or there would be if somebody would get serious with these sorts of leads and move off of the same subjects (and photos) that have been so consistently discussed for decades (sorry, disclaimer, attitude showing – as my friend Jim Marrs said years ago – look, we know there as a conspiracy, there were multiple shooters and Oswald was not a lone nut…get on with it ).

— Larry




About Larry Hancock

Larry Hancock is a leading historian-researcher in the JFK assassination. Co-author with Connie Kritzberg of November Patriots and author of the 2003 research analysis publication titled also Someone Would Have Talked. In addition, Hancock has published several document collections addressing the 112th Army Intelligence Group, John Martino, and Richard Case Nagell. In 2000, Hancock received the prestigious Mary Ferrell New Frontier Award for the contribution of new evidence in the Kennedy assassination case. In 2001, he was also awarded the Mary Ferrell Legacy Award for his contributions of documents released under the JFK Act.

20 responses »

  1. Jim Stubbs says:

    Interesting stuff, Larry. That whole area of Oak Cliff seems to have been a locus for a lot of activity in re the players in this drama. Oswald, Ruby, Tippit shooting, the El Fenix car thing, Harry Olson and the estate business, the house on Harlandale, all in close proximity to each other. Plus, Sylvia Odio lived for awhile on West Davis, which isn’t too far down the pike from the El Fenix incident. I read a DPD police report once from a man named Anderson who roomed at a house on Kilburn in the south Oak Cliff area. On Friday night, 11/22/63, he heard a couple of men outside his window talking and one of them said, “Well, it’s over.” The other guy shushed him up, afraid that Anderson would hear them. One of the men had rented a cottage behind the house on Kilburn, and the other (named “D.H. McFadin” ) was a frequent visitor to this man. Anderson said the men were gone the next day, and he poked around the cottage, findin gthree .30-30 shells,a photo, and a letter w/envelope. He was suspicious enough to report it. I read elsewhere among some research done on two possible locations for Harry Olson’s estate on 8th St., which indicated some names associated with one of the addresses, one of whom was named McFaddin. Relevant? Assassination related? Quien sabe? Could have been a high stakes poker game that Olson was guarding, could have been a narcotics drop, or maybe nothing. But as I could best calculate, the Kilburn address seems to be pretty close to the place where Tippit is supposed to have picked up a shoplifter sometime near 12:25pm or so (from “Car 10, Where Are You?”). Which is also interesting. The author of the Car 10 article said that a store manager identified Tippit as the one who picked up the shoplifter. It was maybe 20 minutes or so later that Tippit was seen at the Gloco station near the Houston St. viaduct. If he picked up a shoplifter, what happened to her? Facinating possibilities in Oak Cliff!

    • Good stuff Jim! YYou’ve added several more points of extreme interest. I truly wish we could get some researchers obsessive about these types of leads. Along with your last point, given that Olson supposedly hurt his ankle ice skating with Ruby and a couple of girls (calculate the probability on that one) that he could locate the place where he did guard duty that day and about half a dozen other points of suspicion which Penn Jones pointed out early on – I have the belief that Olson was very much involved with the events which were supposed to follow the assassination. There is also some interesting work going on in regard to Veciana’s trip to Dallas, the house on Harlandale and the possibility that we have not heard nearly the full story about either subject.

      If I were to pick the area deserving of the most intense research efforts at this stage of the game it would be those points and subjects listed in my post and your comments, Larry

      • Jim Stubbs says:

