Wes was a former TV reporter and mayor of Dallas (who drove a Volkswagon Bug), and was given one of the most important leads in the Tippit murder. Wise was told about a man who resembled Oswald and was driving around Oak Cliff at the time of Tippit's murder in a 1957 Plymouth. It had a Texas license tag that was traced to Carl Mather – a close friend and former neighbor of Tippit. Mather’s alibi was that he was at work at Collins Radio – a major defense contractor who provided the radios for Air Force One, Two and SAC bombers, and also provided the cover for the CIA raider ship the Rex. The Rex was exposed by a New York Times page one story on November 1, 1963, after some Pathfinder commandos were captured as they attempted to infiltrate Cuba with high powered rifles – that the boat captain Eugenio Martinez said, “weren’t going to be used to hunt rabbits.”
I recorded a two hour plus audio interview with Wes Wise as he drove me around the assassination hot spots in Dallas.
I recorded a two hour plus audio interview with Wes Wise as he drove me around the assassination hot spots in Dallas.
Wes Wise Tour of Dallas Assassination Hot Spots – Warts and All –
The Assassins Tour of Dallas
On November 22, 1963 Dallas TV news reporter Wes Wise waited in vain for President John F. Kennedy to arrive at the Dallas Trade Mart. There was to be a luncheon with special guests, where gifts would be given to the Kennedys for them and their children, but Kennedy never made lunch, having been ambushed and gunned down in Dealey Plaza.
Two days later Wes Wise was assigned to film the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald as he was being transferred to the Dallas County jail, just across the street from where Kennedy was murdered. But Oswald too, was a no show. Jack Ruby shot and killed him in the basement garage of Dallas City Hall.
Thwarted on two assignments during the most excruciating weekend in his life, Wise kept an interest in the case from the time he was pounding the streets as a beat reporters through his promotion to TV anchor and later as mayor of Dallas. And he’s still on the beat, videotape recording oral histories of assassination witnesses for the Dallas County Historical Society, which now has offices in the former Texas School Book Depository (TSBD), the alleged assassin’s lair.
The day after the assassination Wise was assigned to trace Oswald’s movements from the TSBD to the Texas Theater in Oak Cliff where he was captured. It was an assignment he is still, in a sense, pursing. Of all the reporters in Dallas who covered the assassination, it was Wes Wise who set of a small spark on the fuse of a time bomb that’s yet to explode – the evidential outcome of one reporter’s small but significant clue to the crime of the century. A clue that is still being run down nearly 30, now over fifty years later.
I first read about Wes Wise in the published reports of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). It was listed under the heading “Oswald-Tippit Associates,” and labeled “The Wise Allegation,’ although Wes Wise never made any allegations. He just followed his reporter’s instincts, which led him into a labyrinth of intrigue involving a fleeing suspect and a ’57 Plymouth. Wise either came up with a fantastic coincidence, or a clue that could lead to the unraveling of the conspiracy and the eventual solving of the crime.
So when I was in Dallas in 1992 I called Wes Wise on the telephone and took him up on his offer to give me a tour of the town's assassination hot spots.
We began at the once and forever Texas School Book Depository, which now houses the Sixth Floor Museum that overlooks Dealey Plaza, the scene of the crime.
THE TEXAS SCHOOL BOOK DEPOSITORY – DEALEY PLAZA
People come here from all over the world to see the place where John F. Kennedy was murdered. At any time of the day or night you will find people walking around, pointing up to the sixth floor corner window of the TSBD and walking behind the picket fence on the Grassy Knoll. It is a daily ritual that is acted out over and over, every day and every night.
People realize that something significant happened here, and Dealey Plaza acts as a vortex of our political and social culture, drawing pilgrims to the place where it happened. Dealey Plaza is an American political Mecca. Some pull a plank off the wooden picket fence – a relic to take home with them.
“It’s the number one tourist attraction in Dallas, and may be the most popular in Texas, as I don’t think the Alamo even surpasses it as far as public interest,” says Wise, as we sit in his car on Elm Street, sort of a dead end alley that runs in front of the TSBD. An historical marker on the side of the building tells the story. You can see the scar on the bronze plaque where it was amended, on a more recent date, to qualify Lee Harvey Oswald as the “alleged” assassin. Things just don’t seem as definitive as they once did.
