A New Oswald Witness Goes Public (Updated 2009)
By William Kelly
[Originally posted in 1999 at namebase.org]
The literature of the JFK assassination is littered with interesting lines of inquiry, but few are as detailed as the circumstances presented by Adele Edisen, who first made her story public in the assassination research journal The Third Decade, published by New York State University Professor Jerry Rose. The article, titled “From April to November and Back Again,” was written by Edisen. To protect her identity, it was published under the byline of K.S. Turner in the November, 1991 edition (Vol.8, No.1) of the bimonthly journal, now called The Fourth Decade.
Edisen claimed that in April of 1963 she met a person who apparently had foreknowledge of the assassination of President Kennedy, Jose A. Rivera. He gave her a phone number through which she contacted and talked with Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans in May, 1963. She called the Secret Service to warn them of the assassination and was interviewed by the Secret Service and FBI after the assassination.
There are, however, few official documented reports on the matter, although some are forthcoming in response to the JFK Assassination Records Review Act. But Adele Edisen’s story can be independently confirmed in many respects without official documentation, and subsequent inquiries by Dick Russell, Larry Haapanen, John Gooch, and myself have confirmed much of what she has to say. At this point, the lack of documentation seems to make what she has to say even more significant. It is a story that provides numerous leads that should be pursued.
Edisen’s article in The Third Decade describes how she came to meet Jose Rivera at a medical conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey in April, 1963. She and Rivera were both medical professionals.
Edisen was in her third year of a post-doctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness (NINDB, as it was called then) at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. Prior to this, she had had two years of post doctoral support from the NINDB at the Tulane University School of Medicine. In later years, she worked on the faculty of Rockefeller University in New York City , the University of Texas at San Antonio , and St. Mary’s Dominican College , and Delgado Community College in New Orleans . When she met him Rivera was manning a booth at the Atlantic City medical convention.
Upon learning that Edisen was with Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans , Rivera said he had been on the faculty of the biochemistry department at Loyola University , which is also in New Orleans , and that he was then living in Washington D.C.
At the time of their meeting Edisen described Rivera as “approximately 45 or 50 years of age, about 5 feet, 3 or 4 inches in height, and obese. His hair was dark brown, almost black, with some grey; he was balding at the forehead and crown. His eyes were brown, and he wore corrective glasses with very thick lenses which greatly magnified the size of his eyes. His complexion was quite dark. He spoke English with a distinct Hispanic accent.”
The Atlantic City Convention Authority records reflect that the National Institute of Health (NIH) sponsored a “High Blood Pressure Symposium” at the Atlantic City Convention Hall in April, 1963. Edisen testified before the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) in Dallas, Texas on November 18, 1994 that the meetings in Atlantic City were organized by the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology, an umbrella group of six major biological societies, including the American Physiological Society, for which Edisen gave a report on her research.
The strictly professional conversation between Edisen and Rivera became friendly, or as Edisen explained it, “I befriended him or he befriended me.” The NIH was their first common tie, with their mutual professional acquaintances in New Orleans providing additional associations. “It turned out he had taught at Loyola University in New Orleans, and we knew some people in common who were, for example, Dr. Fred Brazda who was chairman of biochemistry at LSU Medical School, and a few other people.”
“I was planning to go to Bethesda in Washington and visit with colleagues and friends at the NIH and also see the NIH,” Edisen later testified, “and so he had, in the course of our conversations and so on, invited me to his home to have dinner with him and his wife and daughter, and also to help me obtain hotel or motel space for my visit in Bethesda after these meetings, and to give me a sight-seeing tour, and so on.”
Edisen arrived in Washington D.C. on Monday, April 22, 1963. As Rivera had requested, she telephoned him at his office, and his secretary arranged for her accommodations at a Bethesda, Maryland motel. Rivera picked Edisen up in his car and explained that his wife, who was a nurse, had been called into duty at a hospital. So the two of them had dinner at a Washington restaurant, Blackie’s House of Beef. It was while standing in line waiting to be seated, Edisen recalled, when Dr. Rivera “began to talk of his travels in conjunction with his work. He spoke of Dallas, Texas.”
Edisen quoted Rivera as saying, “When you go to Dallas, you should go to the Carousel Club because it’s a very nice nightclub.” Edisen made a mental note of a merry-go-round, while Rivera asked her if she knew Lee Oswald. He told her that Oswald had lived in the Soviet Union, was married to a Russian, had a child, and they were planning on moving to New Orleans, where Edisen was then living. She distinctly made a mental impression of the name, “I vaguely wondered if he was related to a boy I had gone to high school with, whose name was Fred Oswald.” Rivera encouraged Edisen to meet the Oswalds, saying that “you should get to know them.” She assumed that Oswald was a fellow medical research scientist.
Edisen and Rivera then made plans to meet the next night, when she would get a sight-seeing tour and could have dinner with Rivera at his home with his wife and daughter. After spending the day with friends, Edisen was picked up by Rivera at her motel, where “a tall, sharp-faced man hailed Rivera, addressed him as ‘Colonel.’ They spoke for quite a long while about their times together at an Army base. His friend spoke of his current work in the army on telemetry and some work with cameras and telephoto lenses.”
Rivera later told Edisen that, “We’re photographing demonstrators with telephoto cameras from rooftops. We’ll identify individual demonstrators and put their names in computer files. We’ve started this on the West Coast.” Edisen wondered how that could be related to his work as a science administrator at NINDB until Rivera told her of his “other office, on the hill,” and ties with “Foggy Bottom,” which Edisen thought to be a residential section of the city.
According to Edisen: “After a lengthy drive to view the cherry trees, the National Library of Congress, Walter Reed Army Institute and Hospital, the Capitol Building, Georgetown and other sites, we started to approach the White House.” While they passed the White House a number of times, the first time they came toward the White House Rivera asked Edisen, “I wonder what Jackie will do when her husband dies?” After a pause and Edisen’s incredulous, “What?” Rivera said, “Oh, oh, I meant the baby. She might lose the baby.” Edisen didn’t know Jackie was pregnant.
That was “the first inkling I had that Rivera might be implying something sinister concerning President Kennedy.” Then, “every time we toured around the White House he asked me if I saw Caroline on her pony Macaroni, and all kinds of crazy nonsense, and I was beginning to think I was with an absolute madman…. Rivera’s part of the conversation at times was difficult to follow, but many of his statements, such as the reference to ‘Jackie,’ seemed deliberately placed. When he spoke of President Kennedy, Rivera was extremely critical of Kennedy’s position on civil rights. Rivera made many disparaging remarks about black people and the civil rights movement.”
Rivera also mentioned the NIH, Edisen remembers. “Several times during the course of this evening and the previous one, Rivera referred to the NIH being called ‘The Reservation’ because there were so many ‘chiefs’ and no ‘Indians.’ I wondered why he had to repeat this so many times.” Edisen, as a professional research scientist, suspected Rivera was using hypnotic suggestion techniques on her, and possibly even drugs. “He spoke of hypnosis. He had knowledge of hypnotic techniques and of the uses of LSD, a psychomimetic and hypnogogic drug which increases susceptibility to suggestions without causing amnesia.”
