CIA may still have photos of Oswald in Mexico City

One mystery of JFK assassination story is why accused assassin Lee Oswald was not photographed when he visited the Embassy of the Soviet Union in Mexico City two months before President Kennedy was killed in Dallas.

Mexico City mystery man

The CIA thought he was Lee H. Oswald.

The CIA had three photographic surveillance bases to take pictures of visitors to the Embassy. Oswald visited the Embassy at least twice in an unsuccessful effort to obtain a visa. But the CIA says no photograph of Oswald was taken.

The photo to the right, which CIA personnel in Mexico City mistakenly linked to Oswald, depicted a man who was never conclusively identified.

In 1978 investigators from the House Select Committee on Assassinations

(HSCA) looked into the question of why Oswald was not photographed. They were only given photographs from one of the three surveillance bases.   According to my research, the negatives or photos taken by a second photo base may still exist. These negatives or photos should be immediately located and released.   I summarized my findings in Chapter 4 of my book State Secret, and will now update them here.

The photos we have

The CIA only gave the HSCA investigators the logs and production from the photo base LILIMITED, which was located immediately opposite from the Soviet embassy front gate.  Missing are the logs and production from LILYRIC, an alternate photo base located on the upper story of a building farther down the block, which also targeted the front gate.

A third photo base, LICALLA, was aimed not at an entrance but at the embassy’s back garden.  Its purpose was to photograph the Soviet compound personnel.  It’s unlikely that Oswald would be found in this set of photos.  (The LI digraph identified CIA operations in Mexico).

Where are the photos from LILYRIC?  A CIA memo from 1978 states that the photos “may” have been destroyed in a purge years earlier.  But the story only begins there.

The LILYRIC photos are important because phone records indicate that Oswald entered the Soviet embassy during the afternoon hours of Friday, September 27.  A CIA memo states that Oswald first entered the Soviet embassy at 1446 (2:46 pm).  (Those familiar with the Mexico City story will appreciate the brusque author’s unwitting admission:   At the time of the assassination, the Cuban and Soviet tapes involving Oswald “were not erased — as was customary — so they were available for review.”)

The standard operating procedure for weekdays was for LILYRIC to operate between 0900 to 1400 or 1500, and for LIMITED to operate between 1200 to dark.  On Friday the 27th, LIMITED was only in operation during the morning hours.  The logs and production for LILYRIC were allegedly destroyed in the aforementioned purge.  This loss meant that there was no way to verify whether Oswald entered the Soviet embassy that Friday afternoon.

(For those researchers wondering whether Oswald entered the embassy on Saturday the 28th – LILYRIC did not have coverage on Saturdays.  LIMITED ordinarily did have Saturday coverage, but for unexplained reasons LIMITED was not operating on that Saturday.)

The photos that may still exist

Several sources state that the LILYRIC photos of the Soviet embassy still exist.

Ann Goodpasture was the officer who was placed in charge of screening the photographs after Oswald was spotted making a phone call to the Soviet embassy.  Goodpasture testified during 1978 that although she thought that the reason that the LILYRIC production “had been destroyed” was to create storage space after the paper-driven station chief Win Scott retired in 1969.  She believed that the negatives from LILYRIC were sent to CIA headquarters in the days after 11/22/63.

Anne Goodpasture

Anne Goodpasture managed CIA photographic take in Mexico CitmM

Four days after Goodpasture’s testimony, she was subjected to a CIA debriefing.  Goodpasture told Scott Breckenridge — the CIA’s principal coordinator with the HSCA — that the logs and production in Mexico City were most likely destroyed by custodian Milly Rodrigues with Charlotte Bustos’ approval at Headquarters.  At this meeting, Goodpasture said nothing about the negatives.

For her part, Bustos told Breckenridge that the LILYRIC production wasn’t destroyed at all.  Bustos worked at Langley during the events of 1963 as well as 1978, and had a reputation for excellent memory.

Furthermore, although the logs and contact prints from LILYRIC during July-November of 1963 are “missing” according to a job conducted in 1970, a CIA inventory sheet shows that a search for LILYRIC by its number 50-6-74/6 revealed not only that a foreign intelligence branch of the Western Hemisphere division provided a “complete” set to the reviewers in 1973, but that the job was a duplicate.

To tie a bow on this sorry story, it should  be noted that records of negatives, photos, tapes, and transcripts sent to Langley can be found in this CIA chronology.  I see nothing in the files indicating any kind of systematic CIA search of the chronology’s contents, nor that all of these documents have been publicly released.  The one-page chronology is incomplete and not even chronological – it was slapped together and is unreliable.  I suggest that it is reasonable to assume that all relevant photos pertaining to Oswald’s Mexico City visit were sent to Headquarters immediately after the assassination.

Despite numerous HSCA requests, a reasonable explanation for the failure to provide the LILYRIC production was never provided by the CIA.  This kind of ambiguity makes certain people very happy.  It creates a permanent guessing game about whether Oswald visited the Soviet embassy or not. The Lopez-Hardway team realized that this missing evidence made it impossible to evaluate the effectiveness of the Soviet photographic overage. A draft of their report included the handwritten comment: “so don’t try”.

