Michael Paine – RIP
As the chief patron and close associate of Lee Harvey Oswald – the accused assassin of President Kennedy, Michael Paine was one of history’s most obscure and important characters, whose actions facilitated the murder of the President.
Michael Ralph Paine (June 25, 1928 – March 1, 2018) was a retired engineer. He became notable after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, because he was an acquaintance of the President's purported assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. His wife, Ruth Hyde Paine, housed Lee's estranged wife, Marina Oswald, in her home for several months before the assassination until the day after it.
Paine was born in New York, New York. His father was Lyman Paine, an architect and activist. His mother was Ruth Forbes Young, financial backer of International Peace Academy and daughter of Elise Cabot Forbes, a scion of the Cabot family. He had one sibling: Cameron Paine.
Paine graduated from high school in New York in 1947. He attended Harvard University for two years in 1947-1949 and Swarthmore College for a year, but did not graduate.
After serving in the U.S. Army Paine worked a few months for Griswold Manufacturing Co. After that, Paine worked at Bartol Research Foundation in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania for about a year. He then worked for his mother's third husband Arthur M. Young, making helicopter models in Pennsylvania.
In 1958, Paine became employed at Bell Helicopter, through Young, his stepfather and designer of the first commercial helicopter, Bell 47.
In 1957, he married Ruth Avery Hyde in Pennsylvania. They had two children: Lynn (b. 1959) and Christopher (b. 1961). In 1959, they relocated to 2525 West Fifth Street in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, when Paine began work at a Bell Helicopter facility in Fort Worth. One issue is whether the Minox camera found in the Paine garage belonged to Lee Oswald or to Michael Paine. Another issue is what activities Lee Oswald and Michael Paine had in common, given Michael Paine's statement to Frontline (Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?, PBS) that he and Lee Oswald shared unspecified interests.
In late September 1962, Paine and his wife Ruth separated, Ruth asked him to have his personal belongings moved out of the house by the time she got back home from traveling around the United States that summer. According to Michael, it was not he, but Ruth who pushed to legally end their marriage. As their divorce made its way through the legal system until it ended in 1970, the Paines continued to see films at the theater together, and their Madrigal singing as a couple continued.
Michael kept his own apartment in Arington, Texas, while Ruth remained with Lynn and Christopher in the Irving home. In the end, the divorce was amicable, and Michael kept a very favorable view of Ruth.
On February 22, 1963, Ruth Paine attended a party held at the home of her fellow madrigal singer, Everett Glover, who knew Ruth spoke Russian and thought she would be interested in meeting a couple he knew, Marina and Lee Harvey Oswald. Lee had defected to Russia after serving in the Marine Corps, and Marina was Russian-born. They had recently returned to the United States with their young daughter, June.
Michael met the Oswalds for the first time on April 2, 1963. when he picked up Lee, Marina, and their baby daughter, June at their apartment at 214 West Neely Street in Dallas so that they could join with him in the small meet and greet dinner Mrs. Paine had cooked for them. From the start, Michael took an immediate dislike toward Lee when he picked the couple and June up. Oswald's demeaning words directed at his wife, Marina, whom Michael told author Thomas Mallon, was "having to take these whiplashes meekly and quietly and obediently," deeply offended him. Over the next seven months, Paine was upset by the fact that he refused to let Marina learn to read, speak, or write in English.
Lee Harvey Oswald rented a room in Dallas but stored some of his possessions in Paine's garage, including a supposed rifle wrapped in a blanket which Paine thought to be camping equipment. Paine's wife helped Oswald get a job at the Texas School Book Depository, Paine's testimony would later become a central feature of the Warren Commission's investigation of the assassination, particularly in regard to the presence of the purported assassination rifle in the garage of his family home.
Paine and his wife were portrayed in Oliver Stone's JFK as characters called "Bill and Janet Williams," presumably to avoid legal action.
In 1964, Paine testified that he was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported that Paine died March 1, 2018, in Sebastopol, California.