“I remember Eddie Barker, the KLRD (now KDFW) news director saying this corner will never be the same again,” reflects Wise, “and I kind of agree with him, but didn’t realize quite how much so.”
A hot dog vendor is set up next to the curb; a young man hawks a newspaper, “The Dealey Plaza Times,” catering to the tourists.
“The assassination of this man had such a tremendous impact on us,” Wise continues. “At the ten year mark people said that would be the end, and we could all forget about it. But here we are now, nearly 30 years later, and if anything, there is much more interest in all of this.”
The Sixth Floor exhibit, a multi-media museum, attracts bus loads of school children, and travelers can’t pass through downtown Dallas without paying a pit stop homage to Dealey Plaza.
Although it is controversial for not including conspiracy theories, and only parroting the official version of events, Wise says “The exhibit captures the impact the assassination had on us, as well as the Kennedy mystique, and much of that sort of history.”
The new generation just learning about the assassination of JFK might know the place, the time and the date – 12:30 pm, Friday, November 22, 1963, Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas, but to really understand the significance of JFK’s murder you have to put it into an historical context. “I think the background of Dallas at the time is important, and the Sixth Floor exhibit is fair with it, although it doesn’t show Dallas, warts and all,” reflects Wise, who proceeds to drive east on Elm a few blocks before he pulls over to the corner of the Greyhound Bus station.
THE GREYHOUND BUS STATION
The way most people figured it is that Oswald left the TSBD shortly after the assassination, within minutes, and walked about seven blocks east from Dealey Plaza. No one knows where he was going, but then he takes a bus heading back towards Dealey Plaza. Where he was going, if anywhere, is a mystery.
“To get some perspective,” Wise explained, “the School Book Depository is two blocks west and two blocks north.”
Sitting at the curb facing the east, the direction Oswald headed immediately after the assassination, I observed, further on down the street, a large skyscraper with the words “Southland” on it, asked Wise about it and jotted the name down in my notes.
Later that very day I met with former Congressional investigator Gaeton Fonzi, and asked him in which building lobby in Dallas did Antonio Vechina meet with his CIA case officer “Maurice Bishop” and find him meeting with Oswald? Fonzi said, “The Southland Building,” thus presenting another possible destination for the fleeing Oswald, though one that he apparently had a change of mind about before getting there.
Oswald got on a bus heading back towards the scene of the crime, and got off at this location. “Now this area was just packed with people who were standing along the sidewalks, it was about eight or ten people deep, a very friendly, pro-Kennedy crowd. When the bus got caught in a traffic jam, he got off right here near this corner, or just beyond it.”
The bus driver later identified Oswald, as did another passenger, Mrs. Mary Bledsoe, Oswald’s former landlady. He took a bus transfer ticket and got off the buss, and within minutes, the bus was boarded and searched by policeman.
Oswald then got in a cab. The cab driver said that Oswald flagged him down, then offered the cab to a little old lady, hardly the actions of an assassin fleeing the scene of a crime.
“He apparently did several things that were uncharacteristic of a person who was uptight or upset,” notes Wise.
The cab took Oswald back through Dealey Plaza, which at the time was the most confusing and chaotic place on earth. Once a memorial to a local publisher, it suddenly became the most important dateline in the world.
Wise pulls over to the curb across the street from the TSBD.
Wise pulls over to the curb across the street from the TSBD.
“On the day after the assassination I talked my way up to the 6th floor with a camera and filmed the scene,” Wise recalls. “Going up to the 6th floor was really an eerie experience at the time because it was dark, dank and dusty, and people were still going around investigating the evidence.”
“Taking my way up there was typical of the way it was then, compared to the way it is now,” Wise explains. Now tourists must get passed two uniformed security guards and a metal detector to visit the Sixth Floor Museum. If the president only had as much protection.
