JFK author Mary La Fontaine passes

Oswald TalkedComes the sad news that Mary La Fontaine has died. I first met Mary and her husband Ray in 1993 after reading a maunscript version of their book Oswald Talked. I was impressed with their writing for many reasons: its witty tone, its use of original sources,and  its granular depiction of a subject oddly ignored by JFK researchers: Cuban exiles in Dallas.

It was the LaFontaines who highlighted me to the role of the Cuban Student Directorate (DRE) in the JFK story, a hunch that was amply confirmed by my subsequent reporting. Without the LaFontaines, I might never have discovered the curious case of George Joannides.

The La Fontaines persuasively debunked “the three tramps” story, which still circulates among  the credulous. The tramps depicted in photographs taken in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963 were not CIA men. They did not include Howard Hunt in disguise. They were not henchmen for the lurking Ed Lansdale. They were “tramps,” Ie homeless men. Mary found their arrest records and then, amazing enough, tracked them down.

The La Fontaines illuminated the case of Frank Ellsworth, the ATF agent who was investigating illicit arms deals in Dallas in 1963, particularly involving the DRE.  They pointed out the DRE was in Dallas in October 1963 seeking to buy weapons from the only man in the Dallas area who sold Mannlicher Carcano ammunition. At the same time, the DRE leaders were telling associates they wanted the weapons for an invasion of Cuba that they said would take place in the third week of November 1963. The brilliant young lawyers of the Warren Commission couldn’t be bothered with this sort of detail from non-FBI sources, and their credibility still suffers because of it.

Unlike many JFK researchers, the La Fontaines actually took care to learn and report about Sylvia Odio beyond her story about see “Leon Oswald” in Dallas. They put the whole Odio family–Silvia and her sister and her father–and their place in the anti-Castro resistance and in the JFK story, In their hands the Sylvia Odio story gained its full resonance.

I was glad that as an assistant editor,  I could help them get an excerpt published in the Washington Post.

I didn’t agree with Mary and Ray about everything in their book but that is the subject of a different post. The best memorial for May is to read Oswald Talked.



  1. There are few books on Amazon in JFK research that have been torched by the reviewers as savagely as “Oswald Talked: The New Evidence in the JFK assassination.”

    When the 1 star reviews are double the 5 star reviews that is often a red flag on Amazon.


    Having said that the Fontaines deserve credit for solving the “three tramps” mystery, although by no means is this also a debunking of Gen. Edward Lansdale being present at Dealey Plaza on 11-22-63. Afterall, two of Lansdale’s peers Col. Fletcher Prouty and Gen. Victor “Brute” Krulak say it was indeed Lansdale and I, for one, find that highly significant.

    A lot of people seem to have a problem with John Frank Elrod as some sort of a credible witness. The man is probably completely non-credible.

    The odds of Oswald admitting involvement in the JFK assassination in his jail cell are slim and none.

    Honestly, I don’t know of any seasoned JFK researchers who I respect who quote the Fontaines and their book and that is not intended to be a slight of Jefferson Morley.

    But I guess debunking the three tramps story is a worthy deed indeed.

    • Ronnie Wayne says:

      Mr. Morrow, I respect your work. While not a seasoned researcher I don’t accept the three tramps debunking.
      I know those seasoned researchers will laugh and click to a different subject butt…..
      The one redeeming subject of the recent ramblings of (yes) A J Weberman is the documentation of a second set of tramps taken from a grain car down the tracks towards Union Station (Reunion Station) at about 3:00 PM

    • Gil says:

      If you read the one star reviews it’s pretty obvious that most of them are just blithering.

      Elrod’s account of being told of the association of the man with the injured face with Ruby is corroborated by the record of the gun running bust and the driver’s acquaintance with Ruby. The identity of his cellmate is debatable. It may have been another person, not Oswald, familiar with Ruby.

      I’d be interested to stress-test the La Fontaine thesis that Oswald was an FBI informant by accepting, for the sake of argument, that Elrod’s cellmate was not Oswald but another person present at a meeting of Ruby and the gun runners and focusing on remaining evidence such as Oswald’s contacts with Hosty.

    • max says:

      “The odds of Oswald admitting involvement in the JFK assassination in his jail cell are slim and none.” …..Robert Morrow.
      Very well said as Oswald was considered a high security prisoner and kept in a cell by himself with the cells on either side of him empty. They did not want him talking to anyone.

  2. RIP Mary La Fontaine, I’m sure she was a nice lady. But everything she said about the JFK assassination was wrong. See my review in the THIRD DECADE, a journal for people who actually knew something about the case:


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