Michael Paine was born in 1928. After university he worked as a research engineer. In 1958 he began work for Bell Helicopter Company in Fort Worth under Walter Dorenburger. After his marriage to Ruth Paine he settled in Irving, Texas. The couple were both active members of the American Civil Liberties Union.
In 1963 Michael Paine left the family home and moved into an apartment in Grand Prairie. According to the author Jim Bishop (The Day Kennedy Was Shot), it was a "friendly estrangement".
Ruth Paine continued to live in Irving and at a party in February, 1963 she was introduced to Marina Oswald and Lee Harvey Oswald by George De Mohrenschit. On 24th April, 1963, Marina and her daughter went to live with Ruth Paine. Oswald rented a room in Dallas, but stored some of his possessions in Ruth Paine’s garage. Ruth also helped Oswald to get a job at the Texas School Book Depository.
According to fellow worker, Dave Noel, Michael Paine discussed the "character of assassins" a few hours before President John F. Kennedy was killed. He also returned to his home in Irving at 3.00 p.m. to find Dallas police officers searching the premises. He told the police: "As soon as I found out about it, I hurried over to see if I could help."
Anthony Summers reported in his book, The Kennedy Conspiracy that Michael Paine was overheard talking to his wife on the phone. He said that he was sure that Lee Harvey Oswald had killed John F. Kennedy. He added: "We both know who is responsible."
Buddy Walthers took part in the search of the home of Michael Paine. Walthers told Eric Tagg that they "found six or seven metal filing cabinets full of letters, maps, records and index cards with names of pro-Castro sympathizers." James DiEugenio has argued that this "cinches the case that the Paines were domestic surveillance agents in the Cold War against communism."
A work friend of Michael Paine, Frank Krystinik, told the Warren Commission about how he reacted when he heard the news that J. D. Tippit had been killed: "We heard that Officer Tippit had been shot, and it wasn't very long after that that it came through that the Oswald fellow had been captured, had had a pistol with him, and Michael used some expression, I have forgotten exactly what the expression was, and then he said, "The stupid," something, I have forgotten. It wasn't a complimentary thing. He said, "He is not even supposed to have a gun." And that I can quote, "He is not even supposed to have a gun." Or, "Not even supposed to own a gun," I have forgotten."
Jim Garrison later suggested that Ruth Paine might have been involved in setting Oswald up as the "patsy". Garrison points out that Paine's father " had been employed by the Agency for International Development, regarded by many as a source of cover for the C.I.A. Her brother-in-law was employed by the same agency in the Washington, D.C. area." He also claims that he had tried to "examine the income tax returns of Ruth and Michael Paine, but I was told that they had been classified as secret.... What was so special about this particular family that made the federal government so protective of it?"
In 2002 Thomas Mallon wrote a book about Ruth Paine's involvement in the case, Mrs. Paine's Garage and the Murder of John F. Kennedy. Unlike Jim Garrison Mallon took the view that Paine was completely innocent of any involvement in the Kennedy assassination conspiracy.
Assassination of John F. Kennedy Encyclopedia
By John Simkin © September 1997 (updated August 2014).
(1) Frank Krystinik, told the Warren Commission about how Michael Paine reacted when he heard the news that J. D. Tippit had been killed (1964).
We heard that Officer Tippit had been shot, and it wasn't very long after that that it came through that the Oswald fellow had been captured, had had a pistol with him, and Michael used some expression, I have forgotten exactly what the expression was, and then he said, "The stupid," something, I have forgotten. It wasn't a complimentary thing. He said, "He is not even supposed to have a gun." And that I can quote, "He is not even supposed to have a gun." Or, "Not even supposed to own a gun," I have forgotten."
(2) Anthony Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy (1980)
In 1977, the FBI went through the motions of releasing 100,000 pages from its Kennedy assassination files. The press uttered an uncritical cheer and seemed either uninterested or ill-equipped to ask probing questions at the press conference to celebrate the event. For the European visitor, indeed, tat occasion was a troubling spectacle of the American media at work. I found myself virtually alone in pressing the FBI spokesman into the admission that "up to ten percent of the (Kennedy) file will not be released." One reason for keeping the records secret, he said, was to protect individuals' privacy. The other reason seemed less justifiable. It was the perennial one - "national security."