“I had been on TV for years, prime time, as sports anchor, and since most policemen are sports fans, practically anyplace I went in Dallas they just motioned me in. So when I went up there, a federal agent stopped me. I had a camera in my hand, and this guy there says, “Hey, this is Wes Wise, he’s been here for years,” and so they let me go up to the 6th floor and take pictures. Other newsmen got up there, but not at the same time I did.”
Back on the street, Wise said that he called in to his office on the 2 way radio to say he was going out to Oak Cliff to where the cab driver took Oswald on the previous day. “I was in a marked KLRD News car and parked adjacent to the curb just across the street from the Depository. My assignment, from KRLD news director Eddie Barker, was to trace Oswald’s steps as closely as we knew, his movements after the assassination, as best we could.”
“As I was putting up the microphone of the radio I sort of caught a glimpse of this guy out of the corner of my eye. I could see a man in a suit and hat, and it was exactly the same suit and hat he had on the next day. It was Jack Ruby. And he says, ‘Oh, wasn’t this awful, Wes? Jackie is going to have to come back and testify while those poor kids…I can’t imagine it.’”
Wise described to him how he had been stationed at the Trade Mart, waiting for Kennedy’s arrival, and what a sad scene that was when people learned what had happened. “I told him about these saddles from Neiman-Marcus that were gifts for Carolyn and John John, gifts that they never received. And when I told this to Jack, visible tears came to his eyes.”
“Let me tell you what,” Wise says emphatically, “in Dallas, and I’m sure all over the country, but especially here, people were messing up and crying openly, and sometimes, more than messing up, male and female, kids and adults, almost constantly during those three days. It was a tremendous emotional experience. Of course, for a newsman, it was unusual because you can’t let emotions get away with you, and we were working 15 hours a day. But when you stopped, and you went back home and you were alone with your wife, boy it was the most draining experience in the world.”
“I talked to Ruby for ten to twelve minutes, and I’ve often wished I had that microphone on and recorded that conversation I had with Ruby, but of course, he was such a nuisance, my impulse was, “Oh, Jack, come on, you know I’ve got work to do.”
Pulling around the corner onto Houston Street we pass the County Jail, on the left , where Wise waited for Oswald to arrive, and on the other side of the street, a statute of George Dealey, the founder of the Dallas Morning News. As you come up past a park and the Union train station, the Dallas Morning News building is across the street. Ruby was here at the time of the assassination, possibly sitting in an advertising office with a window overlooking Dealey Plaza.
“The name of Dealey is synonymous with the Dallas Morning News,” says Wise, who stops in front of the building. On the side, carved in huge letters, it reads: “Build the news upon the rock of truth and righteousness. Conduct it always upon the lines of fairness and integrity. Acknowledge the right of the people to get from newspapers both sides of every important question.”
Then Wise drives a mile over the Trinity River across the Jefferson Street Viaduct to Oak Cliff.
“Oak Cliff is unbelievable,” Wise says. “Dallas is a big city, I’m talking about spread out, area wise, and population wise it’s the 8th largest city in the country. But when you consider how big Dallas is, it’s amazing how you have all of this concentrated action going on in such a small area. There’s Oswald’s apartment, the scene of the Tippit shooting, Oswald’s old Neeley Street apartment, where the famous pictures were take in the backyard with Oswald and the rifle.”
Then there’s the Dobb’s House restaurant, where both Oswald and Tippit had breakfast at the counter at the same time on Thursday morning, and Austin’s barbeque, where Tippit moonlighted as a bouncer for one of Ruby’s partners, and the Hallandale street house where the Cubans lived, and Red Bird airport, for small, private planes, and the Texas Theater where Oswald was captured. Oak Cliff is a virtual hornet’s nest of assassination hot spots.
“And what I always thought was fascinating and still mysterious to me to this day,” Wise says, “is the proximity of Ruby’s apartment.”
“Let’s put it this way,” he says. “The direction that Oswald was going was in the general direction of Ruby’s apartment. And I have no reason to believe Oswald was in cahoots with Ruby. I just think it’s an amazing coincidence for a city of this size. Well, he wasn’t on his way to the movies.”
The cab took Oswald into Oak Cliff, five blocks past his rooming house that he walked back to. Now people surmise he did this to throw off the police or the cab driver, if anybody was tailing him or trying to trace him, and it also gave him the opportunity to approach his place from a different direction and case it out, to see if there was any activity there before he arrived.
