Gaeton Fonzi: ‘my belief in that government would never be the same’

“After those interviews with Arlen Specter, my belief in that government would never be the same.”

— Investigative journalist Gaeton Fonzi, writing about his 1966 interviews with former Warren Commission staff lawyer Arlen Specter.

Gaeton Fonzi

Investigator Gaeton Fonzi

At the urging of Philadelphia lawyer Vincent Salandria, and at a time when the Commission’s medical conclusions were being questioned, Fonzi conducted a series of interviews with Specter and found his responses wanting.

Fonzi later worked for the Church Committee and the House Select Committee on Assassinations, and wrote “The Last Investigation,” where this quote appears (p.27).

Fonzi died in August 30, 2012. Here’s his obituary from New York Times.

Recordings of the interviews were provided to the Mary Ferrell Foundation by the deceased Fonzi’s wife and are available for listening.


  1. billkelly says:

    Is there a transcript of the Fonzi-Specter interviews?

    After a life of opposing each other on major assassination issues, Arlen Specter had dinner and drinks with Vince Salandria and Vince forgave Specter for what he did.

    • Specter basically just said there in silence, like a stone frog on a log, while Salandria told him what really happened in the JFK assassination, which Specter covered up.

      I think Specter wanted to check in with Salandria before he croaked and met his maker. And it is quite telling of Specter that he would call up Salandria for lunch.

    • Marie Fonzi says:

      I sent the reels to be digitized by Rex Bradford. They are available to read and hear on the Mary Ferrell Website
      Marie Fonzi

    • Mighty big of Fonzi, since there was nothing to forgive.

      Fonzi has been responsible for a multitude of factoids in this case.

      One was that there were CIA plants in Garrison’s office.

      Another is about the “story of a coup that hadn’t happened yet.”

      • Ronnie Wayne says:

        John, The Last Investigation is in the top 5 or at least top 10 on just about every list of research related books I’ve seen. It’s in my top 5 for sure.
        I can’t speak for them as I’m not a researcher myself but I think no matter what you believe or post you will not impinge his reputation or credibility within the research community.
        Such a comment immediately below one by his widow is unbelievably RUDE and CRUDE.
        May Mr. Fonzi Rest In Peace.

  2. Brian LeCloux says:

    I thought it was interesting how Specter tried his single bullet theory out on ballistics wounds expert Dr. Joseph Dolce.
    An April 21, 1964 Warren Commission memorandum written by Melvin Eisenberg summarized Dolce’s opinion that Connally was hit by two bullets. Harold Weisberg wrote about the issue in Post Mortem volume. (see pp. 55-6 and 503-4)
    The ballistics tests that were conducted for Specter are nicely summarized in the fine documentary, Reasonable Doubt. Cyril Wecht and Dolce showed how the experiments indicated that “merely shooting the wrist deformed the bullet drastically.” Dolce supervised the tests for the WC as he told Chip Selby for his documentary. “It’s impossible for a bullet to strike a bone even at low velocity and still come with a perfectly normal tip.”
    The bullet could not hit the wrist and avoid being deformed. “We proved that with experiments,” Dolce told Selby.
    Did Dr. Joseph Dolce testify for the Warren Commission? No.
    Did he testify for the House Select Committee on Assassinations? He tried. They didn’t want him.

  3. Brian LeCloux says:

    More on Dolce AND Fonzi:
    When the House Select Committee reopened the case, Dolce wrote to his Senator, Lawton Chiles in order to correct the record by sharing “the original report with the new investigating body.” Gaeton Fonzi, HSCA investigator, spoke with Dr. Dolce and recommended he be interviewed as he was anxious to appear. In a memo to Assistant Counsel, Robert K. Tanenbaum, Fonzi stated: “His testimony would be strong and sensational within limitations.” Dolce was “exercised over the fact that he wasn’t called” to testify by the Warren Commission and by the fact that Olivier and Dziemian testified to the exact opposite of what the test showed. In his letter, Dolce asserted that his experiments with the ten cadaver wrists proved just the opposite of the testimony in support of the single bullet theory. Dolce was “convinced that one bullet theory is wrong…as our experiments at the Edgewood Arsenal proved.” But Dolce was never contacted by the congressional committee member who received Chile’s concern about his constituent. Dolce was never able to tell the committee that the original report on the ballistics experiment “had been altered before it was submitted to the Commission.”

  4. Jonathan says:

    A lower form of life than Arlen Specter, IMO, was David Belin, who told Vickie Adams he didn’t believe a word she said and refused to let the co-worker who went down the back stairs of the TSBD with Vickie testify to the W.C. so as to corroborate Vickie’s story.

    May Specter and Belin contemplate their frauds in the Underworld.

    • Jean Davison says:

      Here’s a video of Vickie Adams’ coworker, Sandra Styles (there’s an ad first, sorry):

      Styles doesn’t support Adams there. She says Oswald could’ve come downstairs either behind or ahead of them.

      Belin had good reason to doubt that Adams was right, since Oswald would’ve been coming down the stairs at the same time Baker/Truly were going up. If she and Styles were there at the crucial time, they should’ve heard or seen B and T somewhere along the line, but they didn’t.

      • David Neal says:

        She does support Barry Ernest’s contention that Adams did not see Oswald on the stairs. That is the main point-she had to have seen him if Belin’s scenario was correct- it was not and they had to change Adam’s testimony to support the fabrication of Oswald being on the sixth floor at the time of the shooting

        • leslie sharp says:

          David Neal, there’s an extended discussion on this issue at several other threads on jfkfacts in case you have missed them.

          I think that Adams’ testimony was manipulated in order to have it conform to the allegation that Oswald was in the right place at the right time as a lone assassin.

          Thorough analysis of Adams’ testimony – directed by Belin – suggests that she made a valiant effort to place on the record her experience in the short minutes after hearing the gunshots. Sandra Styles might or might not have corroborated her testimony; unfortunately Styles was not called to testify before the Warren Commission.

  5. Jean Hill, “the Lady in Red,” was a truthteller from Day 1, saying she heard 4-6 shots, which, of course, implies multiple shooters of JFK. Here is how Jean describes how Specter treated her, threatening to put her into a mental hospital & using her adultery as a club on her:

    “He said he wanted the truth, so I said, ‘The truth is that I heard between four and six shots.’ I told him, ‘I’m not going to lie for you.’ So he starts talking off the record. He told me about my life, my family, and even mentioned that my marriage was in trouble. I said, ‘What’s the point of interviewing me if you already know everything about me?’ He got angrier and finally told me, ‘Look, we can even make you look as crazy as Marguerite Oswald [Lee Oswald’s mother] and everybody knows how crazy she is. We could have you put in a mental institution if you don’t cooperate with us.’ I knew he was trying to intimidate me….”

  6. Frankie Vegas says:

    Beautiful Man, Mr Fonzi. Great researcher and his book is a classic and ‘must read’ on the case. I admired him greatly and still do.
    We are poorer without you Mr Fonzi, but richer for having your work.

  7. Francis Ferde says:

    Have been reading the transcripts of Fonzi-Spector interviews. While one needs to be patient in reading, they offer interesting background information. I always thought Fonzi had another book in mind for he seems to stop without completing his probe of the exact degree of guilt of the agency.

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