Some of the documents that are pried out of the records themselves present new mysteries or simply affront the intelligence of the public. Take page 66 of Warren Commission document 206, finally declassified in 1976. This is a page from an FBI report, showing that on the day after the assassination a telephone call was intercepted in Dallas in which a "male voice was heard to say that he felt sure Lee Harvey Oswald had killed the President but did not feel Oswald was responsible, and further stated, 'We both know who is responsible.' " Page 66 did not reveal that the tapped telephone numbers were those of Michael Paine and his wife, Ruth Paine, the woman who was playing host to Marina Oswald at the time of the assassination. On the page as originally released, there was no record of the full telephone conversation, nor of what happened to the original recording. Whether it was significant or not, it was typical of official gestures to the public's right to know.
(3) Ruth Paine, Oswald (appeared in the Warren Commission in 1964.
Michael (Paine) feels that Oswald became the President's assassin because he suddenly found himself with the opportunity to affect the course of history. He got his job at the Texas School Book Depository quite by chance. On Monday morning, October 15, Marina and I were having coffee with a neighbor. We mentioned that Lee had been unable to find work. He had just received his last unemployment check, smaller than usual because it covered the last fraction of his eligibility. The baby was due any day, and they were pretty desperate. My neighbor said that her younger brother was working in the Teas School Book Depository and thought there might be an opening. We told Lee about it when he phoned that night. He applied, and was accepted. He seemed very happy indeed. He came out the next Friday and we celebrated both the job and his twenty-fourth birthday.
(4) John Kelin, Pictures of the Paines (May, 1995)
The Paines have been readily available to the media since their Warren Commission testimony more than thirty years ago, and for the most part they have been consistent: Oswald dunnit. As recently as the thirtieth anniversary of the assassination, both Ruth and Michael appeared on national television - Ruth on a Frontline episode, and Michael on CBS News. Ruth Paine stuck to the story she's told for thirty years. Michael, however, seemed to deviate.
First, consider what Michael Paine told the Warren Commission on March 18, 1964, when he was asked about seeing Oswald on the night of November 22.
Mr. Dulles. The only question I have in mind is as to what took place as far as Mr. Paine is concerned on the night of the assassination. Were you in the police station?
Mr. Paine. We went down to the police and stayed there until about 8 or 9 o'clock. Then Marguerite came home with us and spent the night.
Mr. Dulles. You didn't see Lee Harvey at that time, did you?
Mr. Paine. They asked me and I declined to see him at that time. I changed my mind. When they immediately asked me, I declined. I did not know what he would ask me, so I did not see him.
Mr. Dulles. You did not see him?
Mr. Paine. No.
No uncertain terms: Michael Paine, under oath, testified he did not see Lee Oswald on the night of November 22, 1963.
But that isn't what he said in 1993. On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the JFK assassination, Michael Paine told CBS that he had seen Oswald that night.
At the police station when I saw him later on that night, he was proud of what he'd done. He felt that he'd be recognized now as somebody who did something.
Perhaps, with the passage of thirty years, Michael Paine was simply incorrect in his recollection of that night, in spite of its historical significance. Perhaps he saw Oswald in jail on Saturday.
The chance for Mr. Paine to tell the Commission he had seen a "proud" Oswald came up several times. There is this exchange with Wesley Liebeler:
Mr. Liebeler. Can you recall any conversations that you had with Oswald that you think would be helpful for us to know other than the ones you have already mentioned?
Mr. Paine. I don't recall one now.
(5) James Hosty was interviewed by Samuel Stern on behalf of the Warren Commission on 8th April, 1964.
James Hosty: On the 31st of October, I did a credit check on Michael and Ruth Paine for the purpose of developing further background. This credit check showed that Michael Paine was employed at Bell Helicopter as an engineer, showed no employment for Mrs. Paine, just showed her as a housewife, showed they had resided in Irving area for a number of years, and showed a good reputation.
