JFK and Watergate: the Frank Sturgis story

The Rockefeller Commission wanted to know: Was the Watergate burglar involved in the assassination of President Kennedy?

Frank Sturgis
Frank Sturgis, wearing a 26 of July Movement armband, stands on a mass grave of Batista supporters that he helped execute by firing squad on San Juan Hill on Jan. 11, 1959. (Credit: UPI)

The Commission was a panel of establishment figures appointed by President Gerald Ford in 1975 to control the damage done by revelations of CIA assassination plots and domestic spying. They grilled Sturgis behind close doors in April 1975.

Sturgis was a rough customer, a soldier of fortune who didn’t work for the CIA but had lots of friends who did. He worked with Fidel Castro before the revolution and executed Castro’s enemies afterwords. Then he broke with Castro and sought to assassinate his former ally.

Marita Lorenz, a German expatriate who had lived in Cuba, said he was involved in the assassination of JFK. Lorenz, who was was friends with Sturgis in the early 1960s, said she met Lee Harvey Oswald in the company of Sturgis and other anti-Castro Cubans in 1963. She said Sturgis and Cuban associates drove to Dallas with a small arsenal of guns right before November 22. When Lorenz later the story to a New York Daily News reporter, Sturgis tried to kill her.

Under oath to the Rockefeller Commission, Sturgis said he was in his home in Miami on the day JFK was killed. But Sturgis wanted the Commission to know that he had been visited by two FBI agents at the time.

“The wanted to know my whereabouts before, during, and after the assassination of President Kennedy,” he told the Commission. “… I asked why they wanted to speak with me concerning this. And they said, “Well Frank we feel that you are one of several persons that is capable of doing this.”

In short, Sturgis denied involvement in killing JFK but he wanted it on the official record that the FBI regarded him as a plausible suspect. That’s the kind of a guy he was. A rough customer.

Lorenz is a credible source but there’s no independent corroboration of her story. In addition, she did NOT say that Sturgis was involved in the assassination, only that he drove to Dallas with weapons in November 1963. So I see no proof that Sturgis was involved in JFK’s murder, though his attempt to silence Lorenz may indicate guilty knowledge.

Robert Groden, JFK photo researcher, claimed Sturgis was one of the so-called “three tramps,” ie three homeless men arrested in the vicinity of Kennedy’s assassination–which turned out not to be true. In 1992 the Dallas Police Department’s arrest records were finally made public and they showed that the tramps were not CIA assassins but homeless men who had been living in the train yard adjacent to Dealey Plaza.

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