Jack Ruby dies before second trial

Jack Ruby dies before second trial

On January 3, 1967, Jack Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who killed the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy, dies of cancer in a Dallas hospital. The Texas Court of Appeals had recently overturned his death sentence for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald and was scheduled to grant him a new trial.

On November 24, 1963, two days after Kennedy’s assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald was brought to the basement of the Dallas police headquarters on his way to a more secure county jail. A crowd of police and press with live television cameras rolling gathered to witness his departure. As Oswald came into the room, Jack Ruby emerged from the crowd and fatally wounded him with a single shot from a concealed .38 revolver. Ruby, who was immediately detained, claimed he was distraught over the president’s assassination. Some called him a hero, but he was nonetheless charged with first-degree murder.

Jack Ruby, originally known as Jacob Rubenstein, operated strip joints and dance halls in Dallas and had minor connections to organized crime. He also had a relationship with a number of Dallas policemen, which amounted to various favors in exchange for leniency in their monitoring of his establishments. He features prominently in Kennedy assassination theories, and many believe he killed Oswald to keep him from revealing a larger conspiracy. In his trial, Ruby denied the charge, maintaining that he was acting out of patriotism. In March 1964, he was found guilty and sentenced to death.

The official Warren Commission report of 1964 concluded that neither Oswald nor Ruby were part of a larger conspiracy, either domestic or international, to assassinate President Kennedy. Despite its seemingly firm conclusions, the report failed to silence conspiracy theories surrounding the event, and in 1978 the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in a preliminary report that Kennedy was “probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy” that may have involved multiple shooters and organized crime. The committee’s findings, as with the findings of the Warren Commission, continue to be disputed.

READ MORE: The Other Victims of the JFK Assassination

Jack Ruby Trial: 1964

Defendant: Jack Leon Ruby
Crime Charged: Murder
Chief Defense Lawyers: Melvin Mouron Belli, Phil Burleson, Robert B. Denson, Elmer Gertz, Tom Howard, William Kuntsler, and Joe Tonahill
Chief Prosecutors: William F. Alexander, Jim Bowie, Henry Menasco Wade, Jr., and Frank Watts
Judge: Joe Brantley Brown
Place: Dallas, Texas
Dates of Trial: March 4-14, 1964
Verdict: Guilty

SIGNIFICANCE: The significance of the Jack Ruby trial is simple and obvious: this was the trial of the man who killed the man who killed President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

At 12:30 p.m. on Friday, November 22, 1963, nightclub manager Jack Ruby was at the Dallas Morning News turning in his advertising copy for the weekend editions. Word of gunshots in nearby Dealey Plaza burst into the room. Stunned, Ruby and newspeople there tuned into their television sets to learn of the shooting of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Ruby instantly raced to Parkland Hospital's emergency room. There he and a handful of reporters heard acting White House Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff announce that the president had died.

Why Did Jack Ruby Kill Lee Harvey Oswald?

On November 22, 1963, US President John F. Kennedy was shot to death while riding in a presidential motorcade through Dealey Plaza. 70 minutes later Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested, and on November 24, he was shot to death by Jack Ruby. ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 2 uses this context to create a taut timeline for its characters where they believe that JFK’s assassination itself might have something to do with the apocalypse that they have brought with themselves. Luther’s storyline lands him at the door of Jack Ruby, who would later be hailed a hero. But who was he?

As it is shown in the Netflix series, Ruby was a nightclub owner in Dallas and had no personal connection to the Kennedys. And yet, he claimed that it was his sympathy with Jacqueline Kennedy that made him shoot Oswald in the basement of the Dallas police headquarters, amidst the crowd of police and reporters. The act was caught live on television, with millions of people witnessing the shooting on their TV sets. While Ruby was applauded as a hero by many, people have also wondered what was the real motive behind such a daring act? Let&rsquos find out.

Why did Jack Ruby Kill Lee Harvey Oswald?

Photo Credit: The Nov. 25, 1963, edition of The Dallas Morning News featured this photo by Jack Beers

Like any other history-defining moment, the Kennedy assassination and its aftermath are also surrounded by mystery, unanswered questions, and conspiracy theories. Why did Oswald kill Kennedy, and then, why did Ruby kill Oswald are still the matters of speculation, where opinions are remarkably divided.

In his trial, Ruby had pleaded innocent for killing Oswald, claiming that he had not been in the right state of mind while doing it. He said that he had been heartbroken over the loss of a great man such as Kennedy and had spent two days crying and struggling with depression over it. As a result, he suffered from &ldquopsychomotor epilepsy&rdquo, where he lost control of his senses and had not been in charge of his consciousness when Oswald was shot.

This argument was not accepted by the jury who eventually found him guilty, and neither did it sit easily with the people who had come up with their own theories about the whole event. It was claimed that the Kennedy assassination had been a part of a bigger conspiracy (a fact that ‘The Umbrella Academy’, too, uses as its plot device), and it was to stop Oswald from revealing it that Ruby killed him. Ruby had also been accused of his gunrunning operations in Cuba, as well as for having connections with the Mafia. The further one digs into his shady work, the more suspicious his motives get.

As for his unplanned, unintentional and unconscious killing of Oswald, the court later found that it wasn&rsquot all so last-minute. His movements on that day suggested that he had arrived at the place with the intention of killing Oswald. Another thing that adds to the authenticity of this argument was the revelation of an FBI informant, who reported that hours before the Kennedy assassination, Ruby had told him to &ldquowatch the fireworks&rdquo. &ldquoHe 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. Immediately after the shooting, Ruby left and headed toward the area of the Dallas Morning News Building, without saying anything to him,&rdquo state the JFK files.

How did Jack Ruby Die?

Photo Credit: Texas Monthly / Bob Jackson

In his first trial, Ruby was found guilty of &ldquomurder with malice&rdquo and was sentenced to die. However, in 1966, the sentence was reversed and a retrial was ordered on the grounds of improper admission of testimony and an unfair trial. Previously, Ruby had requested his trial to be moved to some other venue, but the request had been denied. This factor, too, came into play to get him another chance at proving his innocence. However, he couldn’t celebrate this victory for too long, as only days later, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died on January 3, 1967, of pulmonary embolism in Parkland Hospital, the same one where Oswald had died and Kennedy was pronounced dead. He is buried in the Westlawn Cemetery in Norridge, Illinois.

Featured Image Credit: Mugshot taken of Jack Ruby following his arrest, Dallas Police Department Photographic Records

Primary Sources

(1) Report on Jack Ruby by the Institute of Juvenile Research in 1922.

He is egocentric and expects much attention, but is unable to get it as there are many children at home. His behavior is further colored by his early sex experiences, his great interest (in sex) and the gang situation in the street. From a superficial examination of his mother who was here with him, it is apparent that she has no insight into his problem, and she is thoroughly inadequate in the further training of this boy.

(2) The Warren Commission Report (September, 1964)

There is also considerable evidence that Ruby tended to dominate his employees, frequently resorted to violence in dealing with them, publicly embarrassed them, sometimes attempted to cheat them of their pay, and delayed paying their salaries. Other employees reported Ruby continually harassed his help, and used obscene language in their presence. However he frequently apologized, sought to atone for his many temper tantrums, and completely forgot others.

One of the many violent incidents that were reported took place in 1950, when Ruby struck an employee over the head with a blackjack. In 1951, after his guitarist, Willis Dickerson, told Ruby to "go to hell," Ruby knocked Dickerson to the ground, then pinned him to a wall and kicked him in the groin. During the scuffle, Dickerson bit Ruby's finger so badly that the top half of Ruby's left index finger was amputated. In approximately 1955, Ruby beat one of his musicians with brass knuckles the musician's mouth required numerous stitches.

During 1960, Ruby and two entertainers, Breck Wall and Joe Peterson, entered into an agreement that the performers would produce and star in a revue at the Sovereign in exchange for a 50-percent interest in the club. After performing for 2 months, the entertainers complained that they had received neither a share of the profits nor evidence of their proprietary interest. Ruby responded by hitting Peterson in the mouth, knocking out a tooth. The two men left the Sovereign's employ, but they subsequently accepted Ruby's apology and resumed their friendship with him.

In September 1962 Frank Ferraro, the Carousel's handyman, became involved in a dispute at a nearby bar. Ruby told him not to get into a fight, and Ferraro told Ruby to mind his own business. Ruby then followed Ferraro to another club and beat him severely. Ferraro required emergency hospital treatment for his eye, but he decided not to press charges since Ruby paid for his hospital care. In March 1963, during an argument about wages, Ruby threatened to throw a cigarette girl down the stairs of the Carousel.

(3) David Reitzes, In Defense of Jack Ruby (2000)

Many take it for granted that if there was an assassination conspiracy, Jack Ruby must have been involved. In fact, many people believe there was a conspiracy precisely because of Ruby's murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, which had the effect - intentional or not - of silencing the accused assassin.

But whether there was a conspiracy or not, there is no reason to assume that Ruby must have been involved. In fact, logic tells us that no conspiracy could profit by silencing Oswald in a public fashion: What's the point of eliminating one suspect while simultaneously handing the police another? Also, were it Oswald's intention to "talk," he'd already had nearly 48 hours in which to do so. Every minute he waited only diminished the chance that others involved could be apprehended. By that time, any conspirators would have to assume he'd already spilled his guts.

Another factor to be considered is whether Ruby was the type of person to be entrusted with any responsibility, when a single word from him could have resulted in the arrest of others involved. Dallas reporter Tony Zoppi knew Ruby well and says one "would have to be crazy" to entrust Ruby with anything important, that he "couldn't keep a secret for five minutes. . . . Jack was one of the most talkative guys you would ever meet. He'd be the worst fellow in the world to be part of a conspiracy, because he just plain talked too much."

(4) Melvin Belli, Jack Ruby's attorney, wrote about the case in his book Dallas Justice. At first Ruby claimed he had a mental blackout. Later he claimed he had killed Lee Harvey Oswald to protect Jacqueline Kennedy from having to testify at a court case. .

With a weary gesture, Ruby slapped his hands down on the metal table between us and shook his head impatiently. "What are we doing, Mel, kidding ourselves?" he asked.

I was tired too. "What do you mean, Jack?" I snapped.

"We know what happened," he said. "We know I did it for Jackie and the kids. I just went and shot him. They've got us anyway. Maybe I ought to forget this silly story that I'm telling, and get on the stand and tell the truth."

He was absolutely sincere. At that point, with his mental examination behind him and the outline of our defense clearly established, he was suddenly ready to admit that he had shot Lee Harvey Oswald deliberately and that our contention that the shooting had occurred during a blackout in which he was incompetent to know what he was doing was a fraud.