I then checked the criminal records of the Irving Police Department, Dallas County Sheriff's Office. They had no record for either Ruth or Michael Paine. Contacted the Bell Helicopter Co. and the security officer at Bell Helicopter, Mr. Ted Schurman, advised me that Michael Paine was employed by them as a research engineer and he held a security clearance.
(6) Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins (1988)
Lee and Marina Oswald had met Ruth Paine in February 1963 at a party in Dallas to which George de Mohrenschildt and his wife had brought them. I found that Ruth Paine was the wife of Michael Paine, an engineering designer who did highly classified work for Bell Helicopter, a major Defense Department contractor.
Ruth Paine was a rangy, intelligent woman with widespread interests, among them the Russian language, which she had learned to speak quite well. Her father had been employed by the Agency for International Development, regarded by many as a source of cover for the CIA Her brother-in-law was employed by the same agency in the Washington, DC area.
It was on Ruth Paine's way back from a long vacation, during which she had visited her in-laws in Washington, DC, that she made the stop in New Orleans to pick up Marina Oswald and her daughter for their return to Dallas. I wondered vaguely whether Mrs. Paine herself had been manipulated in the course of this move.
As a routine matter, I wanted to examine the income tax returns of Ruth and Michael Paine, but I was told that they had been classified as secret. In addition to the Paines' income tax reports, Commission documents 212, relating to Ruth Paine, and 218, relating to Michael Paine, also had been classified as secret on grounds of national security.
Classified for the same reason were Commission documents 258, relating to Michael, and 508, relating to Michael Paines sister, as well as Commission documents 600 through 629, regarding relatives of Michael Paine. What was so special about this particular family that made the federal government so protective of it?
(7) Michael Kurtz, Crime of the Century: The Kennedy Assassination From a Historians Perspective (1982)
Marina Oswald told the Warren Commission that the rifle found on the sixth floor was "the fateful rifle of Lee Oswald." This statement is meaningless, since Marina Oswald's expertise in firearms identification included her inability even to distinguish between a rifle and a shotgun. She also testified that she heard Oswald practice operating the bolt action of his rifle. The commission produced no evidence to verify that Marina Oswald was able to distinguish the sound of this particular rifle, to the exclusion of all other weapons.
She also told the commission that the rifle was wrapped up inside a blanket in the garage of the home in Irving, Texas, where she lived between 24 September and 22 November 1963. The owners of the Irving home, Ruth and Michael Paine, both testified they had actually picked up the blanket and moved it around in the garage and were completely unaware that it contained a rifle. In a memorandum that the Warren Commission suppressed from its Report and from its twenty-six volumes of published evidence, J. Wesley Liebler, the commission counsel responsible for this section of the Warren Report, stated that "the fact is that not one person alive today (including Marina) ever saw that rifle in the Paine garage in such a way it could be identified as being that (Oswald's) rifle."
(8) Barbara Lamonica, Coalition on Political Assassination's Conference (21st October, 1995)
I find the Paines the most interesting, yet least studied, of the people surrounding the assassination. After all, they were the people who were closest to Lee Harvey Oswald - just prior, and leading up to, November 22. And wittingly or unwittingly, they contributed to the subsequent condemnation of Oswald, and therefore to the success of the conspiracy and coverup.
Furthermore, there are two timeframes, being the spring and fall of 1963, when the lives of the Paines and Oswalds are especially intertwined, that coincide with some very significant events.
Ruth Paine first makes contact after she first met (Marina Oswald) on February 22 at a party arranged by Everett Glover, who was a friend of Michael Paine's and George DeMohrenschildt's. But she doesn't try to make contact with Marina until March 8, when she sends her a note. On March 20, she visits Marina. In between these two dates, on March 13, Oswald purchases, or orders, the rifle. On April 2 Ruth invites the Oswalds to dinner. On April 7, Ruth writes a note, asking Marina to come and live with her. She never sends this note, but she keeps it. On April 11 she visits Marina again. On April 20 there's a picnic with the Oswalds and Ruth Paine. And by the end of the month, Marina is staying with Ruth temporarily, while Lee goes to New Orleans to seek employment and try to find an apartment.