        I wish I had the time to sit down and plough through
        more of this stuff. As it is, right now, I can only sift through things I’ve read over the years, and try to connect some things. Hope later to be able to obsess on the important things. I agree about too many researchers still hashing over miniscule points about the head shot, badgeman, etc. I have accepted the fact of a knoll shooter for decades, and a firm belief that Oswald was not a 6th floor shooter. Instead of arguing with people like McAdams (who sometimes exposes some silliness among researchers), I’d rather know, for instance, what cop officer W.W. Mabra ran into in the area in the lot behind the knoll who told him, in essence, that no one had been back there for a couple of hours. Mabra was asked about it by some researcher (you?) and apparently got shirty about the question and refused to identify him. Things like that, and the McFaddin thing, as above, are what can help peel the onion. Little things, seemingly, but I’ve seen stuff like that be threads that suddenly unravel and show some of the real picture. BTW, I agree that Olson was up to his eyes in whatever was going on immediately after the assassination. You can smell the rat; when he was deposed he couldn’t remember where the house was, who the owner was, who the motorcycle cop was who he was subbing for was, and the commission counsel didn’t press him.

      • It would really be great if a small team could get together to pursue these leads, social networking and Skype make possible a type of synergy now that we never had before.

        The Mabra story is a key one, initially dug up by a Canadian researcher whose name slops my mind…I do mention him in SWHT. The most interesting thing is that when he began talking to Mabra, the former DPD officer was very open and even mentioned that the fellow who approached him was known to him and a Dallas police officer. However as time passed and he had a chance to think about it I suspect he realized that there was nobody officially stationed over there and this was something pretty incriminating. At that point he turned stone cold and refused to discuss it further.

        Something I should mention here, in reference to Chloe’s remark too, I would suggest anyone really interested in these leads go back to not only Penn Jones books – now available – but to Jerry Rose Third and Fourth Decade journals which are on Mary Ferrell. There was a huge amount of info in those sources that was not necessarily obvious then but I think might be much more meaningful now. Ian Griggs work on Olsen and his girlfriend/later wife is also key. And I would suggest that those interested go though Walt Brown’s conspiracy book which focuses on Dallas, Harry Livingston’s book including his most recent one which does as well. Those books are less read than many others but my failing memory is telling me they may contain info on Dallas that is not generally discussed in other books (Livingstone is great for collecting gossip…grin). Read the endnotes carefully. Actually in SWHT I put new info in the most recent edition end notes dealing with a couple of Cuban exiles that Heitman investigated – they owned a Rambler, had been in contact with Martino and had been reported because the Rambler bumper sticker about killing JFK. Very interesting guys, both new in Dallas and both spray plane pilots.

  2. Chloe Louise says:

    Larry…..That is so interesting……but what does one do if they are interested in research and they are just a regular person……is there any way to volunteer. I have always felt like this kind of thing was left up to the serious historians…..do you have any suggestions? I am guessing research is something that has to be done in a certain way–are there rules about proper research and who can do it or what…..I have always said I would love to be a part of that but I have no clue where to get started.

    Thank you for enlightening us on another intricate and complex and mysterious part of the JFK story.

    It is soooooo complicated–we are lucky we have you to explain things to us in a way we can understand.

    Thank you again for your time and hard work……cl…..the ronnie re.

    • Thanks for the kind words! The interesting thing in our JFK case is that actually most interested parties have access to the sorts of resources that academics have to sweat for – which normally means documents, transcripts, oral histories, interviews etc. The academic often has to struggle through digging out such materials themselves but in our case the work of the WC, the Church Committee, the Garrison investigation, the JFK records act and ARRB have created an immense inventory of primary and secondary source material. Much of it is searchable online via the Mary Ferrell Foundation and some very quick searches can be done with the NARA search tool even though it is limited. One of the best things that could be done today is for a small group of folks to take on a task such as this and try to recruit someone within travel distance of NARA to actually go to the archives for searches (Stu Wexler did that for me and it was a huge help). If you have a solid list of names and target categories of documents you can contact them in advance about it can save serious time. Most of the files that would be relevant to this subject are FBI and CIA. There area also some good search tools to see where the target names show up on the WEB, just for context, or in newspapers, especially Dallas and Miami newspapers. In many instances getting such information presents huge legal barriers – in the JFK case much of that was overcome by the investigations and legislation so that’s a real leg up.