Since his wife, again, was called in to work at the hospital, Rivera and Edisen had dinner at the Twin Bridges at the Marriott Motor Hotel across the Potomac River. While driving to the Marriot Rivera questioned Edisen if she had met a number of people, apparently foreign scientists, during her stay. She had not, but then he asked if she knew John Apt. She did not, and he explained that Apt was a lawyer who defended communists.
“After we finished eating, he asked me to do a favor for him when I arrived home,” recalls Edisen. Rivera wanted Edisen to contact Winston DeMonsabert, a Loyola faculty member who was leaving New Orleans . Edisen wrote a note to herself: “Winston DeMonsabert call Dr. Rivera when leaving N.O.” Then Rivera said to also call Lee Harvey Oswald at 899-4244. “Write down this name: Lee Harvey Oswald. Tell him to kill the chief.” Rivera then contradicted himself, saying, “No, no, don’t write that down. You will remember it when you get to New Orleans. We’re just playing a little joke on him.”
Edisen said that she still assumed “the joke” would be on Oswald, whom she thought was a scientist and friend of Rivera’s. She thought “the chief” was a reference to some NIH research study group or committee head, such as Elizabeth Hartman, chief of the grants and awards committee of NINDB. Rivera had earlier joked about the NIH being “a reservation where there were too many chiefs and not enough Indians.”
Edisen remembers Rivera then being “agitated and excited. He began talking strangely about ‘it’ happening” and drew a diagram on a napkin, almost incoherent and very agitated. “It will be on the fifth floor, there’ll be some men up there,” he said. Edisen quoted Rivera as saying nonsensical things like, “Oswald was not what he seems. We’re going to send him to the library to read about great assassinations in history. After it’s over, he’ll call Abt to defend him. After it happens, the President’s best friend will commit suicide. He’ll jump out of a window because of his grief….It will happened after the Shriners’ Circus comes to New Orleans . After it’s over, the men will be out of the country. Remember, the first time it happens won’t be real.”
Edisen recalls, “He did not respond to any of my questions about what was to happen, and I became even more concerned and suspicious about his odd behavior and statements. As I entered his car, he asked me to destroy the note I had made and to forget what had just happened. It did not dawn on me that he could have been referring to an assassination of the President – the Chief.”
Rivera threatened Edisen about going to the FBI saying, “They’ll want that note. Don’t give it to them. I don’t want to have to hurt you. We’ll be watching you.” Edisen said, “I became very frightened. I didn’t understand what he was talking about, even though he had made references to the assassination of the President.”
About a week after Adele Edisen returned home to New Orleans from Washington D.C. (around May 1-3, 1963), she called the 899-4244 number Rivera had given her for Lee Harvey Oswald, whom she believed was a research-scientist colleague of Dr. Rivera’s, who had returned from Russia with a Russian wife and recently moved to New Orleans. A man who answered the phone said there was no one there by that name.
“A week later (approximately May 9-12, 1963) I dialed again, thinking I might have misdialed the first time,” recalls Edisen. The same man answered, and seemed surprised when she asked for Oswald, as he said, “They’ve just arrived.” Although Oswald wasn’t there, Edisen spoke with his wife briefly, and although she spoke with a Slavic-Russian accent, Marina seemed to understand the conversation, didn’t know Rivera, and said it was okay for Edisen to call back when her husband was there.
The third time she called, the phone was answered by the same man, whom Edisen believes was the landlord. Oswald came to the phone, but denied knowing Jose Rivera of Washington D.C. “That’s strange, because he apparently knows you and your wife,” Edisen told him. “I then asked Oswald for the location of the telephone, and he courteously gave me an address on Magazine Street, which I placed to be near the 5000block….I thanked him and apologized for bothering him. Still thinking that Oswald
was a scientist, I wondered why a scientist would be living in a rather run-down part of the city. Needless to say, I did not deliver Rivera’s message (‘to kill the chief’) to Oswald.”
What is really strange is that (Col.) Jose Rivera, in Washington D.C., knew Oswald’s New Orleans phone number on Tuesday, April 23, before Oswald himself knew where he was moving to in New Orleans. It was the following day, Wednesday, April 24, when Ruth Paine drove from Irving to the Oswald’s Neeley Street apartment in Dallas to find the Oswalds all packed and ready to move to New Orleans. They had quite suddenly (Marina later said it was because of the Walker shooting incident) decided to move to New Orleans, where Oswald was born. They asked Ruth Paine for a ride to the bus station and she was startled by the sudden decision.
Ruth Paine discussed the matter with them in the car on the way to the bus station, and convinced them that because they didn’t know where Oswald would work or where they would stay in New Orleans, Marina and their daughter should stay with her in Irving, Texas while Oswald went on alone to New Orleans to find a job and locate an apartment. Oswald arrived in New Orleans by bus and called his aunt Lillian Murret to announce that he had returned home, and to ask if he could stay with them at 757 French Street while he searched for employment. Mrs. Murret was surprised, but agreed to take Oswald as a guest until he obtained a job and apartment.
After filing for unemployment compensation extensions for his work in Dallas at Jaggars-Chiles-Stoval (which required cross-state approvals), Oswald applied for work at a number of locations, including the William B. Reily coffee company at 640 Magazine Street, where he listed three references — his uncle John Murret, Sgt. Robert Hidell, and Lt. J. Evans, the last two of which the Warren Report claimed are “apparently fictitious names.”
But they’re not fictitious. Oswald did know a Hidell in the Marines, who was living in New Orleans at the time, and there was indeed a “J. Evans,” because as the Report notes on the same page, “Also on May 9, Oswald obtained an apartment at 4905-07 Magazine Street with the help of Myrtle Evans, who had known him when he was a child.” And Myrtle had a husband named Julian. When he was young, Oswald’s mother had rented an apartment from Myrtle and Julian Evans. After the assassination Myrtle Evans characterized Oswald as a spoiled brat to the Warren Commission and Marina’s biographer Priscilla Johnson McMillan. Myrtle also helped Oswald find the Magazine Street apartment in the same “coincidental” way that Ruth Paine found Oswald a job at the Texas School Book Depository.
Recreating Oswald’s reintroduction into his old neighborhood, Priscilla Johnson McMillan wrote: “Lee went to their building and Julian Evans, who was seated at breakfast drinking his last cup of coffee, recognized him right away. He had known Lee both as a child and as a teenager, and there was something about him that neither he nor Myrtle liked. Julian finished his coffee, shook hands with the caller, and left for work. His wife Myrtle, a heavy-set woman in her fifties, who wore glasses, and had reddish hair in a bun, peered at Lee closely, ‘I know you, don’t I?'”
“‘Sure, I am Lee Oswald. I was just waiting to see when you were going to recognize me.'”