The JFK Records Act 

All aspects of the LILYRIC production should be immediately subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee, which is responsible under the JFK Records Act for tracking compliance by the agencies to produce all assassination-related documents right up to the present day.

The Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB) was responsible under the JFK Records Act for the review and release of millions of JFK records from 1994 to 1998.  In their final report, the ARRB emphasized the “continuing obligation of federal agencies to release records on the assassination after the Review Board’s term expires“.

Review of the LILYRIC photos may resolve whether Oswald ever visited the Soviet embassy.  Based on the statements of Goodpasture and Bustos, as well as the contents of the attached documents, the production from the LILYRIC photo base should be immediately located and released.

The CIA’s failure to conduct a reasonable search for the LILYRIC production warrants the most serious investigation imaginable.  The Agency is meddling with the history of our country.

I will write about other instances of illegally withheld documents in the months ahead.  Providing these documents should not devolve into a chess game between the CIA and concerned citizens.  Since the JFK Records Act was passed in 1992, providing these documents has been the law of the land.

Historians, researchers, and the general public should demand full and complete enforcement of the JFK Records Act.  As the CIA and other agencies have refused to comply with its provisions over the years, a stronger version of the Act should be prepared right now.  The right time for its introduction and passage will come.




  1. Kennedy63 says:

    I’ve always found the convenient “destroyed” ruse a bit too pat regarding Oswald’s visit to Mexico, the Soviet and Cuban embassies. The time is past for National Security concerns about “lyric” and “limited” and solve the Mexico riddle of the enigma Oswald. There are not many reasons for CIA to h have a 201 file on Oswald, especially sharing bogus information with sister intel groups, allegedly looking for a mole in CIA. What fell out was the “blended descriptions of Oswald” CIA fed to sister intel agencies, especially military. This line of bogus and fused “descriptions of Oswald” was revealed in State Secrets. CIA can no longer justify a continuance of this charade based on their specious claims Oswald was photographed, and their intentional obsfucation of proving their claims.

  2. eljiffy says:

    I find it hard to believe that the CIA really believed this palooka was the LHO they’d been monitoring for some time prior to Nov. 22. If so, they really are incompetent.

  3. Jordan says:

    I don’t believe that Oswald went to Mexico City, so a picture of such would be difficult for the CIA to have. I do believe they have a picture of someone who was calling himself Lee Oswald however, which is simply a futher hitch in the fable….

  4. eljiffy says:

    For some reason I keep getting an error message when I click on to
    David Talbot’s recommended reading. Could you list them again? Thanks.

  5. Tony poe IV says:

    Is Goodpasture dead?

  6. Ronnie Wayne says:

    Though I’ve seen this photo of obviously not Oswald many times I’ve never noticed the bald spot on his head. Once again, obviously not LHO.

    • leslie sharp says:

      Ronnie, I thought that as well initially; then noticed the light on the tip of his left ear, light on his left forearm vs. the darker portion of his arm and decided it is sunlight reflecting off the top of his head – notice the wisp of hair? Otherwise, he appears to be a tonsured monk?

    • Ronnie Wayne says:

      So why was it reported as such by the CIA? Really big question.

    • Craig Jacobs says:

      To me, his features suggest he is not from the U.S.

  7. Bill Simpich says:

    After finishing State Secret, I found out that Goodpasture died in 2011.

  8. D. E. Mitchell says:

    “…first things first! I would like to assert that everything that has been “discovered” with regard to either the event(s)leading up to that of nov. 22nd, or those that have been “discovered” since; have all been the collaborative effort of everyone: That is, from smallest to the greatest of contributions!”
    “…that, even the “village idiot” has something to contribute…that there has been no contribution too small to ignore – as most everything has been, “speculative” at best! Those who have had the most to lose, have seen to it that “all evidence,” other than that supporting the “official record,” cannot be used(figuratively) as evidence in a courtroom.”
    “…personally; it is,”my greatest fear,” that like many events in history, this event – the Nov 22nd event, will become accepted by the official record
    only, the further we get(historically) from the event itself; i.e: that 100 years past, in 2063, that the “historical truth” will be that of the ‘official record” – no more and no less!” -DM

    “…now, with regard to the photographic records taken by CIA on the dates of Oswald’s apppearances at the cuban and soviet embassy’s; i find it “very coinidental,” that the cameras weren’t working; or, that the transcripts destroyed; or picture records ‘destroyed” to make room! guarrenteed that the negatives were kept – by someone – for leverage of some kind…and when one reads the operations as put together by “america’s james bond: the phone taps: photographing the “ins n’ outs’ of all foreign embassay’s in mexico city station…the mexico city station has always been the most important station for not only the western hemosphere but worldwide; and for a number of reasons…but back in 1962-63, it was being used to lay the “bay of pigs thing” at the doorstep of either the ussr, cuba, or ‘whoever’, via oswald: to create” a cover story and to solidify either one or all of those designated to be cutouts – too bad that many of the “others” who could’ve been “oswald’s” that is, those who would’ve won the “unlucky’ prize of becomming the “cutouts” by proxy, should the “event,” operation,”zxpotus=”, or whatever! The guy busting caps in the bank, so he wouldn’t wind up a statistic in chicago: or…pick one? these people could very well lead “someone’ to the same place everyone wants to go! after all..all roads lead to rome don’t they?-DM(sorry, had to, ‘jam’ this out pretty fast! xcuse my splling! thanx

  9. David S says:


    It would be good to frame this issue:

    The claim is that, 2 months befoe the murder of JFK, the alleged murderer, Oswald, visited the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City to get a travel visa. The question is whether this is evidence of his devising an escape plan (to Cuba) after the murder.