(5) The Warren Commission Report (September, 1964)

Between 1949 and November 24, 1963, Ruby was arrested eight times by the Dallas Police Department. The dates, charges, and dispositions of these arrests are as follows: February 4, 1949, Ruby paid a $10 fine for disturbing the peace. July 26, 1953, Ruby was suspected of carrying a concealed weapon however, no charges were filed and Ruby was released on the same day. May 1, 1954, Ruby was arrested for allegedly carrying a concealed weapon and violating a peace bond again no charges were filed and Ruby was released on the same day. December 5, 1954, Ruby was arrested for allegedly violating State liquor laws by selling liquor after hours the complaint was dismissed on February 8, 1955. June 21, 1959, Ruby was arrested for allegedly permitting dancing after hours the complaint was dismissed on July 8, 1959. August 21, 1960, Ruby was again arrested for allegedly permitting dancing after hours Ruby posted $25 bond and was released on that date. February 12, 1963, Ruby was arrested on a charge of simple assault he was found not guilty February 27, 1963. Finally, on March 14, 1963, Ruby was arrested for allegedly ignoring traffic summonses a $35 bond was posted.

When Ruby applied for a beer license in March 1961, he reported that he had been arrested "about four or five times" between 1947 and 1953. Between 1950 and 1963, he received 20 tickets for motor vehicle violations, paying four $10 fines and three of $3. In 1956 and 1959, Ruby was placed on 6 months' probation as a traffic violator.

Ruby was also frequently suspended by the Texas Liquor Control Board. In August 1949, when he was operating the Silver Spur, he was suspended for 5 days on a charge of "Agents Moral Turpitude." In 1953 Ruby received a 5-day suspension because of an obscene show, and, in 1954, a 10-day suspension for allowing a drunkard on his premises. On February 18, 1954, he was suspended for 5 days because of an obscene striptease act at the Silver Spur and for the consumption of alcoholic beverages during prohibited hours. On March 26, 1956. Ruby was suspended by the liquor board for 3 days because several of his checks were dishonored. On October 23, 1961, he received another 3-day suspension because an agent solicited the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on licensed premises.

(6) Seth Kantor, Who Was Jack Ruby? (1978)

An hour after the shooting of President Kennedy I encountered Jack Ruby at Parkland Hospital. Ruby was someone I had known at the start of the Kennedy administration, when I had been a reporter on a Dallas newspaper. He sought me out at Parkland, called me by name and, later from jail, wrote me a warm, personal note. But he later denied that he had been inside Parkland Hospital at that critical time. As a result, the Warren Commission questioned both Ruby and me in June, 1964, about the Parkland encounter. In the end, page 336 of the Warren Report declared that "Kantor probably did not see Ruby in Parkland Hospital.

Now, however, after reading this book, Burt W. Griffin, the Warren Commission attorney who developed these conclusions about Jack Ruby for the Warren Report, has changed his mind about Ruby not appearing at Parkland soon after the President had been brought there. Griffin, who since has become a judge in Ohio, now says "the greater weight of the evidence" indicates I did see Ruby at Parkland.

(7) David E. Scheim, The Mafia Killed President Kennedy (1988)

Despite official denials. Jack Ruby had indeed been a "professional gangster." Furthermore, telephone records and other documents showed extensive contacts between Ruby and underworld figures from across the country in the months before the assassination.

It also emerged, disturbingly, that evidence establishing these criminal ties had been repeatedly suppressed or distorted by the Warren Commission, the government body initially charged to investigate Kennedy's murder. For example, the Commission reported that "virtually all of Ruby's Chicago friends stated he had no close connection with organized crime." But a trace of the Commission's cited references revealed that one of these "friends" was a notorious Mob hit man credited with planning some of its more important executions. More than half of these cited friends, in fact, had some racketeering associations.

(8) J. Edgar Hoover made a telephone call to President Lyndon B. Johnson on 29th November, 1963.

This fellow Rubenstein (Jack Ruby) is a very shady character, has a bad record - street brawler, fighter, and that sort of thing - and in the place in Dallas, if a fellow came in there and couldn't pay his bill completely, Rubenstein would beat the very devil out of him and throw him out of the place. He didn't drink, didn't smoke, boasted about that. He is what I would put in a category of one of these "egomaniacs." Likes to be in the limelight. He knew all the police in that white-light district. and he also let them come in, see the show, get food, liquor, and so forth. That's how, I think, he got into police headquarters. Because they accepted him as kind of a police character, hanging around police headquarters. They never made any moves, as the pictures show, even when they saw him approaching this fellow and got up right to him and pressed his pistol against Oswald's stomach. Neither of the police officers on either side made any move to push him away or grab him. It wasn't until after the gun was fired that they then moved. The Chief of Police admits that he moved him in the morning as a convenience and at the request of motion-picture people, who wanted to have daylight. He should have moved him at night. But so far as tying Rubenstein and Oswald together we haven't as yet done. So there have been a number of stories come in, we've tied Oswald into the Civil Liberties Union in New York, membership into that and, of course, this Cuban Fair Play Committee, which is pro-Castro, and dominated by Communism and financed, to some extent, by the Castro government.

(9) Matthew Smith, JFK: The Second Plot (1992)

At Parkland Hospital a bullet had obligingly rolled off an unoccupied stretcher. It was a bullet from a Manlicher-Carcano, and the Commission promptly identified it as 'The Magic Bullet'. Commission Exhibit 399, as the bullet was marked, was claimed to have rolled out of Governor Connally's thigh wound and lain on the stretcher until the stretcher was later disturbed. Since the Governor still had fragments of a bullet lodged in his thigh, the idea of a bullet rolling out of the wound was not supported. The hospital staff were unconvinced that Connally had ever occupied the stretcher in question, Darrell C. Tomlinson, the senior technician, testifying to his 'best recollection', that it had rolled off a stretcher 'wholly unconnected with the one of Governor Connally'. And then there was CE399 itself. The bullet was in pristine condition (see photograph) and even a witness 'friendly' to the Warren Commission, Commander Humes, the surgeon who led the Bethesda autopsy team, could not accept it. Questioned by Arlen Specter, a Commission lawyer, about CE399 in relation to all Governor Connally's wounds, Humes replied, 'I think that extremely unlikely . . .' Aware that the Parkland doctors had spoken of fragments of bullet remaining in Connally's thigh, Humes said, '. . . I can't conceive of where they came from this missile.' CE399 was in such pristine condition that had they weighed it then added the weight of the fragments removed from Governor Connally's wrist and thigh they would have been looking at a total weight greater than that of an unused bullet of that type. But, regardless of all this, the Warren Commission clung to its single-bullet theory, for without it, their entire case for asserting that Lee Harvey Oswald had, alone and unaided, shot and killed President Kennedy was totally demolished.

As a consequence of the desperate need to maintain their position on CE399, 'the Magic Bullet', the Warren Commission refused to accept evidence from a reliable witness which might have thrown light on how the pristine bullet really found its way to Parkland Hospital. Seth Kantor, a member of the White House Press Corps, rocked the Commission's boat when he reported having met Jack Ruby, who was to slay Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement car park of Dallas Police Headquarters but 48 hours later, at Parkland Hospital less than an hour after the President was shot. He knew Jack Ruby and reported in some detail their handshake and conversation. Could Ruby have been there for the purpose of planting CE399? The Commission were not disposed to finding out. They ruled Kantor was mistaken.

(10) Hugh Aynesworth, JFK: Breaking the News (2003)

Jack Ruby was the quintessential wanna-be but never-was. Full of big stories, bigger dreams and lusty braggadocio, the strip show operator was first and foremost a lowlife, a man who searched for class as though he understood what it was.

Often he would tell his pals that someday he'd have a club in Las Vegas. That, to him, was class. Once he told his lawyer Stanley Kauffman that when he made it big in the Nevada city, he wouldn't have to worry any more about years and years of difficulties with the Internal Revenue Service. "He said, 'They never bother the big, important guys. You don't see guys hassled once they become somebody in show business.'"

Hardly a week went by in Dallas when you wouldn't see Ruby promoting some inane product, chasing fire trucks, pushing himself into public displays or passing out his Carousel Club calling cards at the fights, in the bars, or on downtown streets.

One time it might be promoting a young black singer/dancer, another time an exercise board, or a potion "sure to make you thinner and more powerful." Once he touted a gangly Arkansas girl as a "dancer," predicting she would be a smash hit at the Carousel. "She'll be the only Jewish stripper Dallas has ever seen," he told Don Campbell, the News ad executive. The girl never graced his stage.

(11) The Warren Commission Report (September, 1964)

The Commission has reached the following conclusions concerning the killing of Oswald by Jack Ruby on November 24, 1963:

Ruby entered the basement of the Dallas Police Department shortly after 11:17 a.m. and killed Lee Harvey Oswald at 11:21 a.m.

Although the evidence on Ruby's means of entry is not conclusive, the weight of the evidence indicates that he walked down the ramp leading from Main Street to the basement of the police department.

There is no evidence to support the rumor that Ruby may have been assisted by any members of the Dallas Police Department in the killing of Oswald.

The Dallas Police Department's decision to transfer Oswald to the county jail in full public view was unsound.

The arrangements made by the police department on Sunday morning, only a few hours before the attempted transfer, were inadequate. Of critical importance was the fact that news media representatives and others were not excluded from the basement even after the police were notified of threats to Oswald's life. These deficiencies contributed to the death of Lee Harvey Oswald.

The Commission has found no evidence that either Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby was part of any conspiracy, domestic or foreign, to assassinate President Kennedy. The reasons for this conclusion are:

The Commission has found no evidence that anyone assisted Oswald in planning or carrying out the assassination. In this connection it has thoroughly investigated, among other factors, the circumstances surrounding the planning of the motorcade route through Dallas, the hiring of Oswald by the Texas School Book Depository Co. on October 15, 1963, the method by which the rifle was brought into the building, the placing of cartons of books at the window, Oswald's escape from the building, and the testimony of eyewitnesses to the shooting.

The Commission has found no evidence that Oswald was involved with any person or group in a conspiracy to assassinate the President, although it has thoroughly investigated, in addition to other possible leads, all facets of Oswald's associations, finances, and personal habits, particularly during the period following his return from the Soviet Union in June 1962.

The Commission has found no evidence to show that Oswald was employed, persuaded, or encouraged by any foreign government to assassinate President Kennedy or that he was an agent of any foreign government, although the Commission has reviewed the circumstances surrounding Oswald's defection to the Soviet Union, his life there from October of 1959 to June of 1962 so far as it can be reconstructed, his known contacts with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and his visits to the Cuban and Soviet Embassies in Mexico City during his trip to Mexico from September 26 to October 3, 1963, and his known contacts with the Soviet Embassy in the United States.