“Oak Cliff is still part of Dallas,” notes Wise. “The area is more run down today than it was then. It’s really depressed looking today. It would still be considered lower income then, but it has some very lovely and expensive homes too. It’s as convenient as anyplace to get downtown, and to work, but Oswald hadn’t been working at the TSBD very long, and got the room before he got the job.”
“To me, the proximity of all these places in this huge city boggles my mind today, because for all of that to be confined in such a small location is amazing. The reason I know what I know is because I was here as a reporter, I’ve followed it since then, and I’m still interested in it as a former newsman. I’m asked about it all the time. It is still a fascinating thing to me.”
“Now here’s the rooming house – 1026 North Beckley. This is the first time I’ve ever been here when there hasn’t been a sign out front saying there’s a room for rent. The rooming house cleaning lady said a police car (with two policemen in it) stopped out front while Oswald was in there changing. It honked its horn and then took off. Well I have never figured that one out,” says Wise.
The cleaning lady saw Oswald standing at the bus stop out front apparently waiting for a bus that would have taken him back to center city. Instead, the Warren Commission surmised that Oswald began walking away from center city. Riding down Beckley about six blocks from Oswald’s rooming house, Wise turns down 10th Street. “Now another thing is, they say Oswald didn’t drive, so that puts a mystery thing on this. Mrs. Ruth Paine had given him some driving lessons, and I think Mrs. Paine is sort of a mystery women in this whole thing. I interviewed her and Mrs. Tippitt.”
That Mrs. Paine was teaching Oswald to drive around that time is an important point that comes in play. There is still much dispute over whether Oswald could have covered as much ground as he did, between the time of the assassination and when he was captured at the Texas Theater. All of this took place within an hour following the assassination. “And that’s why my discovery is so pertinent to all of this,” Wise surmises.
“Now I’m going over to 10th an Patton streets where Tippit was killed. This is not the exact route that Oswald took, because he probably took a short cut.”
10th and PATTON STREETS – OAK CLIFF
“Now again, the neighborhood has always been like this, quite residential, but its probably more run down today,” says Wise. “This is the corner of Tenth and Patton. The shooting took place here, by this tree, where Tippit pulled over. He called Oswald over, then got out of the car, which I understand is bad police practice for some reason, and Oswald shot him. Somebody heard him say, ‘Poor damn cop,’ or ‘Poor dumb cop.’”
Wise also came up with another witness to the Tippit shooting years later. Jack Tatum was driving a half a block away and saw the shooting in his rear view mirror. He saw Tippit fall to the ground and the gunman shoot him again when he was on the ground. Tatum then thought, “My God, what’s going on in this city?” He took off and never told anybody, until years later.
“The proximity of al this to Ruby’s apartment is something I don’t think has gotten much attention,” Wise says, emphasizing the point. “Oswald was going in the general direction of Ruby’s apartment because there’s no way to get there in a straight line. See how close it is? It’s kind of remarkable.”
It’s about five or six blocks from the boarding house to where Tippit is shot and six more blocks to Ruby’s apartment, just across the Thornton Freeway.
After Tippit was shot, the Warren Report claims that Oswald switched directions again.
“The Warren Commission claims that Oswald walked out of this alley, took off his jacket and left it under a car at the side of the building that is just across the street from the Hughes Funeral Home, where Tippit was laid out. There were so many police cars speeding along this street that a funeral procession had to be delayed for 20 minutes until the action died down.”
At the Hughes Funeral Home, we turn right onto Jefferson. “This is the main street of Oak Cliff,” Wise explains. “Now we’ve gone a long ways here – ten or twelve blocks. The other distance, between the rooming house and the Tippit murder scene was only five or six blocks, but now we’ve gone ten or twelve blocks. And he was walking. Now you have to put it into the context of the fact that radios were blaring out the fact that the suspect was in Oak Cliff.”
Oswald was mistakenly identified as being in the library (on the north side of Jefferson), where he was known to spend time, and a Church, which were both quickly surrounded by police.