      The way I would start a search like this is to do a simple social network diagram based on my post and Jim’s reply. Then start searching the names and making notes. Contact the Dallas library for information on the movie theater. Read Penn Jones early works, all now available, which mention Olson and the House on Harlandale. Do an interlibrary loan for every JFK book that really goes into events in Dallas and start checking the indexes for names on the list. And do a FOIA request for all the Dallas and FBI HQ documents connected to agent Heitman. Some are available online already and going through them will suggest other names and subjects for searching.

      It all sounds like a lot of work and it is but I guarantee it will become more interesting than just tossing around old subjects and topics because it will turn into real history and a mysterious at the same time and that turns out to be even more fun than reading books…grin.

      • Jim Stubbs says:

        BTW Larry, I was reading one of the HSCA volumes the other night, and got into some of Marina’s deposition. Every so often the interviewer threw out a name, out of the blue. One was Kerry Thornley, but another was Albert Cheramie. Albert??? The City of Dallas has JFK files online, and that is, I believe, where I got the police report by Willis Anderson on McFaddin and the house on Kilburn (it’s been awhile since I dug that up). I also read somewhere that Special Agent Heitman had been on eof the legats in Mexico City before coming to Dallas. Might be why his files are sequestered..

      • Very important stuff on Heitman Jim, that could be a real key. I’ve been pushing for some time that he may have actually have been more important than Hosty. It would not have been unusual to have to different divisions looking into Oswald, if indeed he had been an informant in New Orleans. And the FBI files would be compartmentalized accordingly.

        As to Albert Cheramie, that’s fascination….partially because as far as I know Rose didn’t show up in any of the WC era reports – might be mistaken on that but it would suggest the HSCA was taking info from other sources, possibly from the Garrison era.

  3. Steven Duffy pointed out this posts to me and I’m so glad he did! I’ve put in an FIOA request to the FBI (or will be in the morning after it’s been checked for spelling errors etc) for the information in this post and will get back to you after we hear back. I have an interest in having documents released, no matter what they are or where they are held, relating to the Kennedy assassination or any of the other assassinations. Great post, very motivating. Thanks!
    Please let me know if you are after requests for any other information and I will do them! I do hope we get something interesting back, and if not I will check NARA and some other places for files relating to the same information.
    Frankie Vegas
    My email is missfrankiefortune@hotmail.com

    • That’s great Frankie, I’m happy to hear it! If you, Chloe or anyone else would like to join in a team effort on this I’d be happy to offer comments and circulate email. I can always be reached by email at larryjoe@westok.net

      If Heitman did indeed come to Dallas from legat assignment in Mexico City as Jim commented it suggests that he was a fluent Spanish speaker and may have other implications as well. Any FBI legat in Mexico City would be heavily into counter intelligence – they were assigned to monitor potential agents going back and forth across the border as well as to deal with penetration efforts. Its very possible that means that Heitman was actually in Division 5 and would have handled some very confidential investigations for the Dallas office, national security stuff. If so it explains his assignment to the JFK case for some five months after the assassination, and suggests he is very important to our interests.

      • Jim Stubbs says:

        Wallace Heitman passed away in 2012. His two obituaries mentioned Monterray and Mexico City, Santo Domingo, and Miami among numerous other duty posts.

      • Jim, do you have a copy or link you could share. I had no idea he was alive so recently. That’s a very impressive and not all that common set of assignments. As I recall Monterrey was one of only two small CIA stations outside Mexico City so its interesting the FBI had a legat there. That’s a lot of foreign service for an FBI officer, especially if he never moved up the ladder to SAC or anything of that sort. If so it suggests he stayed within Division 5, did subversive work and may be a good deal different from the agents we are more familiar with…such as Hosty. Hosty kept talking about FBI friends in MC who had a lot of scoop on Oswald there that never made it into the record, wonder if Heitman was one of his key sources. I also wonder when Heitman arrived in Dallas. Very interesting background…this really raises the bar on what Heitman was doing in Dallas.