The Commission has explored all attempts of Oswald to identify himself with various political groups, including the Communist Party, U.S.A., the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and the Socialist Workers Party, and has been unable to find any evidence that the contacts which he initiated were related to Oswald's subsequent assassination of the President.

All of the evidence before the Commission established that there was nothing to support the speculation that Oswald was an agent, employee, or informant of the FBI, the CIA, or any other governmental agency. It has thoroughly investigated Oswald's relationships prior to the assassination with all agencies of the U.S. Government. All contacts with Oswald by any of these agencies were made in the regular exercise of their different responsibilities.

No direct or indirect relationship between Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby has been discovered by the Commission, nor has it been able to find any credible evidence that either knew the other, although a thorough investigation was made of the many rumors and speculations of such a relationship.

The Commission has found no evidence that Jack Ruby acted with any other person in the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald.

(12) Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993)

FBI documents released in 1979 show other instances in which key information was either altered before it reached the Warren Commission, or else withheld altogether. For example, judging from Warren Commission records, the FBI covered up Jack Ruby's connections to organized crime. The Commission did not receive an important interview with Luis Kutner, a Chicago lawyer who had just told the press (correctly) about Ruby's connections to Chicago mobsters Lennie Patrick and Dave Yaras. All the FBI transmitted was a meaningless follow-up interview in which Kutner merely said he had no additional information.

Apparently the FBI also failed to transmit a teletype revealing that Yaras, a national hit man for the Chicago syndicate who had grown up with Ruby, and who had been telephoned by one of Ruby's Teamster contacts on the eve of the assassination, was about to attend a "hoodlum meeting" of top East and West Coast syndicate representatives, including some from the "family" of the former Havana crime lord Santos Trafficante.

(13) G. Robert Blakey was interviewed by ABC News in 2003.

ABC News: Let me ask you: 40 years after the fact and 25 years after your investigation, who killed John F. Kennedy?

Blakey: Lee Harvey Oswald killed John Kennedy. Two shots from behind. The evidence is simply overwhelming. You have to be lacking in judgment and experience in dealing with the evidence to think that Lee Harvey Oswald did not kill President Kennedy. That's really not the problem. The problem is: Was there something beyond Lee Harvey Oswald? And now what you do is you look at the evidence.

ABC News: How many shots were fired at Dealey Plaza?

Blakey: What we did is determine that there were in fact four shots. Our scientists looked at a tape we found, and they did a scientific analysis of it, and it indicated four shots in the plaza, three from the depository and one from the grassy knoll. That meant there were two shooters in the plaza, two shooters in the plaza equal a conspiracy.

The first shot from the depository by Lee Harvey Oswald missed. The second shot about 1.6 seconds later, hit the president in the back of the neck. (The bullet exited Kennedy and) hit John Connally. It hit his wrist, hit his leg. Now six seconds from the second shot, we think a shot came from the grassy knoll. It missed the president. The shot from the grassy knoll missed. The X-rays, the autopsy, all of that indicates the president was not hit by a shot from any other direction. Seven-tenths of a second after that, the third shot, fourth in the row, third shot from the depository, hits the president right in the back of the head.

The shot from the grassy knoll is not only supported by the acoustics, which is a tape that we found of a police motorcycle broadcast back to the district station. It is corroborated by eyewitness testimony in the plaza. There were 20 people, at least, who heard a shot from the grassy knoll.

ABC News: In your book you point the finger squarely at Carlos Marcello and his organization. Why would he want to kill Kennedy?

Blakey: Carlos Marcello was being subject to the most vigorous investigation he had ever experienced in his life, designed to put him in jail. He was in fact summarily, without due process, deported to Guatemala. He took the deportation personally. He hated the Kennedys. He had the motive, the opportunity and the means in Lee Harvey Oswald to kill him. I think he did through Oswald.

ABC News: How central is Jack Ruby's murder of Oswald to your understanding of this case?

Blakey: To understand who killed President Kennedy and did he have help, I think you have to understand what happened to the assassin of President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald. I see Jack Ruby's assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald as a mob hit.

This is in direct contradiction to the Warren Commission. The Warren Commission portrayed, wrongly I think, Jack Ruby as a wild card who serendipitously got into position to kill Oswald. I think in fact he stalked him. I can show you from the Warren Commission's evidence that he tried to get into where he was being interrogated, number one. That he tried to get in where there was going to be a lineup, number two. That he was seen around the garage, where he was announced that he was going to be moved. And we know, from Jack Ruby himself, that he had a gun with him at the time of the lineup.

I believe that Ruby was able to get in to kill Oswald through the corrupt cooperation of the Dallas P.D., that he was let in through a back door and he was given an opportunity to kill Oswald. I see that, therefore, as a mob hit. And if that's a mob hit, there is only one reason for it, and that is to cover up the assassination of the president himself. You kill the killer.

ABC News: Since you believe that Lee Oswald shot the president, and you also believe that Carlos Marcello was behind the assassination, what connections do you point to between Oswald and Marcello?

Blakey: I can show you that Lee Harvey Oswald knew, from his boyhood forward, David Ferrie, and David Ferrie was an investigator for Carlos Marcello on the day of the assassination, with him in a court room in New Orleans. I can show you that Lee Harvey Oswald, when he grew up in New Orleans, lived with the Dutz Murret family (one of Oswald's uncles). Dutz Murret is a bookmaker for Carlos Marcello.

I can show you that there's a bar in New Orleans, and back in the '60s, bars used to have strippers and the strippers circuit is from Jack Ruby's strip joint in Dallas to Marcello-connected strip joints in the New Orleans area. So I can bring this connection.

Did Lee Harvey Oswald grow up in a criminal neighborhood? Yes. Did he have a mob-connected family? Did he have mob-connected friends? Was he known to them to be a crazy guy? He's out publicly distributing Fair Play for Cuba leaflets. If you wanted to enlist him in a conspiracy that would initially appear to be communist and not appear to be organized crime, he's the perfect candidate. Ex-Marine, marksman, probably prepared to kill the president for political reasons.

Could he be induced to kill the president for organized crime reasons unbeknownst to him? I think the answer is yes and compelling.

(14) Dan Rather interviewed Barney Weinstein, The Warren Report: Part 3, CBS Television (27th June, 1967)

Dan Rather: Ruby operated a pair of sleazy nightclubs, The Carousel and The Vegas. In the free and easy atmosphere that seemed to characterize the boom city, Ruby was also a hanger - on of the police, entertaining off - duty officers in his strip joints, often carrying sandwiches over to the Police Building for his on-duty friends.

These are some of the people of Jack Ruby's world - his roommate, a competing nightclub owner, and two of Jack Ruby's girls. Mr. Weinstein, why do you think Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald?

Barney Weinstein: I think it was on the spur of the moment, that he really wanted to make himself look like a big man. And he thought that would make him above everybody else, that the people would come up and thank him for it, that people would come around and want to meet him and want to know him, "This is the man that shot the man that shot the President."

(15) Walter Cronkite, The Warren Report: Part 3, CBS Television (27th June, 1967)

Jack Ruby was convicted of the murder of Oswald, but the conviction was reversed by an Appeals Court which held that an alleged confession should not have been admitted.

Ruby died six months ago of cancer, maintaining to the last that he was no conspirator, that he had killed Oswald out of anger and a desire to shield Jacqueline Kennedy from the ordeal of a trial at which she would have had to appear as a witness.

(16) Michael Kurtz, Crime of the Century: The Kennedy Assassination From a Historians Perspective (1982)

The Warren Commission's claim that Ruby wanted to spare Mrs. Kennedy the personal ordeal of a trial seems flimsy. When Earl Warren interviewed Ruby in his Dallas jail, Ruby pleaded with the chief justice to let him testify in Washington, where he would tell the real story behind the whole assassination controversy. Inexplicably, Warren denied Ruby's request.

While it is possible to imagine numerous motives for Ruby's act, there is no reliable, independent evidence to substantiate such speculation. Whatever Ruby's reasons, they remain unknown.

(17) Hugh Aynesworth, JFK: Breaking the News (2003)

In my view, were it not for the pervasive influence of a handful of individuals, there would be no plague of conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination.

The first of these regrettable characters was Jack Ruby, who by stealing the executioner's role, created generations of doubters, and not unreasonably so. It was an audacious, desperate act that would seem to make sense only if Jack Ruby had a very powerful, rational motive for killing Lee Harvey Oswald.

The truth is that he did not the hard evidence in the case supports no other conclusion.

Based on indisputable facts, I believe that Ruby acted spontaneously in the basement at City Hall. The opportunity to kill Lee Harvey Oswald suddenly presented itself, and Ruby acted accordingly. He could just as well have been driving home from the Western Union office at that moment.

(18) Joachim Joesten, How Kennedy Was Killed (1968)

And so Jack Ruby, on December 9, 1966, - exactly one day after he had learned that his new trial was going to be

held in February or March 1967 at Wichita Falls, about 140 miles from Dallas - was stricken with a mysterious disease first diagnosed as a common cold, then as pneumonia and finally as generalized cancer.

For more than three years, with a death sentence hanging over his dead for most of the time, Ruby had been as fit as a fiddle in the custody of Dallas Sheriff Bill Decker. At no time before December 9, had the prison doctor who visited him regularly, detected any flaw in Ruby's splendid health. But now, with a new trial in prospect in a different place, death quickly overtook the man who knew perhaps more than any other living person (with the possible exception of David Ferrie, then still totally unknown to the public at large) about the real background to the assassination. He passed away in the morning of January 3, 1967 - and another inconvenient trial was happily averted.

As always, my critics are likely to counter at this point with the challenge: 'Where is your evidence that Ruby was murdered?'

The evidence is there, plain to see for anyone with an open mind, but it is purely circumstantial, not tangible. (The people who arranged for Ruby's death, as they had previously arranged for the overt murders of President Kennedy, Patrolman Tippit and Lee Harvey Oswald, to say nothing of the 20-odd witnesses who have also been disposed of, weren't stupid enough to leave any palpable traces of what they had done.)

(19) Fabian Escalante, Cuban Officials and JFK Historians Conference (7th December, 1995)

Ruby had a coffee business in Cuba in the 1950's. He also engaged in arms trafficking. He is very tied to former president of Cuba, Carlos Prio. There is a U.S. version of this story that says a Cuban gave a letter to Ruby asking him to sell weapons to Cubans in 1959. We know very little about this incident at this moment. However, we found an ex-officer of our Cuban army who knew of an attempt to sell jeeps on behalf of an American citizen whose name he cannot remember, more or less the same time Ruby was in Havana. That's all we know about this.

