In his book ON THE TRAIL OF THE ASSASSINS, Jim Garrison recounts several stories told by Jules Ricco Kimble.

New Orleans Conspiracy Witness Jules Ricco Kimble

Jim Garrison's Klansman

by Dave Reitzes
In his 1988 memoirs, On the Trail of the Assassins, Jim Garrison trotted out scores of previously obscure witnesses to support his purported case for a JFK assassination conspiracy in New Orleans. Often providing crucial linkages in Garrison's narrative, these people tend to have one particularly obvious trait in common: None were called to testify at the 1969 trial of Clay Shaw. Today, hardcore devotees of the late DA eagerly use such so-called witnesses to support their contention that Garrison really did have something after all. However, a cursory study is generally all that is required to indicate that Garrison had good reason to withhold such "evidence" from scrutiny.

Garrison devotes a lengthy section in his book to one such witness, Ku Klux Klansman Jules Ricco Kimble (1991 ed., 136-9, 204). He uses Kimble to allege links between Clay Shaw and David Ferrie, Clay Shaw and the alleged "Bertrand" alias, Clay Shaw and an unknown "Mexican or Cuban" (1991 ed., 137), Clay Shaw and Kerry Thornley (1991 ed., 138 fn.), and Clay Shaw and L. M. Bloomfield, "like Shaw a member of the twin international intelligence combines [sic], the Centro Mondiale Commerciale (World Trade Center) and Permindex" (1991 ed., 137 fn.).

Kimble has also been cited as a Shaw-Ferrie link in Jim DiEugenio's Destiny Betrayed, Bill Davy's Let Justice Be Done, and newsgroup posts by Jim Hargrove.

Kimble's October 10, 1967, statement to the NODA's office includes the claims that Kimble had "contact with CIA agents," associated numerous times with David Ferrie and Clay Shaw, and was an accessory to an alleged burglary of papers from Ferrie's home shortly after Ferrie's death. The centerpiece of the Kimble story is an alleged flight to Montreal, with Ferrie as pilot and Shaw as fellow passenger. (Kimble's full statement is reproduced below.) Garrison, Davy, DiEugenio, et al., neglect to mention that Kimble first placed the alleged flight to Montreal in 1962, then later moved the date to the summer of 1963, apparently to imply a possible link to the JFK assassination (cf. Maurice Philipps, De Dallas a Montreal).

Lisa Pease's article, "David Atlee Phillips, Clay Shaw and Freeport Sulphur," again names Ferrie as Shaw's pilot, and attempts to link the two to a presumably sinister business deal with a Cuban nickel plant, and also to ostensible assassination suspect David Atlee Phillips. "Despite the fact that the original source of this information was JULES RICCO KIMBLE, a man with a record," an undated NODA memo reads, "this lead keeps growing stronger" (Lisa Pease, "David Atlee Phillips, Clay Shaw and Freeport Sulphur," Probe, Vol. 3, No. 3, March-April, 1996).

It didn't grow strong enough, however, to warrant a mention at Clay Shaw's trial, or even in Garrison's memoirs. (Bill Davy's book briefly discusses the Freeport story, but doesn't mention that the tale originated with Kimble, even though a discussion of Kimble's NODA statement directly follows the Freeport material [Davy, 87]. Davy, in fact, implies that Kimble's story corroborates part of the Freeport tale [Davy, 87-8].)

Pease also uses Kimble's story as evidence that journalist and Kennedy intimate Walter Sheridan altered eyewitness statements.

By the time of the Shaw trial, Kimble was also claiming to be James Earl Ray's infamous alleged conspirator in the Martin Luther King, Jr., assassination, "Raoul" (cf. William Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1998 ed., 298-9; Covert Action Information Bulletin, Number 34, Summer, 1990, 21-7).

But the House Select Committee on Assassinations did a thorough investigation of Kimble, and found that he was not in Canada at the time he and James Earl Ray supposedly had been there together (HSCA MLK Report, 392), something Kimble did not deny when questioned by the committee. "Although generally uncooperative during his interview," the HSCA noted, "Kimble confirmed that he did not go to Canada until September 1967," while Ray had left Canada in August 1967. "Kimble also denied meeting Ray or a person using any of Ray's aliases (Ibid.).

When Kimble began claiming in the late 1980s that his involvement with the MLK assassination was true after all, Jim Garrison, of all people, vouched for his integrity, saying that everything Kimble had ever told Garrison's office had been the truth (Inside Story: Who Killed Martin Luther King?" BBC documentary, 1989). One has to wonder how Garrison could have made this statement without ever having verified any of Kimble's tales. Incidentally, Garrison does let his readers know that "Kimble was alleged to have known James Earl Ray in Canada" (Garrison, 1991 ed., 136 fn.). However, Garrison neglects to mention that it was Kimble himself who made the allegation, and states only that the veracity of the charge "was never demonstrated" (Ibid.).