In the middle of this cluster of activity the Walker incident occurs on April 10. During the summer the Paines and Oswalds part company. They are reunited in the fall. Marina is again living with Ruth Paine. Now, Ruth and Michael have been separated. Michael has agreed to continue to support Ruth, naturally, and his children. But interestingly enough he has also agreed to contribute to the upkeep of Marina financially.
The Paines are significant in several ways. First they insured the continued separation of Lee and Marina, allowing Lee to live unencumbered, and with no witnesses to his activities or associates during the principal time leading up to the assassination. Secondly, they provided a storage space for evidence that would be used against Oswald. Almost everything that would convict him in the public mind, including the alleged murder weapon, came out of the Paine's garage. Also found in the garage, among other things, was the Walker photograph, the backyard photograph, the Klein's Sporting Goods tear-out order for the rifle, among other things... there was also some radical magazines.
One wonders why someone intending to commit a crime would allow such items to be stored in another's garage, instead of destroying the incriminating evidence. Michael Paine's testimony is used to confirm that Lee had a rifle, and indeed it had been stored in their garage - in retrospect, of course, because Michael Paine said he never realized it was a rifle... It's hard to believe that a man like Michael Paine, who had been in combat artillery in Korea, and then in the Army Reserves for six years, could not recognize the feel of a rifle. Especially since it belonged to someone who he considered a person who advocated violence.
I think maybe Michael Paine is lying here. He either knew it was a rifle, and is choosing to hide that fact, or maybe it wasn't a rifle at all... in either case he distances himself from the situation by saying he just didn't realize what was going on. And this is characteristic of the Paines all along - they try to distance themselves from Oswald.
Ruth's testimony pinpoints the time for placing the weapon in Lee's hands. She testified that on the Thursday night before the assassination Lee showed up unexpectedly at her house to visit her family. Now Lee Oswald's habit, if you will, was to visit his family on weekends, so he would usually be there on Friday nights... So during the course of the evening, Ruth comes in around o'clock, after dinner, she goes into the garage and finds that the light had been left on. Well she tells the Warren Commission that she would never, ever leave the light on. So therefore Lee Oswald must have been in the garage to retrieve some of his belongings. This allows the Warren Commission to infer that this was the moment that Oswald got his gun, in preparation for the assassination. But the only thing that this testimony really tells us for sure is that Ruth was in the garage.
I believe the Paines are significant persons in the lives of the Oswalds, and warrant further research. Although they probably did not participate in a plot to kill the president, and they might have downplayed their relationship with Oswald merely in an attempt to distance themselves from a tragic event, they are, I believe, nevertheless withholding evidence about Oswald. Robert Oswald himself claimed, right after the assassination, that he felt Michael Paine knew more about that event than he was revealing. I think we should take Robert Oswald's claim seriously, and look into the Paines further.
(9) James DiEugenio, review of Larry Hancock's Someone Would Have Talked (March, 2008)
Another interesting part of the book is how it deals with the experiences of the late Dallas detective Buddy Walthers. This is based on a rare manuscript about the man by author Eric Tagg. Walthers was part of at least three major evidentiary finds in Dallas. Through his wife, he discovered the meetings at the house on Harlendale Avenue by Alpha 66 in the fall of 1963. Second, he was with FBI agent Robert Barrett when he picked up what appears to be a bullet slug in the grass at Dealey Plaza. And third, something I was unaware of until the work of John Armstrong and is also in this book, Walthers was at the house of Ruth and Michael Paine when the Dallas Police searched it on Friday afternoon. Walthers told Tagg that they "found six or seven metal filing cabinets full of letters, maps, records and index cards with names of pro-Castro sympathizers." (Hancock places this statement in his footnotes on p. 552.) This is absolutely startling of course since, combined with the work of Carol Hewett, Steve Jones, and Barbara La Monica, it essentially cinches the case that the Paines were domestic surveillance agents in the Cold War against communism. (Hancock notes how the Warren Commission and Wesley Liebeler forced Walthers to backtrack on this point and then made it disappear in the "Speculation and Rumors" part of the report.)