(20) Greg Parker, Alternative Ruby Timeline (23rd November, 2004)

The number one cause of lung cancer is cigarette smoking, representing 85 to 90 percent of all cases. Other causes include exposure to radon, asbestos, nickel, chloromethyl ether, chromium, beryllium and arsenic (a by-product of copper), as well as exposure to passive smoke or "second-hand" smoke. A person is "at risk" of developing lung cancer if they: smoke are over the age of 50 work in industries where substances such as asbestos, nickel, chloromethyl ether, chromium, beryllium or arsenic are used have or have had a lung disease have a family history of lung cancer are former smokers have been exposed to second-hand smoke over many years or have been exposed to radon. (Tenet Health Care Corporation Library)

As a non-smoker, Ruby&rsquos only risk factors would, on the surface, appear to be his age, and long-term exposure to second-hand smoke. In jail, Ruby reported to one of his psychiatrists, Dr Manfred Guttmacher, that he had been to see Dr Ulevich on November 11, 1963 due to a bronchial cough. Dr Ulevitch took x-rays, but Ruby had been too busy to get the results. He believed he had "walking pneumonia". (DPD JFK files)

The previously mentioned, Dr Walter Bromberg, stated in his report that Ruby had felt he suffered pneumonia on and off for a number of years. (DPD JFK files) It was a diagnosis of pneumonia, as we have seen, which resulted in Ruby being sent to Parkland Hospital. "Walking pneumonia" is caused by mycoplasma &ndash the smallest free-living organism known to man. One of the characteristics of these tiny organisms is their ability to completely mimic or copy the protein of the host cell which can cause the immune system to attack the body&rsquos own cells an event that happens in all auto-immune diseases. First isolated in humans in 1932, it was not until the 1950s that one strain was identified as the cause of atypical ("walking") pneumonia. (Web Article: Mycoplasmas - Stealth Pathogens).

Before death, Ruby&rsquos cancer had spread to both his liver and his brain. This tends to rule out second-hand smoke as the culprit because although small cell lung cancer is the type that spreads quickly to other organs, it is most often found in people who are themselves heavy smokers. (Rhodes Island Cancer Council).

What we are left with then, is some other carcinogen as the probable cause. Beryllium is one logical answer given beryllium dust shuts down the immune system, allowing the lungs to be damaged, and tumors to form and spread to other organs. It also creates ideal conditions for mycoplasma to thrive. (The Unified Health Physics Modelling Scientific Report).

It is not a stretch to suggest that Ruby may have first come into contact with beryllium whilst in the Army Air Force and stationed at Farmingdale where the F-12 was being built, since this heavy metal is much used in the aviation and space industries. His association with the National Research Corporation through John C Jackson provides a second possibility for beryllium exposure to have occurred. The NRC was named in a May 25, 2001 report issued by the US General Accounting Office as being one of the locations where beryllium was used or detected. The evidence however, points only to low grade exposure in the 1950&lsquos (and possibly back to the 1940&lsquos), causing atypical recurring pneumonia, and a weakened immune system rather than cancerous tumors (which would have required a higher exposure): nothing lethal if he kept fit and otherwise healthy. That Ruby was a health and fitness fanatic indicates he may have had some knowledge of his exposure.

So what did happened to trigger his cancer ? Alan Adelson tells us in "The Ruby Oswald Affair" that Jack&rsquos sister, Eva Grant, first noticed Jack&rsquos illness as early as June, 1966 , and that by September, he was throwing up every day. If his illness was evident in June 1966, then it is feasible that the onset of cancer coincided with Dr Jolyon West&rsquos visit in April, 1964 to administer hypnosis and drugs. This was the month after the trial ended, and when appeals would be in full swing. It is unfortunately common for such a period of time to pass between onset and when symptoms become manifest. In this case, it took another 7 months after the onset of symptoms before a diagnosis of lung cancer was made. It is possible, but unlikely, that Ruby had the cancer prior to the assassination. This is because of the x rays Dr Ulevitch took of Ruby&rsquos chest on November 11. Though not fool proof, most lung cancer patients show an abnormal x ray. (Cancerline UK).

It is widely known that Ruby believed injections he was being given, were cancer cells. He truly believed he was being murdered in this most unusual manner. And why would he not be paranoid about such a possibility since in January 1964, it was widely reported that elderly patients at the Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital in Brooklyn had been injected with live cancer cells as part of an experiment conducted by two eminent physicians from Sloan-Kettering? A court battle over the records of patients involved kept the story bubbling until at least 1966. Deputy sheriff Al Maddox claimed to researchers in the 1980s that the doctor who gave Ruby the injections was from Chicago. Though not from Chicago, Alan Adelson said he had met with Dr Jolyon West in the Windy City to discuss the case. (Earl Ruby HSCA testimony)

The last word however, probably should go to the Inspector General in reference to CIA medical experiments: "The risk of compromise of the program through correct diagnosis of an illness by an unwitting medical specialist is regularly considered and is stated to be a governing factor in the decision to conduct a given test. The Bureau officials also maintain close working relations with local police authorities which could be utilized to protect the activity in critical situations." (July 26, 1963 memo from JS Eamon to Director, CIA).

(21) The Guardian (27th November, 2006)

Anti-terrorist detectives are poised to fly to Russia and Italy in an effort to solve the fatal poisoning of the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko.

But as John Reid, the home secretary, said the police inquiry had been upgraded from an "unexplained" to a "suspicious" death, experts voiced doubt at the theory that anyone acting alone could have used the isotope polonium 210 to kill Mr Litvinenko. One scientist said polonium 210 would only kill so quickly if combined into a "designer toxin" with another isotope, beryllium, in a complicated process that would require state sponsorship. Such a process was used by Britain in early atomic weapons in the 1950s.

"No individual could do this," said John Large, an independent nuclear consultant. "What you are talking about is the creation of a very clever little device, a designer poison pill, possibly created by nanotechnology. Without nanotechnology you would be talking about a fairly big pill, a pea-sized pill. Either way you are looking at intricate technology which is beyond the means and designs of a hired assassin without a state sponsor."

He said the likely poison pill that killed Mr Litvinenko would have to have been manufactured in a special laboratory over two or three weeks and then used very quickly - possibly within 28 days - because the half-life of the isotope polonium is only 138 days.

Senior police officers are drawing in experts from the International Atomic Energy Authority, and from the Atomic Weapons establishment at Aldermaston. Every option is being considered, from Kremlin involvement to the theory that Mr Litvinenko's work in the anti-corruption unit of the FSB, Russia's MI5, created enemies with the means and knowledge to assassinate him.

Jack Ruby files revealed for first time in nearly 50 years

The days that followed President John F. Kennedy's assassination were filled with questions. Now, nearly 50 years later, we're learning new answers about Jack Ruby, the man who gunned down Lee Harvey Oswald, from boxes upon boxes of documents and artifacts from the Dallas County district attorney's prosecution of Ruby in 1964.

"CBS This Morning" was allowed exclusive access to comb through those boxes. Among the items: Ruby's gun holster and the aluminum brass knuckles he carried, along with membership cards from his nightclub, The Carousel Club - and even photo cards of one of his better-known strippers, Jada. Many items have never been seen before publicly.

Retired insurance investigator Dave Perry has studied the Kennedy assassination for more than 40 years. CBS News asked him to help examine the files. Perry said, "This is a virtual treasure trove that literally gets into the mind of Jack Ruby."

Perry examined a letter sent by Lee Harvey Oswald's mother, Marguerite, disputing that her son was the president's lone assassin, and Ruby's lie-detector test.

The lie-detector document shows Ruby was asked, "Did you shoot Oswald to save Mrs. Kennedy the ordeal of trial?" He said, "Yes."

JFK Assassination

And some documents may settle longstanding questions about how Ruby was able to shoot Oswald as he was being led out of Dallas Police headquarters.

The day Oswald was shot, Dallas Police Officer Roy Vaughn was on duty, guarding the garage ramp, when Ruby somehow slipped past and shot Oswald minutes later. Some later speculated Vaughn might have let Ruby in on purpose - a suggestion that bothered him for decades.

Nancy Kennemar, Vaughn's daughter, said her father felt like his integrity was questioned. She said, "He said that later in some interviews. He said, 'That's one thing you don't want taken away from you is your integrity.'"

But Perry says a document from these files should put those suspicions to rest. It's a memo from the Dallas County district attorney at the time, Henry Wade, indicating that, while being interviewed, Ruby told Wade when he slipped down the ramp, "the officer (Roy Vaughn) did not see him." What's more, other documents indicate Ruby didn't even know Vaughn's name.

Asked if she feels like the officer's name can be cleared, Perry said he would "absolutely be vindicated by this."

Vaughn never saw those documents. The 30-year law enforcement officer, who went on to serve as a police chief, died in 2010. Kennemar said, "I wish my dad were alive and he knew about this because even though I trust that he was innocent of any wrongdoing, I think that it would mean something to him to see this paperwork."

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins gave CBS News the first public access to those files in 50 years, and he said he hopes this new information will provide a better view of history. He's loaning some of the artifacts and documents from the files to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas.

Watkins said the 12 boxes of artifacts and documents had sat for years in a warehouse. Watkins said he wanted the items in the boxes to be made available to the public because of the possible historical significance. Watkins said, "I would imagine when a historian has the opportunity to go through all these documents, they will find little nuggets of jewels they can use to give an explanation of the times back in 1963. . It's an opportunity for us to get a better explanation of how times were, not just in Dallas, but in this country."


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Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

When now Dallas County District Judge Brandon Birmingham started working in the Dallas County District Attorney's Office's cold case unit, one set of files that was forbidden fruit, even for the highest ranking members of the office.

"There, in the warehouse of the DA's office in a corner, was the file that we were never allowed to touch, the file of Jack Ruby," Birmingham said Wednesday night at Dallas' Sixth Floor Museum. "I was always very curious about why that was, what was in there. There was just this mystique about it."

Birmingham, with another former high-ranking member of the DA's office, Toby Shook, worked with Dallas County to donate its contents to the Sixth Floor Museum. On Wednesday night the treasure trove of Ruby, Oswald and John F. Kennedy assassination artifacts were on full display at the museum as Birmingham and Shook gave a walk-through of a trial they labeled the "biggest in Texas history."

The facts in the State of Texas v. Jack Rubenstein are not complicated. On November 24, 1963, Jack Ruby, operator of the Carousel Club at Field and Commerce Streets in downtown Dallas, shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of Dallas police headquarters. Ruby struck as police brought the man charged with killing President John F. Kennedy from headquarters to Dallas County Jail via armored car. Dallas police officers immediately pounced on Ruby and arrested him. Local and national news stations broadcast the murder from start to finish.