Even William Pepper, who finds some of Kimble's tale credible, admits that much of Kimble's story has "taken on material aspects of unreliability" (Pepper, 1998 ed., 299).

Kimble, we know, had a long history of deception and pathological behavior, including arrests for everything from check forgery (New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 5, 1968; Newsgroup post by Jerry Shinley) to impersonating a doctor (New Orleans Times-Picayune, Aug 31, 1968; Shinley) to aggravated assault and impersonating a state police officer (New Orleans Times-Picayune, October 6, 1967; Shinley), and is currently serving a double life sentence for murder in an Oklahoma facility (Covert Action Information Bulletin, Ibid.).

The truth about Garrison's Kimble story begins to emerge in a passage from a 1967 CIA internal memorandum partially declassified in February 1989, concerning a call received by the CIA's Domestic Contact Service in New Orleans:

On 4 August 1967 the DCS office received a telephone call from a man who identified himself as Jules R. KIMBLE of 7003 Vicksburg St., New Orleans. He said that "Garrison was trying to connect him with CIA" but that he did not know why. He added that GARRISON "accused him of having taken some papers from the residence of David Ferrie on the day after Ferrie's death" and added that he would appear on WDSU-TV, New Orleans, the same day. All Headquarters checks on KIMBLE were negative. In response to inquiry, the DCS office in New Orleans reported on 21 August 1967 that Jules R. Kimble is not in the telephone directory or the city directory. The address 7003 Vicksburg St. is listed as vacant in the latter. To the best knowledge of the office no one named KIMBLE has appeared on a WDSU-TV interview (CIA Memorandum, September 7, 1967, "Memorandum #6: Garrison and the Kennedy Assassination").

The DCS office was so baffled by Kimble's call that the memorandum speculates that it could have been a provocation "initiated by Garrison" (Ibid.).

Nevertheless, just over a month later, the DA's office had obtained this lengthy statement from Kimble, all of which, Garrison assures us, is the truth:




October 10, 1967


RESIDING AT: 4839 Babylon Street

New Orleans, Louisiana


I met DAVID FERRIE in early 1960 in a barroom named The Golden Lantern in the French Quarter. I would see DAVE from time to time in the same bar and I flew with him in his airplane on several occasions.

One night while drinking in the Golden Lantern, DAVE introduced me to CLAY SHAW. I was with CLAY SHAW and DAVE for several hours that night which was in late 1960 or early 1961. From that time on I use [sic] to see CLAY SHAW on different occasions, you know, drinking and so forth. One day in late '61 or early '62 I received a phone call from DAVE and he asked me if I would like to take an overnight plane trip with him. I said, all right, and then met FERRIE at the airport, at which time I found out that CLAY SHAW was coming with us. At this time I also found out that we were going to Canada to pick someone up. No other explanation was given. While on the trip, CLAY SHAW sat in the back of the airplane reading books and slept. SHAW also had a brown briefcase with him. On the flight we stopped at different places to gas up and stretch our legs. We stopped in Nashville, Tennessee, Louisville, Kentucky, and Toranado [sic], Canada. Our final stop was in Montreal, Canada. FERRIE and myself stayed in a hotel overnight. I believe it might have been the Hilton Air or something like that. The hotel was located in Dovral which was right outside of Montreal. CLAY SHAW disappeared after we landed and I did not see him until the next morning which was about 8 o'clock, when we were ready to leave and come back to New Orleans. When SHAW arrived at the plane, he had this Mexican or Cuban with him. This guy was kind of heavy set, dark complexion, balding in the front, in his early 30s or middle 30s. He sat in the back of the airplane with SHAW and spoke only to SHAW in broken English. The airplane that we used was a Cessna 172, which I believed belonged to a friend of FERRIE's. We bought our gas with a Gulf credit card which FERRIE had. When we got back to the Lakefront Airport,

I got into my automobile and FERRIE and SHAW and the other guy got into another automobile and left.

About a month or two later I got another phone call from FERRIE asking me if I wanted to make the return trip with him to Canada, but I told him no.

I have seen SHAW on different occasions in barrooms and at the International Trade Mart up until the time that the District Attorney's office started their investigation. I have heard other people introduce CLAY SHAW as CLAY BERTRAND, but he has never been introduced to me as CLAY BERTRAND.