(10) James DiEugenio, review of James W. Douglass', JFK and the Unspeakable (April, 2008)
Michael Paine did not just work at Bell Helicopter. He did not just have a security clearance there. His stepfather, Arthur Young, invented the Bell helicopter. His mother, Ruth Forbes Paine Young, was descended from the Boston Brahmin Forbes family -- one of the oldest in America. She was a close friend of Mary Bancroft. Mary Bancroft worked with Allen Dulles as a spy during World War II in Switzerland. This is where Dulles got many of his ideas on espionage, which he would incorporate as CIA Director under Eisenhower. Bancroft also became Dulles' friend and lover. She herself called Ruth Forbes, "a very good friend of mine." (p. 169) This may explain why, according to Walt Brown, the Paines were the most oft-questioned witnesses to appear before the Commission.
Ruth Paine's father was William Avery Hyde. Ruth described him before the Warren Commission as an insurance underwriter. (p. 170) But there was more to it than that. Just one month after the Warren Report was issued, Mr. Hyde received a three-year government contract from the Agency for International Development (AID). He became their regional adviser for all of Latin America. As was revealed in the seventies, AID was riddled with CIA operatives. To the point that some called it an extension of the Agency. Hyde's reports were forwarded both to the State Department and the CIA. (Ibid)'
Ruth Paine's older sister was Sylvia Hyde Hoke. Sylvia was living in Falls Church, Virginia in 1963. Ruth stayed with Sylvia in September of 1963 while traveling across country. (p. 170) Falls Church adjoins Langley, which was then the new headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency, a prized project of Allen Dulles. It was from Falls Church that Ruth Paine journeyed to New Orleans to pick up Marina Oswald, who she had been introduced to by George DeMohrenschildt. After she picked Marina up, she deposited her in her home in Irving, Texas. Thereby separating Marina from Lee at the time of the assassination.
Some later discoveries made Ruth's itinerary in September quite interesting. It turned out that John Hoke, Sylvia's husband, also worked for AID. And her sister Sylvia worked directly for the CIA itself. By the time of Ruth's visit, Sylvia had been employed by the Agency for eight years. In regards to this interestingly timed visit to her sister, Jim Garrison asked Ruth some pointed questions when she appeared before a grand jury in 1968. He first asked her if she knew her sister had a file that was classified at that time in the National Archives. Ruth replied she did not. In fact, she was not aware of any classification matter at all. When the DA asked her if she had any idea why it was being kept secret, Ruth replied that she didn't. Then Garrison asked Ruth if she knew which government agency Sylvia worked for. The uninquiring Ruth said she did not know. (p. 171) This is the same woman who was seen at the National Archives pouring through her files in 1976, when the House Select Committee was gearing up.
When Marina Oswald was called before the same grand jury, a citizen asked her if she still associated with Ruth Paine. Marina replied that she didn't. When asked why not, Marina stated that it was upon the advice of the Secret Service. She then elaborated on this by explaining that they had told her it would look bad if the public found out the "connection between me and Ruth and CIA." An assistant DA then asked, "In other words, you were left with the distinct impression that she was in some way connected with the CIA?" Marina replied simply, "Yes." (p. 173)
Douglass interpolates the above with the why and how of Oswald ending up on the motorcade route on 11/22/63. Robert Adams of the Texas Employment Commission testified to having called the Paine household at about the time Oswald was referred by Ruth -- via a neighbor-- to the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD) for a position. He called and was told Oswald was not there. He left a message for Oswald to come down and see him since he had a position available as a cargo handler at a regional cargo airline. Interestingly, this job paid about 1/3 more than the job Oswald ended up with at the TSBD. He called again the next day to inquire about Oswald and the position again. He was now told that Lee had already taken a job. Ruth was questioned about the Adams call by the Warren Commission's Albert Jenner. At first she denied ever hearing of such a job offer. She said, "I do not recall that." (p. 172) She then backtracked, in a tactical way. She now said that she may have heard of the offer from Lee. This, of course, would seem to contradict both the Adams testimony and common sense. If Oswald was cognizant of the better offer, why would he take the lower paying job?