Dallas county prosecutors, lead by the legendary and notorious District Attorney Henry Wade, indicted Ruby on November 26. "Things moved a lot quicker back then," Shook quipped. "It was a long investigation &mdash two days &mdash and I believe Mr. Wade made the decision to seek the death penalty about five minutes after [Ruby] was indicted."

Tom Howard, a Dallas attorney with an office across from the former county courthouse (now the Old Red Museum) initially stepped up to defend Ruby. Howard's would-be defense strategy, one that Birmingham and Shook believe would've worked, thanks to their analysis of the trial and statement's later made by members of the jury, was to argue that Ruby murdered Oswald "without malice," which would've made his crime punishable by only 2-5 years in prison.

Howard's argument &mdash basically that Ruby saw Oswald and reacted reflexively &mdash is backed up by the facts. The morning of the murder, Ruby headed to a Western Union near police headquarters to send $25 to one of the burlesque dancers who worked at the Carousel Club. Seeing a large crowd gathered at the police station, Ruby left his prized dachshund Sheba, a dog he referred to as his "wife" according to Birmingham, and headed down a ramp on Main Street and found the Oswald escort. He hadn't set out that day to kill Oswald, Howard would've argued at trial.

"The way Howard planned to do that was maybe call a couple of local psychiatrists. They could get on the stand, say Ruby was maybe a strange guy, but not say he was insane, because Howard thought a jury, particularly a Dallas jury, wouldn't buy insanity," Shook said. "It's tough anywhere, but back in 1964 Dallas it wasn't going to happen. It's hard to get jurors to let someone off scot-free for shooting someone down."


The Dallas lawyer didn't get that chance, despite having avoided having his clients get the death penalty in all 26 of the capital cases in which he'd previously served as a defense attorney. Before the first of Ruby's two bail hearings in December 1963, Ruby's brother, Earl Ruby, went to San Francisco to meet with a book publisher. When he met with the publisher, Earl Ruby asked for a recommendation for a big-name lawyer. He came home to Dallas with Melvin Belli on retainer, a personal injury lawyer who flew the Jolly Roger and fired a blank from a cannon atop his office building whenever he won a big verdict.

Rather the go with Howard's "sudden passion" defense, Belli chose to argue that Ruby was criminally insane when he killed Oswald. His client, he said, was in a fugue state when he shot Oswald, brought on by "psychomoter epilepsy."

Despite an electroencephalogram (EEG) that the defense said showed that Ruby had organic brain damage, only one of the expert psychiatrists called at Ruby's March 1964 trial testified that Ruby did not know right from wrong when he killed Oswald, allowing Wade's team of prosecutors to chip away at Ruby's defense using the copious notes compiled on each witness in Dallas Assistant District Attorney Bill Alexander's massive index card file, the full contents of which are now in the museum.

"The prosecutors would stop each [defense expert] and ask, 'Well, do you have an opinion as to insanity? Do you think he knew right from wrong?,' to which they'd have to respond 'No I don't,'" Shook said. "I think that carried a lot of weight with the jury that the experts representing the defendant didn't have an opinion."

After a 10-day trial, the jury convicted Ruby of murder with malice, sentencing him to death on March 14, 1964.

Following the verdict, Birmingham said, Howard conducted an informal poll of Dallas after the trial in an attempt to see of his defense would've worked. By a 7-to-1 margin, those Howard polled said they would not have given Ruby the death penalty, had his defense team not argued for insanity.

Two years later in October 1966, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned his conviction, ruling that the trial judge in the case should have accepted Belli and the defense's request for a change of venue. Ruby died of complications from cancer in January 1967, two months before his new trial was set to begin in Wichita Falls.

The Sixth Floor Museum's special exhibit of items from Jack Ruby's trial will be on display at the museum until October 1.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free. Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.


Jack Ruby was born Jacob Leon Rubenstein [1] on March 25, 1911, [2] in the Maxwell Street area of Chicago, the son of Joseph Rubenstein and Fannie Turek Rutkowski (or Rokowsky), both Polish-born Orthodox Jews from Sokołów. Ruby was the fifth of his parents' 10 surviving children. While he was growing up, his parents were often violent towards each other and frequently separated Ruby's mother was eventually committed to a mental hospital. [3] His troubled childhood and adolescence were marked by juvenile delinquency with time being spent in foster homes. At age 11 in 1922, he was arrested for truancy. Ruby eventually skipped school so often that he had to spend time at the Institute for Juvenile Research. Still a young man, he sold horse-racing tip sheets and various novelties, then acted as a business agent for a local refuse collectors union that later became part of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT). [4] : 332

From his early childhood, Ruby was nicknamed "Sparky" by those who knew him. [5] His sister, Eva Grant, said that he acquired the nickname because he resembled a slow-moving horse named "Spark Plug" or "Sparky" in the contemporary comic strip Barney Google. ("Spark Plug" debuted as a character in the strip in 1922, when Ruby was 11.) [5] Other accounts say that the name was given because of his quick temper. [5] In either event, Grant stated that Ruby did not like the nickname Sparky, and was quick to fight anyone who called him that. [5]

In the 1940s, Ruby frequented race tracks in Illinois and California. He was drafted in 1943 and served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, working as an aircraft mechanic at U.S. bases until 1946. He had an honorable record and was promoted to Private First Class. Upon discharge, in 1946, Ruby returned to Chicago. [3]

In 1947, Ruby moved to Dallas, where he and his brothers soon afterward shortened their surnames from Rubenstein to Ruby. The stated reason for this was that the name "Rubenstein" was too long and that he was "well known" as Jack Ruby. [6] Ruby later went on to manage various nightclubs, strip clubs, and dance halls. He developed close ties to many Dallas Police officers who frequented his nightclubs, where he provided them with free liquor, prostitutes and other favors. [7]

Ruby never married and had no children. [8] At the time of the assassination, Ruby was living with George Senator, who referred to Ruby as "my boyfriend" during the Warren Commission hearing, but denied the two being homosexual lovers. Warren Commission lawyer Burt Griffin later told author Gerald Posner: "I'm not sure if Senator was honest with us about his relationship with Ruby. People did not advertise their homosexuality in 1963". [9]

There was evidence indicating Jack Ruby had been involved in the underworld activities of illegal gambling, narcotics, and prostitution. [10]

A 1956 FBI report stated that their informant, Eileen Curry, had moved to Dallas in January of that year together with her boyfriend, James Breen, after jumping bond on narcotics charges. Breen told her that he had made connections with a large narcotics setup operating between Texas, Mexico, and the East, and that "in some fashion, James got the okay to operate through Jack Ruby of Dallas." [11]

Former Dallas County Sheriff Steve Guthrie told the FBI that he believed Ruby "operated some prostitution activities and other vices in his club" since living in Dallas. [12]

Dallas disc jockey Kenneth Dowe testified that Ruby was known around the station for "procuring women for different people who came to town." [13]

According to the people interviewed by law enforcement and the Warren Commission, Ruby was desperate to attract attention to himself and to his club. He knew a great number of people in Dallas, but had only a few friends. His business ventures remained unsuccessful, and during the time of the assassination, he was heavily in debt. [9]

The commission received reports of Ruby's penchant for violence. He had a volatile temper, and often resorted to violence with employees who had upset him. Acting as the bouncer of his own club, Ruby beat his customers on at least 25 occasions. The fights would often end with Ruby throwing his victims down the club's stairs. [9]

Government officials also heard stories of Ruby's eccentric and unstable behavior. He sometimes took his shirt or other clothes off in social gatherings, and then either hit his chest like a gorilla or rolled around the floor. During conversations, he could change the topic suddenly in mid-sentence. He sometimes welcomed a guest to his club, but on other nights forbade the same guest from entering without giving an explanation. Ruby was described by those who knew him as "a kook", "totally unpredictable", "a psycho", and "suffering from some form of disturbance". [9]

November 21 Edit

The Warren Commission attempted to reconstruct Ruby's movements from November 21, 1963 through November 24. [14] : 333 The Commission reported that he was attending to his duties as the proprietor of the Carousel Club located at 1312 1/2 Commerce St. in downtown Dallas and the Vegas Club in the city's Oak Lawn district from the afternoon of November 21 to the early hours of November 22. [14] : 333

November 22: assassination of Kennedy Edit

According to the Warren Commission, Ruby was in the second-floor advertising offices of the Dallas Morning News, five blocks away from the Texas School Book Depository, placing weekly advertisements for his nightclubs when he learned of the assassination around 12:45 p.m. [14] : 334–335 Ruby then made phone calls to his assistant at the Carousel Club and to his sister. [14] : 334 The Commission stated that an employee of the Dallas Morning News estimated that Ruby left the newspaper's offices at 1:30 p.m., but indicated that other testimony suggested he may have left earlier. [14] : 334–335

According to the Warren Commission, Ruby arrived back at the Carousel Club shortly before 1:45 p.m. to notify employees that the club would be closed that evening. [14] : 336–337

John Newman, an employee at the newspaper's advertisement department, testified that Ruby became upset over a right-wing anti-Kennedy ad published in the Morning News, that was signed by "The American Fact-Finding Committee, Bernard Weissman, Chairman". Ruby, who was sensitive to antisemitism, was distressed that an ad attacking the President was signed by a person with a "Jewish name". Early next morning, Ruby, while driving, noticed a political billboard featuring the text "IMPEACH EARL WARREN" in block letters. Ruby's sister Eva testified that Ruby had told her he believed that the anti-Kennedy ad and the anti-Warren sign were connected, and were a plot by a "gentile" to blame the assassination on the Jews. [9]

In his book Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy, Jim Marrs records the observations of numerous witnesses who reported seeing Ruby at pivotal points before, during, and after the assassination but whose testimony was not heard by the Warren Commission. For example, Ruby was reportedly seen driving a pickup truck on Elm Street from which a man carrying a rifle disembarked and headed for the grassy knoll a short time before 11 a.m. reportedly photographed standing in front of the Texas School Book Depository immediately after the last gunshot reportedly seen sitting in the Texas Theatre during the arrest of Oswald and reportedly seen at Parkland Hospital at the time of the public announcement of Kennedy's death. [15] While Ruby claimed he was busy in the office of the Dallas Morning News working on an ad for his nightclub from 11 a.m. until "well after" the assassination had taken place, a reporter told the FBI (again, according to Marrs) that Ruby was "missed for a period of about twenty to twenty-five minutes" before being seen in the office again after the assassination. [16]