Along a row of stores is the vestibule of what then was a shoe store where Oswald supposedly ducked in when a police car went by. The shoe store clerk thought that suspicious and watched this man go into the theater without buying a ticket. The ticket girl was standing out on the curb watching all of the police cars go by.
Also along here is the Top Ten record shop where Tippit ran in and made a quick call on the pay phone shortly before he was killed. It has never been established who he was calling.
Pulling up to the curb Wise says, “Here’s the Texas Theater and the box office, which he walked passed without buying a ticket. The theater looks pretty much the same, although it was redone to accommodate Oliver Stone.”
“A World War II double feature was in progress, there were some kids in the balcony who were playing hooky from school, and fewer than a dozen patrons in the audience. At about 1:45 the ticket booth girl called the police to say that a man had entered the theater without buying a ticket, and within a few minutes no fewer than 15 police officers, two FBI agents and an assistant district attorney arrived at the theater. Some officers went to the stage with Johnny Brewer, the shoe salesman who saw a man acting suspiciously in the vestibule of his store. The houselights went up, but the film kept playing.”
“Brewer pointed out a man in the back of the theater as the officers came down the isle. Oswald was confronted, he stood up and got into a scuffle with officer McDonald, who wrestled a gun away from Oswald and punched him. ‘I’m not resisting arrest, I am not resisting arrest,’ Oswald screamed as he was dragged from the theater. Another patron was taken into a police car at the rear of the theater.”
“’I think we have our man on both counts,’ one of the arresting officers said as they pout Oswald into a patrol car.”
From the Texas Theater they took Oswald to Dallas City Hall for questioning in regards to the Tippit murder.
CAROUSEL CLUB – 1313 ½ COMMERCE STREET
On the way to City Hall you pass 1313 ½ Commerce Street, where Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club was once located, just across the street from the historic Adolphis Hotel. The area that used to be the Carousel Club is now a relatively new Bell Telephone building and a small park called Bell Plaza.
“There was a liquor store on the corner here at Commerce and Akard Streets and the Carousel Club was on the second floor,” Wise recalls. “I would take people out to dinner at the Pyramid Room at the Fairmount Hotel, one of the best places to eat, and then I’d take them to the Carousel Club. It’s just my nature to do this. I would take them from one end of the social spectrum to the other, and people would get a kick out of that.”
“You would go up these sleazy looking stairs. Most people would think you would have to knock twice and ask for Joe, but it wasn’t quite like that. You walked in and there was a type of box office where you paid an admission, a nominal fee, today it would be $4 or $5, then it was only $1 or $2. At the time, Ruby wouldn’t charge those of us in the press a cover. That was back in the days when it was perfectly acceptable for the press to get free admittance to a place like that. But I always bought my own drinks.”
“Dallas is a funny city and has a lot of peculiarities,” says Wise, “and I’m very proud of it, both as a former reporter and mayor. As a reporter I was the sports anchor on TV, but I went out and did a lot of hard news too, both because I wanted to and because I could also do camera work and radio. So I could phone in a description for the radio and take a few pictures for the TV. And at a lot of those types of hard news events I’d see Jack Ruby on the scene. He was one of those guys who was always there.”
“Nobody was really close to Jack Ruby, but of those of us who did know him, it was very difficult for us to imagine him in any sophisticated conspiratorial type of thing. He wasn’t that smart, he just wasn’t that bright. People come back and say that’s the guy you would get to be a patsy or scapegoat, and that’s true. I don’t deny that, but it’s difficult for us to take that.”
“Certainly the Carousel Club wasn’t the place to go, but it was a place to go especially if you were in town for a convention. You’re in town and you say, ‘What the hell, let’s go over there to that sleazy looking place.’”
DALLAS CITY HALL – DALLAS POLICE JAIL
Just down the street and around the corner from the site of the Carousel Club is the old City Hall and Dallas Police Jail.
“The old jail was on the top floor,” Wise explains. “It’s a very little, dinky place. It’s a holding tank until they can move prisoners to the county jail.”
That’s what they were doing when Ruby jumped out of the shadows and killed Oswald. They were just building the new City Hall when Wise was in office, and this is where he served as mayor from 1971 until 1976.