I would also like to state that about two or three weeks after DAVE FERRIE died I got a phone call from JACK HELMS, who was formerly with the Federal Government [sic] and later connected with the Ku Klux Klan, asking me if I would take a ride with him by FERRIE's house to pick up some papers. I said, yes, and a short while later he picked me up at my house in a 1966 white Chevrolet. We drove to FERRIE's house and parked a little way down the block. JACK got out of the automobile with a flashlight, and it appeared that he went around the back of the house or into the back yard. A short while later he came back with a black briefcase and got into the automobile, at which time we drove off. Later I believe that the contents of this briefcase were put into a safety deposit box in the Bank of Louisiana. Later I believe that these papers were removed from the Bank of Louisiana and put into a big black box in St. Bernard Parish which belonged to the Klan. The fellow who kept this box is called OTTO. I do not know him by any other name. I believe that these papers were then removed from this black box, but I don't know where they were removed to. I did manage to get some papers from this black box, but they pertained to the Klan, and I turned these papers [over] to CLEMENT HOOD, an FBI Agent I was working for. I also had contact with CIA agents. Their names being STEINMEYER, who has since been transferred to Texas, and NATT BROWN, who is still in New Orleans, and another guy by the name of RED, last name unknown. I used to have meetings with the agents in different motel rooms where I would give them reports, pictures, recordings, etc., and would also receive my paycheck or cash which I would sign a voucher for, and would also receive further instructions. They would mail different things to me at my post office box number which is 701-30252, Lafayette Street Branch.

Several months ago RICK TOWNLEY with WDSU called me and told me that he had information that I had tape recordings that someone wanted to buy from me. I asked him how he had found out that I had them and he said that didn't matter. He asked me if I would meet him some place and I told him yes, to come over to my house. He said, no, he wouldn't do that, that it would have to be some public place. So I met him in the Kopper Kitchen on Tulane Avenue. After we talked for a while I went home and put on a suit and we went down to WDSU. When we got to WDSU, TOWNLEY called WALTER SHERIDAN in New York and I sat there while TOWNLEY talked to SHERIDAN. After TOWNLEY hung up he said that SHERIDAN would be in town the following morning. TOWNLEY asked me what I wanted for the tapes that I had, and I told him $500. The next morning they gave me the $500 for the tapes and asked me if I would do a film for WDSU consisting of what I know about the Cubans, FERRIE, SHAW, etc. The tape that I sold them contained some information about the Klan and other information about the papers that were picked up at FERRIE's house. WALTER SHERIDAN is the one who gave me the $500 for the tapes. This $500 was in a sealed envelope and was all one hundred dollar bills. This was given to me in an office in WDSU which was located by their newsroom. We then went upstairs and they locked the doors and placed a guard on the door and started asking questions and taking pictures of me. I even remember that there was a man from Sweden who was talking to the cameramen and they asked him to leave. They asked me questions such as, Do I know CLAY SHAW; Did I ever fly with CLAY SHAW and DAVID FERRIE; If I knew GENE DAVIS, which I told them [sic] that I knew GENE DAVIS very well because he was a personal friend of mine; If I knew GORDON NOVEL; If I ever worked for the FBI, CIA, to which questions I said, yes, of which questions WALTER SHERIDAN said he had already known that I would say yes to [sic]. I was then told to say that I didn't know anything that would help Garrison in his investigation and this was also put on film. I don't remember everything that he told me to say but he did tell me to go to Canada. He also said that he would edit and cut the films after I was gone. He also said that they would get me an attorney if I needed one. I told SHERIDAN and TOWNLEY not to release this film if they were going to cut any part of it. They said that when I got to Canada they would call me and ask if it could be released. They called my wife later and asked her if she would let them release it and she also told them no. I understand that this film has been cut and released.

MR. HOOD told me not to get involved with the District Attorney's Office and if the District Attorney's office tried to subpoena me, that he would take care of it. MR. HOOD told me to give all the cooperation necessary that WALTER SHERIDAN required. SHERIDAN and TOWNLEY also told me not to talk with the District Attorney's Office and to call them right away so they could get an attorney for me. That is about all I can remember at this time.


Did sinister government operatives keep Kimble from testifying at the trial of Clay Shaw? If Jim Garrison even for a moment contemplated calling Kimble to testify, it is not reflected in the contemporaneous record, nor is it even mentioned in either of Garrison's two books on the assassination. No subpoena was ever issued for Kimble, no extradition was ever sought, and the alleged witness' name seems to have been all but forgotten well before the start of the trial.

Interestingly, when Kimble was named as a possible prosecution witness in one contemporaneous press account, it was only in relation to David Ferrie. No relationship between Kimble and Clay Shaw was even so much as hinted at, and the alleged flight to Montreal was described as relating only to Kimble and Ferrie (Paris Flammonde, The Kennedy Conspiracy, 206-7).

But let us not forget the words of Jim Garrison, who assures us that "every single statement Kimble gave me turned out to be true without exception -- the only information that is not true is what had been planted at that time in his mind at the end of his service by the CIA." According to Garrison, the CIA had led Kimble to believe he had worked for the Ku Klux Klan -- one of the few facts about Kimble's biography that has actually been verified. Garrison claimed that this "is really standard operating procedure for intelligence agencies before they dismiss someone" (Inside Story: Who Killed Martin Luther King?").

Garrison's contention should not be dismissed lightly. When it comes to planting false information in people's minds, after all, Garrison was a past master.

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