Ruby was seen in the halls of the Dallas Police Headquarters on several occasions after Oswald's arrest on November 22, 1963. Newsreel footage from WFAA-TV (Dallas) and NBC shows that Ruby impersonated a newspaper reporter during a press conference at Dallas Police Headquarters that night. [4] : 349 District Attorney Henry Wade briefed reporters at the press conference telling them that Lee Oswald was a member of the anti-Castro Free Cuba Committee. Ruby was one of several people there who spoke up to correct Wade, saying, "Henry, that's the Fair Play for Cuba Committee", a pro-Castro organization. [17] [18] [4] : 349–350 One month after his arrest for killing Oswald, Ruby told the FBI that he had his loaded snub-nosed Colt Cobra .38 revolver in his right pocket during the press conference. [19] [20] [4] : 3501

November 24: killing of Oswald Edit

On November 24, Ruby drove into town with his pet dachshund Sheba (whom he would often jokingly refer to as his "wife") to send an emergency money order at the Western Union on Main Street to one of his employees. The time stamp of completion for the cash transaction on the money order was 11:17 a.m. Ruby then walked one half block to the nearby Dallas police headquarters, where he made his way into the basement via either the Main Street ramp [21] or a stairway accessible from an alleyway next to the Dallas Municipal Building. [22] At 11:21 a.m. CST—while authorities were escorting Oswald through the police basement to an armored car that was to take him to the nearby county jail—Ruby stepped out from a crowd of reporters with his .38 Colt Cobra revolver [23] aimed at Oswald's abdomen and fired a single round at point blank range, mortally wounding him. [24] The bullet entered Oswald's left side in the front part of the abdomen and caused damage to his spleen, stomach, aorta, vena cava, kidney, liver, diaphragm, and eleventh rib before coming to rest on his right side. [25] Oswald made a cry of anguish and his manacled hands clutched at his abdomen as he writhed with pain, and he slumped to the concrete paving, where he moaned several times. Police detective Billy Combest suddenly recognized Ruby and exclaimed: "Jack, you son of a bitch!" [26] [27] Ruby was immediately subdued by agents and police. A moaning Oswald was carried back into the basement level jail office. He lost consciousness shortly thereafter. Taken by ambulance to Parkland Memorial Hospital—the same hospital where President Kennedy had been pronounced dead two days earlier, Oswald died at 1:07 p.m. [1]

The crowd outside the headquarters burst into applause when they heard that Oswald had been shot. [28]

A network television pool camera was broadcasting live to cover the transfer millions of people watching on NBC witnessed the shooting as it happened and on other networks within minutes afterward. [29] Several photographs were taken of the event just before, as, and after Ruby pulled the trigger. In 1964, Robert H. Jackson of the Dallas Times Herald was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Photography for his image of the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby. [30]

After his arrest, Ruby asked Dallas attorney Tom Howard to represent him. Howard accepted and asked Ruby if he could think of anything that might damage his defense. Ruby responded that there would be a problem if a man by the name of "Davis" should come up. Ruby told his attorney that he ". had been involved with Davis, who was a gunrunner entangled in anti-Castro efforts". [31] : 44 [32]

Later, Ruby replaced attorney Tom Howard with prominent San Francisco defense attorney Melvin Belli, who agreed to represent Ruby pro bono. On March 14, 1964, Ruby was convicted of murder with malice and was sentenced to death.

Ruby's conviction was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on the grounds that "an oral confession of premeditation made while in police custody" should have been ruled inadmissible, because it violated a Texas criminal statute. [33] The court also ruled that the venue should have been changed to a Texas county other than the one in which the high-profile crime had been committed. [33] Ruby died technically unconvicted, because his original conviction was overturned and his retrial was pending at the time of his death.

During the six months following Kennedy's assassination, Ruby repeatedly asked, orally and in writing, to speak to the members of the Warren Commission. The commission initially showed no interest. Only after Ruby's sister Eileen wrote letters to the commission (and her letters became public) did the Warren Commission agree to talk to Ruby. In June 1964, Chief Justice Earl Warren, then-Representative Gerald R. Ford of Michigan, and other commission members went to Dallas to see Ruby. Ruby asked Warren several times to take him to Washington D.C., saying "my life is in danger here" and that he wanted an opportunity to make additional statements. [34] : 194–196 He added: "I want to tell the truth, and I can't tell it here." [34] : 194 Warren told Ruby that he would be unable to comply, because many legal barriers would need to be overcome, and public interest in the situation would be too heavy. Warren also told Ruby that the commission would have no way of protecting him, since it had no police powers. Ruby said he wanted to convince President Lyndon Johnson that he was not part of any conspiracy to kill Kennedy. [34] : 209–212

Eventually, the appellate court agreed with Ruby's lawyers that he should be granted a new trial. On October 5, 1966, the court ruled that his motion for a change of venue before the original trial court should have been granted. Ruby's conviction and death sentence were overturned. Arrangements were underway for a new trial to be held in February 1967 [35] in Wichita Falls, Texas, when on December 9, 1966, Ruby was admitted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, suffering from pneumonia. A day later, doctors discovered cancer in Ruby's liver, lungs, and brain. His condition rapidly deteriorated.

Ruby died of a pulmonary embolism, secondary to bronchogenic carcinoma, on January 3, 1967, less than a month after his cancer diagnosis. He died at Parkland Hospital, the same facility where Oswald died and Kennedy was pronounced dead. [36] [37] He was buried beside his parents in the Westlawn Cemetery in Norridge, Illinois. [38] [39] [40]

Warren Commission Edit

The Warren Commission found no evidence linking Ruby's killing of Oswald with any broader conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy. [14] In 1964, the Warren Commission provided a detailed biography of Ruby's life and activities to help ascertain whether he was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy. [41] The Commission indicated that there was not a "significant link between Ruby and organized crime" [42] and said he acted independently in killing Oswald. [43] [14] : 373–374

Warren Commission investigator David Belin said that postal inspector Harry Holmes arrived unannounced at the Dallas police station on the morning that Ruby shot Oswald and, upon invitation by the investigators, had questioned Oswald, thus delaying his transfer by half an hour. [44] Belin concluded that, had Ruby been part of a conspiracy, he would have been downtown 30 minutes earlier, when Oswald had been scheduled to be transferred. [44]

In Gerald Posner's book Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK, Ruby's friends, relatives and associates claimed that he was upset over President Kennedy's death, even crying on occasions and closing his clubs for three days as a mark of respect. [45] They also disputed the conspiracy claims, saying that Ruby's connection with gangsters was minimal at most and that he was not the sort of person who would be entrusted with an important assassination as part of a high-level conspiracy. [45]

However, Robert Blakey, who was the chief counsel for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, wrote: "It is difficult to dispute the underworld pedigree of Jack Ruby, though the Warren Commission did it in 1964. Author Gerald Posner similarly ignores Ruby's ties to Joseph Civello, the organized crime boss in Dallas. His relationship with Joseph Campisi, the No. 2 man in the mob in Dallas, is even more difficult to ignore. In fact, Campisi and Ruby were close friends they had dinner together at Campisi's restaurant, the Egyptian Lounge, on the night before the assassination. After Ruby was jailed for killing Oswald, Campisi regularly visited him. The select committee thought Campisi's connection to [Carlos] Marcello was telling he told us, for example, that every year at Christmas he sent 260 pounds of Italian sausage to Marcello, a sort of Mafia tribute. We also learned that he called New Orleans up to 20 times a day." [46]

Dallas reporter Tony Zoppi, who knew Ruby well, claimed that one "would have to be crazy" to entrust Ruby with anything as important as a high-level plot to kill Kennedy since he "couldn't keep a secret for five minutes . Jack was one of the most talkative guys you would ever meet. He'd be the worst fellow in the world to be part of a conspiracy, because he just plain talked too much." [45] : 361, 399 He and others described Ruby as the sort who enjoyed being at "the center of attention", trying to make friends with people and being more of a nuisance. [45]

Some writers, including former Los Angeles District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, dismiss Ruby's connections to organized crime as being highly minimal: "It is very noteworthy that without exception, not one of these conspiracy theorists knew or had ever met Jack Ruby. Without our even resorting to his family and roommate, all of whom think the suggestion of Ruby being connected to the mob is ridiculous, those who knew him, unanimously and without exception, think the notion of his being connected to the Mafia, and then killing Oswald for them, is nothing short of laughable." [47]

Bill Alexander, who prosecuted Ruby for Oswald's murder, equally rejected any suggestions that Ruby was involved with organized crime, claiming that conspiracy theorists based it on the claim that "A knew B, and Ruby knew B back in 1950, so he must have known A, and that must be the link to the conspiracy." [45]

Ruby's brother Earl denied allegations that Jack was involved in racketeering Chicago nightclubs, and author Gerald Posner suggested that witnesses may have confused Ruby with Harry Rubenstein, a convicted Chicago felon. [45] Entertainment reporter Tony Zoppi was also dismissive of mob ties. He knew Ruby and described him as a "born loser". [45]

Author Norman Mailer and others have questioned why Ruby would have left his two beloved dogs in his car if he had planned on killing Oswald at police headquarters. [48]

Some critics have not accepted the conclusions of the Warren Commission and have proposed several other theories.

