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'He's been shot. He's been shot. Lee Oswald has been shot. There is a man with a gun. Absolute panic, absolute panic here in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters. Detectives have their guns drawn.... '
24th November 1963. NBC reporter Tom Pettit described the scene unfolding in front of his eyes, as millions of people across America heard his words live on television. Under two hours later, Oswald would be pronounced dead by doctors at the Parkland Memorial Hospital, the same hospital where JFK had been pronounced dead just two days prior.
Whilst the identity of JFK’s killer has been the subject of much debate, the man who killed Oswald was captured quite clearly on camera. His name was Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner who stepped out from a crowd of reporters under Dallas Police HQ and fired a single round from his .38 Colt Cobra revolver and mortally wounded Oswald.
His motive? Ruby told investigators that he’d been in mourning since the President’s assassination, a man who he apparently greatly loved. His grief 'reached the point of insanity', whereby he felt compelled to spontaneously kill Oswald when the moment just so happened to present itself.
The 1964 Warren Commission, the official investigation into JFK’s assassination, looked into Ruby’s whereabouts when Kennedy himself was killed. They concluded he was five blocks away and that Oswald was the only person responsible for Kennedy’s assassination. There was no wider conspiracy.
Fifteen years later, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that a conspiracy had been involved in the President’s murder but couldn’t be any more specific than that. The conspiracy theory floodgates had been opened. Flash forward to 2018 and they still haven’t been shut.
Fuel was poured on the fire last year when the U.S Government began releasing previously classified files on the assassination of JFK. Since the first release in mid-2017, around 55,000 documents have been made available for public consumption, the last batch being released in April 2018. It will take many years for experts and historians to reveal all the secrets hidden within these documents. However, in the short time, they have been in the public forum some big revelations have already been discovered.
Document 32149267 seems to directly contradict the findings of the Warren Commission with regards to Jack Ruby. The document places Ruby at the scene of JFK’s assassination and not five blocks away, it states:
'Recently…a Group Manager in the Dallas Intelligence Division, received information from a confidential informant that might be helpful in the investigation of the Kennedy assassination. The informant stated that on the morning of the assassination, Ruby contacted him and asked if he would ‘like to watch the fireworks.’ He was with Jack Ruby and standing at the corner of the Postal Annex Building facing the Texas School Book Depository Building, at the time of the shooting.'
The informant is named as Bob Vanderslice who relayed this information to his FBI handlers in 1977. It doesn’t state why it took 14 years for this information to come to light but the file goes on to say that as soon as the shooting had occurred, Ruby turned and headed for the Dallas Morning News Building without saying a single word to Vanderslice.
If the informant is to be believed, Ruby was among the crowds who saw JFK get shot and he seemed to have prior knowledge of what was about to happen with his 'fireworks' comment.
For a long time conspiracy theorists have tried to tie Ruby in with the assassination of JFK via his association with organised crime. They believe the mafia are the ones behind the wider conspiracy mentioned by the House Select Committee.
After Fidel Castro’s communist revolution of Cuba, the mob lost some big financial interests in the country. Unhappy that Kennedy had failed to topple Castro, via his botched Bay of Pigs invasion, and goaded by the fact Kennedy’s younger brother Attorney General Robert Kennedy was making it a personal crusade to tackle organised crime, the mob decided to change the man at the top.
Oswald was to be the fall guy and Ruby the man to silence him. Why would Ruby carry out such a deed? Theorists believe Ruby, who was known to have mafia connections, got into debt with the mob and had to kill Oswald to repay that debt. Certainly, when Ruby was interviewed in 1964 as part of the Warren Commission, he repeatedly spoke about being in danger. He stated that he wished to tell the truth but couldn’t do so until he was in a safe location. Since the Commission had no police powers they were unable to offer him that protection.
Ruby died of a pulmonary embolism in January 1967 and took whatever truth he held with him to the grave. Chief Counsel and Staff Director to the House Select Committee at the time G. Robert Blakey, later concluded that, 'The most plausible explanation for the murder of Oswald by Jack Ruby was that Ruby had stalked him on behalf of organized crime, trying to reach him on at least three occasions in the forty-eight hours before he silenced him forever.'
The release of this new document certainly seems to fan the flames of this conspiracy theory, although as with most theories associated with the JFK assassination, the concrete evidence it requires remains elusive.
It might be contained within the final set of classified documents that have yet to be released. In April 2018, President Trump ordered those files be kept from the public until October 26th, 2021, due to 'identifiable national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns'.
Conspiracy theorists will have to wait just that little bit longer.