McMillan: “Myrtle and Julian thought Oswald was in Russia. Even though there was something she didn’t like about Oswald, Myrtle took Oswald to lunch and helped him find the apartment on Magazine Street .”
According to McMillan however, she drove Oswald around in her car looking for “FOR RENT” signs until they found one on Magazine Street.”
“Lee spotted one and they went in,” McMillan writes (Marina and Lee, p. 313). “There were two apartments for rent at 4907 Magazine Street , and the bigger one looked as if it might do. It was on the ground floor. It had a long living room, a screened-in front porch, a yard, and the kind of iron fence children can’t crawl through. The rent was $65 a month. Myrtle advised Lee that it was the best value for his money and he’d better take it.”
The landlady was Mrs. Jesse Garner, who lived with her husband in an apartment next door in the same building complex. Oswald told Mrs. Garner he worked for the Leon Israel Company at 300 Magazine Street when he actually had obtained a job that morning at the William Reily Coffee Company on the same street. It was Jesse Garner who most likely answered the telephone the three times that Adele Edisen called at the request of Jose Rivera.
The key question is: How did Jose Rivera in Washington D.C. know Lee Harvey Oswald’s New Orleans phone number at Jesse Garner’s 4905-7 Magazine Street apartment house on April 23, when Oswald himself didn’t know where he would be living until May 9? If true, it indicates that at least some of Oswald’s movements were being directed by someone in Washington D.C. On May 9 Oswald called Marina at Ruth Paine’s house in Irving , Texas with the news that he had obtained a job and apartment. Marina told Mrs. Paine and the children “Papa loves us,” and was very happy. Mrs. Paine, Marina and the children left Irving the next day in Mrs. Paine’s station wagon, staying overnight en route and arriving in New Orleans on May 11th. Mrs. Paine then stayed with the Oswalds at their new Magazine Street apartment for three days.
Ed Haslam, who wrote a book called, Mary, Ferrie and the Monkey Virus, and Adele Edisen suspect that the corner 4905-07 Magazine Street apartment building complex was owned by Mr. and Mrs. William McLaney until 1974, when it was sold to Isabella Dawson, who (according to Mary Ferrell) had previously signed a rent receipt for Oswald, indicating she had something to do with the building before she bought it.
Shortly after she returned to New Orleans, Edisen called Winston DeMonsabert, the Loyola faculty member whose name Rivera had given her, but he denied knowing Dr. Rivera. [This is contrary to what DeMonsabert told John Gooch and Dick Russell when they interviewed DeMonsabert, who admitted to being in communication with Rivera up to the time of his death.] When Edisen checked with Anthony DiMaggio of Loyola’s biochemistry department, he said he knew Rivera but told Edisen that Rivera “had left the university under very peculiar circumstances” and warned her not to have anything to do with him.
Suspicious of what she knew then, Edisen called the New Orleans office of the U.S. Secret Service in July and spoke with Special Agent Rice. According to Edisen, “After giving my name, address and telephone number to him, I told him I had met a man in Washington in April who said some strange things about the President which I thought they should know. It was my intention to go there and tell them about Rivera and his statements, but I began to think they might not believe me, so I called back and cancelled. Agent Rice told me they would be there any time I would care to come in.”
A month later, in early August 1963, Edisen received an envelope in the mail with no return address and her name and address printed in a very crude scrawl. Enclosed, in a wadded up form, was the box like drawing made by Jose Rivera on April 23, 1963 at the Marriott Hotel restaurant in Washington D.C., when Rivera made mention of men on the “fifth floor.” Also in August, Edisen saw Oswald on television, handing out Fair Play for Cuba leaflets in front of the International Trade Mart in New Orleans. She recalled the announcer referring to him as “Leon” Oswald, noticed the similarity in names, and wondered if it was a coincidence.
In September 1963, sometime after Labor Day, Edisen was speaking with Dr. Gregory Ferris in the hallway at LSU, when Rivera got off an elevator. “Of course I watched him,” Edisen recalls, “and he didn’t see me at first. He had very thick eyeglasses. He may not have seen at long distance. But when he was about eight or ten feet away, he noticed me and halted and he almost stumbled stepping backwards.
He looked as if he had seen a ghost, and then he walked on. He recovered by saying he had to go see Fred Brazda, his friend in biochemistry.” That was the last time Adele Edisen saw Dr. Jose Rivera. For Edisen it all came to a head on the day of the assassination.” [On] November 22, my fears became reality. I spent much of the day listening to the news from Dallas and sorting out my memories of April, 1963. I felt I was involved, however innocently, and I thought it important the Secret Service and FBI be told of Rivera. Rivera was, to me, no longer a delusional psychotic, but an assassination conspirator. It also occurred to me that Oswald might be innocent despite the emphasis on his guilt by the news media, and that he might have been somehow manipulated by Rivera and his ‘we’ who were ‘playing a little joke’ on Oswald.”
Two days later, on Sunday, November 24, Edisen, for the third time, called U.S. Secret Service office in New Orleans and spoke with Special Agent Rice. She was asked to go to the Federal Building at 600 South Street, where SA Rice met her in the lobby. She was told not to sign the entry-exit register with the security guard. They went to an office on the fifth floor, where they were informed that Oswald had been shot in Dallas. Edisen, at first, believed she met with Special Agent J. Calvin Rice, who has been identified as an agent of the FBI. Rather, she met with John W. Rice, the Special Agent in Charge of the New Orleans office of the Secret Service. She described Rice as being thin and short, not much taller than she was, while J. Calvin Rice has been described as over six feet tall and husky. In addition, it would have been the Secret Service, not the FBI, who was responsible for the safety of the President and investigation of threats against his life.
In the office, Rice introduced Edisen to “a tall, heavy-set bald man with wire-rimmed eyeglasses, a Special Agent of the FBI,” who she recalls was named Orrin Bartlett.
Orrin Bartlett has been identified as the FBI liaison with the Secret Service. Rice said they were working closely on the case. There was no one else in the office. Edisen believes the three-to-four hour long interview was tape-recorded. “Mr. Rice was seated at his desk, and I was seated to his right, and the FBI agent remained standing most of the time. I believe he may have taped it because every time Mr. Rice got up from his desk, there was a partition over there, for example, and there was a phone there which they used even though there was a phone on the desk, which I didn’t understand, but apparently there was some reason for that. So every time Mr. Rice got up to answer the phone or to use the phone, I noticed his hand would do this, and I would either hear a whirring, a mechanical sound like a tape recorder or something. It may have been audiotaped.”
Edisen told them the story of how she met Jose Rivera in Atlantic City in April and visited with him for two days in Washington D.C., and showed them the airline ticket, hotel receipts, and the notes she kept. “At this point,” Edisen recalls, “the agents’ questioning became more intense. I was asked to further identify Rivera, his position at the NIH, and his physical description. I also gave them Rivera’s office telephone number and his home phone number (301-654-7348) in Chevy Chase, Maryland . The FBI agent quickly went behind the partition and called someone, giving this information. I thought Rivera was to be apprehended.”