Ruby's motive Edit

Ruby was arrested immediately after shooting Oswald, and he told several witnesses that he had been distraught over President Kennedy's death and had helped the city of Dallas "redeem" itself in the eyes of the public, and that his motive for killing Oswald was "saving Mrs. Kennedy the discomfiture of coming back to trial". [34] : 198–200 He also claimed he shot Oswald on the spur of the moment when the opportunity presented itself, without considering any reason for doing so. [34] : 199 Ruby told the FBI he was "in mourning" Friday and Saturday. He said he cried when he heard the President was shot, "cried a great deal" Saturday afternoon and was depressed Saturday night. He explained that this grief was caused by his great love for the President and his sympathy for the Kennedy family. The anguish over the assassination, Ruby stated, finally "reached the point of insanity", suddenly compelling him to shoot when Oswald walked to the police ramp that Sunday morning. [49] At the time of the shooting, Ruby said he was taking phenmetrazine, a central nervous system stimulant. [34] : 198–199 Ruby broke into tears at his bond hearing in January 1964, as he talked to reporters regarding the assassination of President Kennedy. His voice breaking, Ruby said that he could not understand "how a great man like that could be lost". According to an unnamed Associated Press source, Ruby made a final statement from his hospital bed on December 19, 1966, that he alone had been responsible for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. [50] "There is nothing to hide . There was no one else," Ruby said. [51]

White House correspondent Seth Kantor, who was a passenger in President Kennedy's motorcade, testified that after President Kennedy was shot, he had visited Parkland Hospital while doctors were trying to save the President's life. Kantor said that as he entered the hospital, at about 1:30 p.m., he felt a tug on his coat. He turned around to see Jack Ruby, who called him by his first name and shook his hand [52] : 78–82 [31] : 41 he said that he had become acquainted with Ruby while he was a reporter for the Dallas Times Herald newspaper. [52] : 72 [31] : vi According to Kantor, Ruby asked him if he thought that it would be a good idea for him to close his nightclubs for the next three nights because of the tragedy and Kantor responded without thinking that doing so would be a good idea. [31] : 41 [53] [52] : 80

The Warren Commission dismissed Kantor's testimony, saying that the encounter at Parkland Hospital would have had to take place in a span of a few minutes before and after 1:30 pm, as evidenced by telephone company records of calls made by both people then. The commission also pointed to contradictory witness testimony and to the lack of video confirmation of Ruby at the scene. [14] : 335–337 The Commission concluded that "Kantor probably did not see Ruby at Parkland Hospital" and "may have been mistaken about both the time and the place that he saw Ruby". [14] : 335–337

In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations reexamined Kantor's testimony and stated, "While the Warren Commission concluded that Kantor was mistaken [about his Parkland encounter with Ruby], the Committee determined he probably was not." [54] : 158 [4] : 458–459

Kantor also reported that Ruby might have tampered with evidence while at Parkland. [31] : 192 Goaded by the Warren Commission's dismissal of his testimony, Kantor researched the Ruby case for years. In a later published book Who Was Jack Ruby?, Kantor wrote:

The mob was Ruby's "friend." And Ruby could well have been paying off an IOU the day he was used to kill Lee Harvey Oswald. Remember: "I have been used for a purpose," the way Ruby expressed it to Chief Justice Warren in their June 7, 1964 session. It would not have been hard for the mob to maneuver Ruby through the ranks of a few negotiable police [to kill Oswald]. [31] : 18

The House Select Committee on Assassinations, in its 1979 Final Report, opined:

. Ruby's shooting of Oswald was not a spontaneous act, in that it involved at least some premeditation. Similarly, the committee believed it was less likely that Ruby entered the police basement without assistance, even though the assistance may have been provided with no knowledge of Ruby's intentions . The committee was troubled by the apparently unlocked doors along the stairway route and the removal of security guards from the area of the garage nearest the stairway shortly before the shooting . There is also evidence that the Dallas Police Department withheld relevant information from the Warren Commission concerning Ruby's entry to the scene of the Oswald transfer. [54] : 157–158

According to Lieutenant Billy Grammer, a dispatcher for the Dallas Police Department, he received an anonymous phone call at 3 a.m. on November 24 from a man who knew Grammer's name. The caller told Grammer that he knew of the plan to move Oswald from the basement and that unless the plans for Oswald's transfer were changed, the caller warned "we are going to kill him". After Oswald was shot, Grammer, who knew Ruby, and found the voice familiar at the time of the call, identified Ruby as the caller. Grammer remained convinced that Ruby's shooting of Oswald was "a planned event". [55] [56]

Detective Archer testified to the Warren Commission that when he searched Jack Ruby after his arrest, he was worried about Oswald's condition and he said to Ruby, "Jack, I think you killed him." Archer said that Ruby looked him straight in the eye and said, "Well, I intended to shoot him three times." Seth Kantor believes that Ruby's response to Archer does not suggest a spontaneous reaction, and the very word "intended" implies having prior intention. [31] : 192

Ruby's explanation for killing Oswald would be "exposed . as a fabricated legal ploy", according to the House Select Committee on Assassinations. In a private note to one of his attorneys, Joseph Tonahill, Ruby wrote: "Joe, you should know this. My first lawyer Tom Howard told me to say that I shot Oswald so that Caroline and Mrs. Kennedy wouldn't have to come to Dallas to testify. OK?" [54] : 158 [57] [4] : 353 [49]

G. Robert Blakey, chief counsel for the House Select Committee on Assassinations from 1977 to 1979, said: "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." [58]

Russell Moore, an acquaintance of Jack Ruby, told the Warren Commission that Ruby held no bitterness towards Oswald and that Ruby called Oswald "a good looking guy" who resembled Paul Newman. [59] [60]

In his book Contract on America, David Scheim noted that although some people claimed that they saw Ruby upset over the weekend of the assassination, others said that he was not. On Friday night, TV newsman Vic Robertson Jr. saw Ruby at police headquarters and reported that Ruby "appeared to be anything but under stress or strain. He seemed happy, jovial, was joking and laughing". [61] [49] Announcer Glen Duncan also testified that Ruby "was not grieving" and if anything, was "happy that evidence was piling up against Oswald". [49]

Scheim also presented evidence that he claimed showed that Ruby made a "candid confession" when giving testimony to the Warren Commission. [49] During his testimony, Ruby teared up when talking about a Saturday morning eulogy for President Kennedy, but after composing himself, inexplicably said, "I must be a great actor, I tell you that." [34] : 198–199 [49] Ruby also remarked that "they didn't ask me another question: 'If I loved the President so much, why wasn't I at the parade?'" (referring to the presidential motorcade) and "it's strange that perhaps I didn't vote for President Kennedy, or didn't vote at all, that I should build up such a great affection for him". [62] : 564–565 [49]

Schiem also noted several people who knew Ruby, who claimed that the patriotic statements Ruby professed were quite out of character. Harry Hall, Ruby's partner in a gambling operation, told the FBI that "Ruby was the type who was interested in any way to make money" and also said that he "could not conceive of Ruby doing anything out of patriotism". [63] [49] Jack Kelly, who had known Ruby casually since 1943, "scoffed at the idea of a patriotic motive being involved by Ruby in the slaying of Oswald", and reportedly stated that he "could not see Ruby" killing Oswald "out of patriotism" but "for publicity or . for money". [49]

Jada, a stripper at Ruby's club, in an interview with ABC's Paul Good, remarked "I believe he [Ruby] disliked Bobby Kennedy". [49]

Ruby's friend, Paul Jones, told the FBI that "he doubted that he [Ruby] would have become emotionally upset and killed Oswald on the spur of the moment. He felt Ruby would have done it for money." [49]

Following Ruby's March 1964 conviction for murder with malice, Ruby's lawyers, led by Sam Houston Clinton, appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest criminal court in Texas. Ruby's lawyers argued that he could not have received a fair trial in Dallas because of the excessive publicity surrounding the case. A year after his conviction, in March 1965, Ruby conducted a brief televised news conference in which he stated: "Everything pertaining to what's happening has never come to the surface. The world will never know the true facts of what occurred, my motives. The people who had so much to gain, and had such an ulterior motive for putting me in the position I'm in, will never let the true facts come above board to the world." When asked by a reporter, "Are these people in very high positions, Jack?", he responded "Yes." [64]

Journalist Seth Kantor speculated in 1978 that the man by the name of "Davis" that Ruby mentioned to his attorney, Tom Howard, may have been Thomas Eli Davis III, a CIA-connected mercenary. [4] : 359–361, 226 [65]

Dallas Deputy Sheriff Al Maddox claimed: "Ruby told me, he said, 'Well, they injected me for a cold.' He said it was cancer cells. That's what he told me, Ruby did. I said you don't believe that bullshit. He said, 'I damn sure do!' [Then] one day when I started to leave, Ruby shook hands with me and I could feel a piece of paper in his palm . [In this note] he said it was a conspiracy and he said . if you will keep your eyes open and your mouth shut, you're gonna learn a lot. And that was the last letter I ever got from him." In the note, Ruby claimed he was part of a conspiracy, and that his role was to silence Oswald. [66] Not long before Ruby died, according to an article in the London Sunday Times, he told psychiatrist Werner Teuter that the assassination was "an act of overthrowing the government" and that he knew "who had President Kennedy killed". He added: "I am doomed. I do not want to die. But I am not insane. I was framed to kill Oswald." [66] [67] [4] : 341

David Scheim presented evidence that Mafia leaders Carlos Marcello and Santo Trafficante, Jr., as well as organized labor leader Jimmy Hoffa, ordered the assassination of President Kennedy. Scheim cited in particular a 25-fold increase in the number of out-of-state telephone calls from Jack Ruby to associates of these crime bosses in the months before the assassination. [68] According to author Vincent Bugliosi, both the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations determined all of these calls were related to Ruby seeking help from the American Guild of Variety Artists in a matter concerning two of his competitors. [69] The House Select Committee on Assassinations report stated ". that most of Ruby's phone calls during late 1963 were related to his labor troubles. In the light of the identity of some of the individuals with whom Ruby spoke, however, the possibility of other matters being discussed could not be dismissed." [70]

In his memoir, Bound by Honor, Bill Bonanno, son of New York Mafia boss Joseph Bonanno, stated that he realized that certain Mafia families were involved in the JFK assassination when Ruby killed Oswald, since Bonanno was aware that Ruby was an associate of Chicago mobster Sam Giancana. [71]

Associations with organized crime and gunrunning allegations Edit

In 1979, fifteen years after the Warren report, the House Select Committee on Assassinations undertook a similar investigation of Ruby and said that he "had a significant number of associations and direct and indirect contacts with underworld figures" and "the Dallas criminal element" but that he was not a "member" of organized crime. [72]

Ruby was known to have been acquainted with both the police and the Mafia. The HSCA said that Ruby had known Chicago mobster Sam Giancana (1908–1975) and Joseph Campisi (1918–1990) since 1947, and had been seen with them on many occasions. [73] [4] : 346 After an investigation of Joe Campisi, the HSCA found:

While Campisi's technical characterization in federal law enforcement records as an organized crime member has ranged from definite to suspected to negative, it is clear that he was an associate or friend of many Dallas-based organized crime members, particularly Joseph Civello, during the time he was the head of the Dallas organization. There was no indication that Campisi had engaged in any specific organized crime-related activities. [74]

Similarly, a PBS Frontline investigation into the connections between Ruby and Dallas organized crime figures reported the following:

In 1963, Sam and Joe Campisi were leading figures in the Dallas underworld. Jack knew the Campisis and had been seen with them on many occasions. The Campisis were lieutenants of Carlos Marcello, the Mafia boss who had reportedly talked of killing the President. [75]

On the night before Kennedy was assassinated, Ruby and Joe Campisi had dinner together at Campisi's restaurant, the Egyptian Lounge. [76] After Ruby was jailed for killing Lee Oswald, Joe Campisi "regularly visited" Ruby. [4] : 346 [77] [78] [79] [76]