  4. Jim Stubbs says:

    I went online and entered his name. I was surprised that his obituary was there, in two entries. I suspect it’s because of his involvement in the JFK case; he interviewed Marina. He apparently was also in on the initial interview with Oswald, even though Hosty was already there. The one obituary mentions him arriving in Dallas in 1962.

  5. Jim Stubbs says:

    I knew that the CIA had some connection to Monterrey, also Merida. I’m surprised that the FBI would have had an agent in Monterrey. But if he was in counterintelligence it would make sense that he was there.

    • Jim Stubbs says:

      Also, I just checked online again. He wrote a book entitled “Wife of the Accused Assassin, and Other Stories From An FBI Agent’s Diary.” I just purchased it from Amazon.

      • I just ordered the book as well….so this should be embarrassing for many of us….one of the key agents in Dallas in regard to the exile community, the Oswald investigation, pretty obviously on the counter intelligence/subversive beat…and nobody knew he wrote a book…wow, great find Jim. And none of us event attempted to interview him. I noticed a review of his book by a family member, might be worth a chat with them so see what Heitman might have said on the side. Of course the thing is, for Heitman as well as many of the initial investigators, they did not have the data base we now have so many of the names and leads they came across would well have been meaningless at the time. I wonder if we can do better now. The fact that he was in the Marina interview is very interesting…that needs to be reviewed; was it the interview when the folks came down from DC as well. That one is particularly interesting because she is questioned about not only Mexico City but her knowledge of Oswald traveling to the East Coast – and how they would have gotten that lead (based on his letters to the FPCC and CPUSA) remains an open question. I do talk about that in SWHT but Heitman’s involvement raises a whole new area of questions…among them why Hosty would have been given the Oswald file rather than Heitman.

        Some very interesting stuff here, very much worth pursuing I think…well done Jim! Larry

  6. Jim Stubbs says:

    I read that stuff about Castro and Quintana Maya, who owned the Rambler and were associated with SNFE. I read it on a long post by Steve Thomas on the Education Forum. Included was some information in memos in re John Masen. Looking at the memos, you wouldn’t guess what Masen was involved in, how Frank Ellsworth got onto him, and the FBI’s role in an aborted ATF stolen firearms sting in Dallas two days before the assassination. It’s recounted in OSWALD TALKED, by Ray and Mary LaFountain.

    • Jim, I think I was able to take the Ellsworth and Mason stuff a good deal further in SWHT because I got access to the actual Ellsworth files and all the info about not only the sing that was being pulled there but the Terrell armory robbery that occurred because the arms did not come from Nonte. I realize that doesn’t make much sense to the general reader but those who have SWHT will find it covered in great detail. Ruby was almost certainly involved as a middleman in the Terrell theft. To my mind there is some reason to suspect that the FBI may have directed Oswald as a dangle in the middle of all the exile arms buying activity that was going on in Dallas – and ranged from the house on Harlandale to Sylvia Odio.

  7. James P says:

    Manuel Avila was my uncle and I can assure everyone reading this post that he was not involved in any type of crooked business. He had zero ties to the mob or prostitution. He was a family man who gave to charity and never did anything but respectable business.

    • The only thing we know for sure is that there is a record of Tippett obtaining a release to do security duty at the theater – as he did at other businesses. It was one of his first off duty jobs. Local researchers looking into his work there picked up rumors in regard to his “getting into trouble” with women during his work at the theater…that is unsubstantiated although there were other similar rumors about his having relationships of that sort. As far as I know nobody ever claimed that the theater itself was anything other than a picture show but that the extraneous activities were done around it. If you would like to post something about the theater, the types of movies it showed or its typical clientele you are more than welcome. The other material about Mr. Avila and his activities comes directly from FBI investigations in which he was strictly a peripheral figure.

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