    A secondary claim is if the CIA was monitoring Oswald in Mexico City 2 months before the murder, why was Oswald not flagged by the authorities as a potential risk?

    A third claim is that, despite intense surveillance of Oswald in Mexico City by the CIA , why can they not produce a single photograph or tape recording of Oswald? Does this suggest that Oswald was never in Mexico City, the implication being that the CIA had created a “legend” of Oswald for some other purpose.

  10. Matt says:

    A very interesting article.
    Has the identity of the man in the picture above (the ‘Mystery Man’) been satisfactorily resolved? I know no official identification has been given (as the article states), but is there any consensus in the research community? I’ve heard the name Saul Sage being bandied around, but the pictures I’ve seen of him do not match those of the Mystery Man.
    Moreover, what about the photos released by the Cuban government? They show a different man, a smaller, slightly-built man who some have identified as Roy Hargraves of Interpen. Are the two Cuban government photos of Hargraves, Oswald (it doesn’t look like him) or someone else?

    • Bill Simpich says:

      Matt, I discuss in State Secret that much of the evidence (including the opinions of Russell Holmes and other CIA officers) indicates that the Mystery Man was a Soviet KGB officer named Yuri Moskalev, who posed as a scientist.

      The photos often described as “released by the Cuban government” were actually photos taken by the Americans that Azcue was wondering about. If you are talking about the two photos of a blond man, he has been conclusively identified as Ernesto Lehfeld Miller, who often borrowed the car that got secretary Sylvia Duran get to work. Miller was a family friend of the Durans. Miller’s photo was taken on September 26.

  11. Dan Hardway says:

    I agree with Bill. The story of trying to get the second photo base production at the end of the HSCA’s life, while the CIA knew all they had to do was obfuscate, postpone and delay, is an interesting one. Needless to say, we never saw the production.

  12. S.r. Dusty Rohde says:

    I would like to offer some food for thought. There is at least one document from Congressional Records that states “Jack Ruby a.k.a. Lee Harvey Oswald”. the “a.k.a.” meaning of course “Also known as”, which is of vast interest relating to this particular case and Mexico City. Jack Ruby himself wrote a letter from jail to his brother Earl, instructing him to go to Cuba, through Mexico City, basically the same route as LHO was supposed to have used. We have this image from outside the embassy of an individual that looks absolutely nothing like Lee H. Oswald, but does resemble Jack Ruby a good deal. Jack Ruby was known to have been to Mexico several times leading up to the assassination. Jack Ruby had definite and wide spread connections to the Mob, he was an FBI informant, but he also had ties to the CIA and of course the Dallas PD. Ruby was central to everything connected to the assassination. I will only suggest at this point, that it is quite possible that Jack Ruby was using Oswalds name in Mexico and Cuba.

    • JohnR says:

      Welcome back! I haven’t read a post of yours for quite some time.
      I have to disagree that it’s Ruby. Countless others have noticed that, facially, he resembles Ruby, but not physically. Ruby was short and…um…stocky. The fellow in the picture is in very good shape. Could you please provide a link to your above mentioned document?

      • S.r. Dusty Rohde says:

        Hello John, I didn’t mean to imply that the image was Jack Ruby, only a reason of why they might have thought it was Lee Harvey Oswald, if in fact Jack Ruby was using Oswald as an alias in both Mexico and Cuba, which is very, very possible. The documents you are interested in are stored in my files, and I will be doing articles on This subject and Jack Ruby beginning in October. Also of interest relating to Jack Ruby will be at the very least, the shadowing of Jack Ruby by people (CIA?) using known and documented CIA aliases, at worst, they were directly involved with Ruby on 22 November. I’d prefer not to post the documents prior to the article, but I will provide you a link ASAP. PS: Thanks for the welcome.

  13. Bill Code says:

    Jack White published a photo of Roscoe White in the Military in what could be Guatemala that has a dead ringer of the “Mexico City Mystery Man”. I found that interesting that oleg nechiporenko in his book recalls he was an ex-military serviceman. As well he was “identified” by a few different CIA-men way back as well. In a memo: “Station Chief Win Scott to CIA Western Hemisphere Division Chief J.C. King. In it, Scott refers to the man in the photograph as “as certain person who is known to you.” Also Herman Kimsey proclaimed it was a contract Assassin for the CIA. I guess all that said, we will never truly know.

  14. […] planned on defecting to Cuba, or just planned on visiting Cuba on his way back to the USSR. The CIA was apparently keeping Oswald under surveillance during this time, and it is thought that this is […]

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