Howard P. Willens—the third-highest official in the Department of Justice [80] and assistant counsel to J. Lee Rankin—helped organize the Warren Commission. Willens also outlined the commission's investigative priorities [81] and terminated an investigation of Ruby's Cuban related activities. [82] An FBI report states that Willens's father had been Tony Accardo's next door neighbor going back to 1958. [83] In 1946, Tony Accardo allegedly asked Jack Ruby to go to Texas with Mafia associates Pat Manno and Romie Nappi to make sure that Dallas County Sheriff Steve Gutherie would acquiesce to the Mafia's expansion into Dallas. [84]

Four years before the assassination of President Kennedy, Ruby went to see a man named Lewis McWillie in Cuba. Ruby considered McWillie, who had previously run illegal gambling establishments in Texas, to be one of his closest friends. [34] : 201 At the time Ruby visited him, in August 1959, McWillie was supervising gambling activities at Havana's Tropicana Club. Ruby told the Warren Commission that his August trip to Cuba was merely a social visit at the invitation of McWillie. [34] : 201 The House Select Committee on Assassinations would later conclude that Ruby ". most likely was serving as a courier for gambling interests". [54] : 152 [85] [4] : 337 The committee also found "circumstantial," but not conclusive, evidence that ". Ruby met with [Mafia boss] Santo Trafficante in Cuba sometime in 1959." [54] : 152–153 [4] : 338

James E. Beaird, who claimed to be a poker-playing friend of Jack Ruby, told both The Dallas Morning News and the FBI that Ruby smuggled guns and ammunition from Galveston Bay, Texas to Fidel Castro's guerrillas in Cuba in the late 1950s. Beaird said that Ruby "was in it for the money. It wouldn't matter which side, just [whichever] one that would pay him the most." Beaird said that the guns were stored in a two-story house near the waterfront, and that he saw Ruby and his associates load "many boxes of new guns, including automatic rifles and handguns" on a 50-foot military-surplus boat. He claimed that "each time that the boat left with guns and ammunition, Jack Ruby was on the boat." [86] [87] [4] : 335

Blaney Mack Johnson, an FBI informant, said Ruby was "active in arranging illegal flights of weapons from Miami" to pro-Castro forces in Cuba in the early 1950s. [4] : 335 [88]

Mugshot of Jack Leon Ruby - Dallas nightclub owner who fatally shot Lee Harvey Oswald (the man charged with assassinating U.S. President John F. Kennedy) - November 24, 1963

I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but Jack Ruby never did quite make sense to me. Why kill someone who was most likely going to get capital punishment anyway? It's like shooting someone who's sitting in an electric chair. There's been several reports over the years that he might have been involved in organized crime, and that his killing of Oswald was in connection with this. It's also awfully convenient that he died from cancer right before his second trial.

I live in Dallas, and eat at his favorite Italian restaurant occasionally. There's pictures of famous people, including him with the owner that definitely had mob ties. Not sure if that means anything.

Why kill someone who was most likely going to get capital punishment anyway?

I think he said he did not want to see the case go to trail and have Jackie relive the assassination.

Jack Ruby was a very interesting character. He worked for Al Capones outfit as a kid, ran guns to Cuba, and there is some evidence he may have visited Santos Traficante (one of the biggest mobsters of the 20th century, and a suspect in the assassination.) while he was imprisoned in Cuba.

"Jack Ruby is the guy— Damon Runyun, in his best day on LSD, could not have created Jack Ruby. Jack Ruby started off with the mafia in Chicago. At the age of seventeen was already involved as an accessory in a murder charge, went down to Dallas. He was, at various times, and sometimes at the same time, as far as anybody knew, he was a restaurateur, a bar owner, a pimp, a gun runner, a police informant, an FBI informant. A couple of weeks before all this he had been on a plane smuggling guns into Cuba. He was tied in with the mafia. He was everything." - Dr. Cyril Wecht

Also the Warren Commission didn't interview him until after the report was finalised. Ruby begged to be transferred to Washington to testify further saying "gentlemen my life is in danger here". The Commisioners ultimately refused this request.


Belli was born in the California Gold Rush town of Sonora, California in the Sierra Nevada foothills. [2] His parents were of Italian ancestry from Switzerland. [3] His grandmother, Anna Mouron, was the first female pharmacist in California. By the 1920s, the family had moved to the city of Stockton, California, where Belli attended Stockton High School.

Belli graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1929. After traveling around the world, he received his law degree from the Boalt Hall School of Law at Berkeley in 1933. [4] [5]

Following his admission to the California bar, his first job was posing as a hobo for the Works Progress Administration and riding the rails to observe the Depression's impact on the country's vagrant population. His first major legal victory came shortly after graduation, in a personal injury lawsuit representing an injured cable car gripman. Over insurance lawyers' objections, Belli brought a model of a cable car intersection, and the gear box and chain involved in the accident, to demonstrate to jurors exactly what had happened. [6]

Besides his personal injury cases, which earned for him his byname "King of Torts," [2] Belli was instrumental in setting up some of the foundations of modern consumer rights law, arguing several cases in the 1940s and 1950s that formed the basis for later lawsuits and landmark litigation by such figures as Ralph Nader. Belli argued (in cases such as Escola v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co., in 1944, which arose from an incident in which a restaurant waitress from Merced, California was injured by an exploding Coca-Cola bottle) that all products have an implied warranty, that it is to be foreseen that products will be used by a long chain of people, not just the direct recipient of the manufactured product, and that negligence by a defendant need not be proven if the defendant's product is defective.

In his book Ready for the Plaintiff, Belli noted examples of negligence cited by himself and other personal-injury lawyers to win in court—for example, a colleague in Florida, who showed how a builder violated a building code in Miami Beach concerning the use of wooden shims in construction of outside walls (forbidden by the municipal code because of the effect of the ocean salt and air). The facing was a slab of vitreous marble, whose adhesion was weakened by the climate it fell off the side of the building and injured a passerby, who sued the builder. After winning a court case, Belli would raise a Jolly Roger flag over his office building in the Barbary Coast district of San Francisco (which Belli claimed had been a Gold Rush-era brothel) and fire a cannon, mounted on his office roof, to announce the victory and the impending party. [7]

In his best-known case, Belli represented Jack Ruby, for free, after Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald. Belli attempted to prove that Ruby was legally insane and had a history of mental illness in his family. On Saturday, March 14, 1964, Ruby was convicted of "murder with malice", and received a death sentence. Immediately thereafter, Ruby and his siblings fired Belli as they also hired and fired several other lawyers during the case. In late 1966, Ruby's conviction was overturned with help from other defense lawyers on the grounds that he did not receive a fair trial and a retrial was scheduled outside of Dallas, but Ruby died of cancer before the retrial could take place. Belli became very critical of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. [ citation needed ]

In 1969 a man called San Francisco police, identifying himself as the serial killer known only as The Zodiac, and agreed to call talk show host Jim Dunbar on Dunbar's morning television talk show A.M. San Francisco if either Belli or attorney F. Lee Bailey were present on air. The police contacted Belli and Dunbar to arrange this in the hopes of capturing the individual. As promised, the suspect called, spoke a few words, and then hung up, repeating this activity 54 times over the next two hours. [8] Belli received a letter from the Zodiac that same year. [9]

Belli's firm filed for bankruptcy protection in December 1995. Belli was representing 800 women in a class action lawsuit against breast implant manufacturer Dow Corning. Belli won the lawsuit, but when Dow Corning declared bankruptcy, Belli had no way to recover the $5 million his firm had advanced to doctors and expert witnesses. [ citation needed ]

In the 1960s, Belli was among the leading members of the California plaintiffs bar who helped establish the California Trial Lawyers Association, which in the mid-1990s was renamed the Consumer Attorneys of California. The organization was established to help set standards and foment on-going legal education to help consumers have a better chance in court against the powerful legal teams amassed by the insurance companies and big corporations that typically were the defendants in accident, personal injury and other consumer lawsuits. [10]

Belli executive produced Tokyo File 212 (1951), Hollywood's first film to be shot entirely in Japan. [11] It featured Florence Marly and Robert Peyton in key roles. [12]

Belli enjoyed his frequent television and movie appearances in 1965, he told Alex Haley, interviewing him for Playboy, that he "might have been an actor" if he had not become an attorney. [ citation needed ]

Belli appeared in "And the Children Shall Lead", a 1968 episode of the original Star Trek series. In it he appears as "Gorgan, the Friendly Angel", an evil being who corrupts a group of children, one of whom was played by his son Caesar. [13]

He appeared in the Albert and David Maysles documentary Gimme Shelter (1970), which featured his representation and facilitation of The Rolling Stones' staging of the disastrous December 6, 1969, Altamont Free Concert.

In 1986 he played a criminal defense lawyer in an episode of the TV series Hunter titled "True Confessions." [1] [ better source needed ]

In 1996 Belli recited the oratory to David Woodard's brass fanfare setting of Mark Twain's "The War Prayer" at Old First Church in San Francisco. [14]

Belli was played by Brian Cox in the 2007 film Zodiac in the scene that depicted Belli's conversation with the Zodiac suspect on A.M. San Francisco. [9]

Belli was the author of several books, including the six-volume Modern Trials (written between 1954 and 1960) which has become a classic textbook on the demonstrative method of presenting evidence. Belli's unprecedented — and some thought undignified [ who? ] — use of graphic evidence and expert witnesses later became common courtroom practice. His autobiography My Life on Trial is an account of his life and the noteworthy events he was involved in during his career. He also wrote the introduction to 847.0 The Whiplash Injury by L. Ted Frigard, D.C. published in 1970. Dr. Frigard had helped Belli with his pain through chiropractic care.

Belli was married six times and divorced five. [2] His marriage to his fifth wife, the former Lia Georgia Triff, ended with a scandalous and acrimonious divorce proceeding in 1991. Belli accused his ex-wife of having an affair with archbishop Desmond Tutu and of throwing one of his dogs off the Golden Gate Bridge. He was fined $1,000 for repeatedly calling her "El Trampo". At one point, Belli was ejected from the courtroom after accusing the judge of sleeping with his former wife's lawyer. [15] He was ultimately compelled to pay her an estimated $15 million. She later married self-styled Romanian prince Prince Paul of Romania. Belli married his sixth wife, Nancy Ho, on March 29, 1996. [2] His youngest child, Melia, from fifth wife Lia, became an art history scholar, and is currently an assistant professor of Asian art history at the University of Texas at Arlington. [16]

Belli died of complications from pancreatic cancer at his home in San Francisco on July 9, 1996, aged 88. [2] His death came suddenly, and in the presence of his wife Nancy. The New York Times' quoted his publicist Edward Lozzi: "He was sitting he just stopped breathing". [17] At the time of his death, he had three sons, three daughters, twelve grandchildren, and two dogs. [2] He is buried in Odd Fellows Cemetery in Sonora, California, his birthplace. [18]