“I have heard some of the things that indicate Ruby may have entered through the ramp that I used to go to work everyday, or he might have gone up these steps and then down. He knew City Hall quite well, probably better than I did at the time. There is a debate as to how he got in there, but its all conjecture.”
“I think you have to have a picture of what it was like back then. First of all, there was no thing as real security back in those days. Today you have to sign in, get visitors passes and walk through metal detectors. Back then security was not like that. In addition, you had the Good Old Boys system between members of the press and the police. But we got quite a lot of good news tips that way too.”
“The most popular theory is that there was a cop out here at the top of the ramp who could have been directing traffic when Ruby slipped down the ramp. I was waiting for Oswald at the County jail, but if I had been here, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all to see Ruby. I’d have said, ‘Hi Jack,’ and he would have said, ‘Hi Wes,’ and I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. So the cop may have even recognized him and said, ‘Go ahead Jack, you’re harmless.’”
“Down the ramp there’s the doors and elevator where Oswald emerged. A car horn beeped, camera lights were on, flash bulbs lit up the scene, crowded with cops and newsmen. And Ruby jumped out of the crowd and shot Oswald in the stomach.”
People may focus on President Kennedy when they think about the events of that weekend, but actually three people were killed – Kennedy, J.D. Tippit and Lee Harvey Oswald. The key to any one of those murders also unlocks the mystery of the other two.
A week to ten day after the assassination, just as things were starting to calm down, and people were getting back to their routines, TV sports anchor Wes Wise was supposed to give a talk on sports at the El Chico restaurant in Oak Cliff. The lunch and talk had been arranged weeks before, shortly after Kennedy’s visit was first announced.
“This was the El Chico restaurant,” says Wise. “It’s still a Mexican restaurant, but has a different name today. I was to give a speech on sports, but the whole town was still taking about the assassination, and they didn’t want me to talk about sports. It had been well known that I had interviewed Mrs. Paine and Mrs. Tippit and that I had the story where I traced all of Oswald’s steps, and it was pretty well known that I had talked to Ruby at the depository on the day after the assassination, so the audience, instead of talking sports, wanted my insights into the assassination.”
According to Wise, when the question and answer session began, a guy puts up his hand and says, “We have a mechanic over here at my garage, who says that he saw Lee Harvey Oswald sitting in a parked car right here in this parking lot, during that period of time right after the assassination, when radio stations were all saying that the suspect’s in Oak Cliff.”
Although Wise said he wanted to talk to him, the man noted the mechanic was a bit reluctant to talk.
As Wise puts it, “This is where my being a sports announcer was very beneficial to me in the coverage of this story, because people recognize me. So I went over there to this garage next door and met Mr. W. T. White, a nice little old man in coveralls, a regular mechanic type looking guy.”
“White said that he and his wife were watching TV on the night of the assassination when they brought Lee Harvey Oswald out at the police station. White said to his wife, ‘That’s the man I saw in the car over in the parking lot this afternoon.’”
“The car, he said, as parked against the far wall of the parking lot, behind a billboard. The car, facing Davis Street, was a ’57 Plymouth.”
“Now (he later) got the color wrong, but he got the model and the license plate number, which is an important part of the story.”
[BK Notes: The Red Ford first appears in an FBI document of an interview with Mr. White, a mechanic who would certainly know the difference between a Plymouth and a Ford. Wise promised Mr. White he wouldn't become involved and then the FBI intimidated him and didn't bother to interview or investigate Carl Mather. The FBI used the red Ford as an excuse to not interview Mather.]
“You definitely identified him as Oswald?” Wise asked. “There’s no doubt at all. I said that to my wife, that’s the man I saw in the parking lot of the El Chino restaurant,” White responded with certainty.
White then showed Wise exactly where the car was parked and where he was standing when he walked over towards the car to watch the police cars going by at a pretty high rate of speed. "White thought the guy looked suspicious," said Wise, "as if he were hiding or something. White said he walked closer and got a good look at him, but when the guy made some sort of motion in the car, he turned around and walked back towards the garage. He then took down the license plate number, and you can see the license plate number on my car clearly.”