“When the FBI agent returned from behind the partition, he asked if they could have the note, and I agreed,” Edisen later wrote. As the interview came to an end, Agent Rice asked the FBI agent if he “had the film,” and if he was ready to leave for Dallas, as “the plane was ready.” “Before he showed me the door,” wrote Edisen, “Agent Rice asked me to call them if I remembered anything else, and requested that I not tell anyone I had been there to speak with them. I understood this to be for my own protection as well as for their investigation. Both agents thanked me for speaking with them.”
After she recalled a few more details, Edisen called Agent Rice a few days later, and repeated her fears of Rivera and his threats, but Rice counseled her, “Don’t worry. That man can’t hurt you.” Edisen thought Rivera was in custody, and she expected to be called as a witness before the Warren Commission. “When the Warren Report was published, I was mystified and dismayed by the conclusion that Oswald acted alone, and that Jack Ruby acted alone, for my experiences told me otherwise.”
Rivera’s voice would come back to haunt her many times over the years, beginning shortly after the assassination, when she learned of the death of Edward Grant Stockdale, a former Ambassador to Ireland. When she heard Stockdale had jumped out of a window in Miami a few weeks after the assassination, she thought of what Rivera said: “After it happens the President’s best friend will jump out a window because of his grief.”
After maintaining her silence about the whole affair for many years, Edisen consulted an attorney to see if there was any record of her pre-assassination phone calls to the Secret Service or her post assassination interview. After perusing the 26 volumes of Warren Commission testimony and exhibits and finding nothing about Dr. Jose Rivera or reports from FBI Agent J. Calvin Rice or SAIC John Rice, New Orleans attorney Jack Peebles wrote to Senator Frank Church, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. When his reply came with very little interest expressed, Jack advised Edisen to write Freedom of Information letters to FBI and CIA. A little later, the Secret Service, as he was not at first sure the SS came under the FOIA Act. Jack Peebles also sent letters to Sen. Inouye, the succeeding Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and to his staff member in support of her documents and requested protection of her identity. When Sen. Daniel Inouye and his staff seemed interested, she sent a copy of all documentation she had as well as a narrative of her experiences, but later received the response from the staff member that the matter was “outside the purview of the Special Committee’s work.”
A few years later, a copy of a three-page summary of her experiences was also personally given to a Special Agent of the FBI in San Antonio, Texas, in 1985, which he sent to Headquarters. Later she again made an FOIA request to the FBI for anything they had in their files, and the FBI again replied that it had nothing. More recently, Adele Edisen asked, in writing and at a public hearing, that the Assassination Records Review Board examine any records pertaining to Dr. (Col.) Jose Rivera “and what his role was in all of this. I know something about him, that he spent some time in Japan, for example, he told me that, and it may have been there at that time Oswald was there. He knew Oswald somehow.”
As she concluded her Third Decade article, Edisen wrote, “History should record that some investigative work was conducted relevant to the information I had furnished to the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. However, there is no official record that this conversation ever took place. Why? If the information was not considered to be relevant and pertinent, there should be some record of the fact that the interview took place. If the information was considered to be relevant and pertinent, there certainly should have been a record of it.”
“Whatever forces were operating to assassinate President Kennedy may never be revealed, but this should not deter anyone from seeking the truth. If our system of government, its laws, and our civil rights are to survive, we need to know the truth, no matter how convoluted and strange it may be. We deserve to know this long before the next century.”
In 1989, Maryland newspapers published the obituary of “Dr. Jose Albert Rivera, pathologist, analyst, 78,” which read: Dr. Jose Albert Rivera, 78, a retired Army pathologist and research analyst at NIH, died of pancreatic cancer, Wednesday, Aug. 16, at the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. He lived in Kensington, Maryland [at 3913 Dunnel Lane ]. Dr. Rivera retired in 1973 from a second career as a medical research analyst at the Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness, one of the NIH, where he worked after retiring from the Army in 1965.
Born in Lima, Peru, Dr. Rivera studied medicine at the University of San Marcos. He moved to the United States to study at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, earning his undergraduate degree there. He earned his doctoral degree from Georgetown University in 1939 and interned at Providence Hospital.
In 1942, he volunteered for the Army and was commissioned a first lieutenant in the medical corps. He was stationed at Walter Reed Army Hospital and later assigned to Halloran General Army Hospital in New York .
In 1944, while acting as chief of pathology at Halloran, he was promoted to captain and went on a series of assignments in Italy and France and at the 198th General Army Hospital in Berlin.
During the Korean War he served in the 1273rd Medical Field Unit of the 406th Medical General Laboratory and received a battlefield promotion to major. After the war, he was chief of laboratory service and pathology at the U.S. Army Hospital in Tokyo .
In 1958, he was assigned to the Reserve Training Center in Washington D.C., where he remained until his retirement in 1965. Dr. Rivera was active in many civic organizations and charities. His favorites were the Epilepsy Foundation of America, the Reserve Officers Association of the United States and the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. Dr. Rivera is survived by two daughters, Linda Rivera-King of Abington, Pennsylvania, and Natalie Rivera Frederick of San Ramon, California, and three grandchildren. His wife, Anne J. Rivera, to whom he was married for 52 years, died in 1988. Services were held at Fort Myer Chapel, with burial at Arlington National Cemetery.”
[A] Larry Haapanen notes that a review of medical literature indicates Dr. Rivera wrote a number of books that were published, including one entitled Cilia, Ciliated Epithelium and Ciliary Activity, published by Pergamon Press in 1962, which mentions Col. Rivera’s affiliation with the Naval Biological Laboratory of the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. Haapanen writes: “So there was, indeed, a Lt. Col. Jose A. Rivera at the same phone number (654-7348) in Chevy Chase given in the article (Third Decade). Since Lt. Col. Rivera is not in the Regular Army’s Active Duty list for 1961, I assume that he was a reservist. This is borne out by the listing of a Colonel Jose A. Rivera in the Army of the United States (i.e. Army Reserve) Retired List for 1969. His serial number was 0-0513618, and his date of retirement was given as March 1965 (see U.S. ARMY REGISTER, 1 January, 1969, Vol. III: Retired Lists, p. 304).
[B] Special thanks to Vincent Palamara, and Walt Brown and Global JFK Index: Bartlett, Orrin (FBI S/A – liaison with Secret Service), is mentioned in Carlos Bringuier’s book Red Friday, p. 85; Livingston’s High Treason II, p.101; Weisberg’s Whitewash II, pp. 200, 351, 599 and Post Mortem, p. 603; as well as WC Vol. III, p. 67-460; Vol. VI, p. 435 (concerning bullet fragments). Rice, John W., Secret Service, Special Agent In Charge (SAIC) of the New Orleans SS office in 1963- 1964, is referred to for his post-assassination interview with Jack Martin. SAIC John Rice is also indexed in John Davis, Mafia Kingfish, p. 200; Flammonde, Kennedy Conspiracy, pp. 125-6, 128; American Grotesque, p. 134; Newman, Oswald and CIA, p. 327.
