One question haunts JFK assassination debates. If Lee Oswald wasn’t the lone gunman, who shot the president?
In their 1993 best-seller, “Double Cross,” Chuck and Sam Giancana alleged that a man named Richard Cain was a gunman in Dealey Plaza. “It was Cain, not Oswald, who’d actually fired from the infamous sixth-story window,” they wrote on p. 466.
Richard Cain was not an implausible suspect. Born Richard Scalzetti, he was one of those protean characters who haunt the JFK assassination story. He worked for the Cook Country Sheriff’s office. He offered his services to the CIA in Mexico. He sought to blame JFK’s assassination on the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee. He was a Mafia hitman. He met a violent death.
Chuck and Sam Giancana, as brother and nephew of Sam Giancana, the Mafia crime boss whom they say masterminded JFK’s asssassination, certainly knew a lot about him.
But Richard Cain’s brother and biographer doubts the allegation. Michael Cain, a writer in North Carolina, told JFK Facts he had investigated the charge and concluded it wasn’t true. Of course, Michael Cain is not an unbiased source. “I did not want to believe my brother had killed the president,” he admits. But his personal knowledge of Richard Cain and his book, “The Tangled Web,” makes his views worth reporting.
Michael Cain said he took the Giancanas’ allegation seriously.
I knew that intellectually he was capable of committing such a crime, and it was well known that he was not a fan of JFK. At the same time I was skeptical because his vision (20/200) would have made that kind of shot unlikely, and there is no evidence that he actually had any skill with a rifle.
He told me that on November 22, 1963, he and Richard were in Chicago, testifying before a grand jury about a shooting they were both involved in. He was certain about the date because a police officer interrupted the proceedings to inform them about the shooting in Dallas. I visited Chicago’s archives to find corroboration, but struck out. I chose to declare the issue resolved based on my comfort with the source. I was able to corroborate many other things this guy told me, and he was vouched for by two other trusted sources.
Cain doesn’t name the source so the story is impossible to confirm, but there it is.
Michael Cain added:
I have long believed that the Mafia was behind the assassination, though I think it was carried out by Carlos Marcello and the New Orleans mob. One of my sources was retired FBI agent Bill Roemer who was Richard’s contact when he became an informant under the bureau’s Upper Echelon Criminal Informant Program.
Bill told me that after Kennedy was killed he personally listened to all the tapes from their five (illegal) bugs in Chicago for six months prior to Nov. 22 and six months after. He claims there was no mention of anything related to the assassination. That may well be true, but he also maintained there wasn’t even an acknowledgement of it. I find that suspicious at least.
Personally, I find that highly believable. The evidence of the Mafia involvement comes almost exclusively from hostile statements about JFK, not from contact with or knowledge of the accused assassin Lee Oswald. The fact that Cain’s source heard no chatter about JFK’s death among organized crime suspects indicates to me that they had nothing to chatter about.
Besides, if there was a conspiracy, its perpetrators had to have the ability to track and manipulate Oswald, and America’s organized crime bosses did not have that capacity. CIA officers in Western Hemisphere division of the clandestine service and the Special Investigations Group of the Counterintelligence Staff did have such capabilities and did track Oswald. The “Mafia did it” theory cannot explain the extraordinary official secrecy that still surrounds certain aspects of the JFK story.
That said, the story of Richard Cain illuminates the symbiotic relationship between organized crime figures and CIA operatives in the early 1960s. John Martino, a casino security consultant who had advance knowledge that an attempt would be made on the life of JFK in Dallas, is a similar character. The Giancanas are on the mark when they wrote, “In many instances, the Outfit and the CIA were one and the same.”