Incredulous, Wise asked White, “You took down the license number of the car? And he said, “Yea, I have it right here.”
“He reached into his shirt pocket and took out a piece of paper with the license number on it and I thought, ‘God, what have I fallen into?’”
White was still reluctant, and said, “Look, I don’t want to get into any trouble. We don’t know what this thing is all about.”
Wise said he had to use his best salesmanship. “Mr White, we’re talking about the President of the United States being assassinated here, and even for just patriotic reasons, I think you ought to let me know that number. And I’ll get together with our contacts in the FBI, and if anything comes out of this, you won’t be involved. But I can’t promise you that if something does come of it, you won’t be questioned, because I’m sure they will.”
So White handed Wise the piece of paper with the license number on it, and Wise copied the number and gave it to the FBI. Wise kept and still has the original paper - hard evidence in a homicide.
Considering the possibility it could develop into a big story, Wise told the FBI, “I said to them, ‘Look, we realize that if this turns out to be a big story, it’s everybody’s story. But we want first crack at it because we are giving you the information.’”
And the FBI agreed to that and said they would check into it. They found that a ’57 Plymouth with Texas plate number #PP 4537 was owned by one Carl Amos Mather, of 4309 Colgate Street, Garland, Texas.
According to Wise, “The FBI went out and checked it out, and what was really amazing to me was the car is right there in the driveway – a ’57 Plymouth. The mechanic may have gotten he color wrong, but he got the year, make and model right. Mr. White was an old man and might have been color blind or something.”
“They knock on the door and Mrs. Mather comes out. They ask Mrs. Mather where her husband was at the time of the assassination. She said he was working at Collins Radio, in nearby Richardson, Texas. The car, on the afternoon of Friday, November 22, at the time of the assassination, she believed, was in the Collins Radio parking lot. But later that afternoon, by 2 pm, it was at the Tippit residence. They were very close friends of J.D. Tippit, and his wife had called and said that her husband had been shot and killed, and would they please come over.”
“Now, to me, that coincidence is just mind boggling.”
“When the FBI came back to us, they played down all of this. They played it Down, Down. We asked them if they looked into it closely, but let’s put it this way – we would have thought that they would have looked into it more closely, and much more deeply than they did. The Warren Commission didn’t even interview me on this, although the House Select Committee on Assassinations did interview me, and quite extensively. They were extremely interested in it.”
When Carl Mather sat down to dinner with Wes Wise and two CBS News editors, he was too nervous to eat. They asked him questions and tried to figure out what they too considered to be an amazing coincidence – the accused assassin of the President and a policeman, being seen in a car that belonged to a good friend of the policeman within an hour of the murder.
Mather was interviewed by Wise, the FBI, a HSCA investigator, CBS News and researcher Larry Harris, but no one could get anything substantial out of him.
The HSCA investigator, Jack Moriarty, was an experienced big city homicide detective, but when I called him on the phone he was faithful to the security oath he signed while working for the HSCA. He did say however, that he was just following the leads wherever they went, then submitted reports to Washington. The HSCA investigation he said, was tightly compartmentalized, so he didn’t know what the other investigators were doing in New Orleans or Miami. Only the committee’s chief counsel, “Only G. Robert Blakey knew the whole picture,” he said.
The HSCA issued a subpoena for Mather to testify under oath, giving him immunity from prosecution, but they never acted on it and Mather was never called to testify.
The late Larry Harris knew more about the Tippit murder than anyone, even getting a job as a mailman just to get to know the neighborhood better. When Harris talked to him Mather said, “Look, I’ve talked with the FBI, to the police and the House Select Committee investigators, and I’ve told them everything. I just can’t explain it.”
According to Wise, “we tried to draw Mather out¸ but couldn’t do it. All Mather would say was, ‘put yourself in my shoes. I just can’t explain it.’”
But no one bothered to check out Mather’s alibi and go out and look more closely at Collins Radio Company of Richardson, Texas, a hornet’s nest of suspicious activity.
NEXT UP: THE COLLINS RADIO CONNECTIONS - Stay Tuned.
NEXT UP: THE COLLINS RADIO CONNECTIONS - Stay Tuned.
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