[C] New Orleans researcher John Gooch III reported (in May, 1992) that he spoke with Loyola biochemistry professor Anthony DiMaggio III, who confirmed that Dr. Jose Rivera worked at Loyola as a biochemistry professor for a year and a half, until June, 1960. Gooch also spoke with Winston DeMonsabert, who maintained his contact with Dr. Rivera until 1989. In addition, Gooch has identified Dr. Cyril Bowers, whom he believes is the “C. Bowers” who signed the three Office of Naval Intelligence teletype orders of Sept. 1963 – Dec. 1964, that were found among the effects of Roscoe White. Who’s Who – Directory of Medical Specialists (17th Edition, 1975-76). Internal Medicine Section: Dr. Cyril Yarling Bowers, Born in Dayton , Ohio in 1924; M.D. from Univ. of Oregon (Portland), intern at King County Hospital, Seattle, medical resident at Cornell Univ., N.Y.C.; Lt. in Medical Corps of the U.S. Navy Reserve from 1950-52; graduate study at Univ. of Penn (Philadelphia) 52-53; clinical trainee or NIH, Metabolic and Arthritic Division; fellowship for American Cancer Research at Tulane Univ.; assistant visiting physician (Charity Hospital, N.O.) and staff physician for the Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation; assistant professor of medicine at Tulane Medical School; 1959-60 asst. prof. of medicine at LSU (N.O.); associate professor for the Dept. of Medicine and director of Endocrine Unit at Tulane Medical School. In 1960 Dr. Bowers lived at 1705 Jefferson Ave , New Orleans and maintained an office at 3513 Prytania St. Since 1964 he has lived at 484 Audubon Street, New Orleans.
[D] The Assassination Records Review Board Final Report (Chapter 6, Part 1, p. 109) reports: “8. Adele Edisen, Winston de Monsabert, Jose Rivera Dr. Adele Edisen has written several letters to the Review Board and has also provided public testimony to the Review Board. In her letters and testimony, Dr. Edisen stated that, in New Orleans on November 24, 1963, she recounted to an FBI agent and a Secret Service agent her knowledge of apparent dealings between Dr. Jose Rivera, Mr. Winston de Monsabert, and Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963. The Review Board requested FBI records on these individuals from FBI Headquarters and field offices in Baltimore, Dallas , Denver , New Orleans and Washington D.C. The FBI retrieved only a few records relating to the individuals referenced above, all of which the Review Board designated as assassination records.”
[E] On May 12, 1999 Special Access and FOIA Staff Archivist at the NARA, Martha Wagner Murphy, contacted Adele Edisen and informed her that the FBI had located the narrative she gave to the SA of the FBI in San Antonio, Texas, but that was all they could locate among their files other than two FBI documents relating to “Elvira Uskali Edisen.” Because the ARRB asked for documents that referred to Adele Edisen rather than Elvira Uskali Edisen, they were not included among the requested documents. According to Ms. Murphy, “Although I hesitate to interpret the records for you, it appears from the documentation that although the ARRB had requested to view files relating to these three names (Jose Rivera, Winston de Monsabert and Adele E.U. Edisen), and two documents had been located by the FBI relating to Elvira Uskali Edisen, the ARRB never officially designated either of these documents as assassination related. It appears the ARRB Report is therefore inaccurate…. Since the ARRB never officially designated either of the documents as assassination related, the NARA will not be receiving copies of these documents as part of the Kennedy Assassination Records Collection. However, you may request the copies from the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. If you choose to do so, you will need to request the specific files listed in the 2/18/98 memorandum: 100-3-76-276, p13 and 100- 361391-29, p51.”
[F] While it appears the FBI is stonewalling, not admitting the two documents into the JFK Assassination Records Collection because of a technicality, the files of the Assassination Records Review Board lists relevant files among those of ARRB staff member Douglas P. Horne, specifically Box #18, which is labeled: “Adele Edisen – Investigation Reports on Jose A. Rivera.” When Adele Edisen requested copies of these documents, she was informed that there were a total of over 700 pages of documents that would cost hundreds of dollars to copy. She is currently waiting for these papers to be sent to her. While I was going to wait for these new documents to be released before I updated this report, I have decided to release this analysis now, since the total number of additional documents indicates that there may be a lot of new information, this is what we now know, before the new documents are evaluated.
[G] Adele Notes Jack Peebles also wrote to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) to Chairman Louis Stokes and to Subcommittee (on JFK) Chairman Richardson Preyer. Neither one replied, and I think they never received his letters, but I think the Committee did receive them. Gaeton Fonzi seemed to know about it.
[H] The three-page summary and the FBI agent’s cover letter and a copy of my Curriculum Vitae which had been sent to the FBI Headquarters in 1985 were found by Mr. Douglas Horne of the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB) in the files of the HSCA which had closed its files and work in 1979, six years prior to those documents being sent to the FBI. Were they being hidden there?
[I] While Doug Horne requested Col. Rivera’s military file, and got over 800 pages, it’s quite clear this file is not complete. Edisen testified before the ARRB and relateted her story, but none of this is mentioned in Doug Horne’s five volume book Inside the Assassinations Records Review Board.
[J] SUMMARY OF KNOWN FACTS REGARDING JOSE RIVERA by Dave Robertson, 2002
Jose A.Rivera was a naturalized citizen, born in either Lima, Peru, or San Juan, Puerto Rico (both birth places given in U.S. government documents, as are several different birth dates, ranging from February 6, 1905-1911. He died in 1989.). He was in the US . Army, 1943-1957 and US. Army Reserves, until 1965, Military Service Number: 05 13 618; served in the European Theater of War, 1943-1946; was stationed at Fort Detrick , Maryland , US. Army Chemical Corps, had SECRET Clearance, worked under Dr. Carl Lamanna, bacteriologist, 1947-1948; Stationed in Japan and Korea, 1950-1954; Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, 1954-1957; Loyola University, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1959-1961; Naval Biological Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA, had TOP SECRET classification work under Dr. Carl Lamanna again, 1959-1961. National Institute of Neurological Disease and Blindness, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda , Maryland , Science Administrator, 1961-1973(?) uncertain of exact retirement date here.
Adele Edisen first met him in April of 1963 while attending scientific meetings in Atlantic City, New Jersey (Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology – FASEB). She was a Postdoctoral Fellow of the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness – NIH at that time. Rivera was an administrator in the same Institute as a member of the Section on Training Grants and Awards. He had previously informed Dr. Sidney Harris, Chairman of the Department of Physiology, Louisiana State University School of Medicine, that Adele Edisen had been awarded the fellowship to work in the department.
*Birth dates: February 6, 1905-1912 (range).
*US. Army: 1943-1957; Army Reserve unti1 1965. Military Service Number: 05 13 618.
*European Theater of War: 1943-1946.
*Stationed at Fort Detrick, Maryland , U.S. Army Chemical Corps, had SECRET Clearance, worked under Dr. Carl Lamanna, bacteriologist: 1947-1948.
*Stationed in Japan and Korea : 1950-1954.
* Brooke Army Medical Center , Fort Sam Houston , San Antonio , Texas : 1954-1957.
* Loyola University , New Orleans , Louisiana : 1959-1961.
* Naval Biological Laboratory, University of California , Berkeley , California ,
had TOP SECRET classification working under Dr. Carl Lamanna again: 1959-1961.
* National Institute of Neurological Disease and Blindness, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda , Maryland , Science Administrator: 1961-1973 (?) uncertain of exact retirement date here.
* Social Security Number 214-28-5673.
He was a naturalized citizen. Claimed two birth places – Lima, Peru , and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Graduated Lima High School in 1925. Graduated St. John’s University Brooklyn, New York with B.S. degree in 1934.
[K] Note added by Adele Edisen: Jose Rivera is listed as having been present at the autopsy of the body of President Kennedy on Friday evening, November 22, 1963, at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. The NPRC list was compiled by Michael Ravnitzky. Mr. Ravnitzky said it was copied directly from the National Personnel Records Center Military listing. The NPRC is a U.S. government facility. Also listed was a Vault File Number for Rivera.
[L] NARRATIVE ACCOUNT OF CONTACT WITH DR. JOSE RIVERA IN 1963 BY ADELE EDISEN, April, 2002
In the summer of 1962 it became apparent that my husband was ill. Although he continued to attend to his practice of psychiatry, he had physical symptoms of what later was diagnosed as cholecystitis – inflammation of the gall bladder. I decided to try to get back into professional work as a neurophysiologist. After searching for a suitable position, I was able to apply to the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness (NINDB) for a third-year level Postdoctoral Fellowship (I had had a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the NINDB in 1954 through 1956 at the Tulane University School of Medicine). This work was to be done in the Department of Physiology at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine.
In late November or early December, Dr. Sidney Harris, Chairman of the Department, told me that he had received a telephone call from a Dr. Jose Rivera of the NINDB informing him that I had been awarded a Fellowship, beginning January 1, 1963 for one year. It included a stipend (salary) and a small equipment grant to be used for my research on synaptic inhibition and excitation in the cat spinal cord.
I had worked in the Department of Physiology on a volunteer basis during the summer and fall of 1962, so I had accumulated quite a bit of data to present at the April meetings of the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This is a large umbrella organization of six major scientific societies, one of which is the American Physiological Society.
Just before I was to leave for these meetings, I contracted a bad upper respiratory infection, but I was determined to be there for my presentation. My physician prescribed an antibiotic, oxacillin, a semi-synthetic penicillin, to take for about ten days. I actually had a fever on my way to Atlantic City, but began to feel better, although weak, after a few days. I did present my work on Wednesday, April 17, and it was well received. I met a few former classmates from graduate school and felt very optimistic about continuing with my research.
After my presentation and lunch, I wandered through the scientific equipment exhibits at Convention Hall on the Broadwalk. In addition to such exhibits, there were booths of various scientific foundations and other information centers. I had read of a new award to be offered by the National Institutes of Health -the Research Career Development Award (for five years) which seemed to be perfect for me. So when I saw a National Institutes of Health booth, I stopped to ask about it. I was referred to the NINDB booth on the mezzanine floor above.
Jose Rivera was seated there, speaking with someone. When I sat down at the table and introduced myself, Rivera remembered my name and greeted me in a friendly fashion, offering me a Lifesaver peppermint candy from an already opened package. I asked about the Research Career Development Award and about any other support for which 1 might be able to apply after my Postdoctoral Fellowship ended. He did not have any brochures with him, but promised he would locate some by the next day, and asked me to return then.
This I did. He had no brochures or information for me, but promised to mail them to me in New Orleans . He again gave me a Lifesaver candy from an open pack. He suggested we walk downstairs to obtain free Coca-cola drinks. He said he would help me continue with my work. He spoke about his times in New Orleans and it turned out we had some mutual friends and acquaintances there. I had told him that I planned to visit the NIH in Bethesda after the meetings, and he then invited me to his home for dinner and to meet his family, which I thought was most gracious. When we returned to his booth, he suggested that I have my electrocardiogram be taken at the adjacent booth (NIH Heart Institute booth). He did an odd thing: he grabbed the recording from the technician and asked him if it was a normal EKG as he read it. The technician told me to take it to my personal physician when I returned home from the meetings. Another strange thing that Rivera did was to tell me to “call him, day or night, if I noticed anything unusual, anything at all.” I asked, “What?” and he said, “I mean about the Fellowship. If you have any questions about the Fellowship”.
I believe the Lifesaver candies were the vehicle for LSD-25 ingestion. I never saw him take any of the candies, and one time, when I put the candy I had removed from the package into my purse, he insisted that I eat it. At that time, I remember feeling somewhat euphoric and “floaty” after eating the candy. Also, my eyes became sensitive to bright lights. I felt uncoordinated in my movements. I blamed these odd feelings and perceptions to the respiratory infection and to the oxacillin antibiotic – because I knew I was allergic to penicillin and wasn’t sure that the oxacillin would not also produce some kind of allergic reaction which might be causing these unusual symptoms. Even later when I experienced trailing lights and colors, micropsia (the houses in the Georgetown part of Washington looked so small to me that I thought only dwarfs lived in them), giddiness, insomnia, synesthesia, (sudden loud sounds would produce flashes of light) deja vu, and sensations that did not seem normal to me, I attributed them all to the respiratory infection, oxacillin, lack of proper sleep, and so on. It did not occur to me, except at the very end of this trip, that Rivera might be drugging me with something. I now also understand that LSD-25 can make people more suggestible and, hence, more prone to be hypnotized.
I spent the weekend with friends in Philadelphia and arrived in Bethesda, the National Institutes of Health, and the NINDB Building 10 on Monday, April 22, 1963. I called the various people I had hoped to visit there, but it was lunchtime and no one was in. I called Rivera to see if he had any information for me. He asked his secretary to locate a motel where I could stay, and that evening I was to have dinner at his home. Instead, he explained that his wife, a nurse, had been called to duty at her hospital, so we went to a restaurant in Washington (after the Lifesaver candy), and as we waited to be seated, he began speaking of his travels and of Dallas . He recommended the Carousel Club as a “nice nightclub” that 1 should visit when I’m in Dallas. Then he asked if I knew Lee Oswald. I had never heard of him. He explained that Oswald had lived in Russia , had a Russian wife and a child, and they were moving to New Orleans . He said they were a “lovely couple” and I should get to know them. I thought Oswald was a scientist friend of his.
As we were about to leave the restaurant, Rivera spoke of a then recent shooting at General Walker in Dallas . Rivera said, “They think Oswald did it.” (Note that accusations of Oswald shooting at General Walker were not made publicly until some time after the assassination of President John Kennedy on November 22.)
As we drove back to the motel where I was staying, he asked me to call him at 4:30 and said his secretary would find another motel for me since the one I was staying in was filled for the next night. Also, he said he had heard the weather report and it would be a stormy night. He said I would be kept awake by the thunder and lightning and by the partying guests at the motel. Sure enough, I heard the rain and thunder and the noisy parties. I did not sleep at all; my mouth and throat felt very dry. In the morning I was surprised to see that there was no evidence outside of a downpour of rain as I thought we had had. Tall grass outside was not beaten down and dirt pathways were perfectly dry. There had not been a storm at all. I also experienced deja-vu, that I had checked out of the motel before, that I had entered a cab before to go to the NINDB’s Building 10 to visit friends and colleagues. Time would also pass quickly and then slowly. Everything seemed very strange.
I was speaking to Wilford Rall, a colleague, in his office about mutual interests in synaptic functions in the afternoon when I suddenly stopped, and called Rivera. When I looked at my watch, it was a minute or so after 4:30! This puzzled me.
Rivera came to drive me to my hotel in Washington, and he was to give me a sightseeing trip before going to dinner at his home. I dreaded the evening because I felt unwell, exhausted. This is when he insisted that I eat the peppermint Lifesaver when I didn’t want to do so. On the way, he read a list of names of visitors to the NIH and asked if I had met any of them. I had not. Then he asked me if I knew of John Abt of New York City. I did not, and he explained that Abt was a lawyer who defended communists. I thought these were strange questions to be asking someone like me.
It was now early evening. After we left the Library of Congress and were driving toward the White House, he said, “I wonder what Jackie will do when her husband dies.” I could not believe he said that. “What?” I asked. He said, “Oh, Oh, I meant when (or if) the baby dies. She might lose the baby.” I was not even aware that Mrs. Kennedy was pregnant at the time.
As we approached the White House, Rivera spoke of “tourists coming to Washington and sometimes seeing young Caroline Kennedy on the lawn of the White House with her pony Macaroni.” All in all, we circled the White House three times, with side trips squeezed in between, and he spoke of the tourists and Caroline and Macaroni each time, asking me if I saw Caroline and her pony, Macaroni. I did not, but the third time around, I decided to indicate I did, just to see what this was about. I said, “Ummm.” He stepped hard on the accelerator and said, “Fine. Now we’ll go to dinner!”
We took off at a fast speed and went to the Mariott Motor Hotel across the Potomac River. His wife had again been called to work. As we were finishing dinner, he asked me to do a favor for him when I arrived back in New Orleans. I took out my little memo book and pencil to make notes. He asked me to call Winston de Monsabert with whom he had taught at Loyola and tell him to call Rivera when he was leaving New Orleans. I wrote: “Winston de Monsabert. Call Dr. Rivera when leaving N.O.” ( New Orleans).
After a bit more conversation, Rivera began talking about Dallas again. Then he said, “Pretend you’re in a phone booth (in Dallas ?), and you’re very nervous and upset; your handwriting is very shaky. Write down this phone number. He dictated “899-4244”. I wrote down the phone number and when I looked at it, it was a crude scrawl, not at all my normal handwriting. In fact the writing just above it with the name of Winston de Monsabert was in my normal handwriting. I was now pretty scared. Was he hypnotizing me, I wondered.
Then he said, “Write down this name: Lee Harvey Oswald. Tell him to kill the chief” I wrote the name and under it, wrote in quotation marks: “kill the chief” When he saw me writing down the message, he said, “No. No. Don’t write that down. You’ll remember it when you get to New Orleans. We’re playing a little joke on him.” I assume he meant Oswald.
The “chief’ part did not mean much to me, other than that it had some reference to the National Institutes of Health where every study or research section had a director whose title was ‘Chief’. Rivera had made a riddle of it, asking why was the NIH called the ‘Reservation’. “Because there were so many Chiefs and no Indians there”. He told this joke several times to me and to other people we met. Still thinking that Oswald was a scientist friend of his, I thought the expression had something to do with the National Institutes of Health in some way. I had never heard of Oswald before Rivera had begun speaking about him.
However, I became very suspicious about his odd behavior and his talk of something happening. I took my notepad and put it back into my purse, surreptitiously tearing off the top sheet of the notepad and putting it in a separate place in my purse. Rivera was now quite agitated and speaking about ”when it happens”. It was almost as if he were having some strange seizure, with his face becoming puffy. “I’ll show you where it will happen,” he said. I asked what he was talking about, but he gave no answer. He asked for the notepad, which I gave him and he drew a square on it with an X next to it. “This is the room, with windows over here. And this (the “X”) is where it will happen. It will be on the fifth floor. There’ll be some men up there.”
I wanted to get away from him because I was becoming more frightened. On the way out of the dining area, he suddenly pushed me into an open elevator, saying “Want to see the Persian? Room?” When we were on the fifth floor, he pointed down the hallway and asked, “What do you see down there? A bar?” I saw no such thing, just room doors. Then he wanted to show me the Pentagon from a large window. I would not get close to him for I feared he might push me through the window. When the elevator that I had called came, I ran for it and tried to close the doors before he could get in. I had no choice but to accompany him to his car while I kept up a barrage of conversation because there were no cabs in front of the motor hotel.
He started talking about the note I had written, asking me to destroy it, and that they were only playing a joke on someone. He threatened me with, “I really don’t want to have to hurt you.” He proceeded to the driver’s side of the car and opened the passenger door from the inside. I put my purse on the seat, and as I reached to close the car door, I heard him searching in my purse for the note he was concerned about. I quickly pulled my purse away from him to my other side. I did not then fully understand the importance of the note, but I felt that I should save the note and remember everything I could.
I believe that I was initially supposed to make contact with Oswald. Oswald left Dallas for New Orleans the same day, Wednesday, April 24, that I left Washington D.C. The phone number I had been given was that of Jesse Gamer, manager of the apartments where Oswald rented one for himself and his family. The apartments were actually owned by William McLaney, who also owned the land across Lake Pontchartrain where the anti-Castro Cubans and the CIA had established a training camp to prepare for an invasion of Cuba. McLaney and his brother were gangsters who had managed gambling casinos in Havana, Cuba, before Fidel Castro came into power. I believe that Oswald was sent there to that apartment complex and Rivera had complete knowledge of this process.
I called the phone number and asked to speak with Lee Harvey Oswald. The first time I called the man who answered (Jesse Gamer) said there was no one there by that name. Oswald did not rent the apartment until May 10, but the second time I called they had apparently arrived. I then spoke with Marina Oswald, as Oswald was not there. I did speak with Oswald during my third call. I asked him if he knew Colonel or Dr. Rivera in Washington. He said he did not. I told him that was odd as Rivera knew of him and his wife. I asked for the address where the phone was located and he gave me an address on Magazine Street. I thanked him and apologized for bothering him. I did not convey Rivera’s message. I did identify myself to the apartment manager, to Mrs. Oswald, and to Oswald himself.
There were other comments made by Rivera which pertained to the assassination of President Kennedy. He said:
“After it’s over, the men will be out of the country.”
“The Director of the International Trade Mart is involved in this.”
“He’ll call Abt to defend him.” (Oswald did try to reach John Abt after he was captured.)
“We’re going to send him to the library to read about great assassinations in history.”
“After it’s over, someone will kill him. They’ll say his best friend killed him.” (He was referring to Oswald.)
“It will happen after the Shriners’ Circus comes to New Orleans .” (The Shriners’ Circus usually came to New Orleans the second week of November.)
“After it happens, the President’s best friend will commit suicide. He’ll jump out of a window because of his grief.” (Grant Stockdale of Miami, a friend of Kennedy’s and former ambassador to Ireland, did so in December, 1963, although some believe he was murdered.)
Rivera made a number of threatening statements to me about going to the FBI; that “we will be watching you”; and told me to destroy the note. I believe that he gave me a possible lethal dose of either LSD-25 of some similar drug (BZ?) because I felt as if I was dying when I left Washington and remained that way for an entire week. Another reason for thinking he might have done so was that in September shortly after Labor Day he was at the LSU School of Medicine walking down the hallway, and when he noticed me, he stopped, almost tripped, stumbled backwards, and looked as if he had seen a ghost. He did not say anything to me, or I to him, and he hurried on.
I had some flashbacks during the summer, and many fearful episodes, but I managed somehow to continue with my research. In early July I called the local Secret Service Office to make an appointment to speak with them, as I thought they should be told about this occurrence. An Agent Rice had answered and I told him briefly that I had met someone who had said some very strange things about the President which they should know about. I was about to go there, but I became frightened and thought they would not believe me, so I canceled. Also, my husband would have been furious to learn that I had done so, because when I had told him of the things that Rivera had said, and even though he thought there was a conspiracy to kill the President, he thought we should not get involved. I had wanted to go to the Secret Service or the FBI then, but he did not want me to, fearing some embarrassment for him, I suppose. He had consulted with two attorneys and their advice was that nothing could be done because it was a matter of my words against Rivera’s.
When the assassination occurred, I called the Secret Service and went to speak with them. Secret Service Agent John Rice (he was Agent-in-Charge of the New Orleans Secret Service) escorted me to the FBI office in the Federal Building where an FBI Liaison Special Agent, Orrin Bartlett, was present. He was from Washington , and was the liaison between the FBI and the Secret Service and the White House. I told them my story, beginning with the trip to the FASEB Meeting and then Rivera’s odd statement about what “Jackie would do when her husband dies.” Agent Rice began to take notes, but after a while he stopped. I believe the interview was tape recorded as I heard a faint whirring sound from the desk where Agent Rice sat. I was there for at least 3-4 hours, during which time FBI Special Agent Bartlett called his headquarters and the Baltimore Field Office and told them to bring Rivera in for interrogation. Both agents seemed very concerned and appreciative of my information. I gave the top portion of my note with the Winston de Monsabert name, message, and the phone number on it to the FBI Agent when he asked for it. In July after my call to the Secret Service, I had destroyed the bottom portion of Oswald’s name and Rivera’s message to him on it for fear that if the President were to be assassinated, and this note were to be found in my handwriting, it would be very difficult to explain.
I believed that Rivera had been apprehended and was incarcerated. When I received a form letter with Rivera’s signature on it acknowledging receipt of my progress report (requested by someone else of the Training Grants and Award Section of the NINDB), I became terrified. I assumed that the Secret Service Agent and the FBI Agent did not believe me, although they had asked me to call them if I remembered anything else. They also had told me not to speak to anyone about my being there, as a protection for myself. I expected to be called before the Warren Commission, but I never was.
My husband suggested that I consult Milton Erickson, a respected medical hypnotist, to confirm my experiences and memories. I tried to make contact with him several times, but each time he had some medical emergency of his own and I was never able to see him. I suffered through fearful times, depressions and anxieties. For many years I did not speak of these things and would not read anything about the assassination.
However, in late 1974, the “Tomorrow” television program featured an interview between Tom Snyder and a man whose identity and features were hidden and who claimed that there had been a conspiracy by some government employees of certain federal agencies to murder the President. The man claimed to have been a liaison between a military unit (Air Force?) and the CIA. I started to read books by critics of the Warren Commission. In April of 1975, after a few other programs on the assassination, I wrote to the Tomorrow Program and received a phone call from Ms. Pamela Burke, Executive Producer of the show. This began a telephone friendship which lasted a few years.
One week before the Rockefeller Commission revealed the LSD ‘experimentation on witting and unwitting civilian and military personnel by the CIA, Army and Navy, I told her about Rivera’s drugging me. She tried to locate him and to investigate what she could. She advised that I needed an attorney.
I consulted Attorney Jack Peebles in New Orleans who recommended making Freedom of Information requests of the FBI, CIA, USSS, which I did. Over the years I have repeated these requests, asking for copies of reports of my interview with the FBI and Secret Service on November 24, 1963. The responses have not been positive. Mr. Peebles sent letters to the Chairmen of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (no real interest on the part of Senator Church; Senator Inouye expressed interest, but his staff member did not think the Committee’s purview extended to investigate Rivera), and to the Chairmen of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (Louis Stokes and Richardson Preyer – no acknowledgment or response of any kind).
I consulted Richard Garver, a hypnotist, to try to recover the remainder of the telephone number I had been given by Rivera. I had remembered the first three digits, 899, and the last two, 44, when I wrote up my experiences for Mr. Peebles in 1976 (for safekeeping if anything untoward were to happen to me), but was not sure of the intermediate numbers. Through Mr. Garver I met a Special Agent of the FBI in the San Antonio FBI office in late 1984, and he suggested that I write a very brief summary of my experiences which he would send to his Headquarters in Washington , D.C. This was completed in February 1985, but neither one of us heard anything in response. This was some years after the House Select Committee on Assassinations had concluded, in 1978, from acoustical studies that there had been more than three shots and a second gunman, hence a conspiracy, and had directed the Justice Department to investigate this matter, which, apparently, it did not do.
In 1992 when passage of the law to collect government documents related to the President Kennedy assassination was being considered, I wrote to as many Congressmen as I could, among them Louis Stokes. His vote was crucial to passage of the law. I received a very nice letter of acknowledgment from him. Somehow my three-page summary and the FBI’s Agent’s covering letter were found by a staff member of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) and a copy now resides in Box 18 of the Douglas Horne section of the JFK Collection in the National Archives II (NARA II) in College Park, Maryland, among with other documents of mine and government files on Jose A. Rivera. I am mentioned on page 109, as well as identified as giving testimony in Dallas in 1994, in the Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board.
I wish to thank Dave Robertson, Attorney-at-Law, for his suggestions and editorial assistance with this article.